Help Us Help You: 3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Business Running Smoothly

If you’ve tuned into our blog before, you know that I work here in the Marketing Department at DOW Electroincs. In my 2 years here, I’ve seen a lot of retailers falling into the same traps time and time again. I deal with the co-op process every day, and sometimes I have to remind myself that our retailers don’t, so it may not seem as straightforward to you as it does to me.  Recently I read a blog post about people who offer criticism without giving a possible solution at the same time, and I decided that I don’t want to be “that guy” (or “that girl” in my case). With that in mind, I put together a short list of common problems that I see come up for our retailers and how to fix them.

Image: Bruno Girin | Flickr

1. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute (or later!)

“A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” We all heard this back in school when we asked our teachers for an extra day to turn in that term paper or when we showed up late on test day. One of my teachers even had it posted on the classroom wall, and I couldn’t stand it! Like it or not though, the statement often rings true in the busines world, just as it did in the classroom.

We know that accidents happen and sometimes you may forget that you need to submit an approval a few days before you plan to advertise or that your claim paperwork got lost in a stack of paper, but sometimes exceptions and rushes just can’t be made, so planning ahead is always the best bet. The simplest way to keep deadlines and due dates in order, and to keep your business flowing smoothly is to keep a calendar. Write all of your advertising run dates, events, installs, and truck delivery dates on your calendar and then go back and see where you’ll need  to add your deadlines:

  • Approvals should be submitted a minimum of 2 days before your vendor’s deadline (make that 5 days if Dow is creating your ad).
  • Note that you’ll need all of your claim documents from your vendor immediately after your initiative is complete so you can send them in as soon as possible, why wait to be reimbursed?
  • Check your co-op guidelines  for the final submission deadlines and co-op expiration dates you’ll need to keep in mind, or just give us a call!
  • Go through your inventory of equipment, approved parts, and accessories, and try to estimate when you’ll need to order more.

Write all of these “to-do’s” on your calendar, in red, so you know you need to pay special attention to them. If you’re using a digital calendar, make sure to set a reminder alarm and your phone or computer will let you know!

Whether it’s an old-school desk or wall calendar, or your Outlook or phone’s calendar complete with reminders, writing all of these dates down will make your job (and ours) much easier.

2. Have a Plan B

I can’t stress enough the importance of always having a backup plan. I’ve seen several retailers who are left in the dark when a key employee leaves their business and they don’t know where to start with a particular process. Obviously, you can’t always be in control of every aspect of your business, you are just one person after all, but having a strategy for these scenarios is key.

The first step is to make sure that the person you are placing in charge of any part of your business is qualified and trustworthy. As salespeople, a few retailers think that they can’t do marketing, so they brush it off to the first person who knows how to use a computer– vendors, sales reps, interns, children, even the kid’s pet hamster! Okay, maybe that last one was a stretch, but the point is that Marketing is a key part of your business and your sales process, so why would you put it in the hands of someone who isn’t quite sure what they’re doing?

Once you’ve carefully selected a qualified party to head up your marketing efforts, make sure that this person creates a written process for all of their duties. On top of that, have them run through these processes with you. In the event that that person is out of the office, or should they leave the business for good, you now have the basics to jump into their role without missing a beat.

This is one specific scenario, but there’s always value in having a Plan B, you never know when your Plan A might fall through!

3. Check, Double-Check, Triple Check!

We all know what happens when you assume, so don’t fall into this trap. We see it all the time in the Marketing Department: you don’t read your co-op guidelines, you participate in an event, and then you realize after the fact that you forgot to display your business name, or even worse, you didn’t know you needed to get a pre-approval beforehand. This is easily fixed by simply consulting your co-op guidelines, or your DOW Electronics Marketing Department– think of us as your human co-op guidelines. We’re here to make sure that you are doing everything you need to in order to receive reimbursement for your advertising initiatives, but we can’t help you if you don’t ask!

Another area where this comes into play is when there is an issue with your account.  It becomes very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to fix a problem months after it occurs. Make sure that you are keeping an eye on your email and your Dow bulletin board to ensure that your payments are coming through as they should and that we don’t require additional action on your part to complete a process. By simply staying on top of your account information, or selecting a qualified employee to do so, you’ll be sure to keep those mistakes and oversights to a minimum. Trust me, we’d rather you call us 10 times a day and get it right the first time than have to deny your claims, and I know your sales reps and everyone else here at Dow feels the same way.

Going back and checking with your sales or marketing rep, or reading your co-op guidelines could save you time, money, and a big headache.

So there you have it! A “Do this, Not that” on being a DOW Electronics retailer. As a Marketer, most of my observations come from a Marketing and Advertising perspective, but these pointers can apply to all parts of your business. Let us know your suggestions in the comments below!

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