How Your Business Can Take Advantage of Search

Understanding SEO and how it pertains to your business goals will help you take advantage of search and drive more traffic to your website or page. Large and small companies will benefit from optimizing their online presence. By incorporating some of our easy tips, you can increase your company’s ranking, resulting in more traffic and online sales.

What is SEO? The acronym stands for search engine optimization, and refers to writing content and developing websites with keywords, tags, and unique content that can increase the rank of an article, page, or the overall website.

Although Google is probably the best-known search engine, Bing and other search engines are also performers and will help drive traffic to your site. Both Google and Bing offer basic tools for business webmasters, and will alert you if problems arise.

Tips for How Your Business Can Take Advantage of Search

Identify the keywords or phrases that people would use to search for your business. These have changed slightly as mobile device usage increases, and people speak into their phones rather than typing them on a computer. If you sell shoes, then some of the keywords would include well-known brand names you sell, men’s shoes, women’s shoes, shoes for children, shoes in your specific location.

Use geo identifiers in your website. Google maps is ideal for this. You simply embed a map onto your website which includes the physical location. Digital photos taken at your place of business often include a geocache and can be placed on the website or page you want to rank for that area.

Don’t forget to claim your business on social media. Some of these sites have pre-made pages that include a business name and location. You will need to go in and claim these, which may include returning a post card or phone call.

Set up social media accounts including Google +, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

Don’t overlook the benefit of hashtags when posting links on these sites.

Find natural sites to place links to your site, through message boards and question/answer websites. You will gain more credibility if you actually go in and participate on these boards.

Carefully consider the overall layout and design of your website. Photographs draw the eye, but for a site to rank, it does need solid content.

Content should be written with both the reader and bots in mind. Engaging content that delivers true value to the reader is imperative. When writing content, most people will naturally use secondary keywords related to the main article keywords. Overall, the main keyword density should be 3-4%. The keyword should be used in both the first and last paragraphs.

“H” tags play an important role in how search engine bots read content. A title is typically written in an h1 format, while the remaining content will be posted in descending order from h2 on down. The “h” tags essentially provide a value to each of the phrases, with h1 being the most important.

Add content on a regular basis. You can add more pages to a website using a blog, or by adding more services or items. Whether you add it daily or weekly, be sure to add it on a regular schedule.

One of the most important, and often overlooked items is to make certain that your website has a sitemap and that it has been submitted to the search engines. Contact the Chamber for more tips and ideas to help your business grow.

State House News Service Weekly Round-up: The Old Normal

Article Source: State House News Service

Author: Matt Murphy

 

A quiet settled over Beacon Hill and the State House this week. And for a change, it was supposed to be that way.

The rhythms of the State House, and the bars, restaurants and lunch counters that cater to the capitol crowd, have been off beat for more than a year. The building itself is still closed to the public.

But as another Patriots’ Day came and went without marathon runners to cheer up Heartbreak Hill and to cheer to the Boylston Street finish line, at least the school-vacation lull felt familiar.

The House on Thursday literally gaveled into session, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and adjourned, the branch’s leaders busy preparing, as they would have been prior to the pandemic, for their annual budget debate.

More than 1,150 amendments have been proposed to the $47.6 billion spending plan that will hit the floor Monday, and aside from encouraging remote participation, House Speaker Ron Mariano’s office is preparing for a typical multi-day affair.

With the Legislature abiding by the school calendar, Gov. Charlie Baker hit the road toward the end of the week after welcoming the national champion UMass Amherst men’s hockey team to the State House on Tuesday for an outdoor celebration of their first title.

There would be more celebrating in some corners later in the day, but it could have easily gone in a different direction. A jury in Minnesota delivered a verdict of guilty on all charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. With people on edge over the case from coast to coast, Baker called on the National Guard to be ready should unrest follow. But not one city or town wound up asking for their help.

As Boston Mayor Kim Janey addressed the historic verdict that night, she also found herself becoming a target for her handling of a police scandal involving the former head of the police union, Patrick Rose. Rose had climbed the union ranks during his career despite being investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of a child.

Hours before Chauvin’s fate was decided, Janey released 13 pages of Rose’s redacted internal affairs file concerning his case. While it was a step further than the previous administration was willing to go, some at City Hall, including councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell, said Janey did not go far enough and should hand the investigation over to the U.S. Attorney.

Policing promises to be a major issue in the Boston mayoral race in the months to come, just as climate change figures to factor heavily into next year’s gubernatorial race.

Baker spent Earth Day burning fuel to the western part of the state where he visited MGM Springfield to recognize the casino’s green building certificate, and then it was on to Pittsfield to tour one of the Berkshire Regional Collaborative vaccination sites.

Last weekend, Massachusetts passed the milestone of 2 million residents fully vaccinated, and unlike some other states that have begun to show signs of hitting a wall, Baker said demand for shots continues to greatly outpace supply.

The imbalance is so much that Baker said he has asked the Biden administration and will talk with the Massachusetts congressional delegation next week about convincing the federal government to begin diverting vaccine supply away from states that can’t use their full allotment to states like Massachusetts.

Baker said a recent Centers for Disease Control analysis showed Massachusetts to have the lowest rate of vaccine hesitancy in the country, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito demonstrated she is not one of those people. Not that there was any doubt.

The Shrewsbury Republican on Friday became one of the more than 1.24 million people who have received the first of a two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine when she got her shot in Worcester. Massachusetts is one of eight states with at least 60 percent of its adult population single dosed, and has begun to see a tapering of cases and, perhaps more importantly, hospitalizations.

White House senior advisor Andy Slavitt called attention on Friday to the list, which includes every New England state except Rhode Island, along with New Jersey, New Mexico and Hawaii.

“All of them have turned the corner on the number of cases & hospitalizations. Well done. Let’s all get there,” Slavitt tweeted.

Incidentally, it was Rhode Island that was also getting picked on a day earlier by the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance as part of the group’s efforts to urge Baker to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, such as capacity limits.

New Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee had just announced that, like some other states in the region, the Ocean State would gradually remove all capacity limits on businesses by Memorial Day and eliminate the outdoor mask mandate.

“Even Rhode Island gets it. Their state is just a beach with two US Senators,” said Mass Fiscal spokesman Paul Craney.

Baker hinted that he would have more to say next week about the next steps in the state’s reopening strategy, but said he wanted to be careful that whatever he orders next doesn’t “create a bounce in the wrong direction.”

“I expect we’ll have some stuff to say before the end of April, but at this point in time … People need to continue to follow the rules and the guidance,” Baker said.

By his own admission, Baker said he and his COVID-19 team usually wait about two or three weeks after taking a step forward with reopening to see what the impact might be before considering the next move. The last opening up of the economy and relaxation of gathering limits came in March (large venues opened March 22) in the midst of what some worried might be a new surge.

The seven-day average of daily new cases had climbed to over 2,000 on April 1, and some legislative Democrats said at the time that Baker had made a huge mistake in pushing forward. But hospitalizations and new cases have been brought under control according to some metrics. Daily new cases are back around 1,000, hospitalizations have flattened, confirmed daily deaths from COVID-19 are way down and tens of thousands of people are getting vaccinated every day.

“You have to wait and see,” Baker teased.

As for new rules the governor was ready to lay out, Baker commemorated Earth Day by signing an executive order requiring, among other things, that all state fleets buy zero-emission vehicles beginning next year and pledging to double the number of electric vehicle charging stations at state facilities by 2030.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education also approved a graduation rule change that will allow the current crop of high school juniors to graduate in 2022 without passing the MCAS exam if they show core competency in English and math by completing a relevant course instead.

The change didn’t go as far as some may have wanted. The Massachusetts Teachers Association and others have been clamoring for the MCAS to be canceled altogether this year. But some on the board hope it ends the debate.

“I think we’re as far as we need to go, and I hope this is the end of the modifications to MCAS,” said Matt Hills, a member of the education board.

It may be the end for now, but a Senate committee focused on how Massachusetts will emerge from this pandemic heard this week from education advocates at all levels of the system that Beacon Hill may have a short and closing window to reform schooling from pre-school to post-graduate.

The committee led by Sen. Adam Hinds was told it will require quick and decisive action in the next few years to take advantage of opportunities created by COVID-19, and should include major new investments in school buildings and teaching, changed funding models for child care, and expanded online learning.

More immediately, the Boston City Council was told by city election officials they should act now to change the state of the city’s preliminary election in September and bump it up a week earlier to ensure enough time to process mail-in ballots, should the Legislature permanently adopt voting by mail this year.

The last change to the election process the City Council adopted – to cancel a special election – proved to be unnecessary because Labor Secretary Marty Walsh ended up resigning after March 5, taking the special election off the table.

This could also wind up being for naught if the Legislature doesn’t take up an election reform bill in the next few months, but it’s unclear if the council wants to take that chance.

Workers Credit Union Supports Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell with $5,000 Donation and Employee Volunteerism

 

Abel Martinez, Lisette Valdes, Doug Reedy, Chayanis Hauswirth, Joe Petruzziello (from left to right)

Workers Credit Union is pleased to announce their donation of $5,000 to the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell as part of their annual sponsorships. On March 12th, six Workers Credit Union employees volunteered with Habitat to complete tile and finish work at Habitat’s newest build in North Billerica.

“Supporting the community through donations and employee volunteerism is part of our every day culture at Workers Credit Union. We have supported other chapters of Habitat in the past so working with Habitat Greater Lowell was an easy decision. We’re proud to have employees so dedicated to working within the community and supporting others” said Doug Petersen, President & CEO of Workers Credit Union.

“Working for a company that strengthens the community through donations and volunteerism is a priority for me. Now as an Area Manager, I’m happy to encourage our team members to be involved and support their communities as well. It was a pleasure to see our new Lowell Branch staff connect with an amazing organization like Habitat for Humanity,” said Mohammad Rizwan, AVP, Area Manager of Merrimack Valley branches of Workers Credit Union.

Workers opened a new Lowell PlanIt at the Sunrise Shopping Center on Bridge Street on April 5, 2021. The new location will support the Workers Way™ financial coaching program which focuses on helping members improve their financial wellbeing. Using a combination of face-to-face coaching and the latest self-serve technology, Workers provides a personal, user-friendly banking experience that helps members pursue their goals

Chayanis Hauswirth and Lissette Valdes adding siding to the build site in North Billerica

with confidence.

Donations can be made to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell at www.LowellHabitat.org

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization which seeks to eliminate substandard housing and provide deserving, low income families, with decent affordable homes Since its founding in 1991, Habitat of Greater Lowell has built or rehabilitated 48 homes for families in need in our local community as well as 74 homes globally. Habitat of Greater Lowell has completed 59 critical home repairs for local veterans and seniors. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. Please visit us at www.lowellhabitat.org or follow us on facebook.com/lowellhabitat.

Workers Credit Union, a member-owned and member-focused $2 billion credit union, is building the financial wellness of its more than 110,000 members through coaching, products and support that empowers them to build a better life for themselves and their families. Headquartered in Littleton, MA, Workers Credit Union has been serving communities in Massachusetts for more than 100 years. Workers Credit Union recently adopted a national charter that enables it to serve a broader set of members wherever they live. Workers Credit Union is a Community Development Financial Institution and Low-Income Designated Credit Union.

Weekly Download: What will become your legacy?

Why did you open the doors to your business? Today’s business owners often say it’s because they want to make a difference, fill a need, solve a problem, or support their community. There’s little doubt that business ownership isn’t just about making money; it’s about making a difference. What role will your business play in supporting, molding, and developing our community? That’s left up to your goals.

Our Members Make a Difference Daily

Our members make a difference in many ways. There are countless ways and opportunities to support our community, give back, or open doors for those living here. We’ve seen members take on incredible challenges or offer simply support.

Creating Important Jobs

Your business is already doing so. For example, you’re creating jobs for the community, which ensures that people can find a way to support their families and to work towards reaching their financial goals. Sometimes, the jobs our members offer can provide new opportunities not otherwise present in the community.

Empowering Employees

Our members also empower their employees. Imagine the opportunities to learn, grow, and expand. Some help to support the educational goals of their employees by supporting flexible scheduling, tuition reimbursement, or continuing education access. This can change the future path of an individual, allowing that individual to achieve his or her goals. Many times, they come back to the community to use those new skills to better it as well. It’s comprehensively worth the investment from all sides.

Contributing to the Positive Culture of the Community

Our members also contribute to the positive culture of the community in many ways. As an independent local association, we help facilitate opportunities to do this by communicating needs. However, many of our members find ways to contribute on their own. They may help to support a sports team by contributing financially or purchasing uniforms. They may help to sponsor an event taking place to raise money for a charity. Though some do so through well-recognized events, festivals, and programs, others do so behind the scenes. They contribute because they believe in supporting the efforts of the organization, residents, employees, or just the community as a whole.

Are You Building a Legacy?

Some entrepreneurs build their businesses themselves as their legacy. They work hard to grow and scale. Others view their greatest impact as what they leave behind within the community. It is the steps they take to make the community better than they found it. Do you hope to leave an imprint? Do you plan to achieve incredible goals?

Many of our members look to find the good and praise it. They volunteer, give away their time, providing discounts on products or services, or simply give their knowledge. They work to support charities, children’s activities, and seniors. They listen, learn, and act to help others in our community to achieve their goals or meet their needs.

As the Chamber of Commerce, we’re proud of the business’s efforts to take these steps. We encourage every member to take another look inside to find out they can build a legacy.

Workers Credit Union donates $10,000 to Merrimack Valley Food Bank

Workers Credit Union is pleased to announce their donation of $10,000 to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank from its annual holiday campaign held in December. During the campaign, WCU members were asked to open a SaveUp savings account or set up an automatic transfer to their WCU savings and the credit union would donate $5 on their behalf to the food bank.

“Workers is extremely proud of our members’ and employees’ dedication to the community. This donation speaks volumes of their willingness to help, even by doing something as simple as changing a banking habit. We’re honored to be a part of the Merrimack Valley community and support the food bank’s amazing work through our annual campaign” said Workers Credit Union President & CEO, Doug Petersen.

“We can’t thank the Workers Credit Union members enough for their support during these trying times. During the pandemic, the food bank has assisted more than 65,000 people monthly and donations like this helps us continue to serve their needs,” said Amy Pessia, Executive Director of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.

Workers opened a new Lowell PlanIt  at the Sunrise Shopping Center on Bridge Street on April 5, 2021. The new location will support the Workers Way™ financial coaching program which focuses on helping members improve their financial wellbeing. Using a combination of face-to-face coaching and the latest self-serve technology, Workers provides a personal, user-friendly banking experience that helps members pursue their goals with confidence.

Donations can be made to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank at www.mvfb.org.

About Merrimack Valley Food Bank
The mission of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank is to provide adequate nutrition and freedom from hunger. The Food Bank’s programs currently serve up to 80,000 people monthly in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. MVFB has been providing nutritious food to children, veterans, seniors, and working families since 1991. Food is distributed through direct service and a network of partner food pantries, meal programs, schools and senior centers.

About Workers Credit Union

Workers Credit Union (WCU), a member-owned and member-focused $2 billion credit union, is building the financial wellness of its more than 110,000 members through coaching, products and support that empowers them to build a better life for themselves and their families. Headquartered in Littleton, MA, Workers Credit Union has been serving communities in Massachusetts for more than 100 years. Workers Credit Union recently adopted a national charter that enables it to serve a broader set of members wherever they live. Workers Credit Union is a Community Development Financial Institution and Low-Income Designated Credit Union.

SBA Announces Official Restaurant Revitalization Fund Application and Guidelines

SBA just announced key details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RFF). To help bring jobs back and revive the industry, the American Rescue Plan, established the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA will administer the funds to the hardest-hit small restaurants.
Under this announcement, details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide are now available in English at www.sba.gov/restaurants or in Spanish at www.sba.gov/restaurantes.
Ahead of the application launch and over the next two weeks, the SBA will establish a seven-day pilot period for the RRF application portal and conduct extensive outreach and training. The pilot period will be used to address technical issues ahead of the public launch. Participants in this pilot will be randomly selected from existing PPP borrowers in priority groups for RRF and will not receive funds until the application portal is open to the public.
Following the pilot, the application portal will be opened to the public. The official application launch date will be announced at a later date. For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21-day period, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications.
As the SBA builds and prepares to roll out the program, this dedicated SBA website is the best source for up-to-date information for eligible restaurants interested in the RRF.

State House News Service Weekly Roundup: A Strained Partnership

Article Source: State House News Service

Author: Matt Murphy

 

For years, with both Democrats and Republicans in the corner office, the leadership of the Legislature has basically been able to do what it wants.

Speakers and Senate presidents – always Democrats – have controlled enough votes to set the agenda, override vetoes and ignore or compromise with the governor as they see fit. The difference between then and now? They didn’t always talk about it.

Increasingly, however, House and Senate lawmakers are not only frustrated with Gov. Charlie Baker over the things they can’t control, but they’re willing to say it publicly. Lawmakers have been clashing with Baker and his administration on everything from the distribution of vaccines to climate legislation and the return to in-person learning for thousands of young students (though Baker has largely gotten his way on schools).

This week there was more tension over the administration’s urgent request made in February to quickly authorize $400 million in borrowing for the construction of a new Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and the administration’s plans for billions in discretionary federal relief funding from the “American Rescue Plan.”

“I don’t want to feel like the red-headed stepchild as a member of the Legislature and being left out of this, and I’m sure my colleagues don’t want to feel [that way] about it. And I don’t think we’re going to anymore, hopefully,” said Rep. John Barrett, a former mayor who has been in the executive’s shoes.

Barrett’s commentary was directed at Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan at an oversight hearing where legislators were demanding to play more of a role in how the federal relief funding gets spent.

Heffernan wouldn’t say, exactly, whether Baker plans to file a budget bill proposing how to spend the relief money, but that’s one way the governor could give back a bit of agency to the Legislature.

Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka also came out jointly to say that they would insist municipal employees, including teachers, can take advantage of a proposed COVID-19 paid leave program that is still under negotiation.

The governor supports the creation of the new leave program, but Baker returned the bill last week with several amendments, including one supported by the Massachusetts Municipal Association to eliminate a mandate on cities and towns to offer their workers up to a week of paid-time off to recover from COVID-19, care for a family member or to get vaccinated.

The program, as recommended by Baker, would cover most other employers and state government, but the administration said municipal workforces tend to be “highly unionized” with strong leave benefits already in place.

Speaking of taking time during work hours to get vaccinated, Gov. Baker rolled up his right sleeve on Tuesday and got a dose of Pfizer at the Hynes Convention Center.

“I’m happy to report I feel good,” the 64-year-old said the next day from Revere, where he was touring a different vaccination clinic.

Massachusetts passed a milestone this week with more than 1.5 million people fully vaccinated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. By the end of the week, the total was actually up above 1.6 million.

But the spread of new variants continues to compete with the vaccine for control of the pandemic’s trajectory, and the number of communities in the high-risk category climbed by 22 this week to 77.

With so many people vaccinated and the general, healthy public a little over a week away from becoming eligible, Baker got asked about the concept of vaccine passes – a digital tool that New York launched and other states are considering to make business reopenings easier.

Madison Square Garden is among the early adopters, but Baker said, “No, no, no,” about plans for something similar in Massachusetts. It wasn’t a no, never. But more of a no, not now.

“I want to vaccinate people. Let’s get people vaccinated,” Baker said. “I think having a conversation about creating a barrier before people have even had an opportunity to be eligible to be vaccinated, let’s focus on getting people vaccinated.”

More than half of the 1.5 million residents who preregistered for a vaccine have been contacted already with a chance to book an appointment, but for the 700,000 people still waiting more locations are being added to the system.

Baker said that two regional collaboratives with vaccine sites in Northampton, Amherst and Marshfield were being added this week to the preregistration system that already connects people with seven mass vaccination sites, and more regional sites would be added this month.

With all the focus on the pandemic and figuring how to get shots in people’s arms, it’s easy to forget sometimes that next year is a gubernatorial election year and under different circumstances Baker might be getting asked daily about his plans.

Harvard professor and political theorist Danielle Allen seems to be inching closer to a run as she announced a beefed up staff with Liberty Square Group and media consultant Josh Wolf among those climbing on board. Wolf ran Steve Grossman’s 2014 campaign for governor.

Meanwhile, declared Democratic candidate Ben Downing overcame some technical glitches to roll out his climate agenda, which includes Massachusetts becoming a 100 percent clean energy state by 2040, or 10 years earlier than Baker and the Legislature set the goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.

The jockeying comes as the Democratic Governors Association took an interest this week in Baker’s underwhelming fundraising in March, and really for the whole first quarter, suggesting the incumbent with enduring but diminished popularity may be vulnerable.

Baker raised just $25,456 in March and $102,687 over the first three months of the year, but Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito was more active on the fundraising front and most people assume that if he does decide to run Baker will be able to crank up the money operation quickly.

“The governor and lieutenant governor are focused on managing the pandemic response, not electoral politics,” Baker’s campaign committee spokesman Jim Conroy said.

Next week attention will also turn to managing the state’s finances when the House is expected to release its version of the fiscal 2022 budget. This week’s continuation of strong tax collections in March gave budget writers more reasons to be optimistic about the future.

One additional expense the Legislature will have to plan for, however, is added expenses in the MassHealth program. Over the past year, the MassHealth caseload has increased to more than 2 million individuals, and President Joe Biden’s decision to extend the COVID-19 emergency through 2021 means the state can’t comb its rolls and kick out people who might no longer be eligible.

Secretary Marylou Sudders told the Ways and Means Committees this week that MassHealth’s budget – already the largest slice of the overall pie – might end up being $1.4 billion higher than in the governor’s budget. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, however, predicted the increased expenses will be more than offset by the enhanced reimbursements the feds are making for Medicaid.

There will undoubtedly be more budgetary surprises in the months to come as the coronavirus and economy continue down their unpredictable paths, but Boston Mayor Kim Janey caught very few people, if anyone, off guard this week when she announced that she would, in fact, seek the job on a more permanent basis.

Janey entering the mayoral contest boosts the field to six serious contenders for City Hall, and the Roxbury resident used perhaps her biggest advantage in the race – the fact that people call her mayor right now – to get out into the city and sell an agenda that included using federal stimulus funding to make buses free in Boston.

Many state and local officials have warned about using relief funding for services that won’t be affordable once the federal aid dries up, but Janey said she was eyeing a pilot to start.

“I understand that there are challenges which is why I hope — at the state level as well as the city level — I am looking at that federal money and I hope our state partners are as well,” she said.

Moving migraines: How to avoid headaches while relocating your business

Planning on relocating your business?

Whether you’re relocating your business to our region from another county or state, or you’re simply setting up shop in a different location in our community, moving your business can been downright stressful.

Here’s our top tips for avoiding headaches when moving your business:

Start Planning Early

While it might seem obvious, many ‘hiccups’ that happen during a business relocation can be easily prevented by planning well in advance.

If you’re company is relatively tech-savvy, consider using a cloud-based project planning tool such as Wrike or Zoho to identify everything you need to do to prepare for your move, delegate tasks, and track progress towards moving day.

Remember to list out all the suppliers you use, including utility companies, telecommunications, and even your coffee delivery service – they’ll all need to be contacted well in advance to ensure your services are transferred to your new address so you won’t be left without internet service, heat, or insurance coverage after you move.

Tell Your Clients, Suppliers, and Prospects

Unless your business is entirely online, it’s important to communicate your moving plans with your clients, customers, and suppliers using all your regular communication channels.

For example, if your business is active on social media, be sure to post updates both before, and after your moving day, and add a prominent banner to your website with the same info. Include a flyer with your new address along with any regular mail-outs (such as monthly invoices), post signage at your current location, and update your phone message to remind callers that you’ll be moving.

If you have a bricks-and-mortar location, try to make arrangements to leave information with your new address posted at the office, store, or shop you’re moving from for at least a few months, otherwise, clients may find you missing and mistakenly assume you’ve closed up permanently.

Hire Professional Movers

If your business assets consist of more than just a few laptop computers, hiring a professional moving company to do the heavy lifting is well worth the investment.

Not only will the right moving company take the worry out of moving your physical assets, but having dedicated movers means you won’t be asking your staff to take on the job of lifting and loading boxes, desks, and other big items.

Inform Government Agencies

Keep local, state, and federal agencies such as the IRS appraised as to your location, and your planned move to avoid major headaches and legal expenses.

If you’re moving within the same state you won’t need to change your IRS employer ID number, but you will need to update your address with the feds. You may also need to contact the Secretary of State and the State Department of Revenue, and any permits and business licenses need to be changed at the County offices.

Inspect Everything

Make arrangements to inspect your new location long before the movers arrive – that way you’ll have the chance to identify any deficiencies that could interfere with your operations. If you’re ending a lease, complete a walk-through with the property manager to identify any damage that needs to be repaired, and be sure to get the damage reports in writing.

Good better best: Pricing your products and service to emphasize value

Three-tiered pricing for products often means small-medium-large, but in services it means good-better-best. Find out how these service businesses use tiered pricing to benefit both buyer and seller.

These days, good-better-best pricing is everywhere. When purchasing an airplane ticket, for example, passengers can buy the default coach ticket (good), pay for some extra leg-room by upgrading to “premium economy(link is external)” (better) or pay through the nose and buy a business class seat (best). With all three tickets, the basic service is the same―aerial transportation from point A to point B. But the amenities (or the degree of discomfort suffered, for the cynical among us) vary.

Along similar lines, in bars, alcoholic drinks are priced low as rail drinks(link is external)when the customer does not ask for any branded alcohol (good), higher as call drinks(link is external)when a specific brand is requested (better), or highest as top shelf(link is external) drinks for premium liquor brands (best). An Acura TLX vehicle comes in three versions: the base model has a 2.4 liter engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission (starting at $31,695; good); the mid-version has a 3.5 V-6 liter engine, and a 9-speed automatic transmission (starting at $35,320; better), while the high-end version is 3.5 V-6, 9-speed automatic with all-wheel drive (starting at $41,576; best). As these examples illustrate, when using a good-better-best pricing approach (also known in the trade as “tiered pricing”), the marketer sells several different versions of the same product to consumers at different price points and corresponding quality levels.

For decades, marketers have packaged and offered different products to different customer segments. See the Chevrolet ads from the mid-1950s. No one would mistake the hoity-toity target customers of the 1955 Bel Air convertible with the blue-collar family that would find the 1956 Handyman station wagon to be appealing.

But this way of designing and pricing products based on customer segment differences is changing. With the good-better-best pricing approach, marketers now systematically offer different product versions to pretty much the same customers based on how much they want to shell out on a given purchase occasion. For instance, someone flying for work may buy a business class airline ticket because her company is paying for it; but on another occasion, she may fly in coach when shelling out of her own pocket.

We have written many times before in our blogs and newsletters that customers are not all equal. They have different needs, they value product attributes differently, and they have varying levels of price sensitivity. In order to address these multiple customer segments, it is common to have multiple variations of a product or service offering – a Good, Better, Best product lineup. Beyond just creating multiple offerings, your pricing strategy needs to include getting the relative positioning right. Your profitability depends on it.

There is no perfect number of alternatives or options to offer customers, but how many you will offer is an important question to answer. If you do not offer enough options, you run the risk of missing some customer segments by not specifically addressing them. Conversely, if you offer too many options, it is easy for customers to be overwhelmed with the complexity and not make any choice. To determine your best number of offers in your product lineup, consider the ease with which customers can assess the differences, the number of competitive offerings that exist, the range of values perceived by customers, and your capability in managing the range of products or services.

In addition to determining how many products to offer within a lineup, it is also important to determine how the price of each product or service will relate to the others. Multiple studies have shown that when faced with three or more options, customers tend to choose the middle option more frequently than the highest or lowest priced offer. Customers often avoid picking the least expensive offer because they don’t want to feel like a cheapskate. And they often avoid the most expensive option, because they really aren’t extravagant and do not need whatever additional benefits the highest options offer. So they go with the middle.

Thinking about this behavioral tendency can help you execute a stronger pricing strategy. If your goal is to maximize your profitability over time, you will need price points that attract customers at multiple levels of value. But what if you find that your results are skewed in that a large percentage of customers are picking either the most expensive or least expensive option? In that case, the prices of your product offerings are probably not aligned with their relative levels of value.

Employer Confidence Widespread Heading Into Spring

Article Source: State House News Service

Author: Michael P. Norton

 

[Associated Industries of Massachusetts]

Business confidence in Massachusetts surged to an outright enthusiastic level in March, buoyed by COVID-19 vaccination progress and the final passage of a $1.9 trillion federal spending law.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ monthly confidence index shot up by 4.5 points last month, capping a gain of 11.6 points since December. At 60.9 on a scale of 0 to 100, the index now rests comfortably in positive territory heading into the spring, marking a complete reversal from a year ago.

While the state’s unemployment rate remains elevated at 7.1 percent, employers in recent months have continued to add jobs and appear more bullish about economic and vaccination prospects than they are bearish about the ongoing uptick in virus cases, according to the survey of about 140 employers.

AIM’s employer confidence index in March 2020 took its largest monthly tumble in its 30-year history. Since then, it has risen by nearly 21 points and the business trade group pointed to more recent good news — Friday’s report that U.S. employers added 916,000 jobs during March, nearly double February’s gain.

In a statement, AIM President John Regan said the business group was also encouraged that Democratic legislative leaders are not pursuing tax increases this year and recently agreed with Gov. Charlie Baker to a new law reducing the size of unemployment insurance taxes stemming from last year’s historic job losses.

The latest confidence index reading caps a wild swing and puts the index within 8 points of surpassing its all-time high of 68.5, which was hit twice in 1997-98. The index sank to its all-time low not during the pandemic, but in February 2009 as part of the Great Recession.

Michael Goodman, a public policy professor at UMass Dartmouth, said the rising employer confidence also reflects the warmer weather that’s approaching and the loosening of pandemic-related travel and business restrictions “notwithstanding some of the troubling signs of rising infection rates.”

While employers are encouraged that drags on the economy seem to be receding, Goodman identified as risks “anything that might interfere with the rollout of vaccinations” and/or the emergence of coronavirus variants that might be resistant to existing vaccines.

AIM’s Future Index, which measures economic projections six months from now, last month reached its highest level since May 2018 at 64.8, up 3.8 points from February.

Employer optimism may be moderated due to the recent Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufacturing problem and the resumption of COVID-19 lockdowns in European countries, according to Nada Sanders, a supply chain management professor at Northeastern University and member of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisers.

“There are areas of the supply chain that were woefully unprepared for COVID-19,” Sanders said. “Retailers and suppliers, for example, built a supply chain system that was too complex, in which the slightest crack down the line created a large ripple effect. Companies are now addressing those weaknesses but the events of the past week, including the backup of the Suez Canal, may give employers pause.”

State officials plan to release March jobs and unemployment rate data on Friday, April 16. Also on next week’s calendar: the likely release of a House Ways and Means Committee rewrite of Gov. Charlie Baker’s $45.6 billion fiscal 2022 budget. Baker’s budget called for a slight drop in overall state spending.