Monday, March 31, 2014

Using Text Message Marketing to Attract Repeat Customers

By: Michael Sasaki, Vice President of Sales, Omni Mobile Marketing

Text message marketing, also known as SMS marketing, is an increasingly popular way for small businesses to communicate specials, coupons, promotions and discounts by text message. This kind of regular communication can help increase the amount of repeat customers to your business.

First, let’s define some key text message marketing lingo:
  • Keyword - A word or name used to distinguish a targeted message. For example, you will see ads and signs that say “Text joespizza to 96000 for an immediate $5 off your order.” In this case, ‘joespizza’ is the Keyword. 
  • Short Code - A special telephone number, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from mobile phones. In the example above, ‘96000’ is the Short Code.
Now, here are the 5 steps to use text message marketing:

Going Nuts for Praline Patisserie

 Cruz Caudillo, founder and owner of Praline Patisserie, was always interested in creating amazing food. After eight years as an executive pastry chef in fine dining restaurants, Cruz decided to venture out and start his own business. Using a praline-inspired recipe, he created his first product, a specialty caramel sauce. After perfecting his recipe, he attended his first San Diego farmers’ market in Little Italy and sold out of his 150 jars in only four hours.

Increasing sales and the eventual acquisition of his own commercial kitchen enabled Cruz to produce a variety of different products. The biggest barrier to his growth, however, was the inefficiency of his production. Cruz was labeling and pouring all his sauces into jars by hand, producing only 200 jars of sauce on a good day. After painstakingly filling over 20,000 jars by hand, he finally decided that he needed to invest in creating a more efficient process.

A friend told Cruz about Accion San Diego, and he decided to apply for a small business loan. In less than a week, Cruz was approved for a $7,200 Brewing the American Dream microloan, which he used to buy a piston filler (shown above) and labeler. This small loan allowed Praline Patisserie to go from producing 200 jars of product a day to over 1,500. Even with the increase in inventory, Cruz has had no problem selling out of his popular sauces online, at multiple farmers’ markets around San Diego and local specialty retailers like Whole Foods.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

America Saves Week

With America Saves Week approaching (February 24-March 1) there’s no better time to reflect on your savings strategy. Last year, the average American spent about $2,000 on unexpected expenditures and emergencies. And while nobody can control when these situations happen, everybody can control their savings plan. Here are some tips to help you save more:

Direct Deposit Your Paycheck – Ask your employer to directly deposit your paycheck into a savings account; it’ll make it harder for you to spend it. Being more conscious about transferring your money from savings to checking in order to make purchases will help you be more aware of how much you are spending.

Track Your Goal – Make it a goal to review your credit card and checking account statements once a month. See where you’re spending money that could you could otherwise be saving.

The 24 Hour Rule – Don’t buy anything expensive on impulse. Instead, wait at least a day to think about it.

Develop Savings Discipline – Every time you indulge or spend money on something that is a nonessential, match the purchase by putting an equal amount into your savings account. If you can’t afford to move money into savings than you probably don’t need that $5 cappuccino.

Start With Short Term – Instead of focusing on yearly or monthly amounts to save, start with a weekly or daily goal. A short term savings goal keeps it relevant and you’ll be amazed how quickly even $10 a week adds up.

Dine In – Eat out one fewer time per month. Spending the $5 to eat at home instead of the $25 to eat at a restaurant once a month is an additional $240 a year that you could be saving!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Client Spotlight: JRC Consulting

By Rory Soltan, Accion Intern

With over 22 years of experience, Jorge Rodriguez is a true expert when it comes to private security. Starting as a security officer in 1992, he quickly climbed the ranks, eventually directing security for a sports memorabilia company for both their domestic and Latin American offices. By 2003, he knew that the next step in his career was to start his own business and started JRC Consulting Inc. with his wife Cruz.

JRC Consulting grew quickly, taking in over $80,000 of revenue within its first year. Things grew steadily until 2012 when Jorge secured one of the company’s largest contracts ever. Though this was a tremendous opportunity, Jorge lacked the working capital needed to pay the wages of the new hires he needed, as he would not receive payment from the newly contracted company until after a month of service.

Though he and his wife had excellent credit, local banks and credit unions all denied his request for a business loan. Finally, he learned about Accion from a flier at a local small business event and after meeting with an Accion loan officer, quickly applied for a loan. Jorge received a $35,000 loan in order to pay salaries, provide training and purchase new uniforms for his team of security officers. Jorge shared that Accion was critical in helping him bring his business to the next level. “Accion is very business oriented,” he said. “They were very informative and working with them was easy.”

2013: Another Record Breaking Year!

We are excited to share that 2013 was another record-breaking year for Accion San Diego, with increases seen in all production categories. This is the second year in a row that we have seen record-breaking growth, and we are now the fastest-growing office in terms of lending volume of the five Accion US Network offices!

Here are some highlights from the year:
  • Our loan portfolio reached a new high in December, almost hitting $3.9 million, a 29 percent increase from 2012. 
  • Amount of loans disbursed was up 20 percent, with a record-breaking $2.5 million disbursed in 2013 compared to $2.1 million in 2012. 
  • Loan issuance was up 26 percent, with 209 loans made compared to 166 in 2012. 
  • Portfolio quality remained strong with a repayment rate above 99 percent. 
  • Overall funding increased, with notable gifts including a $100,000 grant over two years from the Leichtag Foundation and a $747,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the single largest gift received in the organization’s 19 -year history. 
  • Accion also saw a 72 percent increase in attendance for its free small business training events in 2013, with more than 693 entrepreneurs attending a record 13 Accion hosted events.
  • Accion launched the Accion Academy for Entrepreneurial Success, an 8-week class teaching potential entrepreneurs how to go from concept to launch, and graduated its first 14 entrepreneurs.
Accion’s success in 2013 demonstrates the ongoing need for more flexible and accessible capital in the San Diego small business community. Though small business lending is up at traditional lenders, these loans are still typically reserved for entrepreneurs with more established credit and at least two years of business history. Given this need, we remain committed in 2014 to our mission of providing access to capital.