Missoula Builder Offers Tips of the Trade

jbuilthealthyhomesWritten by Dan Buchta, Montana Marketplace Director

The real estate market has been heating up in the Northwest region and home values have been shooting up. Home values are so hot across the state of Montana that many are looking to reinvest in their home by considering home remodel projects. Still, others see it as a good time to cash in on their home’s rising value so they can build their dream home on a new lot.

For some, taking on a home remodeling project can be intimidating. Then there is the time and effort that goes into building a home. From selecting the lot, floorplans, finishes, securing financing and even finding the right builder —it can be one of the most daunting projects ever attempted.

Jason Townley from J Built Healthy Homes, LLC knows the realities of constructing a home. Two years ago, Townley relocated his home building business to Missoula from Kalispell. He got started in the home building business more than 30 years ago, as a carpenter for a Master Builder and over the years he has expanded his talents and training to include all aspects of construction from design and planning, materials selection, built in furniture design, paperwork, etc., all the way to completion of the project.

To help promote his business in a new city, Townley turned to Better Business Bureau. The BBB was a household name where he grew up, just 20 miles outside of Boston. He

associates the BBB brand with trust and said he finds himself more likely to hire someone with the BBB seal.

“When I moved to Missoula, I didn’t really know many people and nobody knew about my business,” he said. “I figured that I would be more likely to hire a business with the BBB seal and that there are probably a lot of other people out there like me who feel the same way.”

Jason likes to work with a small to medium sized crews and to be involved on-site from start to finish on every project.

“For me it is great because it is always different, it is always changing, you are not just framing house, after house, after house –which gets boring,” Townley said. “When you build a house, side it and then go inside and build the cabinets, built-ins, and trim —it gives you an appreciation for when you are framing the house on how the whole project is supposed to come together.”

It is also a very different landscape for finding help today than it was five years ago. It seems there has been some pent-up demand for building, remodeling, and home repair services and now consumers are aggressively hiring for these services. What does that mean for people looking to build their dream home? They will find that builders and remodelers are less willing to discount their services as they might have in the past. Because discounting could mean cutting corners.

“Watch out for builders or contractors who are more like sales people,” Townley said. “They may have a silver tongue and quote you a price that is in your budget, but then they start the work and they tell you that the job will require extra time and more money.”

He also advised for people to trust their instincts.

“You should have a good gut feeling about the person you are going to hire. This person may be spending weeks inside your home,” he said. “Make sure it is someone you feel good about being there.”

For anyone taking on a home remodeling project or building a new home it’s important to be patient with the timeline.

“People watch HGTV and all these home shows and they see a home get a complete makeover in two days,” Townley said. “A lot of time, that is what they expect when they hire a contractor or builder. It is unrealistic. It takes time to get a job done right.”

It is evident that Townley is passionate about his work. While he is a licensed contractor, he prefers the title of builder.

“Contractors just do the paperwork,” he said. “Builders do the paperwork, manage the subs, and actually do the physical work. I love doing the physical work that is involved in building a home – that is the fun part.”

When asked about the biggest challenges of his job, he stated he tries to share and articulate how the finished project will look by laying it out on paper. Two people can look at the same layout with a different perspective. The challenge is getting on the same page as the homeowner and making sure the finished product meets the vision the homeowner had at the start of the project.

“I just want them to be happy,” he said. “And I want to make sure that the finished job meets their expectations.”

Idaho Business Fueled by the Sun

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Written by Emily Valla, Senior Marketplace Director

As Carl Simpson points out the contraptions on a roof at a Meridian home, his eyes light up. He is clearly passionate about what he does, and why he does it. For the past seven years, Simpson has installed more than 1,000 solar tubes as part of his Treasure Valley- based business, Renewable Energy Northwest.

You may have heard of solar panels providing electricity to homes and businesses —and Simpson can do that too —but, his expertise is on solar thermal energy. Think, heating your hot water by the power of the sun.

The tubes sit on top of a roof, on an exterior wall, or even on the ground, and absorb energy from the sun. Simpson describes the unit as two glass tubes with a vacuum in between.

“The ultra violet rays go inside the tube, and (the inside) can be 400 degrees in an hour even at negative 30 degrees,” said Simpson.

The outside, however, would match the temperature.

BBB Credibility

Renewable Energy NW became BBB Accredited in 2012. Accreditation is important to Simpson, because he doesn’t have many competitors, which isn’t typically why businesses seek accreditation. What Simpson does is unique, and he often finds potential customers don’t know much about solar thermal energy. When they go to seek other quotes, Simpson says they don’t always find other options. So, to establish credibility, he sought to align with Better Business Bureau.

“(It’s) extremely important that we deliver satisfaction and affordable renewable energy solutions,” Simpson said in an email.

He wants his customers to do their homework and find he is committed to upholding BBB Standards.

Solar Power Savings

Simpson regularly outfits existing homes, to the tune of about 80 per year, but he does just as many new construction homes. He says that’s where there is the most opportunity: solar energy can be integrated into the design from the start. A large portion of Simpson’s business is commercial projects.

One of Simpson’s favorite projects was a car wash in Fruitland. He says the installation paid for itself within 18 months, when comparing the cost savings over natural gas to heat the water used in the wash. A CPA by training, Simpson pays close attention to the numbers when it comes to cost savings. He wants clients to be aware of incentives available to them for installing the solar units, and he sends links to the possible options along with quotes before beginning a project.

Potential cost savings are a big attractant for potential customers, as are environmental impacts. Simpson says his system is 94 percent efficient, and can function on days with minimal sunlight. Customers often begin with just heating hot water, which Simpson says is about a quarter of most customer’s energy bills. If they’re interested, customers can also do heating and cooling systems, including radiant floor heat. Simpson says homeowners with pools are often attracted to solar energy.

For those considering making the switch to solar thermal energy, Simpson encourages them to do their homework. He suggests asking questions about permitting and what the installation process is, as this is an important safety step.

Important questions to ask include: What is the strategy to prevent overheating? How will the installed units look? What is the warranty if anything breaks? As satisfied customers are the core of Simpson’s business, he offers a 10-year warranty on panels.

And to ensure he’s doing everything he can to assist the customer he welcomes customer feedback.

To learn more about Renewable Energy NW visit renewableenergynwllc.com.

January Scam Wrap-Up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in January. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

This month there were 17 scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $6,100 lost.

Utility Scam

An Anchorage resident reported someone impersonated Municipal Light and Power in order to steal $300 from them. They claim they received a call from someone saying they needed to pay their electricity bill or they would be disconnected. The caller told them someone would be by their home in a few hours to disconnect the power if they didn’t pay up over the phone. After getting off the phone with the person the victim called back to say they were not with that utility company. The person on the other end of the phone preceded to pretend to be someone else. The Anchorage resident ceased communication.

Online Purchase Scam

An Anchorage man reported he lost $4,650 when he tried to purchase a Cockatoo for $1,400. The man claimed he was told to use United Pet Express to ship the bird. When he contacted the shipping company they informed him he needed to make a $2,400 deposit to cover any issues with delivery, which he did. Before the bird was shipped he was told he needed to pay $750 to cover the birds’ shots. Finally, he received a message from the “delivery man” stating he needed another $690 to drop off the bird and the refund. The man refused the pay any more money, and never received the bird.

OREGON

This month there were 83 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $2,860 lost.

Counterfeit product

A Medford woman reports she lost $429 after she ordered two hoverboards from a California company for Christmas. The woman reports one of the hoverboards did not work. She called the company, but got a message stating the voicemail box was full. She emailed the company three times and got a response from customer service asking what was wrong with the machine. After explaining her problem, she never received a response. Her order did not come with a return address and repeated attempts to contact the company have not been answered.

Rental Home scam

A Gresham woman reported she lost $400 in a rental home scam. The woman reports she found a Craigslist ad for a rental house in Portland. The landlord said they lived in New York and requested she send a deposit via MoneyGram to his personal assistant and then he would send the keys. The women sent $400, but never received the keys.

IDAHO

This month there were 106 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Idaho with an estimated $17,775 lost.

Facebook friend scam

A Caldwell man reported a fake Facebook friend tried to con him out of thousands of dollars. The man states he received a message on Facebook from who appeared to be an old friend of his. The friend said he had won $150,000 through a Facebook contest and the Caldwell man was also listed as a winner. He was told to send a message to “Agent Terry Williams” with “Non-Governmental Organization.” The man did this and was told by the “agent” that in order to receive his funds he would need to pay up. The man states: “He then sent me a list of amounts I could claim as my winnings starting at $100,000 and going up to $600,000. The catch here is that you pay $1,050 to claim $100,00, up to $10,500 to claim $600,000.” He was also told he needed to keep the contest a secret. The man became suspicious and reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

Tax Collection scam

A Boise man reported he received an automated voice message claiming to be the IRS and he had a lawsuit and federal arrest warrant issued against him. He was told to call a number immediately. The man knew he did not have any legal action against him and did not call the number. He then reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

MONTANA

This month there were 14 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Montana with an estimated $300 lost.

Passport service scheme

A Manhattan woman reported she lost $178 when she tried to expedite the passport process for her five-year-old. The woman used an online service that told her they could help rush the process on obtaining a passport for her child. However, after paying the fee she contacted the National Passport Information Center and was informed the child had to be present at the office in order to obtain a passport and the information she was receiving from the business was not accurate.

Online Windows Support scam

A Deer Lodge woman reported she was almost victim of a tech scam. The woman reports she was working on her computer when she received a notice with a Microsoft logo telling her she had a virus and to call 877-767-7342. The woman called the number and spoke to man named “Bruno Williams.” He asked to do a diagnostic test to her computer remotely. The woman became suspicious and hung up on the man.

WASHINGTON

This month there were 200 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Washington with an estimated $9,600 lost.

Online pet purchase scam

A Spanaway woman reported she lost $505 in a pet purchase scam. The woman reports she purchased a puppy from http://www.modestshihtzu.com via MoneyGram. The woman states once the seller received the money they requested additional funds to transport the dog in a special crate. When she refused, the seller told her they would deliver a dead puppy at her doorstep. The woman ceased speaking with the seller, but have received threatening emails from them.

Pierce County Sheriff Imposter Scam

A Buckley woman reports she received a call from someone claiming to be with the Pierce County Sheriff. The woman reports she received a call from a “Lt. Parker” who told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest for failure to appear for a civil duty court in December. She became suspicious when the caller told her she needed to purchase $1,975 in MoneyPak cards and to call the “Sheriff’s Treasurer” to give them the confirmation numbers so she wouldn’t be arrested when she went to the sheriff’s office to sign some paperwork. The woman contacted her local police department and confirmed the call was a scam.

December Scam Wrap-Up

Sign Scam Represents Rip Off And Scams

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in December. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA 

This month there were eight scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $10,600 lost.

Lottery Winner Scam

An Anchor Point woman reported she received a notice in the mail stating she won an international lottery. The letter claimed she needed to travel to Madrid, Spain to collect the $4 million prize.

Debt Collection Scam

A woman from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson reported they were contacted by “CFS,” an unknown mediation firm attempting to collect debt from him. The debt collector stated he was hired by Midland Financial, but the woman reports she spoke with Midland Financial and they had no record of “CFS” or the man he spoke with.

OREGON 

This month there were 38 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $14,000 lost.

Grandparent Scam

A Eugene man reported he was a target of the “family emergency” scam. The man reports he received a call from someone asking him if they knew who he was talking too. The man told the caller he thought they were his grandson. The caller said they were in fact his grandson and that he got into trouble in Florida. The caller said he needed assistance getting out of jail. The Eugene man called his actual grandson who told him he was not in Florida, but was in Oregon getting ready for work.

Yellow Pages Invoice Scam

A Portland woman reported she received a fake invoice from Yellow Pages Oregon. The woman reports the fax requested she verify her information for a free listing. The woman responded to the fax and a month later she received a $1,100 bill claiming she had signed a legally binding one-year advertising contract. The woman reports she still receives notices with additional fees added to the original bill.

MONTANA 

This month there were three scams reported in Montana with an estimated $550 lost.

Debt Collections Scam

A Missoula woman reported someone she knows received a call from a man claiming to be with the Consumer Assistance Bureau. The man called to claim a debt for her “elderly friend” that needed to be paid immediately or she would have to go to court and pay a $100 late fee. The woman reports the man threatened her and another person who called to check on him.

Online Purchase Scam

A Bozeman woman reported she lost $553.50 to an online purchase scam. The woman reports she purchased a trial of eye and face creams for $10.90. Afterward, she received the items again for five months, with costs totaling $553.50. The woman reports she did not agree to having the product sent monthly. The products arrived without paperwork, tracking number, confirmation number or receipt.

IDAHO 

This month there were 36 scams reported in Idaho with an estimated $675 lost.

Dish Network Scam

A Rigby woman reported she received a call from a Dish Network representative who offered to upgrade her service for free. She agreed and gave them the last four digits of her social security number to process the upgrade. Then they informed her she needed to send them $150. The woman hung up on the caller and called Dish Network and they told her someone was spoofing their phone number to convince people to give them money.

Breast Cancer Donation Scam

A Meridian woman reported someone by the name of “Sara” called her continuously for five weeks asking for donations to a cancer charity. They requested a $200 donation to be paid by credit or debit card. The woman asked the caller to send information about the charity, but they stated it costs money for stamps so they couldn’t send her anything. Eventually, the woman contacted the American Cancer Society and was told they do not call to solicit donations.

WASHINGTON 

This month there were 59 scams reported in Washington with an estimated $11,000 lost.

Lottery Scam

A Yakima man reported he received a letter stating he won $1.3 million. He was told he needed to send $12.99 cash, money order or check to receive the award. The man reports he did not enter a contest.

Grant Loan Scam

A Yakima woman reported she received a phone call from someone offering her an unsecured loan for $1,000. All she had to do was purchase a $120 Amazon gift card and call them back with the number. The woman did not buy the gift card.

WYOMING

This month there was one scam reported in Western Wyoming.

A Jackson woman reports she received a phone call from someone claiming to be collecting donations for Wyoming veterans. The woman had never heard of the charity and asked to be removed from their call list. The caller continues to call the woman asking for donations.

 

Have a Healthy and Happy 2017!

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In 2016 consumers turned to BBB serving the Northwest more than 5,328 times to look up health clubs, fitness centers, and gyms. Unfortunately, BBB has processed an estimated 90 complaints for the fitness industry in 2016 as well. The complaints ranged from billing and collection issues to contract issues.

To get the most out of your membership and to avoid signing up for something you can’t afford and won’t use, follow these tips:

  • Warm up with a tour. Before signing up at any gym, ask to take a tour of the facilities. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes, and trainers you are looking for. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability, and cost of trainers.
  • Look for discounts. Gyms often offer specials at the beginning of the year. From free week passes to heavy discounts to first time members, this is a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you and save on sign up costs.
  • Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will want you to read the contract thoroughly before signing up. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are also in writing. Be sure to ask about the cancellation policies and how membership is renewed.
  • Know the true costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.
  • Check bbb.org. BBB has Business Reviews on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers, and gyms. Read what previous customers say and see how the businesses respond to complaints.

To find a list of accredited fitness centers in the Northwest visit our Accredited Business Directory.

Remote Control: Creating a Productive Distributed Work Model

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Guest blog written by Lance Trebesch, Ticketprinting.com CEO

E-commerce isn’t constrained by time zones or location, so why should your office be? To be truly dynamic and have greater access to finding (and hiring) the right people, a distributed team work model is the answer.  My own company, for example, is based in wonderful Bozeman, Montana, and our production facility is in Harlowtown, Montana. However, 55 percent of the TicketPrinting.com team is not in those two locations. We’ve got workers living from sea to shining sea and beyond.

The decision to integrate distributed teams into the TicketPrinting.com structure was a practical one. Though Montana is beautiful and a fantastic place to live, the pool from which we could draw for specialized positions, such as software development, coding and graphic design, isn’t huge.  Also, by enabling team members to work remotely, we save on overhead costs, which allows us to focus resources into delivering the best product and customer experience possible.

Sounds great, but you may be asking yourself how a team of workers spread out across the globe can be efficient and cohesive.  It’s a very salient question! Not unlike a traditional workplace, the distributed team work model requires great communication, the right tools, and a positive corporate culture.

Below are some tips to creating an effective team of distributed workers:

Hire The Right Folks: Now, I realize I’ve mentioned how finding the right person for the job is easier when the world is your hiring pool. However, just because
a candidate has the skills doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a fit for working in a distributed team. Look for folks who don’t require a lot of oversight – those with freelance or entrepreneurial experience are often a safe bet as they’re self-starters and accustomed to working independently.

Make Communication Easy:  Since you can’t physically drop by someone’s office, chat in the lunchroom or grab someone for a quick meeting, do everything you can to create regular and clear communication amongst your team. Use tools such as Basecamp or Blossom to organize projects and keep everyone on the same page.  Foster a rapport and community with team group chats through collaboration technologies like Slack or Hipchat.  I’d also suggest regular face-to-face meetings via Skype or Google Hangouts.

Get Everyone Together:  For any company to flourish, its team members need to feel as if they are part of something cohesive.  Host a retreat with workshops as well as opportunities to socialize. Interacting in person and sharing experiences is something that is invaluable and worth every penny.

Respect Time Zones:  Having team members working all over the US and abroad means everyone’s work schedules are not the same. Encourage a mindset of flexibility, patience, and adaptability. For example, a team member in Boston may
have questions for a colleague in Seattle, but he or she is unlikely to get an immediate response at 8am EST. In that scenario, the person waiting for answers must be able to turn their attention to other projects.

Measure Productivity: Though you can’t see your team in-person, that doesn’t mean you can’t assess whether they’re working.  After all, gauging whether someone is pulling their weight in a traditional office setting can be tricky, too. In fact, in some ways it is simpler to figure out if folks are working in a distributed team because it’s purely about results. Are projects being completed on time? Are you receiving responses to queries within a reasonable timeframe? If so, that’s a clear positive your worker is on the ball.  There are also apps designed to track what folks are doing during their work hours, such as HiveDesk, WorkSnaps and IDoneThis.

It’s Distributed Not Remote:  Lastly, we use the term “distributed’ not “remote”.  Remote conjures detachment and distance; while we are geographically apart from each other, through tools like Skype, Slack, Google Hangouts and more, we are very present second by second as a team.  We do not feel in any way “remote” from each other.

November Scam Wrap-Up

Top Scams 2015

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in November. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

This month there were seven scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $354 lost.

Online Purchase

A woman in Anchorage reported she lost $354 after a charge from an unknown company was made to her debit account. The woman states she received the charge from Prince Bags. She called the number associated with the charge, but was unable to speak with a real person. She reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

BOA Spoof

A woman in Anchorage reported she received a phone call from someone claiming to be from Bank of America. The caller spoofed the BOA number convincing the woman it was a legitimate call. The caller told the woman her account was going to be cancelled. The woman does not have a BOA account, but called the number back to get more information. Once the caller realized the woman did not have a BOA account they hung up on her and her number was blocked.

OREGON

This month there were 27 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $700 lost.

Rental Scam

A woman in Portland reported she lost $24.99 in a Craigslist Rental scam. The woman reports she found an apartment listing on Craigslist about a property she was familiar with. She contacted the renter and was told to pay for a credit report at creditupdates.com. The woman never heard back from the renter and when she saw the ad again she inquired with a different email and received the exact same response and was told to conduct the credit report.

Direct TV Spoof

A woman in Portland reported she received a phone call from someone claiming to be from DirectTV. The caller spoofed the DirectTV number which convinced her that it was a legitimate call. The caller told the woman she was at risk of losing service. When the woman asked for a number she could call to confirm he was with DirectTV the caller became angry with her. The woman hung up and then confirmed with DirectTV that the call was fraudulent.

IDAHO

This month there were 36 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Idaho with an estimated $13,500 lost.

Online purchase

A woman in Post Falls reported she lost $190 after she ordered a face cream from an online company that advertised it as a “free offer” after the buyer covers the shipping fees. The woman reports she had an allergic reaction to the cream and was still charged $175 on top of the shipping fees. She tried contacting customer service, but reports the company refused to refund her money.

Government Grant

A woman in Shoshone reported she lost $350 in a Government Grant scam. She reported she was told by a man she was the recipient of a $700 grant. She was told to purchase an iTunes gift card for $350 and call him back with the card number. After she did that she was told to send an additional $700. The woman ceased contact and reported the incident to BBB.

MONTANA

This month there were six scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Montana with an estimated $850 lost.

Fake Invoice

A woman in Bozeman reported her company received a fake invoice for $487.60 from Global Business Systems. The woman reports the “company” billed her for toner. She states her company does not deal with this business and ignored the letter. She reported to BBB that the company is threatening to send them to collections.

Tech Support

A woman in Livingston reported she lost $99 to a fake tech support scam. While on her computer she received a pop-up claiming to be from Microsoft warning her that her PC had a virus. She was given a phone number to call to have it removed. The woman called the number and gave the “customer representative” her credit card information and approved a charge of $99 to have the virus removed. Unfortunately, this type of scam is common.

WASHINGTON

This month there were 52 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Washington with an estimated $31,600 lost.

Online Purchase

A woman in Mount Vernon reported she lost $75 when she attempted to purchase an item from Sweet Paula’s Pods. The woman reports she purchased the items from http://www.sweetpaulaspods.com. A few days later she emailed the company asking for shipping information. When she never heard back from the company the woman looked up the business online and discovered there were other customers with similar problems concerning the business.

Sportswear Scam

A woman in Orting reported she lost $51.98 to an online sportswear store. The woman reports she purchased a Husky/Seahawks sports sweatshirt from www.sportsfanatic.co, but never received the product. She has an appending charge listed as “Summit View LLC” for the amount.

 

Workplace Gift-Giving Dos and Don’ts

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It’s that time of year where companies are preparing for the holiday and gift-giving season. Giving and receiving gifts may be enjoyable, but it is important to understand proper workplace etiquette before going shopping.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest offers the following tips for gift-giving in the workplace:

Follow Office Policy

Before you do anything check with your manager or human resources department to understand the inner-office gift exchange policy. There might be certain stipulations on what you can and cannot give for gifts. For example, it might be against company policy to give cash or alcohol out during business hours.

Skip Your Boss Unless Its Baked

While it’s tempting to give your boss a gift as a thank you for his leadership, it’s not actually appropriate to give a higher-up a gift. If you are set on giving your manager a gift, opt for baked goods or something homemade that doesn’t cost a great deal. You can also pool your money with co-workers to give a present that’s from the entire department.

Stick to the Agreed Upon Amount 

Office gift exchanges usually have a price limit to avoid overspending. Don’t try to impress your colleagues by going over the agreed upon price. Shaming co-workers is not the best way to create office camaraderie. On the other hand, if you cannot afford to participate in any gift exchange, simply bow out. It shouldn’t be a requirement in your company to partake in the festivities. So don’t feel bad if you sit this one out. Again, you can always bake cookies and bring those to your office mates instead!

Avoid the Risqué 

Pass on any gifts that come across as sarcastic or vulgar. Even if you know the gift recipient very well, crude gifts have no real place in the office. Stick to something appropriate that compliments the receiver to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.

Say Thank You

Mind your manners and be sure to thank the person who took the time to get you a gift. You can do this by either sending a thank you note or by shooting over an email of gratitude.

8 Ways Your Small Business Can Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday

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Small Business Saturday has gained plenty of steam the past few years as a great way to promote local “Mom & Pop” shops that don’t benefit from the Black Friday mega-retail crowd and the Cyber Monday e-commerce traffic. The “shop small” and “dine small” day was initially started as an American Express campaign in 2010 and many small businesses have begun to embrace the day with their own marketing campaigns and promotions.

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Here are eight ways your small business can benefit from Small Business Saturday:

Spread the Word

Print Small Business Saturday signs to hang by your point of sale or inside your business’ window. Consider creating postcards to send or pass out to remind customers about Small Business Saturday. Also, be sure to update your website. Small businesses with high quality online stores have a distinct advantage. Make sure your inventory has been updated online and special promotions are prominently displayed. Be sure to cater to the busy shopper by ensuring your website is fast, processes transactions quickly, and is optimized for mobile use.

Use Social Media

Social media can be your greatest promotional asset when used correctly. The Small Business Saturday page on Facebook has more than three million fans, so use it as a resource. Always use the official #SmallBizSat or #ShopSmall hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to highlight special offers or discounts since the topics will be trending.

Email Your Customers

If your business keeps record of your current customers’ email addresses, then send them all an email blast to inform them of any events or promotions you are running for Small Business Saturday. Your most loyal customers can become your greatest marketing advocates since they will help spread the word for you.

Advertise Online

Even though many small businesses have a limited budget to spend on online advertising, you can take advantage of ad credits offered by many advertising platforms. If you already spend money on online advertising, be sure to adjust your messaging for Small Business Saturday. Also, keep track of what you spend so you can calculate your Return on Investment (ROI) to see if the advertising was worth the increase in sales.

Offer Coupons and Discounts

Nothing drives more customers to your store than incentives. After all, incentives are the reason Black Friday has become the behemoth that it is. Take advantage of this by offering coupons or discounts for your products or services. Make sure to include your coupons or discounts in your promotional material leading up to Small Business Saturday.

Expand Your Hours

Extend your shopping day for customers on that Saturday by opening earlier or staying open later to make it even easier for customers to shop at your business location. Be sure to include your one-day-only hours in your promotional materials so your customers know they can fit your business into their busy holiday schedule.

Make it an Event

You can create even more excitement for your local small business by doing something different to draw attention. For example, serve free coffee in the morning, display balloons outside your store, hire a musician to play music in your store, or create a contest for a drawing. You can also partner up with other businesses. Build on each other’s customer base by having multiple businesses in the same line of stores or area actively participating in Small Business Saturday with promotions to increase visibility and attention for all local businesses.

Promote a Cause

Small Business Saturday is the perfect time to give back to the community that has given so much to you. Consider donating a portion of your sales to a local charity of your choice, and display this for your customers to see. You may also consider matching donations from your customers to your chosen charity.

 

Holiday Weekend Statistics Infographic

Thanksgiving weekend is just over a week away! BBB has compiled statistics for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday in the infographic below.

Which statistic(s) stands out to you the most? Let us know in the comments section!

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