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Dale Hammernik On: Retrieving What Was Lost

With the markets taking a dive the past few weeks, it’s up to us mighty Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business owners to keep this economy on the track it needs to be. And that’s not even really a “patriotic” sentiment … I just don’t want to have to live through another “recovery”, you?

So, in that light, I’ve recently had success with something here at Team Dale Hammernik which I thought I’d pass along. Let’s, together, be the ones who are THRIVING … not just surviving, shall we?

Let me know what you think.

Dale Hammernik On: Retrieving What Was Lost
“Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.” – Roger Von Oech

Bar none, the most important asset in your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area business is your client list. I’ll paraphrase Andrew Carnegie who said, in effect: “If you take away all of my wealth, my products, my inventory, my equipment, my staff, in fact, virtually all assets and resources – but leave me my customer lists, I will have everything else back in short order.”

He’s 100% correct. And, in the past, I have urged you to take the steps to ensure you are on top of this list for your business.

There are three segments you should address as we head into summer:

1) Existing Clients
This seems obvious, but frankly it can be one of the most under-utilized — and yet most profitable — groups of customers or clients to pursue.

2) “Lost” Clients
More about these in a minute.

3) Targeted Prospects/New Clients
This is the “sexy” segment … but in my opinion, established business owners spend far too much energy and resources going after this group.

I’d like to posit a thought to you: most of your “lost” clients didn’t leave because you did something wrong. As a business owner, it’s easy to take things personally, and believe that when you lose a customer or client, you really messed something up.

Actually, studies indicate the opposite is true: it’s normally something happening in their life or business, not what your business did or didn’t do.

So going back to this list with a simple appeal for their business, to “give you another shot”, is actually a powerful strategy for recapturing business. Simply asking for them to return is sure to bring a boatload of “lost” clients back.

Everybody loves being wanted.

But most Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businesses make the mistake of either 1) not even trying to go back after former clients or customers or 2) simply “keeping them on the list” for regular mailings.

Actually what’s most effective is when you acknowledge that the client or customer hasn’t done business with you recently — and you’d like to incentivize them to give you a shot again. It acknowledges that there is a relationship in play, and that the customer/client isn’t just a number to you.

Try it in the next few weeks…watch your response go through the roof.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik Shares How To Help Your Managers Manage

Now, moving on to something I had to be very clear about during our busy season — “delegation”.

It’s such a catch word that we often don’t think through its layers.

For instance, we all know the old cliche: “Delegate, don’t dump!”

But one area that I’ve seen many Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businesspeople struggle with is in helping others do this effectively, within their own organization. When you manage other managers, it’s a different skill than if you are the first-line manager, and you manage only workers.

As I’ve run my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties accounting and tax firm, I’ve always encouraged my staff to never think of themselves as worker drones; there are always elements of what they do that requires managerial excellence — even, for instance, when they are “managing” clients.

Here’s a little crib sheet I go through my managers, when it seems like it’s needed…

Dale Hammernik Shares How To Help Your Managers Manage
“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” – John Wooden

I’ve had to not only manage employees in the course of running my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties accounting business, but I’ve also learned a thing or two about helping OTHERS do this.

Frankly, when an employee isn’t doing his or her job, your first instinct may be to blame the person for not following instructions, being lazy, or not caring about your organization. But I suggest that you take a step back, address the mirror and look at your own performance first.

Consider these possibilities:

Do employees know what you want? 
Go beyond just assigning tasks. Give employees clear performance standards that will help them understand when they’re doing a good job: technical knowledge they need to master, quality and productivity measurements, and so forth.

Do they know why you want it? 
Workers make better decisions about what they need to do if they know why a task is necessary: how it affects the company, the employee, and other people, and what happens when they don’t perform the task correctly.

Do employees know how to do the job? 
This comes down to adequate training, for both new hires and longtime workers. Make employees part of the training process by having them train others in their new skills.

Do they think they’re already doing a good job?
A worker will think he or she is doing just fine if you don’t offer frequent and regular feedback. Let employees know what they’re doing well, and coach them to get better in areas where they’re weak.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik On How To Get Help From Smart People

I’m loving the spring here in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area — it always feels like it’s the perfect time to get a fresh start on new initiatives and ideas that have been on the backburner for our Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties tax accounting firm, but which can now be brought to the front.

Especially, might I add, when it’s after April 15th! We are taking some time around here at Team Dale Hammernik to rest up a bit, and think a little bigger — as we like to do every year after the dust of tax season settles down.

I always like to take some time to dream and work on new things during this season; it matches the season around us somehow, I’ve found.

And this is also the time that, when doing so, I like to seek out specific people, whether locally here in Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties or nationally, and pick their brain on these ideas, and get help.

I’ve picked up some tricks along the way, in so doing, and thought I’d put them together for you here.

Dale Hammernik On How To Get Help From Smart People
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

Successful people rarely reach the top without a lot of help along the way. The ability — and willingness — to ask for help is one trait that really stands out among those who are truly committed to success.

Personally, I’ve been approached a number of times by “up-and-comers” here in Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties and have seen this done the right way … and the wrong way. Whether it’s your boss or another entrepreneur, here are some tips for seeking advice from the experts:

• Please don’t waste their time. Once they’ve agreed to help, get to the point quickly. Don’t go through your life story in excruciating detail, nor spend an hour explaining your business plan or the plot of your novel. Plan what you want to ask so you can make a clear, succinct request.

• Get specific. Don’t just ask, “What should I do?” Imagine you can ask only one question (because that may be the case). Identify the most important issue you’re facing that your expert is qualified to address, and build your question around that. You may get a chance to ask a follow-up, or move on to another subject, so be prepared, but don’t assume you’ll have all the time in the world to get to what you need.

• Save one general question for the end. The corollary to the rule above is to save a few minutes to ask something like, “Is there anything else you’d recommend?” once you’ve gotten the answer to your essential question. This gives the expert a chance to expand on whatever information he or she has shared, and provides the opportunity to start building more of a relationship than a one-time transaction.

• Offer something in return. You’re asking for a favor. Be ready to trade services, buy lunch, offer your own expertise, or some other form of reciprocation. This demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to building relationships,
not just grabbing information and leaving right away.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Many (many!) thanks

As I write here from Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Tax Accountant Headquarters, it’s the day before tax day (which is Tuesday the 15th), and we are pushing hard during this final stretch! Procrastinators are streaming through our Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties office doors (after all, we welcome them here), the phone is ringing off the hook, and my email inbox is overflowing.

Another year, another tax day.

How did I remember the deadline was so close? I almost didn’t!

It was only until this morning, as I lifted my heavily-lidded eyes to peer up through the haze of government forms and procedures, and I saw the Team Dale Hammernik calendar — which today said: April 14. 

Egads! One day left!

In all seriousness, today is an extremely busy day for us here at Team Hammernik — but as I am a person of ritual, I’m still taking the time to write to you on this, of all days. Though you may be receiving it later in the week, depending on how this day goes!

It’s been a great tax season — and for us, it’s not even close to being over.

Yes, we’ll have a bit of a respite because individual filings (and a slew of other things) are due tomorrow. But since we work so closely with Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small businesses, we don’t take the same kind of extended vacation of which many of our colleagues avail themselves upon tax season’s completion.

But today’s date gives me the chance to say (again): We are extremely grateful for your trust.

It’s always been our hope that we take a process that is so painful and time-consuming (with so much waste), and convert it into a profitable enterprise through smart tax planning and the coaching of our Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties-area clients. We’re proud to say that we have seen many of those stories this year, as we’ve continued to grow on the strength of your referrals.

I won’t be sharing strategic business wisdom today (I hope you’ll forgive our needing to stay focused), but I would like to make one last request:

If you have filed your taxes with us would you…

A) Write me and tell me your honest words about it? If it was positive, I’d love to hear specifics — and if not positive, I definitely still want to hear about it!

B) Share us on YOUR Facebook wall…?

Here’s something you can say:
“I had my taxes prepared by Dale Hammernik’s team, and had a great experience. And even now, they’re willing to review your tax return to make sure that everything was done right for you … Give them a call at: (414) 545-1890 and let them know I told you to call.” 
 Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HammernikAssociates

Or some such… thanks again!

Warmly (and with great hope for the future of your business),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Waukesha Tax Accountant Suggests You Shake Up Your Business Plans a Little

Yes, this is the last full week of tax season  for Waukesha – area (the deadline is Tuesday the 15th, and you knew that, right?) — so why am I taking this time to write to you about your marketing and business strategy?

Because it’s the best way I know to keep my own iron sharp, both as a Waukesha business owner and a leader.

I get to be the one in our Waukesha tax accounting firm to keep our eyes focused in on what we do BEST. In fact, I was thinking about this very much over the weekend (between I.V. drips of caffeine), as we continued to serve our growing ranks of clients. Our inboxes are bursting, our file folders are swelled, and our families miss us.

And we keep going, with a deadline in sight.

But before I get to the subject of what I’m writing about, a few words on deadlines:

1) Tuesday, April 15 is the deadline to contribute to IRA’s, etc. in order to have them count on this year’s (2013) taxes.

2) It is also the deadline to claim the almost $800 million in unclaimed refunds for returns dating back to 2010. If you, for some reason, didn’t file for that year, you could be missing out. Call us for this special circumstance: (414) 545-1890
(Or for any other question — but again, bear with us, as we are extremely busy!)

And one last thingif you have filed your taxes with us already, and you had a good experience, would you…

A) Write me back and tell me about it?

B) Share us on your Facebook wall…?
 Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HammernikAssociates

Here’s something you can say:

I had my taxes prepared by Dale Hammernik’s team, and had a great experience. They also just told me that they are willing to help procrastinators! So, if that’s you, give them a call at: (414) 545-1890 and let them know I told you to call. Or you could do it tomorrow, of course 🙂

Or some such… thanks again! (And you can even tell them about what’s at the end of this email, if you so choose.)

Waukesha Tax Accountant Suggests You Shake Up Your Business Plans a Little
“I want to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.” – David Nicholls

We all get in a rut sometimes.

Week in, week out — doing the same old stuff, the same old way.

That’s one of the reasons I write these. They get me out of my day-to-day, and into thinking bigger for my Waukesha business and my relationships. I also like to get out and go to conferences (especially non-tax or accounting ones), and inject my professional existence with a little fresh thinking.

Well, I’m not the only one who needs a fresh practice, apparently.

Inspiration has many sources, some of them predictable, others a little more unusual. I recently came across these inspiring examples of offbeat creative practices by
geniuses past and present. Not sure I’ll implement all of them, but they’re certainly worth considering:

• Underwater thinking. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, a Japanese inventor, practices “creative swimming.” He jumps into his pool and makes notes on a Plexiglas board underwater while holding his breath. It must work: Nakamatsu has more than 4,000 patents to his name.

• Creative sleeping. Another famous inventor, Thomas Edison, is said to have taken short naps throughout the day. His technique was to sleep sitting up, with a handful of marbles in one hand. When they fell, waking him up, he’d immediately write down the first idea that came into his head.

• Isolation. The artist Jasper Johns lives in Connecticut, but he spends several months each year on St. Martin in the Caribbean. An assistant helps him prepare canvases and set up his studio, but after that Johns is alone to paint uninterrupted.

• And the really odd stuff. The German poet Goethe kept a rotten apple on his desk that, he claimed, helped him write. British novelist Charles Dickens insisted on a desk facing north whenever he wrote, and even slept in a bed aligned with the poles. And Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist and author of Don Quixote, was said to immerse his feet and legs in ice-cold water when he wanted to think.

I would ask that you forward this article to a Waukesha business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance–or simply send them our way. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly,

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

I’d Like to Talk About Your Business…

[pullquote cite=”Dale Hammernik” type=”left, right”]I know your business. Because we deal with clients like you all the time, I’ve got a leg up on all those “gurus”, since I’m right there in the trenches with you.[/pullquote]

Dale Hammernik here, your tax and accounting professional. I know that we haven’t posted much before, but starting this week I’m hoping that you and I can have a conversation about your business.

You and I both see the headlines. Questionable government decisions, taxes sure to rise in the next few years (whether or not it will really help the economy) your clients and customers are feeling a new pinch, and, well… overall the deck is stacked against small businesses like yours and mine. Right there in your neighborhood, I know that businesses could use a “shot in the arm”.

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As I look over business tax returns and the books of our clients and associates, I often find ways to help the bottom line with little-known tax savings, etc.

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But I also see that if I could help “fix” sales, marketing, management and leadership problems for my clients it would go a long way to help. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’ll pass along what I’ve seen work for me, and for other clients like you.

And, I’ll be frank…if I can help your business THRIVE during these economic times with my advice, it helps MY business. I like keeping my clients doing well, because it means that our services will be paid for! And as our clients grow their businesses, their need for our services also grows. It’s a true “win, win.”

But the problem is that there’s a lot of confusion out there about how to grow your business right-with cost-effective, powerful strategies which cut through the clutter and create sales. There’s a ton of so-called “experts” out there, and they often give conflicting advice.

So starting this week, we’ll be sending you notes and tips on a weekly basis-offering “Real World” Business Strategy (which you can use) and guidance for increasing sales, improving leadership, and all-around business growth and development. And I hope you’ll forgive me if I lay aside “accountant-jargon” and give it to you straight!

Here we go…

Dale Hammernik’s “Real World” Business Strategy

First Steps in This Economy / Getting To Know You

In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss both general concepts and specific strategies…but now, in this first week, here’s a good start (plus a question for you):

The fastest way to fix financial problems in your business is to fix the sales problem. Yes, I know-everybody’s business is “different”, but I’ve seen it across almost every business category: Make more sales and a host of problems disappear.

(Now for some of you, I know that your increasing marginal costs are making your sales less powerful, but we’ll address that in the future.)

So how do you do that? Well, there’s obviously a bunch of good answers to that question-but for a quick surge there’s three lists to get ahold of right now.

  1. Existing Clients
  2. “Lost” Clients
  3. Targeted Prospects

The first one might be obvious, but I’m continually amazed at how many businesses don’t maintain good records of their current customers. These are the easiest folks to sell to again. They’ve already indicated interest in your business, and have demonstrated it with their wallet. Go back to them this week with a promotion just for them, and the results will be better than any other list.

“But what if I don’t have a list?”

Good question, and if that’s the case: start one now. Whether it’s by giving an incentive at the point-of-sale or client meeting to have them provide you their details, or if it just means hiring a high school kid to compile all the data for you-this list is your most important asset in your business.

I’ll address the other two groups in the weeks ahead, as well as creative strategies for going after your existing customers, but I’ll leave you with this request:

Help Us Help Your Business!

Would you take a moment to drop us a line with one of the following?

A) Let us know what kind of service you’d like to see us provide for you and your business in the future, which we are not currently providing you.

Or

B) Would you write me a quick note about how well we’ve already served you? Businesses like yours are looking for a good tax professional-and we’ve found that what business owners really want to know is what others say about us, not what we say about ourselves. Your note would really help!

We’ll be back again next week!

Dale Hammernik