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Related News

New survey shows rising optimism by nation's small business owners -- details on today's Business Next free audio seminar

Michael Rogers talks with Todd McCrackin, president of the National Small Business Association (SBAM's national affiliate) about the Year-End Economic Report. Listen at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.

(photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/djbiesack/)

The 3 R’s of Handling Customer Complaints

Guest article by business consultant Tom Borg

Every organization receives complaints. The key is turning a complaint into win-win situation. Too often employees and managers take the customer’s complaint personally and get defensive. It would be better if they took the complaint professionally and look at the complaint as an opportunity to fix what went wrong and if possible keep the customer. The second reason is to take an action that would prevent that sort of problem from reoccurring in the future with other customers.

The first R in my formula stands for the word RESPECT. It is critical that you show respect to the customer. You can do this by listening and letting the customer vent their feelings and frustration. The longer you are able to listen, the better. Use cushion statements to ease the frustration level of the customer. A cushion statement is anything you say or do that shows the customer you empathize with their concern. Some examples would be: “You are right to feel concerned” or “That must be frustrating”.

The next R stands for the word RAPPORT. You can develop rapport with the person by sincerely apologizing for any trouble that was caused by the person who experienced the problem. One way you could say this is: “Mr. Jones, I want apologize for any trouble this has caused you”. Then thank them for bringing this concern to their attention.

The third R stands for RESOLVE. Here is where you resolve the situation to the best of your ability. One question you could ask is: “What action would you like us to take?” Many times the complaining person’s idea of a resolution is much less than you would think. The key here is to take action and if possible, resolve the problem. 

By following this three step process you will be able to use your customer’s complaints to strengthen and grow your business.

Tom Borg owns Tom Borg Consulting LLC.

(How do you handle customer complaints? Leave a comment below.)

Competition for good workers means you need to pay attention to your benefits program

(From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

Gary Kushner, a nationally-known small business benefits expert and owner of Kushner & Company, was a guest on a recent SBAM “Business Next” audio seminar program. In this excerpt from his interview with Michael Rogers, SBAM’s vice president communications, he explains why good benefits programs can give you the vital edge you need to compete for the best workers. Listen to the entire audio seminar discussion with Gary by clicking here.

Business Next (BN): Why do you think it’s important for small business owners to pay attention to the benefit packages that they provide for their employers?

Gary Kushner (GK): In today’s world and global economy, you are, as a small business owner, competing for the talent that is going to make your business successful. Among the things you need is a good rewards-based benefits program that is competitive. You don’t want to just have a revolving door of people coming through your business. You want to attract and retain the top talent that is going to change and differentiate your business and make it successful. 

BN: So, today’s small employers need a sophisticated approach to benefits packages?

GK: Absolutely. It’s one piece to the total rewards package. There are all types of HR strategies that a small business owner should employ, if only because their competition is doing that as well. So I’m going to look at my performance management strategies. How do I differentiate between my top performers, my mid-level performers and my low level, or non performers? I’m going to look at training and development and link it to those other HR strategies and of course I’m going to look at my total rewards strategies. They all work together. 

BN: Is it all about spending more money on benefits?

GK: Even though benefit costs are in fact rising, and rising at a faster rate than inflation, it’s not the business owner, large or small, that spends the most that gets the most talent. It’s the employer that looks at their employee base and the types of employees they are recruiting to keep, and then carefully and intelligently tailors benefits that are going to fit the employee’s needs, the organization and the small business owner as well. And remarkably, you don’t have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to get the best results. You just have to spend the dollars wisely.

BN: What have you found to be the benefits small business employees seem to value the most?

GK: One of the biggest areas is going to be in health benefits. Not necessarily even the richest of plans, but one that protects them in the event of a catastrophic injury for themselves and their family. Secondly, one benefit that’s really rising to the top pretty quickly is the retirement plans being offered by small business owners. What we’re seeing is a trend nationally toward greater involvement by small business owners than in the past, even as recently as 10-15 years ago, in sponsoring, for example, 401K, profit sharing and other types of retirement plans.

BN: I think the one thing that comes through loud and clear to me is that benefits’ planning is more complex than ever, which I think that leads me to conclude that it’s very helpful to get some professional advice in crafting a modern benefits program.

GK: If you begin to think about all of your HR strategies and all of the things you are trying to do and link them to the goals and objectives of the business, you’ll tend

An innovative small manufacturer bets on Michigan talent and creativity -- on today's Business Next free audio seminar

Profile of an innovative Upper Peninsula small business owner who is proving he can make money manufacturing in Michigan rather than China. SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with David Ollila of Marquette Backcountry Ski. Listen at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.

Get your new employees off to an energetic start!

Do you have enthusiastic employees? People who are excited to do their jobs and contribute whatever they can to further your business? If you are like most entrepreneurs, you don’t.

But you can reverse this situation and turn your employees into real fans. It all starts on their very first day.

On a typical first day at an average company, the new employee fills out forms, orders business cards and sits alone. Maybe they get to go to lunch with the intern. After that long first day, someone at home asks, “How was your day?” And with that, they relive the awful start. You've squashed their enthusiasm from the very beginning.

There is a better way, actually seven better ways, to foster enthusiastic employees.

Read about the seven ways in this American Express OPEN Forum story by clicking here.

How do you get your new employees off to a good start? Share in the comments below!