Every year, new and improved technologies emerge that have consistently proved to be beneficial for our everyday lives. Owing to the positive impacts that these tools of technology bring to the businesses, more and more organizations are adopting these to improve efficiency and productivity.
Various technologies like cloud computing, smart data storage, video conferencing, wireless networking, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and so on have helped in automating certain tasks and made the businesses processes simpler and smoother.
While staying updated is a cornerstone of every successful business, it is equally important to ensure that your employees can adapt to the integration. Only a fully functional team that is ready to move towards innovation can help in taking your business forward.
Let’s take a look at a few ways in which you can accomplish this.
Introducing New Technology to Employees
Ensure That IT Teams Understand the Company’s Goals
The first step to making a technology work for your business is to ensure that the IT personnel handling the integration is completely aware of the company’s goals and objectives and are providing the right kind of support. Additionally, they should collaborate with the department heads to guarantee that the technology is aligned with the requirements of the company before bringing the team members onboard with it.
Working out the potential flaws and the inefficiencies of the technologies will ensure that employees do not encounter any glitch while using these tools. Any obstacles faced by the employees at the beginning can demotivate them and can turn out to be a hindrance to their enthusiasm for embracing the technology.
Adequate training is one of the most crucial components in enabling your staff to adapt to new technology integration at the workplace. With every new adoption, employees should be retrained about how to utilize these in their tasks.
Some employees do not have a knack for technology and may feel intimidated with the integration. You would need to provide additional support to them to ensure that they attain a level of comfort with these tools. The idea is to ease the workflow with these tools and not make these turn into a burden for your employees.
Listen to Their Feedback
For your employees to be receptive to new technologies, you should create an environment in the workplace that is conducive to learning. Your employees should not hesitate to talk freely about the problems they are facing, any inputs that they might have about the integration and so on. This will help them feel involved in the integration and would enable them to learn more.
You can consider setting time aside for addressing these concerns. Department heads should be open to new ideas. Interactive sessions, hands-on training activities, weekly meetings, seminars and recurring training sessions should be conducted to ensure that employees’ doubts are heard, discussed and cleared as they move ahead with the integration.
Create a Culture of Progression
User experience is one of the primary aspects that make the integration of technological tools successful. People usually gravitate towards a tool that is fluid and easy to use. Therefore, it is important to make learning about a technology fun and engaging. To accomplish this, you should make your team understand how the implementation will optimize workflow and reduce their burden.
For example, using wireless technology helps in fueling the concept of a mobile workforce. WiFi connectivity reduces the usage of a cluster of cables, which can pose a hindrance to collaboration and workflow. Making your employees aware of these concepts can help in swifter adoption.
Track Results and Make Adjustments
The idea is to ensure that the implementations of the tools do not become stagnant with time. Therefore, it is crucial to measure the results, the return on investment, the impact on the users and so on. These metrics can then be utilized to identify the problem areas and ways to make the technology work more efficiently for your business procedures.
You can consider asking your employees to present new ways to use the technology. Viable solutions should be tested to make the necessary adjustments. This can facilitate regular learning for your employees.
These steps will ensure that your employees become more receptive to the integration. You would also need to plan financially for the upgradation and the adjustments. This will help in avoiding any financial setbacks.
Many businesses hire additional workers during the holiday season to help with increased demand. This year, retailers are expected to employ between 640,000 and 690,000 temporary workers, according to the National Retail Federation.
Improperly trained temporary hires can present workplace safety risks. A 2014 study conducted by Travelers Insurance found that 28 percent of injuries happen within the first year of employment.
Don’t Skimp on Seasonal Employee Safety Training
Woody Dwyer and Scott Humphrey, risk control specialists with Travelers, spoke with Small Business Trends via telephone and provided the following ten safety training tips.
1. Instill a Safety-first Mindset
Every business should instill in temporary hires a safety-first mindset from the outset. That includes helping employees understand the business’s expectations related to the particular job for which they are being hired.
“If employers don’t tell employees what to expect, they will bring their own set of expectations to the job,” Dwyer said. “You can’t just assume people will follow safe practices, which is why safety orientation is so important, to help employees keep safety top of mind.”
2. Clearly Communicate Job Requirements
Seasonal workers need to understand the job requirements clearly so that when they start they won’t be shocked.
“Post-hire shock is one of the main reasons employees quit,” Humphrey said. “They find out the job was not what they expected it to be.”
3. Conduct Functional Capacity Evaluations
Along with clearly communicating the job requirements, employers should conduct what Dwyer and Humphrey call functional capacity evaluations.
“When you hire a new employee, ensure that they can handle the physical demands associated with the job, such as picking up heavy packages,” Dwyer said. “The same holds true when an employee returns to work following an injury.”
4. Mentor New Employees
Many companies have instituted mentoring programs to help new hires learn the ropes. That means, rather than merely telling someone what to do, show them, and then monitor their progress. When they fail to meet the guidelines, coach them until they get it right.
5. Prepare Employees for Changes in Store Layout
During the holiday season, there may be potential alterations made to the store, such as changes to the layout or added Christmas decorations.
“Make sure new hires are familiar with their surroundings and responsibilities,” Dwyer said. “While they may have a lot of industry experience, your unique facility is still unfamiliar territory for them.”
6. Train Workers to Manage Inventory Safely
Stores carry a higher volume of goods during the holidays, which may result in warehousing items at higher than shoulder height. Train employees in proper material handling, lifting techniques and ladder safety.
7. Teach New Employees to Take Their Time
“New workers want to please their employer,” said Dwyer, “which may mean they rush around, hurrying to accomplish assigned tasks. That could result in slips, trips or falls. Rather, teach these employees to take their time. That’s part of the safety-first mindset.”
8. Do Background Checks
Companies should make sure that delivery drivers hired during the holiday season have valid driver’s licenses. Also, do a background check, to ensure they have no violations.
9. Choose Smart Decorations
Choose smart locations for any additional holiday displays and products. Some Christmas decorations could be combustible, which increases the risk of fire and, as a result, injury or worse. Dwyer and Humphrey recommend that businesses keep decorations away from heat sources. If candles are used, select the battery-operated kind.
Also, secure decorations properly so that foot traffic can navigate around them safely. This is particularly true when it comes to large displays.
Dwyer provided this additional advice: “Be sure you are not covering up emergency exit signs, over-crowding aisle ways or any place that would make it difficult to get out in an emergency situation. Also, don’t string multiple extension cords together, to extend a decoration to an area a single plug can’t reach. Not only could this result in a trip and fall incident, but could also be a fire hazard.”
10. Talk to an Insurance Agent
A final tip, said Dwyer and Humphrey, is for the business owner to speak with his insurance agent in advance, to ensure he has the proper coverage.
“An experienced agent can help small business owners understand how to keep their stores festive, yet hazard free, during the holidays,” they said.
The era of Big Data is upon us and small businesses are, at least inadvertently, collecting lots of it.
Data is collected in just about every small business function. Customers relay their data to small businesses. Small business functions are delivering data within the company. Company employees are creating and processing data, too.
Now, what do small businesses do with that data? They definitely want to know what to do. And they appear to be seeking help in that area.
Increase in AI and Machine Learning Jobs
According to recent data from Indeed.com’s jobs posting platform, small businesses are increasingly looking for help from artificial intelligence and machine learning experts. Per Indeed’s data, the amount of such job postings at the site is on the rise.
AI and Machine Learning have been identified as technologies with the second biggest impact on small businesses. Big Data is first, of course.
While more small businesses appear to be focusing on collecting data, a growing number are trying to get data to work for them too.
“We’re now seeing that companies have enough data and processing power to actually use deep learning. We’re seeing that they can use big, complex neural networks with multiple layers, and we’re finally there,” Indeed senior vice president of engineering Doug Gray tells Small Business Trends.
“It’s pretty accessible no matter the size of your business, if you architect your systems well to emit data. More companies know how important it is to log every piece of data and customer interaction. And it’s now simple, with Amazon, to spin up a bunch of nodes and build a model that has predictive power and then shut it down again at a very low expense,” Gray says.
Not Hiring? Collect Data in the Meantime
AI and Machine Learning are emerging technologies, especially for small businesses. They’re accessible technologies, too. And they should become more widely accessible over time.
Now may not be the time for your small business to hire here, though. It may never be but there is a takeaway for any small business. Collect all the data you can and keep it safe, of course.
While these remain emerging technologies, the more accessible that AI and machine learning become, the easier it should be to use data to work effectively for your small business.
Fashionable women often feel like they have to choose between being stylish and being sustainable. There haven’t traditionally been a lot of options for environmentally and socially conscious clothing that work for real women. But that’s exactly the problem that fashion startup Maven Women aims to solve.
Founder Rebecca Ballard said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “I entered fashion from the law and advocacy space and at that time I was a frustrated consumer seeking elegant clothing created in a socially conscious way. Over the past decade this vision has evolved into a company born out of my desire to make all of my consumptive choices in line with my values.”
The company has six core values that it uses to drive every step of its process, from sourcing materials to photography. Those values are: supply chain awareness, global women’s empowerment, connectivity and education, restorative justice, natural beauty and slow fashion.
More specifically, those values mean that Maven Women uses materials like organic cotton, baby alpaca, silk and tencel instead of synthetic materials that create waste and pollution.
But it’s not only about using sustainable materials. Maven Women strives to address a number of different issues that affect women. It does this through donating to causes, like domestic violence prevention in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and through involving actual women in its decision making process.
The company uses a co-creation process where customers can vote on their favorite clothing designs to move them into pre-sale. According to Ballard, this process really helps women become more connected to the clothing they purchase, rather than feeling completely disconnected from the fashion industry.
Overall, Ballard simply wants to create a different experience for women who want professional and elegant clothing without feeling like they’re contributing to the massive pollution and other negatives that are often associated with the fashion industry.
Ballard says, “I view the purchasing power of each consumer as a form of advocacy to create a kinder, gentler world.”
Words that come to mind when you’re trying to build an online presence—overwhelming, daunting, frustrating, and stressful, right? Not only is everybody competing for customer eyes and ears online, you have very little time to invest into what has become an essential task to business growth.
The good news is that you don’t have to stress out about this. Keep calm and get started.
1. Make it Utilitarian
Putting a sign next to your cash register or a little Facebook icon on your website isn’t going to cut it. Printing your website URL on your receipts won’t get you anywhere. Nobody is going to engage with you simply because you asked them to. Give them a reason to find you online.
Examples: Run a contest. Ask people to post pictures of themselves using your product. If people rely on your company for information, post it on your website or social media first. Find a reason that your customers have to find you online.
2. Limited Offers
You would think that people would be too wise to fall for the hard sell limited offer. NOPE! Customers don’t want to miss out on something that is limited. Having limited offers on the home page of your website and sending out promotions will build your customer base. There’s plenty of market research that shows that telling people not to miss out still works.
Yes, “Act now to get 50% off” still works.
3. Create Advocates
You don’t have time to build your online presence but you can put people to work to do it for you. You just need advocates. Here’s one way: Let’s say you offer a $99 service that teaches people how to cook Mexican food. (No doubt, an amazing community service.)
You could offer people a $20 discount if they post a status on social media about the class. You can even create that ad and all they have to do is hit the share button and they get a coupon code for $20 off. Pretty cool, huh?
4. Improve Your Website
Your website is a giant piece of science. Every square centimeter matters. You should craft it as meticulously as you did your product or service. Every piece of it matters. Keep these things in mind:
a. Tell your customer who you are, what you do, and how they get it. If you don’t communicate that within the first 5 seconds of them finding your site, you will lose a large portion of your sales.
b. Tell them how you will solve their problem. Why are they looking for you? Speak to their problem and tell them how you can make it better.
c. Get rid of most of the text. They aren’t reading it anyway. Every word matters. Make all of them impactful. Less is more.
d. Don’t talk about yourself. They’re more interested in themselves than they are you or your business.
When you make your online presence into something for your customer instead of something that talks about you, they’ll begin to show up.
5. Your Social Media Playbook
There are literally millions of articles about how to use social media but here are a few quick tips.
a. Not all businesses will benefit from social media but most do.
b. Pick one social media platform that matches your demographic. A teen business might use Snapchat while a business catering to those 30 and older might use Facebook.
c. You don’t need to be on every network. Pick 1 or 2.
d. Talk about your customers. Not yourself
e. Create community. Advertise sparingly.
f. If you want to advertise, pay for online advertising. It’s cheap compared to print.
g. Respond. If people start a conversation with your brand, continue it.
6. E-mail Isn’t Dead
Uninformed “experts” are sounding the alarm that e-mail is dead but the facts are that it’s still the best form of online outreach. Here’s how to do it right.
a. E-mail quality content less often. Once per week or every other week is fine.
b. Target customers. Sending offers for children to singles or couples without children is annoying to them, for example. Know your customer and send e-mails that they want to receive.
b. Use imagery. Pictures and videos are essential for customer engagement.
c. Include a call to action. It might not to be to purchase something but a learn more button or some other way for them to further engage is essential.
d. E-mail lawfully. Ask their permission before adding them to a list. Know the CAN-SPAM laws.
7. Join with Another Business to Drive Online Engagement
Looking for other businesses that have the same type of consumer is a great way to build your own customer base without having to pay high marketing fees. Partnering with them on a promotion is a great way to introduce your brand to more people. Work together to come up with an outreach where you could share costs and get bigger exposure.
8. Keeps Things Current
Too many business owners build a website without any plan of how to keep it fresh. People won’t pay attention if you don’t have anything new to say. Whether you build your online presence yourself or hire somebody, have a plan for constant updating. Who will own the website and social media? The ongoing maintenance is just as important as the initial build.
Imagine if you were trying to run a modern grocery store with deliveries made by horse and wagon. Or running a twenty-first-century finance department on a nineteenth-century accounting models. Yet sales and marketing departments are still working from a “purchase funnel” model that was developed 120 years ago. It’s an antiquated system that doesn’t fit a profoundly transformed business world.
The sales funnel, developed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898, was so named because of the high number of prospective consumers at the top. The higher numbers meant more opportunities to win business, and leads were generated on foot and by phone. Back then, interruptive marketing messages were seen as providing value because that’s how consumers got informed. But that model works only when customers have scant access to information.
As purchasing decisions have migrated to the online arena, consumers have an overabundance of information and can often get real-time answers to their questions. Marketing message interruptions, especially on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, can be seen as an annoyance. Bombarding prospects in those environments can lead to complaints and harm a company’s reputation.
So what works? A strong, compelling online presence and a sales funnel with a new, cutting-edge shape. Here’s what it looks like:
Digital Sales FunnelNarrow at the top. No longer is it effective to “shout” at a mass of disinterested people and hope someone will pause to listen. Online sales and marketing departments have to attract relevant prospects by creating ‘value’ in the places where a company’s customers show up.
Partnering with aligned providers and industry influencers is more likely to attract your target audience’s eyeballs. Rather than businesses choosing a market segment and bombarding it with messages, prospective customers need to choose the business.
Wide in the middle. In a marketplace that is digital, information-saturated, and highly social, attention is the most precious resource. A prospect who displays even a passive interest in a company needs to be engaged quickly by the sales and marketing folks.
Engagement looks like videos, articles, or podcasts. Companies can interact with prospective customers in person, via phone calls, emails or text messages. Contact could be weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. Good social CRM software and social media monitoring platforms can measure whether the engagement is effective. If you’ve kept your prospects’ attention, your business is likely to have a seat at the table once they’re ready to buy.
Narrow at the base. From the middle of the funnel, a small percentage of prospects will make a purchase at any given time. With the amount of data available, companies can extrapolate insights on how to improve their sales and marketing processes. ROI can be measured efficiently. What content leads to more questions? What percentage of engaged prospective customers makes a purchase? How long is the average sales cycle? In the digital world, sales and marketing is iterative, with data being used to constantly improve results.
A business model that lasts 120 years is a pretty good run by anyone’s standards. But to be successful in the digital world, companies have to embrace a strategy that fits the contemporary business environment. The Digital Sales Funnel enables organizations to compete and succeed in this transformed environment. That old sage Lewis might even agree.
Business Know-How/Attard Communications, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Grant Leboff is a leading expert on digital marketing. Based in the UK, he is the founder of Sticky Marketing Club Ltd., a strategic global consultancy that is transforming how we sell in the digital environment. His approach is that traditional Sales & Marketing doesn’t apply in a world that has radically changed, and has transformed selling success for his clients and followers. An in-demand speaker and thought leader, he is a Fellow of both The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management. He is regularly featured in numerous publications and broadcasts, including The Financial Times and BBC Radio. His latest book, Digital Selling, is an Amazon chart-topper, and follows in the footsteps of his three previous best-selling business titles.
Technology is essential to running a business in 2016. But not just any technology will do. If your business is using outdated tech devices, you could be missing out on some great new features and improved functionality. However, since the tech tools that businesses can use are constantly evolving, you’re likely to have some old gadgets lying around that you aren’t using anymore.
But you don’t have to just keep that outdated tech lying around. There are ways you can safely and securely recycle old technology in a biologically friendly way while also updating your business’s tech tools for the New Year. One of our favorite ways is the Trade In and Trade Up promotion from Staples. It makes updating and recycling easy with just one step! It’s really great at this time of year because you can close the year with new technology and a clean office. Staples is offering some great deals on new technology for the Holiday season. This week, they have great deals on laptops and printers. Starting later this week, on 11/24, all of their great Black Friday deals start!
How New Technology Can Help Your Business
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace. The best tech tools of 2017 aren’t the same ones that were at the top of people’s lists in 2016.
Having the most updated tech doesn’t just mean that you’re keeping up with the trends. It also allows your business to operate more efficiently and take advantage of all the latest innovative features. And when you’re working with clients or partners that have those same updated tech devices and platforms, they’ll be impressed that you also use the best and most current technology in your small business.
In addition, new tech can make your company appeal more to creative and innovative workers, so your employees are likely to appreciate the updated features. And it might even help you attract more top talent to your business.
And luckily, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, there are plenty of deals to be had. Retailers like Staples offer laptops, smartphones, printers and a variety of other updated devices that you can use to make sure your business runs as efficiently as possible, without having to spend a ton of extra money.
Why You Should Recycle Old Technology
Just because you want to update your technology for the New Year, that doesn’t mean you have to just throw away all of those old devices. Recycling them is better for the environment, it can help save you money, and if you’re looking to purchase new tech anyway, you don’t even have to go out of your way to recycle.
Recycling tech isn’t the same as recycling other items like glass and cardboard, since tech gadgets often include materials that can be potentially hazardous. But that doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to recycle old or outdated tech. Retailers like Staples offer trade-in programs that let you bring in all of your old devices to stores so that they can dispose of them safely and in a way that won’t harm the environment.
In addition, if you bring in your old tech to Staples, you might even be able to save on all those new tech purchases you’re planning for your business. Prices can vary. But if you have smartphones, tablets, laptops and similar devices that are at least somewhat recent and in relatively good shape, you might be able to get some money off a future purchase in exchange for those items. The exact value will depend on the age and condition of each item. But any money off a new purchase can help you keep your business up to date with new technology so that you can reap all of those potential benefits of having updated tech.
How to Recycle New Technology
If you’re looking to upgrade some of your old tech devices, you can safely get rid of your old devices and save on new tech purchases with Staples Trade-In and Trade-Up promotion as we mentioned earlier. You can take your old devices into Staples stores or get a quote online. Then, depending on the value of your device, you can get a Staples eCash Card to help you save on new electronics or other items from Staples.
Eligible devices include laptops, tablets, cell phones, eReaders and MP3 players. And the amount you get for your trade-in depends on the value of your device. However, even if you have older devices that don’t have any trade-in value, you can still bring it into your local Staples store and they will recycle it responsibly for you free of charge.
Recycling your old technology doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it’s something small that you can do to improve the world around you while simultaneously helping your business grow and thrive. Keeping up with all the new technology out there might seem like a difficult task. But if you’re able to upgrade to the latest and greatest model without a lot of time or money spent on those new items, you should be well on your way to keeping your business on top of all the latest tech trends.
As small businesses and startups grow and add more employees, the need for someone to manage human resource (HR) functions becomes prevalent.
Whether that task becomes the purview of the CEO, an outsourced HR provider or in-house staff member (either part-time or full-time), the person will need to perform a range of duties, recruiting being one of them but not the only one by far.
Sabrina Baker, a human resources consultant and owner of Acacia HR Solutions in Los Angeles, spoke with Small Business Trends by phone and shared these four functions that HR should assume aside from recruiting.
Human Resources Duties
According to Baker, the biggest single function an HR person must perform is to ensure the company stays compliant with state and federal regulations.
“There are always updates and new regulations proposed, and HR needs to think about the impact they will have on business,” she said. “Take the new overtime law, for example. A company can get in big trouble if it does not comply.”
Policies and Procedures
Another important HR responsibility, said Baker, is to work with the business owner and executive staff to develop a series of policies and procedures, and then publish those in an employee handbook.
“Every small business needs a handbook from the minute they have even one employee,” she said. “It should include policies that cover topics like vacation and sick time, leave of absence, performance management, behavioral issues and more. The policies and procedures provide consistency, so the employer does not have to make it up as he goes.”
After developing the handbook, the HR person should train employees on what it includes, Baker said. This should also be part of new employee orientation.
Vision and Core Values
“Typically, the CEO or founder establishes the vision for the company,” Baker said, “but HR can help figure out what those should be, and then hold the staff accountable to adhere to them.”
She used the ethic of collaboration as an example.
“HR has a significant role in making sure we encourage a collaborative climate within the company, and then reward such behavior when we see it being lived out,” she said.
“The CEO or business owner will build the company brand from the consumer standpoint but it’s HR’s job to build the employer’s brand in the minds of the workers,” Baker said. “That includes activities such as checking in with employees, to ensure morale is high, and developing a productive employee culture.”
Another aspect of branding that befalls the HR department is promoting the company as an employer of choice.
“That does go to recruiting, however, regarding why candidates want to work for you over a competitor,” Baker said.
A final area that she indicated was vital to the role of HR regards employee advocacy.
“The HR person should be a neutral party where employees can come, raise concerns, complain and ask questions,” she said. “HR is the go-between that can take employee concerns to management and act on their behalf.”
Even More Human Resources Duties
Here are seven more tasks an HR professional should perform, in addition to those outlined by Baker.
Encouraging employees to stay with the company is another area where HR plays a role. (That’s one reason to brand the company as an employer of choice.)
Activities would include keeping employees engaged at work, providing advancement opportunities, cross-training to do jobs outside the routine and using employee recognition and reward programs.
Compensation and Benefits
Developing a plan for employee compensation and benefits programs is native to HR’s realm of responsibilities and should be one of the first projects the department tackles when getting set up.
Administering the benefits plan once it’s developed is also HR’s job. In smaller companies that often includes open enrollment for health care coverage.
G&A Partners, a human resources solutions provider, says on its blog that employee performance has a direct impact on a business’s success. Therefore, implementing a strategic employee performance strategy is vital, and represents another task HR must shoulder along with the employee’s supervisor.
It’s unfortunate that, sometimes, employees come into conflict with each other or with management. In either case, it’s the HR department’s job to try and resolve workplace issues when they occur. That includes coaching employees on conflict resolution methods and developing policies and procedures for conflict management and resolution.
According to a blog post from When I Work, an HR technology provider, human resources must keep three particular files for each employee: I-9, general and medical.
Required by law, the I-9 is a form used by the U.S. Government to identify and verify employee work eligibility. General files include documents such as resumes, reviews, disciplinary actions, W-4 forms and more. And the medical file contains doctors’ notes, disability information and other medical data.
Human Resources Industry Trends
With the rapid changes taking place in the workplace, it’s important for HR professionals to stay current on industry trends.
One way is to join the Society for Human Resources Management, the leading association for human resources professionals. Another is to read blogs, white papers and articles from HR product and service providers, practitioners and consultants. Lastly, participate in social network groups and forums for HR pros.
How to Hiring a Security Company to Protect Your Business
You have made the decision to hire a security agency to protect your business, but now what?
What characteristics do you look for in a company? What questions should you ask? How do you differentiate one company from another?
Once again, Small Business Trends turned to Greg Kuhn, founder and CEO of Omega Protective Services, for advice on the matter. He recommended that small business owners consider the following six subjects, each of which he posed in the form of a question:
Ask These Questions Before Hiring Security Guards
Is the Agency Locally Owned or a National Chain?
Kuhn advised businesses to hire a locally-owned security company, one that is a small business itself.
“A small business can serve you better than a national security firm,” he said. “To them, you’re just a drop in the bucket. A small agency will pay more attention and treat you better. You’ll have the bosses phone number, not some call center.”
How Customer Service Oriented Is the Company?
Kuhn said you want to find a company that puts a priority on customer service.
“Security is the number goal, of course, but following that is customer service,” he said. “If you come up with a company that does not have that as a priority, don’t hire them.”
Is Security the Company’s Main Focus?
You want to learn whether or not security is the company’s sole business or if it’s an add-on to other services, such as cleaning, parking or landscaping, Kuhn said. He advised hiring an agency that specializes in the type of security you need.
“If you’re hosting an event, seek out an event security company,” he said. “If you need armed bodyguard services, pinpoint one that specializes in that. If it’s warehouse security, locate a firm that has deep experience in that area.”
Does the Company Offer Uniform Options?
Kuhn asked, “Does the security company you’re considering offer different choices in uniforms that fit the occasion?”
He cited options such as police-style uniforms, polo shirts, t-shirts, suit and tie and plain clothes.
“If the company only offers one uniform — the police-style with shoulder patches and black striped pants, for instance — keep looking, unless that’s what best fits your needs.”
What Is the Company’s Reputation?
Google makes it easy to determine a company’s reputation (complaints are often the first results to surface), but refrain from limiting your research to keyword searches only. Look at ratings and review sites like Yelp, and reference social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out the agency’s Better Business Bureau rating.
Another idea: Ask the company for client references and speak with them, to learn whether they were satisfied with the work done.
Kuhn even suggests finding out how the agency’s employees feel about working there.
“That may be difficult to figure out,” he said, “but by meeting with representatives of the company you can get a feel for their attitude.”
Is the Company Willing to Accommodate Your Needs?
“Will the company work with your schedule, particularly if it involves varying hours,” Kuhn asked. “If it’s not willing to accommodate you, it’s not looking for your business.”
He also advised asking if the agency is amenable to supplying guards short-term, — during the holidays, for example — or if it requires a long-term contract. The more flexible, the better, Kuhn said.
Other Security-related Hiring Issues to Consider
Here are three other issues to consider, in addition to those Kuhn suggested:
Is the Company Licensed and Insured?
The agency should be able to supply valid, current state licenses and show proof of insurance. Scrutinize the insurance to ensure it adequately covers your situation (one million dollars is the standard). Forms of insurance include workman’s comp, auto liability and general liability. Ask that it adds your business as an “additionally insured.”
How Well-trained are the Guards?
Regardless of the company you are considering or the type of service you need, hiring guards who are properly trained is vital to your business’s welfare. Otherwise, you run the risk of guards who are ill-prepared to handle emergency situations or manage even routine tasks. Ask what type of training the company provides and whether it meets or exceeds state requirements. If the latter, ask in what ways and be specific.
How Much Will It Cost?
While you may not want to hire the company that submits the lowest bid, depending on the qualifications, you should ask the following questions of all those you interview:
How frequently with the firm bill for services rendered: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
Will it charge a flat monthly rate, a uniform hourly rate for all employees or a different hourly rate for each employee? (Hourly rates may be a better fit for your budget if you only need help seasonally, for events or part-time.)
Does your business have to cover costs for uniforms, equipment and supplies?
Are there add-ons the agency supplies at no cost to you?
Of course, the most critical question to ask is whether or not the total estimated average monthly cost fits within your budget?
As you can see from this list, price is only one of many factors to consider. Choosing a low-ball figure can cost you in the caliber of services rendered and the quality of the guards assigned. Just as with many other business-related expenses, when it comes to security, you get what you pay for.
Need a tech expert? Chances are, you’re not looking for some Silicon Valley hotshot to fill a vacancy within your small business.
It’s just not happening.
New data from Indeed is backing that up. In fact, it’s backing it up, putting it in bold and underlining it.
Small businesses are struggling to find tech talent to add to their teams. And the struggle is real.
High Competition for Tech Talent
“What we’re seeing is that the competition for tech talent is getting even more fierce,” says Terence Chiu, the vice president of Indeed Prime.
According to a recent survey of SBOs, 84 percent say they find it “challenging” or “very challenging” to hire tech talent.
And the amount of time it takes to find anyone is getting longer. A total of 71 percent of small business owners say the time to find someone has increased in the last 3 years.
Holding Small Businesses Back
Hiring tech talent isn’t just some pie-eyed fantasy. A lot of small business owners contacted by Indeed believe that having the right tech expert on board is key to growth.
Nearly all small business owners contacted — 88 percent — say that having access to this tech talent regularly would make their company more innovative.
Not having this talent on board is not only holding the company back, it’s bringing it down. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed — 84 percent — say that the inability to hire tech experts has:
Slowed production and company expansion, and
Increased employee tension and burnout.
What’s Behind the Struggle?
As is usually the case with in-demand positions, small businesses are second in line. Job seekers are looking for handsome compensation and small businesses struggle to be able to provide that.
Tech job seekers tend to have a younger field of applicants. These are the candidates less likely to be searching for the autonomy that small businesses generally offer.
It’s important to note that this survey finds it’s difficult — at least others have found it so — to hire top tech talent. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
“On the bright side, if you’re able to look beyond the tech-centric markets such as Silicon Valley you may have an advantage. Tech job seekers are realizing the cost of living advantages in other rising tech hub regions, places like Boston or Austin or even Los Angeles and Seattle,” Chiu says. “Additionally, evaluations such as code challenges can help a company find those diamonds in the rough that are often overlooked by bigger companies.”
For the penny-pinching entrepreneur, cutting down on overhead costs and long-term operational expenses can go a long way in maximizing profitability. This is especially helpful when launching a new startup business, as quick and significant income is often essential to the longevity of any business.
Here are some easy ways to save some green and also go green by helping the environment.
Tips to Reduce Energy Consumption (and Save Money)
Install Energy Efficient Lighting
Although today’s energy-efficient lighting options — which primarily consist of compact-fluorescent or light-emitting diode systems — have a higher price tag than traditional bulbs, studies have linked these appliances to tremendous cost savings in the long run. CFL bulbs cost $89.75 to run over the course of 50,000 hours, while traditional, incandescent bulbs cost $352.50 over that same time period.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
The three Rs are relevant now more than ever, and there are a number of ways to implement strategies aimed at reducing waste, reusing office supplies when applicable and recycling on a consistent basis. For starters, make sure to spread awareness about the three Rs among your peers and teammates, especially those who work in your company’s building.
You’ll also want to make sure recycling bins are accessible to your employees. By placing bins in strategic and highly visible locations, you’ll automatically attract the attention, interest and compliance of your employees. Furthermore, these receptacles will also serve as ever-present reminders of the three Rs, thereby promoting the ideas of sustainability and environmental protection even further.
Take Advantage of Power-Saving Technology
Power-saving technology, such as computers that automatically enter hibernation, monitors that turn themselves off and even lighting that dims or brightens according to the time of day, can result in greater energy efficiency and lower utility bills.
Although many computer users are under the impression that a personalized screensaver can reduce energy consumption, this simply isn’t true. These programs, which were created as a way of mitigating the risk of screen burn-in on older monitors, serve no real value other than workstation customization at this point.
Controllable Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling costs can wreak havoc on an otherwise efficient and affordable business model. Programmable thermostats, which can adjust your office’s temperature based on the open hours of your company, are an ideal solution for keeping such costs in check.
However, simply lowering the temperature of your office by one degree than what you’re used to during the winter and raising it by one degree in the summer can go a long way in achieving the perfect balance between cost and comfort.
Alternative Energy in the Office
As interest in alternative forms of energy begins to increase across the globe, many entrepreneurs are starting to realize the value of solar, wind and even compressed air systems. The latter can actually reduce commercial utility bills by as much as 30 percent (PDF) in some cases, which can result in significant savings for some.
Green Architecture and Construction
Next-gen construction technology has recently paved the way for huge breakthroughs in green architecture and design. Those who are launching their business within an established structure might find their options limited in this regard, but those who are eyeing brand new construction can do themselves — and the environment — a huge favor by taking advantage of some of the latest industry trends.
Tap Into the Mobile or Remote Workforce
Given the average consumer’s reliance on mobile technology, some innovative entrepreneurs have begun offering their employees the opportunity to work from home, or wherever else they have a solid internet connection, as much as possible. Not only does this provide your workers with increased flexibility, freedom and comfort, but the lack of daily travel can also have a substantial impact on your community’s carbon footprint.
In many cases, the luxury of working from home simply isn’t feasible. However, this doesn’t mean you have to ignore mobile communications altogether. Utilizing the technology for meetings, interviews and companywide presentations can still work to counteract the growing problem of environmental pollution.
Clean the Office With Biodegradable Products
Biodegradable cleaning products have become quite commonplace among the tools of the average housekeeper or homeowner, but they can also be used around the office in order to reduce your business’s carbon footprint even further.
When sourcing such materials, be sure to look for products that are a part of the EPA’s Design for the Environment program. Easily identified by the label, these cleaning solutions have been highly scrutinized by the EPA for their ingredients, byproducts and any chemical interactions.
Pursue Tax Breaks, Credits and Incentives
Although some new entrepreneurs might not realize it, contributing to the long-term preservation of our environment can actually result in numerous tax breaks and credits on both state and federal levels. Most of these incentives fall within the Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010 or the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but others rebates and benefits may be available depending on your exact case.
Bolstering Entrepreneurial Success While Safeguarding the Environment
Contributing to the long-term protection of our environment doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. When done wisely and strategically, such acts can actually bolster the success of your company as well as your reputation as a wholesome, ethical and caring business leader. Moreover, it can save money that would be better served in other areas of your operation.