Archive for March, 2017

Appetite for US IPOs set to return in second quarter

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Five groups on Friday file paperwork to go public as market rally provides incentive

US companies defy investors with online meetings

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Ford says it will join growing list of ‘forward-looking’ groups ending in-person event

Customers May Love McDonald’s Fresh Beef; Franchisees – Not So Much

Friday, March 31st, 2017

The Challenge of Making Business Changes

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) will soon use all fresh beef at the majority of their restaurants. That’s great news for consumers — but maybe not quite so much for franchisees.

The company just announced plans to roll out the use of fresh beef with no fillers, additives or preservatives, instead of the frozen beef it had been using before. The changes should take place by mid-2018.

For franchisees, the change isn’t necessarily all positive though. Using fresh beef instead of frozen could potentially lead to some food safety issues and more food waste due to slow periods or even contamination.

According to a 2016 survey by Nomura, reported by Business Insider, franchisees shared their concerns about using fresh beef.

One franchisee worried, “I have major concerns over food safety and our lack of ability to serve a large number of customers quickly.”

“If we do not handle the meat perfectly, there is the opportunity for bacterial invasion of our product,” said another.

The Challenge of Making Business Changes

But it’s also important for businesses to consider what consumers want. And sometimes, that means being at odds with your team over some of the details. What’s important, for any business faced with tough decisions, is to keep the lines of communication open and consider all sides carefully when making changes or updating processes.

McDonald’s Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Customers May Love McDonald’s Fresh Beef; Franchisees – Not So Much” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Triumphant Green Blob vs Death Warrant on Planet

Friday, March 31st, 2017

In the battle for the EPA, John Dizard thinks climate sceptics have lost this round

eBay Announces Expedited Delivery, QuickBooks Releases New Inventory Feature

Friday, March 31st, 2017

For online shoppers, the ability to get their orders quickly can be a big factor in their buying decisions. Companies like Amazon have managed to set themselves apart with 2-day shipping. Now, eBay is looking to carve out its own niche with a new guaranteed expedited delivery option.

In addition, QuickBooks introduced a new tool that could help businesses better manage inventory. You can learn about these updates and more below in Small Business Trends’ weekly news and information roundup.

Sales

eBay Set to Launch 3-Day Guaranteed Delivery Program

Your customers want what you’re selling right away. And eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) is the latest ecommerce site to offer its shoppers an expedited delivery option. The site recently announced that it’s rolling out the Guaranteed Delivery Program this summer. The goal is to offer millions of products that will be delivered to buyers in 3 days or less.

QuickBooks Introduces New Reorder Points that Tell When Inventory is Running Low

QuickBooks (NASDAQ: INTU) recently introduced a new inventory “Reorder Point” feature that lets businesses set a minimum quantity of a product for sale to keep on hand. If you are a small business that handles inventory, the new QuickBooks Reorder Points feature is designed to help you know when your inventory is running low and remind you to reorder items.

Economy

After Failure to Repeal Obamacare, Pence and McMahon Reassure Small Businesses

After failure by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a bill that could repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and SBA Administrator Linda McMahon made a stop in West Virginia to reassure small business owners and listen to their concerns.

Small Business Owners and Buyers Ready for Trump Tax Reforms

Healthcare reform is an important issue for small business. That seems unlikely right now, but just as important, according to recent data from BizBuySell, is tax reform. In a recent poll of 700 small business owners and prospective buyers, healthcare and tax reform were the top two issues mentioned for President Donald Trump to address.

Employment

Hiring Rules Set Back Small Businesses $11,700 Annually, Report Finds

America’s small business community has long lamented the heavy burden of government regulations on their operations. One specific area government regulations come down hard on small businesses is in the hiring of new employees.

Franchise

Good News for Franchises? Joint Employment Regs Appear Doomed

Labor Secretary designee Alexander Acosta’s views on a controversial Obama-era joint employer regulation that business leaders have accused of stunting job creation came to light during his confirmation hearing recently.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Rush Bowls Puts a New Twist on Healthy Eating

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in healthy and natural food options. And that interest in health food has opened up new opportunities for businesses like the Rush Bowls franchise. Rush Bowls offers unique menu items that consist of blended fruit and other healthy ingredients.

Small Business Operations

Business Travelers Beware, No Using Laptops on Flights from These 10 Airports

International business air travelers will be forced to comply with yet another travel ban that now prohibits the use of laptops and tablets on commercial flights to the United States.

Nearly 9 Percent of Small Businesses Suffered a Burglary or Theft Last Year

If you haven’t taken adequate steps to protect your business from burglary or theft, now is the right time to rethink your strategy. According to new data by Chicago-based insurance agency Insureon, 8.8 percent of small businesses suffered a burglary of theft in 2016.

Social Media

Pinterest Propel Introduces Special Services for Small Businesses

Pinterest wants to recruit small business advertisers. The social media platform and visual search engine just launched Pinterest Propel, a program that provides special services to new advertisers that don’t quite understand how the site works. It includes free one-on-one support for 30 days to advertisers that meet its criteria.

United Airlines Leggings Controversy Shows Need to Change with the Times

If you haven’t changed any of your company’s policies in a while, it might be time to revisit them. United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) just learned this lesson the hard way. The airline denied entry on a flight to two girls wearing leggings who were flying using its employee friends and family pass program.

Millennials and College Students Prefer Snapchat to Facebook, Survey Says

According to a survey carried out by online marketplace for student loan refinancing LendEDU, 58 percent of college students are checking Snapchat (NYSE:SNAP) before Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook combined.

Facebook Now Allows Live Video Broadcasts from Your Laptop or Desktop

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is taking live streaming to another level as it recently announced that users can now, in addition to smartphones and mobile devices, broadcast live video directly from their laptop or desktop computers.

Color Us Surprised! Crayola Finds New Way to Create Buzz

If you think there’s not a whole lot a beloved old brand that’s been around for decades can do to create buzz online, Crayola just proved you wrong. The company recently announced that it will retire one of its iconic crayon colors, creating a storm of tweets and other social media posts from customers sharing thoughts on what color might be getting the boot.

Technology Trends

Animaker Introduces First Animated Vertical Video Platform

While you may have been accustomed to watching videos horizontally thanks to the TV and movies, the next video marketing wave is vertical videos. Vertical videos were historically shunned by creative agencies, marketers and video creators because they did not fit the aspect ratio of established moving image forms.

It May Be a Good Idea to Change Your iCloud Password Right Now

For the many small business owners that are using iCloud, the newest hacker threat to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a serious issue. The Turkish Crime Family, a syndicate of hackers, is demanding a ransom from Apple, according to reports. The ransom would supposedly buy the safety of thousands of iCloud and Apple email accounts to which hackers have already gained access.

eBay Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “eBay Announces Expedited Delivery, QuickBooks Releases New Inventory Feature” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Government Revokes Refugee Integration Ordinance

Friday, March 31st, 2017

The caretaker government held an extraordinary meeting on Friday to revoke an ordinance by the previous government on integration of refugees, BTA said.

Announcing their decision, Labour and Social Policy Minister Galab Donev and Interior Minister Plamen Uzunov said that the ordinance was revoked “in order to find incentives for better integration of refugees in this country”.

A working group of experts from several ministries will have by April 7 to prepare a new ordinance and submit it for approval to the government.

Adopted last August, the ordinance which the caretaker government scrapped, provided for arrangements which municipalities could make for the integration of foreigners who have obtained refugee or another international protected status. These included arrangements for the settlers’ housing accommodation, kindergartens and schools for the children, registration with a general practitioner, registration at the National Employment Agency and the Agency for Social Assistance. The integration arrangements were meant to use financing from international and national programme, including EU funding.

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Latin America’s besieged left faces showdown in Ecuador

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Vote is referendum on whether Correa’s ‘revolution’ survives the end of the oil boom

Commodities titans dare to believe worst has passed

Friday, March 31st, 2017

FT’s global summit in Lausanne revealed return of trade protection a concern

5 Tips to Choose a Customer Loyalty Program for Small Businesses

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Have you ever thought of deploying a customer loyalty program to drive more repeat business?  And what about offering gift cards for your customers to purchase?

Customers love these kinds of programs.  What’s more, done right they achieve real financial benefits.  For example, a University of Chicago study found that loyalty programs increase purchases by 20%.

A few months ago, our Small Business Trends team made a visit to the Innovation Lab at First Data headquarters in Atlanta. Our interviewer, Brent Leary, sat down with Jim Allen, First Data’s Senior Vice President Product Delivery, small business products.

The video above is a portion of our exclusive interview. (See part 1 of the interview here.)

First Data is known, of course, for its line of Clover point of sale (POS) systems.  But as Jim Allen points out in the interview, Clover is actually a platform with associated mobile apps and it is much more than a POS. Its offerings include a loyalty program for small merchants, as well as a gift card program.

Tips for How to Choose a Loyalty Program

Based on the interview and other ideas, we’ve come up with five tips for what to look for when you choose a customer loyalty program. Some of the tips apply as well to choosing a gift card program.  Look for these attributes when choosing a loyalty program and/or a gift card program:

1. Easy to Use

Time is money. So if a loyalty program takes a lot of manual time to set up and maintain, it’ll either eat up all your profits or soon be abandoned or replaced.

Look for programs that are out-of-the-box simple to get started with. Does the vendor provide materials to help display and market your programs in store or digitally, or or is that something extra you have to create?

Also, look for technology that automates and saves you time. For example, does the loyalty program integrate with your point of sale system, or will you have to hire a consultant to integrate specially?

And what if customers want to manage a gift balance or have questions — does the program have technology to help?

2. Customizable for YOUR Business

Consider what kind of loyalty program you want to offer:

  • Are you most comfortable with a punch card program, where customers earn for each cup of coffee, dry cleaning order or other purchase they make?  This type of loyalty program is simple, but doesn’t have a marketing feedback loop. So you can’t use it to collect data to shape your future marketing, like you can with a tech-oriented solution.
  • Or perhaps your customers would prefer a loyalty program that accrues points.  If your customers are tech savvy, they may appreciate a points system with a mobile app.

Similarly with a gift card program, consider how your customers may want to purchase and send them.  Plastic gift cards are well known. But more and more customers want the ability to purchase digital cards online or on a mobile device, and send them electronically to recipients.

3. Marketing Feedback Loop

Today’s best breed of loyalty programs and gift card programs give you something in return.  Look for a program that is technology based, so it can help pull out “big data” to inform you how to market better.

Also check to see how hard or easy it is to analyze and use that data.  Look for programs with built-in analytics to easily discover buying habits you may not have noticed. That way you can identify special perks and when to offer them to your most loyal customers, to encourage cross-sale opportunities or accelerate repeat sales.

4. Best Practice Ideas

One of the biggest challenges in a small business is that we often don’t have a marketing department.  A good vendor can help make up for that lack.

Look for a solution that helps you learn as well as do.  Does the vendor’s solution automatically guide you to develop best practices? Does it trigger ideas for how to make the most of a loyalty program, such as how and when to stay in touch with customers?

And when it comes to gift cards, you want materials to entice customers to buy them, such as in store signage.

5. Modest Cost to Implement

Last but certainly not least, look at the cost.

Look for programs oriented toward small business merchants.  An offering suitable for Walmart won’t necessarily be right for your business — and could be too expensive. See if the vendor’s website has a section called “small business solutions” or uses the words “small business” frequently.

This article, “5 Tips to Choose a Customer Loyalty Program for Small Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Ministry of Tourism Supports the Retaining of Koprivhstitsa’s Status as an Architectural and Historical Reserve

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Among the goals of the Bulgarian Minsitry of Tourism was holding a long-term policy for the sustainable development of tourism and the creation of a competitive tourism product with a recognisable national identity and preserved culture and nature. The National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Tourism in the Republic of Bulgaria outlines the importance of culture tourism as a strategic priority, which is among the biggest market segments in tourists’ choice of travel. This is stated in a position of the Ministry of Tourism regarding the retaining of the status of the city of Koprivshtitsa as an architectural and historical reserve, quoted by Focus News.

According to the ministry, the cultural and historical heritage was an incredibly important resource for the development of tourism, and an opportunity to diversify the tourist destination. It has always been considered an important part if Bulgaria’s national tourist product, as well as a significant factor for regional development.

Culture is increasingly becoming an effective instrument in the development of tourism products that form authenticity, distinctiveness, and uniqueness of a destination in the highly competitive tourism market, and a sustainable tourism plays an important role as an instrument for the promotion, preservation and protection of the authenticity of cultural heritage in an era of globalisation.

The Ministry of Tourism stood firmly in support of retaining the status of Koprivshtitsa as an architectural and historical reserve with a preserved authentic image, and called for the united efforts of all institutions and interested parties to a dialogue in the process of effective preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of Koprivshtitsa and the sustainable development of tourism, protecting Bulgaria’s heritage with increased responsibility, popularising joint values and working together.

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