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The State of Hiring, Salaries in Texas From Recruiting Company CEO

  
  
  
  

Valerie Freeman, Freeman + Leonard CEO, talks about hiring trends, information recruiters can offer, and more in this very insightful interview.

About Freeman + Leonard, A Creative Recruiting Agency (03:53)
About Freeman + Leonard CEO's Path to Success (02:02)

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About the Author

Jackie ClewsAt NTC Texas, Jackie Clews works with the team on content marketing strategies, campaign execution, and analysis. She also hosts the NTC Texas All Star Experts video series and is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, a digital marketing agency. As a Dallas native, she has a weird obsession with finding and discussing the best BBQ and salsa. You can talk marketing (or food!) with her on Twitter @JackieClews.

Reducing Collections: Four Tips For Effective Accounts Receivables

  
  
  
  

accounts receivablesDebt collections stinks. Having worked in a business office doing collections calls, I speak from experience (only six months’ worth—thank goodness). Calling people to ask for money is hardly fun, and effectively managing an accounts receivables system requires the right technology, hard work and the three p’s of business: Planning, Practicality, and Persistence.

Still, accounts receivables and debt collection are unavoidable for some businesses. Lawyers, consultants, architects, and other professionals offering specialized services have to work with clients on costs that accrue over time or that exceed reasonable one-time amounts. Cheeseburgers—easy to collect on. Building a house—not so much.

The trick to effective accounts receivables is setting up the right system and adopting effective practices that ensure you are actively (and often proactively) addressing those past due accounts. If you’re struggling with collecting on past due debts, adopting the following four qualities into your accounts receivables approach will work wonders.

Get a system. A system makes all the difference. A good one utilizes well-trained employees and regular contact with the clients to keep bad debt to a minimum. From the start of a client relationship, clear expectations must be established—on both sides. From then on, if those expectations are not met, the client should receive initial contact within 14-30 days past due and then regularly until a payment or arrangement is established.

Be practical. It sounds harsh, but if clients can’t cover anticipated costs, then they should not receive services. Look at it from a practical perspective: you will not be doing them any favors by allowing them to build up debts they cannot pay. Evaluating clients up front can prevent bad debt by culling the most risky of them before debt is accrued. Then, that effective system I mentioned before, which you will have already adopted (hint, hint), should take care of any clients who should fall behind.

Be persistent. The first commandment of reducing collections: ask and you shall receive. Regular contact is vital. Some assume that consumers will pay when they are able, but often, especially in this tight economy, consumers will wait until someone reaches out to them. Human nature requires prioritizing and while most people aspire to be honorable and pay their debts, sometimes those debts take a back seat to other concerns—and yes, I’m guilty of it too. However, a simple phone call will often produce results, at least reminding the client that the obligation has not been forgotten. 

Make it easy. The final and most effective tool in reducing collections is ease of use—i.e. technology. The internet along with the variety of gadgets available today make it easy for consumers to make payments at their leisure and in their preferred way. Equipping company websites to take payments for accounts receivables is just good sense. Many systems allow for payments to be exchanged via electronic transfers, ACH, or online payments.  Many systems also allow for automated recurring payment schedules, email and text message invoicing. With so many options available, companies can ensure that their consumers can make payments at almost any time or place—which, of course, means fewer reasons or opportunities not to pay.


Although technology has a cost, the return by making client payments fast and easy far outweighs a small monthly fee.  A current NTC Texas client was owed $9000 and his customer wouldn’t pay with a check; only a credit card.  The business owner didn’t want to pay the processing fee.  Seven months later he was still waiting for the $9000 and was having trouble with cash flow.  He fit the adage penny wise, pound foolish but eventually chose technology and never turned back.

Adopting accounts receivables best practices will produce effective results and a better bottom-line, bringing businesses that other P they all know and love: Profit.

For more information on easy to use technology to manage ACH payments online, contact us at NTC Texas.

 

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AshleyAbout the Author - Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .

 

What it Takes to Own a Club in Downtown Dallas

  
  
  
  

Entrepreneur and club owner Arthur Beynon discusses what it takes to own a club in downtown Dallas as he approaches the opening of his third, scheduled for the fall of 2014.

Payment Processing Lessons for Events, Clubs (04:17)
About Arthur Beynon, Entrepreneur (06:03)

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About the Author

Jackie croppedAt NTC Texas Jackie Clews works with the team on content marketing strategies, campaign execution, and analysis. She also hosts the NTC Texas All Star Experts video series and is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, a digital marketing agency. As a Dallas native, she has a weird obsession with finding and discussing the best BBQ and salsa. You can talk marketing (or food!) with her on Twitter @JackieClews.

 

Freeman + Leonard President Dishes on Leadership, Marketing

  
  
  
  

Kathy Leonard, Freeman + Leonard president and former president of Tracy Locke and The Integer Group, talks about marketing predictions, respect in the workplace, and the value of interpersonal skills in these must-watch videos for business owners, executives, and marketers.

 

Freeman + Leonard President Discusses Leadership, Women in Business  (14:17)

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About the Author

Jackie ClewsAt NTC Texas Jackie Clews works with the team on content marketing strategies, campaign execution, and analysis. She also hosts the NTC Texas All Star Experts video series and is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, a digital marketing agency. As a Dallas native, she has a weird obsession with finding and discussing the best BBQ and salsa. You can talk marketing (or food!) with her on Twitter @JackieClews.

 

 

iPad & Tablet Point of Sales: Letting Systems Do the Work for You

  
  
  
  

iPad POS NCR silverYou’ve probably heard it before: “Work smarter, not harder.” At the time, it was probably uttered by some obnoxious know-it-all professor who was appalled by your late night study habits (or was that just me?). Today, it’s the technological mantra of every successful business. 

With the birth of integration of iPad and tablet point of sale (POS) systems, digital records, online sales, and social media marketing, working smarter is easier than ever. But, for businesses operating without an integrated POS system, they are missing out on profitability and the best perk of technology—letting your systems do all the work for you. 

Oh, and money. They might not realize it, but systems that aren’t integrated make it harder for business owners to use all that digital information effectively to increase sales or cater to client needs. Another cliché to throw at you, but no less true: Knowledge is Power. Or really, as has always been the case in sales—Knowledge is Money. 

Aside from accepting payments, taking inventory, managing payroll and digital marketing  - integrated tablet POS Systems are also used to record and combine information on various aspects of the business, most importantly product sales and client trends. This knowledge benefits businesses in the following five ways: 

1)    Understanding customer preferences: By tracking customer purchases at specific venues and locations, business owners can determine what products are most popular with certain clientele and the best ways to offer those products at the right time.

2)    Profitability: Some items may be more popular in the winter, some in spring. Establishing which items are seasonal can help businesses allocate money effectively. And if items are not selling at all, business owners can make the right decisions about how to handle those products without losing money over the long run.

3)    Tracking marketing efforts: Plenty of businesses sink thousands of dollars into marketing every year, but establishing the effectiveness of those efforts isn’t always easy. An integrated POS system helps business owners monitor social media and email marketing, as well as connect trends in sales to their respective marketing sources. This way, owners can decide what works, what doesn’t, and what they might want to try the next time around.

4)    Inventory monitoring: Unfortunately, many businesses lose money every year to internal theft or simply ineffective inventory tracking and mathematical errors. These systems prevent such losses through efficient inventory monitoring, offering managers up-to-date information on depleted inventory items so they can be reordered and so any discrepancies can be accounted for.

5)    Customer Rewards and Incentives: Everyone wants something for nothing, but that’s not practical. But sometimes a small incentive or reward can go a long way in attracting potential long term clients. Built in customer loyalty programs within tablet POS systems provide great opportunities for businesses to establish cost effective routes for attracting new customers without offering up either big ticket items or unattractive ones that can waste marketing dollars. 

Finding the right product for the right person at the right time is what business is all about. Tablet POS systems are specifically designed to help any business do just that, without wasting countless man-hours tallying up the information. Let technology work for you, then sit back and enjoy the rewards.
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AshleyAbout the Author - Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .

A Mortgage Loan Officer's Unique Perspective on the Economy in DFW

  
  
  
  

NTC Texas spoke with Cara Hawkins, production manager at Ameripro Funding, about the stories she's witnessed since the financial collapse and where she thinks the economy is headed now.

A Mortgage Loan Officer's Unique Perspective on the Economy in DFW (19:43)
The High Importance of Choosing the Right Business Partners (02:47)
About Cara Hawkins, AmeriPro Funding Production Manager (08:07)

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About the Author

Jackie ClewsAt NTC Texas Jackie Clews works with the team on content marketing strategies, campaign execution, and analysis. She also hosts the NTC Texas All Star Experts video series and is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, a digital marketing agency. As a Dallas native, she has a weird obsession with finding and discussing the best BBQ and salsa. You can talk marketing (or food!) with her on Twitter @JackieClews.

3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Mobile Workforce

  
  
  
  

mobile securityWe live in a mobile world—a world of online dating, “google” trivia contests, ebooks, and YouTube. Most of us can't remember the last time we left home without a cellphone. And the days we did, we were lost--for the GPS junkies, literally. 

This new online world drives not just our personal lives, but also our business pursuits. Expanded opportunities for sales growth, employee satisfaction, and lowered costs abound through the use of mobile devices that can do everything from take a credit card payment over a cell phone to project a sales pitch on any white-walled surface. The possibilities are endless.

The greatest challenge in this new and improved mobile world: security. 

According to a recent survey by Accellion and the Information Security Media Group (ISMG), 72% of organizations feel their own mobile security is either “poor” or “needs improvement.” On top of that, in the past year, 80% of organizations have experienced a mobile security incident. I, too, had to scour my bank records—online, of course—for weeks after the Black Friday security breach at Target, which affected over 40 million consumers. 

Between the chances for viruses, hackers, and just plain bad choices among mobile employees, taking advantage of the amazing tools available can be difficult for business owners—especially when lawsuits are so easy to come by as well. 

But it can be done—safely, effectively, and without losing your figurative shirt. Three simple safeguards can keep your private information protected—no matter where you choose to do business.

1) Private cloud file sharing. While there are several inexpensive and popular consumer options for file sharing, security in these systems is shaky at best. Services like Dropbox were simply not designed to be hack-proof, at least not at an enterprise-grade level. 

IBM found this out the hard way in 2012 when the company discovered that confidential documents, including future product development plans, had been distributed openly on the internet. This led the company to ban the use of consumer-grade file sharing services such as Dropbox, Box, iCloud, and a variety of others.

The alternative, enterprise-grade, private file sharing, can allow for safe transit and limited access to company documents, keeping your mobile workforce productive and protected. 

2) Improve security scanning and encryption. Effective scanning for malware is a must. Certain types of malware can log keystrokes and steal private login information. According to Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, 40% of security breaches resulted from malware and 76% of those incidents compromised access credentials—a virtual free pass to any information stored or accessed on the mobile devices themselves. 

Such incidents can be avoided through internal scanning and enforcing an application whitelist—a “free and clear” list of apps for business devices. 

The encryption of all data, either in transit or at rest, can also give your information that added layer of protection, just in case intruders do somehow gain access. Consider this the wind talker security measure, encoding information so that even if an unwanted party does gain access, the data will make no sense without a key to decode it. 

3) Centralize control over user account content and monitoring. A final key measure for protecting information is centralized control. This means that the business owner or your own IT department can set standards for how elaborate employee passwords must be, how frequently they are changed, and accessibility for each employee. 

Safeguards such as the ability to wipe a device or selectively delete applications can also ensure that if an employee leaves the company or a device is lost or stolen, your information remains protected. 

Many companies have recognized the risk of using mobile options in the workforce, but few are giving up on them. They are simply employing smarter techniques to protect their private information, enlisting the help of stronger protection software programs, and adopting policies that are reinforced by effective monitoring. 

Please Note: It may be helpful to install antivirus programs on mobile devices. CNET.com has a list of reputable programs (with reviews) for Android operating systems here. Apple devices do not have antivirus programs available as it is a closed system, you can read a controversial article about that here.  

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AshleyAbout the Author - Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .

Top Photo Courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mobile_devices_DSC_0988.JPG


Credit Card Scam Costs Apple Over $300k: Don’t Let It Happen To You

  
  
  
  

credit card fraudAnyone who has ever worked behind a cash register or owned a business dreads seeing the words DECLINED flash across the screen after swiping a customer’s credit card. And anyone familiar with the process of calling in to get an “authorization code” knows it’s basically a last ditch effort to get the customer approved in hopes that there is simply an error in the system and the sale can still be made.

Well one clever criminal figured out how to exploit this process and targeted a series of Apple stores costing the company over $300k in fraudulent purchases.  Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr., 24, was able to scam Apple clerks in 16 states by getting them to accept fake authorization codes.

Parrish, uncovering a weakness in the authorization code system, discovered that any series of the right amount of digits the clerk types into the system will override the denial. Taking advantage of the clerks’ lack of this knowledge, Parrish pretended to call the card issuers himself and produced his own fabricated codes for them to enter into the system.

And just like that -- his purchases were approved.  

This practice most commonly known by retailers as a ”forced sale” has been a harmless backup plan to getting card authorizations for many years and is often used by cashiers when point of sale systems or credit card readers are failing.

But Parrish isn’t the only one who has pulled this scam. Elitedaily.com reports another case of “forced sale fraud” by a 29 year old Temeshia McDonald. McDonald was jailed for 3 years for scamming multiples retailers including Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic for over $500,000.

Unfortunately for Apple and the other businesses being scammed – as soon as their clerks “force the sale” they automatically become liable for the fraud. Any protection offered by the card issuers or banks is lost after the sale is forced.

According to Elitedaily.com, John Joyce, a special agent in charge of the Secret Service in Tampa, told the Tampa Bay Times that clerks should no longer allow customers to punch in these authorization codes themselves. “The retailer should not be so anxious to make a sale as to override a declination at the cash register.”

Even more importantly, clerks should be making authorization calls themselves, not accepting codes from customers themselves.

One thing is for sure, now that “forced sale fraud” has been reported on mainstream media – there will be copycats. It’s imperative that business owners and employees stay educated on the best practices around conducting authorizations to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud.

Has your business used forced authorization codes in the past? Were you aware of this type of fraud? Leave your comments below!

For more information about Forced Sale Authorization Codes and other types of credit card processing fraud Contact Us at NTC Texas.  

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29fd9a91About the Author - Rachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

Top Photo Courtesy of NEO_II @ Flickr CC

Three Essential 'Time Management' Habits for Busy Executives

  
  
  
  

Guest blog by Joseph Heilner, Certified Business Advisor and Coach

describe the imageHaving started my career working with Stephen R. Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I was fortunate to have been immersed in the application of many of the principles for which he is famous. Twenty years later, in my work as a mid-market business advisor, I bring a balance of hard and soft business tools to my clients, and I have found however “hard” the orientation of a business executive, time management is a ubiquitous coaching need. My assertion is that time management is a misnomer. We all have the same number of hours. It is really about managing OURSELVES, within the context of time.

The Importance of Prioritization for Reaching Goals

I am always surprised when people are unfamiliar with the analogy Stephen Covey often used to help people understand the pivotal consideration of prioritization of tasks – it is one of those things I saw demonstrated frequently years ago but it seems to have died out and fewer people today are familiar with it. He would have three jars, one filled two thirds full with golf ball-sized rocks, one two thirds full of sand, and a third was empty. He would liken the rocks to the critical, important tasks in life and the sand to all the less important things that fill our time. He asked if we thought we could get everything in the jar. He first poured the sand to fill the empty jar two thirds full, and then in pouring in the important rocks, there was insufficient space to contain them. Then he would reverse the order. If you FIRST pour in the rocks, which are analogous to the important things, THEN pour in the sand, which fill in the cracks in between the rocks, you can fit it all in. The moral of the analogy is obviously never to allow the “other stuff” in life crowd out the truly important.

It sounds self-evident that no sane person would allow the important life priorities to get crowded out by the less important or trivial, and yet how many among us do? It’s all in the implementation. Many lack a process to stay on top of their most important tasks. Covey’s secret was an exercise I bring to many of my consulting clients. 

Tips for Implementation

Define Roles: First define the roles you occupy in life. As a business advisor and coach, we focus most on clients’ various business roles, and we break them out into a few sub-categories.  “CEO as people leader,” “CEO as business administrator,” “CEO as business developer,” for example.  Then “Spouse,” “Parent,” “Child,” “Volunteer,” etc.  Having been one of those geeks in the 90’s who carried around a mini-binder-sized paper organizer, I can tell you I’ve explored every limit of the process and once over eight roles you lose focus in the next step: Setting one to two goals for each of those roles.

Set goals: The best way I find to set goals for each role is to ask “What can I do this very week in the role of ______ to be more effective?” Sounds simple, but now something powerful transforms. Instead of being reactive to emergent, urgent items that come up, I am planning and acting proactively to perform tasks that move me into a preemptive, offensive, proactive mode of living. 

Create deadlines: The final step seems obvious but let me assure you it is not practiced as such. If you don’t actually calendar each of the goals you set, and take seriously that you will discipline yourself to actually reserve a window of time to achieve the goals you set, like the rocks in the jar, they won’t all fit in every week.

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About the Author:

Joseph website imageJoseph Heilner is a former C-Level executive who has brought his business expertise to bear as a mid-market business advisor and coach, working directly with CEOs on getting their businesses under control and optimizing systems, cash flow, teams, and processes. He also coaches executives within larger organizations in optimizing their personal effectiveness in their professional roles. For more information, see JHBusinessCoaching.com or email JHeilner@FocalPointCoaching.com.

Tips for Managing a Smart, Expandable Startup

  
  
  
  

Joey Dawkins, owner of Wodafood, dishes on what inspired him to start his modern, healthy food delivery service and how he made it happen.

About CrossFitters' Favorite Food: Wodafood (6:05) 

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About the Author

Jackie ClewsAt NTC Texas Jackie Clews works with the team on content marketing strategies, campaign execution, and analysis. She also hosts the NTC Texas All Star Experts video series and is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, a digital marketing agency. As a Dallas native, she has a weird obsession with finding and discussing the best BBQ and salsa. You can talk marketing (or food!) with her on Twitter @JackieClews.

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