Monday, June 30, 2014

What Being on Vacation Taught Me About Business

I just came back from a real vacation!  I worked hard and pre-planned everything so I was able to actually go “laptop free” the entire week!  (Read more on the “8 Easy Tips” that helped me accomplish this here). 

That doesn’t mean that business didn’t cross my mind ~ something I am sure every entrepreneur understands.  Mainly I wondered what work would be waiting for me when I got back.  

But as the week went on, I found that I was really able to focus on fun and relaxation....and I loved it. And the pics included here are ones I took at our resort!

Now that I am ready to get back into the swing of things, I find myself reflecting on the past week.  Interestingly, I discovered things that I can use to help me with my business.

And number one is that Great Customer Service rules!

I was lucky enough to stay in a truly wonderful resort in Orlando, Florida.  This hotel knew how to treat their guests.

From the moment of check-in until we got in the cab to return to the airport, I felt valued.  

The resort staff ~ from housekeeping, to reception, to the concierge lounge workers, and even the wait staff in all the onsite restaurants and bars ~ knew how to make their guests feel special.

No matter who I encountered, I felt like I was their only priority. When I walked into the concierge lounge after a long day at the park, I was always greeted by name.  Every snack was well stocked and the coffee ready for my late afternoon caffeine fix.

Any time we needed anything, our request was filled promptly and with a smile.  I could tell the staff had pride in their work.

I also saw that the owners understood the importance of keeping everything updated and fresh (in fact the entire hotel is scheduled for a tower by tower renovation).  There was great wi-fi service throughout the hotel, everything was kept sparkling clean, and there was never a lack of little touches like fresh flowers in keeping with the resort look.  

However, despite all the wonderful service in our resort, there was also a time when customer service was lacking.  

In the theme park I visited, certain rides require riders to stow any purses, bags, glasses, etc. in lockers.  These lockers are provided free for a specific length of time (based on the wait times for the ride at the time).  This was certainly a nice touch.

Despite operating smoothly 99% of the time, after exiting one ride we found the system the park uses to run the lockers was down.  
After alerting an attendant, I was told he needed to contact his supervisors to be able to open our locker.  Meanwhile, our bags and money were inside.

What should have been a fairly easy fix, turned out to be a 50 minute wait.  That was a big chunk of time out of our park day for sure!

People with me tweeted to the park’s customer service about the issue, fully expecting them to at least respond.  Instead, they heard nothing.

In all the time since, there has never been an acknowledgment of their tweets or our problem.  For any business, that should be unacceptable.

That is why my vacation experiences, both good and bad, taught me a lot about Customer Service.  

Here are my Top 4 Takeaways:
  • Always Go the Extra Mile ~ Just delivering the status quo will not make you stand out.  Find even one thing, and consistently do it better than your competition.  It will be noticed and appreciated. 
  • Show Your Customers You Value their Business ~ Send thank you notes or little gifts (and not just during the holidays) to express your gratitude.  Offer good customers special perks. Even a little here can go a long way.
  • Keep Things Fresh ~ Update your services.  Start a blog.  Do whatever it takes to continue to move your company forward. Remaining stagnant, or even worse, loosing ground, will hurt you.
  • Respond Quickly to any Problems ~ Mistakes happen.  It is what you do after that will define you.  Be sure to put all your focus on making it right, and create a plan of action to keep it from happening again.  
Providing great customer service will keep your existing clients and attract new ones.  Just be sure to go beyond “lip service”. Simply saying your company stands for great customer service means nothing. 

Back it up with clear and consistent action and you have a winning combination.

Authored by   

For more on small business, be sure to visit my website at and my blog, .

I would also love to connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!

Monday, June 23, 2014

What New "Ban the Box" Legislation Means to You


There is no doubt that having a criminal record can be an obstacle to getting hired. 

Many states, cities and counties are trying to combat this by passing or considering laws to remove the question of whether an applicant has prior criminal convictions from government job applications.  Some are even requiring private employers to ban the question, too. 

(See the latest cities and states to “ban the box” here).

And despite years of rejection, a “ban the box” bill is now poised for passage in Washington D.C.

The crux of current “Ban the Box” legislation is that by delaying Background Checks on potential employees, those with criminal convictions are not automatically excluded from consideration for employment. 

While this legislation does not prevent employers from rejecting applicants with criminal records, they would not be able to ask the question until after the first or second interview, or an offer of employment has been made.

Supporters say that “Ban the Box” is all about giving people a second chance.  The goal is to prevent employers from immediately rejecting applicants based solely on their criminal past.  By delaying the question, the prospective employee is given the chance to mitigate the circumstances of their crime and show any efforts that have been made to move forward and rehabilitate themselves.

Opponents, however, many of which are business owners, believe they should be able to ask about an applicant’s criminal past earlier in the hiring process.  

Many think that the delay is a hardship.  This is especially true for small businesses.  The added hours spent on applicants that are later proven unsuitable is both time and money.  This hits smaller companies especially hard as their resources are more limited.

While I tend to fall more on the side of “second chances” (you can see my views in “Background Checks & ‘Ban the Box’ ~ The Pendulum Swings”), the reality is that no matter whether you support or oppose this trend, “Ban the Box” is not going away any time soon.

Putting sound hiring practices in place now that take into consideration “Ban the Box” makes sense.

Companies would do well to be proactive and constantly vigilant on what the laws are in your state.  Hiring a good background check company can help!

Authored by   

I can help You navigate the ever-changing world of employment screening. Contact me at or you can reach me through my website,  My motto, “Trust but Verify”!

You will also find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+.  I hope to hear from you!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Top Piece of Advice I Wish I Knew When I Was 22


LinkedIn invited bloggers to help guide new grads by looking back to when we were 22.  
I decided to share what I know now that I wish I had known then.....

#IfIWere22!  When I was 22, I had just graduated from college and had already been married for a year.  To be honest, despite what others may have thought, I still had no idea what I really wanted to do.

That realization didn’t even begin to come to me until I was 34!  That is the year I, along with 2 partners, started a business.  It was 1996 and I still wasn’t 100% positive that this was “it”.  But I had two young children and thought this could be a perfect compromise between being with them and doing something for myself.

Starting a New Business was a lot of work! 

By the time 2004 rolled around, I was on my own.  As I look back now, I was actually closer than I had ever been to doing something that really made me happy.

Since then I have ignited a passion for my work and for the blog I started along the way.  I have focus.

That is why...

The Top Piece of advice I would give to New Grads is RELAX.  "Tweet This"

Not knowing what you really want to be or how to get there is not the end of the world.  

The key is to never stop learning about yourself and the world around you. That is where you will find your passion and your purpose.

If I have one regret, it is suffering many angst filled days because I thought I needed to have my life plan in place.  

I always believed that graduating from college meant I would be on my way.

When that didn’t happen, the best thing I ever did was to leave myself open to new experiences.  I never stopped learning and trying new things.  I joined relevant LinkedIn groups, dived into social media, and started blogging on issues important to small business.  

This got me ahead in my career more than I would have ever thought possible.

My Family 1987

And along the way I found I loved my life as it was, not how I had thought at 22 it should be 

That was not always easy ~ but that is okay.  Life is meant to be messy.

As an added piece of advice ~ 
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Ride.  
Relish the unpredictability of life and cherish being with those that you love and make you happy.

It is there that you will find what matters.

Please Pay it Forward and Share this on your favorite social sites! Thanks!

Authored by  

You can find this article published directly on LinkedIn here.
Check out our website and find out more about what we do on our About Us and our Hiring, Business Mentoring, and Security Consulting pages!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Why Checking an Applicant’s Criminal Past Should be About Convictions, Not Arrests!

Imagine being denied employment simply because of an accusation? That is what it is like for people who lose jobs solely based on a record of arrest.

In reality, many arrest records, especially those contained in online databases, do not indicate what happened after the initial arrest. They may not show if formal charges were ever filed or, if filed, were they eventually dismissed. An arrest does not prove that criminal activity has even occurred. Without a conviction, it is still only an accusation.

What is an employer to do? You want to know if your applicant has a criminal history so you can make a safe hire, but you also want the information you find to be complete and factual. 

The best place to start is by first understanding what actually constitutes a criminal record.

There are 4 Different Types of Criminal Records:
  • Arrest Records ~ Law Enforcement Records of Arrests.
  • Criminal Court Records ~ Local,  County, State or Federal court records.
  • Corrections Records ~ Prison Records.
  • State Criminal Repository Records ~ Statewide records consisting of arrest records, criminal court records, and correction records.
When a person is arrested, the arresting agency makes a report of that arrest (the Arrest Record). The defendant will appear before a judge or magistrate. The case will result in either a conviction or dismissal of the charges (the Criminal Court Record).  

If a conviction occurs, the sentence varies. The defendant could simply have to pay fines and/or court costs, perform community service, enroll in a  treatment program, placed on probation, or a combination.

Depending on the crime, the defendant may also be incarcerated. If it is a lower level offense (misdemeanor), they may be sentenced to a local or county jail. For a felony conviction, they may go to jail or prison. In most cases only those convicted of the most serious or violent offenses are sent to prison. Records are kept on their term of imprisonment (Corrections Records). 

Arrest records, criminal court records, and correction records are all to be sent to the state repository (State Criminal Repository Records).

An Arrest alone should not keep you from getting the Job! "Tweet This"

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) differentiates between arrests and convictions.  
An arrest alone simply does not prove criminal conduct. It is important to keep in mind that excluding someone based on an arrest record that is not job related or necessary based on your business can be seen as a Civil Rights violation.

However, an employer may make an employment decision based upon the conduct underlying the arrest. The key is to substantiate the facts of the arrest and determine if the conduct that occurred renders an individual unfit for the position. In this instance, the conduct, not the arrest, is what is relevant.

In contrast, a conviction is a better indicator that a person engaged in illegal activity

And even when it comes to those convictions, not all crimes should be considered equal. As we have explained in previous blog articles, the EEOC has issued numerous guidelines on how those criminal records can fairly be used and the importance of fitting the background check to the job (see them here and here).

To be safe, employers should only consider convictions, not arrests when making their hiring decision. When you have evidence of a conviction (especially those verified through a quality background check company), you know the record is that of the applicant and you know the outcome of the case.

Only then can you make a truly fair and informed determination of the applicant’s suitability for the job. 

The bottom line ~ arrest records should not be used as the basis for an adverse employment decisionThe truth is arrest records do not paint a clear picture of an applicant’s criminal history. 
Remember the old adage: Innocent until Proven Guilty!

Authored by     

Find out more about how API can help you! Visit our Background Investigation, Mentoring, and Security Consulting pages!  
 Let’s Connect too!  
You can find links to our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn sites on our Contact page. We would love to hear from you!