Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to Put Employees First in the Customer Experience, and Why You Should

Obtained from: MarketingProfs

At many companies, the frontline of customer experience—the contact center—isn't meeting customer expectations. Although brands are adopting new technologies to better interact with customers and understand their wants and needs, the answer to delivering the right experience may be simpler than that.
At the very core of customer experience is human interaction, so to truly see return on customer experience investments, brands should invest in their most valuable assets: agents in the contact center.
According to new research from Calabrio, customer demands are increasingly complex, the number of inquiries are swelling to new levels, and agents feel ill-equipped to solve the ever-growing list of customer requests.
There's a lot riding on agent interactions, and the lack of support has many representatives feeling stressed out, abandoned, and stuck in a pressure cooker of expectation. The effects of a burned out contact center workforce can be devastating: 82% of people have stopped doing business with companies because of poor customer experience.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Credits vs. Deductions

Obtained from: IRS

Learning the A-Zs of taxes seems overwhelming. But with a little planning, research, and attention to detail, it can be easier than you think. Credits and deductions are an important part of the process—though sometimes it's difficult to tell them apart. 

You subtract tax credits from the amount of tax you owe. There are two types of tax credits:
  • A nonrefundable tax credit means you get a refund only up to the amount you owe.
  • A refundable tax credit means you get a refund, even if it's more than what you owe.
An example is the Child Tax Credit.

You subtract tax deductions from your income before you figure the amount of tax you owe. Deductions, such as the Tuition and Fees Deduction for qualified education expenses, can help lower the amount of your taxable income

Friday, March 16, 2018

Peer-To-Peer Payment Apps Can Be Risky

From the Federal Trade Commission:

Online peer-to-peer, or P2P, payment systems let you send money to people quickly...

The use of these services is a growing trend... estimates [suggest] there will be more than $700 billion in peer-to-peer payments in the U.S. in 2018. There are several mobile peer-to-peer apps out there already and banks are also getting into the game. If you use a peer-to-peer payment system, here are some tips to keep in mind.

*In many apps, when you receive a payment, the money is added to your P2P system balance. It’ll remain there until you transfer it to your bank account or use it for another transaction within the system. If you transfer the balance to your bank account, confirm that the deposit went through. The transfer could take a few days or even longer if it’s flagged for additional review.

*Scammers try to get you to pay them in many different ways—including by sending money online—so make sure you know who you’re sending money to. If you use the service to receive money from someone you don’t know personally—maybe as payment for tickets to a concert or a game, or for an item you’re selling—transfer the money to your bank account and make sure the money is there before you send any goods. Read the terms of service if you’re not sure if these kinds of transactions are permitted on the service you use.

*Peer-to-peer payment systems require access to your financial information, so check your account settings to see if you can enable additional security measures that aren’t on by default. Consider turning on multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN, or using fingerprint recognition like Touch ID.

*Some systems or apps might share information about your transactions on social media. Check social media permissions or settings—some may be set to share your information with everyone by default. Adjust your settings based on what you’re comfortable sharing.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

US Consumers Shrug Off (Some) of Their Spending Worries

Obtained from: eMarketer

One of the most significant changes is that, as the global financial crisis recedes in memory, consumers tend to be less focused on saving. In 2010, 70% of respondents said they were increasingly looking for ways to save money. That number has gradually dwindled down to a low of 40%. 
The McKinsey survey also probed attitudes among those who said their buying behavior changed last year. It found that there was a rough split between those who said they tended to have shifted toward purchasing private-label or less-expensive brands, and those who said they had tended to trade up to more expensive purchases.
The results indicate more buoyant spending patterns than some other recent surveys. For instance, an IRI survey from Q3 2017 found that 65% of US internet users said they anticipated purchasing more private-label products in the future.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Nunzio's Pizzeria & Restaurant

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Staten Island SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Robert Whiteaker 
Nunzio's Pizzeria & Restaurant
Staten Island SBDC

Robert Whiteaker, owner of Nunzio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, has been a Staten Island SBDC client since January 2013. The family owned restaurant known for its Italian cuisine began as a beachside concession in the 1940’s and moved to its current location in 1960. Nunzio’s Pizzeria has been a legacy in Robert’s family for four generations and was an inspiration for other small businesses in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The business was severely impacted by the storm with floods over four feet of water throughout the entire restaurant, but Robert and his family were determined to rebuild after the storm. 
Working with Robert to secure an SBA disaster loan, SBDC Advisor George Telmany spent numerous sessions to provide business strategies in an effort to rebuild and reopen the business. The SBA disaster loan was instrumental in their efforts to rebuild the restaurant after the storm. George continues to work with Robert on marketing strategies and ways to promote the neighborhood name. For the past two years, Nunzio’s Pizzeria has hosted visiting MBA Chinese students during tours of Staten Island to learn about small business in NYC. “Without the help of the SBDC, I would have lost my business after Superstorm Sandy,” says Robert, “I’m very thankful for all of their help.” 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Restaurant servers talk about the harassment they endure.

From the New York Times

The balancing act plays out every day in restaurants across America: Servers who rely on tips decide where to draw the line when a customer goes too far.

They ignore comments about their bodies, laugh off proposals for dates and deflect behavior that makes them uncomfortable or angry — all in pursuit of the $2 or $20 tip that will help buy groceries or pay the rent.

There was the young server at a burger joint in Georgia whose customer held her tip money in his hand and said, “So you gonna give me your number?” She wrote it down but changed one of the digits.

There was the waitress in Portland, Oregon who swallowed her anger when a man patted his lap and beckoned her to sit, saying, "I’m a great tipper."

"You can’t just say, 'No, don’t talk to me that way,' or else you won’t get a tip."

Monday, March 12, 2018

11 tax deductions and other ways to cut your 2017 tax bill

Obtained from: Pix11

With all the talk about the new federal tax law that went into effect in January, it’s easy to forget about the old one.
But it’s the old tax code that governs the deductions, credits and other measures you can use to save money on your 2017 tax return due in April.
In fact, it may be your last chance to use some of them since the new law eliminated many.
[In the linked article] are 11 deductions and other tax-trimming measures you shouldn’t overlook:

Friday, March 09, 2018

Census Bureau Economic Surveys

Watch Repair 300x600]
Census Bureau Economic Surveys are a key source for official statistics companies can use:

Monthly and Quarterly are small sample surveys that provide the most TIMELY data available

Annual surveys have larger samples and provide the most up-to-date TREND data available

Every 5 years, the Economic Census measures all businesses and provides the most COMPREHENSIVE data available - Economic Census: Meet James (video)

The form for the Economic Census 2017 is coming this spring electronically

These surveys set the standard for U.S. economic statistics, and are fueled by the data provided by individual businesses

Thursday, March 08, 2018

White House wades into SCOTUS online sales tax case

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Trump administration on Monday urged the Supreme Court to expand states’ authority to collect sales tax on internet transactions, joining a chorus of state officials seeking to overrule a 1992 precedent exempting many online retailers from having to add taxes to a consumer’s final price.

In 1992, the justices “did not and could not anticipate the development of modern e-commerce,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a friend-of the-court brief. “In light of internet retailers’ pervasive and continuous virtual presence in the states where their websites are accessible, the states have ample authority to require those retailers to collect state sales taxes owed by their customers.”

South Dakota is leading a charge to overrule 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, with arguments scheduled next month. Some 35 states and the District of Columbia, as well as organizations representing retailers from booksellers to shopping malls, have filed briefs supporting South Dakota’s position. Catalog mailers and online retailers have opposed the state, arguing that it is too burdensome for many businesses to comply with 50 or more separate state taxing regimes.

The 1992 case held that constitutional provisions assigning Congress authority over interstate commerce prohibited states from requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes without congressional assent. While consumers remain obligated to pay sales tax, few know of this duty and fewer still voluntarily comply, robbing state treasuries of billions of dollars, officials say.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Infrastructure Unlimited, Inc.

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Rockland SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Gloria Lovece 
Infrastructure Unlimited, Inc.
Rockland SBDC

Gloria Lovece is President of Infrastructure Unlimited Inc., the construction company, she started with her two brothers. The company specializes in the installation and remediation of public infrastructure - notably bridges, railroads and power lines. Her company is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in NY and NJ with certification pending in Ohio. 
In a male dominated industry, she has worked very hard to overcome many obstacles, including the hydrocephalus that took her father. In addition to taking her father’s life, the disease caused the decline and eventual closure of the family’s construction business and all who worked there lost their jobs - Gloria and her brothers included. Rather than work for another firm, Gloria decided to start her own construction business and convinced her brothers to join her. 
As a startup, Infrastructure Unlimited was awarded its first contract (as a non-DBE prime) sealing 28 bridge decks on interstate highways with heavy traffic and finished the project ahead of schedule. Gloria worked with the SBDC to find additional capital to fund her continued growth and to navigate the process of DBA certification. SBDC Advisor Adi Israeli worked with Gloria to develop the business plans, SBA forms and loan packaging necessary for Gloria’s firm to receive a $375,000 SBA guaranteed loan from M&T Bank. Combined with an additional $355,000 Gloria has invested in cash and equipment the company has grown yet again adding three new full-time positions and bidding on more and larger projects. As an entrepreneur, Gloria is fulfilling her childhood dream of having a company where women and minorities are welcome and able to thrive. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

SBDC Day is Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

From America's SBDC:

SBDC Day is a national, collective proclamation of the success and the impact America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have across the nation in economic development and the small businesses community. America’s SBDC Day will take place on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

SBDC Day will unite the nearly 1,000 SBDC centers across the country and the hundreds of thousands of clients they serve by sharing, in real time, the success stories and notable impacts SBDCs collectively have on the small business community at large. This special day will be celebrated with social media campaigns, public relations initiatives, online and in-person events and more. To learn more about what your local SBDC is doing to celebrate, click on Find your local SBDC.

America's SBDC has developed a national SBDC Day Ambassador program, so that all of America's SBDC partners, supporters and stakeholders can collectively show their support for SBDC Day. All national SBDC Ambassadors will be recognized on the SBDC Day webpage, in SBDC Day collateral and in email communications including a national press release. The deadline for the 2018 SBDC Day Ambassador Program is Friday, March 16th, 2018.

Special SBDC Day Webinar – Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses in 2018, March 21, 2018 at 2 PM ET. Entrepreneurs start with a dream. Through hard work, innovation, and determination, they turn that dream into a small business. Register now!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Small Business Loans & Other Financing Options for Women

From Lendedu:

Being a female entrepreneur can come with its challenges.

On top of building a business, many women business owners juggle numerous responsibilities like family or caregiving commitments.

For these reasons, running a business as a woman can feel sometimes like you’re Ginger Rogers, who famously said that she had to do everything Fred Astaire did – except backwards and in heels.

Fortunately, some organizations have realized the added difficulties women entrepreneurs can face in finding funding and have set up grants and investment opportunities specifically for female business owners. There are also several traditional funding opportunities you can access.

This guide can help you navigate the different types of programs that want to give you money to help you grow your business.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Maria Contreras-Sweet, former SBA head, buys Weinstein Co

From the Huffington Post

A group of investors led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who ran the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, reached a deal to buy The Weinstein Company, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman confirmed.

“Our office will support a deal that ensures victims will be adequately compensated, employees will be protected moving forward, and those who were responsible for misconduct at TWC will not be unjustly rewarded,” Schneidermann said in a statement.

Contreras-Sweet and her backers, including billionaire investor Ronald Burkle, bid $500 million on the film production company, which included assuming $225 million worth of debt, according to Variety. The deal, which Schneiderman said was reached Thursday, also features an $80-million compensation fund for victims of Weinstein’s harassment and abuse...

Contreras-Sweet, a Hollywood outsider and Mexican-American immigrant, reportedly plans to keep the studio’s employees, projects and assets. But she intends to give the company a new name, according to multiple media outlets.

See also the Reuters story.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Ways to Keep Your Website Relevant in 2018

Obtained from:MarketingProfs

Welcome to 2018, the year you need to update your website's look and functionality for two business-critical reasons: legal compliance and user respect and trust.

The latter is probably long overdue and has been hindering conversions; the former, a long time coming, is looking to become an immediate concern.
The problem? Businesses that set up a website many years ago and have done few, if any, modifications since. They may have updated to integrate new forms of payment or to manage inventory in a more timely manner, but that's usually the extent of it. If that describes your business, then your site is doing a disservice to your business and your customers—and, potentially, your bottom line, because they are non-compliant at a time of looming enforcement of standards and legislation.
* * *
These are all but the tip of the iceberg of changes that are coming to Web design in the very near future. Voice-command integration, engaging micro-interactions, and progressive Web apps are also on the horizon, which elicits the bigger question: Is your website management adequate for dealing with this anticipated sea change?
This may very well be the year you'll need to address the large issue of website development.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Will small businesses benefit from the new tax law?

From PBS:

Since President Donald Trump signed the American Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December, large corporations have made headlines by giving bonuses to employees and raising wages. But much less attention has been paid to small businesses, even though experts believe they stand to benefit significantly from the new tax law...

Three main changes to the tax law will likely help small businesses...: lower individual tax rates, an additional 20 percent deduction for companies filing as pass-through entities, and an expansion of Section 179 filing, which allows for expensing of business-related equipment.

Of course, not all aspects of the tax law will be advantageous to small businesses. For example, the law’s elimination of many deductions — including for certain business expenses like travel costs and membership dues for professional organizations — may incentivize employees to work for larger companies that can afford to absorb those costs.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Small Business Success Story - FABSCRAP

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Manhattan SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report.

Jessica Schreiber 
Manhattan SBDC

FABSCRAP, a 501(c)3, was founded by Jessica Schreiber, a self-described “trash nerd” who previously managed the NYC Department of Sanitation’s e-waste and clothing recycling contracts, and earned a Master’s degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University. Jessica recognized that fabric and other textiles made up a significant percentage of the waste stream. She developed a business model through which FABSCRAP charges a modest service charge to cover operational costs associated with picking up the textile waste and redistributing it for reuse. Jessica sought advice from the SBDC about how to grow as well and how to monetize the environmental, financial and public relations benefits her small business offers, as well as what business and non-profit structures were available to her. SBDC Advisor Rawle Brown helped Jessica to map out her business growth as well as build out her financial projections. 
The Research Network provided targeted market research on textile recycling and NYC’s apparel manufacturing industry. Rawle enrolled Jessica in the 2016 Capital One-SBDC Pitch workshop series, and she won first place along with a $2,500 cash award in the pitch competition. She also won the $1,500 top prize in the Talk Trash City business plan competition. The SBDC guidance and the awards have enabled Jessica to expand service to over 20 clients and though she is still the only employee, her team of volunteers is growing steadily. FABSCRAP leases warehouse space in Jamaica, Queens and plans to work with more cutting rooms. Eventually she wants to expand to Los Angeles. Jessica is exploring additional sources of capital to facilitate her expansion, including donations through the FABSCRAP fundraising page. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Top Research Channels and Loyalty Drivers

Obtained from:   MarketingProfs

 IT buyers tend to research products/services across a wide range of online channels, prefer to be contacted by vendors via email, and favor firms with excellent customer support, according to recent research from Spiceworks.

 The top factors that drive whether IT buyers will respond to a new sales/marketing outreach effort are the relevance of the product/service and the inclusion of detailed pricing information in the message.

IT buyers say the top factors that drive their brand loyalty to vendors are great customer support, consistently fair pricing, and a history of reliable products/services.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Why Disclosure Is Essential with Influencer Marketing

Obtained from: eMarketer

It’s been called a fad, a bubble, a waste of money.

But influencer marketing will remain immensely popular in 2018, and it’s important to put the discussion of disclosure in the context of just how important the tactic has become—not just for the usual suspects (marketers of fashion, beauty and gaming products) but increasingly for marketers in other categories.

Marketers and influencers that don’t disclose put themselves at risk for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) scrutiny and consumer backlash, both of which are rising.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Steve Bulger is Named SBA's Region II Regional Administrator

Obtained from: SBA

U.S Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon announced the appointment of Steve Bulger as the SBA Regional Administrator for Region II, the area that encompasses New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to McMahon, Bulger will be responsible for managing and overseeing the agency’s lending, economic development and procurement programs over five district and six branch offices. Combined, these offices total 64 employees and assist nearly 3 million small businesses employing over 6 million workers in
Region II.

SBA has 10 regions covering the United States and U.S. territories. These offices, which are managed by politically appointed administrators, play a part in supervising the 68 district offices and promoting the President’s and SBA Administrator’s policies, messages and priorities throughout the region.

“I am very pleased that Steve is in place to help support me and the President in serving as a voice and go-to resource for our nation’s 30 million small businesses. In his new position as the Regional–
Administrator for Region II, I will rely on him heavily as we move forward in 2018 and beyond and look forward to working closely with him on the issues and concerns that are most important to the small businesses in his region,” McMahon said.

Bulger, a New York native has extensive experience in economic development, sales and marketing, and government relations, having spent thirty years in the private sector prior to his government service. “I am honored to join SBA’s team of talented individuals who are committed to the development of small business across New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the USVI,” said Bulger. “I look forward to leveraging SBA ‘s tools  and programs to help create more opportunities for small businesses to succeed, create jobs, and improve access to capital in order to drive local and national economic growth.”

Most recently, he served six years as District Director for Congressman Chris Gibson, where he oversaw all Congressional district operations across 15 counties in Upstate New York. In that role, he handled government affairs with the business, non-profit, and healthcare sectors, while working with other federal, state and local elected officials.  This included economic development and infrastructure issues, along with helping lead the District’s disaster recovery efforts following Hurricanes Irene & Lee in 2011.

Prior to that, he was a Manager with the Stryker Corporation overseeing orthopedic implant and equipment sales and marketing efforts in the Upstate NY/Western New England area, and spent a total of twenty years in the medical device sector.  Bulger was also a co-founder of a digital marketing start-up firm, and worked as an investment broker in the financial services industry.

Bulger is a graduate of Lafayette College with a BA in Government & Law. He has held leadership positions in numerous non-profit and local government organizations.  He lives in Saratoga County with his wife Mary Beth, and they have three children.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Some Retailers Worry Location Tracking Is Creepy

From eMarketer:

Using location data has helped many retailers target their marketing and advertising more precisely to better reach consumers. But new data finds there are several inhibitors keeping US retailers from taking advantage of location-based analytics.

The study, from Retail Systems Research (RSR), found that roughly half (47%) of retailers surveyed said concerns about the "creepiness" factor in tracking consumers was one of the top barriers to using location-based analytics.

And there's also the issue of privacy.