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BG502 A Manager’s - Winner Checklist

Business Guides

A Manager’s - Winner Checklist


The objective of this business guide is to guide managers through the everyday challenges of managing business, staff and profits in an ever-changing environment and how Taxco can assist therewith in your business.


Every day continues to be a challenge-both exciting and nerve-racking.

Once you are up and running, your identity established, your legal status in place, inventory and service issues humming, happy clients wanting more of your time, you cannot just sit back and coast.

Both the highs and the lows can give you stomach flips.
To stay on top of your game you will need to stay sharp and keep looking for ways to improve all parts of your operation.

Customer Service

Customer service is not just responding to complaints.

It is, as the term implies, providing a service.

It is a way to show your customers or clients that they're very important to you. Customer service can help enhance your reputation in a way that far exceeds hiring even the best public relations firm.

For every customer who tells his friend how well he was treated by your company, you'll be gaining free advertising and pro Retaining customers is just as important as attracting new ones.

Too many businesses take their regular customers for granted and only realize their value when the competition lures them away. Companies of all sizes need to maintain their steady core of customers.

Part of your product-pricing policy includes the service you will offer. A quality product coupled with arrogant service won't work in the restaurant business-or anywhere else.

Unless you're the only store in town selling greeting cards, another card store will gobble up your customers if you don't provide good service.

For a long time, a shoe store in Bloemfontein was a favourite place for buying children's shoes. The sales help were given a bonus for selling a certain number of shoes and were hired on the basis of being able to work well with kids. The prices were not the lowest in town, but people shopped there regularly.

To establish a successful business you need to know not only what products your customers want, but also how they expect to be treated.

Your customers expect:

• Consistency: If you're known for doing something in a certain manner, you need to keep   
   doing it.
• Fairness: If you treat certain customers differently, you can put yourself in deep trouble.

Many small retailers try to protect themselves with a ‘’merchandise credit only’’ policy for returns. Why not offer cash back for returns in seven days and merchandise credit up to thirty days.

• Assistance: You know more about your products and services than the customers do, so
   you need to provide assistance.

• Responsiveness: Customers expect prompt service-don't keep people waiting for great
   lengths of time and expect them to return to do business with you again.

• Competence: If you continue to make mistakes with their order, they won't be back.

• Fair policies: If something needs to be returned, let them return or exchange it.

Customers also want that little something extra. From gift-wrapping to e-mails of new products when they come into stock, you can provide the little things that make your business stand out.

While you don't want to spend excessively to indulge your clients, you do want to keep them smiling. This often means doing the little things-from remembering birthdays, to sending thank-you notes, to avoiding nickel-and-diming them on their invoices.

Also keep in mind that prompt correspondence and replies to letters and e-mails from customers or clients is very important. If it takes you a week to return an e-mail or you send them a perfunctory form letter or e-mail, you can be sure they'll notice your lack of attention and will in turn lose interest in your company.

Stay Loose and Available

Managing a business also means maintaining a schedule that's flexible yet includes time for all key tasks. If you can delegate a task or a project to someone you trust, then do so. If it's something you must be involved in or you want to handle yourself, make sure you schedule the proper amount of time and allow for preparation.

Manage your own schedule to allow yourself as much time as possible to manage the goings-on within the business. Maximizing your time also means the little details. Sometimes attending a birthday party for a key staff member is just as important as any meeting you’ll have in the course of day.

A good business manager can manage her own time well and prioritize all areas of the business, including customer and employee needs.
Conversely, a poor manager puts sales above the staff and above customer relations and looks only at the immediate profit regardless of the long-term ramifications.

If you work to make a sale at the cost of a really satisfied customer or at the expense of a staff member, you may very likely lose out in the end.

Likewise, if you don't take time to establish relationships with vendors or wholesalers, you may lose them and your competition will benefit.

Your schedule needs to be flexible so that you can make adjustments. Business continues to grow and change, and so must you.

Employee Development

It's unfortunate to lose business because your employees simply don't know how to do their jobs.

This is ultimately a reflection on you and your leadership. Remember, when your customers are interacting with your company every encounter reflects on you and your goals. Your employees act as an extension of you and your values, so be sure to have the right people in the right positions.

Training entails:

• Properly assessing each person's skill level when you hire them

• Clearly explaining what is expected of them in their positions

• Offering an open line of communication and encouraging trainees to ask questions

• Clearly explaining policies, including situations when a policy might not fit

• Retraining when advanced technology or new products or services are introduced.

Before you can train people, you need to hire the right person for the right job. If you have a small business and are relying on your family for help, this includes politely placing (or not placing) family members in specific roles.

At the two ends of the spectrum you can:

• Hire people who have years of expertise in an area-but who will cost you more and may        
   not last, as they will want to move up.

• Hire people and train them in an area-they'll cost you less initially, but they may end up    
   costing you more depending on how long it takes to train them.

Therefore, you need to assess a person's general skill level and see how close he is to meeting your needs.

Too often employers are seeking the ideal candidate with many years of experience and all the skills imaginable. This prolongs the hiring process and costs more money in advertising and recruiting.

Unless you're in the business of rocket science, training individuals in most industries is not rocket science.

Remember, having workers with skills alone, such as computer skills, is not as important as having well-trained individuals who know how to act and interact with others and deal with a variety of circumstances.

You should seek out individuals who:

• Offer new ideas
• Take initiative
• Reflect the image you want in the marketplace
• Are willing to go the extra mile to get the job done right
• Have problem-solving skills
• Meet deadlines
• Arrive for work punctually, ready to start work
• Extend courtesy to co-workers, vendors, and customers
• Understand the need for professionalism in the workplace
• Can make a commitment to the company and their assigned role

Well-rounded employees are more valuable than those who just have specific skill sets. Particularly in a small business, both you and your employees will undoubtedly be wearing multiple hats.

Managing successfully means being flexible and listening to the needs of your customers and to the suggestions of your employees. Flexibility means adapting to change, taking in what you hear, and using it constructively.

Listen objectively:

Don't make assumptions about the meaning behind the message or the reason for someone's statement. Just because a customer or employee has a suggestion to improve upon something doesn't mean your method is incorrect. It simply means there is another viewpoint.

How you communicate with your personnel, customers, investors, vendors, suppliers, the media, and the community at large is vital to your business success. If you can communicate in a clear, respectful manner and establish strong relationships with everyone involved in the operations of your business, you'll be in an advantageous position.

Go Team!

Managing a Business

Unless you're on your own, means developing and maintaining a team of competent employees who will work together for the good of the business.

This need to:

• Be accessible
• Foster team spirit
• Reward good work
• Have occasional brainstorming meetings
• Constructively criticize ideas, but don't criticize people
• Listen to suggestions
• Mediate and resolve conflicts
• Encourage everyone to feel involved in the company
• Be responsible for the actions of your team, and don't blame people

If you can maintain a team of individuals who are encouraged and excited about working for your company, you'll have a winning team and a far better opportunity to run a successful business.

Delivering Your Messages Appropriately

Communication also includes timing.

You need to know when to communicate your message and in what medium. A combination of e-mail, telephone calls, snail mail, and personal visits will all come into play when making your communication decisions. The mode of communication will depend on the nature of the message and the intended recipient.

Conversely, you need not travel for hours to give someone a simple message. While managing your business, you need to monitor and constantly review your listening and communications skills. Many business owners get lazy and don't pay attention to their manner of communicating.

It’s imperative that you uncover and evaluate any new means of communicating with your target market. Some businesses identified and utilized the internet effectively in its breakthrough years. Others only sit on the fence and only utilized the internet after the initial excitement had lessened. The message of the latter group was not as well received

Staying Abreast of Industry Changes

Do ongoing research.

On your demographic base, changes in your industry, and changes in the market. Keep track of government policies and regulations, local business news, and environmental concerns that could affect your business. It's vital that you know your consumers. If their needs are changing, you have to be aware of those changes.

There is no substitute for knowledge.

You'll also need to be knowledgeable about your competition. Short of sending in a spy (and it's often done), you can gather as much data as possible on what your leading competitors are up to now and in the near future.

Continue to do your homework. Stay active in your industry and your community networks. Analyze the data you've gathered to determine how it impacts your business.

Information Gathering Includes Ongoing Market Research

It's important to focus in on any potential new consumer group or niche that may be ripe for your products or services. And always keep your antennae up for ways to bring new, related products or services to your existing business.

Ongoing research also includes retesting and even repackaging "tried and true" products and services. Just because something has been successful for twenty years doesn't mean it can't be changed if the public no longer embraces the idea.

On the other hand, as evidenced when Coca-Cola changed its formula, sometimes tried and true continues to be what people want.

To maintain your market position and improve upon it, you must not only keep tabs on your direct competition, but evaluate where you stand.

Compare the data you gather on your competitors with your own company facts and figures. At what price are they selling goods and services? Are you able to match their prices, beat them, or provide something that justifies your price being higher?

Staying competitive doesn't mean you have to do battle. Price wars can run you into financial trouble by propelling you into a situation whereby you're giving products or services away.

Find creative ways to attract customers, establish a relationship, and hold on to steady customers. If necessary, find a niche.

Keeping Your Presence Known

Whether you operate a local or national business, you will be a part of some community at large.

Your business will be based somewhere and you will be responsible for following local ordinances, paying local taxes if necessary, and so on. But there is more to it than just setting up shop, creating a website, or opening an office.

It's advantageous to your company to seek out help from local business organizations and to network with members of such groups.

The local chamber of commerce and other such groups can provide leads for your business and help you extend your name throughout the community.

Community involvement is also a way of helping you to build strong relationships. Local and even national programs may ask businesses for support.

Supporting the right leaders in the community can help your business draw attention, as can donating to local charities or sponsoring a local event.

The media can also help or hurt a business, particularly an ongoing business, depending on the stories they broadcast or articles they write.

A positive relationship with local media is helpful when it comes to potentially controversial stories that involve your business. The media can paint a picture of you that is positive, negative, or neutral. Some ways to establish yourself with the media include:

• Sending press releases and information about your involvement in community activities

• Offering input as a business owner when business-related issues arise
  (Just try to speak as an expert rather than taking a side)

• Providing interesting story angles and suggestions to local reporter and journalists

• Being available for interviews or offering your shop as a location should the media need  
   to conduct interviews

Monitoring Cash Flow and Productivity

Monitoring cash flow is a major area of concern for growing businesses.

You need cash on hand to operate, but you don't always have it. For that reason, you need to monitor your cash flow very carefully. If employees aren't getting paid, they're no longer enthusiastic, hard-working employees. Not being able to pay your vendors won't endear you to them either.

Extending lines of credit can be a way of building relationships, but don't let such relationships abuse your trust. You need to maintain available cash at all times.

How can you do that?

Try to turn all sales into cash as quickly as possible. Offer incentives for cash payments or for paying off a line of credit quickly. You can also make some of your own purchases of equipment or goods on credit.

If you combine the two ideas by offering a discount if a customer pays in thirty days and then buying on credit that is due in forty-five days, you give yourself a two-week gap to collect and then make payments.

Just as it's important to monitor cash flow, periodically you also need to measure productivity.

If you have a system in place for this, you can identify problem areas and make appropriate changes to improve your productivity.

It's important that you measure all the tangible elements that go into your business, including manpower, resources, equipment used, and anything else expended to create, develop, or provide what you're selling, making, or marketing.

Measuring productivity starts with keeping track of whatever it takes to do business-from hours spent by your workers to gas expended by your trucks.

You then look at the end results of time and money it takes to create, buy, or produce your product or service and compare it to your profitability. Some products can be streamlined and manufactured on an assembly line, while others are handcrafted.

Sometimes productivity is a matter of technology. For example, look at how many businesses have improved their checkout services through price scanners and smart cash registers. The new check-out stations speed up customer activity while drastically cutting down on errors.

In a service business, productivity is measured by the fee-for-service schedule you have established. Those fees need to cover your entire overhead. Market forces may keep a cap on the upper limits of what you can charge. Sometimes customers feel they are getting more if they pay more. You can experiment with pricing levels.

Planned Expansion

Expansion can be a great thing. However, it also means more space to manage, more bills to pay, more employees to hire, and numerous other expenditures. For this reason, expansion takes careful planning.

It requires that you balance the equation every step of the way. For every Rand of projected income, you'll have some amount of forthcoming expenditures and you'll need to be confident that the scale tips in your favour.

Therefore, you need to start slowly. Before adding a new sales team, add a salesperson or two. Before launching your second website, add product offerings to your first site.

It's important not to commit great amounts of money and resources to expansion until you've tested the waters. Survey new territories and explore potential new markets. The bottom line is that you want to be able to manage and control your expansion.

If you're in a position to expand, it's likely that you're successful. If you've proven your worth, you should have established a solid line of credit, making loans easier to get. Your financial plan should be attractive to potential investors.

You can show that you're maintaining a positive cash flow, have a strong customer base, and have a solid marketing campaign in place.

No One Knows Your Business Better Than You

You make sound decisions based on your knowledge of all aspects of your business.

When you start out, you're owner, manager, salesperson, technology manager, advertising director, office manager, marketing manager, bookkeeper, and janitor. It's you, you, and you doing it all.

As the company grows, you delegate more and more responsibility to your employees.

Over time, technology has changed and new methods have come along, including advanced technology, cutting-edge advertising methods, online bookkeeping, and unionized janitors.

In short, the business changes as it grows. Could you still sit down and do any or all of these jobs? Can you wear many hats in your own business, or are you, the owner, becoming obsolete?

No matter how big your business, you should have a firm understanding of the job being done.

No, you don't need to be an expert in all areas, but when it comes to your own business, you should be able to step in and handle any role if necessary.

You'll also gain respect from your employees if you can discuss their tasks and work in an intelligent manner.

How can Taxco help?

So, you treat your employees well, and you try to create a positive attitude around the office or store. You lead with both a gentle touch and a forceful hand.

You try to maintain a steady base of customers while constantly seeking to expand upon that base. The business is growing, but with Herculean effort.

Taxco can help you to plan your customer service, employee development, communication methods, cash flow and expansion on your winner’s checklist. With our wealth of experience we can answer any questions you may have.

Taxco has the expertise of qualified accountants and we draw on the knowledge and experience of chartered accountants, lawyers, debt counsellors and insurance brokers to assist you.

For more details, Contact Us now to discuss how we can assist you to maintain your business in a cost efficient way that will make business sense.


This Guide is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use of Taxco Services and their Website.

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