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Case studies from design industry professionals, from the smallest of firms to large, global organizations. Click on image - order your copy today!

About Terri L. Maurer

Terri L Maurer is a small business consultant with a strategic bent. Using an analytical approach to uncover potential roadblocks, she helps small business owners and managers create focused road maps to their firm's unique vision of success.

Customers Deserve Our Thanks and Appreciation – It’s Thanksgiving

Designing Strategies  eNewsletter Volume 14                          Issue 80   Happy Thanksgiving  and the Coming Holiday Season Everyone! It's hard to believe that we are half way through Fall and that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Somehow these holidays have a habit of sneaking up on us.  Lots of cleaning to do.  Long grocery lists with ingredients for traditional family recipes are on refrigerator doors or in our digital To Do list.  Run the good china and silverware through the dish washer.  Pull out that special table cloth.  Time to celebrate and be thankful.  Thankful for our families, friends, health and home, of course.  But, should remember those less fortunate than we are at this [...]

Show Employees You Care and Value Them: 20 Ways to Get Started

Now that the economy has picked back up in most areas of the US, finding, recruiting and retaining high quality employees is more important than ever. Once your small business acquires and trains high quality staff, they need to keep them. If you don't know how to show employees you care and value them within your company, you can expect them to look elsewhere for positive recognition of their contributions. According to research by OfficeVibe.com, 51% of of workers are looking to leave their current positions.  80% of employees would work more hours if their employers were more empathetic.  60% of employees would like to have their work praised more often.  Any of these statistics could result in empty work spaces at your company on [...]

By | November 9th, 2017|Employees|0 Comments

Being a Solo-preneur Can Be Dangerous! Beware of the Pitfalls.

Do you ever think about how being a solo-preneur can be dangerous?  Maybe you should.  I know that it is hard to consider when you don't have a business in a dangerous industry like manufacturing or construction. If your small business mostly involves working in your office alone, it doesn't seem dangerous at all.   But, there are pitfalls in all types of businesses.  Why else would our states demand workman's compensation donations to cover injuries received on the job? I've been doing some cleaning in my office recently.  No, not just dusting, vacuuming and emptying trash.  That stuff I do on a pretty regular basis.  My design library has been greatly reduced and I am cleaning out files that go back through my interior design [...]

By | November 2nd, 2017|Growth, Strategy, Systems and Processes|0 Comments

Succession and Retirement Planning: Neither Should Be Ignored

How are you doing planning for your own retirement? Do you plan to keep your business alive even after you go away?  Stop putting things off.  Now is the time to address succession and retirement planning for your small business.  Give yourself the time necessary to accumulate a significant cache to fund your golden years.  You should probably started much sooner, but there is no time like the present to catch up. We read all the time about the need to create generous compensation and benefit packages to attract top talent for our small businesses.  Health care, paid holidays, paid personal days, retirement plans.  The menu for benefits has grown and expanded over the years.  It can be tough to compete with big companies with [...]

Technology Levels the Playing Field Between Big and Small Businesses

Not long ago, there was a vast chasm between what Big Business and smaller, Mom-and-Pop startups could accomplish.  Why?  The biggest differentiation was the size of their budgets.  Big Biz could easily afford to put themselves in front of potential customers on a grand scale.  They could afford splashy advertising with celebrity endorsements in big name national and international magazines.  They could afford to regularly market on radio and television. Small business budgets were limited mostly to local publications, direct mail, flyers and bill boards.  Most could not even afford a marketing specialist, so the owner took on that task.  Small businesses were often relegated to only local marketplaces for customers.   Finally, technology came on the scene, opening doors that had not been available before.  [...]

By | September 24th, 2017|Systems and Processes, Technology|0 Comments

Get Your Small Business Growing: Off the Treadmill and Onto a Conveyor

'Designing Strategies' eNewsletter September - October, 2017                                         Volume 14  --  Issue 79   Do you find yourself doing the same things in your business that you did last week, last month or even last year?  Not good.  You have reached a plateau where  you are comfortable and decided to stay put?  Really not good.  You know what happens when something sits still in the same place don't you?  If you've ever watched 'American Pickers' on the History channel, you'll understand that when people 'collect' things, but leave them sitting around for a long time, they start to deteriorate.  A car or bicycle left outside for years [...]

By | September 22nd, 2017|Growth, Newsletter, Systems and Processes|0 Comments

Employee Recognition Programs Help Recruit and Retain Great Staff

It seems there is never neutral ground when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent to move companies forward.  On the employee side of the conversation, we hear that there are no good jobs available.  Or, they say that what jobs are available offer pay and benefit packages that are unimpressive.  Attracting and keeping top talent takes time and planning on how you can find, engage, recruit then motivate good employees.   Part of motivation should include an employee recognition program. On the other side, employers complain that there just aren’t enough good workers out there to fill vacancies they advertise.  Who is right?  I’d venture a guess that both sides have valid points.  With that in mind, let’s say that good jobs are available [...]

By | August 28th, 2017|Employees, Systems and Processes|0 Comments

Exceptional Customer Experiences:  7 Infallible Rules Not To Be Ignored

Every small business claims to have excellent customer service.  I’m not kidding.  Go out and do an informal survey of your own.  At your next association meeting, ask ten or twelve colleagues – read:  competitors – how they rate their own customer service.   I’d be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 will tell you they are just ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ when it comes to customer service and exceptional customer experiences. For those of you who prefer to speak in simpler terms, that very, very long word from Mary Poppins just means “exceptionally good”.  By claiming to have exceptionally good customer service, they claim their customer service is uncommon or unusual, at a uniquely higher level than anyone else provides.  The truth is: if that question was [...]

Does Your Firm Accept Credit Cards? Maybe You Should.

This week, we contracted with an award winning local landscape firm to do some stone and brick work on our property.  We met with the owner to sign the contract so work could begin.  When I asked if they would accept credit card payment for our deposit, we were told their company doesn't accept credit cards.  Interesting.  I thought most every small business today accepts credit cards for payment. Credit and debit cards have taken over the world.  Those, myself included, who still write the occasional check are looked at strangely.  Change takes time for most people.  Yes, I do pay bills and make purchases online, but I have become more and more cautious about who gets my credit card information.  Far too many hackers [...]

By | August 3rd, 2017|Customer Experience, Strategic Management|0 Comments

Influences on Small Businesses for 2017: Competition & Customer Behaviors

'Designing Strategies' eNewsletter July - August, 2017               Volume 14     Issue 78   Any small business owner or manager who has been operating over the past ten years has experienced big time changes coming at them.  It is no secret that changes and external  influences on small businesses are a constant we need to prepare for.   Any not willing to do necessary zig-zagging required to change strategies or pivot on a dime may well be gone now.  We have been facing more than a few significant external changes, trying to stay afloat.  Let’s limit this discussion to just two of the enormous influences on small business es and their success.  Two of those influencers and disruptors I [...]