Monthly Archives: November 2015

7 Things You Need to Know Before You Rent a Car

lady picking up rental car
Planning to rent a car on a trip this upcoming Holiday Season?

Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you need to know before you book your rental car that could save you hundreds of dollars.

What do You Need to Know?

1. Search Expedia for Company with Best Rates and then Book Direct

keyboard typingGoing onto a site like Expedia will give you a quick overview of all the rental car agencies offering vehicles for your itinerary and indicate cost, mileage allowance and whether or not the rental kiosk is located in the airport terminal or if you will require a shuttle.  Select the vehicle that best suits your budget and itinerary and then go to the rental car agency’s website directly.  The reason you should do this is not only will you save a few bucks (Expedia does have a mark-up) but you can also earn travel rewards with that specific rental agency or gain frequent flyer points (not an option at Expedia).

2. Rental Cars Do NOT Have Snow Tires

baldtireIf you will be driving anywhere where there is a chance of snow, regardless of the vehicle you chose, it will not have snow tires.  I have yet to find a single rental car agency that equips their vehicles with snow tires and the reason being is added expense.  It is cheaper for them to write off the odd vehicle that is in a collision due to inclement weather than it is to invest in snow tires for each vehicle in their fleet.  The best option is to rent an AWD or 4×4 vehicle BUT not if it is old and has bald tires.  When you arrive at the rental car kiosk, request a new vehicle and be sure to inspect the condition of the tires before you accept the vehicle.  If the tires are bald, you are better off driving a newer FWD that has tires that are newer and in better condition.  Rental car companies do not spend a lot of money maintaining their vehicles like you and I may do.  Furthermore, most people who drive rental cars, drive the s^%& out of them, so be sure to check those tires before you leave!

3. Do NOT Purchase Insurance Through the Rental Car Agency

Car-insuranceEvery single rental car agency tries to sell you on purchasing their insurance which can be in excess of $23 per day! In most cases this is completely unnecessary. In most states and provinces, the car insurance that we have on our own vehicles covers us when renting a vehicle.  Additionally, several major credit cards include travel insurance, specifically rental car insurance.  Not sure if you are covered by either? Call your insurance company and your credit card company before you depart.

4. Do NOT Pre-Pay for Fuel: Plan on Fueling Up Before You Return the Vehicle

fillingupThis is probably the second biggest waste of money next to purchasing insurance.  If you agree to pre-pay for fuel, you are paying for a FULL tank of fuel regardless if you use it or not. This way you are paying to fill the ENTIRE fuel tank as though you brought it back completely empty which would never happen.

If you opt to return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel and forget, you will be billed up to 3X the price of regular fuel PLUS a refuelling fee!  When the agency bills you for fueling up, sometimes they don’t even pay attention to the exact size of the fuel tank of the vehicle you are driving and just bills you for some random sized fuel tank. This happened to me once when I returned a Chevy Impala with a tank ¾ full, and got billed for 88L (or 23 gallons) of fuel! The tank of the car was only 63L (or 17 gallons)! When I complained, they informed me that their calculations were based on an average sized fuel tank, not specifically the one I used.  What “average” vehicle at a rental car agency has a tank size of 100L?

5. You Can Not Reserve a Specific Vehicle

Chevrolet-Impala-2015The vehicle in the picture on the website when you are making the reservation is only a representation of a general vehicle type.  If you reserve say a Chevy Impala, you might not get that same make and model but rather anything similar in its class, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the precise vehicle you thought you reserved.

6. Don’t Assume You Have Unlimited Mileage

unlimited-mileage-car-rental-with -auto-europe-travel-tipsWhen booking your reservation, be sure to note if the mileage is restricted on the vehicle.  Often the ‘discounted” vehicles do not come with unlimited mileage.  If you plan on driving any significant distance in your travels, be absolutely sure that your rental car package comes with unlimited mileage otherwise you will pay a hefty fee for each km/mi you drove over the allowance.

7. If you Drop off a Vehicle at a Different Location You will Incur a Fee

routeAtoBIf you plan on picking up and dropping off your vehicles at different locations, be prepared for additional fees.  If your plans are somewhat flexible, for instance you can either go from A to B or from B to A, be sure to check out the fees for both options.   When I travel to Alberta, it is almost $1000 cheaper for me to pick up a car in Edmonton and drop it off in Calgary than it is for me to pick it up in Calgary and drop it off in Edmonton.  Do your homework before you book. You could save a small fortune!

I hope that in reading my tips, you will be much more prepared before you rent your next vehicle and possibly save a lot of money.

Safe travels my friends.

Cheers,

TSW

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How to Keep Your Cool During a Heated Sales Call

womanyellingatman

Just because someone is having a bad day, it doesn’t give them the right to take it out on you!

When you walk in to meet with a client, you have absolutely no idea what kind of day they may be having.  Heck, you might be having a terrible day yourself.  Regardless, sometimes sales calls can get quite heated and escalate to the point where you could lose the business if you don’t handle yourself properly.

If you have been in sales for any length of time, you most certainly have encountered a client who is rude, belittling and/or who outright criticizes your company, product/service or even you personally.  There are a multitude of reasons why a client may act this way and it could range from anything such as problems at home, difficulties with other employees, issues with a supplier, legal troubles or they just saw your primary competitor in the hours or days prior who planted seeds of doubt in their mind.  The fact of the matter is, you won’t really know unless they feel comfortable enough sharing this with you. If they don’t, don’t ask.  If you don’t have a very well established rapport, don’t meddle in their business.  Do what you came to do, sell your product or service.

So what happens when your client gets out of hand and says or does something unacceptable?

In order to make sure you keep your cool and maintain professionalism, do the following:

1. Know Your Product/Service Inside Out

knowledgableThis should go without saying but before you go into any sales call, be sure you are an expert on whatever it is you are selling. If you can’t remember everything, be sure to contain supporting data or documentation in your detail binder and have it ready for demonstration.  Be sure to know exactly where each article is located in your binder in order to avoid fumbling around, wasting unnecessary time and looking like an unprepared fool.  Being prepared will enable you to keep calm and address your clients’ comments and concerns directly and precisely.  If they catch you off guard and say or ask you something that you don’t know how to reply to or don’t know the answer to, simply acknowledge that you don’t know and will have to get back to them.  If they get more irate by that answer, then reschedule the follow-up meeting immediately in order to diffuse the situation.

2. Do NOT React.

woman-covering-mouthThink, THEN React. It’s only human nature to snap back and lash out at someone who acts out at us in a negative way but you must control this urge.  It will get you nowhere besides kicked out the door and never welcomed back.  Think about what it is exactly that your client said that you found offensive or untrue and ask them why they said what they did.  Are they misinformed? Remembering details incorrectly? If they don’t provide you with a straight up answer, do not react or engage further. You can try to joke with them but I urge extreme caution in doing so, especially if you don’t have a well-established relationship with that particular client because you have no idea how they will react. If you are unsure, opt to redirect the conversation back to what you are selling.

3. Keep Focused on Your Product/Service

business chartAlthough it might be difficult, try to keep focused on what you are selling.  This will reduce the likelihood of any further provocation or outbursts from your client.  It also removes any emotional stimuli from the interaction.

4. Find a Reason to Follow-up (Take a Break and Reschedule)

Reschedule Word Circled Day Date Calendar Delay Cancel AppointmeIn the event that you are unable to keep the meeting focused on your product or service, you should end the meeting and reschedule for a later date.  You can directly inform your client that based on how they are acting or feeling, that perhaps it would be best if you met another day the following week to discuss.  An indirect approach would be to inform you client that you will be able to bring something of greater value to the next meeting (create an excuse to have a follow-up meeting) and would like to make arrangements to do so.

5. Smile and Try to Make a Joke

woman telling a jokeIf you do this right off the get-go, it can go 1 of 2 ways: Either it will totally piss off your client or it will make them laugh and relieve their tension.  Regardless, it’s a gamble.  If you’ve already ended the meeting and rescheduled, that would probably be the safest time to make a joke but again, only do so if you are pretty darn sure how your client will react.

Whether you are in sales or any customer service type of role, it is only inevitable that you will encounter difficult customers and how you react (or don’t react) will determine whether or not you will keep those customers.

Growing up, I worked for my father who owned his own business. He had always told me , “The customer is always right.”.

When I was 16 working as a receptionist at an animal hospital, the head receptionist told me “Just because someone is having a bad day, don’t EVER let them take it out on you! There is no excuse.  If someone is rude to you, you have my permission to kick them out. No questions asked.”

I never forgot that advice.  It was empowering to be able to stand up for myself and not have to be treated like a doormat.  Nobody should be treated that way.

That being said, you can use all of the tips in this article to try and diffuse a situation with a difficult client but that isn’t possible all of the time.  In a previous post, I discussed “When to Fire a Client”.

So, happy sales my friends and just remember, you don’t ever need to take abuse from anyone.

Cheers,

TSW

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How to Pack a Healthy Lunch in Less than 10 Minutes

busineswomaneatinghealthyIn this day and age, it has become increasingly difficult to find time to spare, especially when it comes to making time for exercise and eating healthy.

What most people don’t realize is that packing your own lunch doesn’t take as much time as you may think.  We all know that packing a healthy lunch can save us inches on our waistline but a lesser known fact is that it will also save you money and time that you would have otherwise spent at a restaurant.

This “time constraint” is how most people rationalize the fact that they simply can’t be bothered to put the effort into eating healthy. This is especially the case for people who work on the road and travel frequently for business who also have the luxury of being able to expense their meals.

Contrary to popular belief, it actually takes less time to prepare a healthy lunch (snacks included) than to eat out, so quit using convenience as an excuse to eat out!

Let’s face it, most people believe that it is a lot more convenient to eat a restaurant than spend the time planning and preparing your meals for a day on the road but the fact of the matter is, you can spend less than 10 minutes making and packing a healthy lunch and snacks which is far less time than you would spend in a restaurant.

For example, if you stop for a coffee and a snack in the morning and the afternoon at a coffee shop, you will spend at least 5 minutes if not more at each shop. If you stop for lunch, this can take in excess of an hour if you go to a sit-down restaurant.  Even if you went to a fast food joint for lunch, that will likely take at least 10-15 minutes between lining up to place your order and actually receiving your food.  In the least, if you dine out all day long you will spend a minimum of 20 minutes of your day simply waiting for food.  That’s significantly more time than you need to prepare something much healthier at home!

I will share with you some examples of healthy snacks and meals that I would typically prepare and bring with me for my average day on the road.  They are all very quick and easy to prepare so there are no excuses!

What you will need:

  1. Insulated lunch bag or coolerlunchbagw icepack
  2. Ice pack(s) if packing perishable items
  3. Utensils (Ideally an all-in-one fork/knife/spoon combo)ForkKnifeSpoon
  4. Napkin or paper towel

 

 

Snack Options:

snacks

 

Snacks with Zero Preparation:

  • Protein Bar
  • Can of tuna
  • Whole fruit (apple, orange, pear, etc.)
  • Protein Powder (single serving sample)

Snacks with Minimal Preparation (Hands-on Time <1 min):

  • Protein Powder: This can be mixed into a small bottle of water or milk. I will put a single serving of protein powder into a Ziploc bag and after I am finished my coffee in my thermos, I put the powder into the thermos and mix with water that I have brought or buy a small carton of milk at a convenience store to mix with it.
  • Boiled Eggs: As you prepare your things in the morning, boil some eggs. It takes a few seconds to put them on the stove and the same to remove them from the stove. If you’re concerned about time or forgetting them on the stove, simply boil them the night before. They will be safe to eat for several days after cooking.
  • Loose fruit and veggies (grapes, berries, carrots etc.): Simply rinse them and put them into a Ziploc bag. The Ziploc bag can later be used to dispose of your eggshells, protein bar wrapper or other small trash items.
  • Nuts: Grab a small handful or count out a single serving and place into a Ziploc bag.
  • Cheese slices: Can either be wrapped in saran wrap or placed in a Ziploc bag. Note that if you do pack cheese slices, don’t forget to include an ice pack.

Snacks/Meals Requiring a Moderate amount of Preparation (Hands-on Time: <5min):

YogurtParfait

  • Greek Yogurt Parfait: This is my staple snack in the morning! To make it, place your oatmeal in the microwave (2-5 minutes depending on the Oatmeal), add frozen berries and microwave for an additional 1-2 minutes, add 2-3 TBSP of 0% Fat Greek Yogurt and place into a Tupperware container.  Don’t forget to put on an ice pack and pack a spoon!
  • Salad: If you keep it simple (lettuce that you simply have to rinse, tomato, pepper, etc.) it will take under 5 minutes to prepare.  I usually make 2-3 at a time so I don’t  have to make a new one every day.  For dressing I put a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small Tupperware container that I place within the Tupperware containing the salad. Don’t forget to bring a fork!

Sandwiches: Try to make it as healthy as possible. Here are a few ideas:

Chicken/Turkey & Swiss:

  • 2 slices of multigrain/whole wheat bread
  • 3-4 slices of low-fat, low-sodium chicken or turkey breast
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese (regular Swiss is low fat)
  • Garnishes: tomato, lettuce, onion, peppers, etc.
  • Condiments: mustard, low-fat mayo- Only use small amounts (<1tsp each) not just because of calories but because if you eat in your car like me, the last thing you want is to get covered in mustard or mayo before your next meeting!

**Tip:  Place the meat on the bottom, the garnishes in the middle, topped by lettuce, then cheese slice in order to prevent your sandwich from getting soggy.

Tuna

tunasandwich

**TIP: This should be made on the spot in your car because if made in advance, the bread or wrap will become so soggy and fall apart by the time you go to eat it!

  • 2 slices of multigrain bread or 1 multigrain/whole wheat wrap prepared in advance with a layer of light mayo or light plain cream cheese.
  • 1 small can tuna (single serving with peel-off lid). Apply to prepared bread with your spoon and enjoy!

*Note: an alternative to preparing the bread in advance with low-fat mayo or cream cheese is to pack a single serving of low-fat cream cheese in a small Tupperware container and mix with the tuna. I thought it sounded gross at first but it is delicious, low in fat and an excellent source of protein!

Not sure how much and what specifically to pack?

Be sure to incorporate a protein source in EVERY snack and meal! Protein will keep you fuller longer and doing so will help stabilize your blood sugar levels. My personal trainer gave me this advice and it helped me reduce almost 1000 calories per day from my diet and I was less hungry than before!

As long as you’re eating some sort of protein, you can eat small snacks every 2-3 hours. Constantly fueling up on healthy foods throughout the day not only helps improve your energy levels, cognitive function and overall health but it also helps boost your metabolism.

So to answer the question, “How much to pack? If you will be gone the entire day, try to bring enough for at least 4 snacks ( 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon) as well as a lunch (if you don’t have a lunch meeting).

I hope that you found some of these ideas useful and that you will incorporate them into your next meal en route.

Unsure about how healthy your snack and lunch combo is? Need some tips on how to make your lunch healthier?

Subscribe to my blog and and contact me with all of your questions.

Travel safe my friends and don’t forget to eat healthy while you’re at it.  Time is on your side!

Cheers,

TSW

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5 Surefire Ways To Lose Your Best Sales Representatives

iquitWant to Keep Your Best Sales Reps? Don’t Make these Costly Mistakes!

The average sales representative changes employers every 2-3 years At any given point in time, I know at least a handful of sales representatives who are looking to make a move.

Why? Because companies make the same mistakes time and time again that cost them their best reps.

What are they doing? In almost all cases, companies are trying to cut costs and increase profitability. The problem is, if you cut costs, service, quality or both will also be sacrificed to some degree.

The most common complaint from managers and business owners that I have heard is that their commissioned sales representatives are making too much money.

BusinessmanBurningMoney

What is wrong with this statement?

If your commissioned sales reps are making a lot of money, it’s a good thing! It means that their sales are good and the company as a whole is making more money. Reps on a 100% salary are another story entirely!  So, the problem is that companies of this mindset are simply being greedy and short sighted thinking that they can try to squeeze the highest level of productivity out of their sales force for a minimal investment.

Some sales managers alike may take issue with the representatives they manage who are making more money than them. Rather than taking pride in being a good manager and celebrating the success of their sales team, they see this as a bruise to their ego and then make detrimental changes to how their reps are compensated.

Whether you are a business owner, VP of Sales or a Sales Manager be sure to avoid making these hefty mistakes which will cost you your best reps and maybe even your entire sales force.

1. Cutting and/or Capping Commission

paycutLooking for a way to slowly poison your sales force and give them a prolonged, torturous death? Cut their incentives or better yet, cap them all together! Salespeople work on incentives, so if those incentives are taken away or significantly reduced, they will either work less or look for work elsewhere immediately.  Some but very few reps will persist and try to work harder to make what they were making previously but that will not last long.  They will eventually leave or burn out and then leave.

2. Territory Realignment

salesterritoryTrying to figure out a way to cheat your reps out of reaching their targets so you can save on paying out those commissions and bonuses? Shift their territories around every 6 months to 1 year.  That way nobody has been in their territory long enough to qualify for their commission or the reps who would have been entitled to a hefty commission, no longer have that account in their territory after the change so they are no longer eligible to receive it.  This strategy also makes it impossible for the sales reps to maintain any working relationships with their clients which is a substantial part of building the business.  Clients don’t want to meet a new rep every year.  It screams that the company is unstable and therefore potentially unreliable. Not only will the business as a whole suffer from this strategy, but it is also more than likely that the company will also lose their entire sales force. If a sales rep has no chance at making their commission or bonus, they will leave.

3. Unreasonable and Unachievable Sales Quotas

Dangling-CarrotFeeling a little sadistic and enjoy dangling that carrot in front of your reps and moving it further and further out of their grasp? Give them a massive increase in sales quota that none of them will be able to achieve.  I have seen well established companies that have been in business for decades implement a new sales target that is 10 to 20 times their previous target for products and services they have always sold and seen regular 3-5% annual sales increases. If a company increases a target, it must be a realistic target that can be achieved by at least 50% of the sales force.   Implementing completely unreasonable and unachievable sales quotas most often results in the resignation of the entire sales force. Afterwards,  good luck maintaining those regular sales increases!

4. Reducing Sales Support

phone off hookWant to leave your sales representatives to hang out and dry? Cut back on their support. Sales people are out there all day long pounding the pavement, pushing the company product or service on their clients and often a situation arises where the rep needs assistance from a manager or from customer service.  When companies make cutbacks in this department, the rep is left completely to their own devices and do you know what most of the good reps will start to think? “Why do I need to work for this company? I’m doing everything myself so I should just start my own business!”. Alternatively, some reps may opt to jump ship and work for another company, perhaps even one of their competitors, who offers better service and support.

5. Dramatic Change in Management Structure and/or Style

DrEvilProjectManagerWant to take your company to the next level? Do it wrong and you’ll take the company to the next level downward! There are multiple ways companies can implement changes to management structure and style.  The most common mistake I have seen are companies that have historically given their reps a fair bit of freedom (and where the reps were successful in that environment) change to a micromanagement system in order to increase accountability and profitability.  This is flawed because simply some reps thrive in a micromanaged environment and some do not. If you change your management style, you will also likely need to hire an entirely new sales force that will fit nicely in that environment rather than resist it.

So if you are reading this article looking for ways to eliminate your entire sales force of “overpaid” sales representatives (without firing them so you don’t have to pay severance) and replace them with entry-level newbies who you can pay 1/3 of their salary, you may have found this article helpful. If that is the case, I hope that neither myself or anyone I know ever works for you.

On the other hand, If you have a great sales force or even just one or two star individuals and want to keep them, avoid making these costly mistakes. It takes a significant amount of time and money to hire and train the right representative, so why put yourself through this process time and time again?

If you need to cut costs, try to look elsewhere in the business where you can implement cost cutting mesures or better yet, try to explore other means to increase your business. Thinking out of the box can be difficult but it can also be immensely rewarding.

In summary, it takes money to make money.  Same goes for people who you invest in as employees.  If your people are doing well, don’t cheat them but rather reward them accordingly. Investing in great employees is a solid investment in your business.

Happy sales my friends.

Cheers,

TSW

 

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