| 4 Tips For Managing Freelance Contractors

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

When you are running a company that hires freelance contractors for independent work, you have a lot of things to manage. Thankfully, this doesn’t include equipment or full-time expenses like permanent staff do. Outsourcing can be wonderful for a business, especially financially, but it can come with its pitfalls.

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Sometimes, outsourcing trade freelancers are difficult to manage when you consider time, cultural differences and distance. Even when you are hiring freelancers, you should make sure you are aware of what qualifications, potential police checks, references and trade insurance they should have before working on the job. We’ve collated four tips for you so that you can be confident in managing the freelance contractors on your books:

 

  1. Finding the right people can be difficult. You can advertise trade freelancers on jobs boards and if you personally know any, grab recommendations from them for others who may need work. When you use a freelance platform to recruit for your company, it can be easy for some as all your contractors are in one place to communicate with. You may prefer to use phone or email to communicate with your contractors, which is just as efficient as a platform.
  2. Bringing on the right freelance contractors can take some time. Not only do you have to do the right background and criminal records checks, you have to ensure that they are responsible for their own insurance and taxes. Some contractors may not be used to working through a company, so there will be an adjustment period while you both get used to each other. Don’t make the mistake of switching through your list of freelancers at the first hurdle; it takes time to get to know the way someone works.
  3. Communication is one of your biggest tools when you are bringing on freelance contractors. It’s important for you as a business leader to be able to be open and communicate with your contractors in both a positive and a negative way. Always over-explain where you can and spell out all the instructions necessary in the plainest way possible. Freelancers do not work one to one with you as they are in the field, so you need to be clear and concise at all times.
  4. The last thing you really need to worry about is the productivity of your freelance contractors. If your employees are unhappy in any way, this can affect their ability to keep motivated in their role. Freelance work is self-employed, meaning that they work harder and accomplish things faster when they feel productive in their jobs. Positive feedback and reinforcement on how they do their role is helpful and getting reviews on their work from the businesses they complete work for is also a way to make them realise they’re doing well.

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Ideally, you will have everything in place for your freelancers to work safely, productively and that keeps them insured at the same time. Protecting your employees is important, whether they are permanent or freelance.

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| How to Bring in More Business

Posted in Marketing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

If you own an already established business, you may be wondering how to increase your clientele. It’s the only real way to move your business into the next phase. Getting more clients means marketing to a bigger audience, but it’s often difficult to know where to start. Here are a few strategies for growing your business and getting more people through the doors.

 

Target the Right People

If you’ve been in business a while, you’ll already know that there’s no point in marketing to people who’ll never be interested in your product. For instance, you aren’t going to market women’s swimwear at an all-male event. It’s important to re-evaluate who your audience is as your business grows. When you’ve defined your audience, you can build your marketing tools and strategies around it.

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Keep Learning

As with any other job, it’s important to keep learning as you go. Technology changes every day and it’s a big part of keeping businesses alive. If you think you or your employees could benefit from a little training, it’s certainly worth investing in. Many employers have found a masters in leadership to be beneficial when it comes to motivating employees and negotiating deals. Similarly, you could send your employees on annual training courses, just to make sure the business is working with the most up to date methods.

 

Reward Current Clients

Many businesses have allowed their customers to do the hard work for them. Reward schemes that ask current clients to invite new clients to use the same business for a reward are highly likely to succeed. For example, you could offer your clients a 20% discount on their next shop when they refer a friend and that friend makes a purchase. It gives your customers more of an incentive to spread the word. The more people they refer, the more of a discount they get. The business won’t suffer any loss because it’s money that would have been spent on a different type of marketing anyway.

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Trade Shows

Trade shows are vital for bringing in new clients. It goes without saying that if people don’t know what your product does or what your business is about, they aren’t likely to spend money on you. As an established business, now isn’t the time to stop. Trade shows will always have fresh eyes and new businesses to make contacts with. Even if you only attend once a year, make sure you have a presence at the most relevant shows.

 

Gather Information

Knowing your target audience is the first step. The second is gathering as much information from clients as possible. Learn about the people most likely to buy from you. Make sure you get their email addresses for newsletters or updates and make note of the type of people reacting to social media posts. There are many different ways you can gather information about your clients. You can get some ideas here.

Bringing in more business doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be just as patient as you were when you were starting out.

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| Investing in Commercial Real Estate? Avoid These Errors

Posted in Finance at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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Investing in real estate is often said to be where the all the money is. While the reliability and profit margins of real investments is often overstated, there’s no denying that it can be an extremely lucrative area of investment. But what if you’re investing in commercial real estate? In that case, your returns could be even higher.

But it’s not exactly a walk in the park, nor is it all that similar to residential real estate investment. Many people who have found great success in the latter have moved onto commercial real estate, hoping to parlay their winnings and achieve even greater success. They often find themselves surprised by how different the two can be!

So it’s important not to go into this with too many assumptions. There are a lot of mistakes you could potentially make. We’re going to take a quick look at some of the biggest errors you can make in the world of commercial real estate investment.

 

Not Marketing the Property

There are loads of new businesses being created every day, and a lot of them need an area in which to do their work. So surely people are going to come to offices you’re investing in without you having to put in much effort? Wrong. Not only do you have to consider the fact that rival commercial real estate investors are engaging in marketing that will see their properties listed way ahead of yours; you also have to remember that more people are choosing to run businesses from home than ever. The right marketing can help combat both these problems. These properties are definitely not going to sell themselves!

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Neglecting Maintenance

A lot of investors in this area make the mistake of neglecting the maintenance needs of their properties. People tend to know that residential real estate needs a lot of maintenance and repair, but they may also assume that this isn’t that important when it comes to commercial properties, perhaps because people care less about their offices than they do their homes. This is a mistake. Ensure that all the properties receive the maintenance they need. If the building as a whole needs work, then ensure you’re hiring the right experts. A commercial roofing contractor, has the expertise to maintain and fix a roof that technically covers several properties.

 

Assuming All Prospective Tenants Are Wealthy

When people think about business owners, they often imagine very wealthy people; the kind of people who sit with their feet up on their desk all day, lighting cigars with burning $100 bills. The truth is many of them are people who have only owned their business for a couple of years and have perhaps not even turned much of a profit on their business yet. So if you’re thinking of jacking the rent of your properties up to staggering prices in order to get a healthy piece of all that business wealth, then you should probably rethink your approach. While you should also take care not to let yourself get a hard bargain on the lease, trying to squeeze these business owners is simply not a great strategy.

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| The Social Media Mistakes That Are Holding You Back

Posted in Marketing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

As a business owner, you’ll know how important it is to stay on top of all the latest social media trends that have proven effective. However, it’s equally important to be constantly looking for the mistakes that are dragging your social media strategy down, and then eliminating them. While the most damaging mistakes are usually nuances, here are a few of the more common ones that you need to avoid…

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Cross-Platform Automated Posts

Not too long ago, when scheduling and cross-platform triggers were a new thing, they were all that anyone could talk about. For the first time, you could use a simple interface to publish a given piece of content on one social network, and then automatically do the same across multiple other platforms. The convenience in this kind of tool is amazing, but automated, more or less identical posts, covering several platforms, really isn’t a good way for businesses to be using social media. Bear in mind that people are going to consume content in different ways depending on the social platform they’re using. What works on Instagram isn’t always going to work on Facebook, and certainly won’t work on LinkedIn. While there’s nothing wrong with scheduling posts in advance, you need to avoid pasting content over all of your channels, and tweak each planned post according to the platform.

 

Too Much Hashtagging!

When you’re hashtagging too much, it’s only going to come off as desperate and spammy, and won’t get you anything near the attention you’re going for with this cheap tactic. While hashtags can be a powerful tool in modern social media marketing, you need to be applying it carefully. If you’re planning to hashtag a certain post, you need to make sure it’s relevant and tasteful, and will only be used on platforms that actually support searching by hashtag. With LinkedIn, for example, you need to be careful about the way you use hashtags, as these are only searchable through the mobile version. Furthermore, you need to be searching the hashtags you come across yourself, and using this to assess the potential value in each one that you’re planning on using. If a certain hashtag is trending on Twitter, for example and you have a piece of content that’s relevant enough, then go ahead and use it. If you’re using more specialized ones, don’t expect your traffic to go through the roof!

 

Sharing Videos via Facebook

One of the biggest things to happen to social media marketing is that Facebook video uploads have overtaken YouTube by a significant margin. Although YouTube certainly has a lot of its own unique benefits, you really don’t want to be the only business owner who’s overlooking the potential of Facebook-based video content. Facebook users have been shown to interact with video content uploaded directly to the platform at a significantly higher rate compared to both photos, and videos linked in from YouTube. From here on, forget about linking videos to your social media channels. Instead, upload your video content to Facebook directly, and you’ll enjoy fantastic engagement.

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| Five Ways Technology Is Changing Businesses

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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After the Industrial Revolution, the business world stayed pretty much the same for a century or so, but that certainly can’t be said for recent times, and this will never happen again either. The reason for this is, of course, technology. It is adapting, mutating, and developing at a rapid pace, and it is constantly changing businesses and the way they work. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the different ways technology is changing businesses.

  1. The social impact – Gone are the days when businesses could exist in a vacuum. Social networking has meant that users can connect without any regard for financial background or geographical obstacle. Before, you could have gotten away with offering an average level of customer service, but nowadays, you can expect to feel the brunt of bad reviews and negative comments on social media websites. This is why businesses need to invest a lot into their social identity. Once something is on the Internet, it is on there forever, and it is incredibly difficult to shift a bad reputation.
  2. Taking advantage of more opportunities – Businesses are able to do more and achieve more thanks to the advances in technology. The medical sector is a prime example of this. Top software telemedicine companies have made it possible for those in the healthcare industry to have video appointments with their clients. This means that they can reach people that cannot get to their clinic and they can reduce the ever-growing problem of waiting times, which often occurs because people visit medical surgeries when they don’t really need urgent attention. These people can now have a consultation from the comfort of their home thanks to technology. And this is just one example; as all industries have felt the unexpected advantages of technology and experienced new channels open for them as a consequence of technological advancements.
  3. Customer segmentation – It is now easier than it ever has been to understand the customers you are looking for thanks to the flow of more and more data. Due to the expansion of analytics services, you can segment your prospective customers into smaller groups, enabling you to target them more specifically. This means businesses can get more for their marketing buck, so to speak.
  4. Cloud computing – Small and large businesses are able to move their operation to third-party services that are available via Internet connectivity thanks to cloud computing. The benefits of this are extensive. You can make the most of varied data packages, as well as rapid mobility and expansion without fear of permanently lost data, crashes, and downtime. This has been especially beneficial for small companies, as they can access resources that they would not have been able to before because of budget constraints.
  5. Mobile solutions – Last but not least, it would not be right to take about technology without mentioning mobile solutions. This is so important that Google has edited its algorithms so that websites with seamless mobile browsing are ranked higher. Plus, if you have the correct software downloaded onto your smartphone, you can handle every aspect of your business while you are on the go.
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| Are You Doing Enough To Keep Your Business Thriving?

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

When you’re moving forward with business, there are so many aspects that you need to consider. These may not be obvious to you, as the main view is on the what’s directly affecting the company at the time. Whether you are a startup or well established, the focus is always going to be on money and how much you can develop for yourself in the shortest amount of time possible – that’s just how business works. However, there are certain pitfalls that you need to be aware of in order to cover your back in the long run – and potentially save you money then, too.

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Take Care of Employees

The more you put in, the more you’ll get out – at least, that’s how it’s always been proven to work. Taking care of your employees and making sure that their rights are respected and adhered to is the very basic that you can do. Listening to them and improving their working conditions continually is something that will benefit the both of you. This is something that can be done weekly with staff meetings, or by simply keeping your office door open and ready to listen to what’s to be said. It could be something that’s majorly affecting your business that your staff would like to keep you informed about. Even if you have a low number of people on your payroll, this doesn’t mean that you have wait for your company to grow before you start taking them seriously. Good ideas come from minds that stick together and work together in unison.

 

Look At Your Working Space

There may be things around your office space or working environment which can definitely affect your pocket in the future – especially if they are unsafe. Things like skylight protectors, barriers, non-slip surfaces to walk on and the right lighting are all essentials that we don’t realize that we need until something bad happens. It’s always the way unfortunately, but by keeping one step ahead, you can usually overcome charges heading your way that have been thrown to you by poor conduct on your behalf.

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Outsource Enough

The main problem companies today are having financially is that they are not outsourcing enough of their work. Realistically speaking, keeping your work within your company and not looking for quicker, cheaper options which don’t require the creation of roles specifically for the small jobs that need doing is something that is never going to be able to save you money. You’re not cheating or doing anybody a disservice by outsourcing – in fact, you are helping thousands of freelancers to be able to stay in a job that they know and love, something that helpings to really build experts in the market. It is these experts that we need to employ to get the quick turnaround that our companies desire in order to be successful. The future is outsourcing, to be able to keep our businesses thriving. Look to see what you could outsource within your sector to keep afloat for longer.

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| What To Do When Your Business Is Falling Apart

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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While we all hope for our business to thrive, it’s not always the case. After all, there are a number of things which could jeopardize its success. For example, making poor financial errors or getting sued for a legal mistake could send your business on the wrong path. And then a lot of entrepreneurs think it’s the end of the road. But it doesn’t always mean your company has to end, and debt is on its way. In fact, there are some ways to turn things around. Therefore, here is what to do when your business is falling apart.

 

Look At Getting an Investor/Partner for the Company

When things take a turn for the worse, you might need to look for some outside help to get your business back on the straight and narrow. After all, their advice could help you to fix your company. Therefore, you might want to look into getting a partner who can assist you with ideas of how to turn things around for your business. And their financial contribution can also be beneficial if your business is struggling for money. After all, it might help you to clear your debts so your company can start making money again. In fact, if it’s financial contribution you need, an investor might be a good step forward. After all, as long as they see the potential of your company, they might shed some money to help you out of the sticky situation!

 

Time to Look at Selling the Business

It’s not always the case that you have to cut your losses and move on if your business is going under. In fact, even if your business has taken a turn for the worse, you might be able to sell it for a reasonable amount. After all, someone might be still keen to have your online business. In fact, you might want to go through a company like incomediary who can inform you about the best brokers. You can then get in touch with them to sell your online business. And you might be left surprised by the value of your business. After all, it still might be worth a good amount, even if things haven’t been going so well recently.

 

Look At Ways to Reverse the Damage

When things have taken a turn for the worse for your company, you need to think about whether you could do any damage control. After all, this could turn your business around for the better. And it can help to reverse the damage so that there is a future for your company. For one thing, if your company has been dragged through the mud due to a scandal, you might want to consider a PR campaign. After all, it can then show your business in a good light to build your reputation again. In fact, you might want to hire a PR specialist to help you do this. And if you are in debt, you ought to talk to the bank about a business loan. It can help you to pay off the debts and start again with a clear state!

And don’t forget to talk to a specialist. After all, there are companies out there who can help failing businesses get back on the right track.

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| Managing Your Office Move In Five Easy Steps

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Moving house is without question one of the hardest things that you’ll ever do – but moving offices are up there with things that will dramatically increase your stress levels. Not only do you have to deal with the physical demands like packing and finding a new building, but you also have to worry about how it’s going to affect the day to day running of your company. Here are some tips to help out…

 

Pick the Right New Office

First of all, you’ll be a whole lot less stressed out if you’re absolutely certain that you’re making the right decision in moving offices, so you need to ensure that you’ve picked the right new premises for your company to work in. Not only do you need to ensure that there’s enough space for the staff you have, but you need to make sure that there’s room for you to expand in there. If there are a few key members of your team that you can’t live without, ensure that the building isn’t significantly harder for them to get to – the time of your commute is something that can really impact how much people enjoy their jobs.

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Time It Carefully

It’s important for you to time the office move carefully – for example, if you run a celebrity news site, it probably isn’t a good time to move office during awards season at the start of the year or during the Cannes Film Festival or New York Fashion Week, as you’ll be even busier then than at other times of the year. Instead, pick a quiet time, and go for a weekend move instead of during the week – you can use Friday afternoons, which are usually quiet, to pack up, before moving over the weekend.

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Don’t Involve Everyone

It’s a good idea to make sure that you don’t involve absolutely everyone in the office with all your moving decisions – after all, too many cooks can spoil the broth. The office administrator can organize it while you seek the opinions of the people that you work most closely with.

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Hire Professional Movers

If you’re feeling stressed out about moving your office, it could be time to get the professional movers in – it’s very different transporting a whole load of computers and files than it is moving your possessions at home and it requires specialist skills. Companies like My Bekins specialize partly in office moves, so they’ll be able to advise you about how best to proceed and how you can pack up without anything getting broken or lost.

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Prepare To Work Remotely

Finally, make sure that you’ve made preparations to work remotely over the next week, even if it’s a last resort. Things don’t always go perfectly – the internet might not be working, things might not be sorted out, and in order to go on business as usual, you need to make sure that there are options in place so that people can work from home. Speak to your staff beforehand about what they can do.

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| Keep Your Business Engine Well-Oiled

Posted in Small Business at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

All of the separate parts of an engine need to be properly maintained, and well-oiled. If they are not, your car will come to a standstill, instead of driving forward. A business is much the same. It is not enough for you to be doing your job properly, if you want your business to be efficient then you need to make sure every separate aspect of it is functioning properly and that they all come together properly. Poor efficiency could be the reason that your sales have started to slow, so it needs to be sorted out as quickly as possible. If your business is in need of a few repairs, here are some simple ways that you can get the engine running again.

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Good Access to Information

If your employees don’t have easy access to the information they need, they will be wasting precious time trying to seek it out. In an office that I worked in, dealing with complaints, the company had a strict policy on information. Although this was partly for data protection reasons, it was a huge hassle. Requesting certain pieces of information, or authorization, that I needed to help customers could take up to two or three days. That delay was then passed on to the customer and you can be sure that the people I spoke to would definitely not recommend that company to anybody else. Obviously, there are some pieces of information that need to be kept secure, but the majority of things can be freely available to employees, meaning that they can deal with problems themselves without having to go higher. This saves their time and your time.

 

Motivation

This is key. If employees feel that they are undervalued, then they will not be enthusiastic about their work. I speak from experience here. I have worked in a few different offices and found that if I am treated with respect and given credit for my work, then I am a lot more productive than I was in jobs where management had a bad attitude towards employees. Visit moneysoldiers.com for some more detailed information on motivating your employees. The key areas to focus on are making them comfortable, letting them work independently, and offering them praise when they are successful. You’d be surprised just how much difference it makes.

 

 Clear Chain of Command

My favorite office job was working as an intern, helping to launch the website, for a small local company just after I graduated college. Though it wasn’t my dream job, the work was interesting and my colleagues were great. The only problem was the chain of command. The company was family run, by two brothers. Though it was clear which one was my boss, and which I worked most closely with. The other one would sometimes ask me to do things as well. It was unclear which work should take precedence as both said that theirs was important. In the end, I attempted to juggle both, rather than prioritizing one, meaning that I completed both tasks, but at a much slower rate for both. Without a clear chain of command, your employees will be unsure of what they should be doing and when.

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| Essential Tips for Business Trips!

Posted in Small Business at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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When your business is in its nascent stages, you usually need to keep things pretty local. But as it grows, moving away from its bedroom beginnings and expanding into the world of offices, you may find that your business takes you to completely new geographical locations. It may require you to make trips to new places in the city, or within the country, or maybe even around the world.

This travel is usually a very good sign of growth. After all, travel usually means that you’re meeting exciting new clients, or attending important events that can bring further weight to your company’s name in the eyes of others in the business world. But you need to be very careful, because business trips can be pretty tricky business!

This here is a quick guide to smoothing out the various complications that come with a business trip. Ensure that you consider all of these factors before you set off on your company adventure!

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Deciding Who Needs To Come Along

For some people, business travel is a bit of a drag. For others, it’s an exciting opportunity to do something new. The idea is especially enticing if you’re attending a famous and fun event – think E3 for those in the gaming industry. But your budget is unlikely to accommodate everyone who wants to go on a particular trip! Besides, you’re going to need to consider the times where particular people you’d like to see join you on the trip may actually be better kept in the office. It’s best if you are as strict as possible when it comes to the criteria for those who should come along. You shouldn’t just bring people along who just want to go on the trip and who won’t provide some specific and useful function. After all, when you do that you’re simply draining the office of an employee!

 

Special Accommodations

There are plenty of complications that come with travel, and medical ones are usually the trickiest to deal with. Someone you need on the trip may suffer from some form of motion sickness. Elevation sickness, for example, may make a plane trip very unpleasant for the employee in question. Particular diets may be hard to maintain in another country, too. Make sure you’re familiar with all of these needs – medical, dietary, and otherwise – when planning your trip.

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Planning Ahead

You should build an itinerary with your employees before you head off. Know what areas you’re going to be spending most of your time in and find out where the best and cheapest places for food and entertainment are. It can be difficult to find the best places for you when you haven’t planned out an itinerary beforehand, which can cause a lot of problems when you consider the aforementioned complications that some employees may have to deal with. Maps.Google.com is probably one of the best tools at your disposal here; you can look up the area in which you’re staying to get a good look at all the amenities available in that area, which you can generally arrange by quality and price.

 

Dealing with The Costs

If you’re really lucky, you can get help with the expenses of the trip from the client or business partner you’re travelling to meet or work with. Most of the time, however, this is something you’ll have to deal with by yourself. This is why it’s so important that you’re careful when it comes to selecting the employees who should be coming with you. Paying for accommodation and flights will, of course, be the biggest expense. It’s recommended that you search deal websites to help alleviate some of these costs. Websites like DontPayFull.com can help you locate such deals in the form of online coupons and discounts. When it comes to food and entertainment – well, this is why you need to research cheap places before you leave!

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Essential Documents

When you have several people coming with you on this trip, you’re going to have to take a lot of documents with you. There are the plane tickets if you’ve had them printed off beforehand. Passports are essential, unless you’ve found some magical way to get past country borders without them! VISA documents are also needed, though you can generally get these filled out on the plane there if anyone forgets them. You can read more about VISAs at Travel.State.gov. One of the best ways to ensure that everyone brings everything they need is for you all to meet at the office way ahead of time. Do an inventory check to ensure everyone has everything they need – if someone has forgotten something, you should leave enough time for them to retrieve it. Once everything is accounted for, then you should head to the airport.

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Transportation

One of the problems with going to a new location is how much you need to rely on public transport. This can be fairly manageable if you’re on your own, but if you’re dealing with a group then it’s rarely ideal. Not only that, but you also end up at the complete mercy of local public transport schedules and delays. Cabs can be very useful, of course, but ordering cabs for several people can be pretty inconvenient, not too much expensive – and, yes, this is assuming that everyone is going to get the same cab! You may want to consider renting a vehicle for the business trip. Resources such as Hertz.com offer discounts for business rentals, so it may end up being much cheaper than you may imagine.

 

Keeping Everyone in Contact

In some ways, a business trip like this is going to remind you a lot of school trips. You need to make sure everyone sticks together, or, at least, that you know where everyone is you split up. The key to ensuring everyone can stay in contact. Smartphones are essential, but you’re going to need to ensure everyone has roaming data available. This can be pretty expensive, so you may want to put such data down as business expenses instead of making your employees pay for it! Consider making sure everyone has something like WhatsApp on their phone – not only does this allow you to use local WiFi to contact each other, making the whole thing much cheaper, but it also enables you to use group chats, which will come in very useful.

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