Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Value of Your Internet Web Site

In our global world today, the internet has become the first and foremost way for new customers to find your business. We also must consider returning customers who use the internet to find more about you and perhaps your competitors too. Therefore your investment on your website is the number one consideration for your business public presence. Any other level of
consideration lowers your business vitality. Your website is the key portal that many use to view your strength and success.

I remember when I started my first business – a gift and jewelry store, that the investment in the local telephone company Yellow Pages was the most important place to announce my presence. I was astounded at how much it cost to advertise there. Then when competing yellow pages came out – it compounded my advertising expenses. I felt forced to keep even the smaller directories when new customers said they used these yellow pages for convenience because they would find the results quicker. Not many of our younger generation will remember the four to six inch thick yellow pages of a moderate sized city. The larger cities had multiple thick directories and if we wanted customers from each section of the city we would pay hundreds of dollars each month to look better than our competitors. By now everyone cal tell my age – and I hope the wisdom that comes with it.

Now it seems so much easier to make a website with free software and other low cost considerations. If you are not careful, though, they will produce a cheaper looking website. Investing a reasonable amount of money with an experienced web site developer will give you a better return that most anything else for your business.

The first job of your website is to reach potential new customers with easy to find information about your company. Your products, services, and location must be on the home page or indexed on your tabs because these are the crucial inquiries new customers are seeking.

Second, use your website to teach your customers about your products and services. Remember the internet is now the primary source people use to find new information.

Give your customers easy to find information they need. Organize your navigation system in the order of the most frequent asked customer questions.

Use depth to teach your customers about your products and services. The better educated your customer is – the more likely he or she will choose the right product and have a high satisfaction rate.

Finally, inform your customers about your company goals. How do you plan to satisfy them? How do you plan to help them? What will you do if they need help? All these things can be presented in your web site.

Use your web site as a dynamic, always evolving representation of your company – especially as your company grows and changes. Listen to customer feedback. Your website is the first impression for many new customers and may be the final impression for lost customers.


Food for thought:

How much do you spend each year on your website? Is it enough?

How easy is it for your customers to contact you?

Think of examples of good websites that are easy to navigate?

What do you dislike the most on a website? What do you like the most?

What does your website need the most?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

You may have heard the joke about the repairman called out to get the factory machinery running again. He arrived quickly – looked around at all the workers sitting back waiting for something to happen – didn’t see one machine running – went to the control box and opened it up. He then put his screwdriver inside and turned something. Then he pulled the lever and everything started up and ran impeccably. When he presented his bill, the owner complained about paying $100 just to turn the screw. “OK,” the repairman said, tearing up the bill and writing a new one: $1 for turning the screw, $99 for knowing which one to turn.

This introduction can instruct us: “To be successful we must know which screw to turn.”

When we first started ABC Ice we got many calls asking for dry ice. One of our competitors told us it was a pain in the neck to sell and hardly worth handling. Another competitor even used part of his Yellow Page ad telling everyone, “We don’t carry dry ice!” He told us that even that didn’t stop the annoying phone calls. When I called the suppliers, they all said I was too far south from Los Angeles to get scheduled deliveries. At least one offered it for double the price my competitor was selling his for. I couldn’t make any money that way. Finally I decided to drive thirty miles north into another city where I wasn’t selling ice and buy dry ice from a distributor that was willing to give me a slight discount off his retail price anytime I needed it. At least this way I could wait until I nearly ran out by selling it or watching it sublimate away unsold – before getting more. Many times my wife, Ellen would call me to ask how soon I would get back to the plant – a customer may be willing to wait.

That solved one of the key points of selling dry ice. Getting the quantity needed when it is needed – “just in time.”

This alone didn’t make us successful or even profitable in the dry ice business. It simply allowed us to be able to offer a product for an obvious need as indicated by the many telephone calls.
I believe the key to successful sales is a two way street involving our customers and us. First we must learn to listen to our customers’ needs and requirements. Do they really need dry ice when wet water ice will do? Are they purchasing the dry ice at the right time? Are they buying enough or too much? Will they handle the dry ice so it won’t “burn” them? An unhappy customer costs more than we imagine. Therefore we must be able to talk to our customers and explain to them the proper use, handling, and storage of dry ice so their desires will be met successfully. The most important thing to control while talking to our customers is our attitude. We must not become impatient or exasperated just because we have heard this question one thousand times already.

When we develop a positive supportive and caring attitude, our customers will feel free to ask even the easiest questions that may make the difference in their experience using dry ice. These customers will pass on that close comfortable feeling to others and allow our business to grow. Sometimes we only have a few moments to give the right impression so we must always make the most of the first impression – even a simple smile to start things off – and build a lasting relationship that will reward us with repeat business and success.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bright Future for Dry Ice

The amount of information available about dry ice is growing due to the success of internet search engines and sustained curiosity about it. Now there are many – often copied – similar descriptions about anything anyone wants to know about dry ice. When I started dryiceInfo ten years ago there was more bad information than good helpful information on the internet. So I started the website as a hobby to better inform the public. Now I will continue sharing information in this blog by giving updated and current trends for the dry ice industry.

The latest economic downturn, primarily due to young innovated and creative minds using the power of computer programming to find new ways of squeezing higher interest rates for banking investment has churned the world because of unforeseen shortcomings as nothing else has in such a short time. Other forces from the internet's quick and easy availability of information has closed many businesses and made others that sell to walk in traffic obsolete.

News organizations are also in tumult and disarray trying to find the vehicle to earn a living and pay for their resources to provide news in their old traditional way as well as new internet ways. Only by understanding the new power that each of us individually have when we can gather and share news and other information on the internet for all to see, will the news companies succeed in providing a public service that someone will support with their wages.

Yet in these changing and challenging times dry ice is still selling in increasing quantities to walk in customers – note the increased number of grocery stores carrying Penguin brand dry ice. It is still the most economic way to store cold energy. And it is growing in popularity for photography special effects. In addition, dry ice blast cleaning is a growing industry, as contractors for various business with cleaning, maintenance and refurbishing requirements, discover more and more innovated applications for using dry ice blasting.

For dry ice blast cleaners, the opportunities for new business is mitigated by the increasing number of people willing to get into the blasting business themselves. Those who are successful because of good customer relationships combined with experienced gained from careful preparation, planning, and execution of the cleaning project in a safe orderly manner, build their trustworthy reputation in these hard times.

The blast-cleaning contractors who are willing to sell or rent blasting equipment to their existing and prospective customers as well as train them in their use, are the finding new sales opportunities, although they may be loosing some of their contractual business. The question that needs to be answered is “How can I support my customers in the best possible way for their benefit?” When this is answered with our customers’ interest first, we become a valued service provider and a friend that can be counted on in a substantial lasting relationship of worthy character that will provide valued referrals.

Therefore I see a bright future in the dry ice business – both selling dry ice and the growing opportunities in dry ice blast cleaning – and not an antiquated symbol disappearing as fast as the desk hogging vacuum tube computer monitor has.