Guest post from Shirley Chun in California, small business marketing manager for Verizon. To get news specific to California, follow @VZCABiz (www.twitter.com/vzcabiz).
To continue our work to assist small businesses in southern California, my local team sponsored the Verizon Small Business Makeover contest earlier this year. Small business owners entered for a chance to win a $5,000 technology makeover.
I’m happy to announce that Raquel and John Anthony from Temecula, CA are the grand prize winners! Read about their business and how my team will help get their store the technology they need to run their business more efficiently and productively.
Chili Gourmet’s Challenges:
Raquel and John are small business owners who started their business in 2007. They have enjoyed success selling their family’s not-so-famous salsa at the local Farmer’s Market in Old Town Temecula. In 2009, they opened the Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store and since then they manufacture six salsas, six pepper jellies, and they are the largest suppliers of New Mexico Hatch Chile in Temecula, Calif. As is typical with most small business owners, Raquel and John handle every step of their business: manufacturing, advertising, bookkeeping, sales, public relations, marketing, events and more. Here are some of the items that Raquel outlined as their technology challenges in her entry for the contest:
The Verizon “Make Over”:
Verizon’s small business is excited to hear about the early success of Raquel and John’s business. They’ve expanded into a retail store and turned a family dream into a successful small business. However, to continue their success the Anthonys’ business need to be streamlined and automated to move them towards greater productivity. This will also give them more time to focus on the uniqueness of their business and further grow their customers!
Verizon, along with Intuit and Google, our key partners, together recommends these changes and how these services can give the Anthonys a boost in how they run their business:
For a small business it would be important to have a minimum of three business-grade telephone lines and broadband (Internet) access. Depending on the amount of customer traffic, we recommend the two telephone lines so that if the main line is busy, it would route to the second line. The third line could be used for faxes and backup broadband access. Completing the package is Verizon Internet Security Services and Online Backup to keep computer(s) free from spam, viruses, offering firewall protection and more. Oftentimes, online security is not even a service that is considered by small businesses until important private data are compromised, stolen or hacked. No matter the size of your business, online backup is also an important service to have as it backs up all of your data and keep important business information in the cloud that can be easily accessible and retrieved.
o A website refresh every quarter or a couple times a year makes any business’ online presence more interesting. Verizon Websites powered by Intuit’s Design Full Services offers website design tools and a choice of over 2,000 templates to provide an easy way to design a new look for any business’ website.
o Search engine optimization that will allow your business to be found on over 100 search engines!
o Utilizing the Verizon Websites powered by Intuit product will help the Anthonys fine tune their website so they can easily add contact information as well as a map and directions to their store. Additionally, emails from customers or potential customers can be sent from their website and reach their inbox.
o Consider having a toll free number to help track where your customers are calling from and making it most likely for them to pick up the phone and call you.
o Add links to your company’s social media pages directly onto your website so online visitors can easily “fan” your Facebook page or “follow” your Twitter account, connect with your business on LinkedIn or Google+.
o Upload and update current or special promotions, seasonal products, coupons or new information on your company website when it makes sense to further engage and attract customers back to your store.
o A small business particularly should (and can easily) get a domain name, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of @yahoo, @hotmail, etc. email address.
o Track online customer information and orders with Google Analytics software which can be incorporated back into inventory as well as sales management systems.
o Manage recipes (data) and how to use products from Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store by loading them into Google doc to help manage them and provide customers the ability to easily download the recipes.
o Ability to connect with suppliers on inventory and make sure manufactured goods are sent in a timely manner.
o Ability to easily connect with customers online.
As the grand prize winner of the Verizon Small Business Makeover contest the Anthonys will also receive a HP Pavilion dv7t Quad Edition laptop and $2,000 which will help complement the total effort in the Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store technology makeover by Verizon.
I’ll share more about our other semi-finalists soon*:
Nick Chiotellis DDS from Gilroy, CA
Stacey Bradley Photography from Lancaster, CA
Artworks Gallery & Framing from Palm Desert, CA
Paradise Catering and Events from Long Beach, CA
The $500 American Express® Gift Card Watch to Win Sweepstakes Winner is Nick Chiotellis DDS from Gilroy, CA.
Congratulations to all!
*Each semi-finalist will receive a customized Verizon Small Business service recommendation
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