Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
With the rise of the Internet and social media, it's now expected that many more companies have an Internet identity. Be it a website or social media, you can guarantee that your customers are looking for you online. While having an online presence is positive, it can also open you up to negative feedback, which can ruin, or at least damage, your company's reputation and brand. Therefore, it is important that you practice some form of reputation management.
Here are five reputation management practices you can employ to better manage your online brand.
1. Don't remove negative content If you see a negative comment or post online it may be your first impulse to delete it. This isn't necessarily advisable, as the main rule about the Internet is that nothing ever goes away. If you delete negative comments on a regular basis, customers could notice and this may lead to them losing trust in your company and ultimately, to lost sales.
What you should be doing is replying instead and encouraging any users who complain online or make criticizing posts to contact you directly, or through a more private medium like email. That being said, if you see malicious posts or content that is posted just to incite a negative reaction (trolling), there is nothing wrong in deleting. Just make sure to acknowledge this by posting a warning that states something along the lines of: "Please note, malicious content will be deleted."
2. Address complaints promptly You should have someone monitoring your online platforms for complaints or negative feedback, so that you can respond promptly. This will also show customers that you actually use your platforms and are willing to engage. If you do not take steps to address negative material, you could be sending the message that you don't care enough about customers, which could drive them away.
3. Provide people with a place to complain Being proactive is important when it comes to reputation management. Instead of waiting for complaints to be posted on various review sites, blogs or even social media, which are all out of your control, why not provide a place that you can control, for all types of feedback.
Having an easy to see form, forum or other similar area on your website, where customers can interact with you, could go a long way in helping limit where complaints pop up. If you are in control then you're more likely to see complaints sooner and better able to answer them quickly too.
4. Ensure colleagues and staff are all on the same page Two things that turn almost customers off of a brand are a company that isn't organized and being told different things by different people within the same company. If you have more than one staff member managing your online reputation you need to ensure everyone is on the same page. If a client asks a question they should get one answer and if there is a complaint there should be one response or person handling it.
It is a good idea to establish how to deal with complaints, who will deal with them and when they will be dealt with, and communicate this with all staff, not just those handling your online presence. A unified procedure could go a long way in minimizing the harm negative feedback can cause.
5. Monitor online activity We don't mean monitor the activity of your employees, we mean take a look at the different communication channels used by your customers and the public at large. If your business relies on reviews, simply monitoring your own profiles and website isn't enough. Many customers complain on review sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, or their own blogs. Taking time to search for, and browse these sites could help you gauge the general perception of your company. If you see an increasing number of negative reviews for example, you know it is time to look at what needs to be improved.
Having a well managed online reputation won't guarantee new customers will come flooding in the door, but it can help decrease customers from going out the door, taking valuable sales with them. If you would like to learn more about reputation management please contact us today.
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short, is the idea of integrating social and environmental ideas into your company, daily operations and interactions with all stakeholders. One of the more common CSR practices adopted by companies of all sizes is the idea of 'going green', or helping the environment. This is a great idea, not only does it make the Earth a better place, it makes your company look more caring; human even. The thing is, it can be hard to actually go green, but there are some apps that can help.
Here are four great apps that can help you and your employees make your company a little more green.
GoodGuide is an app that can help you find out more about products. Utilizing a barcode scanner, it can provide you with information like where the product comes from, whether it's safe and if it's green.
With over 170,000 ranked products in the app's database, it's a great way to start learning about sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The only downside of this app is that it currently focuses on the US only, and there is no word as to when, or if, service will expand. You can download it to your Apple and Android device for free.
While we are currently living in a digital age, we still get a lot of paper-based junk mail. This is incredibly wasteful, as most people just throw it away. PaperKarma is an app that aims to reduce or eliminate waste paper.
How it works is you take a picture of unwanted mail, the developers will then contact the distributor and ask that they stop sending mail to you. This app could go a long way in helping reduce the amount of paper your office uses, which will mean lower costs for you and less trees felled. It's really a win-win. You can download it to your iPhone or Android device for free.
An important part of any green initiative is recycling. The problem is, it can be hard to find out what, how and where to recycle. iRecycle is an app that aims to set this straight. It provides information on how to recycle almost everything and the nearest recycle points to you.
If your company has a fleet of vehicles, you are probably always on the lookout for ways to make them more efficient. Whether it be switching tires used, driving at slower speeds to conserve gas or carpooling, finding a way to cut costs is important. greenMeter is an app that could help. What it does is use your iPhone's accelerometer and manually entered data to assess your vehicle's power and gas usage.
While driving, this app provides real-time feedback on how efficient your driving is and how much gas you are using. This will help you conserve fuel (as you can see when you are burning more than usual) which will reduce operating costs and negative environmental impact. It's available for the iPhone and costs USD$5.99.
These are just four apps that can help your company go green. What other CSR initiatives do you take in your company? Let us know! And if you would like more tips on how technology can help you reduce your environmental impact, let us know, we can help.
Running a business is often a fine balance between profit and expense. Any hidden expenses can see profits evaporate, and may put your business at risk. One potential problem area that could have drastic impact on your bottom line is technology. It’s essential and can be very costly if it breaks down. That’s why it would be a good idea to take measures to control your IT costs.
Here are five ways you can reduce IT spending.
If your business is like most other small to medium companies, the majority of your important files are located on one server or maybe a couple of computers. Technology doesn’t last forever and the machine where you have your data stored on will eventually stop working.
When it does, you will have to replace it, and your files that were on it could be lost. The cost to recover them will be high. To minimize this risk, you should invest in a solid backup platform that runs on a regular basis.
Yes, this will cost money now, but would you rather have a copy of your systems and data from Yesterday which can be easily implemented when you have a problem, or would you like to pay to maybe recover year’s worth of data? Backups will save you costs in the long-run, not to mention the stress they will help you avoid.
Have a strict anti virus policy
The idea that your employees won’t download programs or browser extensions simply because you tell them not to is like telling a child not to eat candy; they are still going to do it. By simply having computers and devices accessing the Internet through your network, you are at risk. If your systems are hacked or infected, you can face lost data, high recovery costs or worse.
How do you minimize the chance of malware infections and the risk of being hacked? Antivirus software and security solutions installed on every computer that can be run from one machine are your answer. This makes it easier for you or your IT partner to ensure all of your systems’ antivirus software is up to date and scanning when it should be. This will minimize the chance of infection and keep costs down.
As your company grows, you will start to use more technology. Over time, it will need to be replaced, and you likely won’t be able to afford replacing all your systems at once. This means that you will have to track down the systems, software, etc. that need to be replaced; which will take time and cost you money.
If you take steps to document all of your systems, computers, software, etc.; where it’s located; when it was implemented; who is in charge of it, etc., you will be able to track things down quickly when needed, thus managing your systems better. This time saving measure will cut your costs.
Look into a CRM/ERP/HRM solution
There are so many software solutions out there that can help you plan and run your operations. If you’ve been tracking employee data or planning using a simple spreadsheet, you could be getting more out of a tailored solution.
Solutions like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or even Human Resources Management (HRM) can help you spot hidden costs or even plan more efficiently, which will reduce costs well into the future.
Look for fixed-price solutions
A major problem with all technology related systems is that predicting costs is nearly impossible. You simply don’t know when/if an important piece of hardware will fail. This becomes even harder if you don’t have expertise in tech.
One of the best ways to save money on IT costs is to outsource. Almost every IT provider offers flat-rate services that cover your systems and can ensure you maximize your IT investment. This makes budgeting for IT easier, as you know what your monthly costs will be. You can then focus on your business, and over time will see a decrease in IT costs.
If you are looking to cut your IT expenses, why not contact us. We have a plan to fit almost every budget.
One common business term thrown around with relish is overhead. In business this is usually known as ongoing expenses incurred in operating a business. This operating expense is something all companies have, and in tight economic situations it's often one of the first costs managers try to decrease. One form of overhead not often looked at is printing costs. These can be extraordinarily high, but are also easy to decrease.
Here's six ways to cut printing costs.
Last week we showcased part two of our three part article on how to save money and maximize IT resources in your company. The article covered ways you can save money or maximize resources within your business and included tips on: Using VoIP and other digital solutions, investing in the cloud and working with an MSP. This week, we look into ways you can save money on your outward/customer facing aspects of IT.
Here are three ways you can save money or get the most out of your outward/customer facing IT resources.
Invest in a new website The website is the new hub of your business and customers look to it for information and often expect it to be there. If you don't have a functional website that provides your customers/future customers with what they need and want to know, there's a high chance that you will be losing sales.
You don't need a fancy website, just one that looks professional and represents your business. If you have a good website that is also optimized for search results, you can and will see your business show up higher in search results which means more exposure for your business.
This does seem a bit counter-intuitive - why spend money when you want to save it? However, having a website that appeals to your customers will increase the chances of both attracting and keeping new customers. If done in the right way, more eyes on your name means higher brand recognition. This in turn will lead to more enquires and potentially higher sales.
Get advertising social If you have a presence on any social media platform, it could pay to invest in social advertising. The reason advertising on social media platforms has become so popular is that you can target the most relevant people for your product or service.
When it comes to marketing and advertising: If you can target people who are already interested in your service or product, you are more likely to see higher conversions and sales. With other mediums, like paper, tv, etc. the audience is too wide and the cost too great to make it worthwhile for most small businesses. Social advertising is vastly more economical and often more powerful.
We're not saying you should stop all other forms of advertising, but you can scale them back, save costs, and invest in more targeted social advertising. If you pitch this just right you should see lower advertising costs coupled with higher real conversions.
Be a bigger part of the environment Being environmentally conscious is a big deal these days. Customers like to see that the company they are doing business with takes steps to reduce their waste/carbon footprint. Looking at the numbers though, 'going green' can be quite costly, especially if you have a larger office.
The key to remember is that when it comes to greening IT related processes you should start with conservation. One of the easiest ways to conserve starts with reducing the amount of paper you use. Instead of printing out bills or receipts, why not email them to your customers? If you send faxes or print lots, why not look into a virtual solution. Who knows, you may even be able to get rid of that expensive printer.
Striving to reduce waste is only half of the battle. Environmentally positive actions are a perfect thing to brag about on social media. Saved 300 sheets of paper this week? Tweet it. Customers who are environmentally conscious will look favourably upon this and are more likely to remember you when they next need a service you offer.
There are many things you can do to cut costs and maximize your IT resources. What is your company doing? If you're not sure, you should contact us. We can help ensure you get the best bang for your buck when it comes to IT.
Last week we posted part one of our three part article on how to save money on IT in the coming year. That article covered ways you can maximize the resources you already have by being an outside thinker, always looking around and using facts to help determine your actions. This week, we take a look at inward facing or internal costs.
Here's how you can maximize your internal IT costs.
Use VoIP and similar digital solutions Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has been around for a number of years and many companies, large and small, have integrated it into their offices. Because VoIP uses an Internet connection to send and receive phone calls, there's no need for expensive cabling and switchboards. Aside from lower overheads, many VoIP providers offer calling rates at a fraction of what most telephone providers charge. So, companies that make lots of long-distance calls can really benefit with VoIP.
While many businesses have integrated VoIP solutions, most don't go beyond that. If you use a fax machine, did you know that you can either digitize that and ditch the fax machine, integrate it with most modern email programs or use your VoIP connection to transmit fax data.
If you have a sales force who is constantly on the road or giving presentations, why not look into a Web conferencing system. Many systems, like Microsoft's Lync, allow users to hold conferences and share documents or presentations without having to leave the office.
Invest in the cloud One of the hottest current trends is the cloud. Currently there are two major types of cloud operations: Cloud storage and cloud based applications. All companies need to store documents. If they go with physical solutions like hard drives, backup tapes etc., it can get very expensive, very quickly. Cloud storage allows you to store all your documents off site, often at a fraction of the cost of physical storage solutions. Beyond that, you will have access to your documents as long as you have an Internet connection.
Cloud based applications come in many varieties, with the most popular being based around the office suite, or a hybrid of storage and application. Solutions like Google Drive which takes Google's office suite and combines it with a storage and sharing solution, is completely based in the cloud. The goal of Google Drive and other solutions, like Microsoft Office, is largely to provide a platform that enables easy collaboration and sharing at a fraction of the cost of more traditional solutions.
Integrating cloud based solutions can often times save you a ton of money, not only in operating costs but also long-term maintenance. As these services depend on a data connection and not sheer computing power, you won't have to replace your machines in order to upgrade to new software. This means lower costs all round.
Work with an MSP While this may seem counter-intuitive - why would a company want to pay to save money? Managed Service Providers (MSP) usually charge a monthly fee and offer a full service solution that aims to keep your systems running. Through preventative monitoring and ensuring systems are running, IT costs are often reduced in the long run. Beyond that, the chances of a major service outage are drastically reduced. Should anything happen to your business MSPs can have you up and running more quickly. allowing you to minimize potential downtime losses.
There are literally thousands of ways you can save money on IT and maximize your resources, and often experts like us can help you extend savings even further. So, why not give us a call and see what we can do. Also, stay tuned for part three of this article, covering how to save money on tech systems that your customers interact with.
One of the constant struggles business owners and managers face is achieving a point of minimized costs and maximized profits. This strive has led to many to look at technology as one of the keys of reaching this, but they have no idea how to go about it. That's why we have developed a three part article on ways you can maximize your tech resources.
The first part of the article focuses on maximizing the IT resources you already have.
1. Be the outside thinker The problem with many managers and business owners is that they tend to focus too closely on one or two key business elements. When it comes to technology this often means using only small parts of the technology available, while other parts are underutilized.
Therefore, it's important that you take a step back every now and then and really look at the tech you currently use. This can be hard to do, especially when you are so invested in a business. It's a good idea to consult with an advisor like a Managed Service Provider who knows how to get the most out of existing technology.
A lot of times outside help can really pinpoint areas where you can improve efficiency or reduce operating costs. In turn, this helps improve, or at the very least stabilize, your bottom line.
2. Always be looking around What we mean by this is: Be proactive. Technology and related systems are always changing and advancing. Managers and owners who aren't aware of the technological changes around them might see lower profits. This doesn't mean just looking at your physical technology, it pays to look at systems related to the Internet too.
Take for example social media. It's not going away and has been proven to be an effective marketing tool. The only problem is the service that's popular today may not be so next year. To get the most out of a system like social media, you need to understand and be aware of it.
If you keep your finger on the pulse, you'll be more informed about what's going on, what's coming up and what to do about it. If you spot something that you think will benefit your company, take the steps to integrate it. The interesting thing about most new technical advancements is that they are focused on making existing systems more efficient.
Don't just be looking externally either, it pays to look at what tech your employees are using the most and why. If you encourage them to be open and showcase their ideas you'll be surprised at what they come up with.
It's being aware of both internal and external trends that can help you identify the next big opportunity to further your bottom line.
3. Facts should determine actions This can be a tough thing to do, but facing the facts and current situation is incredibly important. If you don't know where your company is at in terms of what technology is used, then any decisions you make won't be effective and could end up harming your company. It's a good idea to conduct an audit of your current systems.
What to audit:
Many countries' economies are facing uncertain times. Growth in China has slowed, the US is facing a fiscal cliff that could ruin the US economy and any relient economies associated with it. It's in these uncertain times that many companies are doing more with less and when it comes to IT, this means budget cuts. When these need to be made, many companies will look at cutting service contracts, something that may come back to haunt them in the future.
Below are five of the more common issues businesses face when they decide to allow IT service contracts to lapse.
If you're facing budget cuts, why not talk to us, we may be able to work with you to develop a plan that meets both your needs and budget.
Rules are an integral part of society, they help define the boundaries of who we are and what we can do. Somewhere along the line, rules have become more of a societal term while the term policies has come to define rules for organizations and governmental organizations. Policies are as varied as they are important, and eventually it becomes necessary to write new ones, which can be a challenge.
Below are six things to consider when developing your next policy.