Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees, and entrepreneurs thrive.
We received some complaints from our website visitors about some buttons that are not clickable. We had just put them there because we wanted to share with the visitors some of the features that we’re planning for and are coming soon. What’s wrong with that?
LA: Imagine your favorite coffee shop with the staff working and the place abuzz while the door is closed, or that your best friend tells you today that he has a wonderful gift to give you three months from now. Wouldn’t you feel frustrated if a company’s websites gave you an option to book an appointment and nobody answers you back simply because the form is not linked with their system? This is how most of your website visitors feel when they see a specific feature or a page that they would like to know more about or use only to find out that it doesn’t work. Having only-functioning pages, buttons and features on your website shows your visitors that your website is maintained and in proper condition, which also helps to give your website better ranking with search engines.
In general, add new features to your website and inform your target audience about them only when you are ready. Alternatively, to delight customers and have them look forward to the near future, you may announce upcoming services, products, news or activities on your news page, your blog or other social media tools that your company uses to communicate with your own communities. So, keep in mind that the words “Under construction” are to be used only on the walls of retail stores and buildings, not for websites…and that’s just my two cents.
About a year ago, I came up with a name for my new business venture. After a brief Google name search followed by a considerable amount of investment in branding and building a website I discovered that there are two businesses already in existence with the same name with one having a very similar logo to mine and a pretty high profile. Do I continue with the name and branding, having spent all that money, or do I cut my losses and start again?
LA: You have three options. (1) Status quo. If the name is already registered, you can be taken to court. Your losses then will be greater than now when you factor the legal fees, compensation (if any), and the loss in value of the brand equity you built with your customers over time, assuming that you are sued in a few years from now. (2) Start fresh. Yes, it’s painful financially and emotionally, but it’s not difficult to build a new identity for a year-old small business. Inform your customers of what happened and let them know that a new identity is coming soon. This will buy you time, which is what you need when you design an identity that will last for years. They’ll also appreciate the honesty and accept the change. They might even get excited and participate in the naming process if you invite them to on your Facebook page, for example.
(3) Unite. If your business is somewhat similar in size and/or operation to the other two and you’re not in overlapping territories, offer them the opportunity of forming a network. The alliance can help in sharing resources, training, having a better purchase power due to the larger volume, covering a wider market, and much more. Consult a lawyer to have this partnership in the form of a business agreement so each can keep their own license…and that’s just my two cents.
Usually, in the architecture business, we charge a set percentage of the cost of the project. Our field is quite competitive. So we are thinking of charging clients a fixed price based on the hours involved regardless of the project’s cost. Is it better for us and fair to clients to follow this pricing strategy or do we just keep things as is?
LA: Just before leaving Tokyo and returning to the USA, the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright was asked for help by his Japanese apprentice with a house design for a client who had a difficult triangular shape of land. After sketching the design in less than 10 minutes Wright said to his apprentice, “I’ll send you my invoice.” Surprised by the statement, the apprentice said, “For something that took less than 10 minutes!” Wright answered, “You are not paying me for 10 minutes of work. You are paying for the skills developed over the years that allowed me to sketch this house design within 10 minutes.”
One business philosophy states that if you have a service or product with known cost and profit margins that you would like to maintain your price should be fixed regardless of who’s buying. Another philosophy focuses on value rather than price. For example, while a glass of water has a fixed cost price to you, it has a high value to a rich man stuck in the desert and another to a customer in a café. If you want to charge based on time, you need to factor in your experience, your financial goals and the value of your work to your client. Otherwise, you might design the next great tower and still find your company struggling with salaries or end up not winning the project in the first place because your price was not in tune with its value…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.