By Nigel Hilton
The chances are you haven’t spent much time thinking about your business’ parking lot. It’s just there; an area for customers to park, so what exactly is there to think about?
A surprising amount, actually. For many customers, their first direct experience with your business will be the parking lot. Given that we all know how important first impressions can be, ensuring that your lot is up to standard is an important aspect of controlling the way that customers perceive your business. If you want to be sure to dazzle them right from the start, then you’re going to need to ensure you have all five of the measures below installed…
#1 – Clear instructions
If you have restrictions on your parking lot — such as a maximum stay or who is allowed to park there — then these need to be clearly signposted. No customer wants to wonder if they are really allowed to use the lot, and you also want to dissuade non-customers from using the lot for other means. A clear sign that reads something along the lines of: “PARKING RESERVED FOR CUSTOMERS OF [your business]”, then this should suffice.
#2 – Security cameras
The ubiquitous “vehicles are left at the owner’s risk” signage might legally remove any liability you have for customer vehicles, but you’re going to want to do a little more than that. Your customers are using the parking lot because they are visiting your business; if something happens in that parking lot, they’re going to expect your business to want to help rectify the issue. You might not have any legal reason to do so, but you have a very strong customer service-based reason to do so. Installing a good security system is the best way of protecting your customers and, ultimately, your relationship with them; tctechsystems.com has some good advice on good security systems you might want to use.
#3 – A smooth surface
Many parking lots are in terrible condition, left that way because they’re small areas that aren’t driven over at speed, so the odd bump or dent isn’t seen as that big of a problem. While these issues might not be horrific, a poorly-maintained surface isn’t exactly the kind of message you want to send to your customers. It’ll be interpreted as either “this business hasn’t actually noticed the state of their parking lot” or, worse, “they’ve noticed and not done anything about it”. It’s fair to say you don’t want your customers thinking either of those things in relation to your business, so research the likes of hardrives-asphalt.com for more information on repairing the surface once and for all.
#4 – Management of non-customers
It is a simple fact of life that people who are not your customers will seek to use your parking lot. This is incredibly frustrating, and can be incredibly hard to fix without great expense. You may find that the best option is to install a ticketing system, whereby everyone has to pay to use the lot, and you reimburse your customers. This system acts as a deterrent to unwanted parking, but even if a non-customer does use your lot, you still earn a little cash as a result.
By implementing the above, you can be 100% confident your business parking lot is in the best imaginable shape.
By Sharon Jones
When you think back to first becoming an adult, you may remember quite a few times exclaiming the phrase “why wasn’t I taught this in school?” It could have been anything from paying your taxes to how to insure your car. Now education is being scrutinised, made increasingly more difficult for children, and constantly raising grade expectations. There are even subjects being cut from the curriculum to encourage more enthusiasm for the core subjects. Those subjects in question fall under the more creative side of academia – The Arts. This includes drama, dance, DT, woodwork, textiles, art, illustration and so on. The question now has changed to “why should we teach art in schools”. Many argue that The Arts breed unsustainable employment, and distract children from appropriate lifestyle choices in terms of careers. However, should the future be the only thing we are concerned with when it comes to our children’s education? Or should we also take into account their well being and the constant pressure that is on them to achieve higher than average grades and to know right from wrong at such a young age? Here are a few reasons why The Arts should most definitely be taught in schools, and why it is beneficial to young students.
Pupils Learn Differently
In many classes, other than Physical Education, the students are presented with solo work where the teacher stands at the front of a silent room of children, teaching them what will be in their exams. This is only beneficial to a number of children in the room, as children all learn differently. Audio learners will definitely be benefiting the most from this sort of environment as will the reading and writing learners and the visual, however, the kinesthetic learners of the group may be falling behind. Not because they are not capable, but because some pupils simply don’t learn well in this environment. Within The Arts, there are plenty of lessons that are up on your feet, physically doing the work set out in front of you, and learning along the way. This is why many kinesthetic learners will excel in The Arts, and potentially need further help in the more academic subjects. You shouldn’t be penalised because your brain works differently to others. This is not a measure of the pupil’s intelligence; this is a case of taking information in differently to other pupils.
Aids Social Skills and Encourages Teamwork
Two of the most employable qualities a person can have are being able to work in a team, and the ability to communicate effectively with other employees and customers. The Arts – especially drama – allow pupils to work in a team and present ideas to one another. Not only will they gain initiative, but they will also be able to comprehend constructive criticism and ideas not being taken on board by the group, without taking either to heart. The Arts also teach good public speaking, thinking outside the box, and being confident in your own ability. All extremely attractive skills and qualities when evidenced on a curriculum vitae.
The Arts has always been top of the list when it comes to funding cuts, so it’s important to not to have cuts made to education also.
By Lina Martinez
Everyone will encounter money troubles at some point in their lives. It is a fact of life and is inevitable. These money worries can range from the low to the massive and have the potential to wreak havoc on your professional and personal life.
Knowing what is the right company to trust in getting out of this financial quagmire is a tricky one. There are hundreds of companies out there who promise to save you, but many of these are fronts for something much more sinister. It is essential that you consider all of the possibilities before leaping headlong into something that could cause further ruin.
Taking out proper research into a company if vital if you don’t want to get taken for a ride. This can be done by looking at customer reviews, like in the case of Pebblestone Financial, to ensure that they are trustworthy.
Doing this research may seem like an endless task, but if you are serious about fixing your money problems, then it is imperative that you do it and do it thoroughly. The road ahead is long and perhaps uncomfortable, but while your problems may seem bad now, they will be even worse if you don’t go through potential solutions with a fine-toothed comb.
WORD OF MOUTH
But of course, there is nothing stopping people from lying on the internet. Having a bad experience with a company is one thing, but people have been known to exaggerate their experiences to put a company in a negative light.
If you don’t want to entirely trust your internet research, then speaking with trusted friends and family members, or even someone you know in the industry, will give you a better idea of what the best route to take is. Money can be a sensitive issue, and your friends and family will (hopefully) be looking out for your best interests.
While this doesn’t guarantee a satisfying experience – everyone’s issues are different – you will at least have the recommendation of someone you trust which should save you being taken for a ride.
People are always told to trust their instincts. If something seems too good to be true and vice versa then it probably is. Often, untrustworthy companies will promise you the world only hand you a handful of dirt. Their tactics may seem odd and perhaps brash, but if you are unfamiliar with such procedures, then you might assume that this is sound.
You have probably already heard about the IRS debt scams going around where someone calls you telling you how much money you owe. If this seems sketchy, then it more than likely is. Being aware of anyone asking for your personal information over the phone is always a sign of something less-than-okay going on. If someone really needs to get in touch with you, then they will, typically via post.
People in debt can get desperate and so any solution no matter how strange or unusual can cause them to take the opportunity before it’s too late. Being smart and recognising the signs of untrustworthy businesses can help you avoid further issues and hopefully set you on the road to better financial stability.
By Jerry Mooney
Freelancing has become a popular way for people to pursue their careers. With the creative industries, in particular, freelancing allows individuals to take charge of their careers and choose work that interests and motivates them.
For business owners and employers, hiring freelancers also has its benefits. From employing specialist skills to keeping employee counts low, businesses can enjoy high-quality work without increasing headcount.
If you’re considering hiring freelancers or an agency for your business, the following advice can help you learn more about the benefits, while also giving you some information on what to look for in a quality freelancer.
Cost is one of the main reasons why businesses choose to hire freelancers over full-time employees. A freelancer can be paid on a contractual basis, with one set fee for the completion of the work. Employees, however, come with various other costs such as insurance, pensions and other costs that can soon lead to an increase in your expenditure.
With freelancers, you don’t have to worry about these factors. Freelancers pay their own taxes, and it’s up to them to make sure they have health insurance or a pension plan. Meanwhile, the majority of freelancers provide their own equipment – helping you to save on costs that your company might not be able to afford at this time.
Freelancers are experts in their field, having worked for years in the industry before branching out on their own or developing their skills over the years. When it comes to hiring a freelancer, there are certain things that you should look out for to make sure you’re choosing a trustworthy candidate. Most freelancers will have a portfolio available and testimonials from past clients to give you an idea of the kind of work they can do as well as give you assurances as to the sort of working relationship you can expect.
Working with an external agency for certain services offers the same benefits regarding expertise. If you have certain business needs that can’t be covered by your existing staff members, it makes sense to hire those with expertise rather than bringing in new members of staff.
It solves a current need or problem
Much of the work that freelancers are hired to do is project-based. This means that if your business has a need, a freelancer or agency can fulfill that need until the task is complete. If, for example, you were looking to develop an app or some software for your business, then you’d hire a software development company for this. Once the project is complete, you may not have use for these skills again, which would have made hiring a permanent member of staff a waste of resource.
However, hiring a freelancer doesn’t necessarily have to be for a one-off project. In some cases, you might need to hire a freelancer or an agency on an ongoing basis to carry out work that isn’t necessarily required all the time. A copywriter is a great example of this – someone who can write your web copy but may not be needed on a full-time basis. Many businesses will also hire freelance graphic designers or website managers to take care of work that is needed throughout the year.
It’s easier than ever to find the ideal freelancers for your needs. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you’re no longer bound by geography to find someone with the skills and availability to work for you. With most freelancers working remotely, you can find someone online easily who will be able to work with you through regular contact online or by phone. Cloud computing makes it easy to collaborate and get real-time updates on the progress of the work, giving you peace of mind when putting your trust into an external party.
There are some great websites to find skilled contractors, which allow you to search from a pool of thousands of talented individuals. You can even provide a brief and invite people to pitch for the work, demonstrating why they’re the perfect candidate for the job. You’ll find that going through a trusted freelance portal like eLance or Guru allows some security for your money and also involves some regulation to ensure people are who they say they are.
The downside of hiring freelancers
Of course, while there are many benefits to hiring freelancers, there are also some downsides. Freelancers work for themselves, so they may not necessarily stick to a working hour schedule that your business operates by. They might also be working on multiple projects at once, which means your business could fall down the list of priorities on occasion.
It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the risks associated with hiring freelancers before you commission the work. There is some best practice guidance for hiring freelancers that can help you mitigate the risks to ensure a successful arrangement. It’s worth checking up on references before you contract anyone to do the work, and while not always possible, a face-to-face meeting can help to alleviate some of your concerns.
While there are downsides to working with freelancers, there are ways of avoiding the risks that shouldn’t put you off making the jump. Freelancers can provide many solutions for your business and can help you employ more modern ways of working that you might find refreshing. The keys to business success include being analytical and being adaptable, so put these things into practice while making your decision.
The question of whether or not your business should hire a freelancer depends on many different factors. To make the best decision for your business, you’ll need to consider the options available to you and assess them based on a financial and practical perspective. Speak to other business owners about their experiences of hiring freelancers; you might even find that you get some good recommendations out of it.
Hiring a freelancer might be a risk, but it could be a risk worth taking if it delivers the right results for your business.
By Jerry Mooney
No one goes into business with the intention of failing. In fact, many people starting out can suffer from having their sights set too high and giving themselves unrealistic goals. Whatever market you are currently working in, there are certain fundamental rules to being successful that everyone must follow; no one who ever created any real success will be lacking in these areas. Many will seem quite obvious once you know them, but it is important to make a conscious decision to begin to incorporate these traits into your daily working rhythm. Below are the four key pillars of having a successful business. Follow these and watch your company flourish.
Awareness is quite a loose term, but it encapsulates a lot. In this instance, awareness is used specifically about your strengths and weaknesses. Many people have no problem listing those attributes that they see as strengths. However, it takes a different kind of business person to be able to accurately identify their own shortcomings. Those that can do this will go far. By knowing what it is that you do not excel at, you can delegate, create partnerships, or alter your methodology to ensure that these personal weaknesses do not become business weaknesses. For instance, if creating and keeping track of paperwork and invoices is a struggle for you, delegate it, or use something like a FreshBooks example to make the process easier. If you are good with numbers, but not so good with people, let a more experienced negotiator take charge of your client meetings. Do what is best for the company and leave ego out of your business decisions. A good methodology to adopt is ‘the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ so make sure you are using the most effective parts and strategies in all areas of your business.
With the exponential growth and change that technology is affording modern business, it’s a case of evolve or die for many companies. In order to be successful, you must be prepared to be unsentimental about your methodologies and practices. Other companies will embrace new technologies and meet customer needs in new and exciting ways, if you are not doing the same you will be left behind. Know what your clients and customers need, and make sure they are getting it from you. In order to do this effectively, you will need to immerse yourself in your chosen market. Go to conferences and expo events, speak to other business owners, read publications. You must know your industry inside out, only when you know how it is changing can you hope to predict where it is going.
Big businesses are widely publicised as spending big money. In 2010, Coca-Cola spent an enormous $2.9 billion on advertising alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your money on expensive ad campaigns too. Their total profit for the year was also in excess of $35 billion. So that helps to give an idea of percentages spent. A good business knows when to spend money and when to save it. There’s no use spending thousands on an advert campaign that only brings in a few hundred in extra revenue. Always weigh up the return on investment for any of your big spends. Keep an eye on the little costs too. Providing mountains of free pens to staff that are constantly getting lost or thrown away will end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. You could also look at saving money on manufacturing costs, or even your utility bills. Even small savings can add up to big increases in your profit margin over time.
Your analytical skills tie in somewhat with the other points mentioned, but it deserves a mention of its own. You should always be looking for opportunities to develop and hone your business. Gaps in the market, ways to impress your customers, ways to diversify or new ways to and specificity and skill to your service. You should constantly be looking to identify the shortcomings of your business and seeking ways to turn those weaknesses into strengths. A successful business is one which is never satisfied with the way things are. Comfortability is the enemy of success.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to build upon your current knowledge and working style to create growth and success for your business. It is never easy to stand out in a saturated market, but following these tips will allow you to inch ahead of the competition little by little until you start to put yourself in a completely different league to them.
By Brian McKay
Once you have got your business up and running it is very easy to slip into a comfort zone, whereby you stop aiming for progression and you become at ease with your achievements. Although this is not always the case, you need to remain one step ahead of the business world at all times. Many small and large companies end up failing because they become too lax and laidback with running their business. A lot of entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve their business and this is what you should consistently be aiming to do. There are a few tweaks which you can make to your habitual working day which will improve your business flow and create a better relationship between you and your consumers. Choose the ideas which appeal to you the most and take action now before you slip into the banned zone of comfort.
Know Your Network
Did you know that you can monitor every slight movement, activity and motion throughout your network? Visit websites such as https://www.ipswitch.com/network-monitoring, to find out how software can help you to stay on top of the goings on surrounding your online systems. Map out and create a personalized dashboard which highlights everything you need to know, from online traffic to potential bugs. By using programs like this you can boost the productivity and efficiency of your company and watch the trends occurring around your network. Get any malfunctions cleared up quickly and be notified instantly if you need to take action when a problem arises. You will soon be grateful for the extensive knowledge products like this have to offer and your business will run more smoothly as a result.
Listen and Learn
You can majorly improve your business just by listening to feedback from your customers and clients. Many companies don’t carry out enough market research to evaluate the populations view on their products and services. You are providing people with a worthwhile service, but sometimes there may be areas in which you can improve. You won’t know what they are thinking unless you actively ask them for their opinion. The market is changing so rapidly that you need to keep up with your competitors. Keep your eyes open at all times and listen to those who you are striving to satisfy.
Be On Top Of Your Budget
Map out your finances to the finest detail and make sure you’re setting a reasonable budget for your business spending. By sitting down and re-evaluating your financial situation you can avoid a potential monetary mishap. You might just find a snag in your initial plan and you could start to cut costs in places you didn’t think were possible. Once your business is on its feet you will start to find ways to cut back on your outgoings and eventually your flow of finances will become more efficient.
You could also think about upping your marketing strategies as you start to get to grips with your competitors. Keep your ideas rolling and never believe that any job is fully completed. The more you stay on your toes the more effective your business will be.