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Where to Find Great Construction Workers to Hire for Your Small Business

Abhay Parasnis

Hiring any new employee for your small business is hard. Hiring good construction workers is an even tougher job. But you can work smarter by looking for your new employees in the right places.

When you need to hire construction workers, it’s not enough to simply post on a general job board. A January 2018 report by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 75% of construction firms plan to hire in 2018, but about half of contractors are having a hard time filling open positions.

You can up the odds and beat your competition to the best employees if you look in the right places for your next hires. While it’s a good idea to place an ad on a general job board when you need to hire laborers, also consider looking in these 10 places:

1. Specialized Jobs Boards

Specialized or niche job boards are boards specific to a certain industry. These boards can connect small business owners looking to hire construction workers with job seekers specifically hunting for a job in the industry.

Use a specialized job board like:

  • ConstructionJobs.com
  • GeneralConstructionJobs.com

Niche job boards generally get fewer postings and less traffic than general job boards. But posts on niche job boards tend to bring in more targeted and high quality applications, according to a white paper on niche job boards by iCIMS, a company that tracks hiring data and trends. This can save you time and may result in a better hire who sticks around for the long haul.

2. Former Employee Social Circles

Keep in touch with former employees and send them info about openings when you need to hire laborers.

First, your ex-employee could actually become your new hire. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends you stay open to rehiring former employees who are already familiar with your organization. A survey by Spherion Staffing & Recruiting found that 29% of workers had gone back to a previous employer and 41% percent are open to being a “boomerang hire.”

Former employees also can be great recruiters of new employees. That ex-employee who did a good job and had a great attitude is likely to know someone else who might happily do quality work. SHRM suggests keeping in touch with employees after they leave so you can naturally give them a call or send them an email or direct message to let them know about your latest opening.

Also put in place an official offboarding procedure to make sure departures go smoothly. This will increase the chances that your employees leave with a good impression of you and the company, and will be ready to refer friends and relatives your way.

3. Your Own Company

Your current employees also can pave the way to your next great hire if you start a referral program that offers bonuses.

The answer to the shortage of construction industry employees is to always keep your recruiting pipeline full, according to a report from the construction industry consulting company FMI. One of the top ways to do this is to implement an internal employee referral program. More than 68% of construction companies use this strategy, according to FMI.

Putting an employee referral program in place with incentives for current employees will boost your business in several ways. The program will turn your employees into recruiters and help keep them happy because they can earn prizes or extra cash. New hires referred by a current employee may have a better understanding of the company and require less training, according to SHRM.

Start by drawing up a simple referral form that’s a snap for your employee to fill out and turn in. Choose a reward such as a paid day off, a gift card, or entry into a drawing for a larger prize like a new TV. Then put the word out to your employees.

SHRM recommends that you always take referrals, even when no position is open. That fits the advice from FMI to always keep your recruiting pipeline full in the construction industry.

4. Online Search Engines

Add a jobs page to your website to help job searchers find your open positions. Many employers miss this easy golden opportunity for finding workers.

If you don’t have a careers page on your construction company website, ask your website designer to create one. Write straightforward job listings with SEO keywords that a job searcher would actually type into a search engine. Include details about the position, as well as information about your company and about the application process.

And don’t forget to share your careers page and talk up your open positions on social media. That makes it easy to encourage employees, customers, and vendors to share.

5. Local Businesses

Not every ideal candidate will be Googling or scanning social media for their next job. That’s why it’s a good idea to get out into the community to recruit as part of your strategy.

Have your designer create an eye-catching color flyer that advertises your open position. Keep it simple with clean graphics, bright colors, and large type that can be seen from a distance. Add tear-off tabs at the bottom to make it easy for candidates to contact you.

Think about skills required for the job and also about where people who have these skills might hang out. Need someone who can sling heavy bags of concrete mix and knows their way around a building project? Put up flyers on bulletin boards at gyms, the Home Depot, your local industrial supply store, restaurants that serve hearty lunches, and even at businesses near construction sites.

6. Construction Temp Agencies

It can be stressful when someone quits and you need a new employee now. But don’t rush to hire the first person you can find. Instead, consider filling the gap with a temporary worker from a staffing service.

Seek out a construction-specific staffing service that understands your industry. For example, Trillium Staffing offers workers for short-term contracts. Available workers include general laborers, concrete workers, forklift operators, foremen, and construction supervisors. PeopleReady specializes in construction, but also offers staff in several other industries. They offer temporary general laborers, skilled tradespeople, or entire construction crews.

One of the big benefits of going this route is that it gives you a chance to test out the employee. You can get to know their skill level, work habits, and attitude without making a long-term commitment. If they’re a great fit, you can considering bringing them on as a permanent hire.

7. Job Fairs

Attend job fairs at local colleges and trade schools. You can attend general job fairs, but make sure to seek out construction industry-specific job fairs in your region. Students and other job seekers will attend these fairs because they have an interest in the industry. That means you’re more likely to meet candidates who might be a good match for your company.

To find these fairs, start by checking with colleges and universities in your area. For example, Clemson University in South Carolina recently held a construction career fair cosponsored by its Construction Science and Management Program.

Prepare ahead of time to make the most of a career fair. If you don’t plan to attend, pick a few friendly and knowledgeable employees who’d do a good job representing your small business. Make a list of questions attendees are likely to ask and prep your employees on the answers. And prepare the right company materials, including brochures, business cards, and descriptions of open positions.

8. Craigslist

Post the position on Craigslist. While simply posting on Craigslist is unlikely to produce a stream of great candidates, it’s a good idea to post your job as on this site as part of an overall recruitment strategy. It’s free, easy, and many people look at the site as part of their job search.

9. Your Professional Network

Put the word out to everyone in your network that you’re looking to hire. Practice briefly and enthusiastically describing your open position, as well as what it’s like to work at your small business. Then drop the job opportunity into conversation with everyone you meet professionally.

Make a point to tell former colleagues, vendors, and even customers that you’re hiring. If you belong to a construction industry trade association, or you attend a construction industry trade show, talk up the opportunity with people you meet. Make sure to take plenty of business cards along. Word of mouth in the industry is a powerful way to find new employees.

10. Construction Recruiters

Consider using a professional construction recruiter for higher-level positions like superintendents and engineers. A construction recruiter is an experienced firm or person specializing solely in recruiting for the construction industry. As an example, Kaye/Bassman Construction Recruiting Practice states that it has conducted over 5,000 searches for mid- to senior-level construction positions.

A specialized recruiter knows the industry and understands the challenges construction companies face. Of course, you won’t use a specialized recruiter for every open position. But it may be worth the investment when you have a key position to fill.

There’s no doubt that it’s tough to find good employees in construction. But a small business owner who takes a creative, proactive approach will have the best chance of filling open positions with solid construction workers.

How have you found great construction workers? Comment and let us know about the places where you’ve found your best hires. And keep reading for more advice on running a successful small business in the construction industry.

Technologies to Help Real-Estate Agents Grow Their Business

Small Biz Ahead

Real-estate agents are under great pressure these days to engage clients in new ways. With so much information now readily available at buyers’ and sellers’ fingertips, agents must find unique strategies that create value and help them grow their business.

Thankfully, some new technologies and tools can help you expand and improve your company’s client-engagement efforts, be more efficient and offer greater value. As your business uses technology to grow, make sure you have the right amount of coverage to support that growth. (We’ve created a full list of risks for real-estate agents to consider as they grow.)

Here are four types of technology to consider, along with specific tools that can help you grow your business:

1. Lead-generation tools

Continuously finding new clients and prospects is essential to growing your business. Some tools are making lead generation easier. Curb Call is an app that lets prospective buyers request showings on specific homes from agents who are available. It’s a convenience for buyers, but it allows you to connect with buyers who’ve yet to engage their own agent.  Doorsteps, owned by Move.com, is a site that lets you answer questions that future home-buyers have about the home buying process and, in the meantime, generate potential client leads. 

2. Data-gathering apps

Providing clients with the data they need to make informed home buying and selling decisions is a pivotal part of the real-estate business. Homesnap Pro is an app that allows you to glean more insights into homes on the market. You can use it to read remarks on homes from other agents and find out about commission splits. You can also create Multiple Listing Service (MLS) profiles of homes for clients that can be shared electronically.

RPR Mobile, created by the National Association of Realtors, is an app that combines GPS, camera technology, voice recording and text messaging. You can get current and historical MLS data on homes, but also get valuation, school, assessment and foreclosure information. The app lets you create home reports that can be shared with your clients as well create personal audio notes about homes.

3. Video-production technologies

Attractive videos of home listings are par for the course these days, but you may be looking for new ways to use video in your agency. SpeakingPhoto allows you to snap photos of homes (or whatever you want) with a smartphone or tablet and quickly turn it into a video that can be shared via social media, email or wherever you’d like. An audio feature allows you to record a voiceover, too.

Matterport is a 3D camera technology that allows you to take impressively real video footage of homes and upload the video online within a couple hours. The video can be shared via a link and added to a home’s MLS listing or easily embedded on a web site.

4. Efficiency tools

Several apps can help real-estate agents work more efficiently. CamScanner lets you snap high-res photos of documents and share them. Dotloop is an online collaboration tool that allows you to create “loops” with individual clients that remind them about key steps they need to take in the home-buying or selling process and discuss progress toward those steps and share and sign important documents.

While maximizing technology to grow your real-estate agency is important, don’t forget the essentials—like making sure you have the right protections in place. Having the right coverage will help you feel more confident as you grow your business.

 

Barber? Stylist? Here’s How to Take Advantage of the Beard Craze

Small Biz Ahead

Beards are everywhere. It has become a massively popular trend for men to let their facial hair sprout. That trend is a golden opportunity for hair salons and barber shops looking to grow their business. Some stores are even reporting 30% increases in revenue thanks to this new fad. It makes sense: beards benefit from professional care just as much as the hair on the top of our heads. Here then are a few ways your business can take advantage of the beard craze to help take your success to the next level.  And as your business takes off, be sure your barber shop and hair salon coverage is updated to handle your growth. You should also check out our risk management guide for your business to make sure you’re safeguarded for all that more success brings.

Offer Professional Beard Services 

It goes without saying that the best way to take advantage of the beard craze is to offer beard-related services if you don’t already. But here’s what needs to be said: nobody will come to your shop for a shave or a trim if you don’t provide high quality service. You need to offer great beard care to ensure customers leave your store happy and want to come back. That means either hiring stylists and barbers who already have the know-how, or getting professional training for your current employees. No, YouTube “How to” videos don’t count. The better the quality you provide, the more you’re business will expand.

Sell Beard Care Supplies

Chances are you already stock a healthy selection of hair products to offer customers. Be sure to also add beard care supplies (brushes, oils, trimmers) to your shelves. Make sure you also have a nice range of offerings on hand. A good selection of beard products can be hard to find at a local drugstore. So if you conveniently have the good stuff on hand at your hair salon or barber shop, your bearded customers can stock up while visiting you, instead of going elsewhere.  And that means more money in your register.

Teach Your Customers Beard Maintenance 

Here’s a hard truth: customers aren’t always going to want to come to your shop every week for their beards. But their beards still need regular care, right? That’s why you should teach your customers proper at-home beard care. You can ask your stylists or barbers to do this during a regular visit, or you could even offer short in-store workshops. Teaching your customers how to properly take care of their beards will show that you know your stuff and earn their gratitude. More importantly, it’ll earn their loyalty. And the next time, they (or their friends) want a professional working over, they’ll come to you.

A Beard Can Be Turned Into a Haircut

Men who take their beards seriously often take their whole look seriously. Frequently, that means they like their haircut to compliment their beard. How can that help your business? Well, if a client comes in with beard needs, you could provide (gentle, not salesy) style consultation and encourage a haircut that would accentuate their beard. Or, it could work the other way around too; your stylists or barbers could recommend a beard cut to play up a haircut. Either way, it could easily lead to a little extra business to help you become a one-stop place for the bushy bearded.

 

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.

Do You Need to Upgrade Your Dental Equipment?

Small Biz Ahead

The decision to upgrade equipment is not one that most dentists take lightly. New equipment can be costly. It can also come with a learning curve that temporarily disrupts the established routines that keep a practice running smoothly.

Although these are important considerations, carefully considered equipment upgrades may be warranted and advisable, especially given the continuous advances in dental technology today. In fact, new equipment that raises the level of the service you provide and the quality of the dental patient’s comfort and care may be just the right investment to make in the future of your practice.

These guidelines can help you evaluate if an equipment upgrade is in your best interest.

Essential Dental Equipment

Practice essentials, such as the hydraulic patient’s chair, cabinetry, dental delivery systems and lighting are long-term investments. When maintained routinely and in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, you may never need to replace these types of equipment. Chairs can be reupholstered, and a maintenance program can help you keep both large and small equipment in like-new working order. And insurance will help protect your investment from the unique risks to a dental professional.

Specialized Dental Equipment

Innovations in dental technology are opening up new options for patient care and raising the bar for dental restorations, cosmetic procedures and endodontics. To keep pace with your competitors, here are some of the technologies to consider now and to watch for the future:

  • Digital X-rays have largely replaced traditional X-rays, resulting in less radiation exposure for patients and staff and better resolution than film.
  • Intraoral cameras capture and display digital images from inside the patient’s mouth. This allows the patient to see what you see – which is helpful for both educational purposes and case documentation.
  • Cone beam imaging creates a 3D digital model of a patient’s anatomy, offering a new standard of care for dental implant treatment planning as well as orthodontics, endodontics and other clinical imaging needs.
  • Dental sleep medicine diagnoses and treats patients with sleep apnea through the use of oral appliance therapy and upper airway surgery.
  • Open CAD/CAM systems allow you to fabricate chair-side restorations for cosmetic crowns, onlays and veneers.
  • Dental lasers provide a minimally invasive way to remove tooth decay, perform biopsies, remove lesions, and clean and whiten teeth.

Making a Decision on Your Dental Equipment

To determine the viability of a new purchase for your practice, carefully evaluate these important questions:

  • How will your patient care standards improve?
  • How will your practice change? What new services will you offer? What existing services will be improved?
  • What additional practice coverage will be necessary to insure your new equipment and protect your office?
  • Will your practice productivity go up?
  • What return on investment can you expect to receive?

For any purchase you may choose to make, be sure that you and your staff receive the training you need to maximize your use of the equipment. Also create a plan for marketing your investment so your patients can learn about your practice improvements and any new services you have to offer.

How Specialization Can Help You Grow Your Real-Estate Agency

Small Biz Ahead

As the U.S. housing market rebounds, more people are looking to buy and sell homes. While this rebound has surely created more opportunities for agents, it’s also created more competition.

Many of today’s most successful agents have turned to specialization to give themselves an edge. Before focusing on identifying or growing your specialty, however, make sure you have the right coverage and are aware of the real estate agent risks.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you look to specialize:

First, does it make sense?

In large metropolitan areas—think New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Atlanta—having a niche can help you stand out from the thousands of other agents trying to make a name for themselves. It also makes it easier to communicate your value in a crowded field. Even in smaller cities and towns, however, having some kind of niche—even if a broader one—can help you focus your marketing and client engagement efforts and showcase your expertise by focusing in on a particular segment of the market.

What kind of niche makes the most sense for you?

Real estate agents can build a niche in several different ways. They can focus on particular neighborhoods, on particular types of properties or on certain ages or types of customers. For example, some agents may focus on helping first-time home buyers, while others may focus on helping baby boomers “downsize” their home in retirement.

Finding your niche involves answering a few other questions:

  • What types of clients or properties do you have the most experience working with? (That may be a natural niche for you to carve, since you already know it well.)
  • Are there growing trends in your market that may present opportunities for you to specialize around?
  • What geographic areas or types of properties do you know best?
  • What types of clients or sales do you like the most?

Geordie Romer, a longtime real estate broker in Leavenworth, Washington and frequent blogger says finding a niche helped him better target his market, become an expert on that market and ultimately grow his business.

Romer developed a niche by helping people buy and sell homes in a popular upscale golf course community in Leavenworth that was underserved by other real estate agents in town. Focusing on this neighborhood intensely—even creating a web site that focused on homes for sale in that neighborhood—led him and his wife (and business partner) to be the sales agents on about two-thirds of the properties for sale in that neighborhood within a few years.

“So often when I hear real estate agents complain about their lack of leads or lack of web presence, I try to explain to them that it might be a lack of focus that is keeping them from success,” Romer wrote on Real Estate Tomato. “It’s so much easier to be a big fish in a small pond than vice versa.”

How do you target your niche most effectively?

Like Romer, you may want to create a web site specifically for your niche. This will likely mean ensuring the site contains the right key words and phrases and is search-engine optimized to come up in the results when someone in your area does a search on Google or another search engine.

Consider how to engage your specific audience by reaching them in the places where they spend their time—whether it’s on social media or the local country club.

Keep in mind that the real-estate market is always changing, and you may need to change along with it. Your best niche today may not be the best one for you 10 or even five years from now.

 

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.

5 Simple Ways to Please Customers and Grow Your Salon or Barber Business

Small Biz Ahead

The best way for a hair salon or barber shop to grow successfully is to provide exceptional customer service. With every improvement you make to how a customer is treated inside and outside your barbers’ or stylists’ chairs, the more likely it is they’ll want to come back and continue to boost your business.

We’ve got five suggestions for ways you can take the experience you’re providing to the next level for greater customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. But remember that as your business grows, so will your insurance needs. Be sure to check your salon and barber shop coverage, as well as our guide to safeguarding your business, so you can accommodate all the new success coming your way.

1. Send Calendar Invites For Your Customers’ Appointments

Yes, adding calendar events to our smart phones is a simple thing and yet somehow it always feels like a giant pain. It can be a nuisance to do at the moment you’re making the appointment, and a chore to remember to do it later. A barber shop or hair salon that saves their customers that chore – however little it may be – will go a long way. Not just because you’re doing something for them, but because you’re saying to them: “We care about making your lives easier in whatever way we possibly can.” That’s a sentiment your customers will love.

2. Feed Your Customers Goodies

It’s common now for barber shops and hair salons to enhance customers’ stay by offering high-end water, juice, or coffee. It’s a simple and effective touch that makes their experience that much more pleasant. But why not go further than your competition? Find the way to your customers’ heart through their stomachs. Offer them sweets and treats. After all, a lot of appointments can be during the hungriest parts of the day – lunch, pre-dinner, snack time. If you really want to go that extra mile, be sure to include gluten-free and healthy options as well. Whatever you offer them, filling your clients’ bellies with deliciousness will go a considerable way towards making their experience pleasant and memorable.

3. Offer Free Umbrellas for Rainy Days

There is nothing worse than getting a fresh hairdo and then having to walk out into pouring rain when you have no umbrella. Here’s a good opportunity for a hair salon or barber shop to become a customer’s personal Superman. Stock up on a few reasonably priced umbrellas so you can offer them to customers for free to protect their haircuts (and themselves, of course) when the weather turns against them. That above-and-beyond customer service and thoughtfulness will  definitely enhance your clients’ experience and make it clear you really care about them.

4. Get a Good Receptionist

When clients visit your shop, they’re going to spend most of their time with your stylists or barbers. But you still need to provide a great customer experience from beginning to end. This is why you need to hire a dedicated, professional, and extremely friendly receptionist. Since he or she will both set the tone and cap-off a customer’s experience, you need to  be sure your receptionist can cash out, book appointments, answer phone calls, up-sell merchandise, and take coats in a way that ensures every part of a customer’s experience in your place of business is excellent.

5. Thank Your Loyal Customers

Don’t make the mistake of only providing exceptional customer experience to new customers. Those who have been loyal to you are the reason you’re in business. Never forget to keep treating them well. They are your word-of-mouth ambassadors and their loyalty should never be under appreciated. A “thank you” is good way to do that. Whether it’s an iTunes gift card, a free haircut, or a voucher for hair products, saying “thank you”  is one way to provide an exceptional customer experience to longtime clients. It’ll ensure they remain happy with you and likely to keep recommending you to friends.

 

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.

4 Ways to Drive Foot Traffic Into Your Store

Small Biz Ahead

Customers. They’re the lifeblood of any retailer. You can have the most efficient operations, fantastic employees, and a beautiful storefront, but if you don’t have people in your store buying your merchandise, your business will flounder quickly.

Certain factors—like your location—will naturally affect how many people walk through your doors every day. But successful retailers, even those in imperfect locations, have uncovered other secrets to driving more foot traffic into their stores.

Here are some ways you can increase customer traffic to your store:

Host in-store events.

Small retailers can differentiate themselves by offering a unique experience. One way to do that is to create fun and interesting events that draw a crowd into your store. HighStreet, an upscale design and furnishings store in Cincinnati, hosts several events throughout the year, culminating in their annual Black Friday/White Russian Holiday party the weekend after Thanksgiving. The event draws a crowd into the store, encouraging them to shop for the holidays while they drink white Russians and eat appetizers.

Offer rewards to repeat customers.

Giving your regular customers rewards—whether emailing them coupons or providing extra discounts and rewards through a formal customer loyalty program—can help increase repeat business. Offering discounts or special perks keeps your business at the forefront of customers’ minds, allowing you to continually communicate with them and encourage them to come back to your store. The trick, of course, is designing a loyalty program in a way that is both very attractive to customers while also cost-effective for you.  You’ll also want to be careful not to send too many communications to  your customers. They may be happy to hear from you once a week or every two weeks—but more than that is probably too much.

Cultivate unique inventory.

Stores that sell items that can easily be found online and in big-box retailers will lose customers to those larger venues. Some of the most successful independent retailers have realized they can stand out by differentiating their products and adding hard-to-find or exclusive items. The Toy Market, a Hammonton, New Jersey toy store, specializes in offering educational toys that local consumers won’t find at the local Target or Toys “R” Us store.

Provide value-add services.

Some retailers create useful services to engage customers. Badowers, an upscale men’s clothing store in Des Moines, Iowa, offers its customers personal stylists who understand their customers’ fashion preferences and tailors who can hem pants and make other adjustments on site.

Independent retailers have the advantage in that they’re local and can get to know their customers on a personal level. Offering personalized service and creating an in-store experience that’s far superior to what major retailers offer will help ensure your customers keep coming back for more.

Keep in mind that as you grow your customer base and foot traffic, you’ll want to make sure you have the right coverage in place to protect against the problems that growing your customer base may bring. (Read more about the risks to retail business.)

Need more ideas on how to keep customers streaming through your shop’s door?  Get your free copy of How to Keep Customers Coming Back for More – Customer Retention Strategies.

In this 22 page eBook, you’ll learn:

  • How to use the Reciprocity Principle to supercharge your sales.
  • How to calculate the value of different types of customers and know where to invest.
  • How to trigger a “Fear Of Missing Out” that will encourage customers to buy.• Why you should get customers to invest in your business’s success.
  • The best time to ask customers for feedback.
  • How to create “Social Proof” to drive customer interest sky-high.
  • And much more!

Download your copy right now:  How to Keep Customers Coming Back for More – Customer Retention Strategies

Why Adding Scalp Massages to Your Services Can Boost Your Business

Small Biz Ahead

When it comes to encouraging growth for your barber shop or hair salon, few things matter more than offering good value, a great customer experience, and loyalty-worthy service. Providing those things will ensure the kind of repeat business and word-of-mouth you’ll need to grow your business. Here’s one way you can help make that happen. Try adding a new service: scalp massages. We’ve gone ahead and listed five ways adding scalp massages to your offerings can help grow your business.

But don’t forget: a boost in business often means there could be other things you need to consider and more risks you need to manage. So, before you reap the rewards of adding scalp massages to your services, try to anticipate how this may affect other areas of  your business. For example, check your barber shop insurance and hair salon coverage to ensure it is adequate to protect everything business growth will bring your way. If you’re not sure what to prepare for, don’t worry: we’ve created a handy list of risks to be aware of before you expand.

They Provide Greater Value For Your Customer

Everyone loves value. Giving your customers more for their money is always a great way to encourage repeat business. That’s why scalp massages are a great service to add, especially if you don’t charge extra for it. Which you shouldn’t. Making it part of a normal appointment experience will ensure customers know if they come to you, they’ll get more for their money. That will keep them coming back, and telling others to come too.

Because if customers know they’ll getting a good deal for a haircut and a massage, why wouldn’t they?

They Provide a Better Customer Experience

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that we all love to be pampered. And if you’ve never had a scalp massage, let me tell you: it is pampering of the highest order. If you add it to your services, you will leave your customers deeply relaxed and happy. That’s a valuable feeling to provide someone, and it will make your customers’ experience in your barber shop or hair salon exponentially better. That, in turn will make them want to come back. To them you’ll become not just a place to get a haircut, but the place where they left happier and more relaxed than when they came in. That’s the kind of perception and reputation that you will see grow your business.

They Make You Seem More Professional

Perception matters when running a business. Scalp massages are generally seen as a fancy, high-end service. If customers see you offer them, they may instantly see you as the kind of ambitious, successful business that can afford to offer it. More importantly, they’ll  likely think you’re good at what you do. In other words, if you act like a business twice your size, people will be drawn to it. And then you could become twice your size. Just don’t forget, you must actually deliver the high-quality service to ensure that once a customer comes your way, they’ll want to come back.

They Distinguish You From the Competition

Obviously, all barber shops and hair salons are not created equal. But they do sometimes have to combat customers’ perception that if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. That’s why distinguishing yourself is vital. Scalp massages will do that. Just by offering it, you could instantly elevate yourself over others who do not. It will give you the advantage you need to stand out among the crowd, and have an edge that can sway someone from going to you instead of that other place.

They Give You Better and More Loyal Employees

Employee loyalty can be as vital to the growth of your hair salon or barber shop as customer loyalty. Especially because retention in this industry can be notoriously difficult to cultivate. One way to earn loyalty: offering employees the chance to develop their skills. That’s why scalp massages are great, because adding them as a service means your employees need to be trained. Yes, that will cost you, but you’re employees will appreciate that you’re contributing to their career growth. Doing so is also good because it will give you better employees. You don’t want workers to just mash someone’s head without actual know-how. Having highly trained professionals with a wider range of skills, is good for your business because better employees means better – and more – business. That’s because if you keep loyal and professional employees, they’ll continue to build a loyal client base, which begets word of mouth, which leads to new clients, which results in a nice booming business for you.

 

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.

5 Top Reasons Lawyers Could Get Sued

Small Biz Ahead

Even lawyers have to hire lawyers sometimes.

The legal profession is rife with legal risks. A study by the American Bar Association found that malpractice claims against lawyers have risen significantly in recent years, according to a report by LexisNexis.

Here are five common reasons lawyers get sued along with real-life cases of lawyers who have encountered such lawsuits.

1. Claims of negligence.

It’s not uncommon for clients to feel their lawyer was negligent or breached their contract or fiduciary duty—especially when they don’t win their case. Craig Robinson, a Philadelphia lawyer-turned-reality TV star, was recently sued for malpractice by ex-clients Luis and Migdalia Santiago, who alleged that Robinson “neglected and abandoned” them after he was cast as a contestant on The Bachelorette in 2010, according to LawyersAndSettlements.com. The Santiagos also sued Robinson’s former firm, Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith, alleging that it assigned them a different lawyer who was ill-prepared to handle their personal injury case.

2. Breach of confidentiality.

Maryland lawyer Larry J. Feldman was sued by the family of a client, Isiah Callaway, who was killed after family members allege that Feldman told a co-defendant on a rent-check fraud scheme case that federal authorities wanted to speak with Callaway. The co-defendant, Tavon Davis, had Callaway killed soon after Feldman disclosed that information to him, the lawsuit claims. Callaway’s family members sought more than $40 million in damages, according to The Baltimore Sun.

3. Administrative errors.

Lost documents and paperwork, errors and other administrative problems are common reasons clients sue. Houston divorce attorney Guillermo De La Garza and his firm Bill De La Garza & Associates PC were sued in 2009 for $50,000 by former client Randal Mack Hall, who claimed that De La Garza poorly managed the paperwork, among several other claims, according to The Southeast Texas Record.

4. Missing filing deadlines.

Calendaring errors account for a large portion of malpractice claims. Amye Hendricks of Lavallette, West Virginia sued her lawyer and his law firm for an undisclosed sum in 2011, alleging that he missed the deadline for filing her personal injury lawsuit. Hendricks alleged that her lawyer, Timothy L. Eves, filed her lawsuit two weeks after the two-year statute of limitations, according to The West Virginia Record. A judge had dismissed Hendricks personal injury lawsuit due to the missed deadline.

5. Professional misconduct.

San Antonio lawyer and attorney general candidate Jamie Balagia—who calls himself “The DWI Dude”—was sued in May for professional misconduct by the State Bar of Texas’ disciplinary unit. Balagia was accused of keeping $50,000 that was seized by law enforcement from his client Jill McKeown, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Lawyers and their practices can help minimize the potential financial damage and distress caused by legal risks associated with their professional work by securing the right protections. Common types of protection lawyers get include professional liability coverage, cyber liability and data loss coverage, and various kinds of errors and omissions insurance (E&O). Having such protections in place may help ease  lawyers’ concerns that defense costs and damages stemming from a legal claim will be covered—allowing them to focus on their practice.

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.

5 Ways to Run Your Accounting Business More Efficiently

Small Biz Ahead

Running a small accounting practice has many advantages. You can be nimble and provide a personalized level of client service that large accounting firms simply can’t match.

Here are five ways to make your accounting firm more efficient, productive and effective:

1. Maximize technology.

A huge range of technological solutions are helping accounting practices improve their productivity and time management and, in turn, their efficiency. This includes everything from using free tools like join.me or Google Hangouts and mobile apps to host virtual meetings with clients to paying for customer relationship management and document management software. Thomson Reuters and Intuit both offer full suites of programs specifically designed to help accounting firms manage workflow, back-office functions such as payroll and client interactions.

2. Move to the cloud.

Storing data and documents on reputable Internet-based solutions can potentially save your firm large amounts of time—and grief. For example, consider using DropBox to easily upload and share documents with clients rather than relying on email, which can be more time-consuming and harder to organize. Storing files and client on reputable cloud services can also protect you and ensure you have access to documents in case something happens to your firm’s computers or server.

3. Maintain a user-friendly web site.

Your accounting firm’s online presence can affect your efficiency. For starters, make sure it’s easy to find your contact information—including phone and email on your web site—so prospective clients can find you. Also include a frequently-asked questions section so clients and prospects aren’t calling with questions that could be easily answered online. Also consider adding an online bill pay feature that accepts credit cards, so you can get paid faster.

4. Streamline—and continuously review—your internal processes.

Your client interactions and document management are just a piece of the puzzle. Your internal processes and workflow also greatly impact your efficiency. Improving processes first means understanding how work currently flows through the organization and then evaluating various ways to speed up processes and make them more efficient. “The very act of examining and then standardizing your processes allows you to redefine them and remove inefficiencies,” Brock Philp, CEO of Doc.IT, a company that makes workflow solutions for accounting professionals, told CPA Practice Advisor. “The end-result is standardized workflow processes being written as firm policy.”

5. Make disaster-recovery plans.

A nightmare for any accounting firm is an unexpected power outage or data loss during spring busy season. Because such a scenario isn’t so far-fetched, your business needs to be ready. This can include backing up data regularly—perhaps daily during high season—and using cloud-based solutions to store data so that it can be accessed from anywhere in case of an outage in the office.

It’s imperative that you run your firm as efficiently as possible. Your clients expect that, of course. But your firm’s efficiency also directly impacts its bottom line because it affects how much time your accountants spend on various tasks—and time equals money. Moreover, the accounting industry has become super competitive as many people are turning to accounting software and other bookkeeping solutions rather than hiring professionals. You need to stand out from the pack.

The accounting industry is changing rapidly and those firms that get up to speed and focus on efficiency will be the ones that prosper in the coming years. 

Next Steps:  You’re busy. We get it. So why not let us do some work for you? By signing up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter, you’ll receive hand-picked articles, How-Tos and videos covering the latest in small biz tools and trends. We’ll do the research while you spend your time where it counts: managing and growing your business.