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Three Reasons to Implement Automated Sales Reporting

Posted by Megan Flanagan on Jul 1, 2015 9:06:29 AM

home_ipad_3Running a business without the ability to conduct sales reporting is like driving a car with no gas gauge. Exciting! Care free! Aaaaand super irresponsible, likely resulting in some kind of misfortune. The presence of automated sales reports are imperative to a smart, successful business. It’s yet, another simple, thing you can do to keep your business on the road for miles and miles without any road blocks.
Here’s why…

Learn As You Grow
A great way for your business to succeed is to learn from past mistakes and successes. Sales reports are a great tool to use to catch trends and see what your customers respond to. Once you hit a full year of reporting, you’ll have an iron grip on your numbers and gain some great control. You can then react, plan, and prep your business for peaks, and get creative during the down times to keep your business plentiful and blooming.

Keep Goals on Track
Setting goals can really drive your team in the right direction. Seeing the direct results of business initiatives is a great motivator for constantly pushing the bar and striving for improvement. Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition now and again, am I right? By tracking sales, promotions and campaigns, managers are able to set goals and keep employees or sales rep on track.  Boosting the bottom line is great for everyone. And… everyone works a little harder when catering is involved.

Budgeting and Planning
How can a business set up and forecast budgets without an accurate picture of sales? In order for managers to do a good job at budgeting and planning, they need the most accurate sales forecasts that have been well-supported by data to budget appropriately and set realistic goals.

This is huge, right? The ability to set up automated reporting is getting easier and more affordable everyday with apps and iPad POS technology. These new apps allow business owners to combine their front end point of sale systems with marketing and reporting capabilities – kind of a one stop shop – for very little cost. To learn more about automated sales reporting and iPad POS software with talech, Contact Us for more information.

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MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse, New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

 

How To App Your Business

Posted by Megan Flanagan on Jun 24, 2015 11:52:00 AM

2909483129_fc38488202_mCould your business use an app? Let me just go ahead and answer that question for you. YES! YES of course your business needs an app! People love apps! Apps are in! We are used to convenience. Every single one of your customers has a million things to do today, a million places to be, a million things to buy, a million people to avoid, a million things on their to-do list! But you know what else most of your customers have? A smartphone. What do you put on a smartphone? Apps. Of course!

This generation has been dubbed as “The Millennials”. We (they) are a busy people. Coupon cutting is out as we want to go green and stuff, but we still like our money to last. If you want the next generation of customer to become YOUR customer your business needs to suit their needs. It’s time to learn some quick and easy ways to build a mobile app. (If you build it…. They will come…. And they won’t understand this reference.)

There are several ways to go about this App building thing.  There are websites out there ranging from 100% do it yourself, to 100% please do this for me because app building was not an elective at my college and I want an app for my business to survive in this land of tech saavy moustaches! Stick with me and we’ll find something perfect for you, your business, your customers, and your continued success.

Appy Pie
First of all, I love this one the best because of the clever name. Kudos. I’m not alone in my favoritism, however! Appy pie is one of the highest rated app building sites out there. It’s super user friendly and has a nice blend of helpful do it yourself customizations where it can still be your own. It’s as simple as drag and drop! With the Appy Pie App Maker, users can add push notifications (“Hey! There’s a new thing you might be interested in at this place you like that created an app to tell you such things!”), social media (Like us on Spaceface, or Instatweet!) and, most importantly: blog integration. There’s also a business aspect including but not limited to appointment scheduler; restaurant tools, and menu builders. Users may begin Appy Pie for free! When you get to publishing, plans start as low as $7 a month. Two delicious thumbs up!

AppMachine
AppMachine is focused more on the professional side of things. This site allows you to build, and design your app on your own, or with the help of designers and yet it’s still completely customizable.  As you build you are able to see the cost of your creation. As you add features your cost increases so you are able to keep tabs on yourself and not blow your budget. You can add the same as before, plus analytics and an online store. This one is a bit more costly at $499 per app. There is the perk of preview! So you can watch your app come together and see how fabulous is looks from your smartphone as your build.

Appery.io
This one is perfect for my Mac-only fiancé! This site allows you to work right in your own little cloud space. Here you are able to drag and drop right from your cloud. No downloading and no installing. You have everything you need and can get right down to business! Appery is simple enough for most anyone to navigate with a very literal and visual drag and drop. A where you put it is where it’ll be mentality. However there are also advanced options for any developers out there. This one has a pretty great deal as it’s free for one project and starts at $15 a month for three projects.

No matter which program you choose or how you go about it, an app is a pretty great step in promoting your business, keeping it current and providing more opportunities for prospects to interact with you. The most difficult part about it all may be the deciding factors in what you want to include and how you want your app to look. You can keep your customers in the know while providing great service and convenience. That’s a super win. Come on, get Appy!

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MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse, New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of Cristiano Betta via Google CC @ Flickr CC.

5 Ways to Prevent Fraud on Your Website

Posted by Megan Flanagan on Jun 17, 2015 11:42:00 PM

448665548_b4537c7c0d_bFraud is one of the most frustrating and critical issues plaguing The Internet. It’s a significant danger that is simple and sudden to occur, yet incredibly difficult to fix. There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who avoid fraud (like the plague), and those who welcome fraud with open arms, by doing nothing to prevent it. Don’t be the second guy. Don’t let your BUSINESS be the second guy either. The Internet is a feast for hackers but luckily there are ways to avoid, deter, and protect your business from these cybercriminals.

If your business is managing sales or orders through a website or shopping cart – there are a few variables to pay close attention to in an attempt to avoid fraud.

1) Do research on customer orders
Sometimes things just don’t match up. Addresses are often a big indicator in detecting fraud. For example: If the billing address doesn’t match the shipping address. Of course, there are situations of honest people who won’t be home during typical delivery times, or they’ve purchased a gift for someone, or they live in Seattle and don’t have a front porch, or they ordered something embarrassing to show up at their ex’s house…. But a difference in addresses can be a big red flag. You can also check to see if an address is even real by using sites like Google maps or Zillow! This way you can even see what kinds of flowers they like. That’s right. You can creep right back.

Also take note if the IP address is from overseas but doesn’t match the country issuing the credit card being used as payment. IP addresses are able to be researched at websites like IP-Lookup.net. If you really want to get savvy you can use certain e-commerce software programs containing the proper settings and block offending IP addresses as well.

2) The email, The email, The email
Sometimes cybercriminals are simple and lazy and hope that you’re lazy too. Check the email addresses! They won’t be as obvious as: fraudulentemailaddress@fraudworld.com, or websitefraudsoccermom@onlinefraudparty.com, but they’re easy enough to detect. If you receive an email that looks like an auto generated order number you might be in trouble. Keep your eyes out for the jgi8675309@yahoo.com. Odds are? It’s a phony!

3) Code: Security
A really simple and common method is to simply require the security code from the card being used. This is different from a PIN, this is the little 3-4 digit code on the back of a credit card typically at the end of the signature space. Consumers physically need to have the card to access this number which makes it difficult if they are an internet ghost on the prowl. The lack of this code will deter those who don’t possess the actual card.

4) Decline the declined
Cybercriminals work hand in hand with luck. They don’t often have all of the information needed to complete a transaction. There are devices that can ‘predict’ credit card information. So they go to town on websites, run what they can run and hope for the best. Lucky for you, online business owner, you can put a limit on how many times someone can input incorrect information before being prompted to contact customer service. NONE SHALL PASS!

5) John Hancock
Requiring a signature upon delivery is a pretty simple way to ensure your product goes to an actual customer who ordered merchandise from your business and paid for it with their own credit card. Throw a tracking number on there too, that way you can protect yourself! You’ll know when your product arrived, where it went, and who signed for it.

Another thing worth mentioning - is pay attention to PCI! As confusing as it may sound, it’s not just some obnoxious acronym designed for the tech department – PCI (or payment card industry compliance) is an important set of rules and standards that are necessary to protect your business. If the credit card processor handling your payments is thorough and diligent, this should not be the first time you are hearing about PCI. They should be working with you to stay compliant and ensure your website is not vulnerable. Contact NTC Texas to learn more about PCI compliance standards.

We all take a risk when we go online. A customer can have their identity stolen and their good credit ruined. An e-commerce business owner can lose credibility and in turn have to dish out added fees for being an easy target. Protection, security, and smarts go a long way when it comes to prevention. Beware! The Internet is scary, and full of hackers.

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MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of star5112 via Google CC @ Flickr CC.

138 Small to Midsize Businesses Breached in 2015

Posted by Megan Flanagan on Jun 10, 2015 2:34:44 PM

7175133946_26ef268d47_mHaving so much available to us online makes things a lot easier for consumers, and far more convenient than ever before for businesses. You can literally sit in your underwear with your own coffee, and talk to your cat while you do your black Friday shopping on your home computer. June Cleaver is losing her mind right now. Not only is shopping simpler, we can also pay bills, network, keep in touch with those people we kinda knew from that one time we played Frisbee golf on the quad during college, keep up on the latest in business technology, and breach the security of corporations large and small.

Wait, WHAT?! Yes, you read correctly. While we’ve been livin’ it up in the year 2015 for the last six months, 348 entities have already been hit by cybercriminals. That may not sound terribly overwhelming until I tell you it’s entities like the I.R.S, and the Beacon Health system that have somehow been breached. Entities that you would have otherwise thought are impenetrable. That’s some bad breach.

Everyone is a Target
According to the June 9th Data Breach Report, published by IDtheftcenter.org, of the hundreds of breaches this year, 30 struck the financial industry, 29 struck educational institutions, 25 struck  government agencies, 126 struck the healthcare industry and a whopping 138 struck small to medium size businesses, like yours…but those aren’t the ones you hear about in the news. Check them out here.

On a scale of epic proportions, a data breach is pretty epically epic. Defined as, " …a security incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so."

Some larger organizations which have had to deal with a data breach already this year:

Bank of America, for example fell victim to a breach early this year by a third party Merchant. Bank of America has not released exactly how many customers were affected by this breach, but select BoA customers  received an explanatory letter, and a new bank card.

Aetna Health Insurance is also in a breach position (ha!). Just a few weeks ago, Aetna disclosed the breach, and temporarily shut down their website to get a handle on the situation. 450,000 employees and hopeful prospects had email addresses and other personal information copied. 65,000 Social Security numbers were also listed on the site. Letters were sent to those customers whose information had been compromised. Aetna has yet to reveal how the breach occurred.

One of the scariest breaches thus far, however, is the IRS. The cool part is we all have to continue sending them all of our information! (Of course I’m speaking ironically). The IRS’ system was hacked through an application called Get Transcript which allows taxpayers to keep an eye on their account transactions, tax return information and reported income to the IRS. The agency has temporarily shut down the application.

What to Do
Clearly this is quite the problem. Not only are the business moguls and government agencies getting hit, small businesses are as well. A breach like the ones mentioned above can annihilate a small to midsize business, if not by the cost of litigation, but the bad reputation and loss in customers. Bad news travels quickly. So what can you do? You can start by downloading our eBook below to learn more about how you can protect your business.

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MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of Bryan Mills @ Flickr CC.






Should Your Business Accept Apple Pay?

Posted by Megan Flanagan on May 27, 2015 12:01:01 PM

Apple_Pay_logo.svgIt seems as if Steve Jobs were destined to get us to a place every 1970’s sci-fi film was hoping for. A world of computers, technology, devices, doo dads, and whirly things. A world of talking into some electronic device and seeing someone looking back. And now? Here we are. Forty years later, and we’ve made it! The future. Only smaller, less bulky, less olive green, more yoga pants, and far less tesla coils than any one of us ever could have prepared for. The future is now. And not only are checks a dying method of payment, Apple Pay is upon us. And get this! You don’t even need your wallet!

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a mobile payment service that lets consumers use newer Apple mobile devices make payments at retail and online checkout systems. Basically, Apple devices now have the ability to communicate with a retailers P.O.S system (Point Of Sale! Not the first acronym you thought) via Near Field Communication (N.F.C.) technology. An app on the Apple device has the customer’s payment information securely encrypted inside a microchip.

Combine that information with Apple’s Touch ID feature and you’ve officially made Agent 99 very jealous. You can use NFC technology to touch a device and make a transaction happen.

No more swiping the customer’s card six times because the magnetic strip has lost its connectivity, no more covering cards with a plastic bag to make them process (why does that work?!), no more waiting for customers to fiddle for the right card in their wallet/pocket/purse/stroller/husband, no more searching for the pen that WAS at the register before you went on break but is now gone because that other girl always takes the pen off of your register, no signing, no ‘cancel for credit’… And for the love of Tim Cook, no more credit card imprinters!

Currently, Apple Pay is only available for customer use with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and that new beautiful Apple Watch. However! Customers with an iPhone 5, 5s, or 5c are still able to use Apple Pay through their Apple Watches. The watch does not have the same touch security you’d get with your iPhone, but it sure does have its own security bells and whistles. When using Apple Pay on an Apple Watch users have to use a security code and believe it or not, the watch knows if it’s not its owner’s wrist it’s upon. The owner is the only one who will be able to use Apple Pay on their Apple Watch. Yup. We live in a time where our watches know their owners. How far we’ve come. I used to get excited when my watch played a song at noon. Now my watch shows me more loyalty than my cats.  Jerks.

What’s in it for the businesses?

With identity theft on the rise, people are becoming more hesitant to use their credit cards online, or even out and about at traditionally trusted retailers. In 2013, up to 70 million Target customers were shocked to find their credit card information had been stolen. They sent out new bank cards and credit cards, and debit cards… had to activate the new ones, change all of their bill information… What a mess. Apple Pay is super secure. Like I said earlier, you may as well name your watch “Cheers”, because it knows more about you than anyone at any bar ever could, and can hold onto your deepest secrets better than Norm. And it won’t even eat your snacks.

Think about this. 90% of Americans have cell phones. People nowadays know where their phone is before they know where their wallet/license/credit cards/children are. Phones are their lifelines. You can do pretty much anything on your phone now and people do! Slowly it’s becoming an expectation. Is there an app for that? Most likely. If it’s easier and more convenient for your customers, more people will be game to shop from you.

What do businesses have to do to feature Apple Pay?

For what it is, not much! It seems like you would have a lot of prep work, a lot of added fees, and a lot of space. Actually it’s fairly simple. Any business currently accepting credit cards looking to take on Apple Pay will really only need to make sure they have an N.F.C credit card Reader, which may also be referred to as a contactless reader. One of these will run a small business $300-$500. After that, there are no added fees on top of the standard merchant processing fees from say Visa, Mastercard, or American Express for using Apple Pay.

Currently, less than 10% of businesses are using Apple Pay. However larger retailers such as Walgreens, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and McDonald’s seem to be jumping at the chance to get ahead and were ready for the launch of Apple Pay In October 2014. For more information on Apple Pay please visit: https://www.apple.com/apple-pay/

 

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MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Tags: payment processing

Why Your Business Should be Accepting Online Payments

Posted by Rachida Essadiq on May 26, 2015 3:49:21 PM

pay-onlineCould you afford to lose 11% of your sales? InternetRetailer, an e-commerce information site, forecasts that online payments will make a jump from 8% to 11% of total retail sales between 2013 and 2018. Ecommerce and “mcommerce” (buying items via mobile phones) are on the rise. Accepting payments or selling products on your website will not only keep your business up to date, but it’s a cost effective practice that will increase cash flow. Ecommerce also has added benefits like opportunities for affiliate marketing, reduced costs for traditional billing, and easier and more accurate bookkeeping.

You Don’t Accept What?

When shopping online, most customers expect to find a web payment option. Having a sleek, sophisticated website is an extension of your company’s brand that gives the customer confidence in your products. Having no option for online payment may ruin that image.

Increase the Impulse Buy

Writing a check and waiting for your business to process a mailed-in payment adds unnecessary difficulty for consumers and may halt the purchase altogether. Online buyers are already 15% less likely to impulse buy online than in-store, so why add more time for them to rethink by having them write a check? Customers may even go to a competitor that offers an easier check out option.

Ability to Use Credit Over Debit

Another huge benefit to accepting online payments: the ability to accept credit cards. Having to mail in orders limits a customers options, usually to a check, and if they don’t have enough in their checking account to pay the total amount, they may rethink the purchase. About 2/3 of businesses and consumers used credit cards for payments in 2012; being able to accept credit cards removes another road block to a customer immediately buying a product.

Credit card companies offer fraud protection for users, who know they can make a claim to the card company if fraud does takes place, adding another level of trust for consumers.

Automated Accounting

The same user friendly experience that online payments provides to consumers is also translated to the backend for bookkeepers and administrators. By picking an online payment provider and/or shopping cart wisely, businesses can develop a very efficient process for recording and tracking payments. The money will be directly deposited into a checking account, without worrying about annoyances such as trips to the bank.

Expand Your Affiliates

With web payments, your company could also launch an affiliate program. Affiliate programs let other online retailers or sites refer customers in exchange for a small commission. The fee is minimal in comparison to the increased sales, and with a commission system you could add as many affiliates as necessary.

All businesses need to have all possible revenue streams open, including those in the growing ecommerce industry. There should also be as few road blocks to a customer contributing to those revenue streams as possible. With the right online payments program businesses can start the process of accepting web payments and create an excellence experience for their customers and business.

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About The Author
Jordan_HooverJordan Hoover is a Dallas native returned home. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. from Loyola Marymount University. He of course loves writing, reading, playing music, and learning new things everyday. Connect with him over LinkedIn, at www.linkedin.com/in/jordanhoover

 

How Important Is It To Keep Good Employees Happy?

Posted by Rachida Essadiq on May 20, 2015 2:14:00 PM

3803517719_61fc214012_mYou can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time… But if you're a business owner you should try to aim for at least a 75-80% satisfaction rate from your employees. Otherwise? It'll cost ya.

It'll cost you time, energy and money. And a lot of it. These costs are translated in money lost from training, traveling, and time on the clock. We are talking about big bucks here, especially if the bulk of your employee turnover is in management roles…

On the flipside, keeping employees on long term is an incredibly valuable asset. They possess qualities and contextual knowledge of your company you can't teach a new someone right away. They have the skill, familiarity, experience, and product knowledge to keep your company going strong.

So how do you keep these great employees happy?

It seems obvious, but, like parenting, there are a number of methods and strategies you can look at. Surprisingly it's not all about money, either! Here are a few ways to retain great employees (inspired by this Forbes Article)

Communication – Like any relationship, communication is key to maintaining a healthy employee/employer relationship. And effective leadership communication is not just one-sided. Although it is important to have scheduled meetings to touch base with employees and update them on company progress, many successful companies find it helpful to hold “town hall” style gatherings where employees thoughts and concerns can be heard. This sets a tone of open communication and trust that will help employees to feel more secure in their employment.

Be a Coach – Knowledge is power, and most people feel empowered when they are absorbing the kind of knowledge that derives from seasoned experience. This is why it is so important for company leadership to coach employees, help them find valuable resources to better do their jobs – this will ultimately empower your company as a whole.

Set Goals, Hold Employees Accountable - It’s extremely difficult to reach goals without accountability, this idea is crucial to company success. But even more, employee morale is dependent on reaching goals and being successful in order to feel like they are growing WITH a company. When an employee is held accountable to and reaches that goal, you can bet that it will only fuel them to work harder towards more success – which is a win-win for all.

Conduct Performance Reviews - Performance reviews may sound like a scary idea to most people, but to company leadership they can help gain priceless insights into employee goals and aspirations. They also give a structured platform for growth opportunities and offer something tangible along with positive feedback.

Seems easy enough, right? Shockingly, these concepts are well beyond even the largest of companies. Some of the greatest offenders with the highest revolving door are huge companies like Google, Amazon and Aflac. The average time for their employees to stick around is one year. That's pretty rough in comparison to fellow large companies like General Mills, Intel, and Hasbro with a 3% or less turnover rate in a given year. Kudos! I wonder if I took a look inside, I could see what their Lucky Charm is? I guess they've just taken the right path down through The Game of Life ;)


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MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of thephotographymuse @ flickrcc.

 

Tags: business management

6 Ways Your Business Can Celebrate Memorial Day

Posted by Rachida Essadiq on May 12, 2015 11:14:00 AM

4655351538_8bf62c3255_mWhen, after the end of the Civil War, families began to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers, they had no idea it would lead to a new national holiday. The shear weight of the amount of those lost, around 500,000 in the Civil War according to the Huffington Post, may have lent itself to the creation of the new holiday, originally named “Decoration Day”.

Although officially declared Memorial Day in 1971, then, as now, it is more then just an excuse for a three-day weekend, but a chance for us to honor the over 1 million servicemen and women who have died fighting for our country. As an owner or manager, the responsibility to honor those who died in the line of duty isn’t just personal, but a duty for your business as well. Here are 5 ways you can.

Discounts for Veterans

Although not Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day does remind us of others who fought for our county, and whom we can never thank enough. Giving discounts to Veterans and their families is an easy and noticeable way to show that you care about their service.

Link Up with a Local Nonprofit

There are many nonprofits that focus on honoring passed soldiers, assisting veterans, or helping current soldiers, such as Children of Fallen Soldiers, the USO, or Hope for the Warriors. If these organizations don’t seem like the right fit for your business culture, use Charity Navigator to find the right nonprofit. Then, get to work promoting awareness of your new partner’s mission. For example, you can reward customers who donate to the nonprofit you are supporting or feature the nonprofit in a company newsletter. You could also donate in-kind items, or offer employees time to volunteer.

Participate in a Parade

Many cities have Memorial Day Parades and need local businesses to help shoulder the cost of the event. Even if you don’t want to sponsor the larger parade, organizations or individuals creating floats may need sponsors, which will get the name of your business in front of hundreds of eyes. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce to scope out the details.

Honoring Those Who Died in a Newsletter or Blog

Many of us have stories of friends of relatives who fought for our country, and some who died serving, but we don’t always have a space to share them. A special company newsletter or blog could spark a conversation on the topic and serve as a great outlet. It would also give a chance for you to ask your customers about the stories of their family war heroes, adding a good personal touch to business relations.

If You Are Working

If you have your business open on Memorial Day, doing small things to celebrate may improve employee moral and keep them engaged. An outside picnic for lunch with employees and their families may be a nice way to celebrate while at work. Suggesting the wearing of Yellow Ribbons and respecting a moment of silence at 3pm could remind employees that it’s not a typical Monday.

Hiring a Vet

The best way your company could honor military heroes on Memorial Day is to look into hiring one. They are often creative, and highly disciplined, which sets them apart as quality civilian workers when they return. However, Veterans also usually have higher unemployment rates than non-veterans, especially the most recent “Gulf II” class, according to U.S. News. To change this trend, check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s website to see more information about hiring Veterans.

Memorial Day weekend may also be good for business, but this doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of the larger meaning of the holiday. However you decide to honor military personnel, it’s important to share the character of your company with your customers and the community.

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About The Author
Jordan_HooverJordan Hoover is a Dallas native returned home. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. from Loyola Marymount University. He of course loves writing, reading, playing music, and learning new things everyday. Connect with him over LinkedIn, at www.linkedin.com/in/jordanhoover

Top photo courtesy of Ian Sane @Flickr CC.

What the ACH? Pros of Accepting ACH Payments

Posted by Rachida Essadiq on May 6, 2015 11:23:11 AM

achSome of you may be shocked to know exactly how many hard working Americans still use paper checks as a payment method, and even more, businesses that only accept paper checks. I know! Times are flying and technology has snagged us all by the the fake pockets of our jeggings. We may not have a Marty McFly hover board, but we do have technology more advanced than that of the first space shuttle, literally in the palm of our hands. We can talk to our watches and get directions. We can feed our pets via web cam. An entire library of books and music fits on a tiny chip smaller than a Cheerio. Our cars can park themselves. Let me just say that again. Our cars can park themselves. We have all of this insane technology the sci-fi world has been dreaming of for generations and people are stuck on paper checks. And believe it or not, some people like it that way. What the ACH?

Exactly. So what is ACH and what does it have to do with your business? ACH (stands for automated clearing house) allows businesses to electronically accept customer payments directly from the customers’ bank accounts by using the account and routing numbers. Most people have used this method when paying their utility bills. ACH payments are basically E-checks.

I get it! In several lights, checks are the most logical way to go. They're easy to track and cancel, also very specific on who can cash and deposit them. If you're mailing a payment, a check is definitely a better option than mailing cash. Unless, of course it's a $2 bill in a birthday card from nana. Yeah, they still make those too.

But what if you are operating the type of business that has customers paying bills? Lawyers, accountants, architects, landscapers, or contractors for example could all HUGELY benefit from ACH. How does this affect your business? How can you use ACH to improve what you have already? I'm glad you asked.

Benefits For The Customer

As each generation comes into the adult world of responsible bill pay and credit build up, it gets a little bit simpler, and a little bit more convenient. My father used to spend an entire day driving around town just paying bills. He always made sure to let mom know he had the checkbook. These days? My mom spends 15 minutes on the computer, pays every bill, and can continue on with her trying game of Majong. My kids will never know the struggle of checkbook marathons due to ACH. ACH is also a better organizational tool for customers as they are able to see the business name and amount paid on their statements instead of searching for check images.

Benefits For The Business

There are several highlights to using electronic checks vs paper checks for businesses. For one, your check will not be lost in the mail, and it will not be delayed or stolen. There's no delay on payment, no one has to wait. If a customer forgets to pay the bill until the day of - not a problem anymore. One of the largest draws for businesses is the cost. According to System Six, a bookkeeping and analysis firm companies are paying an average of 3.0% in fees when using credit card payments when they could be paying closer to .20% with ACH. Not to say that they shouldn’t provide both options, but think how much can be saved as customers opt to pay via ACH.

To learn more about accepting ACH payments for your business Contact Us at NTC Texas.

  Mobile POS Guide

MeganMegan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of Matthew Pearce @ flickr CC.

Businesses: Are You Prepared For Mobilegeddon?

Posted by Rachida Essadiq on Apr 29, 2015 1:05:00 PM

6300224891_95be7ac1d7_m-1Despite the lack of warning from the Mayans, Mobilegeddon has occurred. Don't run off to your bunker just yet! It may not be quite the collapse you're expecting. In fact, if your business is mobile friendly, you will very much enjoy meeting your maker. As will your new and existing customers… The mobile ones, anyway.

With technology constantly changing and growing, we've become a fully mobile culture. People love the convenience and ability to Google on the go. According to pewinternet.org, as of January 2014, 64% of adult Americans own a smart phone, and 7% of them are "smartphone dependent". We love being connected. We depend on it.

Therefore, in an effort to bring business websites up to date, Google has created, yet another new algorithm. Sigh. Now per Google, when performing a search on your mobile device, you will first be brought to mobile friendly websites vs. websites that have yet to make the change. Businesses are fearing a loss in web traffic thus causing a drop in sales. There's you're virtual Armageddon.

What exactly does it mean to be mobile friendly? Basically, you want your website to load on your phone as easily as it would on a desktop. The page has to load quickly and not lag. Once loaded, the page must adjust to fit on a smaller screen. The link buttons must be large enough for a finger to easily click, and of course, the page must contain readable text. It's all about accessibility, and happy users. There are even some select companies which offer a full website in addition to a separate mobile website.

However, this isn't specifically called for. Nitin Gupta, GoDaddy's senior director of mobile product management, thinks this is a good opportunity to redesign websites anyways and was quoted saying “Small businesses should be thinking about what their customers need to do (online). Even sites that are mobile-friendly, they may want to consider a redesign.”

Unfortunately, there are still sites out there that are not yet mobile friendly at all. According to techcrunch.com over 40% of them, surprisingly, are Fortune 500 companies.

You aren't totally out of luck if your entire site isn't "up to par". If the relevant page is mobile friendly, odds are, you're in the clear and will still reach surfers of the web. The update as a whole may take weeks to fully roll out.

Google made the announcement in February 2015 giving businesses over two months to research, and reconstruct their websites. There's great tips and advice on what makes a site mobile friendly, how to fix it if it's not, and a test to see if your site passes here at https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6001177?hl=en

See? No need to duck and cover! But if you are hiding under your desk, now you can use your phone to surf the web with the greatest of ease.

 

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photo-3Megan Flanagan has been in the customer service business for over ten years hand in hand with several companies, large and local. She is a native of Syracuse New York where she lives with her fiancé, step daughter, and new addition, baby Eloise. New to the business blogging world, she has always had a passion for writing, communications, and the art of entertainment.

Top photo courtesy of Matthew Pearce @ flickr CC.

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