Wednesday, 26th May 2021 | Sales
4 winning strategies to make your loyalty program a success
Customer loyalty has taken a hit during the pandemic thanks to changing consumer buying behaviours. Here's how to encourage loyalty from your customers.
We’ve all heard about job loss, missed school, and the overtaxed health care system, but a surprising consequence of COVID-19 comes from the business sector. Pre-pandemic customer loyalty is all but a faint memory. According to a McKinsey & Company report, consumers around the world have changed their shopping practices during the crisis, including trying out new brands. The result? Changes in brand preference. The communications firm Ketchum found that nearly half (45%) of consumers surveyed changed their preference for at least one brand, and a majority (62%) anticipated that these shifts would be permanent.
All this upheaval creates yet another challenge for Canadian small businesses, but planning—and a solid loyalty program—will encourage more devotion from your customers. If you’re looking for ways to incentivize your customers, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for four winning strategies to encourage customer loyalty.
What is a loyalty program?
If you’ve ever used a buy-ten-get-one-free card, a coupon, or referral link, you’ve taken part in a loyalty program. Simply put, these are incentives designed to attract and keep customers by offering something back in return for their patronage. Implemented properly, loyalty programs can not only attract new and repeat customers but also foster positive associations with your brand and even your staff.
Like anything else in business, there are best practices for loyalty programs. These four strategies will help you design a winner.
Loyalty program best practices
1. Make it simple to use
Your loyalty program will not work if it’s too complicated. Make sign-up easy (or non-existent). Avoid multi-step ideas that may cause customers to abandon the program. Be flexible to accommodate real-life situations. For example, if a customer has forgotten their loyalty card, issue them another and allow them to combine stamps for redemption. The simpler your loyalty program is to use, the better.
2. Make it easy to redeem
Customers use loyalty programs for the rewards, so make sure they can easily redeem. Don’t make them jump through hoops. If they earn it, they deserve it. Simplify the process by asking for customer information upon sign-up, not when they want to redeem. Nothing turns a customer off like feeling they’ve been duped so make sure your redemption process has no nasty surprises.
3. Have few to no restrictions
Don’t complicate your rewards program with too many restrictions. For example, if you have a points program, don’t limit what they can be used to redeem. This kind of “small print” will only erode the goodwill you’re trying to foster.
4. Keep time to reward short
Your customers want to realize the benefits of your program as quickly as possible. Your program will never get off the ground if it takes too long for customers to be able to redeem. Make it easy for your loyal customers to start earning points right away and be reasonable about the amount a customer is required to spend or the number of times they have to visit before they have accumulated enough points for a reward.
A customer loyalty program can be the right strategy to bring customers back to your brand—and to attract new ones. These four simple best practices will guide you toward a program that works for you and your target market.
How To Successfully Acquire A Business Loan In Ontario
If you’re looking for somewhere to start or expand your business, Ontario is a great place to consider. The province of Ontario offers an outstanding business climate for entrepreneurs and small firms looking to expand their operations. According to recent studies, Ontario is regarded as one of the best areas in the world for firms to establish headquarters and for investors to engage in new initiatives, making it a hub for business owners to obtain a small business loan in the province.
A stable and competitive business landscape helps enterprises execute strong business practices and grow in a competitive business climate, which makes it an investor-friendly environment. Thanks to long-term political and economic stability in the region, lenders may support local enterprises with long-term repayment alternatives. Ontario (and Canada) also has one of the world's most reliable banking systems. Read on about how to successfully acquire a small business loan in Ontario and Canada.
Bank Loan Options For Small Businesses In Ontario
Banks have efficient loan disbursement processes that have been fine-tuned through many years of operation. Many banks in Ontario provide businesses with various financing solutions that are suited to their specific operational requirements. Each bank has its own set of eligibility criteria that they employ to assess the health of your company. TD, RBC, CIBC, BMO, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Business Development Bank of Canada are some of the most well-known banks in Ontario for their small business loans.
Online Business Loan Providers
As the name implies, these loans require small business owners to go through an online application process to apply for a loan. When examining the creditworthiness of small firms, companies like iCapital take a different approach. Rather than depend on the business owner's personal credit history, they look for measures that indicate a strong business. The approval process for a small business loan with such a company is less stringent than it is for a bank, but the interest rates may be higher depending upon the lender.
You can receive the loan in various formats, such as a traditional term loan with regular payments or a line of credit.
The loan is usually unsecured, which means no collateral is necessary to acquire the funds. The funds can be used for anything the company requires, such as inventory, staffing, new equipment, growth, and so on. With iCapital, you do not have to pay a penalty fee and you can decide on your own repayment schedule for further ease of business.
With a secured loan, you can finance a specific piece of equipment for your firms, such as a vehicle, bus, or manufacturing equipment. It means that the loan you're getting is going toward that specific purchase and the thing you just bought is being used as collateral for your loan. If a trucking company funds a new truck but cannot make regular payments, the loan issuer may repossess the truck.
Crowdfunding can be a good way to get working capital from a group of people who are interested in helping you with your business idea. Small independent investors will participate in crowdfunding of sorts in exchange for an ownership stake in your small business. Investors are compensated either in the form of business stock or through equal monthly installments. Crowdfunding is typically done online, and investors are drawn to Ontario because of its developing and stable business environment. This type of financing necessitates a strong business plan and the capacity to persuade investors to invest in your venture. Crowdfunding is also an excellent approach to test new products and validate ideas with a large group of people.
How iCapital Can Assist You With Small Business Loans
iCapital is an online firm that grants loans to businesses that have been operational for at least 12 months. Our application process is extremely simple, requiring only 5 minutes to complete. You can get up to $250,000 securely and see the money reflected in your account in a matter of 48 hours. We offer financial assistance to a variety of industries including restaurants, salons, cafes, auto shops, spas, grocers, manufacturing, and much more. We offer term loans, lines of credit, merchant cash advances, and secure business loans. If you are a small company owner in Ontario, please contact us at 1.877.251.7171 any time to learn more about your financing possibilities.
Small business financing Canada
Why Restaurants Need Financing and How to Easily Secure A Loan
Restaurant owners know all too well the importance of cash flow. One way to maintain cash flow is through financing. Restaurant financing refers to any type of outside funding obtained by restaurant owners to meet various business demands. It could be a bank loan, funds from family and friends, investors, or other lending sources. iCapital is proud to launch Canadian Restaurant Growth Fund intended to help restaurant owners across the country grow their franchise or small business and take it to new heights. Read on to learn more about restaurant financing and how iCapital can serve you!
Why Do Restaurants Apply for Financing?
There are numerous reasons why restaurant owners and finance departments seek a loan. It could be for any of the following reasons:
Renovating an Existing Location and Keeping Up with Trends
Many chefs and restaurant owners aim to hire more experienced kitchen personnel or revamp their interiors as their businesses grow to keep up with the trends. Interior design trends shift quickly, particularly in urban areas. Furthermore, due to the high volume of customers passing through the doors each day, crowded restaurants can soon show signs of wear and tear. While it’s a good sign for restaurants to have heavy foot traffic, it does mean that modifications will have to be done frequently. Given these factors, a loan can go a long way in helping a restaurant modify itself to keep up with changing times.
Purchasing New Equipment
Everyone working in the restaurant requires a certain amount of equipment to execute their work, whether it's chefs, waitstaff, or baristas. As a result, many restaurant owners turn to an equipment loan to help fund the equipment they'll need, such as coffeemakers, point-of-sale systems, premium ovens, as well as grills and stoves.
Opening a New Branch
Expansion is another typical motivation for restaurant operators to look for financing. Many entrepreneurs have ambitious intentions to expand from a single store to a city-wide or regional restaurant chain. Obtaining additional commercial premises, managing renovations, or even constructing a new structure all come at a cost which is why an easy loan can go a long way in helping you not just sustain but grow your restaurant chain.
Funding doesn’t always have to be about expansion or growth. You could also want funding to support your day-to-day operations and the costs associated with it. In order to have a positive cash flow and counteract the seasonality of the industry, a loan can be secured.
Restaurant proprietors are well aware that the sector is fiercely competitive. Restaurants selling popular cuisines—such as French bistros, Italian pizzerias, and Japanese ramen joints—can find it difficult to differentiate themselves from competitors offering identical dishes and experiences. The value of a restaurant's brand might become a crucial point of differentiation in this situation. Some restaurant loans are being utilized to launch new brands or rebrand existing outlets to cater to changing gastronomic and dietary preferences.
Marketing and Advertising
In today’s digital age, with constant innovations being made in the field of advertising, no business or restaurant can survive without marketing to its customer base. A loan can help you market your business to your ideal clients and customers. You could invest in social media marketing, email marketing, brochures, special offers, discounts, etc. to get higher foot traffic. Don’t fall behind the competition due to a lack of brand awareness. Let your customers know about the new innovative steps you’re taking and enjoy a larger clientele through the right marketing strategy.
Opting For The Loan That Suits You Most with iCapital
Term Loan for Business
Term loans are one-time loans where a set amount is repaid daily or weekly over the course of a fixed number of months starting from 3 months going up to 24 months. The advantage of term loans is that you do not have to pay interest on the loan and a flat fee is determined based on factors such as length of time and experience you’ve had in the business, creditworthiness, as well as other factors. You can opt-out any time and you will not be charged with any penalty fees as we uphold the highest of standards and maintain full transparency.
A Credit Line
Money is always at your fingertips, giving you peace of mind. You can draw on your pre-qualified capital limit anytime you need it with a line of credit. With this money, you can swiftly plan and make decisions, as well as easily navigate unanticipated costs or gaps. The funding is available within 24 hours and you can request an increase in the limit of credit available. We also offer flexibility when it comes to repayment and you can set your own schedule.
Securing Fast, Easy Loans with iCapital
Taking a step to grow or support your restaurant can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. With iCapital, getting money is straightforward. Our process is fully transparent and we offer loans up to $250,000 within 48 hours to restaurants that have stayed in business for at least 12 months or more. You can fix your own repayment schedules and choose to opt-out at any time. The application takes 5 minutes to fill out and we offer 98% acceptance rates. Contact us today at 1-877-251-7171 and get the funds you need quickly and efficiently.
Small business financing Canada
Help wanted: How Canadian small businesses can attract and retain staff
The past year and a half have been extremely challenging for Canadians in general, but nearly impossible for small businesses who have had to adjust to closures, safety protocols, and restrictions. Finally, vaccination rates are rising and restrictions are lifting but with this change comes a new problem: staffing shortages. In what industry observers are calling The Great Resignation, people are leaving their jobs en masse—and filling their positions is proving to be one of the biggest challenges yet.
In Canada, the need for employees is great but the resources to pay them properly are not. According to the Small Business Recovery Dashboard by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, only 78% of small businesses are fully open, less than half are fully staffed and only 39% are achieving typical sales. In turn, the labour shortage is leading to delays, sub-standard service, and the inability to fully recover. Attracting and retaining staff is a key issue for Canadian small businesses. Read on for tips on how to secure your workforce.
Start with the employees you already know and trust and give them promotions—even to positions more than one level up the ladder. These so-called skip-level promotions can help you fill key roles while demonstrating appreciation to existing employees. This can foster loyalty while shifting your business’ needs to lower-level positions that may require less training or experience.
Offer flexible scheduling
Everyone’s lives are a bit chaotic right now so being able to offer your employees a flexible work schedule can be a major benefit. Apps like Sling or Skedulo can help you create multi-employee schedules painlessly while allowing for on-the-fly changes.
Allow work-from-home opportunities
COVID-19 made remote work a necessity, forcing businesses in a wide array of industries to adapt to a work-from-home model. Many employees enjoyed reduced commute times, increased contact with family, and flexibility around childcare and other home-based responsibilities. You can attract staff by offering work-from-home opportunities where it makes sense for your business.
If you’re among the business owners whose sales have decreased, it might seem contradictory to offer a competitive compensation package but it’s worth considering particularly if you’re unable to keep regular hours or meet customer needs due to a labour shortage. Even a modest bump in pay might be enough to attract good candidates.
Incentives and rewards
Some businesses have gotten creative with the incentives on offer. For example, the owner of Oyster Boy, a Toronto restaurant, rewarded six of his employees with a 5% stake in his business as a token of his appreciation for their hard work during the pandemic. Decisions like this not only help retain loyal employees, they boost your reputation as a fair and thoughtful employer in your industry. Other ideas for incentives include signing bonuses, profit sharing, and health benefits.
In a competitive market to attract staff, Canadian small businesses will have to show that they’re a worthwhile place to work. Flexible scheduling and opportunities to work from home join traditional incentives like good pay and rewards on our list of top tips to get you the employees you need.
How Do Canada Small Business Loans Work?
Every small business will need to acquire financing at some point in order to remain competitive in its market. Perhaps there are growth plans in the works, or a new marketing strategy needs to be funded. Small enterprises in Canada rely heavily on loans to stay afloat. This article delves into the workings of Canada’s small business loan programs and how iCapital can help small businesses with easy loan approvals.
What Is A Small Business Loan?
A loan is a type of debt that a small business takes on. The borrower receives a sum of money from the lender, which is frequently a corporation, financial organization, or government. In exchange, the borrower agrees to a set of terms, which may include finance charges, interest, a repayment schedule, and other stipulations.
What Is A Small Business Loan Used For?
Most small enterprises need loans to purchase fixed assets and cover day-to-day working and operational capital expenses. Cash flow, equipment upgrades, inventories, renovations, staffing, marketing, tax payments, and supplier payments are all examples of this.
Documents Required to Qualify for Small Business Loans
Various documentation may be required to validate your information when applying for a small business loan:
Plan of Action
By giving a copy of your business plan to the lender, you can demonstrate why you need a loan and how you plan to use the funds. This paper will assist you in gaining the lender's confidence.
Bank Account Statements
Lenders may want to check your company's cash flow.
Your lender usually requires this to assess your complete liabilities and assets.
Your income statement will show your lender what your expenses are, as well as your cost of goods sold and net income.
Returns on Income
This will be used by your lender to verify that the income you stated matches what you reported to the CRA. Any differences may endanger the approval of your application.
Financial Records of Individuals
Some lenders may request a copy of your credit report to assess your financial situation. A “good credit score” depending on the type of loan is defined as:
Short-term Business Loan - 550
Equipment Financing - 600
Small Business Administration Loans (SBA) - 640
Bank Loans - 700+
Some lenders might also want to review information pertaining to the assets you wish to purchase, purchase agreements, and sales contracts in effect.
What Is The Cost Of A Small Business Loan?
The amount that the lender will charge determines the loan's cost. The amount, or interest rate, will be determined using the current Canadian index rate, your estimated credit risk, and the loan term duration. A long-term loan with a strong credit score will cost less in interest than a short-term loan with a bad credit score.
The interest rate may be fixed or fluctuating. A fixed rate does not alter during the life of the loan. A variable rate is based on the Canadian index rate and will fluctuate as per the index rate.
Fees may be charged before, during, and after the lending transaction. Application, cheque processing, paperwork, late payment, prepayment, and returned payment are all examples of fees.
In Canada, Where Can You Acquire A Small Business Loan?
Small firms frequently borrow money from large banks as they prove to be a common source of capital.
Credit unions are financial cooperatives that offer their members standard banking services. As they are not-for-profit, they can at times provide better loan rates compared to a regular bank.
Microloans are designed to assist small firms that are facing difficulty obtaining finance from a bank or credit union. Normally, the sum is less than $50,000. Microloans frequently come with limits on how the money can be spent.
Community Loan Funds
Non-profit organizations that provide loans to local initiatives and develop entrepreneurship in the community are supported by community loans.
Canadian Small Business Financing Program
Small businesses and start-ups with less than $10 million in gross revenue can apply for financing for land improvements, renovations, and equipment through the Canada small business loan program, which is run in partnership with financial institutions.
Lenders On The Internet
Alternatives to typical bank loans include online lenders. Online lenders like iCapital differ from banks in terms of measuring creditworthiness, their approach to processing a small business loan, and the technology used.
Why iCapital is Your Choice Lender
iCapital is one of the most trusted online lenders in Canada. We help you secure loans quickly without having to go through cumbersome and time-consuming paperwork. We’re also here for companies in industries unable to secure a loan from a bank or those rejected on the grounds of credit score.
Since 2007, we’ve been committed to helping small businesses expand their business with easy loan approvals within 48 hours. Our technology and security are top-notch, keeping your money and account safe from hackers. We follow a 100% automated process that eliminates the scope of any human errors. Contact iCapital at (877) 251-7171 today to know more about small business loans and how we can help you secure a loan quickly.
Small business financing Canada