Spotting A Good Cleaning Company For The Business

Maintaining a clean and presentable office is essential in creating a good first impression to clients. After all, a clean establishment is said to reflect the quality of work and performance a company does. Moreover, it also showcases the amount of care a business has for its employees’ well-being and comfort.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Finding the Perfect Cleaning Company

Luckily, there is no shortage of cleaning companies available. From taking out the trash every day to carpet cleaning, there is a suitable service for each type of business out there. Before jumping into the bandwagon and hiring a cleaning company, there are a few factors to consider to ensure the partnership goes smoothly.

  1. List down the cleaning services needed.

A company has to identify the type of cleaning service they need. This would depend on the usage of a particular area. For instance, if the lobby of an office experiences heavy foot traffic within the day, it might be ideal to have a cleaning service assigned to clean it at hourly intervals in order to keep everything spotless.

  1. Consider the budget as well as the needs of the company.

Find out how much the company is willing to spend to hire a cleaning service. It is advisable to gather information from different establishments and compare what they have to offer. Note down the services they have and whether they carry appropriate equipment.

Take into consideration the special cleaning needs of the business, would they require a dehumidifier? Maybe they need a carpet cleaning machine to clean up their office floors? Questions like these should be addressed ahead of time to prevent confusion and to se
t expectations.

  1. Qualified staff and products used.

Check staff have been trained and certified, especially by Interactive Training International and that they are using the latest chemicals and products, such as environmentally friendly products and microfiber cleaning technology for better results.

  1. Conduct background research and inquire about previous clients.

Once a cleaning company has been chosen, find out about them by contacting their past clients. Conduct research on whether they provided excellent service to their previous customers. It is also advisable to check reviews to see if anything is said about them.

Finding out how they treat their clients should be a helpful factor in deciding whether to hire the said company or not.

Understand the contract and inquire about insurance coverage.

Always read the fine print and ensure that the cleaning company has a reliable insurance coverage. In case a steam cleaner damages a portion of the office carpet, for instance, it will be easier to know that reparations for such will not be a problem.

  1. Work out a trial run if possible.

Ask if it is possible to have a trial period with the cleaning service before fully committing to hire them. This will give both parties a chance to adjust and also work out the details like cleaning time as well as target areas.

With these guidelines in mind, it’s easier to determine whether a cleaning company is the right one to go for. Hiring the right cleaners for a business requires a bit of diligent research before
finally making the decision to commit. Taking these precious steps ahead of time will help eliminate potential problems from cropping up in the future.

About the Author: Debra Wright is a creative and innovative blogger and online marketing specialist. She uses her wordsmith skills to share her ideas, thoughts, and tips to other people about
topics that fascinate her, such as tips on cleaning services. Follow Debra on twitter @debrawrites

Does Your Business Have an Active Shooter Protocol?

6461365189_85ba18e618Unfortunately, 2013 proved that no school or business is completely safe from random shooting incidents and potential terrorist activity. Because of this, it is imperative for every company to develop an active shooter protocol so that they can keep their employees as safe as possible if a situation develops. Additionally, this is something that you need to keep in mind if you are in the process of opening a new business. After all, nobody is immune to the threat of having someone simply walk into their business with a gun, and this can lead to disastrous consequences if you are not prepared.

Tips for Developing an Active Shooter Protocol

There are professional security companies such as MSA Security, which can help train your staff to deal with an active shooter situation. You can also implement safety measures such as a security checkpoint at the entrance to help minimize the risk of dealing with this type of issue. However, it will still be necessary to give your staff members some training about the steps that they should take if they become aware that there is an active shooter on-site.

According to experienced security companies, there are certain things that every civilian should do during active shooter situation, including stay calm, turn off the lights, remain silent, lock or barricade all windows and doors, hide or flee depending on the situation, call 911 if possible and play dead or hide if a shooter is in the same room. It is also necessary for all of your staff members to understand that they will need to make their hands visible when the police arrive and avoid making any sudden moves until they are told that is okay to do so.

Working with Your Insurance Company

Some insurance providers will offer you literature that can help you develop an active shooter protocol. Additionally, it is possible that you could receive a discount on your insurance if you put an approved plan in place. After all, this will help minimize your insurance provider’s risk, so it is always a good idea to inquire about this possibility. Either way, you should still be committed to developing a protocol that will help your employees avoid serious injury or death if an active shooter makes the decision to target your business.

Should I Invest in a Security Company?

It can be difficult for small business owners to contemplate utilizing part of their budget for a security company, especially if they do not operate in a high-profile industry. Therefore, you need to carefully consider your company’s specific needs and risks to help you determine the appropriate steps to take. Fortunately, many security companies are willing to do a one-time assessment that will include helping you develop your active shooter protocol without needing to pay for their services on a continual basis.

As you can see, it is necessary for every business owner to be cognizant of the fact that an active shooter could enter their building at any time. Due to this, you need to develop a proven method for assisting your employees during this stressful situation. Putting an active shooter protocol in place and ensuring that each of your employees understands exactly what to do can make the difference between a controllable situation and a bloodbath.

Why Giving Back Is A Good Business Investment

5616353751_bb98b1184dIf you are looking for a new way to promote teamwork and attract new local customers, you should carefully consider looking into volunteering opportunities for your company. After all, many consumers prefer to support businesses that place a focus on giving back to their community. Therefore, it is always a good idea for companies of all sizes to be charitable, and volunteering your time often has a bigger impact than making a cash donation.

Top Reasons to Volunteer as a Company

1. To Instill Goodwill in the Community – Every company needs to be concerned about their reputation, and volunteering will help cast your business in a much better light. This can become crucial if there are ever any controversies that impact your company, and it can also make a big difference if your business ends up teetering on the edge of needing to file for bankruptcy. After all, members of the local community are much more likely to rally around your company and offer support if you have given back in the past. It’s always good to look for Local volunteer opportunities within the community.

2. To Boost Company Morale – It has been proven by psychologists that volunteering has several emotional benefits that make it good for everyone to be involved in giving back. Due to this, many companies decide to volunteer as a team because it can have a direct impact on company morale. Additionally, getting people out of the office and letting them work with each other on a good cause can help smooth out interoffice difficulties.

3. To Reap the Marketing Benefits – Your company could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing without receiving the same positive boost that often accompanies being included in a press release or news story due to your team’s volunteering efforts. It is also important to note that you will gain the right to mention your volunteer and charitable work in your marketing materials, and this can definitely capture the attention of a much wider audience.

4. Community Service Opportunity – Regardless of whether you simply work in the local area or also live there, it is always a good idea to take advantage of a community service opportunity because this will make the entire area more desirable to consumers. After all, volunteering as a team to clean up a stretch of highway or rebuild a local park will boost your community’s profile by making it more aesthetically pleasing. Ultimately, this could lead to an influx of new residents who are likely to become customers of local businesses such as yours.

Volunteering and participating in other charitable ways will also provide you with a tax deduction, and this makes it a win-win situation for everyone involved. Therefore, every business owner should strongly consider encouraging their entire team to volunteer on a regular basis.

In fact, when you consider all of the perks that are associated with volunteering, it is surprising that there are so many companies that fail to take advantage of this mutually beneficial method for giving back to their local community. If you are unsure how to get started, you can easily utilize a local volunteering organization to provide you with some direction.

 

Why A Virtual Call Center Makes Sense for Your Business

2435823037_2f67cc65b1_mMany business owners erroneously believe that they can provide a higher level of service to their customers by having a live receptionist available during working hours. Although there definitely are some benefits to providing people with the opportunity to connect to a live switchboard operator, this is no longer a necessity due to the virtual call center option. In fact, making the switch to a virtual call center can actually help you greatly increase your customer satisfaction.

How Does a Virtual Call Center Work?

In the standard business environment, a customer’s call will be answered by a receptionist who than determines which office number to connect them with. Unfortunately, there are many drawbacks to this approach, including the fact that calls can be missed when the receptionist is already speaking to someone else. Additionally, it is important to note that even a highly professional receptionist can still have a bad day, and this could end up reflecting poorly on your business.

Due to this, it is becoming increasingly common for companies to switch to a virtual call center company like Avoxi. This option provides callers with a recorded message that politely thanks them for calling and expedites the process of appropriately transferring their call. As an added bonus, you will have many quality control options that you can utilize via an online dashboard such as the option to review the time and length of each call and even listen to them if you have the recording feature turned on.

Additional Perks of a Virtual Call Center

Every company from home-based businesses to large brick-and-mortar locations can save a lot of time, money and customer frustration by switching to a virtual call center. After all, you will never need to worry about someone taking a break, being tied up on another line or treating your customers poorly because they are having a bad day. It is important to note that a virtual call center is less expensive than paying a receptionist’s salary, and it will never need sick or vacation leave. Your customers are also certain to love the fact that they will be able to connect with the appropriate voicemail 24/7 because you have a virtual call center in place.

Effective Call Screening

Many high-profile businesses need to screen their callers to ensure that they do not spend a lot of time discussing irrelevant matters such as whether or not they want to change their long-distance provider. A virtual call center will make it easier to connect salespeople with a specific voicemail that is monitored for any legitimate calls that need to be returned. Alternatively, if you have a live receptionist in place, they are much more likely to get worn down by the persistence of salespeople, and this could cause them to connect high-level employees with undesirable callers.

As you can see, having a virtual call center will provide you with several notable perks. Due to this, it is no wonder that so many leading businesses have already made the switch. You can improve your customer service and reduce your expenses by signing up for a virtual call center and moving away from a traditional receptionist environment.

Starting A Business? Here’s Your Checklist

So, are you tired of living off from your salary? Do you feel like you have been working too hard without being paid just as much? Or are you over with the thought of having to need more than just one job to be able to pay your bills? Or perhaps you are a student, trying to find ways to pay off your student loan as much as you could to lessen your parents’ burden?  Maybe you are a retired personnel wanting to invest money and make it grow? Or are you a homemaker whose kids have gone off to college and now has more time for yourself? In any case, today, to be able to survive, it is important to have an eye for business. Why business? Because business is the root of everything—the economy, supply and demand all rely on business and how it will grow. Even some academic institutions were built for the main purpose of profit. This is how important a business is. It is a part of the life cycle which may make or break the person. But just how do you start your business?

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Here’s your checklist:

1. An Idea That Sells. 

Before thinking of anything else, you have to know first, what it is that you are going to do. If you are good in baking, then you can probably start a bakery but with a twist—you wouldn’t want to be like the other bakeries! Maybe you can do something to lower your costs and then go for an everyday buy one take one, or a food truck that sells authentic dishes that cannot be found elsewhere. 

2. A Unique Name. 

To catch your customers or clients, you have to come up with a name that’s special and that speaks for your business. Remember, this name will carry your future. 

3. Investors 

You may or may not need investors because it depends on how big your budget is and your vision to the business. However, it would be better of course to have a partner to help you out with the chores and the errands. It wouldn’t hurt too, that they can lessen the money you will cash out. 

4. Target Market 

Who is your business for? This is in relation to the first item on the checklist. You have to know your bu
siness above anybody else. Your target market will help you in choosing your advertisements and even in the pricing strategy! 

5. Paperworks 

Now, you have to go on with the paper works such as the different permits you have to secure. In cases where the health may be at risk, be ready for an inspection in your area.

6. Headquarters 

The headquarters will serve as your playroom slash boardroom. It is where you will discuss things that you are not comfortable discussing with others such are the tedious tasks, the amount of taxes you have to pay, the multiple permits you need, and the likes.

7. Employees 

Unless you intend on a one-man job, you will need several employees to do the tasks for you.

8. Office Space 

To grow a business, you need to have a decent office. The difference between this and the headquarters is that, the headquarters can be as messy as you want it to be.The office space needs to be gleaming and presentable at all times. Choose furniture that’s elegant, classy and never goes out of style. Office furniture such as the sofa in the waiting area will show your prospective clients that you mean business. As what they say, “”First impressions last.” . Remember, your office is the reflection of your business. Treat it as your
home.

About the Author: Marie is an Interior Designer and Decorator who specializes in offering design consulting to various Business’s. She occasionally shops for office furniture from Only Office Furniture.

So You Want To Own A Coffee Shop?

For many of us, it is a long-time dream to own our own business. Working for yourself, enabling others by giving them employment, building something tangible and profitable – these are all good reasons for turing to your inner entrepreneur and drawing up a business plan. For those go-getters who love the buzz of people, the idea of owning a coffee shop might be very appealing. Café culture is more popular than ever and with our on-the-go lifestyle more people are drinking coffee than ever before. Although coffee giants like Starbucks owns most of the market share, there is a growing demand for unique, independent cafes. The market is continually growing. In 2012, there were over 5500 independent coffee shops  listed in the UK. If there was ever a good time to open your own coffee shop, now is that time.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Do your research

As with starting any business, it is paramount that you do proper research before hurtling head-fi
rst into the idea of opening your coffee shop. You can read many books on the topic, but nothing beats learning from other peoples’ experience. Set up meetings with coffee shop ownerswho have already gone through the process, and ask their advice and guidance. More often than not, people will appreciate your honesty and enthusiasm and will be glad to share their knowledge.

As a coffee shop owner, you will need to know every angle of running the business, from what it feels like to take customers’ order to making the coffee to controlling stock levels. It would be beneficial to you and your business if you spend some time working the floor in a coffee shop to get a feel of what it is like behind the scenes. Working in a coffee shop for at least two years before venturing into the owner side of it will not only give you a wide open perspective of what is involved in the day-to-day dealings, it will also help you to better manage your staff once you own your
own place.

Location, location, location

One of the very first things you should consider when planning your new business is where it will be located. For a coffee shop, you want a lot of feet passing through, so a busy street or a location close to a train or bus stop will be ideal. Naturally, this prime property will cost more than one in suburbia, so do careful financial comparisons before comitting to a location. Another good idea is to see where the most coffee shops are already. Rather than avoid the competition, realise that different customers want different things, and you will attract your own coffee tribe over time. On startups.co.uk they write that consumers prefer a convenient location over stand-out coffee, something that is evident if you look at Holloway Road in North London which has 24 different coffee shops just in one street.

The grand design

While you are deciding on a locaton, checking out
the legalities of your desired area and speaking to the landlord, you should also be drawing up the plans of what you imagine your dream coffee shop to look like inside. The space that you rent in the end will have a great impact on your coffee shop’s design. Perhaps you were dreaming of big leather sofas and open spaces, but the location that works best for you only allows a few straight-up chairs and a counter area. Speak to professionals who have designed coffee shops before, as they will have trade secrets like how angling your coffee grinder at a certain angle to the counter will maximize the flow of customers into and out of your shop. Also ask professional assistance when choosing equipment such as coffee grinders, display cases or even your funiture, or do extensive research online. Everything from overhead lighting to res
taurant tables
 can be bought online, often at cheaper than at the shops.

Reality check

The most important question you have to ask yourself when heading into this endeavour is: “Do I really want to do this?” If you have a love for the industry, for people, for business and an honest desire to own your own coffee shop, nothing will keep you away from success. And hard work plus persistence will bring you closer to it faster. You also should be willing to commit to the coffee shop for a while – think at least ten years. If this sounds like something for you, now is the time for you to join the providers of caffience shots for the masses!

About the Author: has had a long affair with caffiene. It has supported her through studies, through cold nights and reunions with old friends. As a writer, she still spends a lot of time hanging out in coffee shops and leaching wifi, with a coffee always closeby.

Five Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Small Business

Considering the years of hard work and sacrifice building a successful business requires, entrepreneurs deserve to maximize their profits from selling their company when the time comes. Unfortunately, many small business owners trying sell their business make a number of mistakes that can cause them to receive significantly less than what their business is worth when completing the sale.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Selling your small business doesn’t have to become an uncertain affair filled with potentially perilous missteps. By understanding where problems usually arise, you can become better prepared to handle the hurdles of selling your business, and receive maximum value for what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. With that in mind, here are five common mistakes made by entrepreneurs when selling their small business.

Not Planning Ahead

Failing to plan in advance can cause many entrepreneurs to miss the perfect opportunity to sell their business. It takes between two and four years on average to sell a small business, making long-term planning a key to any successful sale. By keeping up to date records, a thorough business history, and current sales portfolio on hand at all times, you can better prepared yourself to seize any opportunity that may present itself.

When you’re ready to sell and when you should sell don’t always coincide, so stay prepared to escalate any potential conversations about selling your business should the perfect buyer walk through your door.

Finding the Wrong Person to Represent Your Business

The importance of finding the right consultant, broker, or company to help sell your business is a crucial component of success. Too often business owners settle for the first group or individual they meet with in an effort to get their business listed quickly and the sales process rolling. However, just as the right realtor can help you maximize the value of your home, choosing the right fit to help sell your business can save you time and money in the long run.

Take the time to select the right broker for you, even if it means interviewing more than a few potential choices. Start by asking the right questions, – such as are they familiar with your industry, how much experience do they possess selling comparably sized businesses, and how long have been working in your market – setting realistic goals, and reviewing what former clients had to say. A little diligence at the beginning of the process will save you many headaches at the end.

Failing to Promote or Market

Hiring a broker to handle the sale doesn’t mean you can stop promoting or marketing your business. No one knows your business better than you, which makes you the perfect promoter to market your company to potential buyers. Even as your broker diligently works to find the right buyer for your business, you can still help to generate leads by promoting the sale of your business to interested parties.

If you’re having trouble generating leads on your own, consider turning to your sales staff for suggestions. Whether front of the house staff or account managers, the people most likely to encounter interested parties in your business are those individuals who interact with the public. Staff have a vested interest in making sure the right fit takes over a business, so don’t underestimate the value of their input.

Asking for Too Much or Too Little

While asking for more than your business is worth can leave you without any prospects, selling too low can leave you at a disadvantage negotiating a final price.

Trying to get top dollar for a business that under generates revenue will only scare away potential leads that may otherwise seriously consider making you an offer. Before deciding on an initial asking price, you need to consider a number of factors, including your marketplace, the current economy, the price of similar businesses, and your industry.

Setting too low an asking price can send several messages to any potential buyers. Has the owner become burned out and just looking to unload; do they suffer from an illness and feel forced to sell; is there something wrong with the business that’s not being disclosed. Each of these reasons could lead to you receiving a low-ball bid for your business or potentially scare away a potential buyer.

Selling to the Wrong Person

While receiving a lump sum, cash payment would be the ideal way to sell your business, not every buyer has the capital on hand to make such a clean purchase. Even though you may feel tempted to take the first offer you receive, especially if it meets or exceeds your asking price, you need to consider whether this is actually your best offer.

Selling your business for top dollar is great, but not if it requires you to enter a long-term contract that provides very little money upfront. Most businesses see at least a temporary drop in sales following new ownership, and whether sales come back up can greatly depend on the business acumen and leadership of those now in charge. Any deal that depends on the business continuing to succeed once your gone in order for you to receive what’s owed requires serious consideration.

About the Author: John Nickelbottom is a freelance writer.

Office Acquisition – The importance of having an agent on board

People tend to consider the role of an estate agent to be somewhat limited in its scope. Many would leave contacting an agent until quite late in the process of acquiring new business premises and wait until they had a clear idea and plan of what they wanted before getting one on board.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

What those people don’t realise is that estate agents have a much broader range of skills than just providing a list of properties on their books and arranging viewings. They have connections across the property market and can help from the moment of considering a move to new premises right the way through to taking possession of the keys.

Determining your requirements

With a great deal of experience of dealing with dozens or even hundreds of clients throughout the course of their work, business estate agents have an excellent grip on the kinds of premises that will work for a business and how those needs can be required. Getting in touch with an estate agent as soon as you’re thinking about acquiring an office means they can ask the right kinds of questions and get companies looking at the sorts of properties that would be suitable for your needs sooner than if left to one’s own devices.

Meeting with an agent can help a company seeking an office to think through a number of things. The needs of the business, the likely use of the premises and available finances will help to set the scene for the types of offices that could be within reach and those that can be ruled out from the outset. Considering things such as ownership or lease, tenure and future expansion plans for the company can also assist with future-proofing plans for office space.

Finding the right property

With the company’s requirements and parameters in hand, an estate agent such as Occupa can then go about finding properties that fit the bill. The search conducted by the agent will take into account a number of things such as required space, cost, location and terms of the purchase or lease. By sifting out the properties that don’t meet the company’s vital requirements, the remaining list is a viable set of possibilities that the time-pressed company decision makers can consider.

The estate agent’s role is to do the searching for the company

Choosing a specialist corporate estate agent can also allow businesses to access a range of other supporting services. From seeking finance to purchase properties outright through to office removal firms, agents working in the field will be able to put businesses in contact with the right people to make the process as easy as possible.

Sealing the deal

Once the property has been selected, estate agents can guide the company through making the offer for purchase or lease. Negotiations will be carried out through the agent, so the fuller idea they have of the company’s requirements, limitations and points of flexibility, the better job they can do on the business’s behalf.

The agent can get you to the point where the deal is sealed

When the company’s offer for the office has been accepted, the role of finalising arrangements and agreement can be passed to solicitors. However, everything before that point is something in which the estate agent can have a key role in securing and agreeing.

Conclusion

Rather than just acting as a list service for office properties, estate agents have a valuable role to play in the acquisition of offices right from the first thoughts about taking on new premises. Involve specialist business estate agents at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the best advantage is taken of their unique abilities and inside knowledge on the workings of the corporate property market.

Image Credits: mushon and SalFalko

4 Online Business Ideas for the Artist

paint in blue4 Online Business Ideas for the Artist

There are several ways that you can utilize the Internet to help you sell your artwork. In fact, some of these options will enable you to take your designs and have them turned into a wide variety of different products, including temporary tattoos and iPhone cases. Because of this, it is important for all artists to embrace the Internet as a sales tool if they want to make enough money to quit their day job.

It is also a good idea to diversify your sales efforts by getting your artwork listed on a wide variety of websites. The following are some ways for an artist to increase their sales by use of the internet.

1. Temporary Tattoo Retailer

Getting custom pieces of art converted into a temporary tattoo has become a very popular option for people who want to change their look for a night out on the town. Creative and unique designs, such as a fake tattoo sleeve or a necklace, are great ways to get your art work noticed. Due to this, it is definitely a good idea to consider connecting with an online temporary tattoo retailer to have some of your art converted into this format.

Additionally, you could get some of these tattoos made for yourself, and they could become inexpensive giveaway pieces at art fairs to generate more interest in the rest of your work.

2. Print on Demand Sites

Consumers love having multiple options, and utilizing a print on demand site such as Zazzle or CafePress will give them the opportunity to put your artwork on a diverse selection of different items, including postcards, iPhone cases, t-shirts and calendars. Therefore, it is a good idea for artists to list their pieces on these sites in order to increase awareness and capture various demographic groups. As an added bonus, you do not need to take care of any of the customer interaction with these sites, so you can simply sit back and make some extra money.

3. Open an Online Store

Every artist should have a website that enables consumers and art lovers to peruse their latest offerings. However, it is also important to include a shopping cart feature so that people can make a purchase instantly from the site without having to take any additional steps. Keep in mind that encouraging impulse purchases in this manner is one of the best ways to increase your profit margin.

4. Etsy and eBay

Etsy is well-known to art lovers because all of the items available have been created by hand. Additionally, many consumers prefer to get artwork via eBay because they have the perception that they will get cheaper price via the popular online auction site. Because of this, it makes sense to open a store on both of these websites.

As you can see, there are many different ways to take advantage of the Internet in order to spread awareness of your work. Keep in mind that it is also worthwhile to operate a Facebook page or another social media page for your artwork to help keep all of your fans up to date about your latest projects.

Lisa Coleman shares some successful ways that an artist can utilize their talent online to help support their artistic career. From selling your paintings to designing a fake tattoo sleeve, artists are finding the Internet a great way to promote and support their creativity and work.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/duhdenise/4995660536/