Professional Liability Insurance Group January February 2018

The PLIG Professional’s PULSE

Volume #21

FOR THE What Is Your Strategy NEW YEAR

What is your business strategy this year? What tactics will you employ to bring in more clients, build up your revenue streams, and strengthen your business? As you develop and set goals for your business in 2018, consider how you develop those goals. Look at your marketing and branding strategies and think about them with a top-down perspective.What do I mean by this? There are two schools of thought: top-down and bottom-up.These two perspectives are defined by how a company or brand markets itself. Chances are you’ve heard the terms.There was a very popular marketing book published in the late 1980s, called “Bottom-up Marketing” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, which defined the term. It was written in contrast to the more traditional approach of top-down marketing. Both have their place in the business world, and you can look at them in the context of strategy and tactics. In the top-down model, strategy generally dictates tactics.Your tactics then become the foundation The bottom-up model is the opposite.Tactics dictate strategy. “Bottom-up Marketing” argues that strategy only comes after you understand your clients — their needs, desires, and so on. In short, your clients influence the strategy of your business. With the top-down model, you are in control of your marketing, your brand, and the brand experience.You look for a path to growth.You have your finger on the pulse of the market.You develop marketing that allows you to travel that path. It gives you control.This is similar to how Disney operates.They have immense control over their brand and family of brands. It’s practically unrivaled in any industry. With the recent acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox Corp.’s assets — including the entertainment division, 20th Century Fox — Disney wields more control than ever before.They have essentially become the entertainment industry.This control emanates from the

top down and filters out to all Disney properties, from film and TV to their theme parks around the globe.

Take the parks, for instance.The moment you step into Disney World or Disneyland or any of their other parks, Disney controls your experience.They want you to have a memorable, magical time, and they want to you to spend more money — and it’s safe to say most people do. What can you learn from this method of marketing? How can you use strategy to dictate your tactics? As you set goals for your business, think about the way you market to clients, prospects, and the community at large. Are you in control of the brand message, or do your clients control the message? Disney isn’t necessarily the best company to emulate, but you can take elements of what is successful about their model and adapt it to more suitably fit your business. It might mean boosting your customer service and striving to be the best in your community or niche. It might mean having an unparalleled company culture — you’re a business where people want to work, and one people rave about all time. Or it might mean taking calculated risks.These are all attributes of successful businesses.The question for the new year remains, however:What are you going to do to reach new levels of success in 2018? -Shayne

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DON’T BLOWYOUR 2018 Budget!

As you begin the year, you’re probably developing a new budget for your business. No matter how much you sell, there’s no quicker path to a cash shortage than bad budgeting.Victor Butcher, head of Butcher Financial Services, says a well-prepared budget serves as a road map for companies.“You need the road map to understand where you’re going with your business,” he says.With that in mind, here are a few tips to ensure you make the most accurate budget possible for 2018.

efforts in your downtime and keep profits coming in when you need them most. Similarly, you should limit unnecessary spending during the months when you expect revenue to be down. Make Realistic Projections Too many companies look at the future with rose-tinted glasses.“You never want to be in a position where you’re spending more than you have coming in,” says Annie Scranton, owner of Pace Public Relations. How do you end up in this quagmire? There’s no surer way than projecting huge growth without the data to back it up. Your sales forecast needs to be realistic, if not a little lean. After all, 20 percent extra in revenue is a bonus, but 20 percent under can be a catastrophe. Your Budget Isn’t One and Done So, you’ve finished a budget, but that doesn’t mean it will never change. At the very least, you should review your planning on a quarterly basis. Change is the only constant in the business world, and adaptability based on profit patterns is a key component of budgeting success.

Don’t Underestimate Expenses Whether you’re talking about internal projects, marketing initiatives, or client services, you should always assume you’ll encounter unexpected

costs. If you don’t leave wiggle room in your budget, you’ll have to borrow cash allocated to other endeavors.“Every project seems to have an extra cost that was never anticipated,” notes

Shufflrr CEO James Ontra. It’s much better to budget for these speed bumps than run out of gas before you reach the finish line. Account for Fluctuations Even if you don’t sell Christmas trees or pool toys, your business probably has a sales cycle. Assuming that your revenue and spending will be consistent throughout the year sets you up for failure.While making your budget, be sure to consider when you expect an off-season.This will allow you to focus on marketing

The Art of Saying No

Business owners can find it hard to say no. If you say no, you can be left with thoughts like “What if I miss out on an amazing opportunity?” or “Can’t I take on just one more project to hit my revenue goal this month?” However, saying no can be extremely empowering and good for your business. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing that you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.You have to pick carefully. I am actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” It can be tempting to jump at every new opportunity or challenge presented to you, especially when you are dedicated to growing

your business. However, there are certain instances in which saying no is completely necessary to the success of your business. Regardless of your niche, there is a saturation point at which you cannot take on more work. It happens when you are working long hours, when you rarely spend time with your family, and when your health and sleep habits are suffering. Suddenly, you don’t enjoy work anymore, and you are constantly stressed. When your work-life balance is slipping away, it’s time to say no. Your business serves a specific demographic. But what about when you get a new offer from a prospect who falls outside your normal arena? Ask yourself, does it conflict with my demographic? Do I have enough expertise to be able to do the job? Does it hurt the image I’m trying to create around my brand? If you

can say yes to these questions, say no to the prospect. It can be tempting to chase a new offer, but think long term about your business and stay true to your mission and goals. The secret to saying no is knowing not only when to say it, but when to say it right away. Saying no might mean you have to pass on one opportunity now, but it can open new doors for you later down the road. Be empowered by your ability to say no and use it to showcase the value of your work to others and yourself.

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We provide informative articles and topics that focus on information for businesses of all types. Recent blogs to check out:

• Ridesharing: Think Your Commercial Auto Policy Covers You if You Drive for Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar? Think Again.

• Three Things You Can Learn From The Most Profitable Law Firms • Grow Your Business With Online Payments

Take a look below to see a sneak peek of this month’s blog topic!

Is It Time to Review Your PRICING STRATEGY?

When business owners want to increase profits, many consider two strategies: 1) Reducing costs to increase profit margins, and 2) Improving sales to earn more revenue and sell more products. While these may be viable options, they carry risks. Reducing costs can diminish the quality of products and services. Meanwhile, selling more can require a significant investment, and it doesn’t guarantee increased profits, especially if you are at capacity and need more staff or equipment to meet demand. There’s another alternative, one that business owners tend to forget or don’t want to consider. It’s changing the pricing strategy.This doesn’t necessarily mean raising prices; instead, it may involve changing services and how you price them. There are several advantages to changing your pricing strategy over the other two options. First, there’s no need to make any expensive investments. Furthermore, your sales team won’t be pressured to perform better. Finally, you don’t risk compromising the quality of your products or services. One example of a pricing modification is known as shrinkation. Brands offer the same product, for the same price, just with less quantity.This helps cut costs, but it can lead to complaints from customers.

government regulations. Nonetheless, the services offered can be enhanced to improve the overall experience of the customer or patient, thereby having a positive ripple effect on the overall business profitability. Loss of Customers Many business owners think that when they raise prices, their customers will abandon them. However, this isn’t always true. Customers will likely remain with your brand even after a price increase if you fulfill other criteria. For instance, if you’ve exceeded their expectations while they’ve used your services, they will prefer to stay with your brand. Likewise, if you offer a unique personal service, this can benefit your business, too. Avoid Customers Abandonment To avoid abandonment from customers during a price structure change, you need to communicate your changes. Don’t focus on the price and don’t explain it. Look at what your customer is getting instead. This type of marketing is more positive and helps to sell your products. The next time you need to generate more profit, don’t look at how you can lower costs or sell more. Instead, look at how you can restructure your pricing strategy and earn more money. This article recently appeared on the Professional Liability Insurance Group’s blog. For more great resources and insight from Shayne Bevilacqua, be sure to visit protectusbetter.com/blog.

Not every industry allows the seller to choose the price. For example, the health care and insurance industries have standards that are set by

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ProtectYourWi-Fi If you want to provideWi-Fi to clients visiting your office, you should create a separate network for them. Both that network and your internal network should be protected by different passwords.When you let outside devices onto your network, you are at risk of being attacked through those devices. EducateYour Staff A staff member’s device can leave your system vulnerable, as well. If you are going to allow your staff to use companyWi-Fi for personal use, you need to educate them on safe browsing behavior.You may be skeptical of unsolicited text messages promising vacation deals, but if one person clicks, the whole network is at risk. SAVE YOUR BUSINESS

The Internet Safety Tips That Could Running a business is hard enough without having to deal with technological problems. If your computer network is compromised, the results can be catastrophic.You might think that hackers and cybercriminals would never target a business as small as yours, but it happens all the time.You probably already know to be wary of dubious email attachments, but here are a few more tips to ensure you don’t end up the victim of an attack that sends your computers into a spiral. UpdateAll theTime Updates to your operating system and security software might seem like a constant chore, but it’s the easiest defense against an attack.Antivirus software should be set to scan for malware after each update, and you should update your software whenever you’re prompted to do so. Even better, set your software to update automatically. Security patches are designed to counter the latest threats, so you shouldn’t wait to install them. Use Backups Correctly If you do end up with compromised data, a backup is your best friend.Too many businesses don’t check that their backups actually work until they need to rely on them. Ensure your backed-up files are in good order and keep one set of backups off-site.That way, if your entire network is under siege, you know you’ll make it out with minimal damage.

Get a Firewall A robust firewall is the first line of defense against prying eyes and hackers. A firewall, or router that includes

firewall features, is inexpensive and easy to set up, and it will deter those seeking to break in.Think of it as a digital version of an alarm system. RELOCATE?

IS IT TIME TO

So, you’re considering relocating. Are your employees

about the new location before you decide. Reference publications like The Statistical Abstract of the United States and magazines like American Demographics in the process. If you are moving cities, consider subscribing to local newspapers a few months in advance. If you want to be sure about a new location, you need to also be sure about the community that surrounds it. While shopping around, gather every bit of information you can about the current real estate market. Find out what utilities cost, check in with other small-business owners about their own recent moves, and survey the area’s growth projections for the next few years. Be sure to check in with the Chambers of Commerce, local economic development agencies, and real estate brokers in the area.The more details you have, the easier your move will be. Once you’ve found a location, keep your employees informed.There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than getting inconsistent information, and if they’re hearing one move date from a sales representative and another from a customer service technician, they’ll be annoyed. If there’s a setback and the moving date has to be changed, don’t hesitate to tell your employees.They can pass that information along to your customers. In business, not every move works out. But if you identify your reasons for moving and make sure your new office addresses those needs, you increase the odds that the grass really will be greener on the other side.

commuting too far? Does it feel like your business sits in the middle of a customer wasteland? Are your carpets

fraying while your paint peels and your entire building comes apart at the hinges? Is there another, cheaper building situated in a better location? Would an upgraded facility simply improve your company’s quality of life? You might answer yes to many of these questions, but overall, cost, coupled with growth, is the primary reason businesses relocate. Often, the cost of living and renting in a certain location will increase, and a business owner will look to save money by renting and working somewhere cheaper. Moving carries its own financial risks, and rushing the decision could cause you to miss important environmental or regulatory concerns. If you take your time and create a plan for future expansion, though, a move can be one of the best things you ever do for your company. Before you move, develop a list of must-have qualities you need to see in a new location. Stick to your reasons for moving and don’t get distracted by attractive lease offers from prospective landlords or incentives from economic development agencies.You’ll also need detailed information

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Professional Liability Insurance Group • www.ProtectUsBetter.com

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How it works All you have to do is tell a friend, a colleague, or any professional you know about us and make sure they tell us you sent them... that’s it! Remember, protecting professionals is our specialty! You can refer any commercial business of any size, big or small, such as an accounting or law firm, a physician practice or health care facility, an architecture or engineering firm, or even your local restaurant or dry cleaner. What you win 1. For each referral, we will automatically send you a $10Wawa gift card! 2. Each referral automatically enters you into the quarterly drawing for a $50Visa gift card! 3. Each referral also enters you into the annual drawing for your choice of an iPad Mini or an Amazon Kindle Fire HD. 4. For each referral we receive, we will also donate $20 to a charity * of your choosing. *Charity must be a registered 501(c)(3). Remember, without your referrals and much appreciated testimonials, we would not be where we are today.Your words encourage us to do our best and help other professionals decide to do business with us.You can call 856-692-7702, fax 856-691-0059, or email your referrals and kind words to info@ProtectUsBetter.com. And, as always, we want to say “Thank you!” for the professional relationship we have with each of you!

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You don’t have to be a client to receive your freeWawa gift card.

There is absolutely no limit to how many times you can enter.

• Our contest is not in direct relation to any insurance sales.You’ll be rewarded simply for the lead. • You do not have to be present at the drawings to win. • Your referrals do not have to become our client for you to claim your prize. • We are not responsible if the law says you can’t win due to age or any other restriction.

Winner will be announced in the March/April Newsletter!

SUDOKU

The PLIG P u z z l e Challenge At the Professional Liability Insurance Group, we know just how bright and intelligent our newsletter readers are, which is why we are happy to challenge you with this puzzle! All you have to do is answer the puzzle challenge correctly, take a picture of it, and send it to us. Email to info@Protect UsBetter.com, fax to 856-691-0059, or call 856-692-7702 to read off your answers.The winner will be selected from a random drawing of all correct responses submitted prior to printing our next newsletter, and will win a $20Wawa gift card! Good luck! Congrats to Dr. Eugene Carroccia for solving last month’s puzzle!

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FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS

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Strategies and Tactics for the NewYear Don’t Make a Budget Blunder The Art of Saying No Check Out New Content on Our Blog! Evaluating Your Pricing Strategy The Internet Safety Tips That Could SaveYour Business What to Consider Before Relocating Your Office Referral Contest

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The PLIG Puzzle Challenge Bleeding-Edge Tech for 2018

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NEW YEAR, NEW TECH! 3 OF 2018’S MOST FUTURISTIC GADGETS

Along with a collection of short-lived resolutions, each new year brings a staggering array of wild technology. Here are a few of the coolest new gadgets predicted to hit the scene in 2018.

A MicrowaveThat Doubles as a Flash Fridge

For a couple of years now, the Spanish-Korean company Frigondas has been developing a microwave that, in addition to perfectly warming up your leftovers, comes equipped with the ability to rapidly cool down foods. Not only can you use it to freeze fresh foods for later use, but you can toss a beer inside and let it chill in just a couple of minutes.

ATVThat Generates SoundWith Its Screen

Instead of mounting on the wall or sitting in an ordinary vertical television stand, the new BraviaTV comes equipped with a stand that leans directly on the floor. There’s no visible stand or border.The processor and other essential components are all housed in its back unit. But what’s really interesting about thisTV is the way it generates sound. Examining the unit, you’ll discover there’s not a single speaker to be found. Instead, Sony’s equipped the screen itself with four actuators that turn the entire screen into a sound-emitting device — a new technology called “Acoustic Surface.”

A ‘Hybrid Reality Environment’ From Science Fiction

Composed of 72 LCD panels, a 20-speaker immersive surround sound system, and an optical motion tracking system powered by 10 separate cameras, Cave2 is half virtual reality, half insanely futuristic whiteboard.After donning a pair of 3-D glasses, users, namely scientists and engineers, can fully immerse themselves in whatever they want, whether it’s a visualization of data that describes our solar system or, as exhibited in a recent demonstration, a model of Chicago, complete with real-time crime data.

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