Are weekly sales meetings worth it?
The overabundance of unhelpful meetings is the bane of all employees. If you hold a meeting of any kind, you have a responsibility to inform invitees of the specific reason you are meeting and make it worth everyone’s while—not just yours.
Consequently, step back and ask yourself why you are holding any kind of regularly scheduled meeting. Are you just perpetuating a legacy that is no longer relevant? Is frequency an issue? Is there a better way of achieving the desired outcome?
Concerning weekly sales “check in” meetings, some sales pros advise against these, as they tend to serve the sales manager more than the rep. But I like them for sales forces of up to 10 people—particularly when so many sales reps work virtually today. It helps them feel connected and supported by the company, their manager and their colleagues. And, speaking of virtual, these meetings can be conducted via conference call, videoconference or by using an online meeting application.
However, many faults can creep into weekly check-ins as they become routine.
Too often they become a forum in which the sales manager dumps and collects data, which is largely a waste of your reps’ time. I suggest you go into each meeting with the objective of getting what you need quickly and then getting out of the way. Be the catalyst that inspires an atmosphere of learning by getting your team to share their experiences and best practices. Make your meeting short and fast-paced—no more than 30 minutes, with a maximum of 10 minutes dedicated to your needs and the rest to your team’s. Always start on time, regardless of attendance—you will be surprised by how well this improves punctuality. (Be respectful by ending on time, too.) I also suggest the meetings be consistently structured so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
I feel I’m losing control of my growing business. What is the first step toward getting it back?
It’s common among entrepreneurs: an unexpected surge in growth throws your business into a tailspin. To get back on track, or to avoid this problem altogether, you need to juggle the demands of managing your growth and enhancing your company’s performance.
Business diagnostics are ideal tools for doing just that. That’s because they’re designed to help you:
Whether you need to increase profits, attract new customers, retain staff or improve your operations, diagnostic tools can help you focus on the factors crucial to driving your success. To gain a balanced view of your business, you need to look how you undertake eight core processes:
1. Creating, delivering and maintaining a sustainable business energy.
2. Designing, procuring and delivering quality products or services.
3. Developing an effective organization that supports your strategic objectives.
4. Recruiting, developing and training valuable people.
5. Creating a culture of continuous improvement.
6. Providing financial support for accurate decision-making.
7. Developing and managing your technology.
8. Finding, developing and nurturing your customers.
Growing businesses often find their current processes have become inefficient or outdated and don’t support the company’s increasing complexity. A business diagnostic can help you identify those challenges—and show where you have to fine tune your business’ performance.
Questions to consider when conducting a business diagnostic include:
What is my vision for the next five years?
What has to happen to achieve this vision?
How efficient are my operations? What issues do I need to address to improve them?
Can my operations support my company’s growth?
Do I have the right people to achieve my growth plans?
If not, why aren’t they meeting my expectations? Are my customers choosing my products or services over my competitors?
Why, or why not?
How effective am I in attracting new customers?
In retaining existing ones?
Am I satisfied with my business’ financial performance?
How do I measure success?
Working with your accountant to complete a business diagnostic will help you develop answers to these questions and get your business back on track.
Does my company really need to do reference checks on job candidates?
Let me start by answering that question with one of my own. If hiring choice are among the most crucial business decisions you make, shouldn’t you invest in a due diligence process that helps you make good decisions and avoid fatal ones?
In the past, many employers believed that reference checks were a necessary evil but didn’t really add value; hiring decisions were based largely on the outcome of candidate interviews. But attitudes have changed as the reference-checking process has evolved into something much more robust, comprehensive and reliable.
The use of trained, third-party professional interviewers is increasing. These experts know how to spot hidden red flags. For instance, they can detect speech pattern changes during the reference check interview, which triggers them to probe deeper and gets better qualitative results. If you don’t use a third party, I would recommend that you provide professional training to improve the skills in this area of any staff member who conducts reference checks.
Depending on the role that is being filled, I recommend a comprehensive review that includes: educational, criminal and financial checks; collection of character references; and interviews with former managers, employees and peers. This process provides a 360-degree view, which is especially critical when hiring for a leadership role.
For many of these checks, the candidate’s pre-approval is required. If a candidate has something to hide, it will usually become evident when the candidate is asked to provide the necessary consent—which might save time in itself.
For customs purposes, how is the value of imported goods determined?
Valuation for customs purposes continues to be a primary focus of Canada’s customs authorities and a critical element in ensuring you are compliant.
Valuation essentially means “what it is worth.” Customs officials use a shipment’s declared value, along with its classification and country of origin, to determine duties and taxes. The declared value should be an accurate representation of the selling price of the goods. The key here is the selling price.
So, for instance, if you imported goods that you paid $100 for, what do you need to declare to customs? It might not be just the amount you paid to your supplier.
The import value may need to include commissions, royalties, inland freight, warranty and any other costs paid to foreign suppliers. The intent is to establish a fair market standard for import valuation purposes.
In some cases, the intellectual property that forms part of a product also must be considered. For example, if an imported white cotton T-shirt is valued at $5, the same T-shirt bearing a Nike logo might be valued at $15 when it crosses the border.
Proper valuation is important to Canadian authorities for many reasons, not the least of which is that GST is always paid at the border upon importation, with the applicable amount based on the the value for duty of the imported goods. Although most GST paid at the border is later reclaimed by commercial importers, for accounting purposes, the GST payable must be accurate. If errors are made, you will be liable for interest and penalties. The penalties can be significant—sometimes more than double the difference between GST paid and the correct GST amount.