How to Adjust Your Strategic Business Planning in Post-COVID World

Digital solutions were thrust to the forefront of small business, strategic planning after March of last year. On this week’s episode of The Playbook, host Mark Collier, business consultant for the UGA Small Business Development Center, is joined by Myles Conley, founder and lead consultant of Metro Atlanta Business Solutions. Myles is going to share how his company’s comprehensive suite of offerings is helping his small business clients compete more effectively in our now post COVID economy.

Transcription:

Mark Collier:
Welcome to The Playbook Myles.

Myles Conley:
Hey Mark, how are you? Thank you so much.

Mark Collier:
Great man. Listen, thanks for coming in. Small businesses today they need services. They need them desperately man. Last year’s COVID economy kind of caught a lot of businesses off guard and those who didn’t have those resources to go to like you, they suffered. So let’s talk about your company, Metro Business Solutions. Tell me how you help your clients grow and grow their businesses.

Myles Conley:
Well, Mark, thank you so much for having me here. Metro Atlanta Business Solutions is a consulting firm. I spent about 20 years with a very large bank and learned a lot from them. And one of the things I learned was that most companies lack the time and expertise to really streamline key business areas.

Mark Collier:
True, very true.

Myles Conley:
You hear many business owners say things like, “My business is running me instead of me running my business.” And so Metro Atlanta Business Solution delivers customized marketing lending and payment consulting to help people take back control of their businesses.

Mark Collier:
So marketing, lending, payment consulting, those are kind of your three service lines.

Myles Conley:
Absolutely.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
And really what we want to do is kind of focus on three main things. Number one, identifying the areas of opportunity for our clients. Number two, providing the solution and then number three, being able to implement those solutions and fund them through the use of save money.

Mark Collier:
All right, well listen, differentiation is the Holy Grail of all business models.

Myles Conley:
For sure.

Mark Collier:
So kind of tell me what kind of differentiates your company from other similar market offerings.

Myles Conley:
Local support, for sure.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
I have a team of folks that works with me to be able to deliver local support for our clients.

Mark Collier:
Fantastic.

Myles Conley:
Many business owners are enamored with the solutions that they find on the internet.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
They work for them to a degree, but when it comes to local support and really having a consultant on site to be able to help guide them through the nuances and help them navigate those solutions is really important. So that’s one of the key area is that we really celebrate.

Mark Collier:
All right. There’s an old adage says, “You can always count how much money you have, but you never know how much time you have,” Right?

Myles Conley:
Oh, a hundred percent.

Mark Collier:
So let’s talk about the value of time and what your company does to help business owners in that area.

Myles Conley:
Sure. Well, certainly as you touched on, we’re living in what I call the post COVID economy.

Mark Collier:
That’s right. We sure are.

Myles Conley:
Time is of the essence. We’ve heard all the cliches, “I don’t have any time. I’m totally slammed today.” And so we really focus on how to create time if you could believe it for our clients. And so number one is providing them with a roadmap for success so-

Mark Collier:
I love it.

Myles Conley:
I have a software platform called Business App and what it does essentially-

Mark Collier:
It’s called Business App?

Myles Conley:
Business App, very simple. And what it does essentially, is does a digital scan for our clients. It looks at their online reputation from a review standpoint, it looks at their listings, their information. It looks at their internet presence in terms of the speed with which their website is connecting, are there videos? And so we grade our clients in a variety of different areas from a digital present standpoint and we provide them with what we call a brand audit and it will give them the real roadmap to success in terms of what areas they need to focus on. And then secondarily, we provide free access to this platform for 30 days, to really give them an opportunity in there, get under the hood and really providing them with some solutions to overcome these challenges that we’ve helped identify through our software.

Myles Conley:
So, it’s really fantastic in terms of helping them save time, helping them streamline the efforts of their social media managers, if they have them, take this task on. But ultimately it’s about putting the business owner in a better position from a confidence standpoint.

Mark Collier:
No, that’s important, we’re all now digital contactless or virtual. So a company’s digital footprint is key in terms of driving their competitiveness. So for you to offer that tool Business App, so they can kind of assess where they stand in the social media world in terms of impressions, how long people are going to their site and other metrics I think are very useful information to small business owners.

Myles Conley:
Correct.

Mark Collier:
All right. So what’s the most effective way for businesses to kind of reduce their costs in terms of accepting payments and kind of shifting gears a little bit.

Myles Conley:
Sure. These are great questions in general Mark. So from a payment standpoint, there are really two main things that we try to focus on at Metro Atlanta Business Solutions. Number one is having the right technology.

Mark Collier:
All right.

Myles Conley:
And really making sure that you understand what works well for your business. Not just what may look most attractive on paper. And so you really have to do a deep dive in terms of knowing your vertical, knowing what solutions are out there and really making sure that the solution not just works for today, but a year from now, five years from now.

Mark Collier:
Sure.

Myles Conley:
The second part of that is making sure that you have the best deal.

Mark Collier:
Oh yeah.

Myles Conley:
From a payment standpoint, traditionally, what that meant was making sure that you had the best rate.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
And that you pay the lowest percentage on your payments. And that’s still kind of true today to an extent, but really the most important thing now is to realize where the street is going, which is the ability to pass the cost of doing payments or to the customer at the point of sale.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
Many businesses are doing that now, you’ll see that as you shop around town that they may be a convenience fee associated with-

Mark Collier:
I have seen that.

Myles Conley:
Your purchase.

Mark Collier:
I was at a restaurant the other night and they said, they had a cash price and they added a 3.5% surcharge if you wanted to use a card.

Myles Conley:
Sure.

Mark Collier:
So that had my wife and I dig in our pockets to get cash, save three and a half percent.

Myles Conley:
Sure. So the idea is from a business standpoint, payments are going to run you about four percent of your revenue every month. So when you think about what four percent would do for small business in terms of their ability to maybe hire a new person or to just take some relief from a lack of sales from COVID in general. So there are a lot of things that business owners will be able to do with that percentage savings, but that’s really where the industry is shifting now. And so the challenge for customers is to figure out the best way to reinvest those safe funds.

Mark Collier:
Well most small business owners, I’m a small business owner and if I’m starting to look for payment solution alternatives, most business owners, they don’t know well what that looks like. So to have someone like you kind of walk me through the process, walk me through my options, give me the pluses and minuses of each option. I can see well that delivers great value to your clients.

Myles Conley:
Absolutely.

Mark Collier:
All right. So if a company is somehow unable or unwilling to change payment services, can you still help them?

Myles Conley:
For sure. So we have payment consulting. It made me feel really smart when I came up with that, payment consulting Mark. But what it is basically is that a small business or a large business, which is the sector of my company that I’m really trying to grow. You can delegate the management of your payments to us. And we will negotiate on your behalf, really look under the hood to help you understand if you have the best deal, to identify fees that maybe you shouldn’t be paying.

Mark Collier:
Right.

Myles Conley:
Are there opportunities to reset the price points.

Mark Collier:
Now what does that look like? Is it kind of, you have a side by side comparison of the different options or?

Myles Conley:
Sure. What it looks like is really just knowing that particular industry and knowing the risk involved, and what payment should cost the company in general. And then looking at their statements and understanding the details and to ensure that they’re getting the right pricing.

Mark Collier:
All right.

Myles Conley:
Engaging the company that they work with currently to let them know that they’re giving this area of their business a little bit more attention and that we want to really make sure that everything is properly aligned.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
So what you have now is a situation where most really big businesses have great lawyers.

Mark Collier:
They do.

Myles Conley:
They have great accountants.

Mark Collier:
They do.

Myles Conley:
But those accountants don’t necessarily understand the nuance of payments and how much those companies should be paying. They just manage whatever it says and that’s kind of the end of it. This is really an opportunity for larger businesses to look at their bottom line in a different way. As compared to what they may have been doing before.

Mark Collier:
Okay. So essentially you can offer the services that large businesses give too small businesses in terms of that drilling down on payment costs, payment options out here, correct?

Myles Conley:
Absolutely.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
For sure.

Mark Collier:
Well, good deal. We kind of went in depth on payments, but what are some of the other services that you guys provide for small business owners?

Myles Conley:
So marketing and lending is really the focus outside of payments. And so what happens is the money that’s saved through payments by shifting cost onto the customer at the point of sale.

Mark Collier:
Sure.

Myles Conley:
Business owners are able to reinvest that into SEO, website creation, ad campaigns, and to potentially be able to afford payments for loans and so we facilitate a variety of different loans from traditional installment loans to merchant cash advances, where the payments are flexible and based on a percentage of sales that are made each day for businesses that have fluctuating cash flow. So when you talk about the ability to be able to afford those loans, we can create that through savings on the payment side. And so being able to match up the loan or lending solution to what that particular business owner needs is the value that we provide.

Mark Collier:
Makes sense man. So let’s talk more, if a business owner wants to learn more about your products and services, how can they do that?

Myles Conley:
That’s a great question. Well, they can visit us online number one at consultingmetroatlanta.com.

Mark Collier:
consultingmetroatlanta.com.

Myles Conley:
Absolutely.

Mark Collier:
We’ll have that scrolling down at the bottom of our screen.

Myles Conley:
Sure.

Mark Collier:
So all business owner can find you. So when business owners come to visit you, do you kind of take them through a discovery meeting process kind of a needs assessment and-

Myles Conley:
That’s exactly right.

Mark Collier:
We are kind of talking about the first initial meeting with your clients.

Myles Conley:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. So we’re going to introduce ourselves and really let them know what our range of capabilities are, but then really just drilling down and spending most of the time getting to know the business owner, what they need and what their pain points are and how that matches with the suite of services that we provide. And then we give them a roadmap in terms of what that would look like timeframes, deliverables, service level agreements, so on and so forth.

Mark Collier:
So your goal is to build a relationship with your clients and not just be transactional, sure.

Myles Conley:
100 percent.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
So our business is very much based on relationships.

Mark Collier:
Okay.

Myles Conley:
We’ve retained most of our customers through just being authentic, being collaborative.

Mark Collier:
All right.

Myles Conley:
And just really focusing on excellence.

Mark Collier:
Fantastic Myles Conley, founder and lead consultant of Metro Atlanta Business Solutions. I want to thank you for taking the time to come in today. Kind of about detailing and sharing the great services that your company provides with small businesses. And I would encourage small businesses to reach out to you.

Myles Conley:
Mark, thank you so much for having me.

 


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