Icon representing a gift, deal or special offer

Free this, half price that, Two 4 One, Buy One Get One Free, 20% off…

There’s no getting away from it, everyone loves a deal!  Today, customers from all walks of like are fully engaged with the deals/special offers culture, taking great pleasure and comfort in getting that ‘great deal’.

But what’s in it for small businesses?  Historically, not a lot for some it seems, especially when it means being overloaded with customers paying discounted prices and unable to offer the usual great service and losing the business money to boot because you gave 50% or more away to a ‘deal broker’

Image showing deals and offer tagsHowever, it doesn’t have to be like that.   Imagine if you could offer an attractive deal or special offer, that…

  • Attracts new customers through the door
  • Costs just £1 each time a customer buys one
  • Is marketed free and available to customers 24/7
  • Instantly redeemable using any internet connected device

Miquando local deals have all the upside of the daily deal websites and coupon clipping but none of the downsides by allowing businesses to…

  • Get started with no up-front costs
  • Run deals & offers for however long you want
  • Avoid overloading and the usual operational havoc
  • Directly target under used capacity only
  • Limit availability – Stop, start or change a deal instantly
  • Make a deal/offer profitable

So how do I do it?

1st thing to do is give a little thought to what you want to achieve with an offer.  It might be any of the following.

  • Increase brand awarenessBeauty Bar deal image
  • Advertise a new product or service
  • Boosting sales
  • Attract a new set of customers
  • Convert new customers to repeat customers
  • Increase visits from existing customers
  • Using excess stock
  • Rewarding customers / buying loyalty

You just add a new service and tick the check box to highlight this as a special offer and add a great image or photo that really sells the offer.  If you want, you can limit when customers can book this deal so you are only discounting in quieter periods to help fill spare capacity e.g. a midweek early bird dining offer.  To do this, simply add a new resource for this service with limited booking times

Add a new Resource that is only available to be booked between 5:00pm and 6:30pm, Monday to Thursday

Image showing local deals pageThat’s it – we’ll start promoting your deal on the date your new service is set to start (immediately or a future date) and it appears on the relevant regional deals page (e.g. http://miquando.com/deals/isleofman).

Customers both new and existing, local or visitors to the area, are always on the lookout for deals and offers using our regional deals pages.  To keep a flow of new visitors, we regularly promote these pages through targeted social media and other online campaigns.

Ready to get started?  Give us a call on 01624 640393 or Click Here to send us an email

 

Still not convinced, look at these independent findings from Technomic’s research into online deals….

  • 48% of deal buyers used it for a business that they had never tried before
  • 25% used for a place that they have visited only once before;
  • 67% returned even without a deal;
  • 83% recommended the business to their friends and family
  • 34% wrote a review
  • 25% posted a status on their Facebook page
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MiQuando has started 2015 in style, launching more great new features to its online services.

One new feature in particular is proving extremely popular.  The launch of the latest online booking service, specifically designed for restaurants, is making life simpler for both restaurant owners and diners wanting to book a table.

A number of the Islands most popular restaurants have already updated their booking services, so booking with them is even quicker, easier and more convenient than ever before.

With almost 30 Manx restaurants available to book online, MiQuando is now the Island’s favourite booking service for restaurants in the Isle of Man.

Now it’s even quicker and easier to book your favourite restaurant online 24/7 – why not give it a try and treat yourself to lunch or dinner with one of these great local restaurants, just click on one of the restaurants showcased below to book online 24/7/365.

 

Logo - L'experience French restaurant, Douglas, Isle of Man     Logo - Salt Bar and Kitchen, Douglas, Isle of Man   Logo - Portofino Restaurant, Douglas, Isle of Man   Logo - Macfarlane's restaurant, Douglas, Isle of Man   Logo - Kurries and Steaks restaurant, Douglas, Isle of Man   Logo - Davincis bar and restaurant, Douglas, Isle of Man

 

Or click Here to see a list of Isle of Man Restaurants using MiQuando.com.

If you would like to add our quick and easy to use online booking services, for your restaurant (or any other business), please Contact Us

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5 Star rating image

We all know the value of a good reputation and the pitfalls of a bad one, but what is it and how do you build your reputation online?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines reputation as…

the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something:

“his reputation was tarnished by allegations of bribery”

a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic:

“his knowledge of his subject earned him a reputation as an expert”

So basically reputation is about trust.  Do you trust this person or business to deliver on their promise?

Before the internet people relied on various sources such as gossip (some reliable some less so), shared experiences (person to person, aka word of mouth) and perhaps an individual’s standing in the community.

The internet has opened up vast opportunities for businesses to operate on a bigger scale to a wider market than many local businesses previously dreamed possible.  The trouble is, much of this online interaction is from people distant from the business and unable to gain access to the usual reputation sources.

So how does a small local business earn and share those extraordinarily valuable commodities online:

Positive reputation

Word of mouth recommendations

Simple, start using a “Reputation System”.   E-Bay or Trip Advisor are perhaps the best known examples where people who have used the services on offer, share their feedback and ratings to help others make a more informed choice.

Many small businesses are wary of such systems, worrying (probably unnecessarily) about the possibilities of negative feedback.   This kind of thinking is a little misguided, as it is the very existence of the occasional; let’s say less than positive response that generates trust.

Think about it, when did you ever pay any attention to those glowing testimonials businesses put on their web sites to try and create trust, and does anyone really believe those Better/Best Business Guides where the ‘recommended businesses’ have all paid for that privilege.

Even better, if you do get a bit of negative feedback, at least you have the chance to respond publicly and share your version of events, unlike the bad word of mouth shared down the pub leaving you blissfully unaware of any problems.

So if you want to broaden your customer base via the internet, you should be open to using a Reputation or Ratings system, after all you don’t have anything to hide do you?

Why not start building your reputation online today.  Every business listed on miquando.com has access to a comprehensive and independent Ratings and Reviews service that is completely free to use.

Image of Miquando.com Ratings and reviewsThe beauty of the miquand.com Ratings and Reviews service is the level of detail with the 5 star rating derived from ratings given for Value, Knowledge, Reliability, Friendliness and Service as shown below.

 There is also the nice added feature where a reviewer can also say whether they “Recommend” this business.  This is a very useful feature and something often missing from other review services.

The reviews can be quickly and easily sorted on any of the ratings, allowing people to instantly see the results for what is most important to them, whether that be value for money or reliability, or just sort on the Recommendations.

Another excellent feature is the ability to embed the MiQuando Ratings and Reviews service into your own website.  Not only can visitors to your web site see a set of independent Ratings and Reviews, but they can also add their own directly from your web site.

Start building your Reputation online today at miquando.com

Read our blog post on handling negative reviews here.

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What customers want to book online

Small local businesses have various competitive advantages over their distant larger cousins; whether through providing a more personal service, being a niche player with unique products or having specialist skills and knowledge or perhaps just being the best.

However, when it comes to creating an effective and engaging online experience, the challenges of budget, knowledge and skill often prevents small businesses from competing online in this digital age.

 Online is crucial

This is a critical issue for most businesses, with today’s tech savvy customers fully expecting to be able to, not just research products and services via the internet, but continue that online experience to its logical conclusion; the purchase.  Respondents to a survey carried out by The Guardian in September this year confirm this view.

Guardian Poll - selling online
Guardian Poll – is selling online the way forward for small business?

Add to this the increasing number of online users in Britain and we can see just how important having a competitive online offering is to today’s consumers, with the majority of today’s adult (16+) population using the internet as an integral part of their daily routine.

UK Internet Users Q3 2011

If your business is unable to offer a high quality end to end experience via the internet, it’s fair to assume you will be missing out on a significant opportunity.

The Shopping Cart

If your business fits the retail model of products and goods that can be put in a ‘shopping basket’ then you are already well catered for, with a number of e-commerce platforms with localised providers such as shopiom.co. Choosing to operate under such e-commerce umbrella platforms makes perfect sense for small businesses, as it allows the costs of software, infrastructure and secure payment services etc. to be shared.

There’s always a But!

However, there are a significant number of businesses where the ‘shopping basket’ e-commerce model just doesn’t fit.  These businesses are generally those that offer for sale their time, skills and services; whether that is a beautician, driving instructor, electrician, gardener, hairdresser, maths tutor, painter & decorator or anyone else who fits the mould.

All these types of businesses need the opportunity to offer their customers the flexibility and choice they now expect in this digital age.  Online shopping, hotel, flight and restaurant booking is now part and parcel of everyday life for millions of people, and research tells us that the public expects to complete more and more of their day to day activities via the internet across a wide range of business sectors, as shown by the examples:

What customers want to book online

Let’s recap on what we now know?

  • There are literally millions of prospective customers using the internet every day

  • These potential customers want to do as much as possible online
  • The days of offering just a static web site with a bit of information and contact details are gone
  • Businesses need to offer a full end to end online service to meet consumer expectations

Sorry we are closedThis graphic shows us the UK’s peak internet usage times. So now we also know that most people are online when nearly all small businesses are close

If you want to capture this business then you really only have a couple of options:

  1. Stay open and work much longer hours
  2. Get your business working for you online

Option 1 is not really an option, as the costs both financially and personally are simply too much to bear.  So that leaves option 2 as the only real viable alternative.

Fortunately for you, the team at MiQuando.com has worked tirelessly over the last two years to come up with a solution and create an umbrella platform that is designed to cater specifically for businesses that provide their time, skills and services as their ‘products’.

MiQuando.com helps to level the playing field by helping these small businesses offer a full end to end online service to their customers through a simple low cost online booking service.  By using our simple, integrated online booking facility, your customers can book appointments via the internet 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Imagine the scenario where a prospective customer conducts a keyword search online using the MiQuando® directory and is returned a list of businesses.  In that list of businesses there are some (yours) that offer an online appointment booking service.  Will that customer wait until tomorrow and call, send you an email and wait for a response or simply go and choose the service they are looking for and book online right there and then?

The business opportunities are right there; people booking their Hair and Beauty appointments, their Driving Lesson, an Electrician or Painter & Decorator to price a job, extra help for the kids with Maths Tuition, an appointment for the Heating Engineer to service the boiler, a discreet appointment for an interview with the Employment Agency, a convenient time with the Estate Agent to view that new house and so on.

All of this can be done from the comfort of their own home, during the evenings or weekends providing the online experience people now expect without the need for you or your staff to work longer or harder.  During working hours when you’re busy doing what you do best, you might not be available to answer phone calls. Using MiQuando®, your customers can simply go online and book an appointment with you saving you valuable time and effort.

The service is very flexible and you can easily set it up to fit in with how you work or want to work.  Choose to manually accept/confirm appointments or let MiQuando® manage them for you.  Making a new appointment, rescheduling or cancelling existing appointments, is quick and easy, with a familiar ‘look & feel’. 

It’s 100% Free to use yourself and just £1 per online customer booking. So what are you waiting for, get started today at www.miquando.com or for further details contact our customer service team via email (mail@miquando.com) or call us on 0845 564 0000 (local call) to get an online competitive advantage.

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The Local Search Funnel

Local Search Funnel

In our line of business we deal with large numbers of micro businesses (0-9 employees). It still surprises me that so many don’t have a website, approximately 50% according to statistics brain.

In many cases they have created one, only to say they see no value from it.  This is the bit that got me thinking.  One obvious reason will be they had a crap website – maybe homemade or done by a total amateur.  I think there is a more fundamental reason for that though; let me try and explain.

 Let’s take a moment to look at the busiest times for UK internet usage i.e. when people / customers are active online.

•       Monday to Friday            7pm to 11pm

•       Saturday                              4pm to 8pm

•       Sunday                                 4pm to 10pm

Source: uSwitch

If you don’t believe me, next time you’re trying to sell something on EBay, just set the auction finish time for early Sunday evening and see the results for yourself!

The highest internet usage is when people aren’t working – “well doh, that’s pretty obvious” you might say, and yes it is, but to a business owner it shouts out– “but that’s when we’re closed”.

A quick look at the statistics published on internet use tells us there are literally hundreds of thousands of people carrying out local search for businesses and services every evening and weekend.

The Local Search Funnel

Local Search Funnel

OK, so know we know that there are loads of people surfing the net looking for local businesses, products and services just when your business has shut up shop for the day.  If you have a decent website, at least they can research what you offer and maybe they’ll e-mail you or take a note of your phone number (and forget to call you on Monday!).

Today’s internet generation want to do more than that; they want to transact and interact digitally i.e. directly from their keyboards without waiting for your business to open.  This is where most websites are failing to deliver as you just can’t actually do anything from the site.

Now the thing is, it doesn’t have to be a costly, complex or time hungry exercise to get that vital element of being able to do something from your website; in fact you don’t even need a web site!

We all know people love to book flights, hotels and restaurants online, and our surveys and research show there is great demand for everything from booking a driving lesson to a house viewing.

Imagine a scenario where a prospective customer can easily find your business using key word search, and then actually book a haircut, or a time for you to come and quote to fix the roof, or book a DJ for your birthday party, hell even the place to have your party.

Adding online booking can be a really quick, easy and low cost way to grow your business via the internet when your physical doors are shut.

If you like the sound of that or want to stop your website being a waste of money, you should go and take a look, and register your business today at www.miquando.com.

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