One of the ways in which you can improve your trading company’s performance is by offering discounts to your customers. There are several types of discounts you can offer, in this regard. For instance, you can offer discounts to customers who buy the stuff you are selling in bulk. This is where, for instance, anybody who buys more than 5 units of whatever stuff you are selling would be entitled to a certain discount. Or you can offer discounts to customers who settle their accounts in a timely manner (which applies if you sell stuff on credit). So you can have an arrangement where any customer who settles his account before, say, the 10th day of the month would be entitled to a certain discount.
There is also the possibility of giving your customers ‘loyalty cards’ and awarding them points whenever they shop at your outlets. Then points can then be redeemed for various discounts. The cards in question here can be of the variety that can be swiped every time a customer buys something from your trading company’s outlets. It can even be a full credit card: akin to the Capital One credit card that is obtainable at www.getmyoffer.capitalone.com. If you take the trouble to read through any comprehensive capital one mail offer review, you will realize that there are certain discounts that holders of the card are entitled to. You can have a similar arrangement with a financial institution – to offer credit cards to your trading company’s customers, whereupon you’d be giving the customers certain discounts whenever they pay using the credit cards.
The most important thing here is to ensure that the discounts you offer to your customers are meaningful. But, while at it, you need to ensure that the discounts don’t eat too much into your profits – otherwise you won’t have a sustainable business. It is also a good idea to evaluate your business’ performance after you start offering the discounts, to see whether or not the discounts have actually led to better business performance.
Nowadays, companies are encouraged to diversify their workforces. Yet it is very easy for a trading company to end up failing on this particular account (of staff diversity). It is very easy to end up with a trading company where all workers are men, specifically middle-aged men. Or, in another case, it is very easy to end up with a trading company where all workers are of a certain race or where all staff members subscribe to a certain religion. Embracing staff diversity is clearly not always easy. But it is critical: for some studies that have shown that companies with a good mix of staff (in terms of diversity) tend to perform better and are more resilient than companies that are poor in terms of staff diversity.
There are some companies that strictly prefer to hire people who fit a certain rather (thin) profile. If you ask them why don’t hire people from other groups, they give all manner of excuses. Some will tell you that people from those other groups are ‘unfocused’, ‘lazy’, ‘irresponsible’… and so on. A HR manager once told me that she stopped hiring people from a certain group when she found out that one employee from that group was spending all his work-time watching fxnetworks series. It alarmed me that an entire group of people was suffering discrimination due to the sins of just one individual. But such is the thinking of bigots.
Enhancing staff diversity in your trading company shouldn’t be too hard, if you really want to do it. It is just a question of looking at your current workforce, and asking yourself how it can be diversified. This may be a question of trying to figure out which other groups of people (in terms of gender, race, age and so on) you need to include, to have a more diversified workforce. Then the next step would be to simply ensure that you hire more people from those groups, in order to attain the desired diversity. Remember, you don’t have to compromise on qualifications or competencies, to get a more diversified workforce. If you search hard enough, you can get people from all backgrounds who have the requisite qualifications and competencies for the various roles in your trading company.
As your trading company grows, it will soon get to a point where you will have to set up a customer service department. This is the department that would be tasked with the responsibility of handling customers’ complaints and concerns. It is also the department that would be handling enquiries from customers, and generally ensuring that customers are well attended to.
While setting up a customer service department for a trading company, you will need to:
- Hire the customer service personnel: these need to be people who have pleasant personalities. They also need to be folks who have requisite training and experience in customer service.
- Set up the customer service infrastructure: so this is a question of first acquiring the premises where the customer service department is to be based. Then you need to acquire the phones and computers that are to be used in customer service. Many organizations prefer to base the customer service department near the marketing department. That makes sense, because many of the issues that the customer service department deals with require input from the marketing department. In fact, there are organizations where the customer service is set up as a section within the broader marketing department.
- Create a customer service manual: this would give concise and precise instructions on how various customers’ issues are to be handled. In the absence of a customer service manual, the personnel are left to use their own discretion in dealing with customers’ issues. This is likely to lead to some rather awkward situations, because certain individuals may not always make the right decisions, if they are left to use their own discretions.
- Train the customer service personnel: you need to train your customer service personnel on how exactly you’d want your trading company’s customers to be handled. Don’t assume that the personnel will handle the customers in the right manner, just because they (the personnel) are individuals with good personalities or just because there is a customer service manual. You need to hold training sessions, where you emphasize the key points on how you’d want your company’s customers to be handled.
As your trading company grows, you may soon find yourself having to set up a warehouse for it. This is where you’d be storing extra inventory – that which is too much to be displayed in the company’s showrooms. With a warehouse, it will be possible for you to keep several weeks’ (or even several months’) inventory. This way, even if there are disruptions in the supply chain, you’d be in a position to keep your trading company running (selling whatever was in the warehouses) even as you wait for the supply issues to be sorted out. Conversely, if you have no warehouse, and you only order for new stock when the old stock starts running low, you could be very badly affected if there are supply disruptions.
Contrary to what one may imagine, you don’t necessarily need to have lots of money while setting up a warehouse for a trading company. Yes, if you are building a new warehouse, or purchasing a new warehouse in cash, you will need to have lots of it. But there is also the option of renting the warehouse or acquiring one on mortgage. Renting is particularly cheap. You can afford it, even if you are relying on your personal resources to keep your business running. Like, for instance, if you work at USPS, and you are relying on your liteblue eretire 401(k) funds to keep your trading company afloat, you can still afford to rent warehouse space. In that case, you only need to visit the liteblue epayroll login page, sign in there, and proceed to see how rich your retirement fund is. Then you can ‘borrow’ some money from the retirement fund, and use it to improve your trading company, by way of renting some warehouse space.
In the final analysis, while setting up a warehouse for a trading company, you need to:
- Figure out how much warehouse space you actually need.
- Identify a ready-built warehouse with that much space (or otherwise acquire a piece of land where you can build a warehouse with that much space).
- Acquire the funds necessary to build or rent the warehouse.
- Make the necessary payments for the warehouse.
- Prepare the warehouse, by installing the necessary furniture – including wood pallets for the floor, ventilations (if these weren’t provided in the original plan), shelves… and so on.
- Move stuff into the warehouse.
- Consider installing inventory management software, to track the stuff that is stored in the warehouse, lest it be pilfered.
As your trading company grows, a point will soon come where you will have to hire an accountant. In fact, if the scale of operation is huge enough, you may find yourself having to hire an accountant right at the outset. Either way, there are some important things to put into consideration, while hiring an accountant for the company. Those include:
- The accountant’s qualifications: you need to look at the educational and professional qualifications held by the prospective accountant. You could opt, for instance, to go for a person who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and who also has a business-related degree.
- The accountant’s experience: ideally, you should go for an accountant who has some real-life experience. If you can get an accountant who has previously kept books for a company similar to yours, that will be even better. When all is said and done, you need to remember that in hiring an accountant, you are essentially hiring a financial manager. So you need to go for someone who really knows his stuff.
- The accountant’s reputation: the most critical thing here is to subject the job applicants to background checks, and to also check with former employers and former colleagues.
- The accountant’s personality: the person you select to work as an accountant should be someone who can work well with others. He should be a person who is a team player. He should also be someone who can take instructions. You don’t want to end up with the sort of fellow who can’t even follow simple instructions. You know, like a fellow I encountered recently who, in spite of being well schooled, couldn’t even follow the simple instructions on the Mygiftcardsiteguide. That was a case where the fellow was given a link to the guide, and told to follow the instructions on it to go to the check mygiftcardsite balancelogin page, sign in, and check his card’s balance – only to end up being unable to follow such simple instructions. So the person you select to work as your trading company’s accountant should be one whose personality allows him to take – and act on – instructions. He should also have good leadership skills, because he is likely to have people working under him.
One of the main reasons as to why trading companies fail is employee fraud. Therefore, if you want your trading company to do well in the long run, you need to put in place measures to minimize employee fraud. Your goal should actually be that of eliminating employee fraud altogether. But if that sounds like too lofty a goal, you can opt to — at the very least — try to minimize employee fraud. And in that regard, if you want to minimize employee fraud in your trading company, you need to:
- Hire honest people: so this is a question of undertaking proper background checks, before hiring people. You need to ensure that you don’t hire folks who have a track record of being fraudsters. You can weed out such individuals through proper background checks.
- Educate your employees on the need for them to avoid fraud: so this is a question of getting them to see the bigger picture. Getting them, for instance, to appreciate that if they defraud the company, it will fail – and they will end up being jobless.
- Put in place deterrence measures: these would include proper accounting and audit systems, through which you can detect employee fraud. You can also have CCTV and other monitoring systems (including human ‘observers’), to further minimize the possibility of fraud in your trading company.
- Pay your people well: the objective here is to get reduce the incentives for fraud. For all other factors being held constant, well-paid employees are less prone to fraud than ill-paid employees. To ensure transparency in the way you pay your employees, you can set up a web-based portal (akin to Lowe’s portal, at www.myloweslife.com) through which your employees would be able to view the calculations that lead to their paychecks. You also need to consider paying bonuses to your employees so as to inculcate a sense of ownership in the trading company. This will further lower the possibility of them engaging in fraud.
In the course of running your trading company, you may find yourself having to import merchandise from time to time. If the merchandise you need for sale in your trading company is not locally available, you’d have no choice but to import it. But as we will see shortly, importing merchandise for sale through your trading company is likely to be a long-drawn undertaking.
You have to initiate the process of importing merchandise by identifying the suppliers from whom you would be importing.
Having identified the suppliers from whom you’d be importing, the next step would be to contact them, and get a quotation from them.
After obtaining a quotation from the suppliers, you can proceed to obtain the funds you would need to finance the deal.
The next step would be that of sending an order to the suppliers, for them to ship the required merchandise to you. It is also here that may be required to transfer the money to the suppliers. Or if there are ‘trust issues’ you can have the money held in an escrow account: from where it would be transferred to the suppliers when you receive the merchandise. Again, it is at this stage that you’d be required to specify the method through which you want the merchandise to be shipped. You can contract a shipping company like UPS or DHL, to handle the shipping aspect for you. UPS, whose staff portal is www.upsers.com is known to be reasonably efficient in handling these sorts of shipments. The company’s staff, who regularly go through the UPSers registration are known to put in quite a bit of effort, to ensure that shipments are delivered on time.
Having made an order for the merchandise to be shipped to you, the next step would be where you bid your time, as you wait for the merchandise to be shipped to your trading company’s premises. Depending on the chosen shipment method, and the distance between you and the supplier you are importing from, the shipment may take days, weeks or even months.
Employees play a major role in determining the success of a trading company. It is hard for a trading company to be successful, if it doesn’t have reliable employees. This, in other words, is to say that you have to get reliable employees, if your trading company is to have any chance of success. A good number of trading companies that fail do so on account of employee unreliability. Thus, the question of getting reliable employees for your trading company is not one that you should take lightly. In order to get reliable employees for your trading company, you need to:
- Conduct thorough interviews: you need to set aside enough time to conduct interviews, whenever you wish to hire employees for your trading company. The interviews shouldn’t be hurried. The interviews need to be carried out in such a way that, through them, you are able to gauge the applicants’ reliability levels, and ultimately pick the applicants who demonstrate the highest levels of reliability. You need to be sure of someone’s reliability, before putting him on your payroll. If, for instance, you use the Securitas Epaytalx paperless payroll system, which is designed to be accessed online at Securitasepay.com, you need to be fully assured of a person’s reliability, before putting him on that payroll.
- Subject applicants to background checks: if you carry out proper background checks, you may be able to weed out the applicants who are obviously unreliable at the preliminary stages.
- Subject applicants to aptitude tests: the objective here is to ensure that you only hire folks who have the aptitude to perform the tasks you will be hiring them for. Aptitude is one of the predictors for reliability: given the fact that one is obviously unlikely to be reliable at performing a task that he has no aptitude for.
- Use an objective system to rate applicants: this is where you can award the applicants points based on a certain objective criterion. Then, those with the most points would be the ones to be hired. Objective systems tend to be more reliable than subjective systems.
- Ask applicants for references: ideally, you should be able to speak to the applicants’ prior employers, to get a clearer picture on their reliability levels.