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An Introduction to Global Location Number (GLN)

With Global Location Numbers (GLN), locations around the world can be tagged with a unique number to help anyone know where an item or an individual is. It has become a critical tool in exchanging information between companies all along the supply chain. What exactly is a GLN and how can it help you?  Here is an introduction to GLNs that help answer 7 common questions.

What is a GLN?

A GLN is a standardized number assigned to a specific location. Global Standards One (GS1) is a non-profit company that governs the formation and use of GLNs. Each number consists of a GS1 Company Prefix, Location Reference, and Check Digit. The purpose of the number is to quickly identify a location along with the entity that is connected with it. 

Who can Use a GLN?

Any legal entity can utilize this helpful code. Companies can have just one global location number or multiple numbers to use within their organization.

Where is a GLNs Used?

Because of the unique formation of the code, it can be used anywhere in the world. A company may place a code at its headquarters to identify its location. The code can also be used in multiple locations such as a warehouse, a loading dock or a shelf. For hospitals, a number can be assigned to a bed or a refrigerated storage unit where medicine is stored. A bank may assign a code to each ATM they have. A company may also assign a GLN to a digital location such as an ERP. Any location where items need to be tracked can have a dedicated code.

How is a GLN Used?

To understand the usefulness of a GLN, you can imagine an item such as a package being tracked from its origin to its destination. When a company receives an order for a product, they give the customer a UPC number for that item. When the product is at the warehouse, the item’s UPC is scanned to identify it and then the warehouse's GLN is scanned to tag the item to that location. With tracking software, the customer can see their package is now at the warehouse. It then moves to the dock where it is scanned again along with the GLN at the dock. From there, it moves to its destination where it is scanned again along with the customer's GLN so the customer can know that the package has arrived. You may have tracked a package yourself and not even know that GLNs were used for each step of the delivery.

How is a GLN Formed?

The GLN, as mentioned earlier, is formed with three components. The first is a GS1 company prefix. This number uniquely identifies the legal entity. The second is the location number. This number varies in length depending on the length of the company prefix and is assigned by the company. The company prefix and location number are always 12 digits long. The last number is a single digit check number.

How is a GLN Obtained?

To start using a GLN, a company must register with GS1. GS1 will assign a company prefix that is unique to each company. Once the prefix has been assigned, the company can start generating GLNs and assigning them to locations within the company.

What is the Benefit of a GLN?

A company could easily make a system of numbers that would do the same job as a GLN. The problem with this approach is that a company generated number system would not integrate with other companies. A feature of GLNs is that they are standardized across the world so that any company can use the code. Also, because GLN is derived from a GS1 number, a company can use all the functionality of the GS1 system. This saves time and money while maintaining the uniqueness of each company.

GLNs are revolutionizing how companies track items. With these basic questions answered, your company can utilize GLNs for greater productivity.

 

Publish Date: March 27, 2020 7:47 PM


Making the Workday Feel Like Happy Hour

 

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every day feels like a Monday? Or one of those weeks where the eight hour workday seems to last for eternity as you slog through each minute of the day, slurping down your third cup of coffee as you struggle to keep your eyes open during your fourth hour-long meeting? In this fast-paced and consistently evolving society, long hours and late nights have become increasingly more common. 

Everyone is busy these days - whether they’re working for 60 hours in the office or facilitating international conference calls from the comfort of home. Because of all the busyness, it’s easy to feel drained and tired throughout the week. Worse yet, having low energy levels at work can slow your productivity—potentially causing you to spend even more hours at the office. Before you resign yourself to a constant fog of workday bleariness, check out these tips and tricks to keep your energy levels high throughout the nine to five. 

Get Enough Sleep

Think about your bedtime routine. Do you have a set time each night you crawl into bed to count sheep? Or do you lay under the covers scrolling through social media until the wee hours of the night? According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Getting less than seven hours of sleep for just two nights in a row could cause sleep deprivation. Additionally, research shows that poor sleep has several negative side effects, from low energy to hormone imbalance. 

If you’re not getting enough sleep, try enforcing a bedtime routine—making sure you’re in bed at the same time every night. Additionally, when you start winding down for the night, put the smartphone away and start implementing some relaxing behaviors like reading a book or soaking in the tub. 

Eat a Good Breakfast

If your energy levels are dipping throughout the day, it might be time to look at the food you’re eating. While the carb-loaded cream cheese bagel might be a quick and delicious option, filling up on processed and sugary foods can negatively affect your health and energy levels. 

Lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat throughout the day, swapping out your sugary energy bar for a few servings of a high-protein snack or supplement. Starting your day off with a hard-boiled egg or a more holistic supplement like activated you morning complete can help skyrocket your energy levels. 

Get Up and Move

When you’re sleepy, the last thing you want to do is get up for a quick jaunt around the office. But getting up and moving around throughout the day could give you new energy before you return back to your sedentary position. 

Additionally, implementing some exercise into your daily routine could boost energy levels, improve your mood and lessen the effects of anxiety and depression. That seems like a pretty good bonus for going out on your morning run. 

Stay Hydrated  

More than 50 percent of the human body is water, some of which is lost throughout the day when you sweat or use the bathroom. This means that you should be overcompensating for the water lost by consistently hydrating. Dehydration can impact your mood and brain function, so make sure you drink copious amounts of water throughout the day, especially anytime you feel tired, thirsty or stressed. 

Mondays are hard—and sometimes the rest of the work week can be just as hard. If you’re experiencing fatigue and low energy levels at work, take a step back and look at your current lifestyle. Are you getting enough sleep at night? Are you consuming enough protein? How much water are you drinking? Making these few simple changes could make the difference in your life and make every Monday feel like a Friday. 

And if all else fails, you could always petition the office to bring back the nap times you had in kindergarten. Wouldn’t your cubicle make the coziest pillow fort?

Publish Date: March 26, 2020 10:32 PM


How Technology Can Help You Keep Finances in Order

Keeping finances in order is an ongoing struggle for most people. Some people simply have trouble sticking to a budget while others may not even know where to begin. In either situation, using technology to stay on top of your financial status can be an easier way to track how well you are managing your money. You may already be doing some of the tips below, but by making a conscious effort to integrate technology into your money management, you will soon be on your way to financial security. It often only takes a few minutes out of your day to manage your money successfully with technology.

Use Banking and Loan Apps

If you have a checking or savings account, you likely have the app from your financial institution downloaded on your phone. However, it is important that you open those apps periodically to make sure that no suspicious charges have been made to any of your accounts; this is important for credit card accounts as well. It can be a headache to address a financial discrepancy a long time after it happens, so it is best to address any fraudulent charges as soon as they occur. You can often set up an automatic text alert every time your account is used so that you can closely monitor it throughout the day.

If you have any type of loan payments that you make through a financial institution, you should monitor that closely as well. Be sure that you are on track to paying off your loan on time and that your payment is going through correctly every month. Research how much interest you are paying and see if it would be beneficial to pay off those debts earlier to avoid excessive interest charges. 

Read About Financial Principles

Your phone is a tiny computer that you carry in your pocket. Use it to research financial principles and tips that can help you become financially stable. Do not waste your free time mindlessly scrolling through social media; use apps like Crediful to constantly improve your financial knowledge. In this way, you can be your own financial planner and know the best steps to take in becoming a financially independent individual. Your future self will thank you for your vast expanse of knowledge. 

Use a Budgeting App

Keeping up with every single paper receipt you ever get is old news. Instead, use a easy budgeting mobile app to input your expenses and see exactly where your money is going. Many of these apps have charts and graphs that give you insight into what areas you spend the most in. Seeing it in a visual format can help you see where you can cut back and where you are doing well staying within your personal budget. You can easily type in the amount of each purchase you make into an app in just a few seconds.

Use Your Calculator as Your Shop

When you go to do your weekly grocery shopping, it can be so easy to make small impulse purchases that add up very quickly. A smart spending habit is to use a calculator as you shop. Type in the amount of money you are spending on each item you are adding to your cart. You will soon see where you are impulse buying and will not be as surprised when you get to the cash register. You will also think twice before adding something very expensive to your cart; ask yourself if you really need this item right now.

Enroll in Automatic Draft Bill Payment

Late fees are money that is literally wasted. There is no good reason to ever pay for late fees, and having your monthly expenses on automatic draft can help you avoid this unnecessary expense. Be sure that you are monitoring what you are actually spending, however, and do not let a bill go paid without you checking to make sure the amount is correct. When you set up an automatic draft, also ask if there is a convenience fee attached to this service and determine if it is worth it for you.

Keeping your finances in order is easier than ever with all the resources that technology brings. If you have put off budgeting and tracking your expenses because you thought it would take too much time, think again. You can use the tiny computer in your pocket to take care of all your financial needs so that you never have to wonder what your financial status is. 

Publish Date: March 11, 2020 7:22 PM


Lifelong Education Starts in High School: 4 Tips to Start Off Strong

Higher education remains the most reliable way to increase job options and future income over a lifetime. Graduate degrees can bring in over a million more dollars in lifelong earnings than a high school diploma. The power to further your education all your life begins in high school, especially if you build a strong academic course load and high test scores for college admissions.

1. Work with your guidance counselor.

Many students have parents who achieved higher education and can guide the process for their children. Some students will be first-generation college students who use library, school and community resources to understand the process. However, higher education changes so rapidly and application processes are daunting for everyone.

The high school Guidance Counselor is a professional who stays abreast of the latest trends and requirements in higher education to help students prepare for it. Some Guidance Counselors work with students at one grade level and others follow a set of students throughout their whole high school careers. Make sure your guidance counselor knows you and understands your college aspirations as soon as possible.

2. Build a college bound transcript.

No matter what you plan to major in or dream to do for a living, a solid educational foundation has a common core of subjects to master. It is not enough to reach basic skills levels. Enroll in honors, Advanced Placement and college prep courses.

  • Math. Begin with Algebra and Geometry to work up to Precalculus and Calculus.
  • Science. Biology, Anatomy and Physiology set the stage for Chemistry and Physics later.
  • Social Sciences. Geography and American History prepare you for World History and Economics.
  • Language Arts. Honors English courses grow your vocabulary while you build skills in Essay Writing, Research, Literature and Reading Comprehension.

3. Achieve high ACT and SAT scores.

College entrance exams do more than decide if top colleges will admit you. They are measuring sticks for your academic background and capabilities which graduate schools or future employers might want to see. They test science material and math capabilities you could wind up using later in science, business and computer jobs.

If you have worked to build a college-bound transcript, you are halfway to a good score. ACT or SAT prep tutoring will up your chances for a score in the upper percentiles elite colleges prefer. A tutoring center uses professional strategies for success.

  • Diagnostic of your strengths and weaknesses. See where you will score high and where you must improve.
  • Repeat timed tests. Learn how long you will work on each section and how to work faster for time to review.
  • Positive reinforcement and moral support. Feel part of a team with professionals to measure your progress and motivate you to succeed.

4. Research colleges' strengths and weaknesses.

The right college for you will carry you further than a degree. It should be a launchpad to several future options. Only apply to colleges where four years will prepare you best for graduate and professional school admissions or the job of your dreams.

Most community colleges, online universities and job certification programs provide specific training. Four-year colleges and universities may widen your options to build a few specialties, for more job qualifications with their degree. Liberal arts degrees still pay off, particularly for graduates who build careers over the long haul.

Choose your college wisely. It can be inconvenient, time-consuming and costly to transfer to a better fit. Your parents, guidance counselor and teacher can help you weigh choices.

Education is an investment to reap benefits from for the rest of your life. Planning and preparing in high school and college determine the type and number of options your future holds. Then you can further your education and career as you must, when you want.

Publish Date: March 9, 2020 9:15 PM


7 Tips to Build Sale's Call Confidence

You have picked up the phone to call your first lead of the day. You may feel nervous or unprepared as you dial the number, hoping you can transform this contact into a closing sale. Being prepared will give you the confidence you need to make that call a success. Use these 7 tips to give you more confidence in any sales or door to door call.

 

1. Master Your Product

Knowing your product is fundamental to sales. Like the foundation to a building, understanding what your product can do, who it will benefit, how it works and how your potential customer can access your product must underlie your call. Study the specifics of your product including technical details, materials used, and applications before you pick up the phone. Without the mastery of your product, you may fumble for answers to client’s questions and shake your confidence.

 

2. Understand Your Customer

Once you have mastered your product, turn your attention to your potential customer. If you understand their company, their goals, and their problems, you can do more than sell a product, you can be the hero who solves their problems. Take the time to check out the company’s web site and social media. Notice the negative feedback received and how your product can fix their challenges.

 

3. Open With a Positive

Start the call with a great opening line. You must set the tone. Mentioning how bummed you are that your favorite team just lost will drag your contact down. Because it is human nature to associate negative feelings with someone who brings up negative thoughts, your contact will tend to transfer your less than uplifting comments with the products that you are trying to sell. Instead, congratulate them on an award their company earned or mention a positive story from your life that will lift their spirits and put them in a good mood from the start.

 

4. Listen Carefully

When you ask good questions, clients will start talking.  Generally, people like to talk about themselves and what is happening in their world. Show genuine interest in the work that they do and take notes as they open-up about their business. Remember that you are building relationships and listening is essential in any relationship. Good ears make good relationships. Keep track of your new friend’s needs withn lead tracking software. Even if you don’t close the sale in one call, you will be ready to advance the relationship the next time you call.

 

5. Give Simple Options

Customize options to only what your customer needs. Overwhelming a client with needless options will frustrate them and discourage the sale. Focus on the details and features that will make their life easier and their job more productive. Inform them that other options are available only if what you presented isn’t fulfilling their company’s needs.

 

6. Don’t Criticize the Competition

You can greatly damage the perception of your company and your product by speaking poorly of your competition. Psychology has found that pointing out the sloppy workmanship or sleazy service of another company will unconsciously project those attributes to your company in the minds of your contact. So, don’t say anything negative about your competition.  “No comment,” is the best answer.

 

7. Express Politeness

Simple gratitude and polite gestures warm your relationship with your leads. Say “please” when asking for permission. Say “thank you” when permission is granted. Showing consideration to someone is also polite. If you receive a text or email from a client, acknowledge it and thank them immediately. If you promise to get a detailed quote for someone, follow up promptly. Showing this kind of respect will make your client feel valued. A valued customer becomes loyal and this loyalty leads to further sales.

 

These 7 tips will equip you with the skills you need to confidently transform warm and cold contacts into long term sales for you and your company.

Publish Date: March 6, 2020 1:05 AM


You Have Options if You Have Been Injured at Work

A workplace injury can lead to a loss of income at the same time that you are facing increased medical costs. Luckily, you do have options if you have been hurt on the job. 

Start by Reporting the Injury

Almost every company will have an accident policy, even if it is an unofficial one. You'll want to activate the necessary chain of events as close to when you are ink=jured as possible. Don't wait to see if you feel better the next day. Even if you simply send an email documenting what happened, when, and where, you will have a record to fall back on. 

That goes for all injuries, not just major ones that require immediate medical attention. Even if it seems minor, file an accident report with your supervisor. It can help you get assistance or medical care if you end up needing it, but there's also another side. Accident reports can highlight safety issues in the workplace that should be addressed. By reporting a minor injury, you might be saving someone else from experiencing a more serious one. 

Document Everything Related to Getting Hurt

Start a file and put a copy of everything related to the injury in it. That means the accident report, any doctor's appointment notes and charges, and a list of phone calls with who you spoke to and what the outcome was. Add a copy of that email you sent to notify your supervisor about the accident, too. While you hope that the human resource department will keep track of everything, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

Initiate a Workers' Compensation Claim

Most, but not all, employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance. Some states have exemptions for certain categories of employees, so it is best to check whether or not you have coverage. 

If you do have coverage, you should understand your rights in the system. If you feel like your employer isn't following procedure or is treating you unfairly, contact a workers' compensation claim lawyer to get the help you deserve. Workers' compensation can help pay for medical care and lost wages if you have to miss work for an extended period of time. 

You Can See a Doctor

If you are hurt at work, you have the right to see a doctor and get evaluated. In a workers' compensation case, that care will be covered. You may be required to see a doctor chosen by the workplace, at least to start treatment. 

You Have a Right to Return to Work

If your doctor clears you for work, you have the right to return. Your employer cannot refuse your return if your doctor has cleared you to perform your job. Your doctor may grant you full clearance or limit you to light-duty tasks. If you are not cleared for the same position you had before the injury, you may not be guaranteed a position within the company. 

You May Need to File for Disability 

If you are unable to return to work, you may need to consider filing for disability benefits. There are both long and short-term options depending on how long you will be out of work. 

Start by checking your employee manual or talking to the HR department about what coverage the company has in place for you. In cases of total disability, you may also need to contact the social security administration about applying for social security disability benefits. The application process can take quite some time, so any coverage through your employer can help fill that gap. 

In some cases, workers' compensation insurance will pay for vocational training programs. If you are unable to return to your previous job but are not disabled, this might be an avenue worth pursuing. 

You May Be Able to File a Third-Party Claim

Sometimes accidents are caused by negligence or the acts of another person. If that applies to your workplace injury, you can consider filing a third-party claim against that person. Chances are you didn't go to work planning to get hurt. But, nonetheless, it happened. Learn and understand your rights and options so you can take the best care of yourself, get back to work as soon as possible, and get the benefits you are entitled to. 

Publish Date: March 5, 2020 11:09 PM


Office Enhancements That Give Your Company a Unique Edge

The modern working world looks a lot different than it did a few decades ago. Shifting attitudes among younger professionals and the rise of digital consumerism have made a landscape that is a bit more fun and engaging than it was in the past. Instead of silent offices packed with cubicles and people in monochromatic attire, workspaces in the modern age are usually designed to make everyone feel comfortable, connected, and happy to come to their jobs each day. If you’re thinking about enhancing your office, you might want to think outside the box to see better results. 

Whether you want to make a drastic change to the office or some simple adjustments for improved functionality, there are some great ideas worth consideration. Explore these options to find the inspiration you need for your own office.

Alternatives to Chairs

Most people have probably head the recent reports about how bad sitting at a desk for long durations can be to the mind and body. Some outlets claim that sitting can be worse for your health in the long run than smoking cigarettes. With these staggering stats coming out, companies all over are adjusting the way that they have their employees go about daily tasks. Instead of the traditional and uncomfortable desk chair, businesses of all sizes are taking time to invest in more helpful alternatives aimed at increasing a person’s daily comfort levels.

One option that has become quite popular is the standing desk. This is a device that allows a person the ability to stand while he or she works, bringing the desk to a higher elevation that makes it easy to type on a keyboard without sitting. Of course, some employees might not want to stand all day, so it should not be a mandatory move. Take time to research the various trends related to office chairs and get a better feel for what options you have. Providing a few choices to your employees can make everyone feel noticed and appreciated.

A Way To Cool Down 

Companies these days are taking all sorts of unique approaches to office design. Some industries are all about luxury and experience. If you run such a business, why not consider adding a pool to your office? Whether used as a prime spot to host corporate gatherings or a place where employees can get in some exercise to reduce work-related stress, a pool can be a great addition to your office. All you need to do is research pool construction in Las Vegas to get a better feel for how the process will work for your building.

A Place for Relaxation

The break room at a business is usually a place for employees to eat meals, socialize, and get away from their desks for a moment of peace. Of course, this space is rarely a quiet haven for someone in need of a real break. Since stress levels at work can be damaging to a person’s general health and overall satisfaction with a job, companies are beginning to understand the importance of “relaxation rooms.” Unlike a break room, where noise is hard to control, a relaxation room is meant to be a quiet place that encourages a calm attitude.

Some companies will use rooms like this for daily guided meditation or activities like yoga. As more corporate entities get involved with health initiatives, it has become more commonplace to give workers a few opportunities to engage with activities like yoga in the workplace. If you don’t yet have this type of program in place, consider how adding a relaxation space to your company might be able to encourage a culture that is free of stress and in alignment with the needs of men and women who work there.

Think About Your Unique Needs

To see success while you are making adjustments and enhancements to your office, take time to consider what makes the most sense for your company’s unique needs. The more you focus on the daily operations of your business, the easier it will be to understand which options will suit your organization the best. 

Publish Date: March 3, 2020 9:27 PM


How to Protect Data in Your Business

Online threats and theft cases have been steadily increasing. While the already established businesses frequently make headlines of data breaches, the small companies also suffer the cyber-attacks. The attacks are costly and they can damage the reputation of your business. For this reason, a business should invest heavily in data protection methods to keep their customers' data safe throughout. This guide will shed light on the most effective ways that you can use to keep your data safe from the cyber-attacks.

Train Your Employees on How To Identify Hackers 

Some of the most significant data breaches happen because the employees do not know how to stay safe. For instance, some do not understand the basic things, and might not really know what is data structure. The cybercriminals adopt new tactics every day and that is why you should conduct frequent training. Identify your business needs before you initiate the awareness program. When you understand your needs, you will be in a better position to select the best training package for your particular needs. You might not identify the best topics to cover, and this means that you should invest heavily in the training initiative. Find experienced IT experts to help you cover relevant issues such as phishing, security hygiene and online safety. After training, you can test your employees on the same.

Protect Your Computers against Malware

Malicious software is a general term for viruses, adware, spyware and other harmful computer software. The malware impacts computers in many negative ways without your knowledge. For instance, it disrupts the basic operations of the computer, slows the processes, steals your sensitive information and causes internet connection problems. The malware can also cause frequent crashing and freezing of the computers. It may be hard to notice the presence of the computer malware, and it is, therefore, advisable to take the necessary steps of preventing malware infections. To protect your devices against the malware, avoid clicking on the strange links sent to your emails. If possible, purchase the anti-spam software to keep off all the spam emails. Also, use a firewall even when you have active antivirus software. Minimize the number of downloads you make and use pop up blockers to stop the unwanted pop-ups. 

Update Your Software

Hackers scan various sites to identify the type of software that their target firm uses. The old software versions are more vulnerable to hacking, and it is, therefore, advisable to keep your software up to date. Software makers such as Oracle and Microsoft update their software regularly to fix the vulnerable bugs. So, do not ignore any system update notification from your computer, laptop, or phone. Set up automatic updates to update your system whenever a new version comes up. The regular updates will keep your devices safe, thus, offering maximum protection to your customer data.

Dispose of Your Data Well

Implement appropriate strategies that will be used to dispose of unwanted business data. Remember that the outdated and unwanted papers contain information that was once useful in your business, and the hackers can use that information to carry out fraudulent activities. You should consequently implement sound data destruction policies according to the type of data you are handling. Do not discard the paper documents into paper bins as someone might take them. Instead, you can hire a reliable third party company to shred all the documents on your behalf. Wipe all your readable or writable hard drives using secure software, and destroy your CDs. If you do not intend to dispose of all your old data, create a data retention policy stating how long you will keep it. Also, limit the number of personnel who can access it and indicate the destruction dates.

 

As you can see, there are many useful methods that you can use to protect your data. The most obvious is training, wherein you should offer awareness programs to your employees. Also, protect your computers against malware and upgrade your software systems regularly. Lastly, dispose of your old data well to prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. A third party shredding firm can help you get rid of your unwanted documents.

Publish Date: March 2, 2020 9:33 PM


Top Strategies for Customer Relationship Management

Pulling in potential customers through advertisements and marketing is one thing, developing a working relationship with them is another. You can convert more sales and retain more loyal clients with a good strategy for customer relationship management, and there are some tips and tricks you can use to build a good policy for customer engagement.


Have a Vision

The better your vision for your company, brand and corporate culture, the better your CRM strategy will be. This vision should be clear and action-orientated so your team can rally around it. For instance, you may have the goal of redefining what customer service means in your industry and include that in your mission and vision statements. This will let both employees and customers know that you are committed to the best interactions possible as well as have an idea of what to expect out of the working relationship.

Engage on Social Media

Social media is not just about getting your products and services seen by as many people as possible, it is also about building a relationship with customers on a variety of platforms. Having a social media component to your CRM plans will give you a way to entice feedback, handle questions and complaints publicly and in real time, as well as opening your marketing up to new avenues. For instance, if a customer tags you in a post of a malfunctioning product, then reaching out to them on that post to troubleshoot with them or initiate the return process will show all their followers how you treat your customers.

Target Customers Needs

Some customers will be using free trials of your software or other products while others will be VIPs with a long history with your company, each of these groups will need to be targeted with different messaging to foster a better relationship. You can send incentives to those using free trials to upgrade with special deals for the first few months or ask for feedback on how to improve the product to convince them to buy the full version. You can send targeted sales offers to your VIPs which speak to the items and services that they buy most frequently or offer incentives to bring new customers in. When you focus on the needs of the individual as much as possible, you are making them feel valued by your company and more likely to stay.

Practice Active and Empathetic Listening

Customers are more likely to reach out with frustration than with commendation, and that can lead to some confrontational conversations with companies. Your best bet is to implement a practice of listening both actively and empathetically to customers when they call in. This lets them know that you are as committed to helping fix the problem as they are and that you are willing to work with them instead of being on the defensive. You can do this by keeping a friendly tone on the phone or in person, by taking notes and by repeating back key points before trying to fix the issue. This puts you and the customer on the same page about what the problem is and how to best solve it.

Encourage Feedback

Customer feedback helps you improve products, services and employees, but it is easier to elicit negative reviews than positive or constructively critical ones. When you let your customers know that their feedback is valued by the company, that it shapes policies and products moving forward and that it can earn them rewards, then they will be more likely to provide it. You can hold drawings for customers who submit reviews or give them in-app prizes. You can even make your review goals public and invite customers to a celebration when you meet them.

Customer relationship management strategies will necessarily be complex and feature interactions in person, over the phone and through digital platforms. By having a clear vision for your CRM, you can implement the best strategies across interactions and be consistent in how your customers view the company. It is important to listen with empathy and encourage customer feedback so you can improve your relationships as your company grows.

Publish Date: February 26, 2020 11:49 PM


Software to Consider for Your Business

The time it takes to grow a business from one employee to half a dozen isn’t much longer than it takes to turn a profit after opening a snack-food store across the street from a dispensary in a state that has legalized marijuana. Yes, that’s said tongue-in-cheek, but the reality is that small businesses filling a niche and operating smartly can grow like … well, weeds.

With that growth comes challenges. The one-man operation doing landscaping in the summer months and plowing snow in the winter may be able to handle all aspects of the business just fine in the early days. And an accountant doing the books for a few small businesses also doesn’t need much more than a laptop computer and voicemail to keep operations organized.

But what happens when the list of homes being serviced by the landscaper grows too large for one person to handle and then he or she starts adding commercial clients, too? And how does the accountant manage when word of mouth spreads and suddenly there isn’t enough time in the day to maintain all the new accounts let alone keep up with tax laws?

Well, both take on new employees. But with that comes challenges in the form of communication and coordination. Someone needs to be scheduling routes, sending out invoices, paying bills, recruiting new customers and exploring technology like system security or mailing automation. In the seeming blink of an eye, the one-man operation is a fledgling business with six employees.

Keeping the business running smoothly and prospering requires technology. And in this era of unprecedented innovation and ingenuity, the technology doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. In that spirit, here are three ideas for software that can make the job that much easier.

Originating and Organizing

The need for computers is a given. The operating system and the hardware platform upon which it sits are typically a matter of personal preference. But whether you’re a Mac or PC person, you’ll need software. Microsoft Office was the original 800-pound gorilla that so many people grew up with, but there are other options.

Google’s G Suite is a robust solution that suits the basic needs and goes beyond. Word processing, spreadsheets, form and survey creation, website content development, calendars and email are all part of the package.

Security in the cloud-computing era is understandably a concern for any business owner, and Google certainly has experience and expertise in that area. On the local level, secure release printing is a separate add-on worth considering.

The feature is exactly what it sounds like: Users are required to authenticate themselves at the printer with a pin code, a smart card or some sort of similar mechanism before the job can be printed and collected. Aside from the privacy aspect that is especially critical in financial matters, the feature is a proven way of cutting down waste caused by documents being printed and then forgotten or accidentally being printed multiple times.

Communication and Coordination

The right hand has to know what the left hand is doing. That wasn’t an issue when it was a one-man business and a staff meeting consisted of talking to himself while driving from customer to customer. But we now live in the era of distributed networks in which employees might not even work in the same time zone let alone the same office.

That is why Slack’s instant messaging platform has enjoyed rapid growth as the communication tool of choice. The app works seamlessly between phones and laptops and the team’s conversations can be separated into public or private channels on a platform that’s scalable. Drag-and-drop technology makes for the easy sharing of images and documents that you’re probably already sharing through services such as OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox.

Accounting

Someone has to follow the money, and QuickBooks has become the preferred method for many businesses because of its versatility in handling accounts payable, accounts receivable, budget tracking and tax issues. Payroll processing is a popular add-on.

There’s a learning curve associated with getting QuickBooks up and running, but the benefits are substantial, especially if you’re outsourcing your tax reporting since that entity is almost certainly using the same software.

 

Publish Date: February 26, 2020 12:37 AM


5 Ways Marketing Can Benefit Your Business

Marketing is a way of making the business known to customers by showcasing what it offers. Advertising is essential in business by increasing customers and, in turn, sales or offering of services increases. There are many ways of advertising a business but the strategy you select will be determined by a number of factors. This is one of the marketing strategies where the company uses branded experiences to get to consumers. The type of marketing is crucial because it builds a connection with the consumers such that they get to understand the product of the service better. The following are some of the ways marketing can benefit a business:

1. Marketing is a communication channel between the company and its customers.

One of the important marketing aspects of your business is that marketing provides a channel for communication.It is through marketing that customers can know what a business entails, and anything else that might make the customers be drawn to the business. More than 50% of the customers that connect to business know it through advertisements. The better the advertisement, the more the business is likely to outdo the competitors through its brand awareness. A better way to communicate to customers is through the internet, where the business is exposed to many potential customers. Some of the tricks used to draw customers are like discounts and new products.

2. It is a way to maintain business relevance.

Marketing is all about having a unique strategy such that the advertisements will be out of the ordinary from the other businesses. One way the company can maintain its relevance through marketing. This marketing strategy makes firms have many options for generating unique and customer catching content on all marketing strategies. By using experiential marketing, the business will be able to have supplements to the SE0s or other advertising methods. One way to maintain business relevance by marketing is having live videos on social media to have a personal experience with customers.

3. Marketing builds and maintains a company’s reputation.

While marketing, the management team ensures that effective communication is used to be able to inform customers of all levels of the business. If the reputation of the business is met and meets what it advertises, the usual customers can even boost the business themselves. A lot of business marketing is about branding the company in the best way possible, such that even the customers can be proud to be associated with the company. Customers should know what they don’t know and what they are watching should be worth their time and is interesting.

4. Marketing helps to boost sales.

Although a business may spend while marketing its products, the returns are worth it. It is estimated that a company that had not done any marketing before, the sales may increase with at least 14%.The most successful businesses increase their sales by up to 40% on their purchases. If the company maintains a good reputation, the purchases will steadily increase. The following are some of the ways marketing increases sales:

  1. Maintain favorable attention
  2. Selling to customers’ needs
  3. Clarify the mission of marketing
  4. Having goals for marketing that should be met.

5. Marketing helps to eliminate competition.

Competition is at a point where most of the business is the same, and the difference can only come with how the business communicates to its customers. Marketing is a better place to think of how to portray the business unique from other companies. Communicating with customers better than other companies through marketing will help tackle competitors. Marketing is a place to learn because the management team will be able to get consumers insights and rectify where they may not be healthy for them to be better than their competitors.

From the benefits, marketing is, therefore, an essential aspect of a business, and many companies should invest in it.

Publish Date: February 24, 2020 11:48 PM


Tools and Tips to Take Your Marketing Strategy to the Next Level

 

To say that the marketing landscape has changed in the past 20 years simply doesn’t do justice to the revolutions and innovations the industry has undergone. In fact, it’s likely changed in the last 20 minutes! While this can be very intimidating for even experienced advertising professionals, it also forces them to put more thought and analysis into their tactics. Let’s look at how more detailed planning on the front-end of a new strategy or campaign can lead to less work and more results in the long run.

Take Stock of Your Current Plan

Before you take an axe to your current plan, gather with key decision-makers and stake-holders to evaluate it. Honestly consider what’s working and what isn’t. If certain things are working well, talk about how to capitalize on them and feed growth. If nothing is working, you’ll be able to identify your pain points and create specific plans to address them.

Work on Understanding Your Customers

Far too many businesses focus on their products and processes so much that they lose sight of who their customers are, what they need, and how to help them get it. This sounds basic, but even the best-run marketing departments need to be reminded of this from time to time. With digital and social analytics so readily available, it’s easier than ever to see who is checking your company out, and who isn’t.  It is always helpful to draw the distinction between the attributes of your core audience (current, loyal customers) and your target audience (customers you are trying to get.) Create a name and a backstory for them and introduce them to your sales force.

If your audience is broad (or if you want it to be broader) customer segmentation is a great way to release messaging on multiple fronts. Divide your client base into sub-groups based on whatever relevant demographics you choose. We know that no message or campaign can be all things to all people. However, if you can deploy different messages to different people, you may be able to “have your cake and eat it too.”

Go Mobile

Hopefully, your company has embraced digital marketing in some form or another. These are the tools and channels that have really revolutionized how we buy, sell, shop and make purchasing decisions. It’s where your customers are, and you can bet your competition is there too.

When plotting out a digital strategy, it’s important to have a “mobile-first” mentality. This means that you need to make sure your creative and messaging are easily and clearly accessible on a tiny smartphone screen. It’s crucial because consumers have become used to the instant gratification and convenience of buying what they need from the device they have in their pocket. If you accidentally give them any reason to click away, like a web page whose design isn’t responsive or mobile-friendly, you’ll have a hard time ever getting them back.

If it’s within your budget, developing a mobile app will solve most of those problems for you. It will also enable you to send out push notifications of special promotions or events.

Set Measurable Goals and Metrics for Success 

Another concept that seems elementary but still gets ignored frequently is the setting of measurable goals. Success is measured differently in different industries, so it’s important that your team is all on the same page. Whatever the metric is, put a number to it. Don’t say “we want to be number one.” Say, “We want to increase our market share by 5% in the next 120 days.” This not only defines what you consider to be a “win,” but it also puts a timeline and sense of urgency to it.

After setting measurable goals and timelines, the next set is assigning and delegating roles and duties. If everyone understands the big-picture goal of the marketing campaign, they will be clearer and more enthusiastic about the part they play in it.

Track Your Progress Honestly

Finally, marketing without results is an exercise in futility. You need to see how your efforts are paying off after you’ve put your work out to the world. Branding is a long-term play, and you should never abandon a big picture strategy lightly. That said, you need to monitor analytics like web traffic, social media likes and follows, and of course, revenue to see if your messaging is getting through. If, not, consider tweaks in the messaging and copy, before reconsidering the whole strategy.

Marketing is a team effort, and everyone in your company needs to understand your goals, plans and methods as much as possible. These tips will help you set the plan and communicate it to your staff.

Publish Date: February 21, 2020 9:25 PM


3 Ways to Boost Traffic to Your Business Site

Increasing traffic to your website can be a challenging ordeal. Having a website for your business is an important first step, but that doesn't mean visitors are going to immediately start pouring in. There's a lot of work and effort that goes into increasing website traffic. You have to attract people to your website and entice them in a way that's hard to resist. Fortunately, you don't have to be a marketing pro to do this. If you implement a few key strategies, you'll be able to drive traffic to your website like never before.

1. Optimize for Search Engines

If you've been doing a lot of research on building an online presence and digital marketing, then you've likely heard the term search engine optimization (SEO). When you search engine optimize your website, you're helping the search engines understand what the content is about so that they can deliver the best possible experience to users. SEO is partly about providing code and partly about creating quality content that's of value for users to consume.

Search engines use algorithms; they can't understand or interpret a webpage's content like humans can. They need code to do this. That's why implementing on-page SEO on your website is so important. The many on-page SEO elements you should have on your website include:

  • Meta descriptions: Provide a preview of what your content is about. Optimizing your meta descriptions is crucial to SEO because search engines show them in search results when they include a keyword. Writing a good meta description will also help your page stand out from others.
  • Title tags: Specify the title of a webpage. Best practices for creating compelling title tags include asking questions and adding emotion to your title tags.
  • Header tags: Differentiate the headings (h1) and subheadings (h2-h6) of a page from the rest of the content. This gives search engines and users an idea of what a page is about. It also lets them know about the important points the writer wanted to emphasize.
  • Image alt tags: Describe an image or what an image is representing. From an accessibility standpoint, alt tags can be read out to visually impaired users to help them interpret the meaning of an image. For an extra SEO boost, you can include relevant keywords in your image alt tags.
  • External links: Links pointing to related pages. This helps search engines figure out your page's topic and shows that your page contains quality information because you're linking to a trustworthy, authoritative site.

Once you implement on-page SEO on your business site, you'll be able to get your web pages indexed. Once indexed, major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex will start ranking you. You may not start off ranking on the first page, but as your site gains more authority over time, you'll climb through the ranks. 

When your website's content starts ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs), more people will see your results. The more visibility your website has, the more clicks you'll get, which translates to traffic tracked by a tap port. In fact, results that rank on the first page receive 71% of search traffic clicks. This is likely due to the fact that people want to find information as quickly as possible and they don't want to spend a lot of time clicking from page to page. Therefore, finding what they're looking for on the first page is more convenient. This is why search engines rank the most relevant and useful results at the top, so that users can find the best results in the shortest amount of time.

2. Invest in Online Advertising

Another way to increase online visibility is to invest in online ads. Whether you choose pay-per-click (PPC) ads, utilize ads on social media or both, you'll build awareness of your brand and drive people to your website. Your ads should be high-quality and grab attention. Your ads should have minimal copy and an enticing offer, all at the same time. List the benefits potential customers will reap from your product or service. Use attractive colors that go well together and make sure you create enough whitespace so that your ad is aesthetically pleasing.

You should also utilize features on the ad platform you use. Specific targeting is a great feature because it helps you make the most of your ad spend by only serving ads to users who are likely to need your product or service. You can implement specific targeting based on a variety of factors such as demographics (i.e. age, gender, location, job title, education, etc.), online behavior, interests, preferences and more. The more specific you'll get, the better you're able to single in on the right audience. This tool is so useful because of course, not everyone that's going to see your ad will click through, which wastes money. But by targeting people who are most likely to take interest in your business, you'll not only be able to save money, but you'll also be able to increase traffic.

3. Gain Backlinks

If the content on your site is compelling and provides value to readers as well as gives them advice they can apply to their everyday lives, other sites will start linking to you. Links like these are called backlinks. When you gain backlinks, search engines will start to see that your site is trustworthy. Building backlinks is an important component of SEO because it helps your rankings. A quality backlink from an authoritative and trustworthy website signals to search engines your site can be trusted. The more value you can provide to users, the higher your site will rank in the SERPs.

Other ways to attract links include guest blogging, creating partnerships and being featured on popular podcasts.

Launching a new website for your business can be quite fun and exciting. However, until you've had your website a while, you may not see the traffic you expected. But with the right techniques and patience, you'll get visitors in no time.

Publish Date: February 20, 2020 1:55 AM

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