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Archive for February, 2011

The 411 on the Commercial Mortgage Loan Process!

If you are looking for a commercial mortgage loan it helps to know exactly what commercial mortgage lenders are looking for in advance so that you can have all your “ducks in a row.”

To make sure your commercial loan application flows smoothly and closes in a timely manner you need to make sure your preparation is 100% complete.

With a commercial mortgage lender the best way to make sure everything goes as planned is to make sure you are prepared with everything that is needed before the lender even asks for it. That way you can save a lot of time and effort when it comes time to do the paperwork.

The list of paper work needed for your commercial mortgage lender to look over is listed below:

  • 3 years of both business and personal tax returns
  • Paper work documenting any tax extensions
  • 3 months worth of recent bank statements
  • Your personal financial statements: These need to have been updated within 60 days.
  • Your year to date business operating statements
  • If your property is or will be self managed you will need a copy of your resume
  • Your property management company’s resume if you will use a management company
  • A letter of explanation for any derogatory credit you may have
  • Schedule of real estate holdings – include purchase date, purchase price, and current mortgage amount
  • A copy of the property’s rent roll
  • Any leases held by the property
  • Any income and expense statements of the property
  • If the property has a single or anchor tenant you will need the tenant financial statements

If you are trying to purchase a commercial property through a commercial mortgage lender you will need:

  • Valid purchase contract
  • Verification of escrow
  • Selling agent contact information
  • Property insurance information

If you are trying to refinance with a commercial mortgage lender you will need:

  • Payoff information
  • Title policy
  • Survey
  • Property insurance
  • You will also need any subordinate loan information if the property has a subordinate loan.

Even with all of the paper work in order you still may not be able to close on your commercial loan within a month.

Your commercial mortgage lender will need a commercial appraisal done on the property and this alone can take 3 weeks or longer to have done. It may not be easy to get the loan to close in 30 days but it can be done.

To get a loan to close fast, though, you will have to move fast yourself. Start with making sure you are dealing directly with experienced commercial mortgage lenders for the type of loan you need.

If the lender usually makes loans on residential properties then you may be able to close the loan but it may take longer then 30 days so choose one that specializes in the loan you need.

Make sure you check and double check that you have all the information and paperwork handy.

Ask the commercial mortgage lender several times to double check their needs so you can gather the information. It is a unnecessary delay if something is forgotten until the last minute.

Open Your Cash Flow Spigot!

Cash is the lifeblood of small businesses. Cash comes from sales, account receivables collections, and the sale of assets. Unfortunately, as long as more cash is flowing into the company than going out, many owners fail to pay close attention to their cash management plans.

If that sounds like your business, it’s time to take a closer look at your system. One of the major lessons from the recent recession is the importance of having an adequate supply of liquid assets, such as cash and its equivalent, on hand when business slows down.

Implementing efficient cash flow techniques ensures that your company always has enough money to meet its financial obligations. A shortage of cash could lead to embarrassment due to late payments, or in the worst case scenario, bankruptcy. To avoid those problems, check out these tips to make sure your cash flow system is top-notch:

Get organized.

It may sound obvious, but making sure your billing, collections and payables systems are efficiently operating should be your first stop. Use check lists and automatic calendar reminders to keep track of payments that are due.

If the account payment is a receivable, then make sure that you bill promptly, follow up on overdue invoices, and quickly collect on overdue accounts. The longer your customer’s balance remains unpaid, the greater the chance you will not receive full payment.

Offer “carrots” for early or pre-payments.

To the extent possible, get your customers to pay you as early as they can, perhaps by requiring up-front deposits or offering an incentive. “You’d be surprised how many of your customers might be willing to pre-pay for your services or products if you offer a nominal 2-5 percent discount,” Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of 99designs, tells The Huffington Post.

Give bad customers the boot.

If a customer is consistently late in making payments, cut that person off. This may cause you to have fewer clients at first, but it will allow you to focus on providing optimal services for your loyal customers, thereby building a better reputation, which will more likely pay off in the long run.

Tighten credit requirements.

Offer the best product or service relative to your competitor so that you can obtain the best possible credit conditions, says Isabel M. Isidro, managing editor of PowerHomeBiz.com.

“To improve your cash flow position, you can be more stringent in your credit and terms, requiring more customers to pay cash for their purchases,” says Isidro. “This will increase the cash on hand and reduce the bad-debt expense.”

Be aware of the trade-off to tightening credit, however. A flexible credit policy gives more customers the opportunity to purchase your products or services. Weigh the potential decrease in sales against the benefits of having more cash before making any changes.

Review your expenses

Make sure you are not trying to grow your small business too fast by spending aggressivley. “The largest problem entrepreneurs face is the pull between revenue generating and ‘brand building’ activities which do not generate steady cash flow,” says Kris Ruby, founder of Ruby Media Group LLC. To bridge cash flow gaps, focus on your top 3 revenue generators, recommends Ruby, and put your “brand building” on hold.

Network for SUCCESS! Have a PLAN!

Large-scale networking events can help you bolster your Rolodex and make connections that can land you a wealth of new contacts, connections and clients.

Coming across as both professional and engaging to those new contacts, however, isn’t as simple as it may seem.  Did you know that it takes about 200 times the information to undo a first impression than it takes to make one. Landing new clients or investors at an event requires more than just a pulled-together pitch and some original ideas.

It might seem like a lot of pressure, but remembering the things you shouldn’t do may help make networking a bit easier. Here are networking’s biggest no-no’s:

1. Arrive ON TIME.

To make things easier on yourself, time your arrival so you can maximize the interactions you’re most interested in having.
People who typically shy away from networking, the inclination is to arrive on the later side. The opposite is a much better strategy. Being the first person there, it’s calmer, laid back, and people haven’t yet settled into groups. You won’t feel like there’s no one to talk to.

2. Don’t just stand there.

This is not the time to wait around for people to approach you. You need to work the room—even if you’re on the shy side. There are ways to step outside your comfort zone and avoid awkwardness.

Start off by asking questions. And don’t worry about impressing the person you’re speaking with—just act naturally.

3. Don’t feel like you need to talk to everyone.

As a budding business owner or executive, you might enter a networking event with a “more the merrier” mentality when it comes to making new connections. However, it might be advantageous to take a “less is more” stance instead.

It’s better to meet fewer people and create a deeper, lasting connection than simply talking to everyone in the room.  Instead of going to a networking event and grabbing 40 business cards in two hours, speak with fewer people for a longer period of time. Give each person you talk to at least five minutes to get to know you—and you them—before you move on, she advises.  This way, you’ll leave networking events energized by new, true connections rather than tuckered out from meeting too many people.

4. Don’t come unprepared.

Once a new contact tells you what they’re specifically looking for in terms of products or services, you need to be ready to tell them how your specific experience lines up with their needs.

Your goal isn’t to hard-sell them right then and there—instead, it should be to get them interested in you and what you have to offer. To do that, you need to be prepared with an understanding of what everyone from an investor to a potential client will need, and be armed with the most relevant, useful information to show that you have a solution that works for them.

What’s “useful,” you ask? Results. “Don’t stand there and tell them what you do, tell them what results you get,” says business coach Craig Jennings in New York. “Have examples of a situation, a problem and a solution that you can say in two breaths.” Also, keep in mind that what an investor might find useful is likely different than what a customer wants to hear—so having a mental catalog of a wealth of your previous experiences will help you fill all kinds of niches.

5. Don’t forget the big picture.

The bottom line is that, once you leave a networking event, you want the contacts and connections you’ve made to follow up with you and your services in the future.

“You should know your production and delivery capabilities, and be able to set a realistic expectation for potential customers,” says Frank Dadah, general manager of financial contracts with Winter Wyman, a Boston staffing firm. You’re trying to maintain the image of your company, and if you’re not prepared to answer detailed questions that cover the ins and outs of what you have to offer, or if you can’t offer it to them in a timely manner, they’ll move on—fast—to someone who can.

6. Don’t try to multi-task.

Within the first few minutes of meeting someone new, you probably don’t whip out a notebook to write down what they’re saying—and that should be a rule for networking events, as well. Instead of being distracted by a pen and paper, focus intently on the conversation you’re having. After you’ve grabbed a business card and stepped away, jot down a few things that will help you jog your memory when you follow up with them later.

7. Don’t forget to follow up.

If you’re not following up, you’re not networking!  You should stay in touch, without thinking about what you’ll get out of the relationship.

Within 48 hours of your first meeting, you should email a note that pinpoints the most important parts of your earlier conversation, so your contact remembers who you are specifically. A timely turnaround will show that you’re both interested and available to continue the conversation.

The Price is RIGHT! or Is It!?

1. NEVER compete on price. Period. Yeah, yeah, I know that the economy sucks and that people are more price conscious than ever before, but you MUST show your customer the other reasons to buy BESIDES just a low price.

If the only thing that you can do is to compete on price and you have no other competitive advantage, then you might as well close the doors right now instead of waiting for the inevitable.

Don’t turn your life’s work into a commodity like toilet paper, milk, and facial tissue.

2. SHOW your customers why you are worth a premium price. Most people don’t buy on price alone. They want the PERFECT solution to the problem that’s keeping them awake at night. If you take the price out of the equation (for the most part) and show them exactly how you are the hero riding in on the white horse, people are happy to pay a premium for something that they know will provide the results they had hoped for.

3. Don’t chase after the bottom feeders unless you have no choice. If you can, aim your business towards a higher caliber of customer. If you go after people that don’t have two nickels in their pocket, you are going to focus your entire business on a niche of people that cannot afford what you have to sell.

I know this sounds a little elementary, but you’d be surprised how many businesses are started where the entrepreneur did not think about the income level of the customer and their ability to actually BUY the product.

4. Dump your worst customers. Price shoppers are the worst customers. They will beat you to death to knock off a few pennies, tell all of their friends how they totally took you for a ride, they’ll give you the highest return rate, and they have absolutely NO LOYALTY to your business whatsoever.

It’s healthy to lose a few customers on price. This means that you are just at the right place. If you are not losing anyone, then you are the one that is holding your industy back from making more money.

5. Create some kind of scarcity with your product. Artists learned this a long time ago by numbering their prints with limited editions. Sculptors break the mold after they cast just a few copies.

People are naturally drawn to wanting things that other people don’t have. Especially in the U.S., at least. So, no matter what kind of business you have, create a REAL element of scarcity and you will be able to justify a higher price.

Just look at the latest games systems that are HOT for Christmas. Do you think these guys need to put them on sale? Nope. They can charge double, because everyone wants them and there are not enough to go around.

How can you make your business like the latest Christmas craze?

So there ya have it. Ways to make a little more money in your business, help out with the longevity, and to get rid of those pesky customers that eat all of your time.

They’re Just Not That Into You!

You’ve tried to get their attention. You’ve read the right books, listened to all the gurus, and freshened up your appearance, but it’s not working.

You aren’t being noticed by the one you love. Your ideal customer isn’t giving you the time of day. They’re ignoring your offers. All of your overtures are rebuffed.

They’re just not that into you.

Today we’re going to cover how to flirt with potential customers, get their attention, and make them fall head over heels with your product or service. It’s a technique that — when implemented together — will attract the most resistant customer.

1. Make yourself desirable

Want to capture your potential customer’s attention? Give them what they’re looking for.

Hunger is the best sauce.
~ Italian proverb

Share valuable information, and make sure you’re offering what they actually want. You can do that by:

  • Checking your search stats to see what terms people use to find your site,
  • Using sites like Twitter and Facebook to “listen in” to conversations about what buyers in your niche want, and
  • Observing what people actually buy (rather than what they think they would buy).

High-quality information will establish your expertise and build your authority over time, and that is irresistible.

2. Show them the goods

You’ve captured their attention with your valuable, optimized content. Now it’s time to get their number so you can stay in touch.

Forget about all those cheap pick up lines you learned in high school. (Or the equally cheap lines that are still taught by sales trainers who apparently think we’re going door to door with vacuum cleaners.)

Instead, dangle something in front of your audience that they’ll find so useful, so compelling, and so tempting they’ll be rushing to type their e-mail address in your opt-in form.

Offer a solution to a problem, or a series of tips. Create a guide or checklist for getting something accomplished. Give them access to a free audio or video product.

It’s the first step in a sales funnel that will lead them along from free, to entry-level, moving through mid-range and on to the top of your price range. A really good free offer will make them fall right into the top of your funnel before they know what’s hit them.

3. Surprise them (in a good way)

Once they’ve signed up for your free offer, surprise them with the high value content you keep delivering. This is the ideal time to establish that you are a class act, and make it known you won’t let them down.

Deliver superior quality content, and present it in a professional-looking package. If it’s blog content, make sure your site looks great and works perfectly. If it’s an e-book, take the time to design it well. If it’s an email auto-responder, create a template that’s polished and easy to read. If it’s audio or video, deliver it with the best production values you can muster.

Because they’re watching your every move at this point. You have their attention. Don’t blow it.

4. Respond to their overtures

After you’ve done steps 1 through 3, some — not all — of your audience will respond to your customer flirtation techniques.

You might start to get blog comments, Twitter DMs or e-mails sent from your website.

When the messages come in, be sure to respond promptly and professionally. Don’t leave your prized customer hanging!

Show potential customers they can count on you to be responsive and trustworthy. Let them know you’ll be there when they need you.

5. Stay faithful

The last step? Repeat the first four over and over.

Consistent, high-quality content delivered over time will establish you as a reliable, authoritative source of information. “Getting their number” and staying in touch (via an email or RSS subscription) will allow you to continue the courting process. And reliable, responsive customer service will seal the deal.

When it’s time to swoop in and make the sale, the stage will be set. Your customers will be all warmed up and ready for action. These techniques will make it easy to sweep them off their feet.

Before you know it, they’ll be in your arms with wallets open — captivated by your content, smitten with your services, and carrying a torch for your products.

Cures for Cash Flow Crisis!

What would you do if you ran out of cash!?

Not profits! You can be profitable on paper and still have nothing in the bank to pay bills.  The recession has made this sad fact painfully obvious for a lot of companies.

For many companies, the recent recession was a cash flow crisis in slow motion.  There were some canceled sales, to be sure.  But the real pain came when customers slowed down their payments.

And that kind of situation can kill even a profitable company!

The key to surviving is fast action. Here’s some of the steps that any business owner should consider when conditions change and cash slows down:

1  Know the numbers. In good times and bad, keep an eye on key cash flow numbers.  I’m not talking just about a cash flow statement each month, but also about key ratios or metrics in your business.  Learn the “Current Ratio” and “Days Receivables Outstanding”  for your business and monitor these numbers like a hawk.  If you start this habit in good times, you’ll have forewarning when cash turns against you.

2 Cut your own pay…Now.  Besides taking pressure off of cash, this will motivate you to fix the problem.  If you hide behind a salary — and keep building debt, or laying off staff to pay yourself — the problem will grow worse until it is out of control.   Cutting your own pay also demonstrates leadership to your team.

3  Meet with your banker. If you are using loans — like I do — to smooth out cash flow, it’s time to let the banker know what’s going on.  The closer you work with the bank, the more they can help you.  Lay out the issues clearly, and be ready with a reasonable plan to improve the situation.  Show them where you are at and how you will pay back the debt. They will appreciate the communication and reward you with patience when you need it the most.  Whatever you do, don’t miss a payment and do keep an eye on any loan covenants.

4  Finally, know when to say when.  No matter how savvy the owner, some businesses will simply fail.  I’ve watched a business go from $3 million in sales to $300,000 overnight when the auto industry was in trouble.  Nobody can survive that.  The owner was smart enough, however, to look into the future and pull the plug before the situation moved from bad to worse.  Again, a grasp of the above ratios is a good first step.

Nobody can control all the factors that impact cash, but you can measure and monitor most of them.  You can react quickly.  You can be decisive and focused.

There is no single problem quite like a lack of cash in a small business.  It deserves your full attention.  And ignoring it will not make the problem go away.

But with careful monitoring and ample action, most cash flow problems can be cured.

Warm and Fuzziness: Keeps Them Coming Back!!

Customers are your business’s lifeblood. Without them, you don’t have a business at all. But woo them carefully with devotion, and your business sales can skyrocket. Who doesn’t love being romanced?

Want to know how to create those warm, fuzzy feelings? Use these easy tips and make your customers love you so they keep coming back for more.

Tell the World They’re Special

What do you do when you love someone? You want to tell the world how special that person is to you.

So tell the world about your customers and how special they are to you by giving them some spotlight attention. Display glowing testimonials proudly on your website. Write a blog post and mention kind words a client told you. Write a case study or success story. Talk about how much your customer’s life has changed since discovering your business.

By putting your customers in the spotlight and telling the world about them, you create a win-win. You help their business get some free exposure to new clients, and you show your prospective customers that your business creates positive results.

Take this tip one step further: Write a blog post about a recent project or sale. Talk about how much you enjoyed getting to know your customer and mention what you liked — friendly attitude, pleasant manners, or even a great smile. This definitely creates warm fuzzies for anyone!

Thank Them, and Mean It

Here’s an easy way to bring a smile to anyone’s face: Thank them for being customers in a way that shows you really appreciate having them.

It takes mere seconds to send a customer a personal thank-you note for having trusted your business to provide them with what they want. Send a quick e-mail a week or two after the purchase, or even better, mail them an old-fashioned handwritten note. People love getting these — really.

Double-whammy your thank you note by giving a little gift. Tuck a coupon into the envelope or offer your customers a five-percent discount on their next purchase.

Remember Them So They Remember You

Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes — which means that dropping contact with your customers can result in them forgetting your business exists. Or worse, showing that you don’t care.

That’s why staying in touch with customers over the months or even years can help retain their patronage for a long time to come. They never forget you — and they might even think fondly of you.

Don’t just stay in touch; get personal about it. Take note of details that your customers share with you either while making a purchase or in conversation. Note their birth dates. Mark down the name of their pets. Jot down that your client had a big golf tournament coming up.

Then use that information to show you were paying attention to your customers. Mention Rover in an e-mail. Mail a  birthday card. Ask how the tournament turned out on your next call. Your clients will love you for it.

Treat Them with Responsive Respect

There’s nothing worse than being put on hold and hearing a tinny recording say, “Your call is important to us.” (It’s even worse if you have to wait 20 minutes for a live person to actually back that up.)

So when customers get in touch with you — no matter who they are, no matter why they’re contacting you — respect them, and respond to them.

This is so easy to do, and responding to people in a personal way is actually so rare in the world of business that it pleasantly surprises people when it happens. Doing so can build huge loyalty and fond thoughts in the minds of your customers so they remember you for a long, long time.

So ditch the canned responses. Answer people who get in touch via social media platforms. Reply to e-mails, and do so personally if you can. The phone rings? Pick it up — don’t let the call fall into some robotic system. It may take extra time from your day, but it’s worth every minute.

Also, be personable when you talk with customers and prospects. Show them you’re a genuinely great individual who is interested in them by being approachable, friendly, and pleasant. Your customers will get the chance to know you, like you, and appreciate you and your business even more for who you are.

Check in on Them, Just Because

“Hey Jenny, I was thinking about you today and just wanted to drop you a note to say hi — no particular reason. Hope things are well!”

There you go, how easy was that? Sending your customers an out-of-the-blue e-mail like that can be a great way to show them you value them as people, that you care about them, and that you like them for who they are.

Business-wise, an unexpected “How are you?” e-mail opens up the lines of communication. You might find your customer replying, “I’ve been meaning to get in touch — glad you wrote!” and secure a new sale. You might just end up having a great conversation (which gives you extra notes about your client you can jot down and use in future communications).

Customers will enjoy the no-obligation, no-pitch contact, too. A “just saying hi” makes everyone feel better. That’ll make it a lot easier for customers to remember you when it’s time for the next purchase.

It all comes down to a very simple sentiment: People like to buy from people, not from faceless businesses that don’t care. So show that you do, and woo your customers carefully for a devoted relationship they’ll adore.