Understanding Local Search Marketing

Last week we posted our first in a series of feature posts about website marketing and its complexities. After focusing on SEO and Meta Keywords last week, we’re going to focus on Local Search Results, one aspect of Search Marketing and the benefits of building a local presence on Google Places for your business. These articles were written by our guest host, Adam Steele, who is the CEO at Nightlite Media and has expertise in SEO, social media and email marketing.

1) Google Local Results Changed the Game, Part 1

This post will break down the premise of local search marketing and give you insight on why it is an important aspect of your online presence.

2) Google Places Optimization Checklist, Part 2

This post will break down how Google Places works and offer some simple tips and guidelines to a successful Google Places page optimization.

3) Google Places Local Business Directories, Part 3

This post shows you how to take your Google Places optimization to the next level by learning about off page ranking factors.

All 3 posts above have tremendous insight into Local Search Marketing and should be a great resource when starting your Search Marketing campaigns.

Pulling Back The Layers of SEO

For the past 3 years, we have been posting a wide variety of articles to our blog to better help our customers as they navigate through the many layers of website marketing. One of the most delicate and difficult layers can be SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO has many different elements from keywords to relevant website content and page names. SEO can be complex and can get overwhelming quickly, so we thought we’d take you back to the beginning and show you how to get started with some basic SEO tips that can improve your website ranking.

1) SEO Building Blocks: Meta Tags and SEO:

This post will give you a good introduction to Meta Tags and Keywords and how they work.

2) Google Keyword Tool:

This post goes step by step on how to use the free Google Keyword Tool and shows you how to create a list of potential keywords and how to pick the ones that will work best for your pages.

3) 5 Tips on where to insert keywords:

This post will give you good information on where and how to insert keywords onto your pages.

The above articles will give you a great start at understanding keywords and creating your own Meta Tags for success in organic search rankings. Stay tuned next week when we reintroduce local business marketing, a good strategy to capitalize on local geographical search results for your business.

Grow Your Business With CityMax Affiliates

Running an online business can be challenging, so we’re always looking for ways to make life easier for our customers. We’re excited to partner with several companies who may be able to enhance not just your website with CityMax but your business as a whole.

HootSuite: HootSuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc.) from one secure, web-based dashboard. Launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audiences, and distribute targeted messages using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard.

Moo: MOO is an award-winning online print business that helps our customers print things like Business Cards, Postcards and MiniCards, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Appointment Plus: All-in-One Online Scheduling Software provides customizable software to help businesses with all of their scheduling needs.

Zazzle: Personalized Items and trinkets, great for giveaways or brand recognition in your community and business field.

For more information click on the links above or visit the Marketing Section of your website to see if they can add value to your business and your website!

Customer Retention for Online Businesses


Running an online business is, in many ways, similar to running a business with a physical storefront. However, it’s not always obvious how customer retention techniques from the “real world” can be utilized on the web. As a shopper, often the biggest reason I return to a store is because of a great experience with a sales representative. I know I’m going to get the same great service that I got last time, so I don’t even think about going anywhere else. With an online business, your website is your sales representative – so how can you give your customers an experience that will make them want to come back? Here are a few ways you can get your hard-earned visitors to return for a second or third visit.

Be Personable
Authenticity and integrity are what everyone wants when they’re shopping. What’s the hallmark of a lousy, underhanded salesman? Jargon, exaggerated claims, and deceptive practices can turn your enthusiastic shopper into someone else’s enthusaistic shopper. So how can we be personable and trustworthy online?

Everyone craves a personal experience no matter how they’re shopping. When writing about your products or your company, try to cut down on jargon and provide the necessary information in a concise manner. Smashing Magazine has a fantastic article on some common copywriting blunders that we highly recommend checking out.

Another great way to be personable with your customers is pretty obvious: put yourself out there! Many customers are still concerned about the safety of buying purchases online, and seeing that a website is run and maintained by a real person just like them will do wonders to ease their distress. A personal story, a photo of yourself and your staff, or simply utilizing an informal, casual tone when writing your copy will endear you to your visitors and turn them into customers.

Update Your Content
The concept here is pretty straight forward: if I decide to take a peek at the website I previously looked at or purchased from a few months ago, and the website looks exactly the same, what incentive do I have to dig through and see what might be new since last time?

This doesn’t have to be a huge overhaul of your website every few months, but something as simple as a refreshed home page is often enough to catch the attention of a returning visitor. If you’ve got new products, show them off! Having a sale? Your visitors should know about it! Gone above and beyond for a customer? Get a glowing testimonial and slap it right on the home page where everyone can see it! Your home page is by far the best place to focus on if you’re updating content, but fresh content everywhere is a recipe for success.

Even if you don’t have anything new to show off, update your content to showcase different things or emphasize different benefits of your product or service. All you need to do is catch their eye, and their curiosity will take care of the rest.

Utilize Social Media
It seems like the whole world is on Facebook and Twitter. If you and your business are not, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity for what is essentially free advertising to a captive audience.

Think of it this way: if I’m a web-savvy customer (and these days, everyone is) and I like what I see on your website – whether I buy anything or not – there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to check out your Facebook or Twitter page. If I “Like” your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, I’ve now essentially signed up for you to advertise to me at your leisure, at no additional cost to you.

That’s not to say that you should bombard your Facebook friends and Twitter followers with advertisements, but when you have a new product to announce or are throwing a big sale, who better to get the word out to than people who are already interested in your products? Furthermore, your customers are one click away from sharing your posts with all of their own friends or followers. Now that’s word-of-mouth!

Customer Service is King
We could write a whole post about how customer service can affect your business, but let’s focus on two important concepts: make it easy for your customers to contact you, and underpromise/overdeliver.

Communication is critical for anyone making an online purchase. Sometimes, even if your website is rich with info about your products, a customer may have a question. Your customers will come up with things to ask that you never even dreamed of! Providing an email contact form that’s easy to find, at the bare minimum, ensures that no question goes unanswered. If you have the resources to offer more direct service, such as a phone number, go for it – your customers will thank you. Ensuring you reply as promptly as possible goes a long way to making your customers feel good about their decision to buy from you.

Simple communication is paramount to the post-purchase process as well. From shipping questions to feedback or support, your customers will want an easy way to get a hold of you once they’ve made a purchase. Be there for them when they need it, and they’ll be back.

The concept of underpromise/overdeliver is one that’s been around for as long as the sales and service industry has existed. The idea is simple: by carefully managing your customer’s expectations, you’ve set yourself to blow your customer away with a great product, great service, and great support. When you consider the alternative – failing to live up to the expectations you’ve set for yourself – your customers walk away feeling lied to. A classic bad example is your local telecom company; many of them offer great discounts or free bonuses up front to mask hidden fees or unexplained charges

So how do you do this? The number one rule is be honest. Never make claims you our your product can’t back up – it’s that simple. The second rule is to manage expectations. If your shipping takes five days, but your website quoted a ten-day delivery, they’ll be ecstatic when it shows up in six — and that’s one day longer than it was supposed to take! They got their product four days earlier than they were expecting, and they’re thrilled.

If you can give customers more than what they expect on a consistent basis, you’ll start building a loyal base of clients who will be back often.

3 Tips for Improving Staff Productivity and Happiness

Improve staff productivity with these 3 tips
Improve staff productivity with these 3 tips

Every boss wants a dream team of employees who go about getting everything done efficiently and with a smile. From my own experience, I’ve found the following 3 tips have helped my staff feel more motivated and happier at work because they have a clear idea of what their part in the company is:

Create systems for daily operations and emergencies

An efficient system is one where everybody knows what they need to accomplish and how to do it. They also know what other people on their team are working on so there’s no overlap or confusion. Everyone’s expectations match. To accomplish this, you can do the following:

  • Have regular meetings with your team. Give everyone an agenda in advance so that the meeting stays on track.
  • Have a contingency plan for emergencies, for when you are away or for when you are short staff.
  • Have an operations manual so if a staff member doesn’t know what to do, he/she can check the manual. An online manual is sometimes better as it can have the ability to search for terms.

All these items help ensure your operations run smoothly. It’s also a good idea to continually tweak your operations so you’re always optimizing the productivity of your staff.

Set clear and measurable goals

When employees know what your goals are for the company, it can help them make decisions that best support what you want to accomplish. Try to make goals as clear as possible, realistically attainable and with measurable results. For example: 12 sales per week, complete XYZ project by December or financial statements done by the end of the month. You can set smaller goals and overall company goals. You may even want your staff to help you set some of the goals. Once the goals are set and employees know what the goals are, they will prioritize their work better and spend less time on items that are not important.

Make time to get feedback from your staff

Usually your staff will have some of the best ideas for making improvements and will have the best understanding of what’s not working. It’s worthwhile, from time to time, to sit down and talk with your various employees to give them a chance to voice what they think about the current operations. You can do this one-on-one and/or make time at staff meetings. When ideas from staff are implemented, they will buy into your system more since they helped create it. Giving praise for good ideas will also encourage your staff to come up with more ideas. The end result is everyone is working toward improving the company as much as possible.

By doing the 3 tips above, you show your staff that you value their time and their opinion. You’ve removed confusion and inefficiencies. You’ve given them a forum to know what’s going on in the company and to give you feedback. You’ve set realistic goals so when they are accomplished your staff will get a chance to feel proud of what they’ve done. The end result is happier, more productive employees.

5 Tips to Making a Successful Sales Call

The telephone has long been the primary source of communication in business but slowly that has changed. With Email and Social Media, communication can now spread infinitely faster and customers and clients can find out everything they need to know about you online. However, the human element of the telephone cannot be replaced. Sales Calls can still be a resourceful tool to increase sales.

Here are a few tips that can help you form a successful sales call:

1. A proper introduction can go a long way

When you call your perspective client you should always introduce yourself and your company. “Hi, my name is Bob; I’m calling from Citymax.com, the Easy Business Website Builder.” If you are cold calling your leads, you might want to keep it more general, “Hi, my name is Bob from Citymax.com, and we’re a company that enables you to build an affordable website for your company.” Your goal is to keep them on the line as long as possible, so try to find an introduction that keeps them intrigued in what you are saying.

2. State the purpose of your call

Try to phrase the purpose in the form of a question. You are more likely to get a good response when you make them answer a positive question. Once you have gotten your positive response to your question, you can begin the process of giving them the required information that they need to buy your product. Always talk about the benefits that the product provides your client, not just the product itself.

3. Qualify your prospect

The qualification process is the most important aspect of a sales call. You only have so much time in the day, so wasting time on a lead that has ultimately no interest in using your product takes away time you could be talking to someone that does. Once you have completed your introduction, you need to ask the right questions that not only qualify the client, but also put you in position to make a sale. Get to the point as quick as possible, and try to get in touch with the person in charge of buying. It’s great if you build a rapport with someone but if that isn’t the person who makes the buying decision, that relationship will be all for naught. At the end of this process, you should know exactly what you need to do to earn their business; otherwise it will be an uphill battle trying to make the sale.

4. Ask for the sale

This is the one thing that can set you apart from becoming a good salesperson. There is no shame in asking and pursuing the sale in your initial call. If the call is positive and you feel that the client has bought into what you’re selling, ask for the sale and close the deal right there and then. Here’s an example:

“Jeff, it sounds like CityMax is exactly what you are looking for as a way to grow your business and make sales online. Let’s get you signed up so we can secure your domain name and get you started right away.”

5. A new call = A new attitude

Not every call you make is going to be successful, but it is important to move on from a failed call immediately and not let it affect your next call. Tone and confidence is everything in a sales call. Every new call you make is a new opportunity, so move on quickly and don’t let past failures affect your tone of voice or demeanor on the phone.

Try a couple of the above tips into your next sales call and enjoy success!

Profitability and People

Darrell Lim is our Vice President of Operations at CityMax but he is also a trained organizational development coach. Find out more about him and get more business insights at his CityMax powered business website: oakmanagementconsulting.com

No doubt, profitability should always be the focus of any successful organization. As we approach the halfway mark of the year, you are probably firmly aware of how much profit your business has already made and how well it is projected to do this year.

At the end of the day, no matter what goals you set, you must never neglect the importance of growing the human capital of your organization. These critical levers to business success stay largely the same regardless of the industry that you work in.

Recently, top areas of business focus for 2012 were identified by thousands of organizations that participated in a research study by the BC Human Resources Management Association. The results were:

  • Increasing Leadership Capability – 31%
  • Increasing Employee Engagement – 27%
  • Attracting & Recruiting Staff – 26%
  • Managing Change – 26%
  • Planning for Staff Succession – 23%
  • Managing Staff Performance – 23%

How many of these focuses do you relate with? Consider the following:

Increasing Leadership Capability

  • How much more profit/client value would you experience if your leaders were freed up to lead and innovate in new ways? What impact would 10% more time have on the bottom line?
  • What areas of your leaders’ responsibility could they improve if they were given time and resources to retrain and retool? What would the impact be on the bottom line?
  • What would the impact be on the bottom line if your key leaders stopped fighting with each other and actually learned to work well together?

Increasing Employee Engagement

  • If your employees actually trusted each other, what sorts of dividends would that multiply into?
  • What would productivity look like if your team actually enjoyed coming to work and what are you willing/not willing to do to provide that?
  • If your best employee quit today saying that they found another job that was “more aligned with their passions,” how much monetarily would that cost your organization? What if your top 3 performers left in the next 12 months?

Attracting and Recruiting Staff

  • What has your organization done recently that has brought it some good press? Is it an organization that people want to work in? What does it mean to your organization when the answer is “no”?
  • What have you done for your employees recently that has them talking to their friends and family about how great of a workplace they belong to?
  • What makes your organization attractive to potential new employees? Is it your fantastic compensation package, unique culture, or particular niche in your industry? If you have no answers, you are probably not attracting the cream of the crop that will help accelerate your growth into a new horizon.

Managing Change

  • Measure the percentage of people in your team that is on board with all the changes that you are planning this year. What if I told you that you could make that much closer to 100%? How could you make that possible?
  • Do your key leaders have input into determining the changes that are coming down the line? How would it transform your organization if they did?
  • What changes have you left by the wayside because the topic was too emotionally charged? How much is that affecting the bottom line?

Planning for Staff Succession

  • Do you currently have a clear plan for coverage when major illness happens or if someone were to go on a 3-week vacation? What happens to your productivity during those times?
  • Have you identified up and coming leaders and begun a development plan for each of them? How much money will you save in efficiency and productivity if a smooth succession happens should someone choose to leave?
  • Have you identified a key leader in your organization that you can entrust your business to when you need to unplug for a vacation or rest? How much longer can you do this before you burn out? What will that cost your organization?

Managing Staff Performance

  • How much does it cost per month when your team misses a deadline? How does it affect the longevity of your client relationship?
  • How much time is lost due to tardiness in your organization? Extrapolate that calculation towards labor lost over the whole year? Do you now feel greater urgency to address the issue?
  • Perhaps you generally have a great team but you have one bad apple that drains the energy from the team and debilitates chemistry. What is the cost to the rest of the team when you don’t address the bad apple’s performance issue? Extend those calculations to the domino effect it has to your clients. How grave is the issue now?

Remember, the principle is that the more time we spend in preparation and planning, the less time we will spend fixing emergencies. Do the math, because it almost always makes good business sense to focus on any of these areas and you will ultimately reap the rewards as your business thrives and the quality of life for your team improves. Ignore these issues at your own risk and then prepare to go through the lengthy, and extremely costly process, of rehiring and retraining new people.

Imagine life where you no longer had to repeat these dreaded life cycles in your business and then think about how much more capacity YOU will have for work that is far more relevant for the growth of your organization.

Building Strong Teams – Part 2: Managing High Performance

As you build your business online, you have probably thought about how to improve the performance of the current team that you work with.  Whether you have two employees or two hundred, this series aims to equip you with common sense but not necessarily common practice tools.  This week, I will be blogging about the second step of building strong teams: how to keep your team at peak performance!

Part 2: Managing High Performance

Annual Reviews: Most established organizations have an annual review process that normally coincides with a salary evaluation.  If you do not have annual reviews, you need to consider the cost to your team; however small it happens to be.  The common misconception is that annual reviews are not necessary for small teams, because “they already know what I think of them.”  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

At minimum, annual reviews are a great time to recap the year and discuss what went well and what opportunities came along with your successes.  It is customary to discuss not only a broad view of the organization’s achievements but to focus in on the individual contribution of the employee.  In low trust environments, you will typically see a report card type of review — where a lengthy list of responsibilities is weighted against a measurement scale that attempts to give the employee feedback about their value to the company.  In my experience, these types of reviews are not very engaging to the manager and frankly not much fun for the employee either.  However, its better to have an annual record of such conversations rather than have nothing at all.

Ideally, feedback about an employee’s progress (good and bad) should be presented to them far more regularly than on an annual basis.  If you are not giving feedback weekly, and at minimum, monthly to your employees, you are not setting them up for success.  The pace at which our competition is moving warrants responsible managers to move swiftly to correct inappropriate behavior that detracts the organization from reaching its goals.  Remember the rule: offer one negative feedback for every five positive ones you offer to your employees.  This will help you grow your emotional bank account with your team, and help make your negative feedback hold much more weight.

With this practice in place, you may ask then, what would be the point of an annual review?  Good question.

  1. Highlight the year’s feedback. Since feedback is given regularly, I use the annual review to highlight the best feedback that I have given that employee in the past year and point out some of the more consistent opportunities.  At this point, it should no longer be a surprise to the employee.  In fact, the annual reviews should never contain any surprises or unknowns to the your people.  A review of past conversations helps to frame the context of the annual review.
  2. Talk about what engages your employee. With feedback summarized quickly in your meeting, start talking to them about the best parts of the past year.  You’ll soon find them talking about the work and responsibilities that excite them and bring purpose and passion to their role.  You may even be surprised that the best part of their year was being called ad hoc into a committee that ordinarily had nothing to do with their role.  Listen carefully to what their heart is drawn to.  This is where you will find their engagement to be at highest level.  As much as the business allows, talk about how you can give them more opportunities to pursue more work that brings them alive. Be sure to also check in on the tasks and responsibilities that drain your team. You may not be able to change the scope of the responsibilities but just being aware of it and offering them a chance to be heard is a valuable exercise in and of itself.
  3. Consider the partnership approach. All in all, it’s important to hold the perspective that your employees are partners with you on your organizational goal, rather than employees that need to be micromanaged towards the results that you determine.  Don’t get me wrong, give regular feedback, but in your annual review, make it a time where you give the gift of true listening to your employees.  You will be amazed at how much their engagement levels will change when they feel like they are understood and supported; even if their actual duties don’t change much.

Invest in your Leaders: If you have a larger team, you probably realize that it’s impossible for you to keep track of all the day-to-day operations of your business unless you appoint leaders that manage a segment of the business.  If you have a large team with direct reports who are managers, it is wise to spend the majority of the time allotted to personnel issues with your leaders.  I have an open door policy where any employee can approach me for any reason.  However, I typically initiate and make sure that I spend a good chunk of time connecting with my managers.

  1. Connect intentionally. In these regular meetings, I use the same discussion process as the annual review but in a much more simplified fashion.  First, I review high-level priorities.  At CityMax, I am privileged to work with a wonderful group of managers, so I am usually doling out compliments whenever I remember to.  I affirm all the great qualities that I appreciate and I thank them for the great results they have shown. Next I discuss how their energy level is with their current load of responsibilities and do the best I can to alleviate any stuck points or hindrances.  Lastly, I hold the perspective that we are partners, and consistently ask them for feedback on my performance as well as anything that I can do to help them do their jobs to their best level.
  2. Listen carefully whenever your leaders give you feedback about yourself because there is usually more underneath a meek offering that you can learn about yourself and how you can be a better support to them.  As much as possible, involve them in major decision making processes and consider their concerns with the utmost care.  I firmly believe that leaders ignore their manager’s opinions and suggestions to their own detriment.  In a spirit of partnership, the less you treat them as underlings, the more engagement you will see as they not only interact with you but with the people that they lead.
  3. Be a resource. One of my worst career experiences was when I was starting out in business and was working for a prominent retail chain.  As was common, there were management shifts that caused me to have a new boss.  This manager would speak down to his people disrespectfully and every week he would assign work to his people that far exceeded a reasonable completion time.  Imagine if your boss asks you to finish a project in a week that would normally take two weeks… and then did absolutely nothing to help you.  Nobody wants to work for a tyrant and no one will respect your leadership unless you show your people that you truly care about their well-being.  Jim Collins in the influential management classic “Good to Great,” writes that the most effective leaders leading today’s most successful companies have a deep humility with the people they work with.  So consider being a resource to your people instead of only simply being a delegator.
    1. Ask your managers if you can shift around organizational and people resources to help supplement capacity for large undertakings and urgent tasks.  Always ask if you have done your part in providing the best environment for them to succeed.
    2. Find ways to provide educational resources that can help your leaders grow professionally and personally.  This could be supporting a portion of their tuition as they pursue a professional certification, or simply paying for the cost of a conference that would refresh their relevant work skills.
    3. Just because you’re not in it for the money, doesn’t mean that your people don’t care either.  As much as possible, find ways to financially care for your leaders.  It’s not easy to justify paying a premium for good work but consider the loss of productivity should a key person leave.  Think about how expensive it would be to firstly find a person of similar qualifications and knowledge base about your business and then ask yourself how long it would take a new person to pick up where the other one left off.  I think you see where I am going with this.  The worst feeling for an employee is to give up hope that they will reach their financial goals with their current employer, find new work, give notice, and THEN find out that the current employer is willing to give them a substantial raise to stay. “If you are willing to pay me that much now, why have you held back all this time?”

    If you take care of your leaders, you will find that the investment more often than not will only benefit the stability of your organization.  Remember to connect intentionally with them, listen carefully to their feedback and always find ways to be a resource to them so they can be freed to focus on getting the bottom line results you need to see your organization thrive.

(Darrell Lim is our Operations Manager at CityMax but he is also a trained organizational development coach.  Find out more about him and get more business insights at his CityMax powered business website: www.oakmanagementconsulting.com.)c

Should You Move Your Blog or Not?

Have you ever thought about moving your blog from one host to another, but were afraid of what might happen to your search engine ranking?

Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?
Should Double Dragon Jewelry move their blog?

Cindy of Double Dragon Jewelry Ltd. is deciding that exact scenario. She’s debating whether to move her new blog from BlogSpot.com (one of the most popular blogging software programs) to one that will allow her to keep her blog as part of her jewelry website.

Just to make this clear, her jewelry is being sold on:


Her blog is currently at:


Her web host, i.e. CityMax which is us, has added a blogging option so she could have her blog on:


If Cindy moved her blog to silverjewelry-sterling.com, she would have to weigh the following:

1. Potential to improve the rank of silverjewelry-sterling.com

Having her blog on her CityMax site will do 3 things that may increase her search engine rank for silverjewelry-sterling.com. First, every blog post is new content on her site. The more often you update your site, the more often search engines will re-index it (i.e. check out your site to see what new info is posted so their links are up to date) and rank your site higher.

Second, each blog post Cindy does will hopefully result in more links to silverjewelry-sterling.com because people like her posts. Each link or “vote” helps your search engine ranking. If a website with a high search engine rank links to your page, this is even better. Their “vote” for your site is actually worth several votes.

Third, each time Cindy posts a new article, this will result in a new page that can be linked to from the search engines to her site. This in turn will mean more opportunities to draw people to her site. The more people who visit her site, the higher her website ranking will be.

2. Cannot take search engine rank of doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com to new blog

If Cindy already has a good rank for doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com,she cannot transfer that rank directly to her new blog pages. This is because her blog is moving to a different domain. The search engines will recognize this change as doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com has shut down and then when they index her blog on silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html, they will recognize this as a new blog.

3. Beware of duplicate content as it can get your site delisted temporarily

If Cindy plans to move over articles she posted on doubledragonsilverjewelry.blogspot.com to silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html, she could get silverjewelry-sterling.com delisted temporarily. The reason is search engines don’t like duplicate content or even very similar content. It looks like someone who isn’t an authority on a topic, just copied someone else’s content. Everything is automated too, you cannot tell Google: “Hey, I just moved my blog to ______.”

Cindy may want to only post new articles on her silverjewelry-sterling.com/blog.html blog at first and not copy over any of her old articles. After her old blog has been closed for a considerable amount of time (many months) such that the old page content is no longer indexed on search engines, she can then repost the articles.

4. Potential to increase sales on silverjewelry-sterling.com

Cindy is likely to get more people to click to other parts of silverjewelry-sterling.com since her website navigation will be right beside her blog posts. This may result in greater sales. Note that if she didn’t move her blog over, you could argue that she could simply have a link to her jewelry online store.

5. Functionality and Convenience

Cindy needs to weigh the functionality of the 2 blogs. To BlogSpot’s credit, they have had many years to develop their site and blogs are their primary focus. CityMax is an all-in-one website builder and must balance the benefits of developing the blog further against other features that are requested. When it comes to convenience, Cindy may like that she can manage everything on CityMax instead of having to monitor 2 websites.

If anyone has any other reasons to move or not move a blog, please post them in the comments.

Building Strong Teams – Part 1: The Hiring Process

As you build your business online, you have probably thought about how to improve the performance of the current team that you work with. Whether you have two employees or two hundred, this series aims to equip you with common sense but not necessarily common practice tools. This week, I will be blogging about the first step of building strong teams: the hiring process!

Part 1: The Hiring Process

Create detailed job postings: I have seen far too many job advertisements that have a total of 3 lines of detail in the posting. The more information you can put down about the job, the less work you have to do in weeding out unqualified candidates. This, in turn, saves you valuable time to focus on your business. As you consider posting for an opening in your company, be clear about:

  • The job duties. If it’s a generalist position, then be clear in the posting that it is so and list the varied duties. The more detail you put down, the more you will be able to interest good people who are on the fence about applying for your job. Otherwise, you depend on an applicant’s current paradigm about what it would be like to work for a clothing company or a trade business – this could deter you from finding the best candidate.
  • The job qualifications. Be clear about the educational background and past experience that is critical to the success of your applicant. You’ll be surprised at how many apply for managerial positions for which they either have no education or past experience. Awhile back, I consulted with a grocery store that had been looking for a Bakery Manager for almost a year. One of my first areas of investigation was the current job posting they had advertised. You would be shocked if I told you the percentage of people who applied to the role whose baking repertoire was only limited to their kitchen! The problem was that the ad simply said: “Bakery Manager wanted, send a resume to ABC Grocery store.” Instead, they should have made it clear that they were looking to hire someone with at least 3 years of experience in ordering supplies for a scratch bakery as well as managing a team of 6 or more. This would certainly have ruled out the wannabes from the true talent they were looking for.
  • The job remuneration. Although people will not admit it, one of the first things that applicants are looking for is how much they will be paid. If the salary meets their expectations, they are more likely to take it seriously. The reality is that most people end up taking the first job they know they can perform well in – at the rate that they believe they are worth. If you hold out salary information until the end of the interview process, you stand the risk of losing someone even though you may have been prepared to pay him or her more than your competitor! Also, if you have a generous benefits plan or anything that is unique or rare in your industry – put that on the posting!

Look for Competence, Character and Chemistry: Too many employers focus only on past experience or education. The problem with that approach is that it only hones in on one part of what it takes to have a successful team. To be sure, it’s vitally important to hear from a candidate about what they have done in the past, but it’s also useful to hear about what they would do in a hypothetical situation. Asking behavior based questions helps you to learn how the candidate problem solves and reacts under conditions that may be unique to your work environment. It also forces them to think outside the box a bit, as it’s quite easy to prepare well for the typical interview questions.

After you get a good sense for their competence, check in with a behavior based question that reflects a character value you uphold. For example, ask them what they would do if they saw a co-worker stealing, or if they witnessed an internal or external harassment issue. You will quickly get an idea if this person is the type of person you will not only enjoy working with (because of their competence), but their values will be personified through the way they answer character related questions.

Lastly, evaluate for chemistry. There may not be specific questions that you can use to consider the chemistry you may have with a potential employee but it’s a vital part of your working relationship. You could have someone who is of good character and delivers results consistently but if they root for a baseball team that you despise or you can’t imagine having an enjoyable conversation on Monday about the weekend, you may be best to move onto someone else you know that is easy to relate to. This personal connection will add dividends to your professional relationship in spades.

Invest in a background check. A recent study showed that 1 in 3 job applicants have included some form of dishonesty on their resume. This may seem like a shocking amount but this may not be surprising since 2 out of 3 people have been surveyed as having cheated for a test while in college. The fact is that most people who cheat sincerely believe that they can get away with it. I have conducted many background checks after I have interviewed successful candidates and it’s always disappointing to hear that the employment records were inaccurate or the educational qualification was fudged. The cost of training a new employee is exponential compared to the couple hundred dollars you can spend on a background check. A good background check can also reduce costs on employee theft, reduces employee turnover and creates a safe workplace environment for your team. Typical background checks will include:

  • Educational and employment history verification
  • Reference checks
  • Criminal record check (Theft and Violence)
  • Credit check.
  • Industry specific verifications like Driver Abstracts and Public Safety.

There are many reputable organizations that offer this service, but please verify the presence of certifications and memberships that are relevant to your state or province before you choose who will contract this work out to.

Darrell Lim is our Operations Manager at CityMax but he is also a trained organizational development coach. Find out more about him and get more business insights at his CityMax powered business website: www.oakmanagementconsulting.com.