A husband and wife who owned and operated hair salons in Southern California were sentenced to prison for failing to pay payroll taxes.
John D. Pham and Annya A. Nguyen, both of Laguna Niguel, operated hair salons under the Fantastic Sams name at various times since 1985 in the cities of Orange, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, and Rancho Santa Margarita.
On Oct. 1, Pham was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He had previously pleaded guilty to a charge that he had willfully failed to account for and pay income and Social Security taxes withheld from the wages of employees of one of the corporations involved in the scheme. He admitted that he and his wife had incorporated 10 companies, all of which had failed to pay payroll taxes from 1996 through 2004.
On Sept. 4, Nguyen was sentenced to serve five months in prison and three years of supervised release. She previously had pleaded guilty to a charge that she had conspired with Pham to defraud the United States by impeding the Internal Revenue Service in the collection of taxes. She admitted that the conspiracy spanned a period of at least eight years and involved a loss to the government of over $770,000 of payroll taxes. Nguyen also admitted that she failed to pay more than $80,000 of her federal income tax liabilities during the same time period.
Nguyen and Pham were also accused of diverting assets from some of the corporations they controlled to their own personal benefit. Both were ordered to jointly pay restitution of $629,105 to the IRS.
Customer Service Secret Number Two – provide true customer service. In today’s market environment, service has become a cliché and it seems like “everyone’s doing it.” So, if everyone is doing it, why not jump ahead of the wolf pack by providing even more creative, personalized service to your customers than your competitors can?
One size shoe does not fit all feet. Nor is one type of customer service suitable for all your customers. Let’s say your advertised featured customer service is Home Delivery. The first customer may welcome this Home Delivery because it’s difficult for him to get out and shop in person.
But your second customer may enjoy “window shopping” and carrying his purchases around with him as he goes from shop to shop. He is not the least interested in your home delivery service. So, with what you save by not needing home delivery for this customer, why not offer him an equivalent discount on a second cash purchase, or give him an in-store percentage-off coupon that he can use the next time he’s in your store?
I repeat, be creative. Get to personally know your customers and recognize their individual needs. Above all, make certain that what you are offering really is something that your customer can value; that’s the key to good customer service.
Customer Service Secret Number One – Build Business to Customer Loyalty. This is my number one customer service secret, and is by far the most important one. I was taught about Business to Customer Loyalty many, many years ago, before I started my own business, when I still worked as a hotel detective in a ritzy down town Calgary hotel. The hotel insisted that every one of us who had contact with their customers know the customer by his full name and, when possible, other personal or business information about him.
“Good evening, Mr. Smith. Welcome to our hotel.” Then, after a bit of miscellaneous chit-chat, “By the way, Mr. Smith, did you manage to unload at a profit those hundred shares of Doodlebug Appliances you thought were a bit risky?” or, “Was your daughter accepted at Harvard? Last time you were a guest with us you expressed concern that Emily was having difficulty with her math, and wasn’t sure if she had enough points to qualify for admission.”
Now, here’s a customer who KNOWS that he’s welcome at your hotel, and whenever he’s back in town, you can count on him staying in your establishment!
Is this spying on customers? Not at all! It’s simply remembering a few concerns that your customer shared with you the last time he stayed in your hotel.
When you can show concern about what matters to your customer, that’s Business to Customer Loyalty, and you can bet on it, you’ve just acquired a customer for life.
More to come.
Establish rapport. Use language to meet your client or prospect at their current state of mind. You’ve done this to open the sales call by simply verifying several pieces of information with your client or prospect. Do the same thing here as well. If you are speaking to a past or returning client, use questions to get them to verify their experience. If you are speaking to a new prospect, use a cushion to acknowledge their current state, appeal to their nobler side and then reiterate some of the points about their industry that brought you to the prospect in the first place.
Describe the kind of referral that you are looking for. Describe your ideal client in as much detail as possible. When possible, use elements that are shared by the prospect or client that is sitting in front of you. And use descriptive language to create a person that your client will understand and relate to. Describing your ideal client as a young person with high energy, working in a creative hi-tech environment creating unique applications for the web will result in your prospect thinking about specific people with names that have done some of the work that you have outlined.
However, saying that you are looking for web designers will result in your prospect or client having an unfocused mind and they will most likely say, “I can’t think of anybody right now, but I’ll let you know when I do.” Remember, detailed descriptions will act as an anchor in your clients’ mind and produce concrete results. Vague descriptions of the type of referral you are asking for will produce vague results at best.
Lower the barrier to getting cooperation. Lower the barrier by reducing the risk associated with your client or prospect giving up their contacts’ information. Remember that if they are giving you their contacts, they are putting their reputation on the line. Make them look good by insuring that their contacts will get the best service or products possible. If you are getting referrals from a client that you’ve done business with before, this should be fairly easy to do. Tell your client that you will work to insure that these referrals will receive the same types of benefits that they received. You also can get creative here and offer incentives to your clients for supplying referrals that buy your stuff.
Most companies envision recession as a time to tighten belts and safeguard reserves. Any plans for acquisitions and mergers are often placed on hold until the economic turmoil blows over. But what many companies don’t know is a recession yields tremendous opportunities. Because while other companies are holding onto their cash tightly and shrinking their workforce, many opportunities are overlooked that can provide a huge competitive advantage.
Companies that learn how to take advantage of special opportunities that are unique to a recession will pull ahead of the competition. Because while the competition is struggling, successful companies are implementing growth strategies that will ramp up stock prices and grow revenue.
1. Ignore Conventional Wisdom
When creating strategies in times of recession, conventional wisdom should be thrown out the window. Instead of locking up your assets and stopping growth activities, you need to create new strategies that foster growth. Because finding the right opportunities during economic downturn can propel your company ahead of the market leader.
2. Reinvent Management Strategies
Some senior managers get stuck in the traditional way of accomplishing business. But management has to accept innovative growth strategies for a company to succeed. Everyone needs to understand that while a growth strategy during a recession isn’t traditional, there are huge gains to be made during this time. Having buy-in from all senior managers will promote success.
3. Keep All Options on the Table
Most companies clam up during hard times–tabling plans for acquisitions and mergers. Historically, successful companies have done the complete opposite. They seek opportunities to grow through acquisitions and mergers. And because other companies aren’t participating in these types of activities, there are special opportunities available.
4. Don’t Be Conservative
Getting ahead in tough economic times means not being conservative. Instead of hunkering down to weather the recession, look for opportunities to grow and acquire. In previous recessions those who were conservative didn’t come out ahead. Successful companies become market leaders by focusing on growth and taking over market share.
5. Loosen Up on Cash Reserves
It’s natural for companies to hold onto cash during a recession. But this strategy won’t get you anywhere with growing your business. Loosening up on your cash reserves will allow your company to participate in growth activities such as strategic acquisitions and mergers. The companies that thrived in previous recessions allowed their reserves to dip 41% lower than other companies.
6. Focus on Smaller Deals
Acquisitions and mergers are important to a company’s growth. These activities are advantageous because it’s much more expensive to grow a company organically then to acquire an established business. But during a recession, it’s important to focus on a large amount of small deals. Companies that implemented this strategy during previous recessions experienced the most impressive results.
7. Don’t Slash Your Operating Expenses
Many business owners are focused on cutting operating expenses during tough economic times. But companies that don’t cut these expenses do better then the competition. Because cutting operating expenses doesn’t support growth activity; it can actually limit your company’s ability to grow. Instead, focus on strategies that promote growth while maintaining the current level of spending.
8. Ramp Up Research and Development
Research and development is an area that often gets cut. But this area is essential in providing opportunities for growth. Ramping up research and development will enable a company to grow instead of lagging behind the competition.
9. Increase Advertising Expenditures
A company needs advertising to grow and expand. Yet some companies believe that trimming expenses in the advertising cost center will help them stay afloat. However, successful companies take the opposite approach to advertising. Industry leaders actually spend more money during a recession. Advertising is an important component to growing business. So don’t be afraid to ramp up your advertising budget.
10. Don’t Avoid Risk
Some business owners are steering clear of potential risks, afraid it will put their company in danger. But not taking risks during a recession may cause your company to fall behind. Because with the untapped growth opportunities available during this economic downturn, those who fall behind may not have an opportunity to recover. And for those willing to take risks, the payoffs are huge with the potential to take over market share and become an industry leader.
If your company is willing to change its approach to handling a recession, the rewards can be well worth the effort. Creating a strong growth strategy can change your businesses’ course in a very positive direction. Because historically market leaders have emerged during these tough economic times.