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6 Preventive Steps That Could Save Your Business

preventionIn our fast-paced, ever changing business world, the notion of “prevention” – which generally means doing something you don’t absolutely have to do right now – often gets lost or set aside. But with so much riding on how smoothly things run at your business, that ounce of prevention can indeed far outweigh a pound of cure later on.

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Think of some of the threats your business faces: computer viruses and other tech malfunctions, on-the-job accidents, employee theft, shoplifting, lawsuits, machinery downtime and broken equipment. All of these things can slow you down, cost you money and even put you out of business.

Here are six key areas where prevention can really make a difference to your business success, along with some preventive solutions.

1) Theft and Loss Prevention: Whether it’s stealing client lists and confidential data, fudging expense reports or stealing merchandise and materials, employee theft and fraud is a serious threat to small businesses. Shoplifting, employee theft and other types of “inventory shrinkage” can eat away your profits. Installing a loss-prevention program will help minimize losses. Include background checks on employees as part of your system. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (www.napbs.com) can help.  Conducting regular audits or “checkups” can help you detect fraud or theft and also serve as a deterrent. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) helps companies of all sizes detect and deal with workplace fraud. Visit www.acfe.com.

2) Lawsuit Prevention: A lawsuit is a huge drain on your time, money and energy. The story is all too familiar: A small business owner and a partner (client, customer, investor, etc.) have a business dispute they can’t seem to resolve. No one will budge. Threats of legal action, emails and letters are exchanged. Everybody is upset, and productivity suffers under the stress. If a lawsuit results, things get even worse. Solution? Use arbitration and mediation to avoid a legal morass. It’s user-friendly (usually avoids lawyers), inexpensive and helps resolve thousands of business disputes yearly.

The American Arbitration Association (ADR.org) and the National Arbitration Forum (arb-forum.com) can help. Judicial Arbitration & Mediation Services, or JAMS (jamsadr.com), offers dispute resolution services, and can do it via videoconferencing.  For preventive help keeping your business in legal compliance, visit LegalWorkplace.com.

3) PC Problem Prevention:  Both Microsoft and Apple offer free security updates — but you have to download and install the latest versions and fixes. Get what you need at the Microsoft Download Center (Microsoft.com/downloads). For Mac OSX, go to the Apple menu and select “Software Update” to check for updates. Microsoft has some good preventive maintenance advice on its website at www.microsoft.com/athome.

4) Accident Prevention: Keeping things safe in the workplace is vital to a successful business. It’s not just good business, it’s also the law. For free information, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is actually a good source for business owners. From the OSHA homepage at www.osha.gov, click on the “Small Business” tab on the upper right. There you’ll find quick links to small business safety resources, help with compliance, web tools and FAQ.

Many companies sell safety products and training materials, including the Workplace Safety Store (safety.1800inet.com), Northern Safety (www.northernsafety.com) and All Safety products (www.allsafetyproducts.biz).

5) Preventive Facilities Maintenance: If your facilities and equipment fall into disrepair, your business will suffer. Grainger (www.grainger.com) is the top provider of maintenance, repair and operating supplies to businesses in North America. And since there are a gazillion products and parts you might need (Grainger carries over 800,000), their online product search is super helpful. If your biz is big enough, consider outsourcing maintenance. USI Building Services, for example, (www.usibuildingservices.com) is a single provider for all maintenance needs. They take care of supplies, equipment management, scheduling and reporting.

6) Data Loss Prevention: You’ll find helpful virus protection and data backup solutions at MacAfee.com and Symantec.com. For web-based backup and data protection solutions, consider SystemSafe (www.systemrestore.com), Iron Mountain (www.ironmountain.com), Intronis.com and RestartIT.com. Carbonite.com is a low-cost service that offers non-stop, automatic backup over the internet for as little as $5 monthly. Imation.com devotes considerable attention to small business solutions, with helpful tips, advice and product information to help get you started.  Second Copy (www.secondcopy.com), from Centered Systems, is inexpensive software for Windows that automatically makes a backup of your data files to another directory, disk or computer across the network.

Copyright © 2000-2013 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

 

10 Things Wrong With Your Website

In this age of social media and digital everything, you can’t afford to be a website weakling. If your competition has a killer online presence, and you don’t, you lose. Today’s consumers look online more than ever before.  Even business owners who think they don’t really need a “best in class” website are missing more than they think.  Based on visiting thousands of small business websites, BizBest compiled this list of 10 common mistakes that businesses make with their websites, and how to fix them:

1. Crummy Content

Thanks to the rise of social media and changes in how search engines operate, it’s now more important than ever to have high-quality content on your site. Off-topic and poorly written content won’t show up in search and makes your site look second-rate. Don’t load up on sales pitches. Instead, provide helpful tips, case studies and other info that gives customers and prospects valuable information on how to solve a problem or accomplish a task.  Avoid industry jargon and keep it conversational. A service such as HubSpot.com can help.

2. Keyword Clueless

Knowing — and using — the proper keywords for the products and services your business sells is important to online success. Even if you think you know what they are, unless you’ve used a keyword discovery tool to see the precise terms that real people are typing into search engines daily, you haven’t done it right.  KeywordDiscovery.com and the keyword tool in Google AdWords can help.

3. Social Scarcity

No website is complete today without some nod to social media.  At a bare minimum that should be a link to your Facebook page, but could and should also include Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and your own blog.

4. Muddy Metrics

Who’s visiting your website? Where are they coming from? What are they doing once they get there? What are the most and least popular portions of your site? What kinds of visitors are making you the most money? If you lack the answers, you’re flying blind. Sign up for a web metrics service such as Google Analytics to get a grip on what’s happening.

5. Missing Mobile

Mobile web usage is exploding, with huge  implications for small businesses that lack a mobile-friendly site. Mobile sites are designed specifically for the small screen. They are quick, easy to navigate and “thumb friendly,” which means they use large, centered buttons with “breathing room” to prevent accidental clicks. The best mobile-friendly  sites make the mobile experience local. Since customers are constantly seeking local information on their phones, your mobile site should make it quick and easy for people to find you. Google has a terrific program called GoMo (www.HowToGoMo.com) to help business owners and startups learn about mobile websites and find help setting one up. You’ll find tips, a tool to rate the quality of an existing mobile site, samples of good mobile site design, and a helpful list of vendors who can help you create a mobile presence.

6. Obvious Omissions

It’s stunning how many websites lack obvious info such as contact information, hours and location, or seemingly try to hide it. Don’t make people hunt for a “Contact Us” page. Display your preferred means of contact prominently across your site. If you make it easy for people to call or email, they will. Be sure you have a process in place to follow up all inquiries.

7. Offer-less Ordering

If you want people to sign up, order or otherwise engage, you need to encourage it with some type of offer or call to action. You could, for example, offer free trials, discounts or a newsletter. Tell people what you want them to do.

8. Dorky Design

Design counts. But it’s not all about looking pretty. It’s about creating a great user experience and being highly functional and effective at attracting, keeping and converting customers. Obvious cookie-cutter sites and over-the-top images undercut your goals. Customers are there because they want to accomplish something, and your design needs to reflect that. Keep all order and lead-generation forms simple. The more information you require, the fewer people you’ll get filling them out.

9. Laughably Link-less

If people can’t find you online, you’re toast. One thing that makes Google (and other search engines) take notice is how many quality sites link to yours. Other sites are more likely to link to yours if you offer helpful information such as tips, white papers, newsletters, a blog or other items. Sending out regular press releases on your business is one way to build links. You can also seek links from professional associations, clients and vendors.

10. Unborn Updates

Incorrect or outdated info on your website spells certain doom. If your latest press release is three years old or other content is clearly aging, customers will wonder how up-to-date and vibrant your business really is. Review and update all content on your site regularly to keep it fresh and timely.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.  Follow @140Main

Keeping Time and Attendance in the Cloud

A BizBest® 60-Second Solution

Time and attendance systems are one of the most searched-for services by small businesses.  And some of today’s best choices are cloud based services that work especially well for business owners who use remote workers, independent contractors or others off-site.

If that’s you, and you need a service you can log into at any time and see when your workers punched in for the day, Labor Time Tracker (LTT) is one solution to consider. It’s an easy-to-use, web-based (cloud computing) employee time and attendance service that uses either plain old phone punching (regular telephone service) or an Internet-connected PC to track time for a small or medium sized business.

LTT replaces hand written time sheets and helps decentralized (mobile) employees punch in their time using a standard phone or any internet enabled device.  It’s a fast and smart way to track employee or contractor time for job costing as well as payroll.  It’s also a great “time clock” for field labor and other employees in industries such as healthcare, construction, government, janitorial and security guards services. What’s more, the system is in both English and Spanish.

Features of this low-cost system rival those of more expensive time and attendance solutions and software used by big companies. It was built for the web from the ground up, so it’s super fast. Other features include:

  • Unique in/out board lets you know where employees are and when they will return
  • Can be used for 1 employee to hundreds
  • Can accommodate multiple locations
  • Offers multiple access levels and security features
  • Auto-adjusts for daylight time
  • Supports all US and international time zones
  • Employees and supervisors can digitally sign and approve timecards and export to accounting or payroll
  • Notice posting lets you send messages to individual employees or entire groups
  • Allows punch-in from any computer, or via cell or land line phone
  • Rounds punches to nearest minute, 10th or quarter hour
  • Prevents workers from punching outside schedule
  • Automatically deducts lunch minutes from a timecard and/or adds payable break minutes to timecard
  • Accommodates multiple in/out punches daily

The cost is $4.95 per employee, per month.  And since it’s cloud based, there are no setup fees, license fees, training fees, support fees or contracts.  A free trial is available at the website.

Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

7 Free Cloud Services and Software for Small Business

Here are 7 BizBest picks for top cloud services and software that’s free for small business:

1.      Home Office Suite: For many home computer users, the $279 Microsoft Office software is overkill. As a free yet powerful alternative try OpenOffice.org from Sun Microsystems. You can download for free, and it comes with word processing, spreadsheet, a draw program, database program and presentation software.

2.      Share Large Files Easily:  Sending large computer files can be a pain and an expense if you jam your email software or pay for special devices and services to help out. Dropbox is a better way – a private file sharing solution that’s free and easy.  Use it to privately share your files and collaborate in real time by web, email and mobile.

3.      Free Invoicing for FreelancersBillingBoss.com is a free online invoicing tool designed for small business owners and freelancers to create, send and track invoices. It’s easy to use and you can create your first invoice within minutes of signing up.  If you’ve been getting by with spreadsheets, or use complicated accounting software only for its invoicing tool, BillingBoss might be for you. Unlike some free services, there’s no limit on the number of invoices you can create or send with Billing Boss. You can also set it up so customers can pay you online through Billing Boss. There’s also comfort in knowing this service is run by one of the world’s leading business software companies, and that your information is encrypted and securely stored.

4.      A Virtual Office Online:  Microsoft Office Live (http://officelive.com) is a free password-protected online workspace where you can store and share files and access your work from anywhere, even from other computers.  Its companion site Office Live Small Business is a terrific, affordable place to build a professional-looking online presence, and get a free website and marketing help as well.

5.      Customize Your Own Free Software and Tools Package: Google Pack (http://pack.google.com) is new from the global search giant. It lets you customize and download you own set of free software and web tools that includes everything you need to work more effectively both online and off.  Dozens of  choices – all free – include:

  • Email, calendar and document creation applications.
  • Anti-virus and spyware protection.
  • Photo editing and sharing tools.
  • Skype for making free voice and video calls via the Internet.
  • Adobe Reader to view, print and search PDF files.
  • Google Talk to connect with friends via instant messaging (IM) or free voice calls.
  • A media player that lets you play and organize your music and videos.

6.      Manage Customers for your Small BusinessFreeCRM.com is a great tool for small business contact and lead tracking, sales and contact management, sales forecasting, customer service and business management.  The free version is self-service, allows unlimited users and provides up to 10 MB of storage. If your customer base is not particularly large, it can be a quick and easy way to automate your sales, do a better job of tracking leads and even manage email and call campaigns.

7.      Free Bookkeeping:  Wave is a free online accounting application for small business.  Wave cuts the time-wasting parts of bookkeeping and accounting. No more manual entry. No more confusing steps. By using smarter tools and new technology, Wave is reinventing the way small businesses stay on top of their financial information.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

B2B Daily Deal Sites for Small Business

Times have never been better for small business owners and startup entrepreneurs looking for deep discounts of up to 70% on the products and services they need to run their businesses day to day. A bevy of B2B daily and weekly deal sites have emerged, offering big discounts on everything from printing, food services and web development, to online surveys, computers, travel and office furniture.  They include RapidBuyr, BizDeals, BizSaves, Bizy, GroupPrice and MarketSharing.  Some are still in startup mode and aren’t yet operating in a large number of cities, but more cities are being added almost weekly.

Here’s BizBest’s roundup of six key players (in no particular order):

RapidBuyr is a business-to-business (B2B) deal of the day site that offers daily deals — both local and national— for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).  The site provides access to deep discounts (30-70%) on products and services such as computers, software, peripherals, web development & design, IT outsourcing, marketing, local services, office furniture and equipment, travel and business events. The site was launched by a group of entrepreneurs formerly with firms such as Amazon.com, Microsoft, CNET, Dow Jones and Ziff Davis. One thing that sets RapidBuyr apart is its exclusive relationship with American City Business Journals. ACBJ is the largest publisher of metropolitan business newsweeklies in the United States, and has over 40 city and regional business journals nationwide. This strategic partnership gives RapidBuyr an edge over other B2B deal sites, and allows them to reach nearly 8 million monthly visitors to 40 regional business journal websites.

BizDeals calls itself a “social eCommerce” site offering deals on products and services that help small business owners generate brand awareness and drive growth. Its weekly deals deliver savings on products and services in the categories of Business Essentials, Business Growth, and Rewards & Recognition.  From marketing services and computer products, to travel deals and entertainment, these categories include key areas where savings can do business owners the most good.  One example:  PR Newswire, a BizDeals launch sponsor, offers discounts on its enhanced PR Toolkit, an online public relations resource tailored to small business and entrepreneurs. 

Chicago-based Bizy helps small business owners buy a wide array of products and services at deep discounts, including office equipment and supplies, IT network equipment, software and hardware, mobile communications devices, shipping, payroll services, legal and accounting services, travel, car rental, banking, credit cards, insurance and more. It works like this:

  • Sign up to receive an email when there is a new and interesting Bizy deal, or look for invites from friends, colleagues, ads or the website.
  • When you see an offer you like, you can click the big “buy now” button.
  • Some deals only work if a minimum number of businesses buy.
  • Within 24 hours you’ll receive a purchase confirmation.  Print it and take it with you to the supplier or quote the reference number featured in the email to redeem your offer.

BizSaves bargains on behalf of business owners for deals on products and services that small companies and startups need most, with discounts reaching 50% or more. Sign up at the website to receive email notices of new deals weekly.

GroupPrice “Daily Deals for Your Business” brings small biz owners discount deals on services, software and supplies, including access to top end features on the software and services many small firms can’t get because they don’t meet minimum volume requirements. GroupPrice aims to take the hassle and stress out of getting a good deal. A couple of clicks and you’re done.

Meanwhile, MarketSharing hopes to position itself as a “premium B2B deals provider for exceptional business products and services.”  Initial deals are in New York only, but the site plans to expand to other major U.S. cities quickly.  Their first three daily deals include discounts on SeamlessWeb food delivery, BlogWorld and New Media Expo passes and TeamWorx team building events.

MarketSharing aims to offer businesses high quality, deeply discounted (50-80%) daily group deals on a wide range of products and. With an emphasis on brick and mortar to support local businesses, MarketSharing focuses on curating the best local products and service deals for businesses.  “Our vision is to provide deals that foster the discovery of new experiences for businesses, creating a happier, healthier, and more well rounded work environment,” says John Amato, MarketSharing’s CEO.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

10 Ways Small Business Uses Google Apps

BizBest has often recommended Google apps (some free; some fee) as great productivity tools that any small business or startup can access quickly and easily, including business email through Gmail, shared online calendars (Google Calendar), documents, spreadsheets and presentations (Google Docs), easy-to-build websites (Google Sites), and many others.  

These easy-to-use applications offer dozens of ways to leverage the web to work efficiently and get ahead of the competition.  Here are 10 ways that small business owners are using Google Apps for key tasks every day using Google’s template galleries for such tasks as invoicing, conducting customer surveys, managing employees, building a budget, writing a business plan or creating a website.

The first six tasks use the Google Docs template gallery; the other four use website templates from Google Sites.

  1. Design your business letterhead:  Create a professional looking template for your outgoing letters and share it with others in the company. Print letters directly from your browser.
  2. Build a business budget: Easily build budgeting spreadsheet that you can edit from anywhere throughout the year – no matter where your spending takes you.
  3. Create professional looking invoices: Save time by creating invoices in a spreadsheet – totals are automatically calculated, and you can share them with co-workers to ensure accuracy and speedy payments.
  4. Survey your customers: Get feedback from customers and visitors about your product or service with a form. Easily analyze and graph the data.
  5. Write a business plan: Put your vision down in a doc. Share it with family, investors, banks, and others to get input and spread your ideas.
  6. Manage your projects:  Give others in your company insight into key milestones, completion dates, and other project details.
  7. Build your own company intranet: Build an internal website (intranet) where employees can access company news, employee training information, company policies, holiday schedules, and more.
  8. Track all of your projects: Centralize project information in one place. Display a team profile and key dates, and embed project docs and spreadsheets directly in the site.
  9. Take your team online: Build a team site with team rosters, schedule team meetings, and track progress of action items all in one place.
  10. Create an in-house community:  Build a community by creating employee profile pages where your employees can post their goals, internal resume, and internal blog.

Also check out some of Google’s new resources, including product videos and other templates at www.google.com/apps/smb.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

New Business to Business Deal Sites offer Big Discounts

Small and local business owners of all types will have new opportunities to grab deep discounts on business-related products and services thanks to a battle heating up in the daily or weekly deals marketplace.  Several B2B daily and weekly deal sites have sprung up recently, offering big discounts on everything from printing, food services and cell phones, to online surveys, computers, travel and cloud-based business applications.  New York-based MarketSharing, one of the latest to launch, joins the likes of BizDeals, BizSaves and Bizy, in jockeying for position in the booming business of B2B deals.  

BizDeals calls itself a “social eCommerce” site offering deals on products and services that help small business owners generate brand awareness and drive growth. Its weekly deals deliver savings on products and services in the categories of Business Essentials, Business Growth, and Rewards & Recognition.  From marketing services and computer products, to travel deals and entertainment, these categories include key areas where savings can do business owners the most good.  One example:  PR Newswire, a BizDeals launch sponsor, offers discounts on its enhanced PR Toolkit, an online public relations resource tailored to small business and entrepreneurs. 

Chicago-based Bizy helps small business owners buy a wide array of products and services at deep discounts, including office equipment and supplies, IT network equipment, software and hardware, mobile communications devices, shipping, payroll services, legal and accounting services, travel, car rental, banking, credit cards, insurance and more. It works like this:

  1. Sign up to receive an email when there is a new and interesting Bizy deal, or look for invites from friends, colleagues, ads or the website.
  2. When you see an offer you like, you can click the big “buy now” button.
  3. Some deals only work if a minimum number of businesses buy.
  4. Within 24 hours you’ll receive a purchase confirmation.  Print it and take it with you to the supplier or quote the reference number featured in the email to redeem your offer.

BizSaves bargains on behalf of business owners for deals on products and services that small companies and startups need most, with discounts reaching 50% or more. Sign up at the website to receive email notices of new deals weekly.

Meanwhile, MarketSharing hopes to position itself as a “premium B2B deals provider for exceptional business products and services.”  Initial deals are in New York only, but the site plans to expand to other major U.S. cities quickly.  Their first three daily deals include discounts on SeamlessWeb food delivery, BlogWorld and New Media Expo passes and TeamWorx team building events.

MarketSharing aims to offer businesses high quality, deeply discounted (50-80%) daily group deals on a wide range of products and. With an emphasis on brick and mortar to support local businesses, MarketSharing focuses on curating the best local products and service deals for businesses.  “Our vision is to provide deals that foster the discovery of new experiences for businesses, creating a happier, healthier, and more well rounded work environment,” says John Amato, MarketSharing’s CEO.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

Top 10 Benefits of Sams Club Small Business Membership

Sam’s Club, the Wal-Mart division that caters to small business, is certainly popular.  The membership-based buying outlets now number over 600, claim 47 million members, and have become America’s 8th largest retailer.  So what’s the big deal?  BizBest took a closer, inside look to identify the key benefits that aren’t always visible in one place.   

Like its corporate parent, Sam’s Club specializes in super low prices – in this case, geared to products and services that small, local and main street businesses need and use the most.  A regular Business membership is $35/year.  Business Plus ($100/year) gets you extra savings on top of the regular low prices.  Here is BizBest’s list of the top 10 most useful small business benefits of a Sam’s Club membership:

  1. The handy “Shop by Business” feature on the Sam’s Club website is a quick and easy way to find things for your type of small business or specific need.  Shop by Business categories include restaurant supplies, office furniture, janitorial & cleaning, vending & concession, technology (projectors, computers, software, copiers), specialty business (salons, barber shops, construction and repair, retail and convenience stores), auto and tires, hotels and child card.
  2. Early Shopping Hours: Sam’s Club offers early shopping hours for small business owners from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the week.
  3. Merchant credit card processing:  This program offers rates as low as 1.49% plus 20 cents per transaction, and no application fees.  In addition, you get a free Sam’s Club Plus Membership for the term of your contract (worth $100 yearly). 
  4. Click ‘n’ Pull and Fax ‘n’ Pull:  Sam shops for you.  Submit your online or faxed order before 5 p.m. and your items are ready for pickup at your local club the next day.
  5. Tech Experts:  Free, member-exclusive help for any camera/camcorder or computer you buy at Sam’s Club.
  6. Delivery and assembly: Tech Experts will also assemble, deliver and install Sam’s Club items, starting at $59.
  7. SBA small business loans:  Need working capital for your small business?  This program offers loans of $5,000-$25,000 to small businesses and startups.  Sam’s Club membership gets you a 20% discount on loan fees (a $100 value); low affordable interest rates with simple easy terms; and no collateral required.
  8. Check printing:  Sam’s Club offers a full line of computer and manual checks for business, as well as business kits and check writing accessories.  
  9. Extra savings and cash back: Combine a Business Plus Membership with a Sam’s Club® Discover and earn up to 2 percent cash back on a variety of purchases. Average savings are more than $500 for Business Members.
  10. eValues paperless coupons provide personalized savings on hundreds of items including office supplies. The eValue benefit is included in both the Advantage and Business versions of the Sam’s Club Plus membership. Sam’s Club estimates Plus Members save an additional $200 per year with eValues.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.

A Virtual Phone System App that will Blow You Away

Say what you will about AT&T, but its new “Office@Hand” virtual phone system application for small biz, introduced Feb. 1, is going to blow away a lot of business owners.  It’s a service that finally recognizes what biz owners already know – that small companies use phones today is radically different ways, with a complex mix of mobile and land line, voicemail,  fax, text, toll-free, automated messages/greetings, forwarding, email and more.

Office@Hand is a complete phone system for up to 100 users that you can buy, setup and activate instantly – no hardware or tech skills needed.  It’s a high-powered PBX system based entirely in “the cloud” (meaning you access it online) that works with your existing mobile and land lines and takes seconds to add, delete or change employee or department extensions, modify the auto-receptionist company greetings, change call routing and answering rules or update business hours.  The Office@Hand application (app) is a free download from the Apple App Store or AT&T AppCenter, and service is $14 to $16 per month, depending on number of users.

Office@Hand lets you perform minor phone system miracles and do things you never thought possible from a system you can run from your smart phone, such as transferring live calls between mobile and land lines, voicemail and fax forwarding via email, and advanced call routing rules and logs.

Check out this short Office@Hand video for an overview of how it works.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved. 

Surprise Truck-Buying Tactics that Can Save you Thousands

Need a new pickup or other truck type for your business? Sometimes the advice we’ve “always heard” about something turns out to be only partly right, or not right at all, and in fact can end up hurting instead of helping our cause.

Advice on negotiating the price of a new truck falls into this category.  Here are three “surprises” that might turn some of the things you’ve heard in the past on their head:

Surprise #1:  Offering to pay cash will NOT get you a better deal.

Most biz owners are conditioned to believe they can squeeze out a better deal on almost anything by offering to pay in full, immediately.  That might be true for most things, but when it comes to buying a new truck, it could be a big mistake.  According to Jonathan Rivers, of the website BillShrink, what dealers don’t tell you is that they often receive fat bonuses for arranging financing.

Thanks to those kinds of behind-the-scenes incentives, dealers have dumped the old adage “cash is king” and developed a new saying:  “cash is trash.”  Says Rivers, “You are more likely to negotiate a lower selling price by financing (and enabling the dealer to collect his bonus) than by paying for the vehicle outright.”

Surprise #2:  The “dealer invoice” price might NOT be the dealer’s real cost.

Common wisdom says that truck buyers should check the “dealer invoice” price for any vehicle they are considering.  The invoice price is what the dealer paid the manufacturer for the vehicle (including all options).  By contrast, the manufacturer’s suggest retail price (MSRP) is the “sticker” price that includes dealer markup.

But for most vehicle makes, the published invoice price is not the true dealer cost because of something called “dealer holdback.” Holdback is a portion of the sale price, typically 2-3 percent of either the invoice price or MSRP, that the manufacturer returns to a dealer, usually on a quarterly basis as a way to boost the dealer’s cash flow.

Surprise #3:  You are not always destined to pay all “delivery” charges.

One of the “other” costs of buying a new business vehicle is the so-called “destination charge.”   This is a non-negotiable fee set by the manufacturer that covers the cost of shipping the vehicle to the dealership.  It’s a fixed number, regardless of whether the dealer is 10 miles or 10,000 miles away from the factory.

But here’s the surprise. While this may also be called a “delivery charge,” under no circumstances should you pay a destination charge AND a separate delivery charge that a dealer tacks on.  One charge is required; the other is just padding and you should ask that to be erased.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.