Blog Category: Professional & Business

14 Ways to Attract the Best and the Brightest Employees

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Everyone wants to attract the best and brightest employees. After all, your team directly affects your ability to provide excellent customer service and that is essential to business success these days.

If you’re a very small business, you might not be looking for the best and the brightest but the willing and capable. That’s good too.

But either way, you want to attract good, quality employees just like everyone else. In today’s job market, it’s a job hunter’s paradise and you’re likely hard-pressed to find the stars you want.

To further complicate that, those stars are likely already employed. So how do you become the kind of business that people want to work for? How do you get them to knock on your door instead of you having to chase them? Here are some ideas to help make you an employer of choice in your community.

Become an Employer of Choice and Potential Employees Will Seek You Out

The beauty of becoming an employer of choice–someone everyone wants to work for–is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s also a lot easier than you might think but there are a couple of things you need to do before we talk about the facets behind a great workplace.

You must know who you’re looking for

Before you recreate your business to attract quality employees, you need to know who those employees are. Are you looking for seasoned professionals or someone with little experience who you can mold? Are you looking for a “hunter” personality or a “nurturer”? Maybe you only want naturally curious people, for instance. Yes, some of these things are position specific, but others reflect the type of culture you want to build.

One note of caution: this tip is by no means suggesting you scout for a particular demographic. That can get you into trouble legally through discriminatory hiring practices.

However, there are overarching themes you should be looking for that help you build the type of environment that will contribute to the service you want to provide your customers.

Know what your competition is doing

While you should never use your competition’s actions to hold you back by thinking, “They’re not doing it yet. We don’t have to.”, you should keep an eye on their hiring and recruiting practices. You don’t want them to pass you up.

You need to talk about yourself

This is hard for a lot of employers but it is absolutely necessary in becoming an employer of choice in the community. But don’t be a bore about it. Don’t tell people how great you are. Show them. Post what you’re doing, what you value, and celebrate your people doing it well for all to see. That’s the kind of thing that will get people excited about working for you.

Speaking of that. let’s jump right in to how you can become a highly desired business in your community (even if you’re teeny tiny):

  • Be flexible with work hours and/or provide work at home opportunities. It needn’t be full-time just give the flexibility.
  • Offer flexible start times. There are some businesses that this does not work for but others can adopt a coordinated window of when people start. Parents really appreciate this perk.
  • Have an attractive work facility or public spaces.
  • Offer safe, ample parking.
  • Make professional development a key component of what you offer. The chamber may provide some very cost-effective options for helping you do this. As a chamber member, your employees can attend their programming.
  • Insist that everyone use their vacation time and don’t create such an intense environment that they feel they can’t.
  • Market your ideas behind work/life balance.
  • Let your personality shine through all of your social media posts, web copy, and business communications.

 Tips for Hospitality, Food Service, and Retail

These industries are notorious for the revolving door and it’s difficult to become an employer of choice in many of them because the things that office employers can do (like flexible start times) can’t be accomplished in these industries. But here are a few things you can offer such as:

  • Pay a higher wage for the area.
  • Schedule samplings and trial times. For instance, host paired tastings for employees after the restaurant closes or host a mini fashion show with paired items your employees put together from the store. It will make them better salespeople when they are suggesting dishes or outfits.
  • Celebrate your best employees and help everyone become your best.
  • Ask for employee suggestions and listen to them.
  • Empower them to do better by the customer.
  • Don’t make them feel secondary to the customer. Instead, help them feel like they are pivotal to customer experience and without them, there wouldn’t be customers.

With today’s low unemployment rate, finding quality employees can be a struggle. You will do much better in recruiting and hiring if they notice you and seek you out. As an employer of choice in your community, you will have your pick of future employees and that’s a good spot to be in.

 

Thank you to our 2019-20 Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate

Article written by Christina R. Green, regular blogger for Frank J. Kenny.

8 Common Mistakes Businesses Make Trying to Engage Online

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If you’re online for business, you’ve likely been told to engage and be human. But what does that look like? And can you do it wrong? Yes, you can but it’s also easy to avoid these common mistakes.

8 Common Mistakes Businesses Make Trying to Engage Online

Not knowing your audience. Humanizing your brand online is easy if you know who you’re talking to. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll find connecting and engaging to be a lot harder than it needs to be. Analyze your demographic. Where are they? What platforms are they on and what do they like to do there? Knowing these things can ensure you reach them where they are in a form they’ll enjoy. Speaking of which…

Using the wrong media. Young people love video. It’s a preferred form of learning and entertainment. If you want to appeal to a young group, video is a great medium. If you want to appeal to readers, it might not be. Again, knowing your demographic will help you understand their preferred media. If you don’t know, ask. Or create the same content across multiple mediums. (This is an easy way to build your content library too while ensuring everyone can interact with your content their way.)

Not sharing enough. Some businesses fail to share themselves and their culture with their audience. Think of it like going to a social event and answering everyone’s inquiries with a “yes” or “no” and nothing more. That becomes boring for those you’re speaking with. The same is true of social media. If you just post articles with no commentary and no tone, your feed becomes very boring.

Sharing the wrong things. There are many polarizing topics these days: religion, politics, topics involving Constitutional law and fringe groups. Shoot to provide value and avoid topics that could polarize your audience. The only exception to this is if your business is based on inciting topics.

Listing platforms they’re not active on. Ever go to a site where they list their social media icons so you can connect with them on other platforms? When you click on them, you see they haven’t posted there in months, maybe years. If you’re not there on a consistent basis, take them off your website. You can retain the profile but don’t publicize it until you plan on using it consistently. If you publicize it but don’t use it, people will wonder if you’re still in business.

Not having a website. Social media is great but you don’t own it. Your preferred platform could be shut off tomorrow or your account could be frozen for no reason. Then try calling that platform to straighten it out. Good luck. You could lose years of content with no warning. Always have an online presence that belongs to you and back the content up regularly on your own or with a service.

Having a bad web presence. A bad web page is just as bad as none at all. A bad web page is one that:

  • has spelling errors is difficult to read
  • is not updated with fresh information
  • looks slapped together
  • takes a long time to load
  • pulls content from someone else (that’s plagiarism, by the way)
  • has outdated social media profile icons on it
  • has out-of-date information like your address or
  • is difficult to find the information that is being sought.

Not being human enough. Don’t think of social media as a megaphone, it’s a conversation. Yes, you need to post but you also need to listen and respond. Get involved in conversations with people. Be human. Ask them questions and take an interest in them.

If you are trying to become more human on social media and in your branding, you want to avoid these common mistakes. They’re common because they’re easy to do. Businesses are told to share on social media, to post good content. But not all of it is as effective as it could be. Avoid this list and you’ll be well on your way to more meaningful dialogue with your audience.

 

Thank you to our 2019-20 Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate

Blog post written by Christina R. Green

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Reputation

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As a small business owner, your reputation is everything. It will make or break your business. Warren Buffet understood the value of a good business reputation when he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

12 Ways to Improve Your Business Reputation

Whether you are a new business looking to build your reputation, a seasoned business needing to do some reputation management, or if you simply want some ideas to get your business name out there, here is a list of ways you can positively build your business reputation:

Volunteer

Volunteering is the easiest way to build your reputation, and there are so many different volunteer opportunities within your community. You can volunteer on a committee, volunteer with local charities, or volunteer in a leadership role. Speaking of, if you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity involving business…

Get Involved With Your Local Chamber Of Commerce

According to the Shapiro Study, customers who know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, say they are 49% more likely to think favorably about it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.

Value Your Employees

Let’s face it, if your employees are unhappy, they won’t actively promote your business because they don’t feel like a valued part of it. In fact, truly unhappy employees could be spreading more negativity than you realize if they complain to friends and family about you and your business. Find ways to show your employees how much you value what they do.

Coach A Local Team

If you have a lot of kids (and most kids playing sports have parents or guardians with purchasing power) in your community, a great way to be more involved and promote your reputation at the same time is to give back to children. You can also organize adult league games to get others participating and having fun in your community.

Attend School “Career Days”

When kids hear how cool it is to be an entrepreneur, they will go home and tell their parents and friends all about your business.

Be Responsive

Responding to emails, social media posts (good or bad), customer concerns, and questions might be time consuming, but it’s free. It will also increase your customer retention rate. Even if they aren’t happy with the product, they will appreciate that you wanted to make it right.

Attend Community Events

You don’t always need to have a booth or be selling your products to attend events. Simply attending the event shows that you are supporting people and causes in your community.

Address Bad Reviews

Know that not every customer is going to be 100% satisfied. Address bad reviews in a courteous and helpful way, without being defensive. Having said that, I’m not sure how you get less sand on a beach short of ordering up a hurricane (see review at the top of this article). In that case, you may just want to thank them for their suggestion and tell them that many people use baby powder to keep sand stickage on the body to a minimum. Add value. Be helpful.

Ask for Feedback

Ask your fellow business owners and friends to critique your Facebook page, website, and/or storefront. Be open to the feedback they provide, and make any necessary changes that fall in line with your ideal audience.

Don’t Share Anything Controversial on Facebook (or the Internet)

Even if you have strong opinions on a subject, it is much better to keep those to yourself to avoid possibly offending a group of your customers. Your business Facebook page needn’t be all business all the time, off-topic entertainment often gets the most shares and interactions. However, no matter how funny, posts about politics, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicities, and other sensitive subjects are best left off social media. If you’re wondering if it’s appropriate, always err on the side of caution.

Partner with the Local Newspaper to Write a Human Interest Piece on Your Business

Don’t be afraid to ask to be interviewed in the local paper. Creating a good relationship with the local newspaper is a great way to build your reputation and they’re always looking for angles. Just make sure your pitch is not an advertorial. They want human interest and your next sale doesn’t qualify. Even if the local paper isn’t interested in your story, your customers are. So make sure you share it.

Keep Your Word

Really, this isn’t just a business lesson, it’s a life lesson. Do what you say you are going to do, and people will notice. Go back on your word, and people will notice that, too. No one wants to work with someone they can’t rely on.

Thank you to our 2019-20 Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Representative, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate

Article written by Christina R. Green, regular blogger for Frank J. Kenny.

Social Media and Online Marketing are Paramount for Business

IMG_1897_20-03-2019-11-23-34 (1)L-R Madeleine Hurrell, Mallory Graham, Heather Watson and Matt Stimpson

We hosted a Business Owners Sharing Solutions (BOSS) breakfast on March 20th with a panel of local business owners. At this session, our panel discussed how businesses can generate sales with social media and online marketing!

Our panel included:

Madeleine Hurrell of Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development moderated the discussion.

The Bridgenorth Deli catered the event and made us a delicious breakfast spread of quiche and fruit salad.

bridgenorth deli food

A Little About Our Panel

Moderator: Madeleine Hurrell, Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development

Madeleine was born and raised in Peterborough & the Kawarthas. After a brief sojourn as an archaeologist following studies at Queen’s University, Madeleine returned to Peterborough where she completed Fleming College’s Advanced Diploma in Marketing.  For the past three years, Madeleine has been an Economic Development Officer with Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development. She is focused mainly in the Business Advisory Centre, where she has developed relationships with hundreds of local entrepreneurs, providing resources and business support to problem solve as they start and grow their businesses.

Panelist: Heather Watson, Founder, Partner, and CEO of acorn30

Heather has been recognized as one of the Peterborough Chamber’s Top 4 Under 40 and is the Director of acorn30, a marketing agency that she founded in 2016. Heather started her marketing path when she was just 15 years old when she began working after school for a market research firm doing surveys. After graduating from Fleming College, Heather gained experience in traditional marketing with a focus on public relations and copywriting. She has a passion for all things digital and has extensive knowledge in digital marketing, social media and brand management.

Matt Stimpson, Founder & Creative Genius at We Design

Inspired by Canada’s lakeside wilderness, Matt emigrated from the UK in 2005 to become fresh food for the bugs and critters. Matt brings proven experience and a strong portfolio of successful work. After five years of agency experience, Matt established his own business in 1999 and proceeded to steadily develop an extensive client-base that included a number of high-profile companies. Since moving to Canada, Matt has helped to successfully implement design solutions that involve award-winning branding, advertising, brochures and websites. Matt started We Design with his partner David Jonkers in 2010.

Mallory Graham,  Marketing Strategist & Founder of Rosey’s Trading Post

Mallory completed her Honors degree in Business at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. After competing in a business pitch competition and winning the KPMG Award in Entrepreneurship, for RezPoints Rewards, Mallory launched the coalition loyalty program for her parents’ businesses in Curve Lake. Mallory founded Rosey’s Trading Post in 2013 – an online retail store with a brick and mortar location in Curve Lake. For 7 years Mallory has worked with small businesses to develop marketing strategies that drive more sales leads, reach more customers with social media and digital marketing, and to maximize their online and offline business presence.

Social Media and Online Marketing are Paramount for Businesses Today

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One of the main takeaways from our B.O.S.S discussion was how important social media and online marketing have become for businesses. Social media and online marketing have become the new gold standard for generating revenue, and are resources that businesses need to start utilizing if they haven’t already. As Mallory Graham aptly stated, online marketing isn’t the future, it’s now.

Benefits of Social Media and Online Marketing

  1. Social media and online marketing provide businesses with a greater reach in terms of audience/clients/customers. Traditional media, such as print, radio and television, provides businesses with a 1:1 ratio. New media, such as social media platforms and websites, provides businesses with a 1:many ratio. Ultimately, the unprecedented reach that social media and online marketing provides, both domestically and globally, makes them unparalleled marketing avenues for businesses.
  2. Social media and online marketing allow businesses to avoid stagnating by requiring them to be up-to-date with their events, products and/or content.
  3. Social media platforms are under priced marketing platforms. Not only is posting on social media free, but you can also learn the skill yourself. And, if you decide to go the paid advertising route on your social media platforms (e.g. sponsored posts), it is relatively cheap in comparison to advertising on traditional forms of media and even on Google.

Do-It-Yourself or Outsource

Becoming savvy at social media and online marketing takes time, and staying on top of your social media and online marketing can take equally as much time, depending on the content you’re looking to share and how often you’re looking to share it.

While social media and online marketing are skills that business owners can learn themselves (and do!), our panel talked about the importance of developing marketing and content strategies. Marketing and content strategies seek to accomplish different things but are nonetheless interdependent; a marketing strategy develops a plan for how a business will reach its customers whereas a content strategy narrows down a business’s target audience and develops a plan to create audience-specific content. Both work towards the same goals, namely to expand a business’s reach and generate business. One thing that our panel members all recognized is that many small business owners don’t have the time to develop and execute marketing and content strategy plans themselves. This is where outsourcing to a marketing firm can come in handy for business owners.

SEO, Performance Analytics & Hashtags

Our panel also discussed the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), web analytics and hashtags. SEO allows a business to be found organically on the internet (rather than through paid placement in a search engine like Google). They touched on some of the key criteria that your website should meet in order to strengthen your business’s SEO such as content, back links, optimized site, SSL, fast-pace load times and title tags.

Key performance analytics are also important for businesses. In particular, our panel recommended that businesses monitor their metrics overtime and keep on top of monitoring them, as they provide businesses with useful insight into their customers/web visitors.

In our Q&A period, our panel received a question about hashtags, their importance and when to use them. Hashtags are important for increasing a business’s visibility online and are used mainly on Twitter and Instagram, but are also used on Facebook and LinkedIn. One tip that our panel had concerning hashtags was to make sure that businesses do not to use the same hashtags on every post. By switching up the set of hashtags you use, businesses can avoid having their posts categorized as a robot/spam by apps algorithms. They also recommended that businesses take a balanced approach to using specific sand broad hashtags, as using too many of either type could decrease visibility.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to everyone who came out to the event this morning! We hope you learned some things to help your business increase its sales through social media and online marketing.

Thank you to our Professional Development Sponsor, Lynn Woodcroft, Sales Rep., Royal LePage Frank Real Estate.

Check out our photos below from the event!

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New members, Audrey and Bogey Von Bogen of Shambhala Bed and Breakfast.
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Jay & Rees Hamblin, BALL Real Estate, and Cindy Windover, Board Director and Windover Plumbing.
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Board President Mike Walker, Agilec, doing some Chamber announcements.

Occupational Health & Safety: What You Need to Know as an Employer

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Is Your Business OHSA Compliant?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act was created in 1990 and legislates workplace health and safety in Ontario. The main purpose of the act is to protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job. OHSA is applicable to almost every worker, supervisor, employer and workplace in Ontario.

The government has high maximum penalties for individuals, businesses and/or corporations that are non-compliant with OHSA and its regulations, including:

  • A fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and/or up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • A fine of up to $1,500,000 for a corporation.

In order to avoid penalties, you should ensure that your business is OHSA compliment. Here are some of the basics that you should know.

All workplaces covered by OHSA must put up a health and safety poster, a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the names and locations of your workplace joint health and safety committee members. Note: a committee is only mandatory for businesses with 20+ employees, or when ordered by Minister, or where a designated substance is in use (no minimum number of employees).

If you regularly employ more than 5 people, you must prepare, maintain and post the following policies every year:

That said, even if you have less than 5 employees, it’s recommended that you develop the policies above because an inspector can order that you become OHSA compliant regardless of your business size. Employers must also ensure that all workers and supervisors complete a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program.

Click here to learn more about OHSA requirements.

Building Your Health and Safety Program

If you find it difficult to keep up with all the mandatory occupational health and safety regulations required by the government, you’re not alone!

WSIB
WSIB Ontario offers “Building Your Health and Safety Program” training courses for small businesses across Ontario. And, as an incentive, they also offer a one-time 7% rebate on last year’s WSIB premium if you complete the course and necessary work to develop a workplace health and safety program.
The closest training sessions to our area (Selwyn, Douro-Dummer, Trent Lakes, Curve Lake and North Kawartha) are in Oshawa and Cobourg. Click here to see the upcoming dates and times for those locations (May 2019-November 2019).

For more info and to see the complete training schedule, visit wsib.on.ca and click on Employers > Health and Safety > Incentive Programs > Small Business Health and Safety Programs.

How to sign up for the training courses:

  1. View their training schedule for sessions dates.
  2. Complete the registration form here.

Requirements for the 7% Rebate:

  1. Attend all three in-class training sessions (each session is four hours).
  2. Complete a Self-Evaluation and Health and Safety Action Plan.
  3. Develop an Inspection Procedure and a Return to Work Procedure.

Click here to see if your business qualifies for the rebate.

With new regulations and amendments being made to OHSA, there’s definitely a lot to keep on top of in regards to occupational health and safety.