Three Signs Your Employees are Exhausted

Are you wondering why your company’s productivity is down? Are you worried about the health and functionality of your employees? Are you wondering if your company is doing all that it can to keep your workers happy and satisfied? Many managers and business owners feel concerned about the well-being of their employees. If an employee is overworked, chances are that he is exhausted. This can lead not only to decreased capabilities at work but can also impact the employee’s overall health. While you certainly can’t control your employee’s personal sleep or rest habits, you can make sure that you are providing an appropriate work environment that seeks to help all of your employees feel as well-rested and as possible. If your employees are, in fact, overworked, you may find that adjusting their workloads or altering their schedules leads to increased productivity.


  1. They look tired

One of the biggest and most obvious signs that your employees are tired is their physical appearance. Do your staff members look like they haven’t slept in days? Do they have dark circles under their eyes? Are they constantly yawning? Is everyone drinking coffee? While you’ll always have a few employees who seem to be perpetually tired, it’s not normal for every single one of your team members to look like they haven’t slept. If the appearance of your employees is suffering, it’s possible that they have been working too hard or that their schedule is impacting their ability to rest.


  1. Their attitudes are suffering

When your friendly, chatty team members suddenly become hostile and grumpy, something is wrong. For many employees, sleep deprivation or working too hard can directly impact their attitudes. Have you been working on a new project? Have your employees been staying late at work? Have you been assigning excess responsibilities to your workers? If you have and your employees seem to be grumpy, it may be time to reconsider their work- load. While there is certainly nothing wrong with assuming that your team should work hard, it is important that you understand how much each employee can reasonably handle. Part of being a good manager means understanding when your employees simply have too much on their plates.


  1. They have difficulty staying focused

One of the biggest signs of exhaustion is that your employees may seem to be losing focus. If your staff members seem to spend a lot of time staring off into space or they can’t seem to understand what you’re saying to them, they might be overworked. Even for employees who love their jobs, working too hard can make listening a challenge. Keep in mind that when your workers have been staring at their computers for days on end, pouring over office documents, or trying to help with a company merger, they’re going to feel burnt out. If each person in your office appears to be completely unable to focus, your company could be experiencing employee burnout.


Ways to solve the exhaustion problem

Fortunately, even if your staff members seem to be worn out and exhausted, there are a number of ways that you can reasonably solve your problems. While implementing changes can be confusing to your employees and might even frustrate them at first, it is important that you stand up for the rights of your staff members and try to find ways to help them become more productive while on the job.


First off, consider giving longer lunch breaks or more frequent breaks throughout each shift. If your staff members each get a 30-minute lunch, why not increase it to a 1-hour lunch break? While it might seem counterproductive, the truth is that a lengthier lunch break could be what your team needs to recharge after a long, strenuous morning at the office. For many individuals, half an hour is simply not enough time to recharge and relax. Another option would be to let each employee take several short breaks throughout each shift. Make sure that you don’t just offer breaks to smokers. Many non-smokers feel concerned that if they don’t smoke, they’ll be forgotten when it comes time to giving breaks. Try to be fair when it’s time to decide who gets to take their break next.


Another way to increase your employee productivity is to make your office a more friendly, comfortable place to spend time. This can be challenging in some office situations, but sometimes just a few minor adjustments can make a big difference. For example, what does your break room look like? Could you do something to make it more employee-friendly? Why not add a comfortable couch, a coffee maker, or even a free snack basket? You don’t have to invest a lot of money to making changes that will impact your staff in positive ways.


Remember that no matter now many staff members you have on your team, it’s important that you take a real, genuine interest in their well-being. An important part of being a great manager is making sure that each person feels cared for, understand, and most of all, appreciated. Demonstrating that you care about the productivity of your staff members and that you understand their needs will go a long way in making you an even better supervisor.                                                                        image_456734713

3 Ways to Run a Successful Business in a Bad Economy

In today’s uncertain economy, people simply have less money to spend which is hitting a lot of businesses hard. However, not all hope is lost. Here are three ways you can maximize your profits in a bad economy.



  1. Build lists to keep your business successful


List building is an essential marketing tool that will work in times of prosperity and hardship. When times are hard, most methods of marketing will not work because consumers simply don’t have the money to spend. But if you have and an e-mail list of people who trust you, they will remain loyal to you and your company through good times and bad times. This is because constant dialogue between a company and its customers builds a lasting friendship. A friendship needs constant reassurance in order to last and grow over time, but if you treat your list well, you will have guaranteed customers for years to come. This guaranteed source of income may just save your business from going bankrupt during an economic recession.



  1. Avoid a cash flow deficit to keep your business successful


Avoiding a cash flow deficit may seem like an obvious way to maintain a successful business, but this is the number one reason small and medium-sized businesses fail. During times of economic hardship, you may have to pay large costs for production or overheads from your own pocket if you can’t generate the sales to stay out of the negative. If you keep track of all sales, costs, and monthly income, you should be able to foresee when your company will run out of money. If you can foresee a cash deficit early enough, you’ll have time to find investors or get a bank loan to keep your successful business running in the future.



  1. Maximize your team’s skill base to keep your business successful


If you are running a small or medium-sized business, chances are that you will be short of enough employees to complete your long list of tasks. Hiring new employees is costly and impossible in a bad economy. Instead of hiring new employees, simply maximize the skills of your existing team by investing in continued education. For instance, if it’s too costly for you to hire a full-time accountant, simply see if any of your employees would be interested in taking a class in accounting and taking up book keeping. Chances are, your team will appreciate learning new things and taking on new responsibilities. If so, you can maximize your productivity, while minimizing your costs.



Running a successful business is hard work, but it’s worth if for the satisfaction of being self-employed and accomplishing your goals. If you employ these tips, you can ensure that your business is successful in every economic downturn.



How a Restaurant Business Can Figure Out Its Ideal Customer

Food may be a need that will never go out of style, but the same can’t be said of restaurants. Just because people need food doesn’t mean you can expect your food service to be failure-proof. Many restaurants just open their doors and expect people to flood in. Do that, and you’ll fail. Figure out your target market and your ideal customer, and you’ll edge the odds of success in your favor.



  1.  Where Are You Located?


Location is important. It’ll not only determine how much traffic you get but the kind of traffic you get. Put it up near a lot of outsourcing agencies, you’ll attract business-minded people and professionals. Malls tend to attract families and teenagers. Depending on how you approach the restaurant business, you’ll either let location decide your theme and menu or vice-versa. It’s important to figure this out ahead of time so you don’t end up having to adjust a fast-food menu for a business meeting crowd.


  1.  What’s the Theme or Concept of the Restaurant?


The kind of theme the restaurant has must reflect the tastes of the audience you want or can attract. People who want to relax or have a good time may opt to go for a sports-bar kind of affair, one with drinks, bar food, and widescreen televisions. Family-style restaurants prefer a cozier scene, with warmer colors and menus appropriate for all ages.


Figuring out your theme focuses your menu and your efforts and makes sure you never forget your ideal customer or your target market. This can also help when it comes time to figure out the menu. Many meals can be adjusted to fit your theme or concept.


  1.  Who Will Enjoy What You Have?


The kind of food you serve will also have a strong impact on who will actually enjoy it. High-end dishes will serve a richer clientele, while buffet-style establishments will likely attract middle-class customers or people looking to get the most out of your money. Your menu is tied to your concept – what your concept attracts and traps should match with what you’re serving. Bar food doesn’t fit well with a family restaurant.


  1.  How Expensive is Your Menu?


Pricing matters in a restaurant business. It must match your target market’s wallets, as well as the expected price range for a restaurant with your theme and menu. It must also match the kind of clientele in your area. Figuring out who you’re selling to will help determine how expensive your menu should be, and not just because it fits their expected price range. Some people are willing to pay more for ambiance or because it is viewed as the right price range for your food. You should also take into mind what an average meal in your restaurant would be, not just individual items.


No restaurant business has ever succeeded without figuring out who will be eating their food. It’s a difficult task, and you’ll often have to jump back and forth between your price, theme, menu, and location, as you figure out your target market. It can get frustrating, but it is worth the effort. Wrongly identify your market or price things wrong and your business will fail before it ever really gets off the ground.


Common Mistakes Made by New Restaurant Owners

Free webmail services: No cost, but with a catch.

Free email services like Hotmail (to be replaced by, Google, and Yahoo have the advantage of giving users instant access to friends, family, and businesses around the world at no cost. The popularity of these services is beyond question, with Hotmail boasting 360 million users ( has 60 million); Gmail with 425 million and Yahoo Mail with 281 million. However, despite their popularity, there are numerous reasons why free email services are a less attractive option for the professional looking to stand out in the world of business.


First, the upsides.


  • Lots of space: many providers give you 10 gigs of free disk storage so you can easily receive as many attachments as you like. If you go over this limit, you can ask for more disk space from their support technicians.


  • Convenience: you can access these services virtually everywhere.


  • Email search: free services allow you to search your email to find the one you’re looking for by entering a few keywords.


  • Call phones: some services allow you to call to USA and Canada phones free of cost and get low long-distance rates to other countries.


  • No cost: you get all the above for free.


However, even though these email providers offer their services at no financial cost, generally speaking, they do have some serious downsides.


Email accounts from free providers are notoriously prone to phishing scams or hacking. Because these email services are most often targeted by spammers and malware, they also tend to be viewed with suspicion by the professional community. In one such phishing scam in 2011, approximately 10, 000 Hotmail accounts were compromised. These highjacked accounts could then be used to send out fictitious emails to others, thereby potentially compromising them as well.


Consequently, some corporate spam and malware filters automatically filter out emails from Hotmail and other webmail services as they are the most widely exploited services out there. This means that professional emails bearing the @Hotmail, @Gmail or @Yahoo addresses may be deleted before they even reach the recipient’s inbox.


In addition to their security vulnerabilities, professionals have an added set of issues when it comes to using free email services.


As we all know, perception and trust are essential in business, meaning that making a good first impression is paramount. These days, your first contact with prospective clients or business contacts is likely to be through email, making this your “first impression.” Many sources report that emails from addresses such as are taken less seriously professionally than addresses with the company’s domain name included. This is because companies with their own domain names are perceived as more established and stable than those using the free email services.


In some countries, businesses may also have compliance issues to be concerned about with regards to email. In Australia, for example, anyone storing financial or federal data must host that data within the country. Therefore, in such countries, if you send your email through Hotmail or some equivalent, then you could be in breach of the law. Professionals will want to take note and educate themselves on the law in their particular jurisdiction.


If a free email service goes down, gets hacked or simply closes its doors, this mean that your archived emails and all their attachments risk being lost. This can be disastrous when looking for the draft proposal a client sent to you or that report you needed for an important meeting. Many times, this can occur without warning, leaving you no time to backup your data. If you aren’t doing backups yourself, you risk losing a lot of valuable information.


One solution is a professional email address, which is one with your business name in it (e.g. This increases trust because, when customers or contacts see it, they can easily look up your company for more information. Greater trust ultimately leads to greater sales–whatever your business may be. Setting up your own email domain, especially through an established host, can reduce the risk of your important business emails or newsletters getting bounced or sent straight to the trash bin.


If you prefer your own domain name, you can either host the data in-house, which requires a basic corporate IT infrastructure or through a company you have a service level agreement with. Many such agreements include backups and contingency strategies, ensuring that your data is secure and accessible. Hosting the data in-house and service contracts with outside hosting services are just not cost-effective for any but the most established professionals, though.


For the cost-conscious businessperson, there are a number of options for setting up a professional email address. You can use the built-in mail server that comes with WordPress web hosting providers, for example. There are various different types of WordPress hosting options available such as Free, Shared, VPS, Dedicated, and managed hosting. Honestly, the functionality you get with the built-in WordPress client is pretty limited, so you may want to go a different route.


Another option is one that routes emails with your pre-purchased domain name through or Gmail addresses. Personalized domain names can be purchased from GoDaddy  for about $5/year.  The setup for this option is beyond the capabilities of most non-techies though. It does offer the benefit of providing you with your own domain name but may not avoid the security issues that come along with free email clients.


For the professional looking for a simpler solution, there is another option. Many domain registry services also offer web hosting and personalized (read: professional-looking!) email addresses as a package at a reduced cost. For example, a package including domain name, web hosting (of your blog and/or website) and personalized email support can be bought for about $ 80/per year with search engine optimization available for an additional fee. This option provides the benefit of one-stop-shopping while also offloading the IT infrastructure issues onto a separate web hosting company. Be sure to go with a reputable and established provider since you don’t want to be left with no recourse (and no email) if the company suddenly shuts its doors.


In today’s competitive business environment, you definitely want to use every tool in your arsenal to ensure that you are taken seriously from the get-go. While free email services offer the benefit of convenience at no financial cost, they do pose a risk that your data may be exposed to corruption or outright loss by hackers. A personalized email address with your company’s domain name is a safe and relatively inexpensive way to set yourself apart from the competition. Given all of this, now, more than ever, professional email addresses seem to be the way to go for the cost-conscious professional looking to make their mark in the world of business.


What You Need to Know About Travel Rewards Credit Cards



If you’ve gotten a signup bonus offer in the mail that could pay for your summer vacation or just like the general perks, you may be considering adding a travel rewards credit card to your wallet. For a frequent traveler, these cards can provide better rewards than even the best cash back credit cards. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of.


Not all miles are created equally


If you get signup offers of 50,000 bonus miles or 100,000 bonus miles, you may automatically assume that the 100,000 mile offer is the better deal. However, unlike with cash back cards where you can easily compare the cash back percentage, travel miles are not so easy to compare. First, you need to figure out how many miles you’ll get per dollar spent. Then, you’ll have to figure out what the miles will be worth when you cash them out. It may turn out that the card offering less miles actually makes miles easier to earn and gives you more when you redeem them.


It may travel, but will it be accepted?


For travel within the United States, you can safely assume that your card will be widely accepted subject to the usual handful of businesses not taking American Express or Discover. If you’re traveling abroad, you need to make sure your card meets the standards of the country you’re traveling to. Most foreign countries no longer use the magnetic strip technology still used in the United States. If that is the only way you can swipe your card, you will likely be unable to use it outside of major tourist centers.


To be sure your card will be accepted abroad, you’ll need to get a card with EMV chip technology. These cards contain a small computer chip that is inserted into a reader. To be safest, try to find a card with chip and pin technology. These cards function similarly to debit cards in the United States and are widely accepted abroad, but few banks issue them. The next best alternative is a chip and signature card. Most U.S. banks now have them available upon request, but they may not be accepted at fuel pumps, train ticket machines, or other unattended locations.


Your miles are worthless if you can’t use them


Travel miles can be redeemed in one of two ways. Either you can request a statement credit for travel related expenses after your trip or you convert your miles into frequent flier miles or hotel nights before you book your travel. Either way, you’ll need to collect thousands of miles before you can redeem any awards. If you’re a light spender or infrequent traveler, you may never reach the redemption threshold and effectively turn your card into a no rewards card. Your miles are also use it or lose it — if you ever decide to change cards or your account is closed, you will lose all the miles you had saved up.


Watch out for the fees


The best travel rewards cards can have some of the highest annual fees among all credit cards. For frequent travelers, the benefits the cards provide might be well worth it. Occasional travelers should carefully review any offers and decide if the reward value after the annual fee would outweigh what they would get with another card. International travelers should also be aware of foreign transaction fees and currency exchange fees. Some travel cards charge them, and some don’t. If they do, and most of your travel will be abroad, the fees may eat up most of your rewards earnings.


The real value may be in the perks


For many travel rewards credit card holders, the miles aren’t the main reason to have the card. Some travel cards provide special privileges such as airport lounge access, free checked bags, or early boarding. These perks can make flying much more enjoyable, and even if the card has an annual fee, the cost will likely be far less than paying for those services directly.

How to Choose the Correct File Type for a Business Document


In a business environment, sending documents in the correct format can be essential to fluid productivity. By sending incorrect or less-optimal file types, you hinder not only the recipient’s productivity but that of the whole business. Knowing which document file type is which could significantly increase your productivity, along with that of those around you.



DOCX Files


DOCX files are one of the most common formats, and also sometimes one of the most troublesome. They have a great deal of versatility when it comes to text formatting and functions, and are ideal for typing up a quick yet professional-looking document. They also support easy and hassle-free editing. These files are used widely, and you’re more than likely to encounter them on a daily basis.


So what’s the catch? Well, for one, DOCX files are designed to work with Microsoft Word, and specifically newer versions of it. While other text processors can handle it, most users will likely feel obliged to purchase Microsoft’s software. For those running older versions of Word, such as the 2003 edition, a downgrade in the file format may be applied automatically, or it may not register at all. Another downside is that DOCX files aren’t often capable of being displayed in a web browser, so downloading them is typically a must. However, at the end of the day, DOCX files offer fantastic versatility, at least to those who can use them.


PDF Files


The other commonly used document type is the PDF file. PDFs are also widely used, perhaps even more so than DOCX files. This is due to a few properties that PDFs possess over other file types. For one, they are universal, and a wide range of programs exist to read and edit these files. This also applies to web browsers, and almost every commonly-used web browser supports in-browser PDF viewing.

Thus, it is flexible in its compatibility and is also relatively versatile when it comes to text formatting, as well.


However, PDFs do also have their share of weaknesses. Unlike DOCX files, PDFs may take more than a bit of effort to edit, and already-published PDF files will often stay that way. Furthermore, they usually take up a larger file size than DOCX files, which may be an issue for those low on hard drive space. These are probably minor issues to most users, but should be noted.


DOC Files


The precursor to the DOCX file type, DOC files are a backwards-compatible yet less-complex form of Microsoft’s file format. These are generally eclipsed by DOCX files, and should really only be used if the recipient or network utilizes older computers or software.


TXT Files


TXT files are text documents without any frills. With little to no formatting or design possible, these files convey only one thing: raw text. They are excellent for documents which need to be read automatically, as by a program, or for those low on file space. However, their lack of features and capabilities mean that most often, you won’t be using this file type for business purposes.



These three file types are by far the most commonly used, and other file types are likely encompassed by the features possessed by these. If you need the recipient to be able to edit and quickly examine the document, a DOCX file will be most appropriate. If you’re looking to present the file as formally and efficiently as possible, it might be best to go with a PDF. If you want the structure of a DOCX, but don’t have the newer software to support it, you may want to settle for the DOC file type. And, lastly, if you don’t need any formatting, or if you need for the document to be run through a program, the simple TXT file may be the best way to go. Knowing the difference between these file types could make or break your next project, so be sure to carefully choose how to send your documents.



Communication Made Easy: Get the Skills You Need to Be Understood

Whether you’re struggling in your personal or business relationships, good communication skills are an essential part of striving for successful encounters with other people. If you aren’t able to communicate with others, you’re going to find that dating is difficult, your work relationships suffer and that other people don’t want to be around you. Fortunately, even if you never learned how to communicate well, it’s possible to start changing for the better. There are numerous quick, easy ways that you can start to communicate more effectively. Remember that no matter who you’re trying to communicate with, it’s important to remain dedicated, patient, and determined as you develop your communication abilities.


  1. Listen attentively

When someone speaks to you, do you look away? Do you tend to play with your cell phone instead of making eye contact? Do you glance around the room instead of paying attention to what the person is saying? While you might not view this type of behavior as a negative thing, the truth is that the people around you could be offended if you don’t seem to be paying attention. When someone speaks to you, try to listen attentively. This means that you make eye contact, you don’t play with your phone, and you give the person your full attention at all times.


  1. Speak without raising your voice

If someone makes you mad, frustrated, or upset, you may find that it’s easy to raise your voice. Unfortunately, this is completely counterproductive to good communication. Skip the yelling and instead, try to speak in a calm tone. If you raise your voice, the other person will immediately begin to feel defensive. This will destroy any chance you have of developing meaningful communication. Your goal should be to put the other person at ease while you have your discussion. No matter what the topic or issue might be, keeping your tone even and cool will go far in improving your relationship.


  1. Ask meaningful questions

When someone is talking with you about something, demonstrate that you’re paying attention and that you are about them by asking meaningful questions. You could ask someone to clarify something for you or you could ask someone to elaborate on something. This technique works for both work and personal relationships. Just remember to actually ask questions that are related to the conversation. If you’re talking about business meetings, for example, don’t ask the person about the coffee maker in the break room.


  1. Be patient

No matter how well you currently communicate, you can always get better. Remember to be patient with yourself and the people around you as you learn how to better communicate with others. Most people aren’t born naturally good listeners, so developing the skills and the habits you need to improve your relationships is something that will take time. Even if you make a mistake, get in an argument, or begin to feel frustrated, try to take a deep breath and try again.



How to Get the Best Commercial Inventory Rates


What Methods of Printing Do Card Printers Use?

Using ID card printers for your business is a great way to create professional-looking identification cards quickly and easily. When it comes to choosing a card printer, it is important to decide which printing method will work best for you. The two most common types of printing methods utilized in card printers include direct to card and reverse transfer.


Direct to Card

Direct to Card printing is sometimes referred to as edge to edge printing because the edges of the card will dictate the size of the image. Once the card is printed , you will be left with a thin white border around the edge. This is one of the most commonly purchased printers and prints the image directly onto  the card.


Direct to card printer uses a dye sublimation process. In dye sublimation, the printer head heats up the full color or monochrome ribbon, which then diffuses onto the surface of the card. This type of process will give you quality images up to 300 dpi.


Reverse Transfer/High Definition Printing

Reverse transfer printing uses ribbons to print onto  a thin clear film that is then overlaid and fused to the surface of the card. This printing is typically used when the image needs to wrap around the edge of the card.



Since this type of printing uses a wrap technique instead of coming into direct contact with the card it is able to be used on cards with smart technology or any non-PVC cards. You will want to keep in mind that in addition to ribbons, you will also have to purchase clear film for use with this machine. Printers that use reverse transfer printing have a slower print time but produce a higher quality 600 dpi image.


Once you determine what your ID card will be used for and what type of image you will need, you will be able to determine the best type of ID card printer to suit your needs.         image_443839450

How to Get the Best Commercial Inventory Rates


Inventory – it’s something your business need regularly.  You can either conduct your own inventory in house or outsource it to an inventory service provider.  Unfortunately, no matter which way you go there’s a cost involved.  If you’re using your own employees, you either have to shut down your store or pay overtime to inventory your stock after closing.  Aside from the cost, efficiently gathering stock data and aggregating inventory results requires a certain level of programming and engineering – an expertise that you may not possess.

Whatever the reason you’ve decided it’s best to outsource your inventory, the bottom line is that you should be able to save as much money as possible.  Here are a few tips for getting the best price from an inventory service provider.

Search for Local Independent Inventory Service Providers First

For many business owners, 2 primary inventory service providers come to mind:  WIS and RGIS.  There are other growing inventory service providers like Accurate Inventory and Reliant Inventory that may come to mind, as well.  It’s true that there are quite a few remote areas in which these companies’ willingness to travel makes them about the only option.  Generally speaking, though, there are local, less expensive inventory service providers in your area; you just have to look for them.

Much of the information you’re going to read in the following sections of this article applies to corporate inventory service providers – not small or family owned businesses.  Remember that the larger a company becomes the more expenses it accumulates; so there is a combination of a variable cost model and corporate greed that causes rates to be increased over time.  You should still take the time to compare rates, but you will most likely find that you get a much better offer from a local service provider rather than an international inventory corporation.

Understanding Inventory Service Billing

Every inventory service provider has different procedures for determining what type of billing should be applied, but there are general consistencies among them.  Here are some important facts to know about standard inventory service billing practices.

Net Profit Target

The first thing you need to know is that – for many inventory service providers – there really is no set cost; it all depends on a variety of factors.  Rather than a set cost, there is a target for a percentage of net profit from each inventory – generally above 50%.  For example, RGIS has a target net profit margin of 70%.  Yes, that’s right:  70%; and it winds up getting as much as 85% to 90% from some customers.  What’s the maximum net profit margin for your business?  Is it less than 50% like most industries?  All that extra money they’re getting just goes into the pockets of executives at bonus time. Not to mention the fact that the sales representative quoting you quite possibly gets a commission, so there’s plenty of motivation to offer you the most outrageous price.

Do not accept the first quote from an inventory service provider.  Counter offer at least 20%-40% less than you’re quoted.  Sure, 40% may be excessive, but they know you mean business and they’ll come back with something more reasonable.  Trust in the fact that they can easily afford to meet operational costs and still make a profit by conducting an inventory for a price that’s well below their target range.  Not only can they afford to do it, they will do it rather than saying “No” to income.

Billing Method

For most inventory companies, there are 3 basic categories for billing:  Price per pieces, price per dollar value, and price per man hour.  There are some exceptions, but generally speaking, man hour rates are a complete rip off.  The service provider intentionally over-staffs but goes a step further; they staff multiple salaried managers to “oversee” in an effort to bump up the cost.  That’s 2 or more people who are doing absolutely nothing but for whose presence you’re being charged.  Unless it’s a very large inventory for a major store like Kohl’s, Lowe’s, etc; there is NEVER more than 1 salaried manager present…Unless a man hour rate is being applied.  Many customers do not know this and wind up just accepting whatever method is offered to them, unaware that it’s not fiscally in their best interest.

The price per dollar value method is generally reserved for grocery stores and other stores that have at least $500K-$1M worth of inventory and go by a price point inventory system rather than a SKU number inventory system.

The price per pieces billing method is the most commonly used and is billed according to how many products are scanned.  More often than not, both of these rates are set at a ‘per thousand’ basis; so you may be charged $15 per thousand pieces counted or $5 per thousand dollars inventoried.  For smaller stores with fewer products, a price per piece or per hundred pieces may be applied.

How to Choose the Most Cost Effective Billing Method

The best way to make sure you’re getting the best price is to get basic information for each feasible billing method and so some math yourself.  If you have a rough idea of how much inventory you have, it should be easy.  If you’ve conducted inventory in the past, use your last inventory results to determine how much product is on your shelves.

Next, consider how your product needs to be counted.  Is it all individual SKU numbers that need to be individually scanned?  Do you have rows of products for which an auditor could simply scan one and count back?

If you own a clothing store and each SKU needs to be individually scanned, assume that the inventory service will count 400 pieces per hour.  If you have breakable product that must be carefully handled and individually scanned, assume that it will be counted at 100 pieces per hour.  If you have groups of products that can be counted together, assume that it will be counted at 1,500 pieces per hour.

Divide your inventory total by the number that matches your type of product.  For example, if you have about 150K pieces in your store and it’s product that can be counted in groups, divide 150K by 1,500.  For this example, you can see that it would take approximately 100 man hours to inventory your store.  Compare the man hour rate to the price per pieces rate to see which price comes out to be lower.  If you have different types of product, try your best to determine the inventory levels of each so you can calculate required man hours as accurately as possible.

If you find you can logically save money by going with a man hour rate, make sure to set demands in your agreement.  First of all, determine how long you want your inventory to last and make a provision that if it goes any longer you receive a discount.  Also, place a limit on the amount of employees allowed to attend the inventory.  If your inventory should take approximately 100 man hours and you don’t want it going longer than 6-8 hours, limit the number of employees to 20.  This will give you 5 hours to complete the count and an additional 1-3 hours for identifying errors and wrapping up.  During the inventory process make sure that every person besides the manager running the inventory is actively counting.  Also check to make sure that auditors aren’t taking excessive breaks.

Once you’ve negotiated the best possible price from one inventory service provider, let them know you’ll be in touch and use that offer as leverage for the next to see if you can get an even better agreement.  If you live in a remote area that will require multiple vehicles to travel for more than 1 hour, make sure to consider the cost of travel in your negotiations (to be fair).

Be Careful About Committing to Long Term Service Agreements

Due to the competitive nature of inventory service providers, many try to get their customers locked into a legally binding contract to prevent future shopping around for competing services.  Sometimes it makes sense to get involved in a long term contract.  Not only are you generally able to save money, you may have additional service features offered to you like free mapping after renovations, shopping analysis based on product location, or other beneficial services.  If a long term inventory service contract seems appealing, make sure that you’ve done enough research to know that you’re getting locked in to the best rates.  Also, try to get a progressive discount for your loyalty.

Make sure the contract you sign holds the inventory service accountable for certain standards like accuracy, professionalism, efficiency, and promptness.  It is always recommended to have your own attorney review a contract to make sure there are no ‘traps’ which could cause you to default on your agreement simply by following your own business procedures or making a common mistake.

Additional Considerations

Make sure to plan your inventory well in advance.  Many large inventory service providers can meet the demands of a last minute inventory, but it’s not generally easy.  It quite often requires auditors to travel from other districts to conduct what would be an otherwise local inventory.  More often than not, this cost is transferred to you.  Try to schedule your inventories at least 2-3 months in advance.

If you want to have your inventory in the beginning (January, February, or March) or middle (June, July, or August) of the year, you may want to seriously consider scheduling it at least 6 months in advance or earlier.  These times of the year fill up very quickly, as these are the most common months in which the fiscal year ends and/or begins.

If at all possible, try to avoid the aforementioned months, as most inventory service providers are scheduled beyond staffing capabilities.  As such, your inventory will most likely run much longer than it would if you had a sufficient number of auditors present.  If you are among the fortunate who have enough auditors, many of them will have been recently hired for the busy season and prone to mistakes.

E-Commerce SEO – 5 Simple Ways to Make Your Online Business Easier to Find

When’s the last time you searched for your e-commerce site on a cookie-free search engine? Investigating how difficult it is for potential customers to find your site online can be a real eye-opening experience. While a Google search is likely to offer your site’s URL as a potential option (thanks to tracking your web history), a search engine like DuckDuckGo might give you a much clearer picture of your company’s online visibility. If the search results scare you and you’re ready to boost your SEO efforts, here are five simple improvements you can make to help make your website easier to find:


– Review each page of content on your site and ask yourself if the content delivers true value to potential customers. Is it a page of fluff content, stuffed with keywords designed to attract search engine crawlers but not buyers? There’s no faster way to send customers running in the opposite direction than to offer them content with no redeeming value. Improve the content on each page to ensure visitors don’t immediately bounce away from your site.


– Increase your time-on-page ratio by integrating a variety of content formats into your website. Consider everything from GIFs and videos to infographics and photographs. Don’t just offer visitors page after page of text content about your business. Making your site a pleasure to visit will not only improve your SEO but also increase your return visitor rate.


– Add fresh updates to your site on a regular basis. Business blogging is fabulous for SEO and it builds your writing chops at the same time. Think about the questions your customers frequently ask, and turn your answers into blog posts.


– Check your site navigation to make sure you don’t have dead links or a confusing page structure. Can a customer new to your site easily find their way around, or is it like searching through particles of sand to find the content they seek? If your site is difficult to navigate, buyers will abandon your site rather than dig through multiple web pages just to find what they need.


– Double-check the social media links on each of your website’s pages. Are they all properly linked to your Facebook page? Did you change your Twitter handle and forget to update the URL on your site? Ensuring you don’t have broken social media links can help your SEO and improve your social follower count.


Paying attention to small factors can have a big impact on your e-commerce site’s SEO. You can hire an agency to help with major SEO campaigns, but small updates can be handled on your own. Will you be checking the above five factors to make sure your site is as visible on search engines as possible?