For many businesses, Google My Business (GMB) is the hub of their online presence. It’s where they manage their online information as it appears in Google search, maps, photos and more.
Busy, on-the-go business owners are frequently challenged to find the time to manage their Google presence.
Recently, Google launched an updated version of their Google My Business app. The new features allow small business owners to easily manage their GMB presence and engage customers from their mobile device.
Highlights on Google My Business App New Features and How You Can Use Them
The new updates to the GMB app—available for iOS and Android platforms—brings many functions of the desktop version to your mobile device.
Post Content from Your Phone
Now, you can create Google posts to your Google My Business Profile from the convenience of your phone. This includes uploading photos or creating an offer or event.
How could you use this feature? If you’re a restaurant, upload a photo of the day’s special and post a discount offer for lunch diners who order the dish. If you’re a pressure washer, announce in the morning you’re going to be in a specific neighborhood that day, make it an event and offer a special for the neighborhood.
Engage Customers Who Connect with Your Profile
Now you can be notified in real time on your mobile device if customers connect with your business, send a message, ask a question, leave a review or book a request on your GMB profile. You can easily respond to these customers almost immediately through the GMB app.
In our opinion, this is a significant feature. Customer engagement should be a high priority for any business and the ability to do so “on-the-fly” is a potential game-changer for many business owners.
Consider that when a customer reaches out to a business for information they might be in research mode—looking for information to make a purchase decision. Businesses that respond quickly are better positioned to gain that customer’s business.
Additionally, when a customer leaves a review—good or bad—your ability to respond quickly with a “thanks” or “acknowledgment to correct an issue” helps build your reputation as a trustful and honest business.
Take a Temperature of How People are Using Your GMB Profile
The GMB app provides valuable data on your online viewers. Notably, it shows how many:
- Views to your business profile
- Searches for your business
- Viewers took action from your business profile
- People requested directions to your business
- Visited your website from your business profile
- Called your business through your business profile
- Viewed photos on your profile
This can be valuable information to analyze the impact of ad campaigns, events, special offers and publicity your business receives.
Are You Utilizing Google My Business?
Surprisingly, there are a substantial amount of businesses that haven’t claimed or developed their GMB profiles.
As GMB moves beyond just a business information platform to a robust online customer relationship management tool, businesses should consider fully using the features of this free tool.
Reach Out for Help on Tasks
While Google is definitely on the path to make managing your GMB profile easier and convenient, we understand that many business owners might feel this is just another task on their plate.
That’s why we’re here.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call today at (904) 429-4588 and let us handle all of the marketing tasks to better positon your business.
Wow! 2019 is already upon us.
As 2018 soon recedes into memory, it’s time to look ahead to 2019. For small businesses, it’s crucial to consider how such items like new legislation and tax deadlines can impact your day-to-day operations and monthly schedules.
Below is a list of 2019 items we think should be on a small business owner’s radar.
Keep Up with 2019 Mileage Reimbursement Rates
At the time of writing this article, the IRS has not released the 2019 standard mileage rate. We encourage you to check the IRS Standard Mileage Rates webpage for updates.
Salespeople and anyone who has a mobile-oriented job should be aware of a Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) impact to claiming mileage as a tax deduction.
As of January 1, 2018, employees can no longer deduct mileage as unreimbursed business expense deductions. This might come as a shock to people who drive a lot for their jobs as they prepare their 2018 taxes.
However, the self-employed can still claim mileage as a business expense.
If you’re a business owner with mobile employees, you might want to consider adopting a mileage reimbursement model that can help compensate for the miles they drive.
Plan Now to Use Health Flexible Spending Arrangements
Being able to set aside pretax income to cover health care costs not paid by insurance can be a significant financial benefit for employees.
In 2019, employees (not self-employed) can contribute $2,700 through payroll deductions to health flexible spending accounts (FSAs). Deadline for 2019 enrollment was November 30, 2018.
FSAs tend to be a use it or lose it account. Money not spent by the end of the plan year can be forfeited. However, some employers may offer FSA plans to carry over $500 of unspent funds into the next year. Additionally, some FSA plans allow a two and a half month grace period to spend 2018 funds in 2019.
Meeting the January 31, 2019 Deadline for W-2s & 1099s
Yes, we’ll be facing that W-2 and 1099 deadline before you know it. In order to correct potential errors, we recommend that employers prepare and distribute these well before the January 31, 2019 deadline.
Be Aware of Social Security 2019 Maximum Changes
In 2019, the maximum amount of income subject to the 6.2 percent social security taxable ceiling increased to $132,000 from $128,400.
Take Advantage of Higher Retirement Contribution Maximums in 2019
After six years stuck at $5,500, employees can now contribute up to $6,000 in your IRA in 2019. If you’re age 50 or over you can contribute a Catch-up, limit up to $1,000.
Contributions to 401(k) increased from $18,500 to $19,000. If you’re age 50 or over, you can contribute a Catch-up, limit up to $6,000. The total contribution limit for both employee and employer increased from $55,000 to $56,000 ($62,000 for age 50 or older).
If you’re self-employed, you might want to take full advantage of contributing 20% of your self-employment earnings through a SEP-IRA. Didn’t set up a SEP-IRA in 2018? Well, it’s not too late. For those that extend their 2018 tax return date, the deadline to set up a SEP-IRA and make an initial contribution for the 2018 tax year is October 15, 2019.
Too Busy? Delegate Your Tasks
Managing a business is time-consuming. Especially when you have to keep up with all of the changes from regulations to taxes. Make time by delegating tasks to a virtual assistant firm like Business Solutions Unlimited? Call us today at (904) 429-4588 and let us start keeping up with all the small details so you want have to.
From January through mid-November 2018, over 13.5 million people moved into homes across the U.S.
Of those movers, 5.5 million had a household income that ranged from $70k to $249k.
Let’s bring that large number down to a local area. According to the Associated Press, the fifth fastest growing city in the U.S. is Greeley, Colorado located in Weld County. Using the same time frame and household income range as above, we see that 8,342 people moved into homes in Weld County.
At eleven months, that’s an average of 758 potential customers per month looking for new business relationships in Greeley, Colorado.
The Small Business Opportunity with New Movers
New movers spend money. They’ll spend up to $9,000 more than established homeowners within the first six months of moving into their new homes.
Consider what new business relationships people moving into homes might need:
New Professional Services:
New Home Services:
- Home cleaning
- Pest control
New Retail Services:
- Kitchen appliances
- Flooring & carpet
The value of being one of the first businesses to welcome these new movers and invite them to use your services would be considerable—especially when you take into account the lifetime value of loyal customers.
How Do You Reach New Movers?
First, you have to acquire a list of new movers. Many data houses can sell you new mover data lists that are updated frequently. Another option would be to consider using the services a virtual assistant marketing firm with access to this data, like Business Solutions Unlimited.
Once you have the list in hand, direct mail could be a good option to reach new movers. Most of these new residents would be on the lookout for new business relationships and an inviting direct mail message could catch their attention.
Online ads would also be another option to reach new movers. Facebook demographics has a new mover option for their ads.
As you develop your 2019 marketing strategy, consider the opportunities of promoting your services to this new pool of prospects that just arrived to your area.
Reach Out for Help on Tasks
Is the task of collecting data on new movers or any other demographic, developing a marketing campaign and implementing it is just one more item on your busy schedule?
We understand how busy business owners and managers are; that’s why we’re here.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s see what we can do for you today.
The holiday season approaches and businesses throughout the U.S. are making their preparations. Many businesses will soon be hosting office holiday parties to bring holiday cheer to their employees and customers.
While most office parties tend to be merry, they can also open up businesses to liabilities, including discrimination, sexual harassment, and DUI-related accidents.
Before you think we’re recommending a “Bah Humbug!” on office parties, we’d like to offer you some best practice advice. After all, we like to throw a good office party just like everyone else.
Best Practices for a Safe, Merry and Liability-Free Holiday Party
Below are some best practices that may help minimize your liabilities and make your office festivities a merry event.
Designate an Office Party Chaperone or Two
Make sure you’ve designated people to keep a sober eye on the festivities. This is particularly important when alcohol is present.
What Do You Call the Party – Holiday or Christmas?
While some people might be offended by the word “holiday”, the realities are that the season is full of religious holidays. To help keep your business safe from religious discrimination, stick with the generic “holiday” when naming your party.
Make Attendance Voluntary—Not Mandatory
Mandatory attendance to a fun office party might not be so cheerful when an employee feels forced to participate. Required attendance could open your business up to a Fair Labor Standard (FLSA) and state labor claim. Make sure your office invitation specifies that participation is voluntary.
Keep Tabs on the Alcohol
Limit the amount of alcohol served at your party. This means no “beer-drinking” parties. Many offices will provide two tickets for alcohol servings to help manage consumption. Also, your chaperone should keep tabs on everyone ensuring they are behaving properly while consuming alcoholic beverages. It’s also a good idea to stop serving alcohol at least two hours before the party ends.
When Someone has One Too Many, Be Prepared with a Free Cab Ride Home
Make sure you’ve arranged with a cab company for rides home for people who imbibe too much. Businesses should include the cost of offering “free” cab rides home in their party budget.
Forget the Mistletoe and Watch for Inappropriate Behavior
A holiday party is a good opportunity to relax and have fun. It’s also an opportunity for people to get too relaxed. Unwanted hugs, kisses, and lewd behavior could open your businesses up to a sexual harassment situation. If your business has a sexual harassment policy, distribute it to everyone prior to the party as a reminder.
By limiting the risk of holiday party liabilities, you’ll help keep your business and your employees out of harm’s way—and keep your holiday celebrations fun.
Too Busy? Delegate Your Event Planning Tasks
Are you considering a holiday party for employees and guests? We understand that small business owners have a lot on their plates already. A virtual assistance firm like Business Solutions Unlimited could help take some of those tasks off your plate.
Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us take care of the details so you can relax and enjoy the festivities too.
Google recently announced that it would shut down the consumer version of Google+ (G+), their social media network in August 2019.
The shutdown announcement was tied to a potential data leak risk that affected up to 500,000 accounts. However, it’s been apparent for some time that G+ has been a steadily shrinking presence in the social media world.
The Promise of Google+ that Never Materialized
G+ was created in 2011 as a response to consumer’s concerns over the growing influence of Facebook.
Google worked to align G+ to search engine results. They asked that content authors use their G+ accounts to add search weight to their latest posts.
Until 2015, Google encouraged local businesses to use G+ Local to gain traction in search results. Today, many of those local content features—reviews, posts, events—are found in Google My Business.
While Google touted 395 million active Google+ accounts, the social media network never managed to pull people permanently away from Facebook or other social media outlets.
Over the years, it became somewhat of a ghost town. Its impact over local search results ended long ago.
Time to Audit Your Marketing
Many small businesses followed Google’s lead to promote their G+ pages on their website and marketing collateral. Just this week, we found the G+ logo on a couple front entrances of local businesses.
You should take the time to remove G+ presence from your:
- Email signatures
- Store signage
- Printed collateral
If you have G+ account, consider downloading your content and deleting the account.
The Lesson to Small Businesses: Be Strategic with Your Online Presence
The shutdown of G+ shows how disposable social media networks can be.
As we’ve seen with G+, Facebook and other social media networks, features for businesses come and go based on decision totally out of your control.
If you’re building your total online business presence on social media networks, you could be a corporate whim or an accounting decision away from losing it.
The best strategy for your online presence is to build it first with something you own—and control. Post your content, articles, tips on your website then push it out to your online outposts—the social media networks your target market is using.
Reach Out for Help on Tasks
If auditing your marketing materials for G+ logos and updating your website and printed collateral is now another task on a long list you’re trying to get through—consider delegating.
Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call today at (904) 429-4588 and let us help you with that…and more.