Archive for the ‘For Business’ Category

Government Grants

Aug
2016
15

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I have been writing government grants now for several years and together with other colleagues have succeeded in obtaining more than $1 million for our clients. I have also been successful with one client in obtaining a $100,000 interest free loan.

The recurring theme that I find intriguing is that so many clients want the money but don’t want to or don’t have the time to put the effort into making it happen. I do understand this so why am I writing this blog?

Whether it’s the federal or provincial government, they are accountable for tax payers’ dollars and need to ensure that all submissions meet the grant criteria. Often I find myself is disagreement with their criteria but it is what it is. There is a silver lining.

Whether the criteria requires you to write a business plan, a marketing plan, job descriptions or obtain properly prepared quotes from third party consultants, it forces you to think, to plan and to ensure that you are going to do what you say you will do (that’s why reimbursement is after you demonstrate proof of payment). Is it so bad to have to write down where you want to go and how you’re going to get there? Our experience has shown that those who do this from the get go, usually get the financial help they are seeking. So approach these opportunities positively for your business, not just as a money “grab”.

I work with businesses and charities to help them do what they do better. If your organization is looking for grant opportunities, create new revenue streams, reduce your costs, examine your operation or even create long term sustainability, I can help you put the pieces of your puzzle together. So why not contact me at 514-947- 3406 or email me: allan@allangroup.ca to learn more.

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How many of you out there have had a customer or client that no matter what you did, your customer was just not pleased. If you lowered your price, it wasn’t low enough. IF you included the cost of shipping, it was only a small percent. IF you offered 2 for 1, they wanted 3 for 1. IF you promised to deliver by Monday, they wanted it on Sunday. I’m sure you can add a few stories to the list.

So what do you do? I guess it depends on you, the business you’re in and the relationship you have with your customer or client. I remember once I was doing collections and I asked on for the amount overdue, not the current amount. Well the verbal abuse I received cannot be written. I concluded the conversation by explaining the amount I wanted and hung up. A few weeks later, the customer attended our major spring fashion show. He was talking to the owner of the company who came by to explain that the customer didn’t understand why I wasn’t talking to him (the owner knew the whole story from me). I replied, “When he apologizes to me I will most gladly engage in any future conversation”. The owner delivered the message, the customer did apologize and our future relationship proved to be an excellent one, even when I asked for money. Sometimes you just have to take a stand.

I want to make one point – taking a stand does not mean being rude. It means be firm. It means stay strong to your convictions. You do not want to lower yourself to the level of your customer or engage in a “tit-for- tat” dialogue. Be professional.

But there is another situation where the cost of doing business with your customer outgrows any profit you might make. This can be especially true when your product margins are low rendering little room for you to satisfy a customer ALL the time (there are times when you need to make right a wrong, of course, but that is not what I am talking about here). A good example is a customer who often buys wrong and returns merchandise more often than not. So what do you do? I would first try to have a face to face or heart to heart conversation with the customer. Put your cards on the table (again be nice), explain that you’re losing money because they are returning goods ordered far too often and ask them to look into making changes on their end to significantly reduce and eventually eliminate their constant returns. Failing that, I recommend that you part ways with that customer. Does this sound harsh? I don’t think so. BOTH companies are in business to make a profit, not just one. So you should not feel guilty that you need to fire your customer if you’re losing money because of his practices.

I offer consulting services to charities and not-for- profits. I have quoted the same basic rate since inception, seven years ago. On occasion, I will give a discount where I feel it’s warranted. When, however, I am asked to do work for free, I remind the potential client that I make my living through my consulting practice. I cannot volunteer for every possible organization. I, too, need to put food on the table. I am never sure if this is right or wrong, but this is where I always say, “No”. Over time, I have come to accept this and feel quite comfortable that I have done the right thing. I hope you do as well.

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Virtually every charity for which I have worked has raised money by holding a variety of charitable events. Many of these events are fabulous – donors, participants and sponsors alike all have a great time with galas, poker tournaments, golf tournaments, concerts, raffles, auctions, bazaars, fashion shows, wine & cheese (Steak & Scotch is better) evenings, Something-a- thon – indeed the list is endless. But how much do they really raise? Does the ROI, if calculated properly, justify the effort that went into creating the event?

I recently visited a potential client who advised me that her organization nets about $200,000 (for 4 events) but the volunteer group is starting to burn out. Clearly, they need to sustain their current fundraising efforts but need to do something else before volunteer burnout sets in completely. I wonder how many other organizations out there are in the same situation.

I have estimated that to plan a major event (to net $150,000) requires at least 445 professional hours and at least 10 – 20 volunteers that put in 100 hours each over a 6 month period. For this exercise, let’s assume 15 volunteers@100 hours. In total we are talking about 1945 professional and volunteer hours to make this event happen. Let’s assume their combined average cost is $50 per hour. So the labour cost for this event is just over $97,000. Assuming all other costs are factored out by sponsorship, ticket sales, etc. breakeven is $97,000. If the net was $150,000, the ROI would be 1.54. Is this acceptable? At the end of the day, what ROI makes the cost worthwhile? And is there an opportunity cost, that is, could more money be raised for the same effort?

I work with charities and non-profits to help them do what they do better. If your organization is looking to increase its ROI, contact me at 514-947- 3406 or email me: allan@allangroup.ca to discuss what we can do for you.

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Events Are Great – But Do They Maximize Your Return?

Virtually every charity for which I have worked has raised money by holding a variety of charitable events. Many of these events are fabulous – donors, participants and sponsors alike all have a great time with galas, poker tournaments, golf tournaments, concerts, raffles, auctions, bazaars, fashion shows, wine & cheese (Steak & Scotch is better) evenings, something-a-thon – indeed the list is endless. But how much do they really raise? Does the ROI, if calculated properly, justify the effort that went into creating the event? Taking the time to do statistical analyses will answer this question for you.

I recently visited a potential client who advised me that her organization nets about $200,000 (for 4 events) but the volunteer group is starting to burn out. Clearly, they need to sustain their current fundraising efforts but need to do something else before volunteer burnout sets in completely. I wonder how many other organizations out there are in the same situation.

I have estimated that to plan a major event requires at least 445 professional hours and at least 10– 20 volunteers that put in 100 hours each over a 6 month period. For this exercise, let’s assume 15 volunteers@100 hours. In total we are talking about 1945 professional and volunteer hours to make this event happen. Let’s assume their combined average cost is $25 per hour. So the labour cost for this event is just over $48,000. Assuming all other costs are factored out by sponsorship, ticket sales, etc. break-even is $48,000. At the end of the day, what ROI makes the cost worthwhile? And is there an opportunity cost, that is, could more money be raised for the same effort?

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