MO.com is proud to partner with The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC):
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
BusinessBeware bridges the gap when communication falls short between a business and its customers. As small business owners, the owners of BusinessBeware.biz are grateful for their good customers, but since the customer is not always right, we believe the business has a right to fire unwelcome “CustoMonsters.”
They have created a show called the Business Beware Show that sheds light on what it truly takes to run a small business, stories from real business owners and a twist on customer service education.
MO: I love the term CustoMonsters. In your opinion what makes someone a CustoMonster, and when should a business know they don’t want these people as customers?
Ashley: A CustoMonster is a customer that cannot be pleased by any means, is disrespectful, wants everything for free and is a bully. You should be able to pick out the CustoMonsters from the first time you deal with them but this does not always happen. Sometimes you may not see these signs until you begin working with them, later realizing you have made this mistake. These customers cost you money, time and stress. As the business owner, you should fire them because your good customers will thank you for it. The more time you pour into a CustoMonster, the more time you take away from your good customers, inevitably costing you even more money and time down the road.
MO: Can you tell us more about your background in small business that led you to create BusinessBeware.biz?
Ashley: I grew up around a family of entrepreneurs and small business owners so naturally it was in my blood. The funny thing is, I always said that I would never work with the family businesses… funny how things seem to work out. After college I decided to move to FL and work with our family businesses since the economy was starting to hit rock bottom. I knew that I would learn more while being hands on, rather than just going in to grad school. It was while working with my Dad that is when it really hit me how much the business owners needed an outlet where they could share their side of the story. Consumers have numerous outlets such as these like Angie’s List, BBB etc. One day I had this terrible customer come into our office and just lay into me for no reason except that he liked being a CustoMonster and it put me over the edge. I finally took enough and told him “Sir, you need to leave because your business is not wanted here.” He looked at me and could not believe what I said and stormed out. Dad comes around the corner and says “Good for you kid, you’re learning.” That was the day I told my dad that we were going to create a website for business owners that have to deal with people like that. That was all the fire I needed to create Business Beware.
MO: How does the BusinessBeware.biz tool work?
Ashley: You can use BB in two ways: to collect from non-paying customers with our beware letter or file a complaint against a customer and warn other business owners about them for the future. The beware letter is sent to a customer that owes a business owner money, and that owner simply wants to collect the what they’re owed.
Let’s say that you have sent 2 invoices, called them 3 times and still have yet to hear from that customer…with the beware letter it helps start the communication between you and your customer. The Beware Letter let’s them know that you have tried to get in touch with them and that you just want to collect your money. The letter also let’s the customer know that you have a place you can file them as a “no-pay” customer just like customers can warn about “bad businesses.” Most customers (96%) contact the business and pay in full or at least half of what they owe because they don’t want to be posted on the site. When the customer pays, the business keeps all the money and does not have to pay a percentage to us like they would at a collection agency.
You can also file a complaint against a customer that is one you want fellow business owners to know about so they can have a heads up or decide if they even want to work with them in the future. Let’s say you have a customer that you’ve taken to court and they still didn’t pay you, they cost you money, cause problems for your business or filed complaints against you on other sites just because they could. You can file a complaint against them so others can learn about the situation you had with them and from there they can decide if they want to do business with them down the road and at least they have a heads up before they work with them.
MO: What does the 96% return rate you proudly state on your website mean?
Ashley: The 96% return rate is the percentage of customers that pay the business owners the money they’re owed through our beware letter. So that means almost every business that sends a letter to a no-pay or late paying customer receives their money in full or at least half of it and get to pocket the entire amount. It’s pretty awesome that we can help business owners with that kind of percentage of results.
MO: Tell us about the challenges of creating a show.
Ashley: There are a TON of challenges for creating a show. We first started in a radio studio that grew to a web show then to a TV show. At first you think you have everything down and everyone will want to hear what you have to say but that is not the case. If you think you’re show is for everyone, that’s where you’ve gone wrong and you need to discover who your true audience is. The radio stations we were first in were not our target markets at all, which caused us to take a step back and figure out where we really needed to be and in that we decided to create more of a web show/podcast where we could be more creative with it. One challenge about a show is the dedication it takes to create constant content, stories, line up guests etc. We did this on top of running BB while also running 3 other businesses so that was a bit of a challenge. We based the show off the concept that everyone loved but we knew we had to reinvent it a bit to make sure we stayed fresh and brought something to the table that nobody else does with a business show. No matter what you do, things can go wrong and through the show we have had numerous things just not work when they needed to or things fall through but it’s how you deal with those challenges that make you the entrepreneur you need to be.
MO: From a website to a show you are truly tackling all medias for your brand. What can we expect from Business Beware next?
Ashley: We are truly passionate about helping small business owners because we know exactly what it’s like to deal with these customers everyday. Whether we bring them advice, become their voice or even bring a little humor to their day, then we have succeeded at BB. We have some amazing things in the works and our journey with BB has only begun so stay tuned.
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