Customer Insight 2014

Building a Truly Customer-Centric Approach

This brand new, must attend conference goes beyond the question of data, showcasing the opportunities, information and strategies to inform a comprehensive customer-centric strategy for your business. Providing unrivalled knowledge and expertise from industry leaders, revealing cutting edge research analysis, this event will provide an exciting forum to debate the future of consumer identity and it’s role in shaping the future of retail. 

In a time of tumultuous change, a dwindling economy and dynamic technological advancements, retailers are continuing to face a number of significant challenges. Using customer insight to build a competitive advantage is entirely necessary, but the question remains: how do you turn data into actionable insight?


Assessing the impact of the digital environment on consumer behaviour and highlighting examples of innovative best practice on generating consumer insight into customer needs and desires.

Understand consumers’ motivation to spend and how to redefine your marketing strategy utilising behavioural data

Retailer case studies and discussion will draw on recent experience and successes in relation to leveraging customer data analysis to deliver improved customer experience

What is more important and how this decision can make a significant impact on your future strategy?

Why understanding your customer is key and knowing what needs to be in place for them

How Document Management Can Help Your Business

When it comes to your office space, there are plenty of ways to save money. One of the top trends lots of companies are trying is going paperless. This means avoiding printing at all costs and storing files electronically. Is your office ready for this type of system? If not, your company may benefit from a document management system or some sort of software that will allow you to store and organize items more efficiently and help you reduce your paper use to ultimately eliminate it all together.

The Benefits of Using a Document Management System:

  • Keep your employees happy. No one likes sorting through paper all day, trying to find an order from 2 years ago. It can be nearly impossible to find and take much longer than necessary. A document management system sorts files in a way that makes sense and allows people to search for what they need with queries. This cuts down on time and makes things easier for people retrieving the data.
  • Better collaboration. Many document management systems organize data by cross-departmentally and allow people from different departments to see the changes or status of a project. Keeping track of workflow and edits makes it easier for everyone to understand the stages of a specific project.
  • Go green. Less paper puts your business in a better light, and it could make you feel better about helping the environment! Save trees by using less paper than ever before, and take advantage of customers’ appreciation for the “going green” trend.

Overall, using these systems helps you save time, which ultimately saves you money. If you aren’t sure which system will work best for you or where to begin, choose a company that will both advise, sell, and provide support for the system. For instance, Cobb Technologies helps you find the best document management system for your business, will help you implement it, and are there for further assistance beyond the initial stages.

Want to Start a Restaurant? Consider Catering First

cateringIf you’re considering starting a restaurant, you may be wise to consider starting a small catering company before you make the plunge, as there are many advantages to starting as small as possible. One of the best reasons to start a catering business, as opposed to a restaurant is the low start-up cost. Even when compared to starting a food truck, which is known for costing substantially less than starting a full-service restaurant, catering can still be comparatively cheaper.

One huge advantage that caterers have is that the business scales relatively well- you can start small, build up a loyal clientele and keep slowly building upon your success, and even expand into other food service business once you’ve built up a following. This strategy of starting small and building up your business has many advantages over starting a full-service restaurant from the start:

  •  Much lower investment requirements means you may not have to seek funding from investors or banks, which can cause huge headaches.
  •    Less money at stake means less risk to you personally, so if your business isn’t successful, it won’t be catastrophic to your personal life.
  •    Starting with a small catering company gives you an opportunity to test your products with little risk. If you jump right into starting a restaurant, you will have sunk a large sum of money into the business before you even know if people like your food.
  •       Takes advantage of the MVP (minimum viable product) principle, which is an idea that has come out of Silicon Valley, but can be applied to many industries. The idea is to invest as little up-front as possible, while still having a viable product. The key to this principle is that it allows you to test which products work, which don’t and then gives you the opportunity to go forward with your products that are successful without a huge initial investment.
  •     You can build a loyal following without a large investing. That way, when you finally make the plunge to start a restaurant, you will already have a built-in clientele.

Once you get to the point of success where you want to launch a restaurant, one key point is to not quit the catering business, as this would be silly to quit the service that has made you successful in the first place. Although restaurants and caterers have different business models, there are many examples of companies who run successful catering operations while simultaneously running a restaurant. This deli and caterer in Melville, NY has built up a serious following by offering both catering and your traditional deli fare.

As you can see, there are many advantages to starting a catering service before you make the expensive investment in a full-service restaurant. My hope is that this article will get you thinking strategically about the food service industry, as there always seems to be a lack of strategic thinking in this business. If you’re looking for information on how to start a catering business, click here for a good introductory article on the subject. Regardless of which path you choose, I wish you luck on your business journey!

Professional Office Moving Services

Shifting furniture and other office equipment from one building to the other is an extremely tough and strenuous task as those who have done this before will tell you. Apart from moving goods, you also need to ensure that power cables for digital appliances such as computers and printers as well as for appliances such as air conditioners and water coolers are laid properly so that work can start immediately after you and your staff move into the new premises. This is only possible with the help of professional movers. If you have an office in Raleigh and plan to shift it to a different location in the same city, get in touch with Raleigh NC movers. They are aware that a successful office move requires advanced planning and precise execution to minimize downtime and decrease the chance of revenue loss.  Stewart Moving and Storage of Raleigh shared some tips with us for relocating your office.


Plan before you move

Even professionals cannot help you if they have no idea about the layout of the new location. Therefore, take their staff to the new premises so that they can view its layout and understand where to relocate each item. Once you have settled the deal with them and have completed the formalities, they will ensure that your office equipment arrive at their destination on time. Since they have tie ups with other professionals, they will get in touch with them and arrange for

• Laying of power lines and outlets

• Setting up network cables

• Installation of air conditioners and water coolers

• Setting up of furniture at pre designated spots


Size does not matter

The size and quantity of your office furniture and other equipment do not matter since these professionals have advanced tools and large trucks that allow them to shift goods from one location to the other in a few days. The best part is that they break down the shifting in small modules. The moment they shift a specific portion of your office to its new premises, your staff associated with that part can relocate and start working even as the other personnel of your office continue their work at the old location. To save your valuable time, even more, these specialists plan the move during the weekend, when your office remains closed. You need not worry about financial losses caused by damages to your goods when they are being shifted from one location to the other since they are covered by insurance, provided by Raleigh NC movers as a part of the contract.


The shifting process

The staff of the moving company prepares a list of equipment of a specific section of your office, pack all the goods with protective cover, and put them inside portable storage containers. They load these containers in trucks, transport them to your new office, unload the containers, take out the equipment, and set them up in their respective places. The specialists hired by them will check all gadgets to ensure that they are working properly. Once they give the green signal, your staff can move in and resume their work.


Price effective

You might not believe it but engaging a professional mover to move your office works out cheaper than trying to coordinate the job yourself… even if you include the insurance costs. Get in touch with Raleigh NC movers and request them to send their appraiser to provide you with a no obligation quote after inspecting your present office, the equipment contained therein, and the building you plan to shift your office to.

Take Care of Your Buyers

The Importance of Customer Service

When it comes to successfully selling a product, it obviously takes some sales skills, the right marketing, and a functional and valuable final design. But with mass manufacturing, it’s almost impossible to guarantee a quality product every time. That’s why it’s important to treat your customers well and handle issues quickly and with ease. Customer experience is the top priority, and part of their experience with any product is the way that you sell it to them and how you handle inquiries and problems beyond the sale. Companies like Cobb Technologies and Massage Envy are examples of companies that get it right. Both of these companies offer more than their initial services. They are also experts in providing exceptional customer service.  They’ve made customer satisfaction a top priority, which is how they’ve managed to stay ahead of their competitors for so many years.

Cobb Technologies does more than offer the top brands of office equipment around Virginia. They also sell their support team who will repair products and even help you implement their software into your company’s business structure. Furthermore, Cobb Tech started an IT consulting branch that focuses on a broader range of technical services. Here is how we recommend you stay ahead of the curve:

Make Yourself Available

Making yourself available to the customer means putting your support number out in the open for everyone to find. Have it on the home or “Contact us” page of your website, and also include the number on your social media channels and marketing materials. It’s also important to make sure that your hours are convenient to customers. No one is more irritable than the customer that had to step outside and make a phone call in the middle of their work day because you were closed outside of regular office hours. Most people would prefer to make calls or come to your place of business in the morning, during lunch, or after their work day is complete.

Have Guarantees and Warranties in Place

Make it easy to give dissatisfied customers their money back or a free repair by having a solid set of rules in place. If an angry customer calls and has to argue with an associate for 10 minutes to get a refund, you bet they will still be angry after you hang up.

Take a Caring Approach

Don’t be the cashier who rolls her eyes and sounds annoyed when taking your order. Talk to the customer calmly, answer their questions thoroughly, and keep a positive attitude. If they feel like chatting, engage in some small talk. If they simply want an explanation or answer, make sure you give them all of the information that they need so they will not have to call back or come in for another visit. Always remember to stay positive when handling customer issues, and don’t get hung up on the little things. There will always be irritable buyers or those who are trying to scam you to get their money back. Let’s just try to get enough positive feedback to balance that out!

The Rising Costs of Senior Care

angry senior

Senior care pricing around the North Contra Costa area has been increasing on us every year and it is making growing old even harder. As you grow you are hit with both expected and unexpected costs which most of us are not financially equipped for. This isn’t good considering 53% of all seniors haven’t made retirement plans according to a recent survey performed by Genworth Financial.

Through this survey, it was also discovered that 70% people who were 65 and older would eventually need to us long-term senior care services. They also believed that it would take 1.7 million dollars to retire comfortably. Not many people realize all that is involved when planning for a happy retirement.

Here is a list of just a few things to take into consideration when putting a price to senior care:

  1. Senior Mobility Home Improvements and Modifications
  2. Medical In-Home Assistance
  3. Senior Home Care- Help around the Home for Simple Tasks
  4. Medical Expenses
  5. Cost of Housing
  6. Assisted Senior Living Facility
  7. Other Expenses ( Hygiene, Gifts, & Bills)
  8. Transportation
  9. *For Homeowners – Maintenance, Mortgage, and Taxes


Senior Mobility Home Improvements & Modifications

As we age, it slowly becomes hard to do the things we were once able to do but are now are hindered by our aches and pains of our joints and muscles in our knees, hips, and shoulders. By restoring your house to a better accessible state, we can free the frustration of our aging pains. We can install a safety ramp for our wheelchair bound elders and even a stair lift for getting up and down the stairs in your home. If you have a pool, they even have a lift that can lower you into the pool so you can practice your low impact aquatic workouts. Assistance bars also help in places where you have to get up and down like in your bathroom or by your bedside.

Technology has also progressed throughout the decades and now centralized voice command alert systems are filling up the senior households. You can call 911 just by shouting out. You can also adjust the lighting, turn on the radio, call a friend, ask a question on Google, and even unlock doors.


Medical In-Home Assistance

When you are cleared as a functional status from the hospital and you want to spend your remainder of healing at home then medical home care is necessary. This can be very costly and some of the cost may be covered by Medicare if you qualify. Tasks like helping with going to the bathroom and bathing can be extremely helpful


Senior Home Care

When it comes to the rest of non-medical assistance, this is where and elder care assistant comes in handy. A reliable Brentwood senior care helper, like those at Seniors Helping Seniors, can help with transportation, mobility, cooking meals, and even changing a light bulb


nurse and oldie woman

Medical Expenses

These can add up and may become very overwhelming. Depending on your needs these can grow to be un-payable putting you in deep debt that the rest of your family may have to cover. Careful budgeting pays.


Cost of Housing

You need to live somewhere and if you don’t own your renting. As an elderly citizen, you require a little more accessibility than others. This means accommodations for our aging bodies. The location is also a factor because living in the city provides closer resources like doctors offices and shopping marts, however, it usually costs more than the suburbs or country-side.


Assisted Senior Care Living Facility

If you are no longer able to live at home then a care center is most likely your best place if you don’t end up in a relative’s home. The cost of living here is, even more, expensive than living at home many times. It’s an average of $42,000 annually.


Other Expenses

Expenditures, like paying the gas bill or buying new eyeglasses, must also be accounted for. If you’re not adding these things into your retirement plan then you’re missing some important data.



With age, there will come a point where you may not be able to operate a car anymore. Transportation can add up especially if you are wheelchair bound or you need to need to move a scooter.

Homeowners Expenses

If you are invested in a home then you are still required to keep up with mortgage payments, tax statements, and any maintenance that is needed. If you don’t account for an unexpected home emergency then you may be short fund when you are in your post retirement years.

Now that we have gone through just a few parts of what it takes to achieve a comfortable retirement we can easily see why 1.7 million is a fairly perceived number. I hope this convinces all of the youth and working class to keep these costs in mind and invest in your retirement today!


What Makes A Great Car Insurance Company

delorian carIf you own a car, the Richmond and Henrico VA auto insurance law requires you to have a policy which meets the minimum liability requirements set out by law. However, you should not buy an auto policy just to meet the legal requirement. After all, car insurance protects you as the car owner. In fact, you want a policy offering liability protection above the legal limit for better protection on the roads. If you are involved in an auto accident, your auto insurance policy will cover every cost associated with the resulting damage to property and injuries. Having the right auto insurance policy, like Insurance Doctor, will ensure you are fully protected against all the risks you may face as a car owner. What is more important, however, is finding the right insurer.

Finding the Best Auto Insurer


car and handsAfter paying your auto insurance premiums without default, you expect the insurer to honor their end of the deal and settle claims without delays. For this reason, the most important factor to consider when choosing an insurer is their financing standing. You can look at balance sheets, income statements and financial reports, but that will tell you very little if you do not have a finance or accounting background. Ideally, you should consider the rating offered by reputable organizations, such as Fitch, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s among others. These ratings are usually an accurate representation of the credit worthiness and financial standing of an organization. Be sure to choose a highly-rated insurance firm to have peace of mind that the company will not close shop or refuse to pay a large claim.

Top rated insurance companies are not always the best. Some of them are known for their frequent neglect of small clients and delays in processing claims. Therefore, you should give more weight to reputation over ratings. Read reviews and talk to friends, relatives and neighbors about their auto insurer. You can make a shortlist from the names you get and start narrowing down the search from there. Reputable insurers, even if they are small, always manage to meet customer expectations.

The best car insurance company in Richmond VA must have an untainted past characterized by ability to meet customer expectations, speedy processing of claims, few lawsuits and a sound financial standing. By looking at the history and track record of auto insurers, you can easily identify the best firm and purchase a suitable auto policy.

Since there are hundreds of car insurance companies in any given city, the average person can easily find one that meets all their requirements in terms of insurance coverage. The following are some of the things to watch out for when purchasing an auto policy:

  1. Premiums: This in an indirect measure of risk you pose to the insurance firm. The higher the risk, the higher your premiums. Be sure to ask for a quote from all the auto insurers on your shortlist and compare them. Insurers with the lowest premiums should be given preference, but the liability coverage limits must also be checked.
  2. Liability Coverage Limits: Before you take out a car insurance policy, make sure the coverage limits exceed the minimum required by law. Be sure to check the liability coverage limit per accident as well as the limit per person. Remember to also compare the property damage liability coverage limit offered by different firms at a given price.
  3. Discounts: As mentioned earlier, insurance premiums are a reflection of the risk carried by the insurer. If you have a clean driving record, live in a safe neighborhood and drive a car that is fitted with state of the art security features, you can get a huge discount. The right insurer should therefore offer different types of discounts to eligible policyholders.

The Challenges Faced by Franchisees

franchiseWhen the economy is struggling, franchising often grows in popularity, as industrious people turn to tested principles to pursue their ambitions – while minimizing the risk to their capital. Nonetheless, all entrepreneurs will tell you that franchise opportunities are far from a license to print money. Here are some of the more common obstacles you are likely to encounter if you decide to follow this business model:

Unrealistic Expectations

Many people have unrealistic expectations about the profits they can make. Generally, once people start running a franchise operation, they find that it is more difficult than they thought. Lots of people purchase a franchise in the hope that it will quickly turn a profit – citing the growth of other sister companies. However, investing in a franchise opportunity is no different than any other form of speculative investment. It demands considerable time and effort before any success is achieved.

Minimal Flexibility

Franchisees often complain that the business venture stunts their creativity. Entrepreneurs tend to be creative souls, so this is a major sticking point for some. Franchisees are given standard tools and processes that they must comply with, so there can be less leeway for trying innovative, groundbreaking methods or ideas.


The risks associated with owning a franchise are problematic for many people. Although the risks might be lower than running a traditional business, they still exist. The product you are selling might be excellent, but this does not guarantee your success. Nor does it necessarily protect your business from outside threats, like new competitors or an economic downturn. You may find that a competitor appears, who can adapt better to the evolving needs of the market. Another risk faced by both franchisees and franchisors is brand devaluation. If the brand receives some bad PR, it will substantially reduce the advantages of running a related franchise.

Expensesfranchise expenses

Franchises are fairly expensive. All franchises for sale have to be bought with cash up front. Funds are also needed for the recurring license fees usually associated with revenue. Moreover, franchisors will typically control the training, equipment, suppliers, and in many cases, the rent as well. Because franchisors determine most of the operator’s overheads and there are no competitors to push prices down, franchisees tend to be left with modest profit margins.

To deal with these challenges, franchisees should base their business decisions on the brand’s requirements. Tactics that may be effective for a clothing store might not be so good for a fast food outlet, for example. While your brand is bound to have some public recognition, you will still have to boost your visibility with your local customers because of other similar businesses already in existence. The relevant issues here mainly center on your personal advertising methods and tactics.

Just like the difficulties you will encounter with increasing your visibility, you also have to set up an effective channel of communication where clients or customers can get in touch with you. This is especially true if you run a service-oriented business. When considering what kind of business to purchase, you should carefully assess the franchises for sale in your area. By doing this, you will identify scope for future growth. Ultimately, it is vital to understand that obstacles are unavoidable – however, you can develop the ability to deal with them over time if you learn from your own mistakes.

What are Home Warranties and Why Do I Need One?

If you are a current home owner you have probably come across a home warranty proposal before. However, for those that are unfamiliar and new to the home owner’s scene, a home warranty protects a home’s systems and/or your appliances if in the case where one of them should fail on you. They cover the sometimes expensive costs of appliance replacements and repairs that normal wear and tear can leave you with. Before a home protection plan is put into play, all the systems and appliances must be examined to make sure they are in working order. When preparing the coverage contract, it is important to review what is and isn’t business shakecovered so there is no confusion later down the road. There are different levels of optimal and premium plans that cover different things. Choose the one that best fits your situation.

With the ever increasing cost of replacement and repair it is important that you choose the home appliance warranty that is right for you. There are many home warranty companies out there so make sure to find one that holds great reviews with satisfied customer comments. Look deep! The best home warranty companies aren’t always ranked #1. The top home appliance insurance companies out there usually have a large network of service technicians to choose from. This makes it quick and easy to get your appliances and systems fixed. Knowledgeable customer service is also a plus with these organizations because they further help with the efficiency of their services.

Some of these options offered are intended to benefit our environment by providing eco-friendly choices. Some of these home protection warranties will replace all of your covered appliances with more energy efficient Energy Star Products. These will also allow you to see a large drop on your current energy bill which would bring a smile to anyone’s face.

These protection plans are also great for reducing your mental stress. Knowing that you don’t have to worry about fixing any systems or appliances in your home can really relieve any tensions. You can save that money for other home improvement projects, other investments, or maybe just to go have a night out on the town. With all these wonderful reasons to incorporate a home appliance warranty into your budget, I can’t see why you wouldn’t buy one.

Marketing in the Service Industry

Making the Intangible Seem Tangible

When it comes to selling a service to consumers, there is always a challenge of making the service seem more product-like and tangible. Customers are usually cautious to put their trust in something that they cannot physically see or touch before they buy. We recommend these methods to making your service something that potential customers will feel comfortable purchasing.


Guaranteed satisfaction means that a customer can feel more relaxed that if something goes wrong, they can get their money back. However, a business who guarantees theirs services also appears as providing high quality. If they were frequently performing extra free work or were constantly refunding customers’ money, a company wouldn’t be in business. An organization that is confident enough to guarantee or warranty work is one that consumers will trust.


Offering packages also makes services seem more tangible. For instance, a landscaper who offers a summer package of weekly watering, weekly mowing, and monthly weeding is setting a clear expectation and picture of what customers will receive from a purchase. Having the option of different bundles also makes it faster and easier for people to decide what they would like to purchase and what price point they are comfortable with.

Online Presence

Before investing in your company’s services, people are going to look online to find reviews, pictures, and other tools to qualify your business. These are the most important elements of your business’s online brand image:

  • Website: An easy-to-use, modern-looking website is another way to show customers that you care about their experience and are using the latest practices. Many people assume that a company with an outdated website is less likely to be up to speed with the latest practices.
  • Reviews: This Seniors Helping Seniors in West Los Angeles has a testimonial page on their website to display examples of people who were pleased with the service. Google+ and Yelp reviews are two other ways to build trust in your company with a positive brand image.
  • Pictures: Having before and after pictures on your website is another way of showing consumers the great work your business does. A dentist who shows before and after pictures of bleaching, for instance, allows a researcher to picture their own teeth looking the same and feel more confident choosing this particular office.

Each of these methods are great ways to start making your business appear more trustworthy, up-to-date, and caring of customers. Show off your quality product with a great website, stellar reviews, a warranty, and plenty of packages for a customer to choose from.

Entering a New Market

Have you ever considered opening your own business? Getting in the mind of the consumer is a great place to start. As a consumer of certain products- what would you change? Maybe you are tired of toothpastes’ minty taste and want to make a line of toothpaste with unique flavors. There are plenty of other factors that come into play when thinking about developing a new product.

store productsFirst of all, avoid the common mistake of starting a business that is already popular. Many people immediately decide they want to open a restaurant, clothing store, or cupcake shop. Did you know that restaurants have the highest turnover rate out of any other industry? Think about how many restaurants around you have closed in the past year. Instead, look for a niche market. For instance, Method cleaning products are high-end organic agents that use a chic packaging. These cleaners appeal to people who are willing to spend extra money for a product that appears to work more efficiently.

Next, if you happen to stay in a high competition industry, make sure that your product is unique. For instance, Seniors Helping Seniors found an original approach to senior home care. This franchise allows those in need of a little help to keep their independence by staying in their own homes. Aids drop in daily, weekly, monthly- or however often a senior would like to receive help. Furthermore, the actual care providers are other seniors. This creates friendships in the senior community and is a great way for active older folks to make some extra money.

If you want to start a business in a competitive industry, it may also be wise to consider franchising. Having the national brand name recognition, the support of corporate, and a business plan laid out for you is a great balance. Independently make decisions about local marketing, hiring talent, and more. These businesses are also easy to start quickly with predetermined operational processes.

Starting a new business is an extremely risky encounter and a huge investment. Make sure you do all of industry research, financial projections, and networking necessary to accomplish this goal.

Being Frugal Even With Home Repairs

saving money by living frugalI’m a pretty frugal guy in a lot of ways. I would much rather cook a cheap and healthy meal at home than go out and pay for service or overpriced drinks and pocket the extra cash any day of the week. In fact I have quite a few different money saving strategies I use all the time, some of which are more inconvenient than others. For instance, I ride my bike to work every day because it saves wear and tear on my car and I don’t have to use any gas to get there (not to mention I can skip the gym at the end of the day). When you are used to living like this, I don’t see how anyone could want to live any other way.

Another thing I like to do is buy thing used whenever possible, after all one man’s trash is a way for me to save a buck. So when I moved and had to buy a refrigerator a few years back of course I looked around for an extremely cheap used option. I figured as long as it kept things cold and was not moldy that was all I needed. Unfortunately, I have had more than a few different issues with this used fridge over the past few years, and similarly have had issues with my oven and washing machine. I’m pretty sure they were all name brand and purchased by sears or another big appliance store but not by me and this was probably years and years ago so there was no way they were under any type of warranty anymore.

I’ve looked into buying a different used appliance whenever one breaks, and often wondered if I would save more money in the long run if I just broke down and purchased a new one but have found Mr. Appliance of Houston an appliance repair service local to my area to be very reliable. They can almost always fix the problem the same day I make the in-home appointment because they keep almost every appliance part imaginable right in their truck. It makes me envious I can’t make the repair myself to save another buck but I can’t complain about how much they charge either.

Living the frugal live is not for everyone, many people prefer to drive their SUV’s to work, go out an enjoy the fruits of their labor by going out frequently, and buying new things whenever they have a spare buck or can get a loan. If this is how you usually are and are trying to save money I would recommend trying at least one of my money saving tips.