Tag Archives: businesses

wildfire

First Fidelity offers tips to prepare for fire, drought season

As the fire and drought season in Arizona continues, the risk for businesses and the importance to be prepared is higher than ever. Recent research shows that small businesses are particularly vulnerable with only 38 percent having an emergency or disaster preparedness plan, 84 percent don’t have natural disaster insurance and 71 percent don’t have a back-up generator in case of power outage.

“Fires and droughts can catch any business off guard,” said Kevin Sellers, executive vice president for First Fidelity Bank in Arizona. “Having a business continuity plan is a smart first step when preparing for the worst.”

First Fidelity Bank shares advice with other business owners about ways business plans can be set up or improved during natural disasters.

Have a crisis plan. Oftentimes, natural disasters like droughts and fires cloud good judgment, especially when an entire business is at stake. However, it is important to have a plan in place so next steps can be smooth and well planned out. Anytime your business may be impacted, you can easily refer to your plan and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if your business is in immediate danger, refer to your plan for key messages outlined that you can share with employees and the public if needed. It is also beneficial to have next steps planned out when dealing with insurance companies. If your business is severely damaged, you can begin working with your insurance company to make arrangements to rebuild.

Have a communication plan. A key part of your crisis plan is communication. Develop key messages you would share with your employees and fellow staff members. Also, establish a communication pyramid among leadership to ensure effective and coordinated communication. Use forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter to give updates to employees and customers since phone lines can be affected. Be honest and upfront about the state of your business and provide information that will help them know what to expect as your company regroups after a disaster. Make sure to notify your company’s bank and let them know of your situation. Current business, like loan payments, may be able to be put on hold if necessary. Also, talk to your bank to learn about loan options in case your business needs repairs after a natural disaster.

Use additional servers to back up data. During a natural disaster, it is not an ideal time to worry about information being lost. Plan ahead and store sensitive information in more than one place. Electronics and servers can be severely damaged so be sure to have all data stored on an additional server. Sensitive company data on the loose puts a company at risk for fraudulent activity. Looters can easily gain access to company credit card numbers, social security numbers and other highly sensitive data. Use flash drives to keep track of this type of data. These can be easily transported and kept safe during natural disasters.

Have a plan for payroll. In case a natural disaster interferes with the payroll process, have a plan in place to continue paying employees. Since each company has a different payroll system, a back-up plan will be a case-by-case basis. Options include working with insurance to collect the money for payroll, fronting the money to employees or cutting paper checks if the direct deposit system is down. The Society for Human Resource Management offers helpful information to make sure employers know the guidelines for paying employees during natural disasters. Visit www.SHRM.org to learn more about payment requirements for various types of employees. Be sure to contact your company’s bank and notify them of a change in payroll. Most banks will keep an extra close watch on fraudulent activity so any significant change in payment methods could send up a red flag and complicate the process.

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Steptoe hosts Construction Industry Tax Seminar

Contractors, developers, construction managers, and homebuilders are invited to attend Steptoe & Johnson’s 10th Annual Construction Industry Tax Seminar co-sponsored by the AzBusiness Magazine. Steptoe’s tax lawyers will bring participants an annual update on the latest developments in Arizona’s sales and property taxation.

The seminar will take place September 27, 2013 and the Arizona Biltmore Resort.
The program will focus on new legislation, which if passed and signed by the Governor, will turn the sales taxation of contracting upside down–from taxing the prime contractor to taxing the sale of building materials, except for road and bridge construction where the prime contractor will still be taxed (H.B. 2111). In addition, seminar leaders will bring you up to date on legislation (already signed by the Governor) that does away with the “permanent attachment” test under the exemption for installing exempt machinery and equipment (H.B. 2535).

Speakers include Pat Derdenger, Dawn Gabel, Frank Crociata and Ben Gardner, all members of Steptoe’s Tax Group in Phoenix. Steptoe’s tax lawyers bring to clients decades of consulting, transactional, and advocacy experience in all substantive areas of federal and state taxation.

The luncheon speaker will be Hon. John Shadegg, partner in Steptoe’s Phoenix office and former US Congressman. He will give his perspective on the Affordable Care Act and how it will impact Arizona businesses.

For more information, call 602-257-7708. Register online at www.steptoe.com.

online

Top 3 Tips for Running a Successful Local PPC Campaign

Most businesses understand and embrace the value of building their organic search rankings on Google, but the value of pay-per-click or PPC advertising is often misunderstood and underestimated. While high organic search rankings are a great way to drive traffic and increase exposure for any business, there are only 10-16 spots available on the first page of Google for any given search term. In most industries, hundreds of businesses will be vying for those coveted first page Google results, and PPC ads give all businesses the ability to gain exposure on the first page of Google for local search terms.

Businesses can also run PPC ads through a variety of other mediums like Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This makes it possible to target your ideal customers and experiment with different platforms to see which one generates the highest click through and conversion rates.

Reasons to Consider Utilizing Pay-Per-Click Advertising  

PPC is a powerful marketing tool for all businesses. For companies that don’t have high organic rankings for relevant local search terms, PPC can provide a way to achieve better visibility and leverage your online assets. For start-ups or businesses that are just beginning to ramp up their SEO efforts, PPC can provide an additional revenue stream, and even businesses with an established presence on search engines can generate additional revenue through PPC ads.

Another great reason to consider running a PPC campaign is because you can set the budget, which means you can start small to analyze your return and then grow it once you find a strategy that works for you. Most businesses hire an experienced search engine marketer to help them set up and manage their PPC campaign, as these marketers know the ins and outs of PPC advertising and can establish cost-effective and successful ad campaigns.

Search engine marketing may also play a role in organic search rankings due to the increase in clicks and exposure a website will get from PPC advertising. Since organic rankings are based on relevance and popularity, PPC ads can help improve the website’s popularity score through Google and bolster search engine optimization efforts.

Top Tips for Running a PPC Campaign

Beginning a PPC campaign can be a little confusing at first if you’ve never worked with the programs before, but by utilizing the following tips, you can get the most from your paid advertising efforts.

#1. Keep it Local

For local businesses, bidding on key phrases that are targeted to your geographic area can be extremely beneficial in driving traffic that will eventually lead to a conversion. Location specific keywords often have less competition, so marketers can get more bang for their buck by choosing a geographically targeted keyword as opposed to a generic keyword. If you need assistance selecting the keyword phrases that will result in the highest ROI, consult a PPC marketer to help you establish your campaign and perform appropriate keyword research.

#2. Expand Beyond Google

When most people think of PPC advertising, they think of Google AdWords. While Google AdWords is a great tool to gain exposure and visibility for your business, there may be other venues that offer advertising in the pay-per-click model that could yield better results. Some companies have success advertising on Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. Assess where your target market spends their time and how they would search for your business to determine whether you should branch out to other PPC advertising mediums.

#3. Measure Your Success

Once you start your PPC campaign, make sure to keep track of your progress so that you can make adjustments and improvements where necessary. This may include testing your ads using different keywords, experimenting with different ad text, and utilizing advanced targeting options so that you can reach the customers that will be most interested in what you have to offer. An expert in search engine marketing can help to analyze your metrics to determine the best strategy for your campaign’s success.

By implementing a few of these key tips and reaching out for help from an experienced search engine marketing firm, you can harness the power of paid advertising to increase sales, drive more website traffic, and improve conversion rates.

If you would like to learn more about how to implement a local Pay-Per-Click campaign for your business, please contact Net-Craft.com at 480-563-0558 for a free PPC consultation.

Tax Consequences

Steptoe hosts Construction Industry Tax Seminar

Contractors, developers, construction managers, and homebuilders are invited to attend Steptoe & Johnson’s 10th Annual Construction Industry Tax Seminar co-sponsored by the AzBusiness Magazine. Steptoe’s tax lawyers will bring participants an annual update on the latest developments in Arizona’s sales and property taxation.

The seminar will take place June 13, 2013 and the Arizona Biltmore Resort.

The program will focus on new legislation, which if passed and signed by the Governor in the coming weeks, will turn the sales taxation of contracting upside down–from taxing the prime contractor to taxing the sale of building materials, except for road and bridge construction where the prime contractor will still be taxed (H.B. 2111). In addition, seminar leaders will bring you up to date on legislation (already signed by the Governor) that does away with the “permanent attachment” test under the exemption for installing exempt machinery and equipment (H.B. 2535).

Speakers include Pat Derdenger, Dawn Gabel, Frank Crociata and Ben Gardner, all members of Steptoe’s Tax Group in Phoenix. Steptoe’s tax lawyers bring to clients decades of consulting, transactional, and advocacy experience in all substantive areas of federal and state taxation.

The luncheon speaker will be Hon. John Shadegg, partner in Steptoe’s Phoenix office and former US Congressman. He will give his perspective on the Affordable Care Act and how it will impact Arizona businesses.

For more information, call 602-257-7708. Register online at www.steptoe.com.

There's more to building an Internet presence than just posting a Web site, 2008

Cox Business unveils faster Internet speeds

Cox Business announced that 150Mbps/20Mbps download/upload speeds are available for small- and medium-sized businesses requiring a super-fast connection to the Internet to serve their customers. In Arizona, this level of connectivity is only available from Cox Business.

“Our business clients want faster, secure Internet access that improves office efficiency and reduces administrative costs. We’re providing more choices to meet their needs,” says Hyman Sukiennik, vice president, Cox Business.

Technology-driven businesses utilize data-intensive applications requiring faster data speeds so they can transfer massive files between locations, share work applications and be able to access critical data on remote servers. Retail stores require significant credit card processing ability and high storage capacity. Health care providers, advertising agencies, banks and law offices move huge amounts of data between employees and among clients.

“Cox Business knows that business isn’t static. Our customers’ need for speed expands and contracts and we’re there, constantly evaluating to make sure we are providing the most efficient Internet experience possible for most budgets,” says Sukiennik.

Cox Business offers an array of speed levels for Arizona businesses depending on their needs. Factors that determine which Internet speed for data transfer is right for a particular business depends on the type of business using the Internet, the number of employees online, their job tasks related to the Internet and how customers interact with Web-based services provided by the business. When choosing Internet speeds, businesses need to think about what information they are sharing and how fast they need to send/receive it. Other determining factors are the number of business locations and what percentage of the business operations requires use of the Internet.

medicaid program - new patient eligibility

Arizona Chamber Foundation issues Medicaid reports

The issue of Medicaid expansion continues to loom large in state policymaking circles, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s research arm, the Arizona Chamber Foundation, has produced new reports on this important topic.

The Foundation recently released a new Policy Brief titled The Business Case for AHCCCS Expansion. The brief outlines the impact of cost shifting and hidden health care taxes on Arizona businesses, along with the effect expansion of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System – AHCCCS – will have on the state economy and budget. It’s an excellent overview of the issue and the reasoning behind the growing support from governors throughout the United States, including Governor Brewer.

In addition, the Foundation has released a FAQ sheet to help individuals better understand what AHCCCS is and what voters passed into law when they adopted Proposition 204 in 2000. It’s an outstanding primer on the state’s best-in-class Medicaid program, the ballot measure that extended coverage to childless adults and the challenges facing the state posed by uncompensated health care.

I encourage you to dig into both of these publications and to share them with your network.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.

Download Understanding AHCCCS and Proposition 204 and The Business Case for AHCCCS Expansion.

minorities

University of Phoenix honored for support of women, minorities

University of Phoenix has been recognized by the Arizona Million Dollar Circle of Excellence for its exceptional efforts to support Arizona minority-owned and woman-owned suppliers. The University has been inducted as an inaugural member of the Arizona Million Dollar Circle of Excellence by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AZHCC).

“As an Arizona-based business, we view supporting minority- and women-owned businesses as an essential part of our business structure,” said Dominique K. Brown, University of Phoenix corporate diversity officer. “We are thrilled to be recognized by the Arizona Million Dollar Circle of Excellence and we look forward to continuing to work with a diverse group of suppliers and businesses across the state of Arizona.”

The creation of the AZHCC’s Arizona Million Dollar Circle of Excellence was inspired by the state’s increasingly diverse consumer base and the fast-growing diversity at every level of its business community. The Circle of Excellence initiative recognizes major corporations and governmental entities that directly spend at least $1 million in purchasing goods or services from minority-owned and women-owned businesses in Arizona.

University of Phoenix was honored alongside 14 other notable Arizona businesses and organizations with an induction ceremony at the recent 2012 Minority Business Enterprise Summit, which was organized by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Phoenix MBDA Business Center, a U.S. Department of Commerce-financed organization aimed at securing large public and private contracts and financing transactions for eligible minority-owned businesses.

“The induction of University of Phoenix and other inaugural members of the Arizona Million Dollar Circle of Excellence is a historic step that reflects how our state’s economy is growing due to the influence of minority- and women-owned businesses,” said Gonzalo A. de la Melena Jr., President and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which organizes and runs the Arizona Million Dollar Circle of Excellence. “This is our way of recognizing companies that are leading the way in supplier diversity.”

This latest acknowledgement of University of Phoenix’s commitment to diverse communities in Arizona comes at the heels of a recent report by the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education that University of Phoenix graduates more minority students than any other university in the United States.

To learn more about University of Phoenix visit Phoenix.edu.

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Glendale CVB Rising in the West

Game on!

Cities like Glendale, Peoria, Goodyear, Surprise, and the other 14 cities that make up the West Valley are capitalizing on the rapid expansion of tourism and hospitality amenities — particularly spring training baseball facilities and other sports-related events — to grab a bigger share of the $18 billion that Arizona’s 37 million annual visitors spend.

As tourism in the West Valley continues to grow, the Glendale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) is playing a bigger and more vital role to help drive visitors to West Valley hospitality businesses.

“The region provides the local and out-of-state traveler with an experience like no other,” says Lorraine Pino, Glendale CVB manager. “We are home to nine Cactus League spring training teams, the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes, Phoenix International Raceway, Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, great outdoor festivals, historic districts in each of our cities, performing arts centers and unique shopping venues. And, of course, you can be an astronaut for the day at our Challenger Space Center.”

Despite this diverse range of attractions, tourism is a relatively new industry in the West Valley. As a result, not every community in the area is equipped to implement independent marketing and promotion initiatives. Glendale CVB organizes and facilitates these initiatives, partnering with more than 100 restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities, resorts and hotels, and service organizations.

“We work closely with our hotels — such as the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa, Wigwam Resort, Hilton Garden Inn Avondale and many more — to provide lead generation and conference assistance,” Pino says.

Glendale CVB also serves as a liaison to large-scale entertainment such as Cirque du Soleil, which was held at University of Phoenix Stadium this summer, and mammoth events such as the Super Bowl, which will return to Glendale in 2015.

“When the Super Bowl was last held in Glendale in 2008, the Glendale CVB was not yet in existence,” Pino says. “But now that our bureau is in place for the 2015 game, the region will be in a better position to capture a greater share of visitor spending.”

Economists estimate that hosting a Super Bowl has an economic impact of $300 million-$500 million on the region.

“In addition, realizing that this mega event impacts the entire metro area and several destinations statewide, the Glendale CVB will be working with other tourism and hospitality organizations throughout the Valley to ensure that we provide the greatest fan experience possible, and to host the best Super Bowl possible,” Pino says.

By the end of 2012, Glendale will welcome yet another visitor destination when the Tanger Outlets Westgate is completed. The 328,000-square-foot retail development will feature 85 brand-name outlet stores and is expected to bring an additional 5 million-6 million annual visitors to the area.

With economic growth in the West Valley expected to continue its upward trend for years to come, Pino insists that communities must work together to realize the greatest benefit from an increasing number of visitors.

“It’s important that we all work together and pool our resources to achieve economies of scale,” Pino says. “This is the very reason the Glendale CVB came into existence: to serve as a regional organization to promote and showcase the 14 West Valley cities and to bring tourism business to the area. This regional approach is what will be needed for our hospitality businesses to continue to grow.”

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Prosperity Project educates businesses about election issues

Last week I talked about jobs – the issue everyone should be talking about, but isn’t.

Jobs and the economy are the number one issues for voters this election season. The majority of voters want to enter the voting booth armed with facts about the candidates on their ballot. They want to know how these candidates plan on getting America back to work. Will the policies they support help lower the country’s too-high unemployment rate?

There is an easy-to-use tool voters can use to find out about the positions held by the individuals on the November ballot, including where candidates stand on jobs and the economy: The Arizona Prosperity Project.

The Arizona Prosperity Project is a non-partisan voter education tool available to all Arizonans. It’s based upon the belief that when Arizona citizens are informed and active in government and elections, our families, our communities and our state benefit.

Visitors to azprosperity.org can access objective information about each of the candidates they’ll see on their ballot. Information includes voting records for incumbents and candidate questionnaires for challenger candidates; everything necessary to make an informed decision when voting by mail or on Election Day.

In addition, azprosperity.org offers an issues section, which outlines topics important to Arizona’s job creators. It’s the go-to location for learning about legislative actions on each topic and how the public can be involved.

VotaAZ.org is another excellent resource for Arizona voters. Developed in partnership with the Arizona Chamber and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, VotaAZ educates Hispanic voters about issues that impact job security, economic competitiveness, wages and benefits.

Similar to azprosperity.org, visitors to VotaAZ.org can access – in Spanish or English – information on the candidates they’ll see on their ballot, along with viewing past election results and guides to the democratic process. VotaAZ also allows users to register to vote, find their local polling place and learn about Arizona’s voter ID Laws.

But the Prosperity Project is more than just an outstanding online education tool. The P2 can be deployed onsite at your business, too, with collateral material that explains to employees where candidates stand on important issues, voter registration drives, and even customizable websites for your company to share non-partisan information with employees about the issues important to your particular business or industry.

As we recover from the Great Recession, we’ve learned that good policy matters. Businesses of all sizes and industries have felt the effects – both good and bad – of decisions made in Washington, D.C, at the state Capitol or City Hall.

Voters have an opportunity to make a difference this election season and influence who will be making decisions in the next Congress, Legislature or city Council. They have the chance to initiate a discussion about jobs and ensure their candidates are offering real solutions to end our over 40-month streak of unemployment over 8 percent. Arizona Prosperity Project and VotaAZ provide a solid foundation for this important discussion.

To learn more about the Arizona Prosperity Project and how it can be put into action at your business, contact Erica Wrublik at (602) 248-9172.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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Top 10 mistakes businesses make when using social media

When a business leader calls for the creation of a Facebook page and a witty Twitter handle, he often believes the social media strategy is in place and he returns to his “core” duties.

The problem with this is that for any business in 2012 and beyond, social media needs to be considered a core part of your business plan and it must be implemented at the senior level and trickle down into the DNA of the entire organization.

Steve Nicholls: author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist has noticed a recurring list of misconceptions when it comes to the use of social media in business.  These common mistakes hinder an organizations ability to maximize the use of social media while mitigating risk.

Here are the top ten most common mistakes companies make when trying to use social media to grow their business:

1. It is all about social networking. Social networking websites such as Facebook are just a very small part of social media. Social media is much more for business, providing four main benefits: communication, collaboration, community and collective intelligence opportunities, however, companies are still not fully aware of all of these. Iconic organisations operating in different industries such as The Times, Accenture, Salesforce.com, Starbucks, Cisco, NASA, Groupon and Coca-Cola have all made use of social media in very different ways to gain competitive advantage, and understanding the various opportunities social media provides for business is the first step towards capitalizing its potential.

2. It is simple. Social media is mostly user-friendly, but embracing it in business is far from being simple. There is a huge difference between using Facebook and bringing the right aspects of social media into the DNA of a company. The larger the company is, the more complex the task of bringing it in successfully. As the amount and depth of information relating to social media is overwhelming, capitalizing on the right combinations of social media tools for the company can be intricate.

3. It is free. One aspect that makes social media for business a very attractive avenue is that many tools are free to use, providing excellent cost-effective solutions to business. However, the cost of bringing social media within a company is not completely free. Time is the key resource. Going too fast and adopting social media hastily in an organization can bring more risks than benefits. Doing it well requires learning and training processes that will need time, and investing in that time is key for success.

4. It is not important. Social media opens doors to enormous markets. For instance, there are 850 million Facebook users and 50 million business people on LinkedIn, including the CEOs of the 500 top companies in the world; thus the business opportunities a company can get by connecting to only 0.1% of those are extremely valuable. Markets like these simply cannot be ignored, thus businesses that are still hesitant as to how useful or important social media can be for them need to consider this aspect strategically. Social media is no longer a choice; it is a strategic resource and a new dimension to corporate strategy.

5. No need for policy. Having a solid social media policy when incorporating social media within an organization is crucial as it will allow the mitigation of potential risks. Social media can open a company to different types of risks including security issues, PR issues and HR issues. While these risks are very real, it is essential not to let them inhibit progress, thus the key is to develop a sound social media policy that identifies the risks and mitigates them.

6. Having a negative mindset. It is common for managers, employees and other players of an organization to have some prejudice against adopting social media within their organization, thinking it will mostly bring problems and waste company time. What is important to keep in mind however is that benefits far outweigh risks, thus having the will to invest time and mitigate possible risks through a clear social media policy will allow a company to increase its competitive advantage on the long-run.

7. No structured implementation process. It is easy to go enthusiastically in the wrong direction with social media. To prevent this from happening, managers need to have a step-by step formula in order to analyze their internal and external business environments and develop a systematic, contextual approach to bringing social media within the realm of their organizations. Bringing social media in the company needs to be done through a systematic model that will work to optimize benefits while mitigating risks along the way.

8. Identification of constraints. Many constraints to adopting social media are invisible and as a result, these are the hardest to identify. People issues are often the biggest obstacle to the implementation of social media, but these are often hidden from view. Thus making sure that all invisible constraints are also identified is crucial in order to prevent them from erupting later on and undermining the project.

9. No clear goals. Perhaps the most important aspect to keep in mind when using social media for business is that it constantly needs to be fitted into the more general business goals of the company. Using social media just for the sake of using it will not have any positive impact, but instead might create more problems than benefits. Having a focused strategy that will incorporate social media within general goals is thus key.

10. No ongoing strategy. Social media is a constantly evolving avenue of opportunities; the tools that are useful today might not be useful tomorrow. As tools change, a winning social media strategy will be one that is able to capture all these innovations and constantly create the right combinations of tools for your business, according to the general business goals.