Sunday, August 31, 2008

Web Resources: DocStoc

A while back, I was referred to a website called 'DocStock.' Here are the main benefits:

(1) Find Documents

- Download legal, business, tech & educational documents

- Store your documents online for free

- Get your documents indexed by search enginesdocstoc: find and share professional documents

(2) Share Documents

- Upload and share your documents with the world

- Get business leads by sharing your documents

- Embed documents on your blogs and websites

I was a little skeptical at first, but then I gave it a chance and browsed around. I personally have always thought that it is easier to start with an existing template instead of starting from scratch. The types of documents available under the business category include biz planning, contracts, employment, financing, job descriptions, operations, project management, sales and marketing, and Spanish press releases. Hmmmm....ALL the kind of stuff an entrepreneur needs to do to actually get the business up and running.

If you are looking for some help with putting together a business plan, for instance, they have over 3000 documents on this topic alone - and that are further segmented by due diligence, executive summary, Internet start-ups, Market research and sample business plans! I also appreciate the fact that you can also choose to view the most viewed, downloaded, reviewed, recent and/or highest rated.

Now, keep in mind that some of this is more or less junk and useless. You also have to beware that their is nothing backing the actual quality of the documents, But, that said, there is a lot here that as an entrepreneur I believe you will find of use. Don't reinvent the wheel (or shell out a lot of big bucks) unless you have to.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Customer service: Is it overrated?

Have you visited Taco Bell lately? At least in the area where I live, if you pull up to the drive-thru, you will be asked "how are you today?" As I was expecting the typical "how can I help you today" or "go ahead with your order whenever you are ready", this surprised me a bit. tacobellSo I answered, "fine, thank you."

However, the experience again began to impress me in that the reason why franchises in general are successful are because they can create processes for everything! Yes, they can create processes for their food preparation, and although I personally believe that franchise food is marginal at best, people go there because they always know exactly what to expect. However, the more fascinating aspect is that processes can be created for other aspects of the business such as accounting procedures, order intake, cleanliness procedures, etc, and in the case of Taco Bell, customer service. I have not researched it at all, but I am fairly certain that the Taco Bell drive thru workers are specifically training in how to address the customers. This makes it easy for the franchise owners to ensure a certain level of customer service every time!

What can YOU learn from this? Well, even if you are not interested in owning or operating a franchise, you can learn from them by creating processes for every aspect of YOUR business. In turn, this will not only allow your customers to know exactly what to expect and improve your reliability, but it will also help your business to run more smoothly.  

A great book to check out that talks more about the critical importance of processes and imitating what franchises do well is The Emyth Revisited by Michael Gerber.