Archive for July, 2019

Head of Bulgaria’s Anti-corruption Commission Resigns

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

The head of Bulgaria’s anti-corruption commission, Plamen Georgiev, resigned. This was announced by the Speaker of Parliament, Tsveta Karayancheva, on July 31. For the time being, there is no information about the motives.

Georgiev on April 4 took leave following the start of a check ordered by the chief prosecutor into property acquisitions by top officials, including him.

Bulgaria’s Parliament on July 31 voted to accept the resignation of Plamen Georgiev as head of the anti-corruption commission. 120 voted in favor, three voted against and three abstained.

Plamen Georgiev took a long leave in April this year after prosecutors and the National Revenue Agency (NRA) launched an investigation against him. The reason for this was a terrace to his apartment with an area of 186 square meters, which Georgiev did not declare in the declaration of assets, although it was in the notary deed for the property. This happened at the time of the so-called “Apartmentgate” scandal about allegations for purchase of properties at below-market prices, which led to a number of resignations from the public office of senior public figures.

“Everything I’ve done is legal. I didn’t buy cheap. I did not buy from related parties. I have not changed tax assessments. The commission did not check me, “Georgiev was adamant today.

He assured that his withdrawal from office was a moral act and the decision was entirely personal.

 

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Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

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Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Although my desk at the Salesforce Tower might seem far removed from the kitchen table where I worked as an entrepreneur, small businesses continue to be the heart and soul of everything I do. Prior to working at Salesforce, I co-founded a small children’s lunchbox company with my wife — and we were fortunate enough to be featured on “Shark Tank.” During that time, I learned a lot about what’s important when running your own business. You need to be passionate and believe in yourself to see it through. You need to be resilient because there will be hard times and long nights. And you need to pick tools that are easy to use and can grow with your business. That last reason is why I came to Salesforce. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work on a product like Essentials, an all-in-one sales and service CRM app designed specifically for small businesses. I feel like there’s no better place to build a CRM product for small business than at Salesforce.

To build the best products, you need a real understanding of what challenges customers face. That’s why our team can often be found on the road, meeting with small businesses and listening to their needs. One thing that stands out in all these conversations is that building relationships with customers is critical to their success. But it’s hard for many small businesses to stay on top of customer conversations and even more difficult to maintain an individualized level of service as they grow. That’s where Salesforce comes in.

Adding new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials

A personalized customer service experience can mean the difference between a bad review and a happy, repeat customer. That’s why I’m so excited about the new conversation channels in our latest release. Many small businesses have grown-up on social media platforms and need to be able to communicate and engage with customers on their preferred channels — from Facebook Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, web chat or on the phone. Our new features are easy to set up with a few clicks and are included with Salesforce Essentials at no additional cost — in fact, our small business customers can turn them on today.

Easy channel setup with walkthroughs and live help

While my wife and I ran our lunchbox company we didn’t have a lot of spare time. Between product design, manufacturing, marketing, and a dozen other things, we didn’t have time to struggle with difficult systems or learn complicated processes. That’s why my team and I want to make Essentials simple and easy. We have in-product walkthroughs for each step in adding new channels, and if you need more support, we have a team ready to help you get up and running. We even offer free hands-on workshops to get you on the road to success.

user interface of setup screen

Seamless conversations across social channels

Today’s customers increasingly reach out to businesses on Facebook and Instagram. But it’s challenging for them to track all of these conversations and make sure they answer every customer’s question. To address this, we’ve enabled real-time conversations via Facebook Messenger from within Salesforce. When a customer sends a company a question via Messenger, the message is routed to an employee who can have a live conversation without ever leaving Salesforce. We also provide notifications when customers comment on your Instagram and YouTube posts, so you can respond to all customers from one place. These new channels expand our existing support of Facebook pages and Twitter.

example of social conversation interface

Real-time chat conversations from website or help center

One of the things I discovered as a small business is that nothing beats a real-time conversation. Most customers want help immediately, not hours later. That’s why we enable small businesses to add a Salesforce chat widget to their website or help center, with capabilities that include having each new chat routed immediately to an employee. At the start of a chat, complete customer information is automatically presented — previous interactions, case history, open sales opportunities, and more, all without searching through different systems.

screenshot of chat feature

Native phone support built into the #1 CRM

We also help small businesses save time with Lightning Dialer for Essentials, an easy-to-use call center solution built right into the CRM. When someone on your team makes or receives a call, the customer’s profile and account information pops up within Salesforce, giving them a detailed customer history for fast and personalized service. Calls are automatically logged, reducing manual data entry and making sure that information doesn’t get lost.

user interface of native phone support

Continuing innovation for small business success

Since launching Essentials in 2017, we’ve doubled-down on helping small businesses succeed with innovations ranging from online buying and check-out, guided set-up, and Essentials for Service, to in-app help and a team of dedicated coaches. So far the response has been great. Businesses of all sizes — from sole proprietors to companies with ten or more employees — have embraced Essentials. G Photography, which creates stunning portraits, PepTalkHer, which works to close the gender pay gap, and Mission.org a leading podcast provider are just a few of our customers. We continue to invest in new features that will help small businesses thrive and grow — while remaining at a price point they can afford.

If you’re a small business owner interested in innovation, I’d love to hear what’s important to you @ppedrazzi. And if you haven’t already, you can check out Essentials for free for 14 days. So, go ahead, take it for a spin!

Republished by permission. Original here.

Photo via Salesforce

This article, “Building for Small Business: New Features That Help You Meet Your Customers Where They Are” was first published on Small Business Trends

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In the Spotlight: Woofie’s Makes Animal Care its Pet Project

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

In the Spotlight: Pet Lovers Unite to Form Woofie's to Offer Personalized Pet Care

The pet industry is surging. But there are still some markets where it’s hard to find quality dog walking, pet sitting and grooming services.

The founders of Woofie’s experienced that gap in the marketplace with their own pets. So they decided to do something about it. Read all about their story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers pet sitting, dog walking and mobile pet spa services.

Co-Founder and Co-CEO Amy Reed told Small Business Trends, “Each client’s pet is matched with the best pet sitter, dog walker or groomer in order to offer a truly exceptional experience. Woofie’s holds multiple fundraisers on an annual basis to raise money for local animal shelters.”

Business Niche: Personalized Pet Care

A focus on customer service.

Reed says, “We built our business on this approach from day one and we have never deviated from it.”

In the Spotlight: Pet Lovers Unite to Form Woofie's to Offer Personalized Pet Care

How the Business Got Started

Because of a common interest.

Reed and Leslie Barron were neighbors and friends who shared a love of animals. Over time, they realized the lack of a quality pet care service in their area. So they thought others might appreciate what they had to offer as well.

Biggest Win

Getting their first two franchisees to invest in the brand.

Reed says, “I can’t think of a higher honor and validation of the Woofie’s business model, our team members and the Woofie’s brand.”

Biggest Risk

Narrowing their service area.

Reed explains, “While all of the other pet sitting companies in our area had large service areas, we scaled ours down so that we had a small, highly concentrated service area. We gave away a lot of business to our competitors who were in those other markets (which was especially tough to do in the early days of our business) but we felt it was the right thing to do for our long term strategy.

We made this decision because it allowed us to know our clients on a much more personal level, thus providing them with a better customer experience. It also enabled us to be an integral part of our local community and it gave us the opportunity to support our team members better by keeping them close by. This resulted in our business growing quicker and more efficiently over the years than our competitors who had large service areas. This is also why we ultimately decided to franchise our Woofie’s business. We wanted to give other pet lovers the opportunity to invest in a Woofie’s franchise in other markets.”

Lesson Learned

Automation saves time.

Reed adds, “[If I could do it over again] I would automate more of our business processes from the very beginning and I would document all of those processes in detail.”

In the Spotlight: Pet Lovers Unite to Form Woofie's to Offer Personalized Pet Care

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Building tech for clients and franchisees.

Reed says, “We would use it to help build our Woofie’s University grooming school and to make additional enhancements to our customized client software system.”

Hiring Practice

Interacting with dogs.

Reed says, “We always have dogs in our office during employee interviews to see how the applicants interact with the pups. This allows us to see if the applicants are a good fit with our company and how they would treat our client’s pets. All applicants and any vendors who work with Woofie’s must be 100% dog-approved!”

Favorite Quote

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Woofie’s; Top Image: (rom left to right) Caroline Murphy (VP of Franchise Development & Support), Renee Ventrice (VP of Marketing), Amy Reed (Co-founder & Co-CEO), Jack Ceschin (Golden), Maggie Cruz (VP of Recruitment Operations), Leslie Barron (Co-founder & Co-CEO)

This article, “In the Spotlight: Woofie’s Makes Animal Care its Pet Project” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The NRA Director Won’t Resign

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

The director of the National Revenue Agency (NRA) Galya Dimitrova will not resign due to the leakage of data from the information arrays of the revenue administration, which affected more than 5 million Bulgarian citizens.

“Minister Goranov wants decisions from me, not resignation,” Dimitrova said at a briefing.

In the heat of the debate, the NRA director was on holiday. Today she apologised to all Bulgarian citizens affected by the data leak and stressed that the attack was aimed at the revenue agency.

“Internal isolation systems are considered 100% secure. This is a worldwide fact; it is superfluous to mention hacking attacks that have succeeded in breaking through Facebook, the FBI, the US bank. This is not reassuring us, this is the reality. Our mission is to be maximally open and accessible to our customers, “Dimitrova explained.

She announced that she had requested and received the resignation of the Head of Information Systems and the Head of the Information Security Unit.

Currently, the National Revenue Agency’s services are functioning normally, although all of our IT professionals are committed to fixing the problems created, it became clear from the words of the director of the institution.

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Interior Minister Mladen Marinov: There Is a 25% Increase in the Traffic to Greece

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

“The traffic to Greece increased by 25%, ” Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said during parliamentary scrutiny, BTA reports. In 65% of the cases, there are children under the age of 18 who are subject to a special check-up. The traffic is most intensive during the weekends at Kulata and Makaza border checkpoints.

In order to deal with queues, Border Police launched checks on the buses via mobile devices. The car traffic was also split in two sections – traveling EU citizens and travellers from third countries.

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Charging for Bags: Is It Right for Your Business?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Should Your Store Start Charging for Bags?

New York is set to ban single use plastic bags in March of 2020. It’s a big move designed to cut down on waste. But there’s another way to do your part. A new trend has retail stores charging for single use plastic bags.

Small Business Trends contacted some experts to find the pros and cons of it for your small business.

Here’s an Overview

Joe Gladstone is an Assistant Professor, University College, London. A small surcharge for these bags seems to be working there.

“People are more responsive to losses than they are to gains,” he said recently in a BBC interview. In Britain, a small charge on plastic bags was more effective than just including a small increase in goods.

The Senate Bill 1508 which passed in New York only includes single use plastic bags. The law allows for each county to place a five-cent fee on paper bags.

There are some other American cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle that have a plastic bag ban. Some of the US cities that allow the bags with fees include Boulder, Colo., Portland, Maine and Washington, D.C.

According to the United Nations, as of July 2018, 127 countries have enacted regulations on plastic bags that includes charging fees.

So, what are the pros and cons to these fees for retailers and other small businesses?

You Don’t Lose Out on The Branding

It doesn’t cost a lot to print your logo and catchphrase on the side of the plastic bag. It’s a cheap marketing strategy that goes home with each and every sale. Charging a fee might be a little difficult at first, but you don’t need to scramble to find another marketing option.

You Can Turn People Away

There’s some evidence that charging people for bags can turn them off green behavior. They might even decide to buy somewhere else.

“There’s a lot of evidence that these kinds of charges can actually decrease pro social behavior,” Gladstone says.

You’ll also need to be careful not to position your company on the wrong side of the environmental debate. You don’t want to look like you’re profiteering on the back of  environmentalism.

Fees Work

There is evidence that charging a fee for plastic bag use works. Especially if the community is looking to decrease the number of bags used. As far back as 2012, Montgomery County in Maryland saw the percentage of consumers using the bags drop. The numbers decreased from 82% to 40% after a tax.

At the same time, shoppers in Arlington Virginia used the same number of plastic bags. There was no tax charged there.

What These Fees Mean for Small Business

Legislated plastic bag fees and/or bans have consequences for small businesses. There are 30 companies in New York State that make plastic bags.  A fee or outright ban could be 1500 jobs at risk.

Some small businesses are leaning towards offering paper bags as an alternative. But from an environmental perspective, there is evidence plastic grocery bags take 40% less energy to make. One study says they actually generate 80% less solid waste.

Fee Strategies for Small Businesses

Still there is a growing trend toward charging fees for plastic bags. Charging a bag fee at the check out in retail and grocery stores is a common method. There are some strategies you can use to implement this kind of program.

Make the case the extra plastic bag fee helps the environment. Some of your customers will pay the extra charge when you frame it up that way. Be clear and upfront on your webpages and social media.

Reusable Bags

You can offer reusable bags.

For example, paper bags are biodegradable. Find a supplier and make a bulk deal for a number of these. It can create another revenue stream. And keep you on the right side of the environmental debate.

You can stock cotton and hemp bags too. These come in a variety of colors and sizes. They are another way to market your goods and services in a positive light.

Charging for plastic bags isn’t a bad thing for small businesses. In the end, it gives your enterprise a good reputation where sustainability is concerned.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Charging for Bags: Is It Right for Your Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Moon Formed 50 Million Years After the Formation of the Solar System

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

The Earth’s natural satellite is more ancient than previously thought.

Scientists at the University of Cologne, Germany, have found that the moon formed 50 million years after the birth of the solar system, reported Phys.org and BTA.

It turns out that the Earth’s natural satellite is more ancient than previously thought. Previous studies have shown that the formation of the moon occurred no later than 150 million years later on Earth. The results of the analysis of samples of lunar rocks collected during the Apollo mission revealed that the moon formed 4.51 billion years ago. 

Now scientists have estimated the amount of isotopes of the hafnium and wolfram elements.

The radioactive decay of hafnium-182 and tungsten-182 continued only during the first 70 million years of the existence of the solar system. This led to the conclusion that the molten rocks containing the isotopes began to cool earlier. Therefore, the collision of Earth with a large cosmic object, which led to the appearance of the moon, occurred in the first few tens of millions of years after the formation of the solar system.

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Bulgarian Cabinet Allocated BGN 90 million For the Toll System

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

The money will finance the activities of the specialized unit “National Toll Management”, writes NOVA TV. 

The government has allocated an additional BGN 89 998 200 under the budget of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works for 2019 to finance the activities of a specialized unit of National Toll Management, BGNES reported.

The money will aim to ensure effective management of the mixed billing system for different categories of road vehicles on a time and distance basis, as well as activities for the practical implementation, operation and control of the toll collection system.

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Businesses struggle for survival in US coal country

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Wave of bankruptcies hits Wyoming and Montana as power plants ditch the fuel

President Radev Convenes a Meeting on African Swine Fever

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

President Rumen Radev will discuss today with representatives of the institutions involved in managing the crisis with the spread of African swine fever, the risks, financial and social consequences, as well as the expected results of the measures taken, the Head of State’s Secretariat announced.

The meeting will be attended by Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, Minister of Agriculture Desislava Taneva, Minister of Environment and Water Neno Dimov and Executive Director of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency Damyan Iliev.

Representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defense and the State Agency for National Security were also invited.

The Bulgarian Hunting and Fisheries Union and the National Association of Municipalities will also attend the meeting, the statement said.

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