How to Start a Business in 2017: A Complete Guide for Startup Entrepreneurs

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When you start an online business, there are thousands of questions that need answering. How much money do you really need to start a business? How do you register it with the government? How do you build a website? Who’s your target customer, and what tactics and messaging should you use to reach them?

You’ll quickly find that coming up with the idea for a new business is the easy part. Actually executing on that idea is where it gets interesting.

Execution is what differentiates a great thinker from an entrepreneur.

Everyone wants more visitors, more qualified leads, and more revenue. But starting a business isn’t one of those "if you build it, they will come" situations. In order to build a successful company, you’ll need to create and fine-tune a business plan, assess your finances, complete all the legal paperwork, pick your partners, choose the best tools and systems to help you get your marketing and sales off the ground … and a whole lot more.

We’re here to guide you through that process. In this post, you’ll find a library of the best free tools and resources to help you start selling and marketing your business. Keep scrolling, and you’ll find a guide on how to start a business, from the paperwork and finances to defining your business goals to building and growing your business online.

Free Tools & Resources for Startups

Before we dive into our list, we want to make sure you know about our scholarship program HubSpot for Startups. It's a 90% scholarship for seed-stage startups that includes all of HubSpot's software and tools to help you acquire customers and grow, as well as unlimited technical support and access to HubSpot's community of thousands of founders worldwide, You can learn more and apply to the HubSpot for Startups program here.

Now, let's get into HubSpot's best free marketing and sales tools and resources, followed by a complete guide for how to set up and finance your business.

The Best Free Marketing Resources

Marketing Plan: A Blueprint for Start-Ups

A 20-page guide that covers how to build a sales and marketing machine, which demand generation activities with the biggest return on investment, and more.

HubSpot Marketing Free

Our free marketing tool that gives you insight into what every lead does before and after they fill out a form. It includes built-in analytics that make it easy to learn which pages, offers, and traffic sources are driving the most conversions for you.

Website Grader

Enter your website URL and email address, and we'll send you a detailed grade on your website's performance, mobile, SEO, and security, along with detailed tips and resources for making impactful improvements on your website.

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Press Release Templates

Downloadable press release templates you can customize, along with a corresponding guide to building a press release and promotion plan.

Case Study Templates

Downloadable case study templates that show you a sample case study structure from top to bottom, along with business case study examples, tips on finding the right candidates, advice on how to reach out to them, and sample interview questions to inform your case study content.

386+ Content Creation Templates

Free templates for all your visual content creation needs when you're first starting a business. The kit includes 100 social media image templates, 8 PowerPoint presentation templates, 50 call-to-action templates, 15 infographic templates, 5 ebook templates, 5 blog post templates, and more.

How to Create Email Newsletters

A guide with tips for writing, designing, optimizing, and measuring a successful email newsletter -- including some awesome, real-life examples of great email newsletters.

The Best Free Sales Resources

Email Signature Generator

A free tool that creates a professional email signature you can easily add to your Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, Yahoo Mail, or any other email provider.

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21 Sales Email Templates

A list of 21 email templates that have been used with great success by real companies like us here at HubSpot, as well as folks at Troops, Chet Holmes International, FEED Agency, and Groove. These email templates have closed a $100,000 deal, seen an 80% response rate within 24 hours after a phone call, and received a 33% response rate after the prospect went dark.

Sales Call Scripts

An easy-to-follow sales call checklist that can help you build rapport and develop trust, understand the prospect’s pain points, identify key decision-makers, and secure a follow-up meeting.

Daniel Pink's Sell Like a Human Video Series

A monthly video series where Sales Expert Daniel Pink and special guests will solve your biggest sales challenges in under 30 minutes.

Sales Process Template

A simple, easy-to-follow sales process template to help managers coach their inside sales reps into following a proven, standardized process from discovery to close. It also includes which key activities sales reps must follow to keep deals moving forward, and important sales strategies for increasing productivity, efficiency, and data visibility.

Sales Close Rate

Compare your sales close rate against your industry competitors using data from over 8,900 companies segmented by 28 industries.

Sales Email Copywriting Course

The language and tone you use in your sales emails can make or break your sales deals. This course was created by Joanna Wiebe, the creator of Copy Hackers and the original conversion copywriter. In it, she covers how to write sales emails that help you close more deals.

The Best CRM

HubSpot CRM is the only free CRM that lets you manage your pipeline, automate the most tedious sales tasks, and make it easier to close deals quickly. You'll end up doing more deals and less data entry. Plus, you can manage up to 1,000,000 contacts, users, and storage without any expiration date.

Now that we've covered the best tools and resources for starting a business, let's get into how to actually start one.

How to Start a Business: A Complete Guide

Starting a business involves a whole lot of moving pieces, some more exciting than others. Brainstorming business names? Fun! Filing taxes? ... Not so fun. The trick to successfully getting your business off the ground is to meticulously plan and organize your materials, prioritize properly, and stay on top of the status and performance of each and every one of these moving parts.

From registering with the government to getting the word out about your business to making key financial decisions, here’s an overview of what you'll need to do to start a successful business.

The Legal Paperwork

Business Structure, Government Registration, Taxes & More

The not-so-romantic part of a starting a new business is all the paperwork and legal activities. This includes things like determining the legal structure of your business, nailing down your business name, registering with the government, and -- depending on your business structure and industry --  getting a tax code, a business license, and/or a seller’s permit. 

Furthermore, businesses are regulated on the federal, the state, and sometimes even local level. It’s important to check what’s required on all three of those levels. When you register your business with the government, be sure you’re covering registration on all the levels required for your business’ location. Your business won’t be a legal entity without checking these boxes, so stay on top of it. 

Clearly, it can be overwhelming to figure out what legal steps you need to take for your particular case, so let’s break it down. Below, you’ll find a brief explanation of what goes into each one of these steps, along with links to helpful resources where you can dig in to the details. (Note: These steps are for starting a business in the U.S. only.) 

Legal Structure: The 4 Common Business Types

The legal structure of your business will determine what you need to do to register with the government, how you’re taxed, what risks you need to take on, and so on. Many people starting a business will choose to register either as a corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) because those two structures will give owners limited liability protection. But, on the other hand, there’s a lot more paperwork and expense associated with a corporation or LLC.

Here’s a list of four common business structures, along with the pros and cons of each and how taxes work for each one.

1) Sole Proprietorship

Example: Freelance graphic design.

What it is: A sole proprietorship is a business that’s owned and run by one person, where the government makes no legal distinction between the person who owns the business and the business itself. It’s the simplest and most common way to operate the business, and the business can even have its own distinctive name if you register what’s called a Doing Business Name (DBA). We’ll get back to that in the “Naming Businesses” section.

Pros: It’s easy and inexpensive to create a sole proprietorship because there’s only one owner, and that owner has complete control over all business decisions. Tax preparation is also pretty simple since a sole proprietorship is not taxed separately from its owner

Cons: It can be dramatically more difficult to raise money and get investors or loans because there’s no legal structure that promises repayment if the business fails. Also, since the owner and the business are legally the same, the owner is personally liable for all the debts and obligations of the business.

How taxes work: The individual proprietor owns and manages the business and is responsible for all transactions, including debts and liabilities. Income and losses are taxed on the individual’s personal income tax return at ordinary rates. In addition, you are also subject to payroll taxes, or self-employment taxes, on the money you earn. (More on self-employment taxes later.) Find IRS tax forms here.

2) Partnership 

Example: Multiple doctors maintaining separate practices in the same building.

What it is: A partnership is a single business where two or more people share ownership, and each owner contributes to all aspects of the business as well as shares in the profits and losses of the business.

Pros: It’s generally pretty easy to form a business partnership, and it doesn’t tend to be super expensive, either. Having two or more people equally invested in the business’ success allows you to pool resources. It also means you have access to more than one person’s skill set and expertise.

Cons: Just like a sole proprietor, partners have full, shared liability if the business goes south. That also means that partners aren’t just liable for their own actions, but also the actions of their partner(s). There is a variant on partnerships called a limited liability partnership, or LLP, that protects against that -- which is how most law firms are organized, for example.

Finally, when more than one person is involved in decisions, there’s room for disagreement -- which means it’s important to have an explicit agreement over how the obligations and earnings will be split, especially if/when things go wrong.

How taxes work: To form a partnership, you have to register your business with your state, a process generally done through your Secretary of State’s office. Find IRS tax forms here

3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Example: A small design firm.

What it is: LLCs are a type of business structure that's more complex than sole proprietorships and partnerships, but less complex than corporations. They are called “pass-through entities” because they’re not subject to a separate level of tax. Most states don’t restrict ownership on LLCs, and so members can include individuals, corporations, and even other LLCs and foreign entities. Most states also permit “single-member” LLCs, those having only one owner.

Pros: Founders have a lot of flexibility when it comes to governance issues.

Cons: LLCs are often more complex than sole proprietorships or partnerships, which means higher initial costs, and certain venture capital funds are hesitant to invest in LLCs because of tax considerations and the aforementioned complexity. That being said, they’re simpler to operate than a corporation because they aren’t subject to as many formalities.

How taxes work: LLCs have the benefit of a “flow-through” tax treatment, meaning that the owners -- not the LLC -- are the ones who are taxed. Having only one level of tax imposed makes taxes easier. Find IRS tax forms here.

4) Corporation 

Example: Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Toyota Motor, and almost all well known businesses.

What it is: A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners, and has most of the rights and responsibilities that an individual possesses (to enter into contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets, and pay taxes.) It’s more complex than the other business structures, and it’s generally suggested for larger, established companies with multiple employees.

Pros: They make seeking venture financing easy.

Cons: Because they’re complex than other business structures, they can have costly administrative fees, and more complicated tax and legal requirements.

How taxes work: Corporations are required to pay federal, state, and in some cases, local taxes. Any profit a corporation makes is taxed to the corporation when earned, and then is taxed to the shareholders when distributed as dividends, which creates a double tax. The corporation does not get a tax deduction when it distributes dividends to shareholders. Shareholders cannot deduct any loss of the corporation, but they are also not responsible directly for taxes on their earnings -- just on the dividends they give to shareholders. Find IRS tax forms here.

Choosing & Registering Your Business Name

Establishing a business name is a little more complicated than making a list and picking your favorite. You’ll use the legal name of your business on all your government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses, and permits.

If you’re using a name other than your personal name, then you need to register it with your state government so they know you’re doing business with a name other than your given name. 

First thing’s first: Before you register, you need to make sure the name you want is available in your state. Business names are registered on a state-by-state basis, so it’s possible that a company in another state could have the same name as yours. This is only concerning if there’s a trademark on the name. Do a Trademark search of your desired name to avoid expensive issues down the road.

Speaking of who’s using which names online, see if your desired domain names are available by doing an online domain search. Do the same with your desired social media handles. If the domain name and/or social media handles you want aren’t available, then some of you might consider changing your business name. 

For new corporations and LLCs: Your business name is automatically registered with your state when you register your business -- so you don’t have to go through a separate process. There are rules for naming a corporation and LLC, which you can read about here.

For sole proprietorships, partnerships, and existing corporations and LLCs (if you want to do business with a name other than their registered name), you’ll need to register what’s called a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name. You can do so either by going to your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending which state you’re in. Learn how to do that here.

Want to trademark your business name? A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Filing for a trademark costs less than $300, and you can learn how to do it here.

All About Business Taxes

Business owners are obligated to pay specific federal taxes, and the amount of those taxes is determined by the form of business entity that you establish. All businesses except for partnerships need to file an annual income tax return. Partnerships file what’s called an information return

Any business that’s owned and operated in the United States needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for on the IRS’ website here.

Once you’re registered, it’s time to figure out which taxes you’ll be responsible for.

Self-employment tax (SE tax) is a Social Security and Medicare tax for people who work for themselves, i.e. business owners. SE taxes require filing Schedule SE (Form 1040) if your net earnings from self-employment were $400 or more. (Note: There are special rules and exceptions for fishing crew members, notary public, and more, which you can read about on the IRS’ website here.)

When you have employees, you (as the employer) have certain employment tax responsibilities that you need to pay, as well as forms you need to file. Employment taxes include Social Security and Medicare taxes, federal income tax withholding, and federal unemployment (FUTA) tax. Learn more about employment taxes for small businesses on the IRS’ website here.

Excise taxes are also something you need to consider, depending what you sell, where you operate, and so on. For example, in the U.S., there’s a federal excise tax on certain trucks, truck tractors, and buses used on public highways. See which excise taxes you might be responsible for on the IRS’ website here

Seller’s Permit

If your business sells tangible property to the public either as a wholesaler or retailer, then in most states, you need to apply for a seller’s permit. “Tangible property” simply means physical items, like clothing, vehicles, toys, construction materials, and so on. In some states, a seller’s permit is required for service-oriented business, too, such as accountants, lawyers, and therapists.

The seller’s permit allows you to collect sales tax from buyers. You’ll then pay that sales tax to the state each quarter by putting the sales tax permit number on the state’s tax payment form. 

You can register for a seller's permit through your state's Board of Equalization, Sales Tax Commission, or Franchise Tax Board. To help you find the appropriate offices, find your state on this IRS website

Business License

Almost every business needs some form of license or permit to operate legally -- but the requirements vary, which can get confusing. Which specific licenses or permits does your business need? To figure that out, go to this SBA.gov website and select the state from which you’re operating your business. It’ll tell you the specific license and permit requirements in that state. 

Financing your Business

From the day you start building your business until the point where you can make a consistent profit, you need to finance your operation and growth with start-up capital.

Some founders can finance their business entirely on their own dime or through friends and family, which is called “bootstrapping.” This obviously gives the business owners a ton of flexibility for running the business, although it means taking on a larger financial risk -- and when family’s involved, can lead to awkward holiday dinner conversations if things go wrong.

Many founders need external start-up capital to get their business off the ground. If that sounds like you, keep on reading to learn about six of the most common kinds of external capital you can raise.

1) Seed Financing 

If you’re looking for a relatively small amount of money, say, the investigation of a market opportunity or the development of the initial version of a product or service, then seed financing might be for you. Oftentimes, this money will come from the founders themselves, from friends and family, from angel investors, and even from potential customers.

There are many different kinds of seed financing, but the one you’ve probably heard of most is called seed round financing. In this case, someone will invest in your company in exchange for preferred stock. If your company gets sold or liquidated, then investors who hold preferred stock often have the right to get their investment back -- and, in most cases, an additional return, called “preferred dividends” or “liquidation preferences” -- before holders of common stock are paid. 

2) Accelerators

Accelerators are highly competitive programs that typically involve applying and then competing against other startups in a public pitch event or demo day. In addition to winning funding and seed capital, winners of these programs are also rewarded with mentorship and educational programs.

Although accelerators were originally mostly tech companies and centered around Silicon Valley, you can now find them all over the country and in all different industries. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, here’s a list of the top accelerators in the United States to get you started.

3) Small Business Loan 

If you have a really rock-solid plan for how you’ll spend the money in place, then you might be able to convince a bank, a lender, a community development organization, or a micro-lending institution to grant you a loan. 

There are many different types of loans, including loans with the bank, real estate loans, equipment loans, and more. To successfully get one, you’re going to need to articulate exactly how you’ll spend every single penny -- so make sure you have a solid business plan in place before you apply. You can learn more about SBA.gov’s loan programs here.

4) Crowdfunding

You might ask yourself, what about companies that get funding through platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo? That’s called crowdfunding, which is a newer way of funding a business. 

More importantly, it typically doesn’t entail giving partial ownership of the business away. Instead, it’s a way of getting funding not from potential co-owners, but from potential fans and customers who want to support the idea, but not necessarily own it. What you give donors in exchange is entirely up to you -- and typically, people will come away with early access to a product, or a special version of a product, or a meet-and-greet with the founders.

When you crowdfund your business, you open an account on those platforms and publish a detailed description of your business, your goals, and how much money you need and why. From there, anyone with an internet connection can contribute money toward helping your business via an online donation. The better story you tell in your crowdfunding campaign website, the more likely you’ll be to get donations.

5) Venture Capital Financing

Only a very small percentage of businesses are either fit for venture capital or have access to it. All the other methods described earlier are available to the vast majority of new businesses.

If you’re looking for a significant amount of money to start your company and can prove you can quickly grow its value, then venture capital financing is probably the right move for you. However, even though venture capital financing is fashionable, it’s rarely available to startups. In fact, many people believe it should be avoided altogether unless you’ve got a billion dollar idea.

Venture capital financing usually means one or more venture capital firms make large investments in your company in exchange for preferred stock of the company -- but, in addition to getting that preferred return like they would in series seed financing, venture capital investors also usually get governance rights, like a seat on the Board of Directors or approval rights on certain transactions. VC financing typically occurs when a company can demonstrate a significant business opportunity to quickly grow the value of the company but requires significant capital to do so.

Well, there you have it. We hope this post has helped give you a better idea of what it takes to start your own business -- from setting up all the legal and tax paperwork, all the way to actually marketing and selling your product or service. The execution is up to you. Good luck out there!

hubspot



via Business Feeds

NATSO TOOLKIT OUTLINES UST REQUIREMENTS

Several new requirements related to underground storage tanks (USTs) have taken effect over the past few years. As fuel retailers, most NATSO members own and operate USTs for motor fuels and must comply with state and federal regulations. To help truck­stop and travel plaza owners stay cur­rent on UST requirements, NATSO has compiled a regulatory toolkit outlining the latest UST standards.

The toolkit outlines a number of key areas for operators. Including:

Secondary Containment. New and replaced tanks and piping must be secondarily contained with interstitial monitoring systems, and new dispenser systems must be equipped with under-dispenser containment that will contain regu­lated substances leaked from the primary containment until they are detected and removed and will prevent the release of regulated substances to the environment at any time during the operational life of the UST system. The rule also includes secondary containment testing requirements.

Walkthrough Inspections. The final rule requires periodic walk­through inspections to detect re­leases (for example, must check spill preventing equipment and fill caps every 30 days; must check containment sumps annually) and also includes additional require­ments for periodic spill, overfill and secondary containment mon­itoring.

Spill Containment Testing. Spill prevention equipment must be tested every three years.

Overfill Containment Inspec­tions. Ball float valves in vent lines have been eliminated as an option for satisfying overfill prevention requirements for new/replaced flow restrictors.

Operator Training. Requires owners/operators to designate at least one individual for each of three “classes” of operators, and those operators must be trained in certain areas.

Tank Compatibility with Alterna­tive Fuels. The final rule generally allows tank owners to demonstrate equipment compatibility with alter­native fuels (e.g., blends contain­ing greater than 10 percent ethanol or 20 percent biodiesel) through a listing by a nationally recognized association, such as Underwriters Laboratories, or based upon written equipment manufacturer approval.

Repairs. The final rule contains a number of requirements pertaining to repairs of leaking UST systems. Repaired secondary containment areas of tanks must be tested for tightness within 30 days of the repairs. Repaired spill or overfill prevention equipment must be tested or inspected to ensure it is operating properly within 30 days of the repair. In addition, second­ary containment areas of piping used for interstitial monitoring and containment sumps used for inter­stitial monitoring of piping must be tested for tightness within 30 days of the repair.

The final UST rule represented the first substantial revisions to the fed­eral UST regulations that were origi­nally promulgated in 1988. It is the culmination of a multi-year review of existing regulations and technological advances, as well as data regarding releases that have occurred over the past two decades.



via Business Feeds

SPREADING THE MESSAGE AT LITTLEFIELD EXPRESS TRAVEL CENTER

Littlefield Express in Ft. Smith, Arkan­sas, is a perfect example of just how powerful signage can be both inside and out. The location has mastered messaging with its outside signage set­ting the stage for what customers can expect and drawing them inside. Most importantly, it fulfills the promise once customers walk through the door.

From the minute I pulled into the lo­cation, I knew exactly where to go and what would be waiting for me inside. The messaging is consistent throughout the location, and the out­door signage—both on the fuel price signs and the windows—promotes the inside offerings, particularly its food program. Before I even got out of my car I knew the location had chicken and burgers available.

Inside the store, the signs on the lo­cation’s chicken offerings are color­ful and attractive, and Littlefield Ex­press uses them to draw attention to its products. The ‘locals favorite’ section on its menu board not only highlights top sellers, but also sends the message that the location is pop­ular among repeat visitors.

Other areas of the store, including the fountain and coffee offerings, are well marked, making it easy to find what you are looking for. In ad­dition to the hot food offerings, the location has a wide variety of snacks available. The store is clean and or­ganized, giving you plenty of room to see the products and move from one area to another.

Not only do the signs at Littlefield Ex­press convey its message, they build trust. They tell you exactly what you’re going to get and where to go to find it. There are no surprises, and that mat­ters to first-time guests and repeat customers alike.



via Business Feeds

GREAT IDEAS IN ACTION: Eclectic Buffet, L.G. Truckers City dba TA Wapakoneta

After concluding that drivers are tired of eating the same foods everywhere, L.G. Truckers City dba TA Wapakoneta in Wapakoneta, Ohio, started putting unusual meat products on its buffet. Items include duck in orange sauce, lamb, frog legs and pastisio, which is a Greek lasagna.

“When my prep cook suggested frog legs, I thought he was crazy. Well, we cannot keep them when we put them out,” said owner Tom Panos. As drivers eat out every meal, this departure from the norm has received a warm welcome. Panos said, “Drivers have absolutely loved it!”

While these meats can have a higher food cost, Panos has concluded that it is worth it. “As far as food cost, my logic is that while it may be a bit higher for these proteins, the food cost of a food item that does not sell is 100 percent,” he said. ­­­

HAVE A GREAT IDEA YOU WANT TO SUBMIT? Send a high-resolution picture of your location’s great idea and the story behind it to Amy Toner, NATSO's vice president of publishing and digital content, at atoner@natso.com.



via Business Feeds

New Management and New Ideas Flourish at All American Flying J

For more than 50 years the All American Flying J Travel Plaza has been serving truck drivers and locals in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. Recently it has undergone many changes under the direction of new management. “Our primary business is real estate, building and selling, and we were originally contracted to sell it, but we ended up leasing it with the right to purchase,” said Bill Miller, chief operating officer.

Serving more than 12,000 drivers a month, the location’s 30,000 square feet spans three floors. In addition to its 250 parking spots, it has a Perkins, large convenience store, 12 showers and a truck repair facility.

UPDATES INSIDE AND OUT

Since taking over operations at the truckstop, Miller has made a lot of updates. “We have made improvements and done a lot of cleaning up, which are reflected in our numbers. Our diesel sales are up,” he said.

The location added a half-dozen 15- foot tall flags that explain what drivers can get done in the shop. “It drives the message home that there are services inside,” Miller said.

The new managers also installed a small area inside the truckstop with tires to drive business to the truck repair shop. Importantly, the tire area has someone available for questions. “We now have a sales person to tell people about the tires,” Miller said, adding that they also repainted the shop.

Inside the large convenience store, the location has made improvements as well. “I spoke with this driver that was heading home to see his three- and 17-year-old children after being on the road for seven weeks. He needed to do laundry and he needed clothes,” explained Miller. Using this insight, the location created an area of driver-focused items such as jeans and hats.

SOME THINGS YOU CAN’T IMPROVE ON

One important selling point of the lo­cation is the Perkin’s restaurant, which Miller believes drivers stop in for when they get a hankering for a variety of food options. “One of the things that drivers really like is our restaurant. The quality of the food is a cut above other similar full-service restaurants,” Miller said, adding that Perkins allows them to offer affordable comfort food and desserts along with a good selection of healthy items. “I eat there very fre­quently,” he said.

A LITTLE HELP FROM NATSO

Many of these improvements were made after a site review from Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership. “Darren has been ter­rific. He has helped us refine our busi­ness plans. Other members should tap into that knowledge, because he really is a wealth of knowledge,” Miller said.

At end of a review, Schulte pres­ents his ideas for improvement. Miller used this as an opportunity for everyone to learn and help the facility grow. “I brought many of our staff members together to hear Darren’s report. I wanted everyone to hear it because everyone can take a little bit of the information away and improve our quality,” he said.

Schulte also helped the location by uploading quality photos to its Google Maps listing. “We’ve had over 200,000 hits,” Miller said. Visit http://ift.tt/2l9588q to learn more about this innovative way of marketing your truckstop.

SO MANY AMAZING STAFF All American Flying J also made changes in staffing, making sure to identify good talent within its own facility. “We tried to really look at the people who we thought really had po­tential and give them salaried positions and a department to run,” Miller said. “You have to surround yourself with really good people who care.”

Miller said the business has a lot of great management folks. “We now have a great general manager of the convenience store and fuel desk who has really turned the facility around. She is enthusiastic and really cares about the facility,” he said.

After seeing a young employee go­ing above and beyond what should be done by cleaning the pumps in 40-de­gree weather, the location promoted him to manager of facilities. “We have so many amazing people. We have an­other great employee that has taken over our Perkins and I have a great shop manager,” Miller added.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE All American Flying J has some excit­ing plans for the future. Identifying the need for speed in feeding drivers, management hopes to add order-at-the-pump technology. “When drivers pull in, they only have 30 minutes, so our plan is put some personnel at the pumps to help those drivers that need to get orders in quickly. We want them to be able to order the Perkins food,” Miller explained. They intend to implement the plan using existing tablet software.

They also hope to revamp their store, taking into consideration the need to change the layout to offer more fresh and to-go food. “We are going to offer food cooked to order, but we want to add more grab-and-go items,” Miller said.

The location is also looking to add some innovative kiosks to increase the number of profit centers, such as a Best Buy kiosk and a GNC kiosk.



via Business Feeds

INCREASED COMPETITION: Keeping an Eye on Truck Terminals And Dealerships

Trucking companies are constantly working to attract and retain driv­ers, and many are focusing on their terminals and offerings as ways to improve the driver experience, which could decrease the number of services drivers seek out on the road.

Hotel Rooms

Late last year Werner Enterprises opened a My Place Hotel franchise in Lithia Springs, Georgia. The lo­cation opened its doors to Werner’s professional drivers before it wel­comed in travelers in the Atlanta area and features rooms designed specifi­cally for those with a commercial driver’s license.

Werner and My Place collaborated on the rooms, designing solutions and modifying the My Place pro­totype to include 50 double rooms made for Werner’s professional driv­ers.

Randy Kraft, vice president of terminal management for Werner, said the specially designed driver ac­commodations will improve drivers’ lodging options. Ron Rivett, CEO of My Place, said the new facility is the first of its kind.

“I’m certain that of all the truck­ing companies in the United States, this is the only one providing facili­ties like this for its drivers. It’s brand new, really nice, and I’m told by the staff in this company that they’re re­ally enjoying the rooms,” Rivett said.

Shortly following the hotel launch, Werner announced a 10- acre expansion of its terminal in Laredo, Texas, that it said would help increase driver satisfaction. The location added 110 trailer parking spots and service bays and the company purchased an addi­tional 20 acres for future expansion.

“This is one of many large-scale projects that are underway at multiple facilities across the country. It is also a direct result of our leadership team talking and listening to our profes­sional drivers and meeting their needs by providing them with the newest and safest equipment at the nicest fa­cilities in the industry,” Kraft said.

Multitude of Amenities

Some terminals, including Prime Inc.’s Pittston, Pennsylvania, loca­tion, offer drivers a multitude of amenities, including a café, driver lounge, a full-service salon and spa, fitness facility, laundry room, bunk­rooms, showers and more.

Large Truck Dealerships

Large truck dealerships could also pose a threat to truckstop and trav­el plaza operators, said Roger Cole, editor of NATSO’s Biz Brief and a past NATSO chairman. “When you look at Rush Enterprises, they have more than 100 dealer­ship locations around the country and more than 50 percent of their revenue is generated from repair,” Cole said, adding that the loca­tions have a lot of asphalt. “They have expanded the parking because of the service work they are doing. You wonder at what point they say, ‘We’re servicing trucks. We have the parking lots. Wouldn’t it make sense to drop a couple of fuel tanks in and sell fuel?’”

More and more businesses are expand­ing their services and creeping into territory that was once served primarily by the truckstop and travel plaza indus­try. Throughout the year, Stop Watch is examining specific groups that are entering this space, including dealer­ships, carriers’ distribution centers, big box retailers and turnpikes, how they’re changing and what NATSO members need to know about the category. Visit http://ift.tt/2lTP5bW to see all of the articles.



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Adapt To Stay Competitive

The truckstop and travel plaza industry has changed significantly since our ear­ly predecessors opened the first Inter­state highway-based fuel stops, and we are in the midst of changes that are going to once again re-shape our industry.

One thing that has become evident to me through my work with NATSO and my conversations with our Chairman’s Circle members and industry partners is that the current environment for pe­troleum marketers is shifting. Fuel effi­ciency on both passenger and commer­cial vehicles is improving, and the pie is shrinking when it comes to what has historically been the primary category of products we sell.

At the same time, more competitors are entering our space. We’re seeing c-stores add diesel fuel and driver amenities, and a growing number of retailers, such as grocers and big box stores, are adding fuel.

It is clear that we have to adapt to stay competitive and we have to always, always, always be looking for opportunity. Fortunately, I think plenty exist. Today’s customers are increasingly after convenience, which is something we’re known for and have perfected.

We can provide the speed and qual­ity that speaks to shoppers, particularly in the areas of food service. Locals and travelers alike no longer have to go to the drive-through for dinner. They can come to our locations and get conve­nience items as well as their food for later in the day or instant consumption. I know of NATSO members that are having success with foods that we didn’t even think to carry 10 years ago.

One advantage we have as NATSO members is our alliance with industry partners who support our industry. NATSO’s Chairman’s Circle and al­lied members are working with us to share thoughts and ideas on where we can grow. They said a rising tide lifts all ships, and through the power of as­sociation, we can all succeed together.

Some of the best opportunities to learn from those around us take place at The NATSO Show and on NATSO’s domestic study tours. Simply speaking with our fellow operators and our industry partners to pick their brains and learn from them can help us to not only prepare for the future, but also become the threat our competitors fear. We can be an industry that is pursuing new ideas and adding innovative services that draw in more customers and grow our sales.

If you missed The NATSO Show, you can learn more about what took place in this issue of Stop Watch. You can also plan now to save the date for an upcoming NATSO event or learning opportunity. So many exist throughout the year, so please join us. Together we can share ideas and re­sources that can help each of us reach our short- and long-term goals for success. 



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Tom Heinz Honored With Hall of Fame Award

Tom Heinz, president and co-founder of Coffee Cup Fuel Stops, has a long history of supporting the truckstop and travel plaza industry, his employees and his community. More than 30 years ago, Heinz co-founded Coffee Cup Fuel Stops and has grown the business, which today has multiple locations in North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. He has been a member of NATSO for more than 20 years and has spent countless hours volunteering for both NATSO and The NATSO Foundation.

In recognition of his service, the NATSO Foundation presented Heinz with the Hall of Fame Award, the industry’s highest honor, during The NATSO Show 2017. Lisa Mullings, NATSO’s president, presented Heinz with the award.

“Tom is passionate about giving back and constantly commits his leadership skills to benefit those around him,” Mullings said. “In talking with Tom, he will tell you that one of the things he is the most proud of is the difference he has been able to make in the small, rural communities where his stores are located.”

Coffee Cup Fuel Stops not only provides good job opportunities, but also offers a chance to grow with the company and potential for advancement. Heinz has established a wellness program for all of the team members, providing yearly health screenings and activities throughout the year, and he is currently working on putting together quality affordable housing for employees and families.

“He always says your first guest is your team member. We can put the right buildings in the right place and make it gorgeous and put the right franchises in, but if we don’t have the right people or take care of our people, it won’t be successful,” said Ericka Schapenkahm, Heinz’s daughter and director of human resources and special projects at Coffee Cup Fuel Stops.

In addition to giving back in the community, Heinz is active in the South Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association, and he currently serves on the St. Christopher Fund board of directors. For many years he was on the Dakota Hospital board of directors and the University of South Dakota Foundation board of directors.

He has also devoted time to NATSO and has held numerous positions on the board, including chairman of both NATSO and The NATSO Foundation. He always attends NATSO’s Day on the Hill and uses his voice to benefit the industry as a whole.

Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Pilot Flying J, said, “Tom is well-deserving of this tremendous honor from NATSO. He has run an outstanding group of truckstops in the Midwest for many years and has been a tremendous leader for NATSO during this same time. Tom has worked tirelessly for NATSO and its many causes.”

Many of Heinz’s colleagues congratulated him on the achievement. Roger Cole, former NATSO chairman, said, “Tom is truly the embodiment of our industry’s values. He has built an impressive and successful business. He has committed his leadership skills with various organizations in his community, and he has surrounded himself with a wonderful family that will carry on Tom’s legacy of excellence.”

Jim Goetz, vice president of Goetz Company, said, “Tom Heinz is a terrific balance of being professional, being a visionary and always a humanitarian.”

Dan Alsaker, president of Broadway Flying J, said Heinz’s knowledge and widespread reputation of honesty and true gentleman behavior are his key ingredients to making his organization and family standout as NATSO’s best. “Tom Heinz is competitive, never missing an edge. He is competent, always studying his industry and his accelerating plan,” Alsaker said. “He is conscientious in his dealings and sharing his knowledge, and he is a principled collaborator of business facts and figures.”

In presenting Heinz with the award, Mullings said, “Our industry, NATSO’s members and so many more have benefitted from Tom’s generous wisdom and guidance. He truly embodies all that the Hall of Fame Award stands for and I am honored to present him with it.”



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Technology Works to Speed Fuel Transactions

With increased demands on drivers and hours-of-service regulations, pro­fessional drivers are eager to stop for what they need and get back on the road as quickly as possible. Locations are offering more convenient food options and working to speed trans­actions inside the store, but many have been limited with what they could do on the fuel islands.

“The whole fueling process could easily take 15 minutes. If the wind is blowing and it is 15 degrees, it isn’t a pleasant situation, but it is the way things have been for 40 years,” said Roger Cole, editor of NATSO’s Biz Brief and a former NATSO chairman.

For passenger vehicles, fueling is as easy as pulling up to the pump and swiping a credit card, but that isn’t the same for professional drivers. Truck­ing companies often require drivers to enter multiple data points that are designed to reduce fraud and theft but can slow the process.

Cole said he often sees drivers jotting down odometer readings and walking around the truck to gather other de­tails, such as the license plate number and the trailer number. “Then they swipe their card, wait for it to approve the transactions and answer the vari­ous prompts before the pump starts,” Cole said. “It is quite a lengthy process of items you have to input.”

The biggest dilemma for travel cen­ter operators is that they have valued customers standing outside, entering information into the pump and pos­sibly getting frustrated. “The driver says, ‘I have to stand out in the cold and you’re making me go through all of these steps,’ when in fact it isn’t the truckstop that is requiring all of that information, it is the trucking com­pany,” Cole said.

However, new technology on the fuel islands is working to change that by eliminating the number of prompts required before turning on a pump and speeding the transaction.

APP TECHNOLOGY

Mobile applications are increasing the number of things smartphone users can do by simply tapping their screens. The myPilot mobile app from Pilot Flying J is no different. “This app is designed to do one thing—make your life easier,” Pilot’s website said.

The app allows drivers to choose the diesel lane that’s likely to open first and securely stores payment card informa­tion and payment card prompts for future use. Via the app, drivers also get access to loyalty points, shower reserva­tions, and route mapping and a travel center locator.

Pegasus TransTech recently joined with the myPilot mobile application to integrate the new myPilot mobile app into its Transflo Mobile platform. The app features are automatically activat­ed by a virtual geofence, developed by Transflo, surrounding the travel center. When drivers enter the geofenced area, they receive an alert directing them to the myPilot functions. This ensures that vehicle operators do not need to use the app while driving and adds to the existing in-motion safety features of the solution.

The integrated Pilot Flying J func­tionality will be accessible by more than 400,000 drivers who use Trans­flo Mobile. “The integration immedi­ately helps carriers gain back some of the time that is being taken away by the new hours of service rules,” said Frank Adelman, chief executive offi­cer of Pegasus TransTech.

RFID FUELING

With radio-frequency-identification technology, a radio signal from a tag attached to the truck or trailer sends a signal to a sensor located in the fuel island canopy. Once the sensor reads the RFID tag and verifies the infor­mation with the carrier, the pump turns on and the driver can fuel the truck. The pump turns off when the truck pulls away.

QuikQ offers the technology, which costs approximately $1,700 per lane at the truckstop for the hardware and about $1 for the RFID tag carriers place in their windshields. There are about 1,700 drivers using QuikQ and more than 800 truckstops and travel plazas that either have installed or are install­ing the technology, said Tamara Wil­son, chief operating officer for QuikQ.

QuikQ is currently available at all Love’s locations, and independent operators are becoming more inter­ested in it, Wilson added.

QuikQ is integrated with trans­portation management software from McLeod and TMW, so the system can pull asset information, including details on the driver, load number and which trailer should be attached. “It knows that data before the driver gets out and it ensures fuel is going to the right asset,” Wilson said.

A location’s traffic mix will help de­termine whether or not the technology would be useful at a specific site. “If they are in the lane that doesn’t have the big three [chains] in it, they could pick up that volume,” Wilson said.

Cole acknowledged that it can be difficult for an independent op­erator to compete with some of the latest fuel-island technology, but said it could create an opportunity for a third-party provider to intro­duce a solution.

If companies do work to speed cus­tomers through the fuel island, Dar­ren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, warned that it could impact the ring on the average ticket. “If you have even fewer people com­ing into your store, you could see a decrease in sales. You’ll have to work to find ways to specifically convert those customers into purchasing cus­tomers,” he said.



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FOUNDATION UPDATE: Bill Moon Scholarship Continued Changing Lives

Kelly Bolton.jpg

For Kelly Bolton, a cashier at Mu­ralt’s Travel Plaza, her connection with the location started when she was buying a meal.

“I was there every day to meet my carpool for school and it was my breakfast place every morning. I got to know the cashiers and everybody who works there,” she said, adding that she moved to Montana from Alaska to be closer to her daughter and grandchild.

She became a part-time employee in February 2016 while continuing her studies in the forestry program at Sal­ish Kootenai College. When she saw a notice about the Bill Moon Scholar­ship Program that was attached to her paycheck, she considered applying but was nervous.

“I thought, ‘There are hundreds of truckstops. What are my chances?’ I hemmed and hawed and finally decid­ed to try it,” Bolton said. “When I got the email that I won, I started scream­ing. I was crying and I was so ecstatic,” she said.

With the extra support from the Bill Moon Scholarship, Bolton is able to add extra classes to her current course load, which will help her finish school earlier.

Bolton is one of five students to re­ceive a $5,000 Bill Moon Scholarship from The NATSO Foundation. Like Bolton, the other recipients were grate­ful for the support.

Daryll Carlson.jpg

“I cannot begin to put into words how grateful I am for this scholarship and the opportunities that it has made available to me,” said Daryll Carlson, a repeat winner of the award.

Carlson is entering her senior year at Stanford University, majoring in ma­rine biology. Her father is the main­tenance manager at Sacramento 49er Travel Plaza.

“My past three years at Stanford University have been truly incredible. I have learned so much, discovered new passions, made connections with inspiring faculty, and have friends and memories that will last far after I grad­uate,” Carlson said. “This scholarship will allow me to fund my fourth and final year at Stanford and to graduate in the spring of 2017 with a degree in marine biology.” 

Rebecca Sistad.jpg

Rebecca Sistad, a scholarship recipi­ent, said she is appreciative of those who support the Bill Moon Scholar­ship program. “The funding this pro­gram provides opens up numerous op­portunities and unburdens deserving, educating-seeking individuals in order to continue their endeavors,” she said.

Sistad has worked at Coffee Cup Fuel Stop in Burbank, South Dakota, for two years. “This job not only con­nected me with great friends in the area, but provided an income during my undergraduate career

I recently completed at USD,” she said, adding that she is in first year of the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of South Dakota.

Carianne Jones.jpg

Carianne Jones, a scholarship win­ner and an employee at TravelCenters of America #241 in DeMotte, Indi­ana, said the Bill Moon Scholarship program is an opportunity to spotlight some of the amazing people that are in the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

Jones is attending Purdue Univer­sity Northwest as a first-year graduate student and is working on her Masters of Accountancy degree and a graduate certificate in forensic accounting and fraud investigation.

“This scholarship means a lot to me. I have been independently responsible for the costs of my education since my undergraduate degree, and this schol­arship relieves a huge financial burden for me,” Jones said.

Leianna McIntire.jpg

The fifth scholarship was presented to Leianna McIntire, an employee at TravelCenters of America #022 in Wil­lington, Connecticut. She is attending the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut.

APPLY NOW FOR THE BILL MOON SCHOLARSHIP

Truckstop and travel plaza employees and their families can apply now for the 2017 Bill Moon Scholarship. Applications are available at http://ift.tt/2l975C0. The deadline is May 15, 2017.



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President Donald Trump Intends to Push a $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan. What Could it Mean for TRUCKSTOPS?

President Donald Trump intends to push a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that is expected to materialize this spring. The President’s plan for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is expected to rely on private investment instead of the federal government to back transportation projects.

Although formal details have yet to emerge, during his campaign President Trump spoke at a high level about infrastructure spending, saying it would focus on tax credits and private sector financing. These revenue schemes could lead to tolling or rest area commercialization, which NATSO opposes as they are harmful to interstate exit-based businesses.

Here’s a quick look at the impact that such revenue schemes would have on truckstops and travel plazas and their myriad profit centers.

Nearly 80,000 restaurants, gas stations and truck service businesses operate within a quarter mile of the Interstate Highway System employing 2 million Americans and contributing billions in state and local taxes.

Together, these businesses generate more than $250 billion in total sales annually, nearly three quarters of which is the result of fuel sales.

More Commercialized Rest Areas Would:

If commercialization were permitted in the 611 U.S. counties with existing non-commercial rest areas, the result would be:

  • A 44 percent decrease in restaurant sales
  • A 46 percent decrease in gas sales
  • A 35 percent decrease in truck service business sales

This is a LOSS of more than $55 billion in annual sales for interchange businesses like yours

The reduction in annual sales at interchange businesses related to the presence of commercial rest areas is as follows:

  • A decrease of $41.2 million in annual sales at interstate-serving truck service businesses, equivalent to the total sales of a typical full-service truckstop with repair facilities
  • A decrease of $38.2 million in annual sales at interstate-serving gas stations, equivalent to the total sales of six typical gas stations
  • A decrease of $27.9 million in annual sales at interstate-serving restaurants, equivalent to the total sales of 20–30 typical restaurants. This figure includes restaurants that are tenants within interstate-serving gas stations or truckstops

Tolling Existing Interstates Would:

  • Force truckstops to increase wages to attract and retain a workforce
  • Increase the cost of delivering goods and services, putting local businesses at a competitive disadvantage and increasing the cost of living for residents
  • Create traffic diversion whereby drivers avoid tolls by utilizing secondary, less safe roads that bypass truckstops located at the interstate exits

These revenue schemes could lead to tolling or rest area commercialization, which NATSO opposes as they are harmful to interstate exit-based businesses.

Plan Now to Attend NATSO’s Day on Capitol Hill: May 15–17, 2017

On May 15–17, NATSO members will travel from across the United States to Washington, D.C., to educate their elected officials about the critical role the truckstop industry plays in the U.S. economy as well as to discuss key industry challenges. We need your help to ensure our industry’s collective voice is heard in the halls of Congress.

To ensure that lawmakers understand and respond to the needs of the truckstop and travel plaza community, it is vital that you attend.

Registration for NATSO’s Day on Capitol Hill 2017 is on NATSO’s website at www.natso.com/DOH.

Contact David Fialkov at (703) 739-8501 or dfialkov@natso.com with questions.



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Find Qualified Job Candidates in Military Veterans

Truckstop and travel plaza operators looking for hard-working, motivated employees may want to consider turning to the nation’s veterans. Veterans not only know the meaning of hard work, but also understand the value of teamwork.

Don Quinn, president of Sapp Bros. and chairman of NATSO, said military veterans, particularly those that have had leadership training, hold a lot of promise for the indus­try. “I think that not only are there some great people out there, but also that we have a moral obligation to hire someone who has served our country,” he said. “It is a pool that we monitor and try to pull from.”

Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, said it can be helpful to look at the specific job veterans did in the service and how that can translate into their ability to perform and be effective in available positions. For example, someone who was a combat leader of a squad is likely able to think and react quickly and direct a team. “That type of person is probably going to make an amazing manger because that is what his or her skill sets are,” Schulte said.

At the same time, someone who had a very regimented position in the military that required something to be done the same way every time, such as loading artillery shells, may not flourish in a position that requires a lot of creativity, Schulte said. “That person might be better off in a role where they have to follow the rules and regulations,” he explained, adding that service members overall are very disciplined and know how to follow directions.

Cindy Knight, human resources manager for the Rochelle Petro, said she has had success hiring veterans in the location’s shop. “If a veteran’s military occupational specialty was working on trucks in the military, that experience transfers to here pretty well,” she said.

Tom Liutkus, a spokesman for TravelCenters of America, said the company has been recruiting military veterans for years. “They are a great source for our techs, general managers and many other positions. We’ve even had an occasional cook come from the military,” he said.

Brad Bentley, CEO of FASTPORT, a NATSO Chairman’s Circle member that focuses on connecting members of the military with careers, said hiring managers should consider the peripheral training veterans have received when considering their experience. “You have a lot of people who have worked in inventory management, but it could be on a ship or on a military base. It is similar but not exactly the same as what you have to do at a travel plaza,” he said, adding that the overall understanding and experience would translate well to this industry.

In other positions, such as a tech­nician, there is a direct connection, Bentley said. “There is a demand for people that have that type of ex­perience,” he said.

Bentley said he believes there are opportunities for those who enlisted in the military as well as officers. He was particularly interested in management and training opportunities within the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Because the industry staffs for three shifts, Bentley saw an opportunity to place more people. “It was good to see there was a mix of opportunities,” he said.

The majority of veterans leaving the military—83 percent—are transitioning away from wherever their last base was. “A lot of them are going to small towns and rural areas and that fits nicely to where truckstops and travel plazas are located,” Bentley said. “It goes hand in hand with where people are doing their search.”

NATSO members receive a NATSO member discount on FASTPORT’s services, and NATSO and FASTPORT presented a webinar on hiring veterans, which is available at http://www.natso.com/ calendar/about FASTPORT.

“It doesn’t matter to us if it is the biggest member or somebody that has one location and needs a shift leader. We care about the veterans. We want to get as many of them placed as possible,” Bentley said.

TEN TIPS FOR INTERVIEWING, HIRING AND RETAINING VETERANS

Truckstop and travel plaza operators always want to hire the best candidate for a position, but military resumes can look different from those many hiring manag­ers are used to. Translating military jargon, certifications and accomplishments into a civilian position isn’t always intuitive, but here are 10 tips for moving past the resume to find the best candidate for the job and ways to retain veterans once they’ve joined a company.

1 Many military veterans have never interviewed for a job before, so making the hiring process comfortable and easy-to-follow can go a long way to finding the right candidate. The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends using performance-based interviews for applicants directly out of the service. Avoid asking questions that elicit a yes or no response.

2 Be familiar with the military occupational specialty (MOS) that correlates with the job.

3 Consider asking questions that will let you see the candidate’s ability to meet a certain need, even if the experience isn’t directly related to the position. For example, someone right out of the military may not have direct ex­perience serving customers, but it could be helpful to ask candidates for times when they realized someone needed help, how they knew the person needed help and what they did to provide it.

4 The military prioritizes service before self, so many veterans take ac­countability but give credit and praise to others, but the right questions can help draw out useful answers. Consider asking: What did it take to accom­plish this mission? What were the key activities you performed? What people or resources were you responsible for in this role?

5 Other questions that will ensure that the applicant provides more detail about their responsibilities include: Tell me about the type of training and education you received in the military. Were you involved in day-to-day manage­ment of personnel or supplies? How many people did you supervise? 

6 Ask follow-up questions. For example, a candidate may say he drove a truck in the military, but he may not add that while doing so he super­vised dozens of soldiers transporting millions of dollars of inventory.

7 Ask the candidate to share situations in the military in which he or she achieved an end goal.

8 To help shape interviews, ask current veteran employees how they felt about the interviewing, hiring and onboarding process. Ask if there is anything they liked or didn’t like or felt could be improved.

9 The military can focus on being self-sufficient, so it is important to en­courage veteran hires to ask for help if they need it.

10 To help set new veteran hires up for success, consider creating a mentoring program.



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GoDaddy Sends Small Business WordPress Developers Back to School — Sort Of

Stumped by WordPress? Need some extra help fine-tuning your site? The new GoDaddy WordPress educational content offers small business users some help.

GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY), a leading web host and domain name registrar, has entered into partnerships with OSTraining.com and WP Elevation to offer web developers and designers free WordPress educational content.

OSTraining.com provides online and live training for open source Content Management Systems (CMS) worldwide while WP Elevation claims to be the world’s biggest business community for WordPress consultants.

Free GoDaddy WordPress Educational Content

GoDaddy’s says it hopes the partnership with WP Elevation provides WordPress developers with free training on business communication, practices and workflow. The companies will provide that training through monthly webinars, videos and content.

GoDaddy and OSTraining are also rolling out a jointly-sponsored 40-episode series of WordPress Training videos for beginner WordPress developers. Topics range from creating a staging site for development and testing to navigating the WordPress dashboard.

“One of the biggest challenges for web pros servicing multiple clients is the time and money spent on administrative tasks,” GoDaddy’s SVP of Hosting Raghu Murthi said in a press release. “These educational resources help web pros work smarter and provide outstanding service and support to their clients.”

GoDaddy says other resources will complement GoDaddy’s Pro Program. Pro Program members get immediate access to the content made available by the partnership as well as additional tools that can help them manage client’s accounts, the company says.

“We’re very proud to be partnering with GoDaddy to help web pros better serve their clients,” said WP Elevation co-founder Troy Dean in a prepared statement. “I’ve been very impressed with the improvements GoDaddy continue to make to the Pro Program and the whole team at WP Elevation is excited to be bringing some of our best training and education to the GoDaddy community.”

Other enticements GoDaddy is offering with the deal include WordPress site management tools to assist with ongoing maintenance, access to 24/7 expert technical support, access to rewards programs, expert level support, and more.

Image: GoDaddy

This article, "GoDaddy Sends Small Business WordPress Developers Back to School — Sort Of" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

GoDaddy Sends Small Business WordPress Developers Back to School — Sort Of

Stumped by WordPress? Need some extra help fine-tuning your site? The new GoDaddy WordPress educational content offers small business users some help.

GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY), a leading web host and domain name registrar, has entered into partnerships with OSTraining.com and WP Elevation to offer web developers and designers free WordPress educational content.

OSTraining.com provides online and live training for open source Content Management Systems (CMS) worldwide while WP Elevation claims to be the world’s biggest business community for WordPress consultants.

Free GoDaddy WordPress Educational Content

GoDaddy’s says it hopes the partnership with WP Elevation provides WordPress developers with free training on business communication, practices and workflow. The companies will provide that training through monthly webinars, videos and content.

GoDaddy and OSTraining are also rolling out a jointly-sponsored 40-episode series of WordPress Training videos for beginner WordPress developers. Topics range from creating a staging site for development and testing to navigating the WordPress dashboard.

“One of the biggest challenges for web pros servicing multiple clients is the time and money spent on administrative tasks,” GoDaddy’s SVP of Hosting Raghu Murthi said in a press release. “These educational resources help web pros work smarter and provide outstanding service and support to their clients.”

GoDaddy says other resources will complement GoDaddy’s Pro Program. Pro Program members get immediate access to the content made available by the partnership as well as additional tools that can help them manage client’s accounts, the company says.

“We’re very proud to be partnering with GoDaddy to help web pros better serve their clients,” said WP Elevation co-founder Troy Dean in a prepared statement. “I’ve been very impressed with the improvements GoDaddy continue to make to the Pro Program and the whole team at WP Elevation is excited to be bringing some of our best training and education to the GoDaddy community.”

Other enticements GoDaddy is offering with the deal include WordPress site management tools to assist with ongoing maintenance, access to 24/7 expert technical support, access to rewards programs, expert level support, and more.

Image: GoDaddy

This article, "GoDaddy Sends Small Business WordPress Developers Back to School — Sort Of" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Wendy’s Automates the Food Ordering Process (Watch)

Wendy’s is the latest fast food chain to automate the ordering process. The restaurant announced this week that it will add self-order kiosks to about 1,000 of its restaurants by the end of the year. McDonald’s and Panera Bread also have similar features.

This move, of course, makes some workers nervous about job loss in the fast food industry. But the restaurant claims that it should improve productivity by allowing more workers to focus on actually making the food.

In addition, a consulting firm that does research in the foodservice industry has found that younger consumers actually prefer automated ordering over dealing with an actual cashier. So this may just be the way that all restaurants are headed eventually anyway.

Sometimes It’s Adapt or Die…

It’s important for restaurants and all different types of businesses to keep an eye on trends like this. It’s possible that automation and different tech innovations could make restaurants like Wendy’s and McDonald’s stand out. And those that don’t adapt may be left behind.

…But Not Always

This doesn’t mean, however, that businesses should jump on every single trend right away. Kiosks that don’t work properly or that customers don’t actually want could hurt these early adopters. But if they’ve done the research and come up with a system that will actually work for their specific customers, it’s likely to be a move in the right direction.

Wendy’s Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Wendy’s Automates the Food Ordering Process (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

According to the Insights Team at Bing Ads “Search is literally breaking out of the box” as marketing is no longer just about the 4Ps anymore: Price, Product, Promotion and Placement. To explain this, the team put together an infographic (PDF) that highlights Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) vision for the future of search, the new 3Ps of marketing and how you can prepare your business for the change.

The Future of Search

According to the infographic, “search” will become more personal and predictive since people prefer personalized experiences. The team states that about 145 million people actively use the intelligent virtual assistant Cortana to store personal information, reminders and contacts among other things and as of now, the personal assistant has been asked over 17 billion plus questions since its launch.

The infographic further states that 75 percent of online customers get frustrated when content appears that has nothing to do with their experiences. And this simply means that accurate personal and predictive searches will get more popular in days to come. As a business, you should, therefore, start investing more in learning your customers’ needs other than reacting to their requests.

You should also consider investing in chatbots since 50 percent of customers would like to make a purchase via message.

Essentially, to be a successful business in the future you need to think of “search” throughout a customer’s journey, use the power of search data outside your campaigns as well as create personal experiences by leveraging targeting features such as demographic targeting and remarketing.

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Image: Bing

This article, "Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Wendy’s Automates the Food Ordering Process (Watch)

Wendy’s is the latest fast food chain to automate the ordering process. The restaurant announced this week that it will add self-order kiosks to about 1,000 of its restaurants by the end of the year. McDonald’s and Panera Bread also have similar features.

This move, of course, makes some workers nervous about job loss in the fast food industry. But the restaurant claims that it should improve productivity by allowing more workers to focus on actually making the food.

In addition, a consulting firm that does research in the foodservice industry has found that younger consumers actually prefer automated ordering over dealing with an actual cashier. So this may just be the way that all restaurants are headed eventually anyway.

Sometimes It’s Adapt or Die…

It’s important for restaurants and all different types of businesses to keep an eye on trends like this. It’s possible that automation and different tech innovations could make restaurants like Wendy’s and McDonald’s stand out. And those that don’t adapt may be left behind.

…But Not Always

This doesn’t mean, however, that businesses should jump on every single trend right away. Kiosks that don’t work properly or that customers don’t actually want could hurt these early adopters. But if they’ve done the research and come up with a system that will actually work for their specific customers, it’s likely to be a move in the right direction.

Wendy’s Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Wendy’s Automates the Food Ordering Process (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

According to the Insights Team at Bing Ads “Search is literally breaking out of the box” as marketing is no longer just about the 4Ps anymore: Price, Product, Promotion and Placement. To explain this, the team put together an infographic (PDF) that highlights Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) vision for the future of search, the new 3Ps of marketing and how you can prepare your business for the change.

The Future of Search

According to the infographic, “search” will become more personal and predictive since people prefer personalized experiences. The team states that about 145 million people actively use the intelligent virtual assistant Cortana to store personal information, reminders and contacts among other things and as of now, the personal assistant has been asked over 17 billion plus questions since its launch.

The infographic further states that 75 percent of online customers get frustrated when content appears that has nothing to do with their experiences. And this simply means that accurate personal and predictive searches will get more popular in days to come. As a business, you should, therefore, start investing more in learning your customers’ needs other than reacting to their requests.

You should also consider investing in chatbots since 50 percent of customers would like to make a purchase via message.

Essentially, to be a successful business in the future you need to think of “search” throughout a customer’s journey, use the power of search data outside your campaigns as well as create personal experiences by leveraging targeting features such as demographic targeting and remarketing.

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)

Image: Bing

This article, "Virtual Assistants and Connected Devices Direct the Future of Search (Infographic)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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