Thursday, December 19, 2013

BBB Warning: Smart Phone Apps May Share Your Information

Smart phone apps can make life easier, putting dozens of useful tools in the palm of your hand. But BBB is warning consumers to make sure the apps they download don’t take more information than they need to do the job.

In a recent settlement by the Federal Trade Commission, the agency found that a flashlight app’s privacy policy had been deceiving users into sharing their geographic location and device information with advertising networks and other third parties. “Brightest Flashlight Free," developed by Goldenshores Technologies, LLC, is one of the most popular apps on Android mobile devices and has been downloaded more than 10 million times.

However, according to the FTC, the company's privacy policy told consumers that any information collected by the app would be used by the company, and listed some categories of information that it might collect, including geographic location. The privacy policy failed, however, to mention that this private information would be released to third parties. The complaint also involved the company collecting information as soon as users opened the app, even before accepting or refusing the terms of the privacy policy.

Goldenshores Technologies has agreed to settle the FTC charges. The settlement goes on to prohibit the company from misrepresenting how users' information is collected and shared and how much control users have over the way the information is shared. It also requires defendants to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before collecting, using and sharing information.

It’s not always easy to tell if an app is going to collect your information or how it will use it. BBB is urging
smart phone users to:

• Research companies and apps before downloading, including industry publications and user reviews;

• Read the full privacy policy (and, on Android phones, the “Permissions” screen);

• Opt out of location sharing when prompted;

• Periodically check all privacy settings on your smart phone and keep them set as high as you can without altering the functions of your apps (some apps, like maps and compasses, need geo-location information in order to work properly);

• Update your apps when a new version comes out (your phone should alert you); often app updates fix “bugs” from earlier versions;

• Delete apps you no longer use from your phone.

For information on apps for children, check out BBB’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit.


For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How The BBB Helps With Your Internet Marketing & SEO

This blog post was written by Phil Singleton, Founder & CEO of Kansas City Web Design, a Kansas City BBB A+ rated accredited business.



There are so many reasons why businesses should join the BBB.  Most of these are well-known and self-explanatory.  Yet,  BBB Accreditation provides your business with many online benefits that are often overlooked.


The BBB is a highly trusted website.  The search engines know that BBB members go through an extensive vetting process to become accredited.   The information on your BBB Business Review, including the link back to your company’s website, provides search engines with important information about your business.  While a BBB listing is by no means a ‘magic bullet’ that ensures high search engine rankings, it can help to boost your overall Internet marketing efforts and provide other benefits as well.


Here’s why:


1. BBB is a PR8 Website: The major search engines consider BBB.org to be a ‘high authority’ website.   Google, for example, has a score for websites called PageRank, rated from 0-10 (Google.com is a PR9 website).  Have you ever wondered why some websites appear ahead of yours in search results?  One possibility is that your competitors have more high authority websites linking back to their site.  This is over-simplifying search engine optimization (SEO) because many factors influence your website’s rank – but high quality backlinks are still a very important part. In other words, a link from BBB to your website is a valuable link.


2. BBB Kansas City is a PR5 website:  Local chapters pages of the BBB tend to have a PageRank as well.  The Kansas City BBB has a high page rank in its own right.  Further, the combination of high domain authority with local, highly relevant content makes your link(s) from the BBB valuable.


3.  Your BBB Page Is a Powerful ‘Mini Site’:  The Kansas BBB has strong organic rankings for many types of searches.  If your company takes advantage of all the great features on your BBB profile page, your BBB page can achieve its own organic rankings.  In other words, a prospective Kansas City customer could search for a service and it’s possible that your BBB company page could rank for that search term.


Further, if you have an SEO program in place, your Internet marketing consultant can drive SEO efforts at your BBB page – extend your keyword reach an overall Internet visibility.


4.  BBB Interactive Seals Increase Conversion Rates: A highly visible, accredited BBB seal is extremely helpful for ‘website conversions’.  A website conversion is the action you would like your prospective customers to take at the end of their website visit.  This could be an online sale, a phone call, filling out a contact for or application, etc.  Your website visitors develop a first impression in a fraction of a second.  After that initial impression, your website has another three seconds to convince visitors to stay and read more.  A highly visible BBB seal helps establish credibility and trust immediately, which in turn will help in increase your website’s conversion rate.


5.  High Quality Outbound Links:  Backlinks pointing to your website are just one SEO ranking factor.  Strategically placed outbound links can contribute to your website’s organic search engine rankings.  This is especially helpful when creating blog posts to your website.  When you are writing on a topic and the text or page contains an outbound link to a relevant, quality website, this link is often perceived by search engines to add value to the page or post.  Thus, linking your seal to your BBB profile page, or linking to a BBB page or blog post may contribute to your organic rankings.

In summary, if you are a BBB Accredited Business, be sure to take advantage of the SEO benefits that your membership can bring.  Make sure your profile is up to date and contains your website information.  Add relevant and optimized content to your member page (logo, images, videos, etc.).  Display the BBB seal prominently on your website.  Hyperlink your seal to your BBB company profile page.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday Gift Cards

Marlborough, MA - December 13, 2013 - Finding the perfect gift during the holiday season is not an easy task. Gift cards are a hassle-free present that allows the recipient to choose something they really want or need. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern MA, ME, RI and VT (BBB) offers tips on how to choose a gift card that will best suit the both the gifter and recipient.
“When purchasing a gift card, it is important to choose the right one for the recipient,” stated Paula Fleming, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the local BBB. “Consumers need to understand the type of gift card they are purchasing, as well as, the fine print and policies associated with it.”
Giving gift cards has been on the rise for years and according to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend roughly $29.8 billion on gift cards this year. The survey also states that gas station, department stores and restaurants are top choices for gift cards. Gift cards are popular for their convenience and the freedom they give to the recipient.
BBB offers the following tips when purchasing a gift card:


· Inspect the card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed, and that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.


· Know the rules. Understand the different types of gift cards: retail gift cards, which can only be redeemed at the retailers and restaurants that sell them; and bank gift cards, which carry the logo of a payment card network such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa and can be used wherever the brand is accepted.


· Check it out. Make sure you are buying from a known and trusted source. Always check out a business at bbb.org. Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.


· Read the fine print before buying. Is there a fee to buy the card? Are there shipping and handling fees for cards bought by phone or online? Will any fees be deducted from the card after it is purchased?


· Provide the recipient with back up. Give the recipient the original receipt in case the card is later lost or stolen. Also, before you buy retail gift cards, consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. A card from a business that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business may be worthless. If the business closes a store near the recipient, it may be hard to find another location where the card can be used.


· Treat the gift card like cash. It’s important to report lost or stolen cards to the issuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, while other issuers will, for a fee. Make sure to use gift cards as soon as possible, because it’s not unusual to lose or forget about them.


For more advice on finding reputable businesses around the holidays, visit bbb.org.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Whether you like it or not, the ugly truth is your credit report and credit score have a great deal of power. They serve as key tools that measure the financial risk you pose to lenders. The higher the score, the lower the risk. Credit scores and reports are used to determine whether or not you are approved for a mortgage, loan, or even a bank account and can positively and negatively affect the interest rates on your credit cards and other borrowing methods. Therefore, it is extremely beneficial to do what you can now to improve your credit score and resolve any errors on your report. This will prevent this information from haunting the remainder of your financial life.
According to a recent Federal Trade Commission report, more than one-in-four credit reports contain errors. Make sure to check your credit report for errors or potential fraud once each year. You can order a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies once every 12 months by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. The site is run by the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Keep in mind that this is the only free resource to receive your official credit report. Do not fall for any other company that advertises “free” credit reports because these companies will make you sign up and pay for other services.
After you check out your credit report, the next step to take is to fix any errors. Contact each of the three reporting agencies to report the errors, and begin the process to correct them. This often requires sending in a letter, including your name and address, exactly which items you’d like to dispute and why. Include copies of supporting documentation and a copy of your report with the errors circled or highlighted. Also contact the provider of the incorrect information and have it fixed on their end, so the problem does not reappear in the future. If you still encounter issues, visit The Federal Trade Commission to learn more about your rights when dealing with credit reporting agencies.
It’s always good to be building good credit because this will help you out in the future. Here are some quick and easy tips on how to maintain a good credit score or make some necessary improvements:

  • -Keep track of your bills and make sure to pay them on time.

  • -Do not max out your credit cards. Keep your credit card balances low, and try to limit your purchases to less than 25% of your credit limit at any time, even if you always pay off your bills in full.

  • -Limit the number of credit cards you open, including retail store cards. They may come with great perks, but many cards show lenders that you tend to borrow money at high rates over short periods of time, which signals risky borrowing behavior.

  • -Keep open old cards with a long credit history. They may help your credit score because the length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your score. The higher the average age of your accounts, the more it could improve your score.

  • -Remember to pay traffic or parking tickets or even library fines. If these bills end up at a collection agency, it could drop your credit score by as much as 100 points! Make sure to also keep records of these sorts of payments, in case you need to dispute an error.


For more information, visit BBB’s Managing Credit – Made Simpler. There you will find tips on paying off balances, managing your budget, getting financial help, and protecting yourself from credit fraud.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Western Union and Better Business Bureau Warn of Charity Scams During Giving Season

The holidays bring out the best in people, and many charities count on end-of-year generosity from donors to meet the needs of those less fortunate.   Sadly, scammers know this and prey on unsuspecting consumers who don’t do their homework when giving money to charities.  Scammers solicit by phone and email, or post links to fraudulent charities on social media sites with names similar to those of legitimate organizations.  In some cases, scammers even pose as legitimate charities, in one variation of the so-called imposter scam.

Western Union and Better Business Bureau launched BBB Scam Stopper to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of common scams.  “We urge donors to give thoughtfully, and to be wary of scams this holiday season,” said Art Taylor, President and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “It’s important to check out a charity first, and make sure you are giving to a charity that will use your donation wisely.” BBB’s give.org has reviews of more than 11,000 charities.
Here are tips to consider when giving money to charities:
 
·         It’s best always to donate to a charity directly after confirming its legitimacy – rather than giving in response to a phone call or by clicking an email link.

·         Never send a money transfer to an individual for a charity.  Western Union does accept donations for charities, but the money transfer must be sent to the organization, not to an individual.

·         Never share banking or credit card information with a person or business you don’t actually know.

·         Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer.

“Resist rushing.  If a charity is legitimate, they’ll accept your donation any time,” said Shelley Bernhardt, Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union.

For more information visit westernunion.com/stopfraud or, to test your knowledge of scams, take the Fraud Quiz: westernunion.com/fraudquiz.


To learn more about which charities meet BBB Wise Giving Alliance standards, go to give.org

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sharp Rise in Online Retailer Complaints

The long lines for the newest iPhone showed that consumers are still willing to wait for the latest and greatest electronic device. However, many prefer to skip the line and jump online to find good discounts on electronics and other items. But before you do, Better Business Bureau is warning online shoppers to beware of questionable advertisements and phony websites.

BBB received six times more complaints nationally against online retailers in 2012 than 2011 – from 62 in 2011 to 347 complaints in 2012. Most consumers allege they were charged undisclosed fees and taxes, while others claim they were charged for a product they later discovered was out of stock and undeliverable.

When considering the purchase of an electronic device or any item from an online retailer, it’s important for consumers to do their research. Make sure the price advertised is specifically for the device you want and not just a similar version. Also, remember that not all websites are legitimate. Ensure the site is secure by looking for the “s” in https when entering your payment information.

BBB advises consumers to also look out for the following when planning to do business with an online retailer:

1) Advertised prices are much lower than retail. Everyone is looking for a bargain on electronics and scammers use tantalizingly low prices to lure victims in. If the prices for items are well below those of trusted competitors, be prepared to walk away.

2) Spelling and grammar. Many phony electronics websites are created by scammers overseas and you can spot them because they usually contain spelling and grammar mistakes.

3) Payment via wire transfer onlyScammers often ask victims to wire payments because the money cannot be easily tracked or retrieved in the case of fraud. BBB recommends always using a credit card to pay for electronics online. If the website turns out to be fraudulent, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.

4) Lack of information. Always try to find a seller’s physical address, not just a P.O. Box and phone number. Research the company’s name and website for additional information. Check bbb.org for detailed information about the company including owner information and history of complaints.


5) Fraudulent security seals. When shopping online, you want to look for the seals of trusted organizations and confirm that the business’s use of the seal is legitimate. You can typically do this by clicking on the seal which, if legitimate, will link you to a confirmation page on the certifying organization’s site. For BBB Accredited Businesses using the dynamic seal on their website, the clickable link will direct the consumer back to the company’s BBB Business Review.

How often do you shop online for business or personal reasons?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Help Your Employees Share the Holiday Spirit

According to a report from Giving USA, charitable giving grew by about 3.5 percent last year, totaling $316.23 billion. Much of the giving takes place during the holidays and businesses often lead the way.

There are more ways to spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate than simply donating money, however. One way is to harness your employees’ natural desire to help others.

BBB has the following tips for businesses looking to help employees share their time, talent and treasure:

Match donations. One way to encourage cheerful giving is to match a portion of your employees' local charity donations.

Ask for employees’ charity recommendations. Invite your employees to select a charity as a group and promote their cause throughout the holiday season. Not only will this help the charity of your choosing, but your business may benefit from the brand awareness created by aligning yourself with a worthy organization.

Do some research. Learn how the organization uses the donations it receives by reviewing its BBB Charity Report online at www.give.org. Avoid giving to the wrong charity. Check the name of the organization closely to ensure you are giving to the right one, rather than a similarly-named organization that might not be legitimate.

Offer time off for volunteering. Consider giving employees paid time off for volunteering for charities. BBB gives employees 16 hours of paid leave for charity volunteer work. Employees have a year to utilize those hours for any charity they want to support. Call the charity directly and ask them if there are opportunities available and make it a company event. Consider wearing matching clothes with company logo to identify your business while you volunteer to market your brand.

Pick a cause you believe in. One great way to get motivated is to find an organization that appeals to the same demographic as your business. For example, if you sell clothing, consider aligning yourself with a children’s or women’s shelter where your donation directly impacts the individuals there.

Hold a food drive. BBB encouraged staff to donate to a local food bank last year by holding a team contest on who could collect the most food items. The prize was minimal, but in the end, the contest netted 1,425 pounds of food for families in need.

Partner with a charity. Supporting a fundraising event such as a toy or food drive can be a source of good public relations. Businesses can donate time, floor space or promote volunteering among the staff.

How do you spread the holiday cheer?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to Market for the Holidays without Breaking the Budget

Some businesses depend on the holidays for a big portion of their annual revenue. For others, the fall/winter holiday season might be a slow time of year. Either way, this is a great time to engage and connect with your customers.

Holiday marketing doesn’t have to mean offering big discounts. There are many ways for businesses on a budget to go after their piece of the holiday pie.

BBB has the following tips for businesses looking to take advantage of the holiday season:

Use holidays to add a personal touch. Offer special discounts or sales tied to holiday themes. Showcase seasonal gifts, menus or merchandise. Offer treats like warm cider to get customers into the holiday spirit. You could use the opportunity to present a special offer or coupon that customers can redeem any time through Dec. 24.

Make special holiday offers for faithful customers. One way to take advantage of the season is to make existing customers feel special and try to get their repeat holiday business. You can make special offers available to current customers — give them sneak previews; offer perks like free shipping or secret sales.

Feature different products or services. You could feature different products or services and give them a holiday spin. Share your holiday-themed promotion on your website, social media, email, posters and flyers.

Cross-promote. You might be able to partner with a complementary store or restaurant and offer limited time specials that cross-promote each other’s goods and services. For example, a retailer and restaurant could hold in-store events where the restaurant provides food and drinks and the retailer provide the location.

Get involved in local events. Supporting charities, as well as sponsoring or getting involved in community events can generate awareness for your business during the holidays. If you can’t donate large chunks of money, you could volunteer or offer space or services.

Use your website and social media. Target and connect with local consumers during the holidays using your website, social media or email marketing. Develop holiday themes for email templates and update your social media with a holiday theme. You can also use social media to engage customers about their holiday activities and help drive foot traffic to your store.

Check back often for all your business tip needs.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

BEFORE SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY®

Are you a small business owner? Make Nov 30 one of the biggest days of the year for your business by taking part in Small Business Saturday®. Check out resources that can help you stand out on the big day at ShopSmall.com.

• SPREAD THE WORD: Download marketing materials that can help you attract new customers on the day

• PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS: Apply for free personalized online ads. Eligibility restrictions apply; see Terms of Participation for full details. Registration for free ads closes on 11/4/13 or while supplies last.

• GET INSPIRED: Visit ShopSmall.com to see what others have done in past years to make the day a success

This is a day no small business would want to miss. Make sure you’re a part of Small Business Saturday 2013.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Maximize Your Time Spent on Social Media

Please raise your hand if you've ever felt like you were wasting your time on social media.

FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ are just some of the few tabs you have open at any given moment. The activity feeds of all the sites are constantly streaming by with pictures and jokes that have no impact on you or your business. As the minutes pass ten, twenty, sixty you realize you are not spending your time wisely, especially when other aspects of your business could use the help.

Well, don’t worry there’s good news: With a little discipline and a couple set blocks of time, soon you will be in control and able to accomplish what you need efficiently and quickly.

Follow these next few steps, and we’ll walk through how to wisely spend your time on social media. When we’re done you’ll know exactly how to maximize your time spent and get a maximum return. Let’s dive in.

5 Steps to Maximizing Your Time on Social Media


1.) Track your time on the computer for the week.

Before you start diving into the restructure of your social media habits, we need to monitor how you currently spend your time on the computer throughout the week. You want to establish the three or four main time syncs of your current computer habits. Then, you can decide whether these habits are valuable to you and your business before completely start from scratch.

Keep in mind that some of your habits might be on the correct track, but just need to be completed in a more structured manner.

Nothing to overly analytical about this process, keying in on a few points creates our base for improvements.

2.) Brainstorm list of social media values.

After you've monitored your computer habits for the last week, now you must figure out what values you hope to achieve through social media. Similar to the first step—create a list of why you use social media and also what you wish to accomplish using it.

You can refer to How to Set Social Media Goals for specific examples.

3.) Set focused blocks of time.

Whether you plan on devoting anywhere from 20 minutes all the way up to a few hours, breaking up your efforts into focused blocks of time is one of the main focuses of optimization.

Start by choosing any combination of morning, noon and afternoon to be your designated social media times. For example, let’s say you want to devote 45 minutes a day to social media. Break that 45 minutes into multiple 15 minute segments and for those 15 minutes focus only on replying, updating and curating your social media feeds.

4.) Choose your most important goals and stick with them.

Some days you might feel short on time during your predetermined social media sessions. Without risking falling back into your old unstructured way of doing social media, during these times prioritize your most important goals first.

 Making sure to reply to comments and tweets is much more important than scheduling a post for next week, so the less pressing matters can be pushed back to later in the day or sometimes different days all together.

5.) Modify based on results.

Once you are settled into your allotted social media times, the next step in the process is fine tuning. A few times a month or whenever you have reached a milestone you should re-evaluate your goals.

Highlighting the differences between the goals that are currently be fulfilled and those that are not fully being reached, allows you to devote more resources and time to certain areas. Eventually you will find a balance that allows you to pursue all your goals equally.

There you go, now you are ready to manage your social media in a more consistent and efficient way. And you know what the best part is? Now your social media will work for you, instead of the other way around.


Have any more questions about common social media tips? Don’t hesitate to ask.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

How to Set Social Media Goals

How do you remain productive through your day? For some they jot down quick lists of goals to accomplish and for others they can put all their focus into completing once task at a time.

While each individual person has preferences in how they accomplish their tasks, defining proper goals when it comes to social media is key to success in the long run.

It is common for a business to feel the need to jump on the bandwagon that is social media. Find the most popular sites and quickly signing up, and then having no idea what to do from there. You might think “Hey, I just need 10,000 likes and I will be golden” or “I want to make money from this”.

These are the worst types of goals to have. While in the end they might be exactly what you want, without defining any type of specifics the chance you reach them are slim to none.

Here are some examples of proper goals:

-          I will add 100 new fans per month on the FaceBook page
-          I will make 5 new professional connections on LinkedIn through December 31
-          I will follow 10 new people on Twitter per month

These are examples of proper goals because they are S.M.A.R.T.

-          Specific
o   Goals should be specific and state exactly what you want to accomplish
-          Measurable
o   Goals should be measurable so you know you’ve met your goal
-          Attainable
o   Goals should be attainable and reasonable
-          Relevant
o   Goals should be relevant, consistent with other goals
-          Timely
o   Goals should be timely and include a deadline for reaching the goal


By defining proper goals when it comes to your social media practices, you will be able to track your progress and have an easier time when adjusting certain aspects in order to be successful. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Advertise with BBB



Promote your business on a billboard, bus or bulletin advertisement at a third of the cost.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

STOP.THINK.CONNECT



Follow these tips from the STOP.THINK.CONNECT campaign to stay safe online in both your business and personal lives.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is Social Media Required For Small Business?

Social Media benefits and avenues
While there are obvious arguments and exceptions, getting down to the knitty gritty

Yes, Social Media is required.

Whether you are a local area carpenter or a small pizza franchise, utilizing the various aspects of social media to reach your overall business goals is a great option. However, you don’t need to be a computer wiz or technology junkie to reap the benefits.

“But I don’t understand all of the fuss about these silly websites!”

This is the first step. Once you begin to understand and get a grasp on the basics of social media, the rest follows suit. The fundamental understanding of the major social media platforms may come quickly to some, but with a minimal time commitment, even the most stubborn of luddites can be tweeting and posting status updates with ease.

Still not convinced it is worth the effort? Here is a quick list of the many benefits provided:

  • Business Exposure
  • Customer Insights
  • Reduced Marketing Expenses
  • Lead Generations
  • Extremely Targeted
  • Competitve Advantage
  • Analytics and Reporting
  • Strengthen Loyalty
  • Rise in Search Rankings
  • Increased Website Traffic


"OK, You have convinced me... bring on the hordes of new customers!"


In today’s age we can compare having social media to needing a website ten years ago, and needing your business in the phone book years before that. So much so that it has almost become an expectation of every business, and just like its predecessors it is not enough to just sign up and wait.

An easy way to look at using social media is to compare it to going on a diet. Sure many people every year get excited and promise:

 “Alright from here on out, I am only going to eat healthy and get in the best shape I can”. 

But for many, two days later they can be seen eating slices of pizza and drinking soda.

Diet commitment
Social media is a commitment. Just like you wouldn't expect to lose 20 pounds over night on a diet, neither should you expect social media to be the be all end all of your marketing. The more consistency and effort you put into your social media practices the greater the benefits.

Like many things in life, it is a marathon not a sprint.


Stay tuned for upcoming blogs that will expand on many of the most pressing questions small business owners have. Examples: How to Optimize A Facebook Page, Defining a Social Media Strategy and more.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Optimizing your Image and Brand

Every time you step out of the house, you are representing yourself and your brand in everything you do. While your image might change with the new trends and styles, your core brand and ideologies should be consistent across all mediums. Your brand represents your values, it is your legacy, it is your fingerprint.

Here are a few helpful thoughts:

- Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Never under estimate the power of good hygiene.
-Strive for your best possible physical condition.
-Dress tastefully and appropriate every day. You never know who you may encounter next to you at the gas pump.
-Promptness communicates respect and dependability.
-Be present. Don't fidget, gaze off or be preoccupied with your mobile device.
-Make eye contact and maintain relaxed, positive facial expressions.
-Body language needs to communicate approachability, alertness and respect.
-Listen more than speak. Never interrupt.
-Don't simply use good manners, have them.
-Social Media: Be other-centered offering rich content and compelling status updates.
-Keep appointments. Keep your word.
-Return correspondence promptly via the same medium (texts with texts, calls with calls, etc.) and with correct grammar.

Keeping these simple thoughts in mind when you go about your daily business will allow you to present and consistent and quality image.




Saturday, October 19, 2013

Basic Scam Avoidance Practices

Many schemes and scams are easily detected and often pose no real threat to you or your family, but even though you might catch obvious and sometimes embarrassing attempts to defraud you, there are still many more that take even the most cautious people by surprise.

Following these few tips can give you an edge on the attempts to defraud you or your family.

-Get all promises and claims in writing. Ask for proof of claims.

-Require references and check them. Be aware that people may falsely give good references on a company.

-Try to get many references, not just one or two. When checking references, ask detailed questions about business procedures and performance that only a person with real experience in that industry could answer.

-Before signing any document, read it carefully. Sometimes items such as checks and purchase orders contain legal agreements that you might not realize you are authorizing. Never sign a contract that contains blank spaces.

-Be sure you understand a written business agreement completely, and if possible, get a lawyer’s help. If you can’t explain that agreement to someone else, don’t sign it. Keep asking questions until you get answers that satisfy you.

-Screen all of your mail; it is full of valuable items, such as checks and private financial information.

-Change pass-codes for telephone, voice mail, and other billable communications systems frequently. Use complex passwords at least six characters long or longer. Passwords should never consist of character combinations that can be guessed easily, such as phone numbers, birthdays, or names.


-Review all financial statements and bills, to make sure there are no unauthorized amounts on your accounts. Keep these sensitive documents in a secure place. Destroy or shred any such items that you do not want to store. 

How prepared are you?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Good Business Practices – Tips for Securing Customer Loyalty

As the saying goes in the world of marketing: “It’s more expensive to bring in new customers than it is to retain them!” Here are some tips for keeping your customers coming back for more:

Show Your Manners. Customers appreciate companies that thank them for their business, and it always helps to be courteous when you do. A personal note or small gift will also do wonders for maintain customer loyalty.

Listen! Businesses may think they listen to what their customers want, but quite often they don’t. How many times have you tried selling something because it’s a larger sale instead of what they actually need? In those instances, guess what? The customer will take their business elsewhere- to your competitor down the street.

Stay in Touch. Make it a point to contact your customers regularly by offering coupons, discounts, and other notifications (your least costly form of communication is by email). Remember, however, not to inundate your customers’ inbox's because the opposite of what you want will happen- they’ll eventually stop reading altogether everything you send them.

Train Your Staff About the Importance of Customer Service.Empower your employees with the ability to make decisions regarding customer service, particularly when management is not around. Set guidelines for what staff can and cannot do that will “wow” the customer- but also won’t break the bank.


Always Add Value. Offer extras your competitor isn't, be it additional training time, a free estimate, a discount on another purchase or a promotional item. What customer wouldn't want to come back if freebies are offered!

Following these few practices should create great relationships between you and your customers.