I operate several small businesses (FPM3, Ship2Shred, FPM Marketing) on both sides of the border and it astounds me how far behind Canada is when it comes to small business actively operating online. I actually coach, teach and preach to many businesses across this country about how they need to improve their Internet Communication Technology [ICT] for their business.
Why would they need to do this? Canadian citizens are plugged in more than most countries are and as individuals we embrace and use technology. Yet, Canadian businesses are so far behind that Canada is actually at the bottom of the list compared to the leaders, which include the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. It’s amazing how Canadians as a whole are so connected online and yet Canadian small businesses have yet to determine how to achieve delivering efficiencies and value to their customers in our own country.
Let me give you an example. In Canada, I get the mail which includes cheques paid to the my FPM Marketing. I go to the bank and if I put the money in the ATM machine my cheques are held up to 5 business days (meaning 7 days if it’s over the weekend) before they clear. My alternative is that I can stand in line and spend up to 30 minutes waiting for the opportunity to give the cheques to a teller behind the counter while they type it into the computer and the money can be deposited immediately at that time. I’m giving a piece of paper confirming the deposit and then I can be on my way back to the office, so I can file that sheet of paper, enter it in my financial software. An exercise that wastes up to 60minutes per day! So the convenience of depositing at the machine restricts the funds to be deposited for 5 business days. Or I can waste more than 60 minutes a day (possibly 5.5 hours a week) waiting in line to speak to someone that doesn’t generate any revenue for my business. Don’t get me wrong, the people at the bank always smile and they are friendly. But I don’t have enough time in my day to stand around waiting to put money in my bank account.
Here’s how it works for my American business office at FPM3. The agency is located in New York and when I arrive at my office I open the mail. I then open an application on my smartphone from Bank of America. I scan all the cheques. I confirm the amount and to give it permission to deposit and if this is done before 4 PM that business day, the money is in my account for the following morning by 9am. I keep the cheques in a folder indicating that they have been scanned and deposited. The information is also connected and synced with my financial software so it’s keeping my balance accurate and dated correctly. Total time, max 10 minutes. This is just one example of efficiencies of where Canada is lagging in technology and it’s coming at a cost for the small businesses.
Small business needs to think out-of-the-box. We get stuck in a rut in regards to how we operate our businesses using technology. There’s confusion in how we use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Linked In. Let alone how we can make our website more than a brochure online.
Let me give another example of one client that was challenged with increasing their sales at their small Café. After doing a bit of research I noticed that their issue was customers were all coming in between 11 AM and 2 PM with everyone wanting to get their coffee and lunch at the same time. When I reviewed their website it was more of a brochure online talking about what they are, where they are and what they have to offer. Further, I realized we could spend a lot of money in trying to convince people to come in at other times during the day however there is a lot of competition in the café business and to compete with the national coffee stores is a struggle alone.
Using the model of ICT, my suggestion was that we would work the website to make their business more efficient and productive. We created the ability for people to preorder their lunches. They were emailed a QR code [Quick Read] with the receipt when they paid online for their order in the morning. They would receive a E-newsletter advising what the specials were for the day. This would drive traffic to the website order page to purchase their lunch order. Payment was made with their credit or debit card, the staff knew what to prepare for that day. When the order was completed, the staff would mark it done and a text message and email would be sent to the customer advising them it was ready to be picked up. Customers would arrive with their smartphone or a printed copy of the receipt. Those customers would go to a separate area (less congested) where it would be scanned and their lunches would be given so they could be on their way. A process that would be less than 2 minutes from customer arriving to leaving.
What a simple concept to take the website and to create more volume of business during a time of which you know your already busy. It’s time Canadian small businesses started thinking smarter and advancing the ability to increase their revenue within their business using the technology that is available to everyone in Canada.
FPM Marketing / FPM3