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  1. 1. Volume I, Issue III February 2010 Letter From The Editor In today’s tough economic times, medium-sized businesses are required to think Special Points of outside the box and find tools to help sustain and grow their business. The Interest: Medium Business Alliance provides Information, Education, Resources and Network- ing to do just that.  Why Ethics Matter 2009 was an extremely challenging time for our nation, and medium businesses were hit hard. It was a  Drive Food Sales in year of penny-pinching and coupon clipping and “staycations”. Consumers were spending less and earn- A Tough Economy ing less. Businesses were forced to cut back on employees and spending, and many had to close their business for good.  Why Franchises Should Buy Their It is our goal to help the medium-sized businesses of America succeed in today’s economy. We have Own Property put together newsletters to provide education and information to our members. We also have a web- site that provides a list of resources to help businesses utilize companies, that we have researched and trust, for all business needs, many of these offering discounts. Along with the newsletter and resources, we have a member directory for members to browse in order to network with other medium busi- nesses. Inside this issue: Please take some time to read through this sample newsletter. We hope that you find it to be informa- tive and helpful. If you have any questions, please contact us at member- Technology 1 Technology: “How To” Series 3 Can Web Design Be Optimized? By Ajay Prasad Human Resources 4 Your web design is the face of your business online. Through designing, you are going to make an impact on your customers. While creating any website, the basic aspects of web design are- Financial 5 1. Content-The content is the substance of the website and should be relevant to the site. It should target the customers and visitors. Legal 6 2. Usability-The site should be user-friendly with the interface and navigation system simple and reliable. Member Spotlight 8 3. Appearance-The graphics and text should include a single style that flows throughout for consistency. Sales & Marketing 9 4. Visibility of the site-The site should be easy to find via most search engines. Optimization is a process of making something functional and effective. Web design optimization is a continu- New Members 10 ous process of improving the design to achieve business goals. An optimized web page loads quickly on the client’s system, so your website visitor can quickly get the information they (Continued on page 2)
  2. 2. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 2 had come for. The reasons for optimization are varied. These include increasing download speed, increasing its search engine ranking and applying modern web standards. Now the question arises-whether optimization of web design is possible or not. Here, we are going to discuss the ways for optimization. 1. Optimize Graphics For Web Use-Even today, a large number of people use dial up connection for web use. With slow browsing speed, they don’t want to wait for pages to load. And as a business owner, you can’t afford to lose a single cus- tomer. If you have a graphic intensive site, all you need to do is optimize your graphics for web use. Here optimizing means compressing the size of graphics for fast download. 2. Emphasize On Content-Make sure that the content of the website is laid out effectively. If you only concentrate on look and ignore the content, you can’t make an impact on your customers. You need to provide a concise, convincing message and information about your website, if you want your visitors to buy your product or service. Make sure that your content is simple and easy to understand. 3. Install A Navigation System That Compliments Search Engines-Navigation systems are built to help visitors find their way around your website. Therefore, they should be designed carefully to make them search engine friendly. Search en- gines need a chain of hypertext links starting at your home page that will take them page by page in your entire site. The problem is that if JavaScript and flash systems replace plain hyperlinks, the search engine may not be able to find the un- derlying pages. You can optimize the flash and images for better use and quick downloading. 4. Emphasize On Color, Shapes And Font Size-Things like color, shape and sizes of font can make a big impact on overall message. Using blue, green, silver, grey as color can create a calm effect. Using rounded corners instead of hard edges within your design can enable a soft and personalized feeling. 5. Keep It Simple- Look at some successful websites like Google that is very simple. Do not use bloated features. Keep your goals as well as visitor’s needs in mind when adding a feature. Ajay Prasad is the President of GMR Group of Companies. GMR Web Team is a based in Orange County, California. The company’s purpose is to provide small and medium businesses website design and main- tenance services at affordable rates. They have been in this business for the past 7 years.
  3. 3. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 3 How To: Seven Step Quiz for DRIVING FOOD SALES in a Tough Economy By Linda Duke, CEO, Duke Marketing 1. What is the quickest/fastest way to get more sales quickly during tough economic times? LARGE TO GO ORDERS. When sales slow the best way to get them back up quickly is to land yourself large to go or- ders. Try taking samples of your menu items to area car dealers and big box retailers (Best Buy, CostCo, etc.) and introduce yourself to the general manager. Ask if they would like to place an order with you for Saturday. Most every car dealer in the U.S. brings food in for their staff on Saturday’s since employees don’t leave for a lunch break. This is your chance to land some BIG sales EARLY on a Saturday. Call to ask for their order Fri- day evening or Saturday morning. If you get several orders take them yourself and offer something extra (free soda, cook- ies, chips). Then keep this up each week with retailers and car dealers. You can make your sales goal on a Saturday be- fore you even open for business with large to go orders. 2. Why is discounting NOT a good idea in a tough economy? Looking desperate will only hurt your brand and your value. Guests will NOT understand after a particular menu item is discounted and then afterward when you raise the price back to regular. You will be left with the only one continue discounting. DON’T discount or cut prices. Try other tactics before doing ANYTHING drastic. 3. When it’s time to lean it is time to _____(finish the sentence). When its time to LEAN, it’s time to CLEAN. During slow business it is a good time to have your staff get your restaurant spotless. Create a chore list and keep them busy making the kitchen, bathrooms, dining room and parking lot clean. Maybe your kitchen needs a major steam cleaning and dishes polished. Keep track of the accomplishments and give the team an incentive to keep up the good work. 4. What is the best way to drive TRIAL? SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE. During slow times it is a perfect opportunity to take samples of your best tasting menu items out to area businesses, groups, organizations and teams. Before lunch, take samples of your food and menus to area businesses, after lunch try visiting banks, chamber of commerce and non- profits and discuss upcoming events to participate. Before dinner, try sampling at sports fields, gyms, and hand out free appetizer or drink coupons to get them in! 5. What are the best menu items to promote during tough economic times? PROMOTE high margin, low cost menu items. Instead of spending time and money introducing new menu items during slow periods, reintroduce your best selling, highest margin and lowest food cost item. Keep it simple! 6. What is the most cost effective advertising medium to generate awareness during tough economic times? TRADE! Use your food in place of cash for radio advertising! Give away gift certificates to a local radio station to get on-air mentions. 7. What type of marketing focus is the most important during difficult economic times? Keep loyal guests HAPPY! Even your best guests may be having a hard time with the economy, so be sure to offer them something ex- tra. Spend some extra time finding out what they like about your restaurant and your food and get their feedback. Every- one loves to be heard, and then make changes if the ideas and feedback warrant it. Linda Duke, one of the restaurant industry’s foremost marketing experts, started Duke Marketing in 1987 specializing in marketing for multi- location and franchise organizations. Ms. Duke has consulted with top restaurant brands in the United States, and is a nationally recognized speaker and educator and a published author, She speaks frequently at restaurant industry and client conferences, and is a member of the board of directors of the California Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation and the Fast Casual Restaurant Ex- ecutive Alliance. For more information please see: Ms. Duke can be reached at
  4. 4. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 4 Human Resources: Tips to Reducing Employee Time Off All employers have to deal with the unfortunate reality that up being sick. Also, sick employees are not very focused employees will call in sick. While a day every now and on the task at hand and sales can be missed or injuries can then does not have a drastic effect on the business, long- occur. term sick leave can have devastating effects on the business as a whole. Finding ways to limit sickness and loss of pro- Having good relationships with your employees helps re- duction while employees are out due to sickness will duce sick time and pay. Open communication between greatly benefit your company. your employee and yourself, their direct supervisor or HR manager will help the employee be more forthcoming Employee sickness affects the business in many ways. The about issues. How time off is managed and how comfort- primary issue is the cost of paying an employee while they able employees feel speaking with you or members of your are at home and not producing any revenue. Also, when staff regarding their problems and illnesses will allow you an employee is out, other employees may become frus- to make better decisions. trated because they depend on the missing employee to provide a certain duty. If an employee is out due to a long- We hear more and more about employees taking “mental term sickness, an employer may have to bring in a temp to health days”; they are not sick but would just like a day off. replace them, which costs the company loss of even more For a business, this is not ideal, unless handled properly. revenue. By allowing employees to take mental health days means that they will come in the following day refreshed and Putting policies in place as to how your company handles ready to work. Because these employees are not sick, sick days is necessary. Employees should call before their these days can be scheduled in advance. Make it known to shift so that you can make adjustments as necessary to fill employees that you allow mental health days as long as their role. If the employee will be out for more than three they follow the guidelines and schedule these days with you days, require a doctor’s note before returning to work. in advance. This will allow you to plan for a day that is This way you know that the doctor has cleared the em- normally slow or give you the ability to schedule someone ployee to return to work and will not risk infecting your else to cover their shift prior to that day. entire office. Businesses will always have the inopportune task of dealing Employees coming to work sick have more of a negative with sick employees. However, this should not have as effect on a business than them staying home. The saying, detrimental effect on your business if it is managed cor- “Don’t call in sick, crawl in sick” does not benefit the com- pany in any way. Employees coming in sick to work will rectly. By following these guidelines you should be able to very likely spread the germs and the entire office will end decrease unnecessary time off and increase overall produc- tivity.
  5. 5. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 5 Financial: Why Franchisees Should Buy Their Property By Chris Hurn ness when you know one of your largest expenses is fixed. 4. You can reduce real estate expenses by up to 40 percent. Many of the business owners we work with are able to lower their monthly real estate expenses simply by own- ing instead of renting, and doing it with the right financing (more on that to come). If you take into account the av- erage property appreciation and your fixed costs versus an average yearly rental increase of 2.5 percent, owning Despite a bleak outlook, the sky isn’t falling and all is not your commercial property over just a 10-year time period lost. There are still ways to grow wealth, even in “softer” is a much smarter financial decision than renting. And we economic times, and one of the quickest, easiest and safest haven’t even mentioned the tax advantages and legal ways is to own commercial property. “income-sheltering” this provides. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that when done cor- 5. You’ll stop throwing away your money on rent. rectly, real estate is “about the safest investment in the world.” It makes perfect sense to own the real estate As with No. 2 above, your real estate expenses could be working to build you equity. But if you’re renting instead our businesses occupy. of owning, you’re effectively throwing money away and The following are seven reasons why franchisees, when missing out on a huge opportunity to create wealth for possible, should consider owning their commercial your growing franchise. property: 6. You can fulfill a dream. 1. You can pay yourself, rather than make your The first step toward creating wealth and financial free- landlord wealthy. dom comes when you decide to own your home. Then, If you’re renting now, your rent payments are fattening your landlord’s wallet when they could be benefiting “If you own your you. commercial property, you can 2. You will build equity and grow your asset. become the landlord, growing Over the past 50 years, commercial property as an as- rich while you sleep, even after set class has appreciated an average of 3.5 percent per year. This is a long-term investment that will pay off substantially down the road, regardless of what Wall you’ve closed or sold your Street does over the next several months. business.” you decide to open a franchise and be your own boss 3. You can control/fix your real estate expenses. rather than work for somebody else. The next step - what I call the “newest American Dream” - is to own There’s no need to put up with rent escalators year your commercial property. Author James Champy, in after year. When you purchase your property, be sure “The Arc of Ambition,” wrote that Michael Dell admitted to fix your interest rate for as long as possible. This he never dreamed of a future in technology when he was way, you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay month-to- young. Instead, he received inspiration from seeing many month and year-to-year. You’ll have much more free- (Continued on page 6) dom to better allocate resources and grow your busi-
  6. 6. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 6 new buildings on his way to school, and in front of each Is now the right time? were flags flying. He confessed that his youthful ambition was to own such a building with a flagpole, and when Despite news reports that we’re headed for a terrible asked if he’d done that, Dell answered, “Yes, and I’ve got recession, commercial property is still a great investment. three flagpoles.” Now may be the best time in a long time to buy commer- cial property. Franchisees have a once-in-a-generation 7. You will own your real estate even after you sell chance to make a smart investment that will benefit their your business. businesses, create wealth and pave their path toward a carefree retirement. If you own your commercial property, you can become the landlord, growing rich while you sleep, even after Making the Smart choice you’ve closed or sold your business. This passive income can be the basis of a carefree retirement. I would be remiss if I didn’t include some sort of applica- tion - the “how” for all this. Again, it’s not impossible for The franchisor’s perspective franchisees to get financing for commercial property. One of the best tools available to franchisees is the Smart- If franchisees are able to enjoy all of these benefits by Choice Commercial Loan, otherwise known as the SBA owning instead of renting their property, it stands to rea- 504. It’s designed to preserve more capital (equity re- son franchisors should encourage franchisees to own quirements are a third to half as much as traditional bank whenever possible. Of course, this won’t apply to all con- loans) and have less impact on cash flow (with longer cepts, but many restaurants, hotels, day care facilities and terms and below-market, fixed interest rates). Many busi- other brands that can occupy free-standing buildings will ness owners unwisely still view the SBA as a last resort see a boost from this. As franchisees increase their net for financing, but smart franchisees will always promptly worth and grow their businesses, they’ll have the confi- consider at the 504 loan, because it really is the Smart dence to open more units faster than they could if they Choice for smaller franchise operators. It can make a merely rented their commercial property. huge difference in the life of your franchise. Chris Hurn is the CEO and Cofounder of Mercantile Capital Corporation. MCC specializes in providing SBA-guaranteed 504 loans to franchise companies. You can reach him at 407-786-5040, or by visiting You can also read more of his musings at Legal: Why Ethics Matter-A Business Without Values is a Business at Risk By Dawn-Marie Driscoll and W. Michael Hoffman Talking about values has become an industry. Best-selling Diversity: Individuals of different ages, religions, and books promote earthly virtues for living and spiritual val- gender clearly have distinct and perhaps contrasting ues for reflecting. Conventional wisdom—and opinion ideas about appropriate ways to behave in an or- leaders such as the Dalai Lama and the late Basil Cardinal ganization, depending upon their perspective and Hume—believe that the decade of greed is evolving into life experiences. Their interpretations of the same an era in which many people are seeking the meaning of set of facts, as well as their response to them, may life. differ widely. Globalization: Individuals raised in diverse cultures That’s all fine. But the last time we looked, the business may have different reactions to various questions world was still engaged in delivering goods and services or issues. Instead of describing some actions as and making a profit. Does that mean that business ethics ethical and others unethical, some prefer to say are an oxymoron? No. Values have a pragmatic place in they are dealing with cultural sensitivities. But that the business world precisely because of society’s shifting doesn’t help companies or their employees under- sands. Name any of the currents that are buffeting organi- stand what is expected of them. zations today and you’ll find a rationale for values-driven Cost pressures: Often eliminated in rounds of cost- management. Here are a few: cutting are the compliance police and structural (Continued on page 7)
  7. 7. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 7 backups designed to prevent misdeeds. Individuals are of a multiplicity of 24-hour media outlets makes it increasingly left on their own to make decisions. imperative that the manager’s first response be the Virtual work: With so many employees out in the field, right one. working from home or at other diverse locations, a common organizational standard of behavior is diffi- cult to assimilate from afar. “Employee morale is also higher in a Strategic alliances: The individuals you work with on a daily basis may not be fellow employees. They may be company that has well-developed customers, suppliers, or even competitors, who are values and lives by them. A not even a part of your own organizational culture and business goal framework. commitment to shared values, Teamwork: Hierarchical management structures are being replaced by teams, with leadership earned by rather than a culture that is based personal skill rather than title. This eliminates the on distrust of employees, “because I told you so” standard of decision making. Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship: Many com- encourages employees to aspire to panies are encouraging employees at the lowest pos- success.” sible level to take risks, innovate, and even spend company resources, acting like owners of the busi- ness. With responsibility for major decisions comes the necessity to act responsibly. Start With the Law Talking about values is hard work Deregulated government: As regulation is replaced by because the meaning is subject to interpretation. The best voluntary industry and company codes, government place to start is to consider a few basic values appropriate laws and enforcement are no longer the only or the to the economic structure of your company, the commu- complete resources for those looking for answers or nity, and the industry. The lowest common denominator limitations. Of course, they never really were but, is the law, and thus, is a logical place to begin. Glenn more often than not, business acted as if they were. Coleman, former director of communications and training Competitive, 24-hour media: Few organizations have in the office of ethics and business conduct at EDS, pro- the luxury of time to figure out what the right re- poses that companies first make a list of laws, regulations, sponse should be to an ethical crisis, particularly if the and procedures that apply to them. It might be a short crisis is public rather than private. When a crisis oc- list, but it will remind managers of obvious prohibitions. curs in the public eye, the aggressive competitiveness These legal prohibitions may lead to the next level and suggest ideas about what’s moral, ethical, and valued in the organization. A discussion of values implies agreement that a company will do more than just what is legally re- quired. However, narrowing down a long list of other values that will apply to work is not easy. Managers may want to start with the obvious ones, such as a moral obli- gation not to cause harm, steal, and lie. How do these play out in a work situation? For example, if we agree we have an obligation not to cause harm, how will that work in our corporate culture? The Thoikol engineers who were hesitant about the safety of the O-ring in cold tem- peratures no doubt could point to how the attitude of the Challenger space managers inhibited their ability to push their concerns up to the final decision makers. After all seven astronauts were killed in the resulting explosion, investigators suggested that NASA officials were operating in a “get-this-launched-at-all-costs” culture rather than one in which “safety first” was the predominant value. (Continued on page 8)
  8. 8. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 8 Organization values can’t be selected by three top manag- success. A study by professors at Bentley University found ers brainstorming in a conference room for an hour. Se- that among the benefits of a value-based culture are in- lection of the core values for an organization should be creased awareness of ethical issues, commitment to the guided by three words: test, test, and test. If employees at organization, employee integrity, willingness to communi- all levels of the organization don’t respond positively to cate openly about problems, willingness to report an eth- the values emphasized, chances are that the effort will be ics violation to management, improved decision making, fruitless. willingness to seek advice about ethical issues, and re- duced unethical conduct. Choose to Do the Right Thing It seems clear that businesses without values are busi- Perhaps the best reason for value-based management nesses at risk. Their reputations suffer in the marketplace, comes from Center for Business Ethics Executive Fellow depressing stock prices and eroding consumer confidence. Emeritus John Casey, who wrote Ethical Decisions in the Recruitment of talented personnel is more difficult. Many Financial Marketplace.“Laws alone are a poor substitute for companies now perform due diligence on companies they morality. The greatest blessing of living in a free society is are considering as partners or suppliers, and are passing that we have the ability to steer ourselves. Once we give on those that don’t meet their ethical standards. up that ability, that privilege, we risk losing sight of the ethical spirit and the law becomes a cage. We’ll do, as so Employee morale is also higher in a company that has well many others have done in this century, just what we’re -developed values and lives by them. A commitment to told to do. The world can no longer afford that kind of shared values, rather than a culture that is based on dis- obedience.” trust of employees, encourages employees to aspire to Excerpted with permission from Ethics Matters: How to Implement Values- Driven Management by Driscoll and Hoffman of the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Center for Business Ethics promotes integrity and trust in business by encouraging the establishment of organizational cultures and practices that drive ethically responsible deci- sion making and conduct to create long-term economic, social, and environmental value. The center staff pursues this mission through the application of expertise, research, education, and a collaborative approach to dissemination of best practices. Visit for more information. Member Spotlight D & A Development and Consulting, Inc. is a full service commercial real estate development and consulting com- pany. Founded on the principal that we live in a relationship driven world, all of their clients and business associates are treated fairly and with the utmost level of respect. Their passion lies in creating, whether it be a project from the ground up or a unique solution to your challenges. D & A Development and Consulting, Inc. offers services such as project development, consulting, site analysis, market analysis, financial modeling, project management, budget preparation, zoning/entitlements, contract negotiation, construc- tion management and lease negotiation among many others. To see how D & A Development and Consulting, Inc. can help your business, contact Jeff Pape at jeff@dna- or reach him directly at 404-386-5710. For more information, please visit
  9. 9. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 9 Sales and Marketing: The Mystery of Channel Preference By Justin Jackson It is increasingly more difficult to manage communi- cation with customers and prospects because of the following conditions; new channels are introduced as technology advances, old channels are made obso- lete and perceptions change, branding and image are no longer controlled solely by that company or its marketing department, and the pace of business in general is accelerating. Social media, mobile marketing, and even common direct mail options have created a web of customer contact that is very complicated. Customers and prospects can still be grouped and preferences can still be determined, but even the performance measurement tools that are used to sort these preferences are becoming more convoluted. Layered on top of the communication strategy is an expanding depth and breadth of demographics, psychographics, and lifestyle characteristics. The groups by design are becoming more targeted, with the ultimate goal to be marketing one to one. Traditional telemarketing and catalog efforts have taken a beating for their intrusive nature or lack of “greenness”. But common best practices still exist. Not never been more critical. Marketing departments must every customer is ready to enter the on-line digital commu- see and hear and react to feedback generated. They nication stream. Of a company’s entire base of customers, a must also be ahead of this feedback when possible. certain percentage will continue to respond as they have to these methods for years. The trick is not spending addi- The reason that marketing departments must stay pro- tional dollars to move them to a channel that isn’t right for active is because business is now moving ahead so them. Understanding in advance which groups might have a fast. Trends become evident and disappear in weeks propensity to respond to email marketing will lower the instead of months, making it difficult for a pure play overall investment and improve end results. With contin- cataloger to react, when testing and implementation can ued analysis of the off line audience, subtle adjustments can take nearly six months. Market statistics are more improve the bottom line on these customers as well. The readily available; the economy has been and will con- market has changed, even small incremental savings are wel- tinue to be front page news for years, and more media comed by organizations as attitudes and expectations outlets are created every day. And these factors only change toward growth and profitability. take into account the current market, without regard to international growth. Innovation will be essential in Channel preference also extends to how a company can handling each of the business challenges that company’s receive feedback and insights from its customer base. The face going forward. blogging and tweeting worlds have given a voice to the masses and that voice impacts branding efforts. Listening to customers, a strategy that strongly perpetuates success has Justin Jackson is an Account Executive with over 10 years of experience in consultative sales in the multi-channel arena. Email any questions to or check out the website: http://
  10. 10. Medium Business Alliance Volume I, Issue III Page 10 A membership with the Medium Business Alliance provides you with an information-packed newsletter, entry into our Member Directory and use of the MBA Member Logo. In addition, you will have access to 25 companies that offer their products and services to our members, some of them at significant discounts. These discounts will more than pay for your annual membership dues of $100. AND we are adding more companies every month! Products and Services Available Financial Services-Merchant Cash Advance, Factoring, Asset Based Lending, Loans, Payroll/Accounting, Merchant Processing Business Supplies and Services-Office Supplies, Office Furniture, Computers, Online Meetings/Webinars, Printers, Insurance and more Marketing and Web-Logos, Free Incorporation, Free Business Cards, Promotional Items, Web Design Travel-Hotels, Car Rentals, All-inclusive packages for Business and Leisure IT and Telephony-VoIP Human Resources and Training-Books, Manager Training Miscellaneous-Identity Protection, Beverages Estimated annual savings on products and services that are used by medium businesses every day - $500 Go to today to join! New Member Listings YOUR COMPANY’S NAME HERE! Contact us at THIS IS NOT INVESTMENT, TAX OR LEGAL ADVICE. Contact your financial advisor, accountant or attorney before making important decisions in any of these areas. Medium Business Alliance, L.L.C. Copyright © 2009. Medium Business Alliance, L.L.C. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or oth- erwise used, except with the prior written permission of Medium Business Alliance, L.L.C.