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Lumie se prodávají lépe než iPhone i Android, tvrdí analytici
24. 07. 2012
Za první tři čtvrtletí od uvedení na trh se prodalo více telefonů Lumia než iPhone a Samsungů s Androidem po jejich vstupu na trh. Zjistila to respektovaná společnost Strategy Analytics. Přesto je Nokia v nejhorší situaci ve své historii.
Sázka Nokie na operační systém od Microsoftu byla podle tiskové zprávy Strategy Analytics jednoznačným úspěchem. Jak zjistila tato analytická společnost, za první tři čtvrtletí prodeje (od 4. čtvrtletí 2011) si zákazníci pořídili 6,9 milionu telefonů z rodiny Nokia Lumia.
Za první tři čtvrtletí prodeje iPhonu v roce 2007 se prodalo "pouze" 3,7 milionů telefonů Apple a Samsung svých prvních přístrojů s Androidem prodal za tři čtvrtletí po uvedení v roce 2009 pouze 1,3 milionu.
"S ohledem na vývoj prodejů v minulosti si rodina Lumia nevede vůbec špatně," komentuje situaci Neil Mawston, výkonný ředitel společnosti Strategy Analytics. "Zdá se, že velké množství pesimismu, které se kolem partnerství Nokie s Microsoftem objevilo, nebylo na místě."
Součet prodaných kusů naznačuje, že Lumie jsou opravdu zázrak, který se prodává dvakrát lépe než první iPhone. Podrobnější porovnání situace na trhu ale už pro Nokii tak skvěle nevypadá.
Především ve druhém čtvrtletí roku 2007, kdy vstoupil na trh první iPhone, se celosvětově prodalo 257,8 milionu telefonů. V posledním čtvrtletí loňského roku, kdy se začaly prodávat Lumie, to bylo 445 milionů telefonů a v prvním čtvrtletí letošního roku 368 milionu telefonů. I ve druhém letošním čtvrtletí se očekávají o něco lepší prodeje než v prvním čtvrtletí. Můžeme tedy čekat prodeje mezi 370 a 400 miliony telefonů.
Nyní se tak prodá zhruba dvojnásobek telefonů oproti roku 2007. Kromě toho, v době uvedení prvního iPhonu tvořily chytré telefony méně než 10 procent celkových prodejů. V současné době již jejich podíl výrazně překročil třetinu.
Z tohoto pohledu už je "úspěch" Lumií daleko méně zářivý. Od oznámení partnerství s Microsoftem v lednu loňského roku navíc počet prodaných chytrých telefonů se značkou Nokia drasticky padá.
V aktuálním čtvrtletí prodala Nokia pouhých 10,2 milionu kusů smartphonů. To znamená meziroční propad o 6 milionů kusů za situace, kdy ostatním výrobcům prodeje chytrých telefonů rychle rostou. Za druhé čtvrtletí letošního roku se prodalo 4 miliony všech modelů Lumia dohromady.
Pro porovnání: Samsung prodal za první dva měsíce od uvedení (a prozatím tedy i celkem) 10 milionů kusů top modelu Galaxy S III. Kvartální prodeje tohoto modelu se tak pravděpodobně budou blížit patnácti milionům kusů.
Dokonce i BlackBerry (RIM), které čelí také velkým problémům s odbytem, prodalo celosvětově 7,8 milionů smartphonů. Tím se hodně přiblížilo 10 milionům smartphonů Nokie. Ještě před rokem se tomuto výrobci o tom nemohlo ani zdát.
A jen pro úplnost dodejme, že za první čtvrtletí letošního roku prodal RIM 11,1 milion telefonů a Apple 35,1 milionu iPhonů. Apple podle předběžných zpráv očekává ve druhém čtvrtletí ještě nárůst.
Nepříliš pozitivní zprávou je pro Nokii i to, že rok a půl poté, co oznámila postupný konec platformy Symbian, stále tvoří přístroje s tímto operačním systémem téměř 60 procent všech prodaných smartphonů Nokia.
Zdroj: mobil. cz ze dne 24.7.2012
Systém iOS 6 pro iPhone 3GS nabídne víc, než se původně očekávalo
23. 07. 2012
Nový iOS 6 bude k dispozici i pro tři roky starý iPhone 3GS. Aktualizace ale bude kvůli slabšímu hardwaru ochuzena o hlavní novinky v podobě navigace nebo vylepšené Siri. Poslední uvolněná beta verze systému ale signalizuje, že seznam podporovaných funkcí pro 3GS bude přeci jen bohatší.
Apple při představení šestkové verze iOS potěšil majitele třetí generace přístroje zprávou, že také iPhone představený v létě 2009 na novou verzi systému dosáhne, což není v mobilním světě zrovna běžné.
Tou horší zprávou ale byl dosti omezený seznam funkcí, který s odlehčeným updatem přijde. Plnohodnotná off-line navigace včetně 3D režimu Flyover, ještě chytřejší asistentka Siri nebo telefonování přes aplikaci FaceTime skrze mobilní data. To vše si užijí pouze majitelé zařízení vybavené čipsetem A5 nebo A5x (iPhone 4S a nový iPad, iPad 2 ovšem bez posledně zmíněné funkce) a samozřejmě i šestého iPhonu, který zřejmě bude na podzim představen.
Původně měl být update pro iPhone 3GS ochuzen také o funkci Photo Streams a VIP email, obě totiž ke svému běhu vyžadovaly alespoň iPhone 4. To se však s příchodem třetí bety iOS 6 změnilo a Apple na webu přehled dostupných funkcí pro jednotlivé modely upravil.
Photo Streams umožňuje sdílení zachycených snímků přímo přes aplikaci fotoaparátu. Stačí vybrat snímky, případně celá alba a dále uživatele, se kterými se budete chtít o fotografie podělit. Na příchozí snímky pak příjemce upozorní notifikace.
V e-mailové aplikaci pak bude možné i na iPhonu 3GS vytvořit VIP seznam kontaktů, jejichž e-maily pak uživatel díky výraznějším upozorněním jen tak nepřehlédne. Jednodušší bude také přiložení fotek nebo videí ke zprávě.
V červnu představený iOS 6 je aktuálně k dispozici pouze vývojářům, ke stažení pro všechny uživatele pak bude na podzim (více o iOS 6 v dřívějším článku), kdy je také očekáváno představení šesté generace iPhonu.
Zdroj: mobil.cz ze dne 23.7.2012
Samsung prodal 10 milionů kusů Galaxy S III
23. 07. 2012
Samsung si připisuje 10 milionů prodaných kusů své aktuální vlajkové lodi v rekordně krátkém čase. Modelu Galaxy S III stačily k dosažení této hranice necelé dva měsíce. Vyplývá to z prohlášení viceprezidenta mobilní divize Shin Jong-Kyuna pro korejskou agenturu Yonhap. Není sice úplně jasné, zda jde o vyčíslení prodejů koncovým zákazníkům, nebo údaje o distribuovaných kusech, Galaxy S III však každopádně překonal svého předchůdce S II. Tomu trvalo dostat se na 10 milionů prodaných kusů celých pět měsíců.
Samsung Galaxy S III byl poprvé představen 29. května 2012 v Londýně. Podle údajů Samsungu bylo 9 milionů kusů rezervováno hned v předobjednávkách. Průměrně se do dneška prodává 190 tisíc kusů Galaxy S III každý den. Analytici očekávají, že do konce letošního roku Samsung prodá na 40 milionů exemplářů své vlajkové lodi. Vysoké prodeje jsou předpovídány zejména na třetí čtvrtletí, kdy ještě na trhu pravděpodobně nebude nástupce iPhonu 4S. Právě nový iPhone by se měl stát hlavním konkurentem Galaxy S III.
Zdroj: mobilmania.cz ze dne 23.7.2012
How to start a cell phone store Part 1-2.
22. 07. 2012
Understanding the Business Model of the Cell Phone Industry
I personally like to talk about the business model right at the beginning of the page so you know how, and how much money you will make in the cell phone business. By doing so, you should understand what you're getting yourself into, and what to expect in this business. After reading the business model section, you can also decide for yourself if entering the cellular phone industry is the right decision for you or not. So here it is!
The cellular phone business works in a few ways. You make money by making the following sales to your customers:
New 1 or 2 Year Contract Activation (Post Paid Activation)
Feature Add (Add-On) or Contract Extension (Upgrade)
Prepaid Activation & Prepaid Card Sales
Accessory & Hardware Sales
Here is a list that summarizes how much money you can expect to make per activation as a cellular phone dealer for each sale that you make.
Post Paid Phone Activation (1 Year) - Single Line $75-150 per line
Post Paid Phone Activation (1 Year) - Family Plan $150-$300 per family
Post Paid Phone Activation (2 Year) - Single Line $75-250 per line
Post Paid Phone Activation (2 Year) - Family Plan $150-450 per family
Post Paid Upgrades (2 Year) $30-$100 per line
Feature Add $2-$100 per Feature Added
Prepaid PhoneHardware Sales $10-20 per phone
Prepaid Card Commission 7%-20% of Sale Amount ($20 Card is most popular)
Accessory Sales $5-$50 per Accessory Sold
As a word of advice, each dealers set their margins they way they like it. Many of the cell phone carrier owned direct stores have their prices set to hit the high end of the figures above. In contrast, some of the very price oriented independent dealers set their prices with the margin on the lower end of the figures above. You will need to decide where you want to set your margins, and how service vs. price will help you set up your pricing at your business.
There's Money to Be Made in Cell Phones!
New Post Paid Activations (Contract Activations)
Post paid activations are the same thing as contract activations. It is what many of us are used to when we think about activating and getting a cell phone. It will require you to sign a 1 year or a 2 year contract upfront. You are locked in to a given carrier during this time, and if you cancel before your contract is up, you will be hit with an early termination charge that ranges from $175-$250 per line.
In this type of activation, you can expect anywhere from $75-$250 per activation. This pertains only to "new" activations or "port" activations. A port activation is an activation where you switch carrier the customer's carrier from one to another. By switching carriers, it is considered a new activation. New activations are the core of your business, and this is where you will make your money. New activations are what you will need to strive for in this business.
The carrier owned stores that you see out in your neighborhood typically target about $200-$250 in profit per activation they sell. Many of the authorized dealers like ourselves usually are much more price competitive, and we typically target anywhere between $75 -$150 in profit per activation.
Normally, a small dealer will do about 15-50 activations per month, while the busy stores can easily get 50 or more activations each month. The level of profit does depend on four factors that will be discussed in further detail a bit later. But for your reference, the four factors that change the commission amount are:
1.Price plan you contract the customer at
2.Price of phone that you sell to your customer
3.Contract period (1 or 2 Years)
4.Any features added to the contract
In addition, each carrier will set a different commission amount for a new activation. This will be a critical factor in determining your profit as well. And in many cases, the commission amounts are tiered, meaning that a certain number of activation, for example 15 activations or more will yield you a higher commission amount.
It is also worth noting again that the commission amounts listed above is only for new contract activation or port activation. If you merely extend a customer's contract, your commission will be much less, as talked about in the next section. Lastly, in this business you will need volume to succeed. So be ready make many sales, at least 15-50 new activation sales, each month to succeed as a wireless dealer.
Below is an example of a commission matrix that the Master Dealer will provide you with. These are the actual figures at the time of writing in the year 2008, and you can expect to make this much doing business with a given carrier. Please understand that all carriers do not provide commissions at the same levels, so be sure to shop around and compare commission structures between carriers.
As you can see above there is a pretty large commission difference between 1 year and 2 year contract plans. In addition, Family Plans have great commissions, but keep in mind that only the first two lines get the commission. Any lines added from that point on, you get paid on the "Added Lines" portion. This master dealer does require a minimum number of activation and it ranges from 15-20 activations per month. Without that number, you will not get paid the Spiff portion. It is easy to see that dealers scramble to hit at least the minimum required at the end of the month to obtain the Spiff.
Upgrades (Contract Extensions)
Upgrades or contract extensions are another way of making some money in the cellular phone business. Upgrade happens when a customer has a given carrier, and they want to extend their contracts for another 2 years in exchange for a new phone on the same carrier.
Upgrades are usually 2 year contract extensions with the same carrier, and a customer often times becomes eligible for an upgrade 2 months prior to the contract end date. Please take caution that carriers will not pay you a commission for a one year upgrade to their dealers. And for that reason, you are unable to offer one year contract extension deals to your customers.
The profit margin on an upgrade is usually much less than a new activation. You can expect to make somewhere between $30-$100 per upgrade activation.
Upgrades are usually a pretty difficult sale for us authorized dealers, and we are always better off offering our customers to port their numbers to another carrier instead. Should the customer insist on an upgrade, you must understand and acknowledge that the commission amount will not be as high as a contract activation. You will then need to choose between making a low profit margin or to increase your profit by up selling to your customer. Many authorized dealers upgrade their customers by adding in internet, text message, or BlackBerry features to compensate for the lower profit margin.
Upgrades will not be a big money maker in your business, but you must provide your customers with great deals and great service doing upgrades to earn your word-of-mouth referrals.
Post Paid and Upgrade Business Process
The business process involved in selling a post paid phone and upgrades are a bit unique to this industry, so we would like to cover its details here. The transaction involves numerous parties and you must understand this for cash flow reasons as well as to do business as a wireless dealer effectively.
Basically, there are 3 processes involved in the cellular phone business to activate a phone.
Step 1: You must first purchase your inventory from your master dealer or an unlocked phone supplier. Inventory will usually run anywhere from $75 for a low end phone to over $500 for a high end Smart Phone. In some cases, you may need to buy SIM cards if you offer GSM phones, but usually, that will be included with the phones you purchase from your master dealer. For the unlocked phones, you will need to purchase SIM card only from your master dealer for about $15 a card.
Step 2: You will then sell to a customer for a new activation or an upgrade. The price of the phone will be subsidized by you because you will receive commission on that activation from your carrier. For example, say you bought a phone for $130 wholesale. For a one year activation on a $39.99 plan, you will get $245 in commission. That means you can subsidize the phone to make the sale. If you sold it for free, this will be your end calculation.
•Sale Price to the Customer $0 (FREE)
•Commission by Carrier $245.00
•less Inventory Cost $130.00
•Profit Margin $115.00 per line
If you sold it for $30 because there is a $30 rebate for the customer, this will be your profit margin:
•Sale Price to the Customer $30.00
•Commission by Carrier $245.00
•less Inventory Cost $130.00
•Profit Margin $145.00 per line
In the second example, the total price for the customer will be "Free after rebate." Just in case, this is why:
•Amount Paid by Customer $30.00
•Rebate Received $30.00
•Final Price $0.00 FREE AFTER REBATE!
Step 3: Collect your commission from your carrier or your master dealer (master dealers will be explained very soon). Usually, the carrier or the master dealer will ask you to submit a batch sheet that includes information on all of the activations you did for the month. Depending on the master dealer, they may pay you promptly in 2 weeks, or they may be very slow, paying you 60 days later.
Feature Add (Add-Ons)
Feature adds occur when you assist a customer add on a feature package like a text message package, BlackBerry package, or an Internet package onto their existing phone plans. It can also be used as an up sell mechanism during your new or upgrade activations as well. All carriers will give you commission for assisting your customers to add a feature package onto their existing plans. Commissions for add-ons usually range between $5-100 depending on the feature you add for your customers.
It is worth noting that each carrier does have priorities when they decide on how much commission to pay you for a feature you add for your customer. For example, one carrier may pay you $10 to add a $5 text message package, while another carrier may give you $30. Sometimes a carrier may come up with a new promotional feature plan that they want to really sell to the public, and may give you a big commission to accomplish their objectives. We've seen situations where a carrier would pay $100 commission on a $10 feature.
Adding features, if you do it right, can very well supplement your profit margins. You can look for somewhere between $5-$100 in additional commissions just by helping the customers figure out what deals are best for them.
Here is an example of what would happen to your profits when you effectively sell features to your customers:
•Sale Price to the Customer $30.00
•Commission by Carrier $245.00
•less Inventory Cost $130.00
•Profit Margin before Feature Add $145.00
•Feature Add: Text Message $10.00
•Feature Add: Internet Package $100.00
•Total Profit Margin $255.00 per Line
One last point to make with regards to feature adds is that a carrier will not pay a commission for any insurance packages added to the customer in case of lost or stolen phones. Many customers feel the insurance packages as an up sell, but it is actually out of courtesy for the dealers to offer it to you.
Prepaid Activations and Recharge
For many reasons, prepaid phones are becoming very popular in the cellular phone business. Prepaid phones are popular to these markets:
•A person that does not want to commit to a contract
•A person that does not have good credit
•A person who just immigrated to this country
•A person that use their phone for emergency or very minimal purposes
Prepaid phone sales are not exactly a huge money maker in this business, but you will need to offer it to your customers.
Prepaid phone sales involve two dimensions:
1.prepaid phone hardware sales, and
2.prepaid card or airtime sales.
The business model of the prepaid phone hardware sales is that you make money on the amount you mark up you pass on to the customer from the wholesale price. Hence, if you bought your prepaid phone at $25 wholesale, and mark it up $15 to sell it for $40 to the customer, the mark up portion of $15 will be your profit.
When selling prepaid phones, you'll likely notice that the price of the hardware is significantly cheaper compared to its post paid counterpart. You can expect to pay $20-100 for a prepaid phone device wholesale, whereas the postpaid phone devices will cost about $100-500 per device. This is due to the fact that the prepaid phone devices are subsidized by prepaid phone carriers so you and the customer can buy the phones at a discount compared to regular postpaid phones. This fact makes it very easy to maintain your inventory levels without significantly considering its cash flow issues.
The business model of the prepaid air card sale works on a commission scale. The commission can range from 5% to 20% of the price of the card you sell. The commission percentage will depend on the prepaid carrier. This means if a prepaid carrier pays 12% commission and you sell a $20 card, you make $2.40 per card you sell. An average commission on a prepaid card is usually 7-12%. One you develop a steady client base, it's very easy to see recharge card sales of $10,000 each month at your store.
The prepaid air card business is similar to having a residual commission each month. And again this business is about volume and increasing your customer base. In addition, it is also critical for the customer to purchase the prepaid recharge card from you as well. For some popular prepaid carriers, they do have the ability to purchase it online or at a local supermarket. If they purchase the additional recharge cards from a different source, you do lose out on your commission. Make sure you make a system to give your customers an incentive to purchase the card from you. You can use price discounts, online systems, or phone systems that will allow your customers to purchase from you instead.
Selling wireless accessories, such as cases, chargers, and hands free headsets are another way to make money for your cellular phone business. The mark ups for accessories are usually very high and it is normal to see something selling for $12.00 when the wholesale price was only about $0.50. Due to its low wholesale price of accessories, many dealers also package up accessories with a phone sale to make the deal more enticing for their customers. For example, "Free Blue Tooth Headset & Car Charger with each New Activation!" is a pitch you see very frequently. The cost involved in you offering this kind of sale compared to the value perceived by the customer is very well worth your efforts.
If you are a busy store, and good at merchandising products, accessory sales can easily bring in a good portion of profits for your business. Depending on the product, you can expect to earn $10-50 per accessory sold. And many people these days need a case, car charger, and a Bluetooth headset. So make your best effort in making accessory sales a big part of your cellular phone business.
Final Words on the Business Model
The cell phone business is a volume based business. And simply put, the people who make the most money are the ones who make the most sales. And these sales must be new activations or a port to make any kind of real money. This business relies a lot on heavy marketing and sales in order to succeed. We have seen that the best stores are the ones that advertise aggressively, has a niche market that they work with, and are very good at retail sales.
As with any business, having a niche market will help you tremendously to succeed in this business. We have seen many people succeed in this business, and they come from all walks of life. We've seen a lot of specific ethnic group dealers, such as Latino and Asian dealers succeed very well due to the continuous flow of new immigrants coming into the United States. We've also seen dealers that specialize in small businesses succeed very well. And we are sure that other markets such as the children market, senior market, the Smart Phone market, and other untapped markets are huge potentials in this business as well. We are always amazed to see dealers driving off on their new BMW from the warehouse to pick up their phones.
We also wish you the best with this business!
The Master Dealer
In this section, we will go over the details about the Master Dealer. The Master Dealer will be your entry point into stating out a business in the cellular phone industry. Be sure to understand their role and how you will be working with them in the near future.
In the past, dealers were able to enter into the cellular phone business by working directly with a cellular phone carrier. But today, the most common and easiest way of entering the cellular phone business is through a Master Dealer. Master Dealers are used by the major carriers because the big carriers do not want to allocate a lot of their resources into serving smaller dealers like ourselves. Since each of the carriers also have a direct retail channel (carrier owned stores) to take care of, they figure using a Master Dealer to satisfy the local demands are much more efficient then dealing with it themselves.
So with this in mind, we recommend you start things off with a Master Dealer to get your operations running fast and efficiently. Master dealers will be very fair with you, and usually many Master Dealers will allow you to start off with just one phone or very minimal inventory. Master Dealers are often locally operated if you live in a major metropolitan area, so that you can go to pick up your inventory with a 10-20 minute drive to their warehouse.
What does a Master Dealer do?
Simply put, Master dealers can get you partnered up with a cellular phone carrier. Master dealers will be your partner, commission processor, customer service expert, and a good friend. They will provide you with the collaterals (posters, brochures, paper contracts). They are the supplier of your cell phone inventory. They will provide you with the activation system. They will pay your commissions. And they will give you basic training and support to get your business up and running.
Basically, they will be your bridge to the big cell phone carriers. And they are there to help you succeed. Master dealers get paid on each of the activations that you produce for them. So they will treat you well, and help you out as much as possible to create the sales for you and for them.
Master Dealers come in all size and shapes. Some can operate very locally, while others can operate across the United States. Some have only one cell phone carriers that they represent. Others may represent multiple carriers. Some are very small. Others have multiple warehouses and offices. Some pay well. Others do not pay as much. And some are easy to work with, while others can be difficult. It all depends.
Finding the Right Master Dealer
Master Dealer research and actually finding the right Master Dealer for you is probably one of the most important tasks when you are starting out. Choosing the right Master Dealer can make a huge difference on how you operate, and how efficiently you do business.
However, finding a Master Dealer is usually not an easy task. The list of Master Dealers around the country is highly confidential and not available readily. And for this reason, actually finding the right Master Dealer for you can be a pretty difficult job. In many cases, you may just have to use the first Master Dealer that you encounter due to the lack of alternatives.
Since the wholesale list is highly confidential, please contact me for the list so that I maybe able to help out.
Once you obtain the contact information, start contacting them by email and phone. Many Master Dealers have a web form that you fill out on their websites. Set up an appointment to meet and talk to them. Since you will be dealing with them on many issues of your business, we suggest you talk, negotiate, and compare a few Master Dealers in order to find the right one for you.
During the initial contact stages of the Master Dealer, patience is a nice thing to have. Some Master Dealers may take time to respond to you. It is recommended that if you don't hear from them quickly enough, you contact them a few times to get a response from them. Some Master Dealers may not be interested in doing business with you since you are new to the business. You will need to have a solid business plan to overcome any objections that the Master Dealer may have, and persuade them that you are serious about this business.
Finding a Master Dealer and persuading them to work with you can be a challenging task when you are starting out. You'll need to overcome this challenge by preparing for the meeting by having a solid business plan. By persuading that you can make money for them, they would want to do business with you. Do your due diligence to find as much information about them as possible to make the meeting effective.
When you work with a Master Dealer, it is just like a marriage. You'll be dealing with them frequently on a variety of issues that will come up. It can also be tough to move from one Master Dealer to another, so be sure you take your time to find the "right one" from the start.
The next section will have points of consideration for you prior to contracting with a Master Dealer. However, before going into the next section, let's briefly touch on the role of an account manager.
The Account Manager
When working with a master dealer, you will usually have an account manager who will handle most of your needs. The account manager is a designated person intended to serve you and your needs. You can get their help in almost anything from training, receiving marketing materials, resolving customer service related issues, and answering any technical questions you may have. The account managers will become your semi-partner, so be sure you treat them well, since they will be the contact person for any problems you have.
When you meet your account manager, see if you are on the same wavelength with them. You want to be comfortable with your account manager because you will be working with them a lot. Your account manager is the contact person for most of your issues. You want somebody that you get along with.
Before Contracting with a Master Dealer
Now that you know what an account manager is, let's go over the preparation you should go before contracting with a Master Dealer.
Finding a Master Dealer that's right for you depends on a few points. For us, location did play a key role. We wanted a Master Dealer that was locally operating so that we can go get our inventory whenever we wanted. Luckily we were able to find Master Dealers that were only about 10-20 minutes away from our office. This played a key role in keeping lower levels of inventory at our stores.
Another concern when selecting your Master Dealer will be customer service. You'll need to look for signs that will indicate the level of your Master Dealer's customer service. Look to see if they are well staffed to help you when there is an issue with you or your customers. Also, look to see if they have a good website so that you can self service your needs on a variety of minor issues. Assess their level of customer service for you and your customers.
Obviously, commission is one key aspect that you must look into when selecting your Master Dealer. Since most of the commission is decided by the actual carrier, commissions between established Master Dealers are usually very comparable. The two points that decide the profits for you are the actual commission payout and the handset prices set by the Master Dealer.
Established Master Dealers are very competitive towards each other. In some cases though, there are Master Dealers that offer significantly lower commissions or that their handsets are significantly more expensive. These tend to be Master Dealers that are smaller in size and are not established. Or it can be Master Dealers that are not doing very well. The Master Dealer business is a volume based business, so if they are not doing the volume necessary to make money on their own, they will usually pass on the costs to you. So be sure to check out and compare a few Master Dealers, and the average commission of the carrier of your choice.
Now the last thing that will help you to narrow down your Master Dealer selection is the carrier you would want to offer to your customers. Master Dealer usually represents only one or two carriers, so even if you like the Master Dealer, you may not be able to work with them if they do not offer a carrier that you want to sell.
Points to Consider
Here are some areas of consideration and questions you should ask a Master Dealer before you sign a contract with them.
•How much commission does the Master Dealer pay?
•Are there tiers (Example: 15+ activations) involved to get paid a certain amount?
•What kinds of Spiff (Extra commission) are they offering?
•Are they competitive compared to other master dealers?
•What are some of the processes you need to go through to collect your commission from the Master Dealer?
•How fast do they pay their commission?
•Is the wholesale price of the phones subsidized?
•How competitive are the wholesale price of the phones?
•Do they allow the activations of unlocked or import phones?
•How often do they pay?
•Some Master Dealers will process your commission every two weeks while others will make you wait 60 days.
•How prompt are they to pay?
•Do they have a good system to pay all of my commission in time?
•Is the warehouse close to my store?
•How well stocked are they at the warehouse?
•What kinds of phones do they stock at the warehouse?
•Do they stock unlocked phones?
•Do they allow for "Will Call" pickups?
•How fast do they ship the phones?
•What are the shipping costs?
•Do they offer any incentives to lower the shipping costs?
•What are the people that work at the warehouse like?
•Does the hour of operation of the warehouse work out for me?
•How many people work at the warehouse?
•How often do they close the warehouse during holidays?
Inventory Purchase Requirements and Payment Policies
•Do they have a minimum order of phones that we have to order?
•Would they let me buy on credit?
•Do they accept business checks?
•Do they accept credit cards?
•Are they cash only? Return Policies (RMA)
•What are some of their return policies?
•Is the RMA system easy?
•How fast do they respond to an RMA request?
•How well do they communicate the approval or the disapproval of the RMA process?
Online Activation Tools
•Will they provide me with an online activation tool?
•Do I have to call in each time there is an activation?
•How easy is the online activation tool to use?
How Local Are They?
•Is the Master Dealer close to where I do business?
•Can I reach them quickly?
•Is it too burdensome for my account manager to come visit me?
•Is it too burdensome for me to go meet up with any of the account managers?
•Would the distance between me and the Master Dealer affect my business in any way?
•Would it delay the time it takes me to get a phone order from them?
•Would it delay the time it takes for me to get paid my commission?
•Would it delay the time it takes for me to resolve a dispute?
Account Manager and Master Dealer Connection
•What types of people work at the Master Dealer?
•Can I work well with them?
•How cool is my account manager?
•Can I get along with him or her?
•What tools can the Account Manager give me to expand my business?
•How active is my account manager?
•Does he respond to my emails or calls quickly?
•Does he look too busy to respond to me?
How to Get Approved by the Carrier and the Master Dealer
As much as you will screen which Master Dealer you want to do business with, Master Dealers will also judge you in your ability to provide them with a solid number of activations each month. Master dealers and carriers look for the following characteristics when getting stated with them.
Experience is weighed relatively high when a Master Dealer considers you to work with them. The experience will be good if you have any prior experience in selling cellular phones, or if you've been in sales and marketing in the past. As mentioned, this business has a very heavy marketing and sales aspect to it, so without that experience, you may not be able to offer the solid figures that the Master Dealers and the carriers expect. They will usually want to see at least 15-30 new activations each month. This doesn't have to happen in your first month, but within 3-6 months.
Location is also a very critical factor in deciding to grant you the privilege to represent a given carrier or not. For one thing, you may not have a retail store that you can operate out of. This may hinder your ability to get approved by a Master Dealer. However, as long as you have a solid business plan, you can get approved with a Master Dealer without having an office location as long as you can do some negotiating, and persuade your Master Dealer.
Locations that already have a high number of indirect dealers or carrier owned stores nearby may also hinder the likelihood of getting approved by the Master Dealer. It is not the Master Dealer's best intention to make the sub-dealers compete against each other because that will hinder everybody's profits.
The business plan usually needs to be submitted to the Master Dealers and the carriers to get approved as well. The business plan needs to specify out what your targets are, and how you expect to obtain consistent activations on a monthly basis. Again they look for 15-30 minimum, and prefer plans that grow to attain 50-100 activations per month. Refer to the business plan section of this guide, and answer the questions that is laid out for yourself.
Indirect dealers are sometimes referred to as Value-Added Resellers where you are able to exploit markets that are currently being underserved by a given carrier. These market maybe anything from specific nationalities, small businesses, or a specialized market. It is basically your niche, and the carriers tend to approve stores that can exploit a market that they are unable to reach.
Something to Watch Out For: Carrier Power
The last thing we want to touch on is about the power of the big cell phone carriers have on us.
The big carriers, when working with an indirect dealer like ourselves, constantly have conflicts of interests. The carriers own many direct retail stores to sell their services directly to customers. So on a store-level, your store can actually become a direct competition to the carrier owned retail stores even if you offer the same carrier's service.
This story becomes even more complicated since indirect dealers have the ability to offer lower prices than the carrier owned stores because it is independently owned. It may be located in a location that is lower in rent with fewer employees. In addition, since the indirect dealers frequently promote churn or porting over to other carriers due to the profit incentive, it can be very problematic for the carriers to work well with its indirect dealers.
With this conflict of interest in place, carriers can use its "big business" power to leverage the relationship with its indirect dealers. Recent developments in the industry are for carriers to ask for indirect dealers to sign an exclusive contract, offering only their brand at your store. This does eliminate the churn issue that they have with indirect dealers, but it does become disadvantageous for us because we are unable to offer selection to our customers. It will become your judgment call to see if you want to operate your business with only one carrier or not.
Another issue that you will see when working with carriers is its ability to control your commission. Usually, if you are operating your store without an exclusive contract, the carriers can decide to cut you off very quickly. They have the ability to reduce commissions by 50% or more at a very rapid pace, usually within 1-2 months. When you see your commission drop by that much, you lose your ability to make any money or you must increase your prices dramatically to your customers in a very short period of time. These actions by the carriers will usually prompt you to drop them and promote another carrier instead of offering what you were used to. We have seen businesses that go out of business when the big carriers take this action.
Our word of advice we have is to always to stay cautious when working with big carriers. If you do not go the exclusive route, you should always have a backup plan if the carriers do decide to cut you off. We recommend always having at least two major carriers you can offer to your customers at any given time.
Getting Familiar with the Lingo
To get yourself more familiar with the business of cellular phones, here are some lingos that you'll be using on a daily basis. It'll be nice to have a command of the lingo to sound like you are an experienced professional in this business.
Accessories include anything from cases, Bluetooth headsets, chargers, and cell phone protectors. There are many different accessory suppliers available for you to use in Step 10 of this guide. You will need to contact them, and setup an account with them to purchase what you need. Accessory margins are usually very good, where you can sell something that you buy for $0.50 wholesale for anywhere between $7-12 retail at your store. However, eBay is a competitor when it comes to accessory sales because there are merchants out there that sell it for a huge discount.
Activation is the process of getting your phone active and working. You will start out with a phone that is "dead" in your inventory, but through an online or telephone activation process, you assign the phone a phone number. Activations process is almost immediate, taking only a couple minutes for the phone to start working. Whether you are working on a contract phone or a prepaid phone, the process of getting the phone to work is called an activation.
Add on is a term used when you are adding extra features to the regular phone activation. An add-on can be anything from a text message package, Internet package, to a BlackBerry add. Up selling extra features on to the postpaid phone sale is called an add-on. When you do an activation via the phone, an activation rep will often times ask you, "would you like any add-ons?" during the activation process. Know what they are talking about?
Anytime minutes are minutes you use during the course of the day that are not nights and weekend minutes or mobile-to-mobile minutes. Anytime minutes usually start around 6AM, and lasts until 9PM. They are the minutes that you use during this time. The standard single line plan may include 450, 900, or 1000 Any Time minutes for $39.99 per month.
Bluetooth technology allows you to connect your phone to another device without any wires. It is a short range wireless technology. Bluetooth technology is often used for headsets or connecting to a laptop to sync your data.
Carrier is a standard term to describe cellular phone companies in this business. Major carriers are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Alltel, and T-Mobile. There are also many prepaid carriers that exist as well.
Cases are protective casings that one would use to put over your phone, or use it to store your phone while you are on the go. Cell phone stores often up sell to their customers by offering cases to their customers. There are very many accessory dealers around the United States that offer a wide range of cases, from plastic, leather, to rubber. Shop around to see what kind of cases will be appealing to your customer base.
Chargeback are commission repayments that occurs when a customer cancels service their cell phone service prior to their contract being up. Usually for an indirect dealer, there is a chargeback period of 6 months or 180 days. Hence, if your customers cancel prior to this period is up, you will need to repay the commission back to your carrier. You can remedy this situation by making your customers sign a second contract that will allow you to charge a fee if they cancel during this period.
Chargers are another popular accessory items designed to recharge the cell phone battery. Almost all accessory stores offer chargers for sale, and they can be either the wall chargers or the car chargers. Costs of these chargers are always very low at a wholesaler, but be sure to check its quality, since many of the chargers can be of low quality.
Churn is an industry term used when a customer switches cellular phone companies after their contract is up. Churn is unfavorable to a carrier, and they want to see a low churn ratio from the customers that you activate. Churn is bad for carriers, but usually good for you as you can earn a higher commission promoting churn to your customers. This is the biggest conflict of interest that the carriers have with their indirect dealers.
CDMA stands for code division multiple access and it is the standard network technology that many carriers use. The major carriers on the CDMA network are Sprint and Verizon. Also the MVNOs that are under Sprint and Verizon also use CDMA.
Co-ops are advertisement money that you can obtain from your master dealer or your carrier to help promote their brand as well as your store. Upon making consistently good sales for a given carrier, they can provide you with some or all of the money for you to use to advertise their brand in your local newspaper, magazines, or other medium. Always ask for co-op money, and use this as a leverage to try and increase your commission from a carrier.
Coverage is the amount of reception you can get using a given carrier. All carriers have a coverage check tool that you can use to check a customer's coverage area prior to you activating that line for your customer. Doing a coverage check insures that your customers have coverage in their area, and they will be satisfied with your service.
Data plans are add-on features such as Internet, Text Message, or BlackBerry plans. They are often called data plans as opposed to a voice plan. The phone section is the voice plan, and these other features that involve more data transmission are called data plans.
Dealer lines are nice perks that you can get as you activate a good number of lines consistently at your store. Dealer lines provide you with a great number of minutes and features for a tremendous discount. It is intended for you to try out and get familiar to a carrier's services so that you can effectively communicate their service benefits to your customers.
Dealer perks are benefits you gain as a dealer selling a carrier's services. Carrier run dealer perk programs include dealer lines, co-ops, reward programs, and providing you with collateral for your business. Master dealers also provide you with dealer perks in the method of contests, free phones, and party events that you can provide.
ESN number is the equipment serial number used by a carrier that uses the CDMA network. Each phone inventory will have a unique ESN number that will identify the phone. You use it during the activation process to identify the phone you will be using to activate the phone. For GSM technology, it is equivalent to the SIM number.
Equipment is a lingo used to refer to the actual cell phones. It is often used to refer to phones that are still in inventory, but can be used for live phones as well. It is often used when speaking to a wholesale dealer or the warehouse manager about the phone they may carry.
Hands-free is synonymous to hands-free headsets. Accessory dealers will use this term frequently when referring to their headsets in stock. When they refer to hands-free just remember they are talking about their headsets.
GSM stands for Global System for Mobile communications and it is considered the most popular form of technology throughout the world. GSM phones are great because they can be brought to another country, and can be used right away. European customers can come into your store with a phone they used in Europe, and as long as you switch the SIM Card and at times its Mhz setting, they will be able to use it here in the United States. GSM technology requires you a phone and a SIM card to get it to work. In the United States, major carriers that use GSM technology are T-Mobile and AT&T.
An IMEI number stand for International Mobile Equipment Identity and it is a unique serial number assigned for each GSM phone. Although IMEI is needed in the activation process for identification and record purposes, it is not as critical as the ESN number for a CDMA technology. You will see that the IMEI number is collected by the carrier often for record keeping purposes. Even if you have the wrong IMEI number or no number at all, you can still activate a GSM number as long as you have a SIM number.
Master dealer has been described in detail in earlier chapters. They are the dealers that work directly with the carriers to serve indirect or sub-dealers like us. To become a Master Dealer, you will need to hit approximately 300-600 activations per month. A master dealer can own its own stores or solely serve sub-dealers to sell activations for them.
Mobile to Mobile
Mobile-to-mobile is calls made within the same carrier. So if a customer with a T-Mobile phone call another customer with T-Mobile, the call is considered a mobile-to-mobile call. Often times, mobile-to-mobile calls are free, though at some carriers, you will have to pay to add on the mobile to mobile feature. M2M plans work well if you have a big family, and they all use the same carrier, or if you talk with a group of friends a lot having the same carrier will reduce the costs for everyone involved.
Nights and Weekends
Nights and weekend refers to the free minutes that a carrier will provide to their customers. Most of the major carriers offer free nights and weekends, but the start time of the night minutes may differ between carriers. Most carriers define night minutes as anything that started after 9PM. Some carriers sweeten the deal by defining night minutes as anything that start after 7PM.
Overage minutes are any minutes that you incur after you have used up the Anytime Minutes in your plan. Overage minutes can be extremely expensive, and it is normal for carriers to charge $0.45 per minute for each overage that a customer has. Overage charges are usually the biggest reason of customer complaints, and at the same time it is one of the biggest profit centers for the carrier. Be sure to advise your customers to check their minutes often by using the self service options available on the phone or via their online accounts.
Porting a Number
Porting a number means to switch cellular phone companies. A person can port a number to a new carrier, and this will count as a new activation for you. Porting a number can be done from another cellular phone, and also from landlines, prepaid phones, or at times IP phones. Porting a number from a contract phone to a prepaid phone can be disallowed at times. In the business, you often call it a simply as a "port."
Post paid phones are contract phones. If a customer signs a 1 or 2 year contract to obtain a phone for free, you have just activated them on a post paid plan. Post paid activations are the main priority of your business, and they are the money makers for you. You can get a decent commission for a one year contract, and at times, a one year contract can be better for a customer. It is however, standard to do a two year contract for each of your customers. Carriers like it, you get a higher commission, and a customer gets a better phone. It's a win-win to do a 2 year contract.
Prepaid phones are no contract phone where you pay upfront to get service on them. Prepaid phones have been relatively trendy in recent years. The reason for their popularity are because a customer may not be approved for a post paid phone due to credit issues, a customer may not want to sign a contract, a customer may be elderly and don't need to use the phone very much, or a customer may be from a different county and do not have a social security number. Although prepaid phones are not going to be your major profit center, there is always a need for prepaid phones at your store. You can also get residual income from the air card sales that will occur on a regular basis.
SIM Card stands for Subscriber Identity Module and it is a smart card that you need to activate a GSM phone on. SIM card number is the equivalent of an ESN number for CDMA technology. Without a SIM card number, you are unable to activate a line for service. SIM cards are used for GSM phones, and the great thing about them is that by switching the SIM card to any GSM phone, you will be able to instantly use it. Some customers may come in to purchase the SIM card only because they may have bought their phone already on eBay for cheap. Customers like this are a great source of profit because you can keep all of the commission profit for yourself without having to deduct it for the inventory costs. Master dealers are very strict on using SIM cards purchased from them because that is how they track your commission.
Spiff is extra commission you can receive for performance of a certain activity. Most of the time, spiff is obtained for attaining higher activation figures then before. A carrier may also provide you with Spiff to promote increased sales or a sale of a particular phone or a feature. Spiffs play a big role in determining your commission and profit, so always understand the criteria involved in obtaining the spiff. The carriers like to come out with different criteria all the time for you to earn your spiff. If your master dealer is not providing any spiff, be sure to inquire about them so that you can earn more money. Some master dealers that we've dealt with kept their spiff to themselves, so watch out for that kind of activity.
Share plan is the industry term used to describe family plans. As a consumer, we know it as a family share plan. In the industry, they like to use the term share plan, because essentially a family plan is a group plan that shares a batch of minutes. To be a share plan it doesn't necessarily have to be a family. It can be a group of friends, a business, or other organization of people sharing a batch of minutes within the group. The carriers have this idea, so they refer these plans as share plans more frequently than a family plan.
Sub-dealers are dealers that work under a master dealer. Sub-dealers are also known as indirect dealers. They differ from the direct channel which are store outlets owned directly by the dealers. Sub-dealers are at times also called VAR or Value Added Reseller. A VAR is more specified then a sub-dealer in its niche that it can pursue. If they have access to a select group of people that no other dealers or carrier can get to, a sub-dealer maybe considered a VAR.
Upgrades occur when a customer is out of contract or almost out of contract. The customer would like to obtain a new phone, retain the same carrier, and extend their contract another 2 years. Upgrades will not be a great source of revenue for you, and some dealers even send their customers to a direct channel store to do upgrades. Upgrades are a good source to find customers and get referrals out of. You can always explore the options with the customers, and possibly assist them with adding a few features for you to make it worth while.
Voice plan is the "phone" part of the customer's monthly plan. It is contrary to the data plan. On a regular plan, you have the voice plan and the data plan. This fact is nice to know when you are talking with a customer service rep at a given carrier and you need to reference a certain plan with them.
Now that you have a good idea on the "lingo" in the business, it is now time to talk about the details involved in the activation process. The activation process is required mainly for the contract, post-paid phone activations. Prepaid phone activations are a lot easier to do, and many stores let the customers go through the activation process. That being said, here are the activation processes involved in a post-paid activation.
1.Application and Signatures
2.Credit Check & Approval
3.Phone or Online Activation
Application and Signatures
Once your customer decides on the phone they would like to get, the first step is for them to fill in the carrier approved application form or contract with you. The contracts will be provided by your carrier, so you do not need to worry about creating it yourself. It is usually a legal sized sheet with carbon copies available for you, your customer, and the carrier.
The most critical thing here is that you do need to ID the customer by obtaining a copy of their social security card, driver's license, or other government form of identification such as a passport. The customer will fill in their name, address, phone number, social security number, and driver's license on the application form.
You will need to explain to the customer about a few points where it requires them to either initial or sign the contract form. Some items such as the term of the contract, features, insurance decline, and agreement signature should be explained with the customer to obtain their understanding, and protect yourself if they come back later to dispute anything.
The application form is relatively straight forward, so you should not have too much problems with it. You may want to highlight some of the absolute necessary portions prior so that your employees and your customers will know where to fill in. Doing so tends to make the process much speedier.
Credit Check & Approval
After the customer has filled out the application form, it is now time to call in or use your online activation tools to do a credit check for your customers. The activation rep on the phone or the online system will tell you if the customer got approved for a line or not.
If you have access to the online activation tool, some carriers have recommended applying for the maximum amount of lines possible for the customer. Some customers may not know that they can get approved for 10 lines. You can apply for 10 lines, and they may get all 10 or maybe 5 lines. By letting your customer know that they were approved for 10 lines will make them feel good, and possibly come back again to activate additional lines at a later time. Should you apply for 10 lines, and they get approved for only one line, just tell your customer that they were approved for the one line, and everything is good to go.
In cases, where a customer is not approved, there are usually options. You can activate them on a pre-paid phone or a special program that some carriers offer for people with bad credit. They also do have the option of paying a security deposit to get the line approved. Security deposits depend on the customer's credit rating as well as the carrier's policy on security deposits. Security deposits usually range from $150-$500 per line.
Phone or Online Activation
Once you clear the credit approval situation for your customer, the next process is the actual activation for the customer. At this point, you will need the SIM Card/IMEI number on a GSM phone or the ESN number on a CDMA phone. You will need to enter that information online or tell it to the activation rep over the phone. Ask ahead of time of area code the customer will like to get so that you can get them a phone number in that specific area code. If you have the online activation tool, and the customer is in front of you, you do have the option to get them an area code of their preference as well as the first three digits of their phone number. Many customer like to get a phone number that they can easily remember, so letting them choose is another way to provide excellent customer service.
Once the phone number is assigned, and activation is completed, you may need to program the phone. GSM phones are usually activated without any programming, while CDMA phones usually require additional activation by calling into the carrier's automatic activation system. The activation is usually instantaneous taking less than 5 minutes, but in rare occasions, it may take up to 2 hours to fully activate a line.
After the phone has been fully activated, the online activation tool will allow you to print out a contract form again with their phone number and a place for them to sign. It is good practice to print this out, and getting it signed by your customer one more time for your safety. If activation was done over the phone, the original contract form will be sufficient.
In addition to the contract that was produced online, you will need to get your customer to sign another contract that is independently supplied by you. This contract will protect you against any chargeback should a customer decide to cancel their service prior to your chargeback period defined by the carrier. The chargeback period is usually 6 months or 180 days, and if a customer cancels their contract prior to this period, you will owe the entire commission back to the carrier.
To protect yourself from this unexpected event, you will need to get the customer to sign a second contract that will allow you to charge their credit card should they cancel their service within 180 days. The contract will allow you to charge the customer the amount of commission that you have to give away, or a set amount that you choose to draw should there be a cancellation by the customer. The contract will usually state that you will charge $250-300 per line should the customer cancel their service prior to the chargeback period. You must do this to protect yourself from any chargeback by the customer.
Be sure to get the customer's understanding about this, and explain it well so that they understand. You are in business, and if they cancel prior to the chargeback period, it will mean that you are giving away the phone for free to them with a huge loss on your part. Make sure that the customer knows that if they cancel their service prior to 180 days of the activation date, they will have to pay the early termination fee of $175-200 with the carrier and another $250-300 from you. It is a big amount, so you will need to explain it in detail with them to obtain their understanding.
A copy of the dealer contract can be found on the next page. Keep in mind that this is only a sample, and it should be modified accordingly to meet your situation.
Sample Contract Between (Dealer) and (Customer)
Here is a sample contract form that you may consider using for your store. Be sure to modify it for your needs and consult a lawyer should you feel it is necessary to keep your interests protected.
(Customer) has agreed to provide a promotional payment to (Dealer) for each qualified Authorized User who purchased a wireless telephone from (Dealer) and contracts with (Customer) to use their service and continues to use (Customer) continuously and uninterrupted for 181 days. The promotional payment enables (Dealer) to sell below mentioned equipment to the Authorized User at a purchase price, which is greatly reduced from the actual selling price.
Accordingly, (Dealer) and Authorized User agree as follows:
•Purchase the below mentioned phone equipment from (Dealer)
•Enter in to a service agreement with (Customer) for phone service.
•Use service for at least 181 day consecutively and uninterrupted.
•Remain on the original airtime rate plan or higher selected when service was established.
•Pay all wireless phone bills in full and on time.
•To hereby grant (Dealer) a security interest in the lien upon the below mentioned telephone equipment to secure the Authorized User's financial obligation to (Dealer)
In addition, Authorized User states that they have not had service with (Customer) in the past 365 days.
Should the Authorized User breach or cancel the agreement or otherwise discontinue service with (Customer) before 181 days of continuous and uninterrupted service, the Authorized User, upon request of (Dealer) to pay (Dealer) the sum of three hundred dollars ($300.00) immediately. The payment covers damages incurred under this agreement, including reasonable attorney's fees, and the loss of the below mentioned promotional payment.
I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS CONTRACT AND AGREE TO PAY MY WIRELESS PHONE BILLS IN FULL AND ON TIME. I FURTHER AGREE NOT TO CANCEL MY SERVICE OR CHANGE MY RATE PLAN TO A LOWER PLAN FOR ANY REASON, INCLUDING THEFT, DAMAGE OR MALFUNCTION, DURING THE FIRST 181 DAYS OF SERVICE. IF THIS CONTRACT IS BREACHED I AUTHORIZE (DEALER) TO CHARGE MY CREDIT CARD AND HEREBY PROVIDE AND IMPRINT FOR THAT PURPOSE.
Credit Card Type:
Authorized User Name:
Phone Type: ESN/SIM#:
Signature of Authorized User:
How to start a cell phone store Part 3-4.
22. 07. 2012
The Sales Process
The sales process in the cellular phone business involves a few steps, and each step contributes to convert a prospect into your customer. The process outlined below will be in the context of retail sales, where you are selling your phones at your store.
The Retail Sales Strategy
Retail sales strategy involves six processes to effectively convert a prospect into one of your customers. The six processes are:
First impression is always the most important, and this is your first step when a customer walks into your store. Welcome your customers by greeting them, and letting them know that you are there to help. A cheerful, "hello" is always a nice thing to have at your store.
Rapport is a powerful tool to get a customer to buy from you. It is a small personal relationship that you build with a customer in a short period of time that will allow the customer to trust you and buy from you. You must always build rapport.
After the initial greeting of your customer and building rapport, it is time to listen to them to see what their needs are. You'll ask leading questions to know what they are looking for. Be friendly, and listen carefully during the process to see how you can be of help to them.
Listening to your customers should have helped you to understand what their exact needs are. If you have enough product knowledge, you will be able to provide solutions based on what your store offers. Educate them on the features, benefits and costs related to the solution you can offer.
Selling to your customers and closing on them means that you will need to take the next step for them to purchase the product from you. You will prompt the sale by using closing techniques. In addition, you will attempt to cross-sell and up sell other solutions that you offer.
The last step involved in the sales process is making your customers become an independent customer. An independent customer is one that will be able to service their own needs without having to come back to you. You will talk to your customers about the phone features, online accounts, voice mail, and customer service phone numbers they can call to try and resolve any situations that they may be faced with in the future.
Now we will talk about each process in detail.
Step 1: Welcome
Giving a good first impression to your customers is the first step into a successful sale. Make your customers feel welcome in your store by greeting them as they walk into your store. Welcome your customers immediately by saying simple line such as:
"Hello! Welcome to ABC Wireless! How may we help you today?" or "Hello, I'm Bob. How may I help you?"
By giving your customer a warm greeting, they feel much more at ease to start up a conversation with you to start the sales process. Be sure to greet all of your customers as they walk into your door even if you are busy. If you can't get to them right away, let them know by saying,
"Hello! Welcome to ABC Wireless! I will be right with you after I finish with this customer. Meanwhile, do you have any quick questions that I can answer for you?"
By acknowledging your customers, they will be far more inclined to wait to talk to you rather then to go to the next cell phone store that is not as busy.
It is always good to train yourself and your staff about some of the professionalism involved in retail sales. You and your staff are now a professional in the cellular phone business, and your customers come in to get your expert advice. A professional in retail sales should expect to have the following characteristics.
•Always smile, and welcome your customers. Let them know that you are there to help. Create an atmosphere with the customer that will allow them to freely ask any questions that they have in mind. Be enthusiastic no matter what is going on in your professional or personal life.
•When you speak to your customers, be sure to speak to them with respect. This means to be polite with them, understand their needs, and look directly in their eye. Your body language and attitude will directly translate into how serious you are in wanting to assist your customers.
•If possible ask for their name, and use it while speaking with your customers. By saying their names, customers will feel more connected to you and your store.
•Avoid any slang. Also avoid comments or jokes that are political, racial, or sexual, and insulting your customers.
•When interacting with the customer, come out from behind the counter to show around your store if necessary. Maintain a physical distance that is of comfort to your customers. Each culture differs as to the amount of physical space needed. Try to monitor this as you speak to your customers. Get close to them, but not too close.
•Look professional. Be properly dressed with good personal hygiene. Disallow chewing gum and wearing excessive amount of jewelry at your store. Choose your staff appearance by figuring out how you want to be treated if you walk into a retail store.
This first process of "Welcome your Customers" is all about making your customers feel at ease at your store. It is all about having a great first impression.
Step 2: Build Rapport
The next step involves starting to have actual conversations with your customers. One of the most important points in this step is to build rapport with the customer. A rapport is a small personal relationship that you create that provides you to have a closer personal contact with your customers. By building rapport, you are able to obtain trust from your customer to make the sales process much easier. They will listen to your advice and will trust your judgment on what product will be best for them.
To establish rapport, you will need to treat your customers like individuals, and that you understand their independent needs.
Steps to building rapport involve these steps.
You will need to express concern and interest in what the customer tells you with sincerity. This includes understanding their interests, facts, and current conditions. Don't be afraid to ask questions to find out more about them. Depending on the customer, a small chat about everything other than the sale may help to build rapport with them. Have curiosity about the customer.
Act with sincerity about their concerns or interests. Use non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, hand movements, body movements to act sincere with them. Speak to them with a comfortable speech tone for the customer to be comfortable with you as well. Be sure that you stay real to yourself and don't over exaggerate anything. If you over do anything, the customer will likely know.
Be energetic and enthusiastic when dealing with your customers. Work so that the customer can feel your sincerity about wanting to help them out with their problem. You can be enthusiastic about a new product or a feature that came out to show the customer around. Having energy will usually help to make the customer also feel good about their experience at your store.
Building rapport is an extremely powerful tool, and this is one of the most important steps when you are making a sale. Rapport can be built simply by showing interest, asking simple questions, or remembering their names if the customer comes in again. Be sure to master this powerful sales tool to increase profits at your store.
Step 3: Listen to Your Customers
After you have built up rapport with the customer, it is now critical to understand to their needs by listening to them. Ask your customer why they have come into the store, and what exactly their needs are. Ask questions to isolate the issue and determine the customer's need. The customer may have come into the store to activate new service, service existing service, upgrade equipment, get add-ons, get accessories, or change their phone features.
Understand their needs by asking open ended questions. As you understand their needs, try to qualify them to some of the products and services you offer.
Here are some examples of open ended questions you can use.
•Who is your current wireless service provider?
•Who else in your family may need a phone?
•Who do you call the most?
•What is the most important thing you're looking for in a cell phone company?
•What kind of work do you do?
•What kind of service have you had in the past?
•What style phone are you looking for?
•What kinds of features are you currently looking for?
•When do you make most of your calls?
•When did you start your current plan of service?
•When do you use the phone the least?
•Where will you use your phone the most?
•Where do you travel often to?
•Why is that important to you?
•Why are you considering getting a new phone?
•How often will you use your phone?
•How often do you travel?
•How many minutes do you have on your current plan?
•How many minutes do you use per month?
•How many calls a day do you make?
•How often do you use the Internet with your phone?
•How would you like to organize your appointments?
You can also use closed ended questions with your customers to understand their needs. Closed ended questions are usually "yes or no" questions, so they do not give you much room to build rapport with your customers. We recommend starting with the open ended questions, and then go into the closed ended questions as you progress through the sales process.
•Do you use your phone for personal or business?
•Do you want to get a BlackBerry plan?
•Do you have a home phone?
•Do you access the Internet or email on your phone?
•Do you have a high text message charge each month?
•Do you use a laptop frequently?
•Do you currently have a PDA or a BlackBerry?
•Do you use your phone in the car?
•Do you know about this new service?
•Do you want to know about our new service?
•Do you know about this month's specials?
Regardless, in this step, it is critical that you ask good questions and listen to your customers to help identify the issue and understand their needs.
Step 4: Educate your Customers
The next step in the retail sales process is to educate your customers on some of the services and products you offer. After building rapport and understanding the customer's needs, it is now your turn to speak out to educate your customer about some of the newest offering you offer at your store.
Here product knowledge and employee training play a key role. With rapidly changing technology, most consumers cannot keep up with some of the new and convenient services that the carriers are now offering. It is going to be your job to educate your customers about the services currently being offered.
Based on your understanding of the customer's needs start educating your customers on the following points:
•The latest handsets that may be of interest to them
•The latest plans that maybe of interest to them
•The latest features and data plan packages available and its benefits
•The latest deals that either you or the carrier is offering
•The latest Smart Phones and BlackBerry devices and its benefits
•Secrets such as getting a new number will mean getting a better deal on a phone
•The process involved in porting a number and how easy it can be
•The benefits of porting and how it will mean getting them a better deal
•The benefits of insurance and how that is a value added service solely to the customer
•The benefits of getting a wireless Internet device
•The benefits of getting a device that is able to tether on to a laptop for high speed Internet
•Coverage area of the phone and how many people are in the network
Points like these are not common knowledge, and you will need to educate your customers so that they can figure out what the best solutions for them are at the current time. Again, with increased technology and competition, carriers are constantly coming up with cheaper, faster, and better deals all of the time. You will need to keep up the pace alongside the carriers on the new phones and plans that they offer, and educate your customers about it.
Step 5: Sell
After you have gone through the steps above, it is finally time to start selling your service. Prior to you making the sale, look for buying signals to see that your customer is interested in the products that you showed. Buying signals are verbal or non-verbal messages that the customers show which indicate interest in the product or service that you have educated them on. Common buying signals are the following:
•Wow, that is a nice phone.
•My girlfriend will love this.
•I like this phone.
•That's a great deal!
•Can I get this in a different color?
•It's free after rebate?
•Can I get a case for this phone here?
•Nodding of the head
•Looking at the phone closely for its specs and demonstration
Upon acknowledging the customer's buying signals, it is now time to start closing on your customers.
Closing techniques are one questions or comments made by you to move the customer into making the next step, which is to purchase the service from you. This is done by using assumptive language with the presumption that the customer wants to purchase the phone from you. Assumptive language questions that can be used are the following:
•Which one of these products will work better for you?
•Which one of these phones should I go get for you?
•Should I start you off with this service?
•Do you want to start using your phone today?
•So, I should go get this phone in black?
Asking your customers with questions such as these above will help them to move forward to the next step which is actually purchasing the phone from you. It is important that you use closing techniques to close the sale so that the time you spent with the customer will be fruitful in terms of profits as well.
If you don't ask the closing questions, some customers may decide to forego the purchase today, and come back some other time for it. And when this happens, they can go into another store or buy it online instead of through you. You don't want that to happen. Be sure to master your closing techniques. This will be a technique as important as building rapport with the customer. If you can't close, you don't make the sale, and that means, you don't make any money.
Dealing with Objections
Objections are a predictable part of the sales process. Objections can actually be considered good, because it may mean that the customer is sincerely interested in the product you have to offer. The reason for the objections by your customer is that they may need to overcome certain things in order to purchase the phone for themselves. You have to understand that customers with objections are much better than customers who leave your store without speaking up or buying anything from you.
Some examples of objections are:
•I'm not sure if I'll get approved for a line with my credit.
•I don't know if I can afford that phone.
•Doesn't this carrier have bad coverage?
•All my friends use Carrier A.
•I never liked these types of phones.
•Do you have anything smaller and cheaper?
Try to overcome objections with a positive attitude. Understand what exactly what the customer's issues are. Overcome the issues by suggesting solutions that will be the best for the customer. The good thing about being an independent cell phone dealer is that you have the ability to provide a wide range of options to your customers. If one carrier's service isn't working for the customer, you can suggest another service for them which maybe of a better fit for the customer.
To overcome objections, leverage the fact that you are an independent wireless dealer that can provide solutions based on the customer's needs. Offer services that the direct channel stores cannot. Your store can offer multiple carriers' services and unique phones by offering unlocked and import phones. Anticipate certain objections and plan ahead of time on how you are going to overcome them.
Accessories and Feature Add-Ons
Once you have successfully recommended the phone and a plan to your customer, it is now time to talk a little about accessory and add-on sales.
With regards to accessory sales, it would be the best if you can create a package deal for your customers, so that the up sell becomes easy for your reps. You may want to structure it like the "Supersize it for $0.39" type of deals, where a customer can get a charger and a case for only $5-10 more. Up sell of accessories at times can become a bit difficult since the retail sales process can be relatively long in the cell phone business. Often, the customer can be tired by the end of the process, and they may forgo accessory purchase until later. You can try to entice their purchase by giving a package deal like the one described, or giving them a 25-50% discount on accessory purchase at time of activation. Give them an offer that will make it hard to refuse to make a little extra per activation. Some customers do take advantage of offers like this, and can purchase quite a few accessories on their first purchase.
With regards to feature add-ons, be sure to talk to your customers about the available features, its benefits, and the price as you talk to them about the price plan for the voice portion. Feature sales if it has to be done after all of the sale have been completed can be difficult due to the same fact that the customer will likely be tired at the end of the process. They will feel your recommendations as an up sell, and would not respond well to it. Since you cannot provide any discounts on feature add-ons, it is best to educate your customers about it as you make the sale. If you wait until the end, you will likely not make the sales. Remember, feature add-ons can easily provide you with $10-100 in extra commission, so be sure to educate your customers about features as you move forward with the sale.
Step 6: Independence
The last step in the retail sales process is independence. After thanking your customer for the purchase that they made from you, you want them to be able to service some basic needs for themselves without having to come back to you for each little problem that they may encounter. You will need to educate your customers once again on being able to self-serve some issues for themselves. Talk to your customers about the following points as you assist them to become independent.
•Activation and Prorated Charge
•Early Termination Fee
•How to Setup and Access Voice Mail
•How to Setup their Online Accounts
•Customer Service Phone Numbers
•Self Service Options that Allows to Check Minutes Used and Recent Charges
By assisting your customers to become independent, you avoid having to deal with customer service related issues after the purchase has occurred, and the customers will be happy that they can self serve most of their needs.
Also in this process, you may want to ask for referrals or provide coupons that their friends and family can use so that they can bring in other customers into your store.
Continued on to Part 4
So this page is getting pretty long again, so I'm going to start a new hub for the next section. The next section will cover how to set up your shop for business. Hope you can check it out!
Getting Things in Place
At this point, you now understand how the cell phone business works in terms of its business model and processes involved. You should have considered starting on your business plan, came up with one or two Master Dealer prospects to contact, and started to think about a location where you want to conduct your cellular phone business.
Now the next step is to organize everything so that you can actually go into business. You will need to gather together all of the information in the previous steps to make that huge leap from having a business in your mind to actually setting up a business for yourself.
In this step of the guide, we are going to assume that you have found yourself a niche and created your business plan to go to the next step of setting up a location for your business.
Finding a Location
Obviously, the first thing to do to create your cell phone business is to find a location to start it up. This location can vary somewhat depending on your situation. It can mean setting up a designated space in your apartment or your garage. It can mean leasing a kiosk or a shop cart inside a mall. Or it can mean leasing to an actual retail office space or a small business office.
Where ever you chose to do business, there will be some basic steps for you to take care of business.
About Commercial Leases
Aside from using your apartment or garage for your business, you will be involved in leasing a commercial property from a landlord. Commercial leases can be a bit different from personal residential leases, so we recommend you study up a little bit to get yourself familiar with the process. There is a good book again by Nolo that discusses the details on commercial leases. We recommend you get that book from your local library to read it over to study a bit about commercial leases.
Here are two points that Nolo emphasizes about commercial leases.
•Rule 1: Understand that the terms almost always favor the landlord.
•Rule 2: Know that with a little effort you can almost always negotiate significant improvements to the terms.
Be sure to pick up a copy of their book, Negotiate the Best Lease for Your Business from Nolo, or check out their websites on great articles on commercial leases.
Some of the main differences of commercial lease compared to a residential lease that we saw were the following
•The lease term is longer. It is normal to have a 24-48 month lease contract. If possible, try to find or negotiate your lease to be a shorter period. A 12 month or a month-to-month leases are available for lease. It is just too difficult to know how your business will do in the early stages of your business. You may want to move to a bigger location or downsize. A shorter term leases are always of advantage for you.
•You can demand certain construction to be done prior to moving in. Whether this is to add or take out a wall, commercial property owners may do some construction for you to accommodate your needs. Be sure to think about a perfect layout for you, and negotiate this point with the landlord.
•Most of the commercial leases require a security deposit and a last month's rent along with your first month's rent. That's approximately three months worth of rent. Some other properties will require you to put down a security deposit 2-3 times your monthly rent plus the first and last month's rent making your move-in costs extremely high. Be sure to negotiate these points with the landlord. Leverage yourself in the negotiation by having 2-3 potential properties that you want to use, and not falling in love with one particular property.
In our searches for commercial property, we have run into all types of landlords. Some of the landlords that we dealt with been very courteous and understanding. However at the same time, we have dealt with others that were very demanding and overly aggressive. Be sure you do your due diligence and look around at enough locations to have a selection of commercial property to choose from.
How to Find your Location
Dealing with a landlord is one thing, but you will need to actually search your office location to start out any of the processes mentioned above. To find your office location you can do it yourself or go through a real estate agent. Depending on the State that you live in, it may be more common to use a real estate agent. For example, in New York, it is much more common to go through a real estate agent than to find it yourself. However, in California, it can be pretty common to drive around town on your own to look for "For Lease" signs and get a commercial property yourself.
When looking for property for yourself, be sure to take a look at a good number of locations before picking the one you like to go with. Ask around your friends and business colleagues to see if they know of a good small business office or a retail outlet in the area that you would like to start out your business. Always look for a location with your niche market in mind. You will need a location that can access your niche market.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you look for a location for your business.
•How many stores are you planning to have in one year? Three years? Five Years?
•Who is your niche market? And what part of town do they exist in?
•How is the potential from growth of your niche market? Do you have plans to move to a different market after being established?
•How much rent can you afford to pay each month?
•What is a lease term that would be favorable for your business?
There is also a website called, LoopNet (http://www.loopnet.com/) that both real estate agents and small business owners can use to search for a property. You can get the paid version or use it for free. Start looking for locations through this site, and after finding a few potentials, contact the agent listed on the site or go directly to the property to negotiate.
We wish you the best in finding the best location at the best possible price because in a retail business, location is everything.
Getting Your Furniture
Once you have gotten your location, and signed that lease, the next step will be to get some office furniture. A desk, file cabinet, chairs, display cases, and other tidbits to make your store look nice for a great customer experience. Furniture can be a very costly expense for a start up business at its initial phases. You want your store to look nice, but at the same time want to try and save as much as possible. We recommend searching in following areas prior to paying full retail price on furniture.
Craigslist & eBay
You would be amazed at how low office furniture can sell for on sites like Craigslist and eBay. This is due to the fact that office furniture loses much of its utility if someone is going out of business. They can't bring back the furniture to their homes, and they want to liquidate it because they have no other need for it. In addition, the fact that there are less buyers for office furniture compared to a normal consumer good also play a big role in finding a bargain as well. How many people really want to buy 15 chairs all at once for their homes?
The bargains found on both Craigslist and eBay are amazing. And while these goods may sell at a bargain, the quality of it is very decent. For example, we have purchased 20 rotating office chairs with wheels for under $200 on eBay before. That's less than $10 per chair, and these chairs were almost new! We asked why the sellers can sell it for so cheap, and they told us that they were liquidators that bought furniture from government entities and businesses that were going out of business. They were happy the furniture sold, and we were happy to have found it for so cheap.
Be diligent and be sure to check eBay and Craigslist a lot when you are starting out. You can even find things for free on Craigslist that you would be able to use for your office. In addition, aside from furniture, eBay and Craigslist also have great deals on office equipments such as printers, copy machines, and FAX for you to save more money as you start out your business.
Thank god for IKEA, it has become much easier and cost efficient to set up a very nice store front. You can set up your shop using their furniture to make your store look simple and modern. Aside from the furniture we purchased from eBay or Craigslist, everything else was purchased from IKEA at our stores. By using a little creativity, it is very easy to make your store look elegant using the furniture purchased at IKEA.
IKEA furniture are very basic and simple with great designs. So to contrast its appearance, you will likely need to make colorful signs using your imagination and your computer. Use programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to come up with great looking signs and retail tags for your store.
If you need some additional help with the layout of your store, IKEA does have an interior design department that can help you to design your storefront as well. If you think your design creativity is not up to par, you may want to consult a professional about them.
Of course at times, you may need something that go over and beyond Craigslist, eBay, or IKEA. In these cases, there are industry suppliers that provide you with carrier specific authorized furniture for you to use at your store. If you purchased the 10 Step Guide, we have listed a few suppliers in Step 10 of your guide.
The authorized suppliers have furniture and display units that you see at the carrier owned stores. They do look very authentic and are very nice. The only drawback to getting the authentic furniture is its price. The prices on these furniture and display units tend to be relatively expensive. You will need to pay a premium because they are authentic furniture.
One way to avoid paying retail again is to use eBay to search for authentic supplies. Sometimes you can get lucky, and find a cell phone store that's going under and may be able to purchase their equipment for pennies on the dollar.
Obtaining Your Collateral
Collateral is another name for marketing materials such as brochures and posters that you provide to your customers. Collateral is also referred to any display units provided by your carrier that has their logos on it. Obtaining your collateral is one more critical step to making your store look authentic for your customers.
Display Units - Brochure Holders & Cell Phone Displays
Although you may be able to get some display unit collaterals from your Master Dealer and your carrier, they usually do not like to give out a bundle to you until you have made a good number of sales for them. Until they decide to give you a bunch of collateral, you will need to purchase it for yourself.
If you have purchased our 10 Step Guide, you will find supplier information that sells small items such as brochure holders and cell phone displays. They will cost you around $1.50-$5 a piece. You will need to budget around $100-200 to get all of the small retail display units in place. Again, you will need to use your creativity a little bit to make it all work for your retail store. At times, you can find some great retail display units at your local $0.99 cent store. Just be creative and the possibilities are endless.
One large supplier that we used frequently was ULINE. They are a company that specializes in packaging materials, and they also sold display units as well. Go to their website (www.uline.com) and order a free catalog so that you can start to order from them.
Upon a few months of operation, and with a solid number of activations each month, you are than able to start bugging your master dealer and carriers about obtaining carrier specific collateral for you to use in your store. It is always good to have collateral provided by your carrier to make your store look authentic enough for your customers.
Brochures and Posters
Obtaining collaterals such as the actual brochures and posters are much easier than getting the small display units. Master dealers and carriers are glad to provide you with their latest brochures and posters. They will usually give away much more than you can give away to your customers. Simply ask for the latest brochures and posters, and they can either send it to you or will drop it off. You can also go and visit your warehouse manager for them too. If you become close enough with your warehouse manager, they can sometimes provide you with some surplus display materials that look great in your store.
Dummy phones are fake phones that you use as display for your customers. Dummy phones are non-working units of phones. They provide your customers with the look and feel of their potential new phones. Since they are non-working phones, it is much more cost efficient for you to carry at your store.
Dummy phones are usually provided by your carriers or master dealers. They will usually provide you with some dummy phones as you start out your business. However, often enough the amount of dummy phones they may give you is not as much as you'd like. In situations like this, you will need to purchase your own dummy phones to satisfy the missing dummy phones in your line of inventory.
One way to purchase the dummy phones are from your master dealer. They will sell you a dummy phone for anywhere between $15-25 a piece. The better way of obtaining a dummy phones is through eBay. You can look for them there, and you should be able to find all sorts of dummy phones from $3-15 a piece. It is a much more cost effective way to get it for your store.
We have also listed a couple dummy phone online stores that you can try using as well. These online stores sell their dummy phones for a little less than the Master Dealers, but a bit higher than eBay. They can be used when you can't find the exact dummy phone on eBay.
Carrier Specific Signs
Have you seen your local cellular phone dealership with the window sticker or a lighting unit that says "Authorized Dealer for ABC Wireless?" These are carrier specific signs that help send a message out to your prospects that you sell the carrier's service at your store. These signs are very effective in attracting customers into your store, and provide you with instant trust by your customers.
Again, carrier specified signs can be purchased or given to you by your master dealer or carrier. It all depends on your number of sales. As you are starting out, you may want to ask your master dealer about them. See if they have any surplus or something you can get for free or at a discount. If they do, that's great. If they don't, you may consider purchasing one from an authorized supplier. They do cost anywhere between $100-300 a piece, but they may be worth your money because the sign itself does provide you with a lot of customers for your business.
If you are interested in saving some money, you can also create smaller disposable signs or banners for your store. Make sure to get approval from the carrier on the artwork so that you don't have any problems later. But if you can afford to put up some money, you may want to try out temporary signs and banners that can be replaced at a later time.
Lighting is an important environmental factor to make your store look bright. Brighter stores tend to have a better image for cellular phone businesses because it gives the image of being modern and clean. Be sure to take your time to look into ceiling lighting, display lighting, and room lighting to make the customer experience in your store spectacular. Consult a professional should you need advice on lighting for your store.
The Open Sign
An "OPEN" sign if placed properly is an effective tool to bring customer into your store. The "OPEN" sign helps your prospects to come into your store as it provides a more inviting feel into your store. The alternative of placing an "OPEN" sign is to keep your doors open during business hours. By doing so, it becomes much more inviting for a prospect to walk into your store. The point here is to make your store inviting so that people would want to come in. Dark store fronts, where you are unable to see if it is open or not is always less intriguing to want to walk in.
Outdoor signs are a great way to promote your store front if you have foot traffic in front of your store, or if you are faced to a street. Outdoor signs can be purchased from a sign manufacturer for your office. Be sure you check with your landlord about putting up a sign before you fully go through with it because they may have rules and restrictions on what type of signs they would like to have on their property. They may be able to recommend you with a supplier that they often do business with.
The costs of creating an outdoor sign can vary depending on the type of signs you are thinking about, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $500-1000 and possibly more. They are a great tool to have because it provides you with exposure to the general public. Make your sign conspicuous enough to attract prospects to be interested.
Now is a time to start thinking about your store layout. In a regular cellular phone business, you would like to have at least four main sections of your store. The four sections of your store are:
•1. Greeting area
•2. Display area
•3. Sales area
•4. Back office and inventory area
The greeting area will be an area where a customer is first greeted by your or one of your staff. In this area, the customer will be met with a customer service staff or are able to pick up some of the specials or new products you are offering for sale. It is the area where you make your first impression.
This area can be as simple as one of your staff standing in front of the door to greet your customers with a brochure in their hands. Or you can designate some furniture for this area to set up brochures on it. Some stores combine this area with the sales area due to the limited amount of square footage the store has. Make sure that the customer has a good first impression when they walk into your store and into the greeting area.
This is the area where you will set up your dummy phones or possibly live phones to display the phones you have for sale. The customers will usually browse through the display area, and this is the area where you will interact and build rapport with the customer. You or your rep can show your customers around this area to show them the newest products available as well as its features and benefits. Be sure to be proactive with your customers by not just asking,
"Can I help you?" But saying things like,
"Can I show you some of the new products that we have available?" or
"Have you heard about this new ABC technology that will make your life better?"
There is really no way a customer can keep up with all of the latest technologies available from each carrier. It is at times even difficult for the owner itself to keep up. And this is why it is your job to communicate some of the newest and most convenient technologies available to your customers. They may have never known something like that existed, and may choose to start service with you.
So in the display area, keep it clean and attractive with a lot of brochures in its relevant sections so that you can pass it out to your customers as they walk in. Remember, the carriers will give you more brochures than you'd like, so be sure to use that to your advantage and hand it out like crazy.
If a customer has indicated their buying signals and want to go forward with the purchase, you will need to have set up an area for them to sign their contracts, activate their line, and explain to them some of the available features for them. The sales area usually consists of a desk and a few chairs for you and your customers to sit down to talk about the final details of their purchase. Be sure to explain to them their contract, especially the early termination charge, activation fee, and prorated charges as those are the three big reasons why a customer may come back. Be sure to explain to them how they can set up their voice mail and their online accounts as well.
The sales area should also consist of a computer to activate their line and print out their sales receipts. You will also need to have all of the forms, contracts, and brochures in that area to make it convenient for your rep and your customer for a smooth, efficient transaction.
As a word of caution, you may also want to designate a customer service area alongside the sales area for you to service your existing customers. Customers can come into your store for a problem that they have been having, and it may not be the best idea to put a complaining customer next to somebody that is making their first purchase with you. Although separating out the two areas , customer service & sales, will depend on your square footage, it is a point you may want to consider for your business.
Back Office and Inventory Area
The back office and inventory area will serve as the employee room and inventory room. You can take care of all of your paperwork and commission related work in this room. In addition, this is the room where you will keep your inventory. Inventory maintenance is a critical part of your business process because each phone will have an average wholesale cost of $150. Losing one due to theft will mean losing out on one or two activations. Be sure to create a system for safeguarding your inventory.
Ideally, the back office will also have some desks, file cabinets, printers, and other needed furniture to take care of the business' administrative tasks. You can decide to have a room for employee breaks or not depending on the square footage of your location. As the owner of the business, you may be spending most of your time in this room taking care of business, so you should take your time to plan this area well.
There are numerous software available for you to effectively manage your store's inventory and sales. We have listed few of the top software providers in Step 10 of the 10 Step Guide. Effective use of software at your cellular phone business will occur when you start to hit 30-50 activations per month. Up until that point, it is fairly easy to track all of the activity yourself. After you consistently do 50+ activations per month, you should consider getting a software to effectively run your store.
Payments & Receipts
Recording of payment, processing credit cards, and creating receipts for your customer can be done through numerous programs. You can use the some of the software listed in Step 10 of the guide as some of them are designed to take care of your entire enterprise needs. Prior to getting to that step, you can use the most popular software applications like QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online Edition. QuickBooks can be very convenient since you can integrate the credit card portion right into the system thereby making the record keeping and accounting easy.
Of course, you can get a traditional cash register and a credit card processing system from your bank and do business that way. Everything will need to be recorded manually. This may be a traditional method, but as a small business, we do recommend you try and leverage the existing technology as much as possible to gain competitive advantage over your competition.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management software is a good tool to use if you want to make customer service a number one priority at your business. Again, there are numerous programs out there to manage your customer's information. Some representative solutions are Salesforce.com or NetSuite. Both are very good systems, and they will help you to track all sorts of information about your customers. They can both be a bit costly though, so you do have cheaper alternatives by looking for "CRM" or "Customer Relationship Management" on Google. If you do use the CRMs well, they do help you to provide great service for your customers.
Cítíte fiktivní mobilní vibrace? Pak jste extroverti nebo neurotici
21. 07. 2012
Žádný příchozí hovor, žádná příchozí textová zpráva, přesto máte pocit, že váš mobilní telefon vibroval? Studie fortwaynské Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis prokázala, že syndromem fiktivních vibrací trpí nejčastěji extroverti a neurotici.
Celých 89 procent dotázaných vysokoškolských studentů uvedlo, že v poslední době alespoň jednou pocítili fiktivní vibraci. Podle serveru Slate se příznaky u dotázaných projevily v průměru jednou za dva týdny. Vědci určili dva osobností rysy, u nichž se syndrom objevuje nejčastěji.
První skupina, kterou tvoří extrovertní osoby, není až takovým překvapením. Tyto osoby udržují stálý kontakt se svými přáteli, kdy jim jsou prostředníkem v komunikaci nejčastěji právě jejich mobilní telefony. Při nespočtu příchozích hovorů a SMS zpráv během jediného dne je pak pociťování fiktivních vibrací nasnadě.
Druhou skupinou, u níž se syndrom fiktivních vibrací nejčastěji objevuje, jsou neurotici. I když ve srovnání s předchozí skupinou neobdrží během dne tolik SMS zpráv, je pro ně každá zpráva důležitá. Více než jiní jedinci řeší osobní vztahy a zajímají se o to, co si jejich okolí myslí. Fiktivní vibrace od svých telefonů pak pociťují především kvůli nedočkavosti.
Toto potvrzují i vědci, kteří v závěru studie upřesnili, že čím důležitější zprávu očekáváme, tím častěji se můžeme s pocitem falešných vibrací setkat. Spouštěcí mechanismus se jim však určit nepodařilo. Největší váhu proto přikládají především závislosti lidí na jejich mobilních telefonech a emocionálnímu významu textových zpráv.
Syndrom fiktivních vibrací, jak sami účastníci studie uvedli, není nikterak omezující. Jen snad to neustálé vytahování mobilů z kapes či tašek může být po chvíli otravné.
Zdroj: mobil.cz ze dne 21.7.2012
Konec papírových faktur zdarma. Operátoři budou chtít desetikoruny
21. 07. 2012
Vodafone od poloviny srpna zpoplatní zasílání tištěných faktur a podrobného vyúčtování. Místo toho zavede bezplatné vyúčtování v emailu. Poplatky zavádí pro nové zákazníky i O2 a T-Mobile.
Za tištěné souhrnné vyúčtování, které operátor v současnosti rozesílá bezplatně, zákazník od 20. srpna zaplatí 19 korun. Poplatek se nebude vztahovat na zdravotně postižené a osoby starší 65 let. Podrobné vyúčtování na papíře zdraží ze stávajících 30 korun na 69 Kč.
O2 za tištěný souhrnný účet zavede od srpna pro nové zákazníky poplatek deset korun, zároveň od července začal rozesílat faktury bezplatně emailem.
T-Mobile plošné zpoplatnění papírových faktur nechystá, u některých nových tarifů, například S Námi a Přátelé, je tištěný účet za 19 korun.
"Již několik let motivujeme zákazníky k přechodu na elektronické faktury a zároveň jsme jako kompenzaci za papír spotřebovaný na naše tištěná vyúčtování vysadili půl milionu stromů. Pravidelným využitím elektronického vyúčtování se ušetří jen u nás více než šest tun papíru měsíčně," uvedl senior manažer společenské odpovědnosti Vodafonu Přemysl Filip.
Detailní i souhrnný výpis na webu i vyúčtování emailem bude bezplatné.
Firma bude zákazníky, kterých se zpoplatnění týká, informovat během července prostřednictvím dopisů ve vyúčtování, v SMS a prostřednictvím informace na webových stránkách, v Internetové samoobsluze a v kamenných prodejnách. Online fakturu nyní využívá více než 85 procent paušálních zákazníků Vodafonu.
Zdroj: mobil.cz ze dne 21.7.2012
Je to oficiální: Tablety Samsung nejsou cool, ale iPad nekopírují
19. 07. 2012
Pro geeky je teď Colin Birss ten nejzajímavější soudce na světě. Zatímco v Americe se patentové války Applu a Samsungu opatrnicky vlečou celé roky, tenhle Brit rozsekl znesvářené společnosti během pár týdnů. Před 14 dny se prohnal médii jeho výrok, že „tablety značky Samsung nejsou tak cool jako iPad“. Neutrousil to jen tak mezi řečí někde na chodbě, tato slova byla součástí jeho závěrečné řeči při vynášení rozsudku.
Tento týden má na kontě další kontroverzní zářez – rázné rozhodnutí v kauze, kde Apple žaluje Samsung. Korejci měli při vývoji tabletu Galaxy Tab zkopíroval design iPadu. Colin Birss nejen že Applu nevyhověl, ale nádavkem firmě uložil povinnost na svém webu a v britském tisku zveřejnit následující výrok:
Samsung did not copy the iPad design for its tablets.
Samsung neokopíroval design iPadu na své tablety.
Sdělení má mít formát reklamy a někde na adrese Apple.com/uk má viset šest měsíců. Výsledkem má být náprava pověsti společnosti Samsung, kterou Apple svým nařčením pošramotil.
Jinými slovy, soudce si s giganty elektronického průmyslu poradil jako s nezbednými dětmi. Americkému žalobníčkovi jménem Apple napráskal rákoskou přes prsty a před celou školkou ho donutil omluvit se nevinnému korejskému chlapci jménem Sam-Sung.
Samsung na rozsudek reagoval tímto vyjádřením: „Pokud míní Apple pokračovat v přehnaných právních nárocích, které se přitom týkají zcela obecného designu, může to poškodit inovační proces v odvětví a nelegitimně omezit výběr spotřebitelů.“ Apple oznámil, že se proti rozhodnutí odvolá.
Bude zajímavé sledovat, jak tahle kauza dopadne a hlavně, jestli opravdu dojde k situaci, že Apple bude muset dělat reklamu na Galaxy Tab. Jak asi něco takového bude vypadat? Sklopí Apple hlavu a pojme to seriózně, nebo to budou reklamy plné jinotajů, humoru a ironie?
Názory a vtipy
Chcete znát můj názor? Soudce Birss byl ostrý a já budu také. Kdyby šlo jen o design tabletů, ale ono jde i o reklamní materiály a způsob balení tabletu. Nemyslím si, že by chtěl Samsung Applu cíleně ublížit, nebo parazitovat na jeho úspěchu. Samsung se do Applu zamiloval, tímhle způsobem mu vyjadřuje svůj obdiv a tak to prostě dělá jako Apple. Jinými slovy: kopíruje, kopíruje, kopíruje. Na druhou stranu – nepomohl k pošramocené pověsti tabletů Samsung i sám pan soudce? Ještě jednou si přečtěte jeho výrok zvýrazněný v prvním odstavci…
Kontroverzní soudní rozhodnutí se rychle prohnalo médii po celém světě a Apple to pořádně schytal, když na něj lidová tvořivost vrhla haldu vtipů. Tohle je třeba parafráze na výjev ze Simpsonovské úvodní znělky a v úvodu článku máte náš redakční příspěvek pro hypotetický případ, že by takové rozhodnutí dopadlo i na českou pobočku Apple.
Hit posledních měsíců: opilecké mobily nahrazují smartphony
18. 07. 2012
Pokud je něco, na čem dnes mladým lidem skutečně záleží, jsou to jejich drahé smartphony. A bojí se o ně. Bary proto obrážejí raději s takzvanými opileckými telefony.
Nenechte se ovšem oklamat názvem. Nejsou to telefony, které by měly usnadnit život společensky unaveným osobám. Opileckými telefony označují mladí lidé své levné low-endové telefony, které jim slouží výhradně při jejich nočních cestách po zábavních podnicích.
Celosvětový trend odhalil nedávný průzkum, který se zaměřoval na roli piva u mladých lidí o sobotních nocích. Server AdAge o tom informovala Laura Krajecki z britské pobočky agentury SMG. Jelikož průzkum probíhal přímo v terénu mezi bavícími se mladými lidmi, nemohla si autorka nevšimnout, jak někteří návštěvníci zábavních podniků ponechávají své telefony na barech bez dohledu.
Jejich odcizení je pak často otázkou okamžiku. Kromě toho hrozí také riziko jejich ztráty či utopení při návštěvě toalet. Sobotní zábava se tak může prodražit. Není tak nic jednoduššího, než ponechat svůj chytrý telefon v bezpečí domova a do baru vyrazit s levným přístrojem. Což už také mnoho lidí činí.
Návštěvníci k zábavě jistě nepotřebují nespočet aplikací, jimiž jejich smartphone disponuje. Zavolat a odeslat SMS zprávu lze i z levného "opileckého" telefonu.
Zdroj: mobil.cz ze dne 18.7.2012
Studentka z Brna vyřešila problém smartphonů a více SIM
16. 07. 2012
Takzvaných "dvousimkových" smartphonů je na trhu jako šafránu. Studentka Jana Malinovská představila v rámci letošního ročníku univerzitní technologické soutěže Technology Cup možné řešení. S vizí zařízení, které má ve smartphonu umožnit současné využití více SIM karet, se stala jedním z jejích letošních vítězů.
Jedinou výhodu používání více telefonů pocítíte ve chvíli, kdy jedním z nich snadno dohledáte ten druhý, někde odložený. Jinak je více telefonů spíše na obtíž. Své o tom vědí ti, kteří musí například z pracovních důvodů používat více telefonů současně. S možným řešením tohoto problému přišla právě Jana Malinovská, studentka brněnské Masarykovy univerzity.
Zařízení nazvané Bluetooth SIM Extender obsahuje až dva GSM moduly, kdy každý z nich umožní připojení jedné SIM karty. Současně je pak možné v jednom telefonu využívat až tři SIM karty. GSM moduly jsou udržovány v neustálém pohotovostním režimu, a to bez nutnosti být v dosahu elektrické sítě. Tělo zařízení je pokryto solárními panely, které baterii nepřetržitě dobíjejí.
Bluetooth SIM Extender je primárně bez displeje, které pro baterie představují největší energetickou zátěž. Autorka návrhu ale připouští i možnost využití čtyřmístného displeje, který by sloužil pouze k zadávání PIN kódů a indikaci stavu baterie. Díky jeho menší energetické náročnosti by mohla být při připojení dobíjecího kabelu energie ze solárních panelů využita i k dobití baterie samotného telefonu.
GSM moduly řízené mikroprocesory budou datově propojeny s bluetooth modulem. Pokud budou hovor či textová zpráva směrovány na některou z externích SIM karet, budou prostřednictvím Bluetooth přenášeny do smartphonu. Obsluha externího zařízení bude možná prostřednictvím aplikace v telefonu. Ta mimo jiné umožní i výběr SIM karty, z níž uživatel následně uskuteční hovor či odešle SMS zprávu.
Zařízení Bluetooth SIM Extender není ničím nereálným, míní Malinovská. Jeho uvedení na světové trhy je otázkou zhotovení řídící elektroniky, vývoje aplikace pro operační systémy iOS, Android a Windows Phone 8 a návrhu designu. Malinovská, která vidí největší potenciál tohoto zařízení na trzích v USA, Číně a Japonsku, si účast na soutěži pochvaluje. "Účast v Technology Cupu pro mě znamená ohromné povzbuzení v dalším studiu. Budu si teď víc věřit a zároveň mám chuť vymýšlet další inovace," řekla po svém vítězství. O první příčku se podělila s Františkem Novákem, studentem VUT Brno. Ten přišel s originálním architektonickým návrhem Bioplynové stanice Telč.
Zdroj: mobil.cz ze dne 16.7.2012
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