During End of the Year Festivities, Don’t Forget About Your Budget

During End of the Year Festivities, Don’t Forget About Your Budget

As the weather gets cooler and holiday season decorations appear almost overnight, our thoughts naturally turn to the warmth of friends and family, the joys of giving…and next year’s business budget.

Budget? Now before you go bah humbug and reach for that glass of eggnog take a few moments to read up on why you want to think about your budget right now.

Time of Reflection and Looking Ahead

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on what your business has achieved and to plan for new accomplishments.

The past year can also provide you with a good guide on your revenue and expenses—a roadmap for the next year.

A well-planned budget could make your business soar while a poorly planned budget could break your business.

What Should Go Into Your Budget?

Glad you asked. A sensible business budget should include at least four categories of information:

Item 1: Document Your Income Sources

Where does the money that you use to run your business come from on a monthly basis? Take a look at your:

  • Earnings
  • Sales
  • Investment
  • Loans
  • Savings

Item 2: Determine Your Fixed Costs

This is probably the easiest item to determine as fixed expenses don’t change month to month. Examples of fixed costs can include:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Staff salaries
  • Phone and Internet
  • Bank fees
  • Insurance
  • Services like website hosting, bookkeeping, etc.

Item 3: Look at Variable Expenses

Planning for variable expenses in your budget is essential. A well-planned budget will include the ability to scale up or down costs of services or goods as required by your business. Examples of variable expenses can include:

  • Raw materials
  • Contractor wages
  • Commissions
  • Marketing costs, advertising and printing
  • Transportation
  • Travel

Item 4: Potential One-Time Spends

Planning for unexpected expenses is essential to a well-planned budget. Equipment breakdowns happen. Also, new opportunities can present themselves that require a bit of cash to take advantage of. Examples of one-time spends include:

  • Computers repairs and replacements
  • Furniture
  • Software
  • Vehicle repairs

Use Industry Benchmarks to Make Budgeting Easier

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve accumulated data that will make budgeting and forecasting less complex. However, new businesses might not have enough data. That’s when you look at what your competition is doing.

To be honest, a well-seasoned business could always benefit from looking at how their budget compares with industry benchmarks.

Industry benchmarks can provide you with data you can use to make educated budget forecasts – expenses to expect, income ebb and flows, etc.

It also can give you a good idea of what percentage of your budget should go to specific items.

Let’s consider marketing. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending seven to eight percent of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising.

However, a benchmark check shows that marketing budgets can vary widely depending on the industry. A recent study by the American Marketing Association showed how much marketing accounts for percentage of business budgets in several industries. For example:

  • Consumer Product Goods businesses spend 24%
  • Service Consulting companies spend 12%
  • Education companies spend 11%
  • Retail wholesale spend 10%
  • Healthcare 10%
  • Energy 4%

Where to Find Industry Benchmarks

Simple searches on the internet can bring a wealth of information. The U.S. Small Business Administration also provides useful information.

If you have access to your public library, consider using ReferenceUSA. This resource is generally free from your library.

If you have any questions about budgeting, feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588. We can help guide you or even take an active role in creating a budget for you.

Digital Marketing Strategies Restaurants Can Use to Get Found Online

Digital Marketing Strategies Restaurants Can Use to Get Found Online

Digital Marketing Strategies Restaurants Can Use to Get Found Online

Not long ago, my wife and I took a leisurely Sunday drive along the Florida coast. Around noon, we got a bit hungry.

My wife asked her smartphone to “find restaurants near me.”

Instantly, we had a list of restaurants to choose for lunch.

“Here’s one with a fun name,” said my wife. “But I can’t find their hours or a menu.”

“Oooh. Here’s another one that got great reviews. It’s open until 2 PM. And this salad on their menu sounds yummy.”

Within two minutes, my wife proved out the success of a solid digital marketing experience. And that salad was pretty good.

Why You Should Make it Easy For My Wife to Find You Online

Because your customers are looking for you—online.

According to data from the National Restaurant Association, my wife and her smartphone has lots of company.

Consumers use their smartphones to look online to make decisions about where to eat.

Take a look at their data for hungry consumers who:

  • Look up restaurant locations, directions and hours of operation: 83%
  • Look at menus: 75%
  • Read reviews: 55%
  • Use rewards or special deals: 50%
  • Order takeout or delivery from a restaurant’s website or app: 51%

How to Make it Easier for People to Find Your Restaurant Online

Now that we’ve seen how important digital marketing strategies are to your online success, let’s take a look at how you maximize your online presence.

Make “Near Me” Searches Work in Your Favor

Google is more than happy to present their searchers with relevant information about your restaurant. But that means you need to provide that information.

“Near Me” searches are local. Search engines want to present local information.

Make you provide accurate addresses, phone number and hours wherever your restaurant is listed:

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • OpenTable
  • Tripadvisor
  • Your Website

By the way, as a restaurant, you should be located on all of the above plus local business and social directories.

Of course, your own website is a must. Make it mobile friendly and easily navigable.

Put Your Menu Online

People are looking for your menu and search engines want to accommodate them. Take a look at how Google presents your restaurant information. There’s a spot for a link to your menu.

When you put your menu online, don’t make it a downloadable file. Nothing irritates an online searcher with a smartphone more than having to download a PDF and try reading through the document on their phone.

Instead, have your menu be part of your website (mobile friendly a must). Have it be readable. Include photos (sharable on social media).

Make Sure You’re Sociable

Getting found by searchers is important. Getting discovered online is better. People love discovering new restaurants, especially ones their friends are excited about.

  • Make sure you’re creating content that’s easily sharable:
  • Food and event photos
  • Videos,
  • Weekly specials (what’s on the menu!)
  • Staff profiles, etc.

Ask your customers where they hang out online and start building a presence there. Social media platforms you might want to consider:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Youtube

Become familiar with your social media channel’s feature. Learn which hashtags get the best engagement. Explore advertising options offered by the social media network. Since your customers are already there, this could be a good way to tap into their network of friends.

Leverage Review Sites

Search any restaurant by name, one of the first things you’ll see is a bunch of stars and people’s opinions about food, service and atmosphere.

Reviews carry weight when people are trying to decide where to eat.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews. Monitor reviews daily.

Thank positive reviewers for their kind words and feel free to share positive reviews on your social media channels and your website.

As for negative reviews, be proactive and professional. Respond to the issue and offer to resolve it. While the negative review usually stays online, how your respond online can carry positive weight.

We’re always available to help your business leverage their online presence. Give us a call at (904) 429-4588.

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Get Organized! It’ll Save You Time and Money.

Get Organized! It’ll Save You Time and Money.

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up” – A A Milne.

Being organized is not only an asset to our everyday life but is a vital part of running a business. Without organization, chaos can ensue and drag a business down. Did you know that when paperwork is not organized correctly it can cost a business roughly $120 in labor to track down a document and roughly $250 in labor to recreate that said document, a manager roughly loses 1 hour a day due to disorder, and the average American will spend one year searching through desk clutter?

All this time wasted due to being unorganized can cost a business a substantial amount of time and money. There are many benefits for being well organized at work and in your everyday life. Some of those benefits include: being able to focus more closely on your goals, managing your time more efficiently, using your time more economically, prioritizing your tasks and presenting and maintaining a more positive and efficient business image.

Not only does being disorganized lose your business time and money, it also creates a more hectic and stressful environment for your employees. When your employees are stressed they are unhappy, when your employees are unhappy they will take less pride in their work environment and work attitude toward your customers.

So what are some ways to help better organize your business? Ditch those paper receipts, there are some pretty handy receipt management scanners or even special apps for your smartphone that you can use to make an electronic copy of those receipts you need to keep. Stay on top of your paper files, emails, and even your social media profiles, anything that is no longer relevant to your business or is out of date get rid of. Clean your desk weekly to make sure you don’t end up with stacks of paperwork on your desk that becomes clutter. By maintaining an organized business, you are maintaining a fun and stress free environment to work in which can only be beneficial to everyone!