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Archive for November, 2007

LandlordMax Customer Testimonial

Today’s testimonial for LandlordMax Property Management Software comes from Daniel Bonnell. Here’s a great example of how positive and friendly customer service can really help your company achieve success:

“I had spent many of months studying many of other software. I had thought that I had found the best until they had gotten my money. After the payment had been made that was the last of any support. We had gone live with the other program and found many of problems, tried to get support and only showing them what was wrong with their program and was unable to help resolve the problem. By mistake, I had emailed LandlordMax. They were so kind in trying to help me with the program that I thought was theirs. The support from LandlordMax was so fast and not making me feel stupid that I was asking questions about the wrong software. Once I figured out my mistake, I realized that I needed to switch to a company that cared. LandlordMax is so much easier to understand, and if you have a question it is answered fast and accurate. Any problem that I have had has been one of mine and not the program as was what the problem before. Thank you, LandlordMax for the best program and support. There isn’t a better program out there, I know and stand behind them 100 percent. They have made my job so much easier.”

Thank you again,
Daniel Bonnell
DT Rentals

It would’ve been easy to push his first support request aside and assume he didn’t know what he was talking, that it was the wrong software as we suspected, but instead we assumed the issue was on our side. Great customer service means assuming the issue is yours first and foremost.

And because of this small act of assuming the issue was with us, we actually tried to get to the bottom of it, we didn’t just ignore it hoping he would go away. He went from getting no response (or negative responses) from his previous software to a company that truly backed it’s product. He was very pleased with this, so much so that he decided to check out our product and found it was a the solution for him. Not only did Daniel buy LandlordMax, I’m sure he’s also going to share his positive experience with many others.

Great customer service is priceless. And thank you Daniel for sharing with us your story!






12 Tips on How to Prepare Your Laptop for a Presentation

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at presentations or meetings where the laptop projected on the overheard hadn’t been prepared beforehand. What do I mean by prepared beforehand? It wasn’t ready or cleaned up ahead of time for the presentation. I’ve seen MSN Messenger popup windows appear in the middle of a meeting (several years ago one person’s message was even very inappropriate for work). I‘ve seen emails come through with popups displaying large portions of confidential emails. You name it I’ve seen it.

Presentation

So today’s topic is how to prepare your laptop for your next presentation and/or meeting. Here’s a list of things you should always do with your laptop before you start your presentation:

1. Close all instant chat clients. Close your MSN Messenger. Close Yahoo Messenger. Close Trillian. Close whatever instant chat clients you’re using. Even if you did get the message, there’s no way you can respond. So why get the message in the first place. And secondly what if the other person sends an embarrassing or confidential message…

2. Close your email client. Who reads their emails during a presentation? Close it. A popup window will only distract your audience. Never mind embarrassing or confidential emails.

3. Turn off your screen saver. Nothing is more annoying than a screen saver going on all the time. Turn it completely off. Why would you ever want your screen saver to turn on in a presentation? It will only distract your audience. Nothing good ever comes from a screen saver coming on during a presentation. Just turn it off, it’s as simple as that.

4. Pre-load the applications you’ll be using in your presentation. As many as you can. No one wants to wait for you to start an application, find the file to open, and wait for it to load. Load them all beforehand. Make it as seamless as a program switch (alt-tab).

5. Try your absolutely best to plug in your laptop. Laptops that run on battery generally run slower to extend the battery’s life. When you’re presenting the last thing you want to do is have your laptop run slower. This is especially true if your showcasing a product. But even worse, nothing kills a presentation as effectively as running out of power!6. If all at all possible, bring a backup of your data on a USB key. If for some reason your laptop won’t work with the projector, at least you have an alternative option. This isn’t always feasible, some systems need you to pre-install a bunch of applications, etc. But if it’s at all possible, bring a backup on a USB key.

7. Exit all unnecessary services and applications. Why slow down your computer down if you don’t need to. As well, the less windows you have open the less clutter people see. The less applications you potentially need to navigate between.

8. Clean up your desktop icons. And if you’re going to use a desktop background, make sure it’s appropriate for your audience. Although it doesn’t happen that often, it’s possible that you need to navigate to your desktop. Be prepared for this. The less clutter and background, the less distractions. As a quick anecdote, I was once in a meeting where one of the presenter’s desktop folders was very “inappropriately” named for the audience (I’ll let your imagination go wild). Luckily he, nor anyone at the meeting other than me, noticed. Otherwise it could have been a very embarrassing situation for him.

9. Be the first one to arrive. Have your laptop setup before anyone else shows up. You will look a lot more professional if you’re up and running than if you’re fumbling around trying to get your laptop working.

10. Test all your hardware before. Make sure the projector works with your laptop. Make sure the mouse works. Make sure you have internet connectivity if you need it. Basically make sure everything works before. And absolutely make sure you bring everything. Don’t forget your mouse if you need it. Don’t forget your clicker if you use it. Double check that all your required hardware is available and works.

11. Prepare a background image/show to display before the presentation starts. While everyone is entering the room and waiting for the presentation to start there is some dead time. Put something up. At the very least put your logo, a screenshot, a mug shot. Something. Even better, if you have the time and resources, prepare a small repeating presentation. Maybe some screen shots of your product. A small repeating demo of your key features. Maybe some stats about your products usage and benefits. Basically display something for your audience to look at that’s interesting while they wait for the presentation to start.

12. Double check all the above at least once!






Blogging Book Interview Update

Earlier this month I stated that I am in the process of writing a book which will interview some of the most prominent bloggers, asking them what it takes to blog successfully. Since that time the list of people who have agreed to participate in this project has significantly increased. Not only that but all of them are very successful bloggers. Many have traffic above 100,000 unique visitors a month!

As part of choosing who to contact and interview, I’m trying to bring in as many different types of bloggers as possible. As many different niches as possible. There’s the obvious choice of bloggers who choose to write about how to blog such as John Chow. But in addition to this I tried to include people from as many different topics as possible, including business, marketing, software development, specific niches, etc. What I hadn’t realized beforehand is that bloggers seem to congregate to certain common topics more than others, making it harder to get a breath of experiences. And This is why you’ll see that most of the bloggers fall mainly into a handful of different blogging categories. I’m trying my best to extend the range of experiences as much possible.

As well I was planning on keeping the list of bloggers confidential until I had completed all the interviews, but I’ve decided it’s better to share it now. This project is just too exciting to keep it under wraps until the last minute. So without further ado, here’s a list of some of the bloggers that have already agreed to participate in this project (in no particular order):

If you have any others you’d like to suggest to be interview for the book then please comment below. Especially if they are blogging for an interesting and somewhat different/unique niche. If you yourself are a blogger and you have traffic exceeding at least 10,000-25,000 unique visitors a month (preferably over 100,000) then please email me directly. There’s still a few spots left, at least until the end of November. At that point I will definitely not be able to include any more bloggers because of some harder deadlines.

This is a very exciting project! And as you can see from the people who have already agreed to participate the book has quite a range of knowledge and experiences. I’m really looking forward to its release!

** Update: As of today several new people are looking to participate in this exciting project. You’ll find I’ve just added their names to the list tonight.

** Update: A few more names have again been added.






Free Business Idea

Ideas are a dime a dozen, and today I’m going to give you my latest business idea. It’s easy to say I came up with this idea (I’m probably not the only one) and I could possibly make decent money from it, but the reality is that it won’t go anywhere unless I do something. Again, ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is 99% of the battle. And I can honestly say that in this case there won’t be any execution. Even if it was the best idea I just don’t have the time or resources to execute on it. So if you’re interested in pursuing this idea, please by all means take it and roll with it. It’s all yours!

The Idea:

Car Carrier

Today there is a large discrepancy in the price of new car for the same model between Canada and the US. The difference is large enough that people are taking trips to the US with only the intention of buying a new car. Even after taking into consideration the loss of the warranty, the costs of the time, lodging, dinning, export fees, currency exchange, and so on, you can come out quite ahead. For example I recently saw the same new car advertised for $40,000 CDN and $25,000 in the US. When you consider that the CDN dollar is worth more than the US dollar right now, that’s crazy! $15,000 goes a long way to paying repairs in the first 5 years of ownership, more than your warranty will ever cover.

So the business idea is not to buy and sell cars, that’s too complicated and there are already tons of car dealerships doing that. Rather what I’m proposing is a delivery service, much like FedEx. The business is composed solely of picking up a pre-purchased car at a dealership in the US and bringing it to a specific location in Canada for pickup. A simple delivery service. It would include going through customs and paying the appropriate fees, but in essence it’s just a very niche delivery service taking advantage of a limited time price difference.

Again, this is simply a delivery business. Nothing more. You don’t buy the cars, your customers have already done this. At no point do you ever own the car. You’re just picking up a parcel, in this case a new car, and bringing it to another location.

Why would someone pay for this? Well if you charge a reasonable amount it’s worth it. You’re basically saving your customers the hassle of a road trip, the time to wait at the border for customs to process your car, etc. The advantage for you is that if you do this with a car carrier truck you don’t just bring one car at a time, you can deliver a small fleet of cars at once. You get the advantage of economies of scale. Not very large, but large enough to make a pretty good profit margin.

Of course this business opportunity won’t be around forever. Eventually the new car dealerships will have to adjust their prices. That’s just a matter of time. But if you’re willing to make the effort and execute on the idea then I’m pretty confident there’s profits to be made for at least several months. If you charge somewhere between $2,000-$5,000 per car, that should easily cover your expenses and give you a decent profit margin.

Since this is a limited time business opportunity, you also don’t want to grow too big. Therefore I would suggest local advertising, possibly something even as simple as classified ads. If you’re even more ambitious you could definitely get some media attention. I can easily envision seeing this on the nightly news.

So there you have. A free business idea. Will it work? I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty confident there’s profit to be had here. The idea does have a lower barrier to entry, anyone can come up with it and execute on it. The question is how many people will actually do it. Ideas are a dime a dozen!






Yours Truly is in the Press Again

Stephane Grenier - Ottawa Business Journal

Last week I made another appearance in the papers, this time in the Ottawa Business Journal. It’s a two page spread of an interview of me by the journalist Julie Fortier. I would have posted about it sooner but unfortunately last week was just insane for me.

The article is an interview about me and my company LandlordMax Property Management Software. Questions such as how I started the company, how I market it, what the main differentiators are, and so on. Overall it’s a very nice and well written article. Thank you Julie.

In addition to the article, if you look on the right side of the picture above there are two boxes. Each one contains an expert panelist commenting on the article. In my case they focused on my comments about customer service. On how important it is to get feedback about your business and product, and how it’s crucial to use this information to grow them,. This is exactly what we do.

Unfortunately for those of you interested in getting a physical copy, it’s too late. I took too long to post this article and therefore you can no longer find local copies. That being said, I will try and get you the link to the online version as soon as I can.

Thank you again Julie for the positive article!

**Update: You can read the full article here.






What Does it Take to have a Successful Blog?

A while ago I posted that I intended to write a book about Marketing and Sales For Small Online Businesses. Since starting this blog I’ve been continually bombarded with questions on what’s the key to my success for both my blog and my company LandlordMax. Honestly, I have to thank a lot of people for my success. For example I’ve gotten so many amazing tips from online bloggers that I can’t even come close enough to expressing my thanks. There are a lot of great people out there and it pays to listen them when they speak.

And because of that I decided to alter the topic of my first book to something more along the lines of “Ask the Pros: What Does it Take to Create a Successful Blog” (I’m still debating the title). Rather than just focus on what I’ve personally learned, I thought it would be more interesting and informative to get advice from many of the greatest bloggers on the internet today. To let the biggest and best bloggers tell you what’s made them successful. What they believe it means to be successful. How they achieved it. And so on.

Some of the interview questions I’ve been asking as part of the interviews include:

  • Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?
  • What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?
  • Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?
  • What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?
  • and so on…

So far 18 people have either expressed very high interest or have already fully committed to being interviewed. Many of these bloggers have more than a 100,000 unique visitors per month in traffic! What’s truly amazing is that I’ve only sent out the invitations for the interviews this week and the replies have been overwhelmingly positive. The response rate to my initial email has been in the strong double digits. I have no doubt this book is going to be a great success!

I’m very excited about this project. It’s going to be a great book with lots of amazing information. I can’t wait to see it in print and listed on Amazon!






 
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