Monday, August 29, 2016

You’ve Lost a Customer ~ What You need to Do Now

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Life is not always easy, but it is how you respond to adversity that will define you!

There is a lot of wisdom in suggesting that when we encounter life's problems and issues that instead of folding we turn our negatives into positives. And that way of thinking is especially important if you own a business! 

But did you know that it is especially apropos when it comes to losing a customer

While no company relishes the idea of losing a client, there are definite lessons we can take away from the experience. The key is to turn it around and use what we learn....and this is especially true for a Small Business.

As a small business owner, you understand that each customer is even more crucial to your success than they are for a big company. Losing even one can make a difference to your bottom line.

So, when one of your clients leave, and most businesses will experience this at one time or another, you may be tempted to think you are a failure.

That is not a productive way to think!

Instead, you first have to realize it is not the end of the world. You can go on.

And then you need to take a hard look at what made them leave, what you can learn from it, and what changes you need to make to lessen the chance of it happening again!

Tips to Help You Retain Your Customers!  “Tweet This”
Reasons Your Clients May Leave, and What You can Learn from Them:

Your Clients Feel like "Just a Paycheck"
Do you completely forget about your clients in between jobs? Or do you only contact them when you want to sell them something?

While your initial sale may have been an impulse buy or a “let’s give it a try”, people only keep buying from companies with whom they feel a connection. Without that connection, customers will look for the next best thing.

If this is where you dropped the ball, then you can turn things around and learn a lot from this experience.  

And the most important lesson is how vital it is to stay in contact and build a relationship with your customers.  

In between sales, share useful information that will help your clients in their own lives or businesses. This can be articles you have written or even relevant information from others.

Yes, you can keep them in the loop about your own new products or services ~ but that shouldn’t be the only time you are in touch.

The stronger you build your customer relationship, the less likely they will leave.

Your Clients Don’t Feel Valued
Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on luring in new customers. They offer big discounts or even something free for first time buyers. This makes your existing customers feel left out.

Instead, you need to remember to reward them for their loyalty. Build in incentives for repeat business. Feature special “customer loyalty” days with discounts just for them.

You also need to remember that customers buy from people, not from companies. Don’t lose the personal touch. Focus on your customer service. Build that important relationship that keeps your customers coming back.

While we all need to build our clientele, the key is to not forget about our existing customers in the process.   

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Your Only Selling Point is Low Prices
Low prices aren’t everything. Yes, your clients want to save money. But if you are not providing quality, then all is lost.

A great deal can lure in the first time buyer, but it will not result in repeat sales. If your quality is not up to par, you will lose a customer.

And remember, many people believe that “you get what you pay for”. Underselling yourself can backfire.

Discover the 3 factors you need to consider before setting your prices in “Find it Difficult Setting Your Prices?  You are not Alone!”.

You Don’t Know Your Competition
If you don’t know what your competition is offering, then you can easily lose your customers to them before you know it.

Instead of keeping your head in the sand, study them. Find out what they are doing, and find a way to do it better.

Or, you can find a niche they are not servicing and specialize. Understanding what drives you and recognizing the needs of your customers will help you hone in. This tactic is perfect for small businesses.  

And most importantly, filling a gap in the market will help you set your business apartLearn more about niche marketing in “How to Find Your Small Business Niche”.

You Don’t Know Your Value
If you don’t know what is new or different about what you offer, how do you expect your clients to?

Be clear about what your product or service will do FOR your client. Be ready to show how it will solve their problem, make their life easier, or even help them or their company be more productive.

You also need to be transparent about what You bring to company / client relationship. Be accessible. Be your brand. Make sure your customers feel your passion about your business. 

Not having this conviction and vision in your business will turn away customers.

But what happens when, 
no matter what you do, a customer still leaves?

Then it might be time to evaluate whether or not you are better off!

Many of us go into business believing that “the customer is always right”. While this belief can serve us well, it can also keep us under the thumb of toxic clients.

They are the ones with unreasonable demands and expectations. They are also the ones that occupy the majority of our time and energy ~ for very little pay off.

When that happens, it is sometimes better for all involved to simply let them go.

The lesson to learn here is that some customer relationships should not be fixedYou can read more about Knowing when to Let Go of Difficult Clients here!

As a company, especially a small business, our clients are integral to our success. They are what keeps us going and what drives us to improve. And that is the way it should be.

So when we find ourselves losing those customers, it can rattle our confidence. Instead of letting it consume us, we need to take a step back and learn from it.

Finding out where we went wrong, and fixing what we can, should be our ultimate goal. And that will go a long way towards cultivating the loyal customers you need!

Authored by   

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Question ~ Do Background Checks Really only Protect the Company?

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

There are often questions when it comes to employment background checks.  
Why are they done?  
What are employers looking for? 
And many other questions that cause confusion and, sometimes, even fear.

Recently, I received an email from Quora, the popular Q & A site. I was asked to answer a user’s questions concerning background checks.

The Question:  

"Do employment background checks cause 
more good than harm?"

  • Is there harm to giving large bureaucracies more data about individuals?
  • Does knowing you are being watched cause you to censor yourself?
  • Does not hiring people with dicey backgrounds actually protect employers or customers?
  • Do these checks allow employers to cover their asses more than protect anyone?

I honestly found these questions to be very curious.

They really got me thinking about an aspect of background checks I don’t normally question ~ is the company true purpose when it comes to background checks simply to protect themselves?  

That is why I have decided to share my answer.  I hope to clear up some of the confusion about the true reasons employers do background checks, and why those reasons make perfect sense! 

My answer:

"You definitely pose some interesting questions (user’s name removed)!

I will say that I think when background checks are done with compliance to existing FCRA and EEOC regulations, they are good for all the parties involved ~ companies, new hires, and existing employees.

Your first point, giving more personal information to large bureaucracies, is where I will start.  Information about you is already “out there”.   All criminal entities keep records of arrests, convictions, and dispositions / sentences.  All employers keep records of past employees, including pay, job title, personnel and performance records, etc.  And all education institutions keep records of diploma / degree earned and grades.  Companies requesting this type of information for employment purposes are not digging into anything new.  They are simply gathering information to show their due diligence in verifying a candidate’s resume and making sure there is nothing in their past that would make them an unfit or unsafe hire.

Will being “watched” make you censor yourself? Not really sure what you mean here, except that, in this world, there is always someone watching ~ from parents when you are young, to teachers, and continuing on to employers and law enforcement (and it looks to me as if this certainly doesn’t curb the behavior of everyone!!). But as with anything, behaving appropriately for the situation is not a bad thing. You may act differently in your own home than you would at work, with friends, at a conference, or even in your church.

Does hiring ex-offenders or those with “dicey” backgrounds really harm a company?  In reality, there are many companies that do hire those with criminal pasts (I have clients that do just that). And I am a vocal proponent to giving people second chances.  But, having all the information before an employer makes the hire is key. A person’s past can determine what type of job for which they may be eligible.  For example, someone who has a past drug problem would not be a good hire as a personal care giver or in a hospital or pharmacy with access to drugs.  A person who has embezzled may not be the best hire as a company bookkeeper. And someone with a violent past can be unsafe if dealing closely with your customers or your other employees.  If a company does not do the screening necessary, they may be exposing not only their company to harm, but others as well.

Your last question is the most interesting ~ are background checks done more to “cover their (the employer’s) asses” than to protect anyone?  And my answer is, in part, you are exactly right! A company has every right to protect what they have built.  If that means doing background checks to protect their reputation, company assets, and especially their employees and customers, then they have every right and obligation to do so.  Companies that have forgone employment screening can find themselves on the losing end of expensive litigation. They are held responsible for the criminal behavior of their employees while on the job.  This can’t be taken lightly.

So, in my estimation, background checks do not cause more harm than good. Just the opposite, they protect all parties involved."

After posting my answer, 
I still found myself slightly taken aback.  
In posing the last part of the question, 
it was implied that 
it is somehow wrong for a company 
to use background checks 
to protect themselves.

Companies are Right to Use Background Checks to Protect Themselves!  "Tweet This"

In my estimation, the need to protect everything we have and worked hard for is entirely human.  Any of us would be hard pressed to say we didn’t have the right to keep our spouse, family, friends, community, and country safe.

Why should it be any different 
for business owners?

We work hard and sacrifice much to build our businesses.  Making them successful is something that takes the majority of our time and energy. 

Part of that success is predicated on building a skilled and safe workforce.  Background checks are a viable and cost effective way to accomplish this.

Through employment screening we can discover what we need to know to make the right hire.

Verifying the information listed on an applicant’s resume makes sense.  Employers need to be positive that it is truthful before making an offer of employment.

In fact, resume lies can cost Small Business big money.

There are definite costs that come with hiring, training, and replacing employees who, it may be found later, do not have the skills or education necessary to do the job.

And if that is discovered, employers have to start the hiring process all over.

Read more about this in “The High Cost of Resume Lies”.

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Despite there being strict laws that govern how we can use background check information, there is no law that prohibits us from screening our employees.  And we have every right to do so.

In fact, there are real and obvious dangers to skipping employment background checks, especially for small businesses.

When you have a small company, the more “intimate setting” requires safer hires.  In fact, your employees often have very close contact with your customers and with each other.  It is your duty to protect them both.  Knowing before you hire if your employee has a violent or abusive past is crucial to that duty.

Businesses are often held legally responsible for the behavior and actions of their employees.  Negligent hiring lawsuits can cripple a small business.

Companies would have their heads in the sand if they didn’t do all they could to protect themselves from litigation.  For anyone to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

And finally, for a business, reputation is everything.  

You want your company to be known for their honesty and integrity.  Having unsafe employees can ruin that reputation.

That is why using Background Checks before hiring anyone make perfect sense!

Discover more about how Small Business and Background Checks make great partners here!

The bottom line ~ 
Employers should never be questioned 
for using background checks 
to protect their company.

Wouldn’t you want to do all you could to keep what is important to you safe?

Authored by   

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to the next level?  
I can help you revamp your hiring policies and your business blog.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

What States are Doing to Get Tough on the Issue of Equal Pay

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Equal Pay for Equal Work.  
Definitely seems like an easy concept to grasp.  When two people are doing the same job, and bring to the table equal skills, then they should be paid the same.

But this is not the reality for many working women. Instead, we are low-balled when getting hired, and continue to be underpaid as compared to our male contemporaries (definitely something that would not fly if it happened due to race or religion!).

Screams of discrimination, doesn’t it?

Even right out of college, women are paid less than men. And the gap only continues to widen as we get older.  

Despite some shifts, women are often the primary caregivers when it comes to children and even dependent parents. Taking time off for pregnancy, or other family leave issues, also impacts our earnings.

We have been fighting for decades to close, and ultimately eliminate, this pay inequity.

Making less hurts us. No matter if we are single, married, or have a family, earning less has an effect. But if we are the primary or sole wage earner, the problem is even greater.  

This wage disparity also limits our retirement funds. Because we make less, we are able to save less, both for short and long term needs. And if we have a 401k, our lower base salary means that less is being contributed.

You can find out more about the effects of wage disparity on women here!

But we are not in this alone.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has also joined the fight. In an effort to address pay inequality, companies have been ordered to release their pay data by the end of 2016. It is hoped that by having this information, the EEOC will be also to identify companies who are guilty of wage bias. 

While some companies may already know they are paying their women employees less, some may be unaware. That is why bringing this to light by taking a clear look at a company’s pay data makes sense. 

However, the government is notoriously slow moving when it comes to enacting real change.

This is where states need to step in ~ 
and some have answered the call!

States Joining Fight for Equal Pay!  “Tweet This”

The state of Massachusetts has recently enacted the toughest equal pay law in the country

In addition to an emphasis on pay equity, this law forbids companies from asking their prospective employees what they are making at their current job.

The idea here is to eliminate the perpetuation of underpaying women.

Often times, women start out making less. It makes sense then that if every new employer can base their salary offer on what we made before, we will continue to be underpaid.

Instead, if employers are prohibited from asking salary history, then that cycle has a better chance of being broken. 

The MA law, and similar laws in other states, also bans pay secrecy. Employers in those states can no longer keep their employees from discussing salaries. And these employees also have recourse if they are fired because they shared what they make with others.

Some companies believe that keeping salaries private is necessary to curbing resentment from those that make less. But instead, pay transparency is seen as a way to reveal wage inequality and help close the pay gap.  

When employees are permitted to be completely open about what they make, pay inequity is less likely. It can also make employers more vigilant in their efforts to pay women equally.

The Massachusetts law has even taken it a step further. In addition to requiring that men and women who have the same job be paid the same, it also requires that those in “similar” positions are as well. “Similar” is defined as any jobs where the duties require the same skills and responsibilities. Job title alone cannot be a factor.

Often included in these equal pay packages are things like more flexible work schedules, child care considerations, and paid family and sick leave. These policies would help all employees, not just women.

Advocates for equal pay 
are campaigning for other states 
to join Massachusetts and pass 
stronger pay equity laws. 

In the meantime, responsible and proactive companies can help.  

By actively reviewing your own pay policies, you can ensure that you are not guilty of wage bias.

You can also take a look at your job applications and re-train any employees involved in the hiring process to make sure that they do not ask for salary history. And if you currently have a company policy prohibiting your employees from discussing salaries, eliminating that from your handbook would also make sense.  

Taking these steps gives you the chance to make any necessary changes now, before you draw the attention of the EEOC or your state passes their own pay equity law.

You will also help establish your company 
as a fair and conscientious employer.  
And what a boost to your brand that would be!

Authored by  

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Monday, August 8, 2016

5 Background Check Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now

When it comes to background checks, the benefits are pretty simple.  
A good candidate screening will give you the hiring information you need and help protect you and your company. Both are necessary to your company's success.

But did you know that despite understanding their value, you may be still be making some costly mistakes?

Are You making these 5 Background Check Mistakes? “Tweet This”

The Top 5 Background Check Mistakes You may be Making Now:
  • Not Doing Background Checks on ALL Your New Hires
Hiring someone you know or a “friend of a friend”? Or maybe you are thinking of hiring your neighbor or relative? No matter what the case, it is good business to never skip the background check!

Your best tactic is to set the precedent of doing employment background checks right from the beginning. Make sure you are doing them on every single one of your potential employees, starting with your first. This goes a long way in warding off accusations of preferential treatment or discrimination in your hiring practices.

Using background checks in hiring also protects you and your company ~ and this is especially important for a small business! There are real consequences in making an unsafe hire. You may hire someone who steals from you or your customers. Or you may hire someone who has a violent past. This could ruin your small business.  

You also need to remember that who you hire is a reflection on you. They are often an integral part of the “face” of your company.

Using background checks each and every time you hire is simply another tool in your arsenal to help avoid these issues.

Find out more about the importance of employment screening in “If You are Not Doing Background Checks, You are making the Biggest Mistake Your Small Business can Make!”.

  • Not Getting a Signed Release or Informing Your Applicant of Their Rights
There are rules when it comes to using background checks for employment screening. Not only are there guidelines as to what you can consider in making your hiring decision (think protected statuses like race, gender, and religion), but you also must recognize that your applicant has rights.

One of the first things that can get you in hot water is not using a stand-alone background check release. For example, this document cannot be attached to or included with your application, or as part of any other hiring form. It is also crucial that your release is signed and dated by your applicant. 

In addition, you must be diligent in informing your candidate of their rights when it comes to the background check. They are entitled to know you are running a background check, to receive a copy of the report, and to know the name and contact information on the company who conducted the investigation.    

These rights are especially important if any “red flags” are found during the screening process that may keep you from denying employment. If this happens, your applicant must be notified and given the right to dispute or mitigate the findings. 

Ignoring any of these steps is a big mistake and can put your small business in jeopardy, especially from the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)!

Learn more about what you can do to “fly under” the EEOC radar here!
  • Not Doing Individual Assessments if You Find a “Red Flag” during the Background Check
If your background check uncovers any information that can keep you from hiring your candidate, then you need to tread carefully. This is where Individual Assessments come in.

An Individual Assessment is the process of considering any additional information provided by your applicant before making your final hiring decision. This can include weighing any mitigating information provided against the “red flag” or doing further research if they deny the adverse information.

Your decision will most likely be based on whether your applicant’s additional information is relevant and if it has any direct bearing on the job.

What is important here is that you are careful with your decision and document it every step of the way!

Making a mistake at this juncture can open you up to charges of discrimination. Diligently using Individual Assessments when you hire is your best protection.

You can learn more about using Individual Assessments in your hiring practices here!
Created by Kimberly Kline, API
  • Relying on Online Databases or Social Media for Your Background Check Information
It can be very tempting for employers, especially Small Business owners, to try and cut corners and rely on online and social media information to screen potential employees.

After all, it is a quick, low cost way to get what you need. Or, is it?

There are many pitfalls and mistakes made with this way of thinking.

Online databases are flawed. Many times they contain outdated or incomplete information. Incorrect charges, no final disposition, or even records listed that should have been expunged are often found.

This can lead you to make a hiring decision without all the facts.

Much the same can be said about using social media sites to research your candidates. While it might be hard to believe, but not everything you find on the internet is true!

Social profiles may be hacked. Irrelevant or discriminatory information can be discovered.  

No matter the case, using this type of information as a basis for employment is a mistake.

However, using both databases and social media judiciously, and as part of a more thorough package, does make sense. Both are great as jumping off or starting points to a more traditional background check. 

Check out “Background Checks and Online Database ~ What You Need to Know” and “Social Media Check ~ the Forgotten Screening Tool” to find out more! 
  • Not Re-Screening Your Existing Employees
Thinking of employment background checks as a “one and done” is another mistake you can make.  

While your initial screening may have come up with a clean record, that may not always be the case. It is possible that your employee has been convicted of a crime since that initial assessment.

Instead of being in the dark, it is sound business practice to periodically re-check your existing employees.

This can be especially important if you are considering them for a promotor or transfer. Their new position may have more responsibilities or increased access to your company assets. That is why having a more up to date picture of your employee makes sense.

Re-screening also shows your dedication to practicing your due diligence and protecting your company. This can go a long way in avoiding charges of negligent retention if your employee ever becomes involved in a workplace incident. 

You can discover more of the advantages and tips to re-screening existing employees here!

Knowing all you can about any hire makes sense. And the best way to do that is through a sound background check.
Your check will give you what you need to match your applicant with the right job. It will also help you avoid costly employment litigation. And, most importantly, it will help you protect the company you worked so hard to build.  

That is why avoiding these 5 costly mistakes simply makes good business sense!
API will help you create the best hiring policy for your company. And we will always keep in mind your needs and your bottom line!

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