February 2014 - Posts
Wow, it's hard to believe we're at the end of the month already! Was February a productive one for you and your team? Did you hit any milestones in your business or are you ramping up for a busy Spring and Summer season just around the corner?
Last month was the kick-off to our new blog series"This Month in Small Business" where I recapped some of the interesting, and often helpful, resourses I shared throughout the month with our social media community.
If you missed these, no problem! Here is a selection of what I came across during February that includes a video, an infographic, and two articles:
If you're not already a TED Talks enthusiast, I'm going to make a fan out of you with this one! The Happy Secret to Better Work talk is given by Shawn Anchor, the CEO of Good Think Inc, where he researches and teaches about positive psychology. If you're having difficulties with low team moral or just need a good laugh, check out this talk.
(To my delight, Shawn Anchor even thanked Errol when he shared the video with his own network!)
Speaking of great presentation skills, here's an infographic that offers a few easy to implement tips for improving your skills as a presenter.(Note: To zoom in on the infographic for better reading press Command and + on a Mac or Ctrl + scroll mouse wheel on a PC)
This article features the results of sleep tests that are quite amazing. Who knew our sleep was affected by a full moon?!
“The data show that around the full moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent. People also took five minutes longer to fall asleep, and they slept for twenty minutes less time overall."
The important take-away from this article is the importance of sleep, especially for those of you running a small business. It may seem like a good idea to sacrifice sleep to continue working, but it's about working smart, not hard. You'll be able to think with more clarity and creativity if you're rested, so go to bed! (Eeks, I sound like my mom!)
[Article] How to Train Your Brain to Stay Focused
I may not be willing to sign up for those brain-training services, but I thought the notion of training your own brain through productive work habits was an excellent idea.
If you're interested in becoming more focused and productive in your daily work routine, check out this article from Entrepreneur Magazine.
I hope you enjoy these pieces and if you've come across a great article, video, infographic, or cat pic, please share! You can always tweet me at @MethodCRM.
Have a great weekend everyone!
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For many, the start of a new year means resolutions to get fit, eat healthy, time with family...I could on but will spare you. For some of us at Method, this new year kicks off a new round of annual conferences.
By now there’s a lot that is routine in attending conferences -- airport delays, long nights and early mornings -- while other parts are fresh, bold, and totally new, like the product features, innovations, announcements, and new faces. For 2014, Method decided to be fresh, BIG and bold!
Intuit Reseller Rally
Our first trip took us to beautiful San Francisco for the annual Intuit Reseller Rally, bringing together some of the top Intuit Resellers. Together with sponsors like Method:CRM, the event provides Intuit Resellers, many of whom are a part of Metho, with an opportunity to see the latest showcases and innovations in the marketplace. d Partner Program
Additionally, it provides an opportunity to interact with other Resellers to share their own best practices and to also learn from others to help their own clients to be more successful.
Silicon Valley - the Mecca of Innovation
During the trip, we made sure to stop in at the Intuit Headquarters, where we were greeted with apps (short for appetizers...not tech applications) and a small tour around the Innovation Center. During the Intuit Gallery Tour, we were treated to demos of some pretty exciting technology - here are a few:
GoPayment by Intuit
For those small businesses that provide services on the road, Intuit’s GoPayment is a way to accept credit card payments on the spot. Instead of sending a customer an invoice for a product or service and then waiting days, or even weeks for payment, the GoPayment card reader and app allows you to either swipe, key-in, or snap a picture of a customer’s credit card and process the transaction immediately.
To provide authorization for their credit card, the customer signs right within the app and receives a receipt of the transaction by text or email. The transaction syncs up with QuickBooks and Intuit Point of Sale products, so everything is in the system before you even get back to the office. How cool is that?!
SparksRent by Intuit
Intuit created SparksRent because handwritten, post-dated rent cheques are outdated and landlords need an alternative to chasing after payments. This is how SparksRent works:
Landlords create a SparksRent account and add rental units, tenants’ info, and their own banking info to receive payments
Each tenant will receive a welcome email from SparksRent where they are shown how to pay rent through the application and even set up automatic payments
Each tenant can see all their payments on their dashboard, which is an easy way to make sure you haven’t missed any
When a rent payment has been made, the landlord receives a notification email with the payment confirmation and can also view all tenant payments on his own dashboard.
A Quick Stop Off at Google
Before the start of the Intuit Reseller Rally, Paul and Danny left the Toronto winter weather behind for an extra day in Silicon Valley to meet up with an old friend, who not only works at Google HQ but who was kind enough to show the guys around. I was told it was an amazing experience and that both Intuit and Google had pretty incredible offices and corporate cultures. Here are some pics from outside the Google office and what Paul and Danny had to say.
“Google and Intuit are both highly innovative companies that have been very successful at building products that have won the hearts of both consumers and small businesses. I enjoyed getting a peek into their environments. Key takeaway: Google has a better staff coffee policy!”
- Paul Jackson, Method CEO
“Visiting Google and Intuit's headquarters provided a sneak peak into what makes each of their workplaces unique. This was also a perfect time to do some self reflection into what makes Method's work environment unique and special. While we aren't there yet, if I were to sum up our workplace it would be a perfect blend of both companies cultures. Creative/playful (Google) and structured/organized (Intuit).”
- Danny, Method COO
(Danny forgot to mention that Method HQ also has a fantastic Friday afternoon beer policy!)
If you'd like to see all the pictures from our trip, follow us on Facebook and stay tuned!
So far the 2014 Sochi Olympics have been incredible to watch. The victorious wins, the heart breaking falls, and just knowing millions of others are sharing in the experience is pretty incredible.
While I am no Human Resource expert, I truly believe athleticism produces so much more than strong muscles and Olympic medals.
If your team is expanding in the coming months, look out for those applicants who have a past in sports. In fact, here are 3 reasons small businesses should hire an Olympic athlete, (if they are ever so lucky) or anyone who has trained in sports:
1. They Know How to Take Risks
If anyone saw me watching the 2014 Winter Olympics they would think I was watching a horror movie, but in fact I’m clutching a couch cushion and gritting my teeth because I’m watching athletes whip down ice tunnels at over a hundred miles an hour. Don’t get me wrong - I will take on the scariest of roller coasters if presented with the opportunity, but I salute those athletes brave enough to take on a sport like the Skeleton.
Knowing when and how to take intelligent risks is an attribute I always associate with small business owners and those who work for them, especially in the early years. So if you own a small business and someone like U.S SIlver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace wants to join your team, I suggest you shake her hand in acknowledgement of her bravery (and her recent silver!) and then ask when she can start.
2. They Have Impeccable Work Ethic
So, Kaitlyn Farrington shows up at your small business with her resume (and her gold for Half Pipe Snowboarding) but she doesn’t have the same level of experience in customer service as the next applicant - do you give her a shot?
When you consider the long-term benefit of work ethic and intelligence in comparison to experience, it might be worth giving the Olympian a place on your team. Sure, the other candidate will have a shorter learning curve in the the beginning, but if the role is not technically based (e.g. computer programming) I would bank on the ROI in hiring someone with a proven record of initiation, discipline, and a world-class work ethic.
In fact, in the article 5 Attributes to Look for in High-Performing Employees, Ryan Caldbeck (founder of CircleUp) makes the comparison between the benefit of intelligence over experience:
“An intelligent candidate can quickly learn a job and frequently ends up doing it better than someone (less intelligent) who has been doing a similar job elsewhere. Experience is certainly valuable, but brains are the horsepower that drives the business.”
3. They Have Endurance and Persevere
There’s no question - the best sports to watch during the Winter Olympics are the speedier sports. But what about those athletes who train in sports that rely on endurance? They may not be the most thrilling spectator sport to observe, but anyone who trains for a sport like the Biathlon sure knows what it means to keep on trekking even when you feel like you’ve been running uphill for days.
The world of small business is not always glamorous, so there’s value in hiring those who will stick it out with you through the rough times as they’re able to visualize the end goal. Take sales roles for example: as more industries move away from the cold-calling tactic, salespeople are now required to do more research, investigate the needs of their leads, and - well, persevere!
I hope you enjoy the watching the rest of the 2014 Winter Olympics and if you are indeed hiring this winter, I hope these tips help you score high on new hires.
Until next time,
Lynda, Method Content & Community Coordinator
Stop by to socialize!
Hello, and welcome to another Method CRM blog post written by me, Errol
I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time. Lynda has favourites and I’m not one of them. Ha! I’m kidding.
Anyway, I have so many things that I want to talk about. For example, did you know that in our Help Center, I have listed out all my videos? You did? Did I already mention that? Well, it’s good to have a reminder regardless.
And this is growing!
Did you also know that Jason and myself have been at Method for a year? That’s right, it’s our one year anniversary and we wrote a song. I don’t know why we’re sharing this song but we are giving you full permission to mock us.
And finally, I have two video series to give you and that’s the Google Gadget Plug-in, as well as the Outlook Plug-in. If you are not aware that you can use these plug-ins to help integrate Method more into your CRM workflow, well now you know. Check out the documentation that Alex has updated, and then take a gander at these videos.
And that’s it! I hope you have a great Valentine’s day. Speaking of Valentine’s day, here’s a photo with my officemate, Lynda. She LOVES Valentine’s day… a little too much in my opinion.
While there are common functions in both Intuit products, there are also functions found in QuickBooks Online not found in QuickBooks Desktop, and vise versa.
There is a misconception that QuickBooks Online is just the cloud-based version of QuickBooks Desktop; however, this is not the case.
So, it’s important to evaluate what you need out of your accounting software to determine which version would best suit your business.
Both programs have common features such as accepting credit card payments, bank reconciliation, company snapshot, printing bills, online banking, and more. But let’s compare the differences in the two QuickBooks products. Oh, and the QB Desktop version I’m referring to is the U.S Windows version, not the Mac version.
QuickBooks Desktop vs QuickBooks Online
offers Webex Remote Access as a remote accessing solution, but doesn’t allow simultaneous access for multiple remote users.
integrates with QuickBooks Point of Sale
offers QuickBooks Bill Pay
offers complete job costing
allows more freedom to customize forms and reports
syncs with Method:CRM by installing the Method Integration Engine
requires you to purchase a new desktop version of QuickBooks software every year with some free update releases throughout the year
does not include support - that’s an additional cost
is accessible anytime, anywhere for up to 5 simultaneous users
includes all upgrades and there’s no need to purchase a new version of QB Online every year
includes free support
tracks inventory (Online Edition Plus)
easily integrates with Method:CRM since there's nothing to install
does not integrate with QuickBooks Point of Sale
does not offer QuickBooks Bill Pay
does not do complete job costing, but it does track expenses by job
is less flexible with regard to customizing forms or reports
If you’re looking for a really detailed breakdown of the differences between the QuickBooks versions, I recommend taking a look at these two Sleeter Group articles:
QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: Is One Better than the Other?
Comparing QuickBooks Desktop with QuickBooks Online
If you're interested in learning how small businesses are organizing their operations and saving themselves time with Method:CRM and QuickBooks, check out our Small Business Success Stories.
That's it for the third installment of QuickBooks 101. If you have any questions you would like answered in the next post of this series, leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @MethodCRM
Until next time,
Method Community Manager
Unless you have the wonderful problem of a phone that’s always ringing, as a small business owner, you rely on your website to pull in new leads. This is especially true outside of business hours. So how do you get your website to be a digital version of your top salespeople?
Avoid these 3 common mistakes and you’ll be on your way to making your website a sales superstar.
1. Lacking a Clear Value Proposition
A new visitor should be able to quickly scan your homepage and immediately understand 1) what your product or service does, 2) who it’s for, and 3) how it will benefit them.
Imagine you know absolutely nothing about your company (yes that’s hard to do!). Now take a look at your homepage. Would you understand the benefit being offered in 30 seconds or less? That’s how much time you have to communicate your offering before a potential customer bounces from your website.
2. Failing to Build Trust
It’s so easy to talk about how great your products and services are; after all your business is your passion! But wouldn’t it be so much better if your customers did that for you?
Prospects respond best to social proof like:
Real customers giving short testimonials on how your product/service benefited them.
Reviews on other sites (we do this on Intuit Apps.com).
Customer Success Stories.
If you have any or all of these trust signals, that’s great! Feature them prominently on your website. We’re going to run an experiment in the coming months to see if interspersing short customer quotations with headshots on our Tour page helps or hurts our conversions. I’ll update you on that in a future blog post, or hit me up on twitter @jamilaljabri
3. Too Many Hoops in Your Conversion Funnel
Einstein said it best: “Make things as simple as possible and not simpler.”
So true when it comes to your funnel. Here’s an example: in my last role at a travel ecommerce company, the biggest improvement we made to our conversion rate was changing from a multi-page check-out process where we made buyers click through many pages and decide on extras like car rentals, to a single page where we captured only the required info to book their flight. Not only were bookings higher, revenue was also higher despite not getting cross-sell sales from car rentals and hotels.
Maybe a conversion on your website isn’t a purchase -- it’s a lead. How many fields are in your form? I think you only need 2: name and email. When you keep it simple, you’ll get more leads, and you can get all the other info when you follow-up.
Measuring the Results
So how do you know if the changes you made to your website are helping or hurting your conversions? If you aren’t already, you can track your conversion rate with a free tool like Google Analytics
, which is easy to add to your website, and you can run A/B tests with a tool like Optimizely
. We applied the learnings above to our website
redesign, and the results have exceeded our expectations.
If you have a question, comment or story of your own, please leave it in the comments section below or tweet us @MethodCRM.
Until next time,
PS - In my next post I'll cover 3 more website mistakes to avoid so your redesign isn't a train wreck.
Illustration below is by Ron, Method's Admiral of Awesome Design.
Stop by to socialize!
Welcome to the new year, Method users. Alex here again - documentation specialist and sometime-sidekick to Errol the video guru. For those of you who have been asking (and from what consulting and support have told me, it’s been many of you) I’m pleased to report our next section of documentation is up and running.
It is with the greatest pleasure I announce the launch of the updated Field Services / Scheduling and Invoicing documentation (with nine dedicated Errol videos to boot for those of you who consider yourselves card-carrying members of Errol’s fan club - which I am beginning to suspect is a real thing).
The breakdown is similar to what you have seen in this section up until now: under Field Services in the Help Center you'll find some A-to-B walkthroughs including how to set up field services, customization suggestions, and more.
But what we’re really pleased about is the Field Services Center, which you can find as another tree under Field Services. There, you'll find an exhaustive breakdown of every screen and function associated with field services, supplemented by Errol's videos where appropriate. Need to know how to turn a work order into an invoice? It’s there. Questions about how to set up time tracking? Oh, we’ve got you covered. Want to schedule a work order using the Calendar? Now you know how.
And if you’re looking for a little more context relevant to your business, check out our three-part Day in the Life series, found under the Tutorial section. Here we’ll cover three standard days in Field Services life from the perspective of different service industries. If your particular industry isn’t included, don’t worry - there are a lot of similarities between how different businesses use Method, so our examples will likely apply to you too!
Feel free to take a look at the new material, and as always Errol and I would love your feedback. However! We have changed our contact information. Moving forward, if you want to contact Errol or me, please refer your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because from now on, we are educators!
That’s all from the documentation camp for this week, Methodites.
Excelsior, et cetera!
Stop by to socialize!