2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

JANUARY

The NATSO Show
Travel plaza and truckstop operators and industry vendors meet in Savannah, Georgia, Jan. 21–24 for The NATSO Show 2017.


FEBRUARY

NATSO Foundation Invites Truckstops to First of Many Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition Meetings
Hosted by Truckers Against Trafficking, the coalition meetings provide an opportunity to educate members of the business community, transportation and law enforcement about human trafficking. They also serve as an open forum to discuss human trafficking trends in regional areas and to explore collective ways to combat this crime.

MARCH

Profitable Retail Review
NATSO formally launches the Profitable Retail Review program. Led by Darren
Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, the custom assessment of your truckstop includes recommendations for every aspect of your facility including actionable ideas to improve revenue and tactical ways to improve your net operating costs.

APRIL

NATSO Foundation Partners with DHS Blue Campaign to Fight Human Trafficking
The NATSO Foundation announced a new partnership between the NATSO Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking. See more on the partnership on page 16.

MAY

NATSO Day on the Hill
The truckstop and travel plaza industry stormed Capitol Hill May 15-17 as part of
NATSO’s annual Day on the Hill. More than 60 NATSO members came to Washington, D.C., to urge lawmakers to find permanent, sustainable solutions to the Highway Trust Fund that don’t harm exit-based businesses, which are frequently the economic backbone of towns and communities located near federal Interstates.

House Drops Repeal of Debit Swipe Fee Reforms
House Republicans dropped language from the Financial Choice Act that would have repealed the debit swipe fee reforms implemented under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. For nearly a year, NATSO and its partners in the Merchants Payments Coalition led efforts to strip the repeal of debit swipe fee reforms from the Financial Choice Act. NATSO members played a pivotal role in this successful advocacy effort during NATSO’s annual Day on Capitol Hill.

JUNE

How to Win at Truckstop Inventory Management Webinar
Truckstops have a lot of inventory, and managing this inventory is essential to any net operating cost improvement plan. During this webinar, Schulte taught webinar participants essential truckstop inventory management tactics. Watch the webinar at http://ift.tt/2oEALFZ.

JULY

NATSO Food and Fuel Study Tour
The NATSO Foundation took truckstop operators and guests to Chicago July 18–20 to learn how to add biodiesel to their truckstop and to learn from food service innovators. In this two-day event sponsored by Renewable Energy Group, operators saw and learned about these business boosters while networking and learning from their peers. Watch a video about the event at http://ift.tt/2HTQKbN.

AUGUST

NATSO Testifies at EPA Hearing Examining Renewable Fuel Standard
NATSO testified Aug. 1 at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing examining the agency's proposed 2018 renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). NATSO testified that while there is room for improvement in the proposal, overall EPA has aptly implemented the RFS in the face of extensive political and substantive challenges and that the RFS has helped create a regulatory regime where NATSO members can incorporate renewable fuels such as biodiesel into their fuel supply as a means of making diesel fuel less expensive for customers.

OCTOBER

NATSO Remakes Annual Show, Heads to Nashville in 2018
NATSO announced in October the reinvention its annual convention and trade show. The NATSO Show was renamed to NATSO Connect to better fit its focus—forming meaningful connections for truckstop and travel plaza owners and operators and their vendors. NATSO Connect will kick off in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 10.

NOVEMBER

Environmental Protection Agency Rejects Petition to Alter Compliance Responsibility Under the RFS
Marking a major victory for truckstop operators, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected proposals to change the current compliance structure under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA’s decision came after a small segment of the U.S. refining industry spent more than a year encouraging policymakers to shift the compliance responsibility under the RFS from refiners and importers to fuel marketers. A diverse group of more than 35 organizations and companies led by NATSO and representing a majority of the fuel sector, including downstream blenders, fuel retailers, marketers, and consumers at the federal and state levels, strongly opposed the shift.

DECEMBER

NATSO and EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST) Offer Webinar on New Requirements
The EPA issued final regulations in June 2015 regarding underground storage tank (UST) system operation and maintenance requirements. EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks (OUST) provide NATSO members with an exclusive opportunity to discuss the new requirements in detail, providing tips for compliance and answering questions you may have about the regulation’s implementation. Email Amy Toner at atoner@natso.com to receive a copy of the slides.



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BEHIND THE NUMBERS: Top Trucking Economist to Share Key Facts & Figures

Bob Costello, chief economist at the American Trucking Associations, has valuable insights into the economy and the trucking industry that can help truckstop and travel plaza operators prepare for the future.

During NATSO Connect, Costello will sit down with operators and share information on critical economic factors that will influence the fleets and the country’s consumers throughout the coming year. What’s more, he will dig into the reasons they are relevant, which will help operators lay the groundwork for strategic business decisions.

Costello will address operators as part of a panel discussion led by Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, vice president, public relations at NATSO. Truckstop operators, including confirmed panelists Jim Hays, owner of Dodge City Petro, Chad Stanford, vice president of real estate for QuikTrip Corp, and Elizabeth Warring, president and CEO of Busy Bee, will have a chance to ask specific questions that will help them uncover the economic issues that will affect their operations throughout 2018 and beyond.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS
Numbers without an analytical framework can be white noise, so Costello sat down with Stop Watch to discuss some of the key facts and figures he will likely share during the session and described why they matter to the truckstop and travel plaza industry.

Autonomous Trucking: Autonomous trucking technology could affect how many professional drivers are needed to deliver freight, which correlates to the number of drivers stopping at the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas. Costello said, “NATSO members will want to know, ‘Is this real, is it not real, is it a threat to us?’”

Driver Pay: Driver pay rates affect how much money drivers have to spend at NATSO members’ locations. Higher pay means greater discretionary income, which could improve sales.

Driver Shortage: Costello said the driver shortage remains a critical issue
for the trucking industry. “They’re the ones spending money in their stops,” Costello said, adding that ATA projects the shortage to reach 50,000 by the end of 2017. If current trends hold, the shortage could grow to more than 174,000 by 2026. The driver shortage issue could have a ripple effect on the truckstop industry, impacting how many professional drivers stop at their locations as well as what fleets have to pay drivers to attract and keep them. It could also affect the length of haul as fleets work to get drivers more home time to increase
job satisfaction.

Home Construction: New home construction adds to freight levels. In addition to driving construction-related freight, home construction results in increased purchases of furniture and appliances.

Length of Haul: The average length of haul in the dry van has continued to decrease since 2000, which is when more and more consumers started shopping online. The average length of haul can directly relate to the amount of time professional drivers spend on the road and the types of goods and services they buy when they stop.

Manufacturing Levels: Manufacturing levels are a key indicator of how much freight will be hitting the nation’s highways, and knowing which way the manufacturing is trending can give truckstop and travel plazas an early glimpse into expected freight levels.

Personal Spending: Personal spending within the U.S. is one of the primary factors that drives trucking demand. The more consumers buy, the more goods that need to be hauled by truck. If wages increase, consumers have more money to spend, whether it is on grab-and-go foods or gifts and novelties.

Trucking Industry Growth: Growth within the trucking industry directly relates to the number of trucks and drivers on the road. Operators can ask Costello about new players entering trucking as well as the current state of the industry. Costello said he has found that truckstop and travel plaza operators are typically interested in how the trucking industry is performing. He said, “Are we slowing down? Are we speeding up? How is freight, are fleets making any money?”

Trucking Productivity: Trucking productivity can fluctuate and influences how many trucks and drivers are on the nation’s highways. In 2018, the figure will be particularly interesting as the industry adjusts to the electronic logging mandate that took effect in late 2017. Many industry analysts have predicted ELDs would result in more trucks on the road to make up for lost productivity.

Unemployment Rates: Unemployment rates can influence how much employers pay their employees, which directly relates to how much money consumers have to spend.

NAFTA: The United States is currently evaluating its role in the North American
Free Trade Agreement, which could affect the trucking industry

Costello will dig into these figures and more during the session Trucking Economy
2.0 on Feb. 12 from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m.



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Boost Sales, Build a Brand and Grow Traffic with a REMODEL

About two years ago Mike Sibley, president of LaPlace Travel Center, had to remodel the Huddle House restaurant at his location as part of his contract. Following the restaurant renovation, the location saw a 15 to 20 percent sustained increase in sales, which made him realize what a worthwhile investment a remodel or renovation can be.

Sibley continued investing in the property, replacing the fuel dispensers on the location’s 27 fueling lanes. “They were getting old and I was having continuous maintenance issues and we needed to be able to accept the new chip at the pumps,” he said.

Sibley installed 10 double-sided gasoline dispensers and seven highflow double-sided diesel dispensers that have DEF nozzles incorporated into them. “Before that we had a separate DEF pump at one island,” Sibley said, adding that DEF sales have increased significantly.

The next phase of Sibley’s improvement plan is to remodel the convenience store. “When you go into other stores, you look at what they’re doing and see how much space they’re devoting to certain things,” he said. “They have figured out how to maximize sales, and I want to mimic what the big guys are doing.”

Sibley has engaged Paragon Solutions to create an overall renovation strategy that will increase sales. “I wanted to know, based on our sales data and their knowledge of the industry, what was the best amount of space to devote to each element of the store,” Sibley said.

Mike Lawshe, president of Paragon Solutions, said every remodel should start with a hard look at the operation. “You have to take two steps back before you can take one forward. That includes what is working and what is not,” Lawshe
said. “It isn’t about drawing pretty pictures and saying go spend the money. There are short- and longterm solutions to any problem.”

Operators should also look beyond their own operations to get greater insight into the industry as a whole. “In any design, one of the challenges is to overcome preconceived notions operators may have. We all have ideas of what we might want to do, but it is limited by our knowledge,” Lawshe said. “You only know what you know. If you’ve been working in your travel plaza for five years, you know your customers, but you don’t know all of the customers you could have.”

Lawshe said operators have to break down every single component in their stores. “You can almost put down a plus and minus on every area and identify if you are meeting industry averages or doing better,” he said.

CONDUCTING A NEEDS ANALYSIS
Lawshe said he almost always starts a remodel by thinking about lighting, operational cleanliness and potential new profit centers, but added that it is important to do a total analysis.

A complete needs analysis can help operators identify design changes that could improve sales. “Sometimes the facelift is what is needed, sometimes profit center revamping is needed and sometimes you have to rebrand yourself,” Lawshe said. “In any remodel, it isn’t about just making something prettier, it is about figuring out how to make more money. There are always things that are missing.”

Darren Schulte, vice president of membership for NATSO, said understanding what is needed starts with getting to know your customers.

“Knowing your customer is one of the most important things for an operator, and I’m still shocked about how many people don’t know who their customer is,” Schulte said.

Schulte recommends operators create a simple heat map to track how people move throughout the location. “Take a stick drawing of your store. Then for 30 minutes, three times a day for a week track how people come into your store. Take your busiest times of the day and track how people are walking through your store and where they stop,” Schulte said. “After a week’s time, you’ll understand what type of customer you have in your store. You’ll also start to notice the demographics.”

Surveys can also help operators get to know their customers and give them direction on a remodel. “Asking ‘why do you stop here’ is helpful. You can build your business around that,” Schulte said. “If they tell you because you’re fast, you could work on making it even quicker. If they talk about the food, maybe you should be focused on expanding the food or making it even quicker.”

BUILDING A BRAND
It is also important for operators to consider their brand, and branding goes beyond colors and logos, encompassing everything from the look of the inside to the packaging of sandwiches to the specific profit centers within the store. “Branding is every way you communicate who you are in a very visual way. When you do the analysis on the front end, do a brand analysis as well,” Lawshe said.

Creating a brand is about creating a story. Tiffany Gamble, advisor at Hat Six Travel Plaza, said Paragon Solutions helped her identify her design priorities and craft an overall feel for the location when the owners launched a remodel. “They asked us, ‘Where are you now and where do you want to head?’ They had a list of questions we answered,” she said.

Some of the words Gamble used to describe the feeling she wanted to evoke in the location were sleek, tough, rugged, country, down home, warm and inviting. “It is a lot to wrap into one, but they really understood what was in my mind. People are proud to be from here, so we wanted to capture whole Wyoming feel,” she said.

Lawshe said telling a compelling story is locations’ biggest opportunity, but it is often the least understood. Lawshe said bringing in an outside consultant can help businesses analyze the location and craft a story, citing the creative brief
Gamble provided to him. “The challenge is to weave that into the brand,” he said. “By doing that you increase your level of success.

Hat Six helped shape its brand by changing its name. Prior to the remodel, its proper name was Eastgate Travel Center, even though the locals referred to it by the name of a nearby ranch and the road it was located on, which was Hat Six.
“Sometimes you need to do things that make sense for your customer. They already knew us as that,” Gamble said.

Rebranding the location as Hat Six resonated with locals and created a story. “The remodel gave them an opportunity to say this name means something,” Lawshe said.

As part of its remodel, Hat Six decided to build a new building from the ground up, and the investment has paid off. Since the Hat Six remodel was complete, sales are up 30 to 40 percent, Gamble said. “It was taking a risk and we were taking a chance, but you have to create something new and exciting to get more customers,” she said.

REMODELING TO BOOST EFFICIENCY
Part of a remodel can include adding in technology to reduce waste, improve quality and improve sales. “As a retail designer, I’m looking at physical changes that can improve it,” Lawshe said.

The right design can also help operators make their facilities more efficient for staff. “In food service, a lot of times you put the kitchen in the back because it is dirty or messy but that entails an increase in labor because your kitchen staff is autonomous from your wait staff and that is autonomous of cashiers,” Lawshe said.

Open kitchens are popular right now. “It changes things to a theater approach in cooking where your customers see everything going on back there. You’re creating a different environment,” Lawshe said. “People want that openness, and from a design operation you’ve made it more efficient.

A current trend in the coffee section is bean-to-cup, similar to Keurig but for commercial use, Lawshe said. “It brews it right there and there is zero waste. If you line up 15 machines, there is no waiting and the quality is better,” he explained, adding that although the cost is higher, the net to the bottom line is higher because there is zero waste and less labor required.

Made-to-order programs are trending. “With today’s technology, you can have an efficient made-to-order program and not have foods sitting in a warming case for up to two hours,” Lawshe said. “When you go into a Starbucks, you see a breakfast sandwich in the case that looks appealing, but they grab a fresh one and put it in the oven.” The labor factor is negligible, and customers get fresh food.

FOLLOWING TRENDS
Trends, whether they are within the truckstop or travel plaza industry or in outside retail establishments, can also shape decision making during a remodel.

One of Lawshe’s specific recommendations for Sibley was to add grab-and-go foods as sales have exploded in recent years. “When this store was built, that didn’t exist,” he said.

Trends can include specific regional ideas or the latest developments that are impacting the truckstop and travel plaza industry as a whole or a specific location. “Trends and how they are affecting the marketplace can vary location to location,” Lawshe said.

As part of a needs analysis, operators may identify specific ethnic groups that stop at the location. If operators identify certain ethnicities, they can talk to their vendors about which products might be trending in that area to appeal to those shoppers. “If you don’t ask your vendor, you might be missing an opportunity,” Schulte said.

However, locations will want to track sales to make sure the vendor recommendations are working, which is something that Schulte experienced firsthand when managing a location in El Paso that was in an area with a large number of Hispanic customers. “We weren’t enjoying beer sales based on what everyone else around us was. When we started looking at our data, we saw that brands that typically appealed to Hispanics, such as Tecate, weren’t our big sellers. Heineken was, and we had to fight with our vendor to get more Heineken products,” he said, adding that it was the data that eventually convinced the vendor.

CREATING A STRATEGY
Sibley’s approach of completing a remodel in phases can work well for operators, particularly if there is a lot of work to be done. “You don’t want to impact your existing business, so you want to strategically plan so you can do it in phases,” Lawshe said.

Lawshe recommends operators develop a full plan first, then from there create the stages and phases that make sense. “If you don’t have a master plan in place or an end game, you may do things that have an immediacy to them but then constricts you later on, like putting something in where it shouldn’t have been,” he said. “It can cost 1.5 times what it would have if you had a master plan.”

Schulte said there is a misconception that when operators do a remodel, they have to do everything. “You can pick parts of your business and clean them up or change them up and they can have a big impact on your business,” he said.

Sometimes even small changes can have a large impact. “People don’t think about a high-rise or street sign as a remodel, but improving the signage and collateral program around your business and investing in pump toppers and snap boards on your building itself can have a huge impact,” Schulte said.



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Spur Impulse Buys with the Right Product Placement and Mix

Everyone is starved for times these days, but customers at truckstops and travel plazas are in even more of a hurry than most. They are looking to get in and out of the location quickly and aren’t hanging around to shop. That means last-minute purchases are a key component of truckstop and travel plaza sales. There are several ways store operators can drive impulse buys.

USING THE COUNTER
The counter is the last stop customers make and is prime real estate for impulse items, so it is important to use it wisely. Some retailers have five or six programs on their counters, and all products in this space should drive top line revenue.

CANDY ON THE COUNTER:
If you put candy on the counter, avoid giving customers a trade down. Opt for multi-packs of gum versus the smallest option and don’t place king-size bars next to regular size. The same thing goes for lighters, USB chargers or other cellular type of products.

FOOD:
A large percentage of truckstop and travel plaza customers make a beeline straight to the counter, so having food—either hot or cold—on the counter is critical to overall success. Offer customers a final chance to pick up grab-and-go food.

EMPHASIZING END CAPS
End caps are important locations within truckstops and travel plazas, so eye-catching displays and the right products can spur sales. However, end caps may or may not be the place to emphasize impulse purchases depending on where they’re located. If you don’t have end caps in locations where you think impulse purchases would happen, don’t be afraid to create other display mechanisms.

THINK ABOUT POSITIONING
Positioning is what can turn a regular product into an impulse buy. Studies show the cashier counter and restroom areas are heavily trafficked, so these are great locations for food items we want customers to buy. They are also primary locations for items we want to target to specific customer types. If you’re trying to get females to shop the store, have your gifts and apparel products on the path to the restroom. Sunglasses, which are products a lot of Americans either forget or break, can be an impulse item when positioned near the front of the store versus having sunglasses deep into the location.

CHALLENGING THE NORM
Sometimes we do things just because that’s how we’ve always done it, such as putting candy or chips on the counter. Instead of going with the traditional impulse items, ask yourself what would happen if you tried something else. What if you put women’s purses or baseball caps in your impulse areas? Could you create a new type of impulse item for your store?

HIGHLIGHTING SEASONAL ITEMS
Seasonal items, whether they’re related to holidays or the time of year, can be great impulse purchases. Consider creating fun themes and positioning them in high-traffic locations, including the counter.



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BECAUSE THE CAMPAIGN NEVER STOPS: Two Years Ain’t What It Used To Be

These days it seems like federal lawmakers are always campaigning. The U.S. Constitution calls for members of the House of Representatives to run for re-election every two years. These rules were established in 1789 and have not been changed in the subsequent 225 years.

The world in which lawmakers operate,however, has changed dramatically.

WHEN TIME MOVED SLOWER
In the country’s early years, for example, many members of Congress undertook treacherous, weeks-long journeys just to make it to Washington, D.C. News of their activities in the nation’s capital would often take days or even weeks to make its way back to their constituents.

This allowed lawmakers to engage in the difficult business of negotiating with one another and legislating without concern that every turn of the screw would be over-analyzed by the media (and in turn the voters) during a 24-hour news cycle. It provided lawmakers with “wiggle room” to compromise and pass significant pieces of legislation. “Campaign season” was not a ubiquitous phenomenon the way it is today. Many campaigns would last only weeks.

In other words, with respect to actual policymaking, a two-year term for members of the House of Representatives was a lot longer back then than it is today. For months now, most members of Congress have been in full-fledged campaign mode. Constantly fundraising, traveling home to campaign, and focusing on priorities that are good for their reelection chances rather than good for the country.

THE BENEFIT OF BIENNIAL ELECTIONS
This is not all bad, of course. Biennial elections give voters an opportunity to “push back” against what they perceive to be unwise policymaking. This occurred in 2010, for example, when the voters responded to Democrats’ passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill by handing Republicans control of the House. But Members of Congress have great memories, and many Republicans in the House today have been living in fear of suffering a similar fate as their Democratic colleagues did in 2010. This is why Congress has not been as productive as many Republicans one year ago had hoped.

And, if you believe the polls, Republicans have a reason to be concerned. President Trump’s approval rating remains below 40 percent; Democrats lead by approximately 10 points on the generic Congressional ballot; Republican lawmakers are retiring at a rapid pace; Democrats are recruiting more well-qualified candidates than they have in previous years; and the opposition party almost always gains ground in midterm elections.

Nothing is guaranteed of course. Democrats have to net at least 24 seats to regain the House, and they still have a lot of obstacles to overcome due to, among other things, gerrymandered congressional districts that are heavily favorable to Republicans. Some estimates suggest that these gerrymandered districts necessitate Democrats to win at least 54 percent or more of the national House vote in 2018 to regain control of the lower chamber. This is a difficult but not impossible task. The last time Democrats had such success was 2006 during the height of the Iraq War. They had similar success in 1982 during President Reagan’s first midterm and in the post-Watergate midterm of 1974.

The point being, of course, that Congressional Republicans fear that they are vulnerable to a Democratic wave and are acting accordingly. Depending upon the Member and his or her district, there is a constant fear that any decision could bring well-qualified, well-funded challengers.

LAWMAKERS EXERCISE CAUTION
Moderate Republicans in swing districts are concerned that any indication that they support policies espoused by President Trump could cause their constituents to turn on them. More conservative Republicans, on the other hand, are living in constant fear that any willingness to compromise with Democrats or deviate from Republican orthodoxy could lead to primary challengers attacking them from the right. Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former White House adviser, has made it his personal mission to identify and support such primary challengers.

This is not a recipe for productivity in Congress. Lawmakers who are in constant fear of losing their next election inevitably find it difficult to adopt policies whose positive effects will not come into view until after the date of the next election. When that date is never more than two years away, it becomes difficult to pass forward-thinking pieces of legislation. This problem is exacerbated when one considers that these policymakers’ actions are constantly being over-scrutinized on television and social media.

THE CHALLENGE OF ELECTIONS
Two years ain’t what it used to be, and this is a problem for many of NATSO’s legislative priorities. The truckstop and trucking industries have been pushing for years about the need to invest heavily in America’s surface transportation infrastructure. Bringing our roads, bridges and airports into the 21st Century costs a lot of money and the positive effects generally take years—generations even—to come to fruition.

Every day we experience first hand the benefits of the Eisenhower Administration’s investments in developing the Interstate Highway System. Congress in the 1950s worked across party lines to pass legislation to create the same roads that vehicles drive on every day.

Lucky for us there was no 24-hour news cycle or social media in 1956.

This isn’t to say that frequent elections are necessarily a bad thing; of course it is imperative that voters have the opportunity to “throw the bums out” from time to time. But for all of 2017, the U.S. economy was strong, there was a clear need for legislation improving our country’s infrastructure and healthcare systems, and a single political party held control of both houses of Congress and the White House. And still we underinvest in our infrastructure and have skyrocketing healthcare and insurance costs.

So, I’ll say it again, two years ain’t what it used to be.



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You Can Apply for Jobs on Facebook Now

Today Facebook announced a new feature that will allow business Pages to post jobs and manage applications on its platform. 

In over 40 countries, administrators will be able to create job listings directly from their Pages, where they'll appear throughout Facebook like any other post or ad would: the Page itself, followers' News Feeds, and Marketplace, as well as Facebook's new Jobs dashboard.

Benefits to Businesses and Users

Facebook has positioned the Jobs feature as a benefit to both employers and job seekers. On top of being able to track hiring the way they might analyze any other promoted post campaign, Page administrators can also manage and communicate with applicants via Messenger.

That's a plus for applicants themselves, who can look for listings on the new Jobs dashboard according to criteria like location, full- or part-time status, and industry. 

The application process works similarly to one like LinkedIn, allowing users to automatically populate job history according to what's publicly available on his or her Facebook profile.

And for those who shudder at the thought of an employer seeing such a profile, fear not -- Facebook has emphasized that "businesses will only be able to see information you provide them directly, and what’s available publicly on your Facebook profile."

Once an application is submitted, a Messenger conversation between the applicant and the employer's Page is created to maintain contact, confirm that the application was received, and send reminders for or schedule things like interviews.

Built With Users (and LinkedIn) In Mind?

The launch comes at an interesting time when Facebook has been making a series of moves to promote more content from a user's own personal network -- more than that from Pages.

The development also comes on the heels of recent predictions that Facebook will lose 5.8% of users between 18 and 24 in 2018. At the same time, HubSpot's own research has indicated plans to increase the use of LinkedIn among a similar demographic -- ages 18 to 34.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 3.49.27 PM

But Facebook didn't necessarily build the Jobs features with one subset of users in mind -- even if LinkedIn shows signs of growing popularity among a population that coincides with the same one where Facebook is predicted to see a loss.

Instead, says HubSpot Social Media Campaign Associate Henry Franco, this move is the latest in a series from Facebook to address the loss or disinterest of any users -- "a sign," he says, "that Facebook lost site of users and had been way too focused on advertisers" and is continuing efforts to both address and remedy that issue.

And while the new Jobs feature does carry benefits for Page owners, it does introduce a new way for users who are seeking work that isn't traditionally listed on business-heavy networks like LinkedIn.

"While candidate information might not be as rich as it is on LinkedIn, Facebook definitely has a more active user base and serves a much easier way for businesses to get jobs in front of potential applicants," says Franco. "I expect companies will find it much easier to hire entry-level or low-skill jobs on Facebook, whereas for higher-skilled jobs or ones that simply require more experience, LinkedIn will provide a deeper pool of candidates."

A Crowded Market

The new Jobs feature also signals a key change in the way people look for and apply for jobs. In 2017, "Google for Jobs" premiered, in which job seekers could type in search criteria like "jobs in Boston" or "marketing jobs" to see listings displayed right in the general search engine results page (SERP).

Both Facebook and Google have been making changes to shape the way people discover, consume, and engage with content -- and to prevent them from doing so in a way that navigates them away from either site. Facebook, for example, modified its algorithm at one point to favor native content, like Live video, that people could do without leaving the network.

Google has been moving in a similar direction, as indicated by a recent announcement that AMP features will be coming to Gmail in a way that allows users to complete email-related tasks -- managing subscriptions, RSVPing to non-Google-Calendar events, and scheduling appointments -- without leaving their inboxes. 

Searching for jobs, says Franco, is just the latest integration to that trend, which he predicts could significantly cut into traffic previously earned by existing job listing sites.

"It's interesting that the job posting market is becoming so crowded here," he says. "It builds out not only the business experience, but the candidate one, too."

Featured Image Credit: Facebook



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Time is Running Out! Remember These 5 Tax Challenges and the Solutions to Overcome Them

The 5 Biggest Small Business Tax Issues (and How to Beat Them)

It’s tax season, and that means small business owners everywhere are starting to worry about how and when they’ll file their year-end returns. Tax season is a stressful time for everyone, but especially for small business owners, who often have more complex financials to work with than individuals — but considering there are close to 28 million small businesses in the United States, at least you’re in good company.

It helps to thoroughly understand why the season is stressful, pinpointing the biggest and most significant worries so you can address them proactively. So what are the chief concerns of small business owners during this hectic period?

The Biggest Small Business Tax Issues

These are usually their most pressing concerns:

1. Timing. Timing is an issue for all small business. Between daily operations and long-term management issues, you have enough to worry about — adding a heap of tax considerations at the beginning of the year makes it even more difficult to properly manage your time. That’s why online services have cropped up to try and streamline the process; they can shave hours off the manual process of filing taxes and give you checklists to ensure you haven’t missed anything, but can’t eliminate the burden entirely. On top of that, many small business owners end up filing late, which comes with its own share of problems.

2. Record keeping. There’s a lot to keep track of in a small business, including your revenue and expenses. You should have every receipt for business-related purchases stored somewhere you can access them easily, but for most small business owners, that’s a tall order. One of the best solutions for this is utilizing a receipt scanning app, like Shoeboxed or Wave, which will automatically and digitally store this information. You’ll still have to make a concentrated effort throughout the year to scan and store this information properly, but it will be worth it when you shave hours off your time and rest easy knowing all your records are kept accurately.

3. Underreporting. Unfortunately, many small business owners run into the problem of underreporting income or expenses. Because they often deal with a larger number of small clients, they might forget about a section of income, or neglect to take advantage of a significant deduction. Underreporting in small amounts generally isn’t an issue, but in large enough volume, it can land your business in hot water. Accurate record keeping and detailed reporting are your best preventative tools here.

4. Complex advantages. There are some significant advantages specifically meant for small businesses, such as the Section 179 expense deduction and certain capital gains taxes. However, many of these are complicated, with special requirements that make them harder to take advantage of. In addition, some of them expire and are replaced practically every year. Knowing how best to utilize these savings is an elusive art form, but working with a professional can help you sort things out.

5. Ambiguous deductions. Small business owners can also be confused by the nature of deductions; what counts as a business expense isn’t always clear, especially when your personal and professional lives seem to blur together. For example, should you deduct the costs of maintaining a home office if you only use it one or two days a week? Again, the best solution here is to work with a professional, who will help you figure out the exact requirements here.

High-Level Goals

Overall, there are three simple actions you can take to make your life much less stressful:

  • Plan ahead. The further ahead you plan, the better, for nearly every aspect of the tax filing process. Thinking ahead will keep your records better organized, and will help you manage your time so you can file before the deadline.
  • Work with a professional. Even if you’re experienced in filing business taxes, it’s a good idea to work with a professional. They may know things you don’t, giving you greater advantages, and they’ll be able to do the work more efficiently as well.
  • Keep things organized. As much as possible, keep your records organized throughout the year. It will save you time and stress come tax season.

There isn’t much you can do to restructure the tax system, but you can take control over the issues in front of you. Work with your team to proactively identify your most significant problem areas, and squash them in time to feel confident about your tax strategy.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Time is Running Out! Remember These 5 Tax Challenges and the Solutions to Overcome Them" was first published on Small Business Trends



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What You Missed This Month in Google

It's time for that March lion to roar onto the scene. Time for St. Patrick's Day, the first signs of spring, and the end of Q1.

February is coming to a close.

And being that it's a shorter month, February seems to have flown by. A lot happened in the world of tech, much of the news coming from Google.

We’ve put together another list of the major highlights from Google -- this time, for the month of February. Read on for the full recap.

1. Double Featured Snippets Are Coming

Google announced today that it will be rolling out a new element to its search engine results page (SERP): featured snippets.

The announcement comes somewhat on the heels of a recent post on Google's official blog took a deep dive into how its featured snippets work, where Danny Sullivan, public liaison for search, explained that while this piece of the SERP has been helpful to many, it isn't quite perfect.

One item to be addressed, Google Search Product Management Director Emily Moxley wrote today, is the concept of nuanced queries: the ones that could be seeking multiple answers on a given issue. Using the example of a query like "tooth pain after a filling," Moxley explains that user could be looking to find out if this type of pain is normal (the "why"), or learn about the duration of the pain (the "how" or "how long"). 

For that reason, Google will begin rolling out the display of more than one featured snippet in the SERP that could answer the user's question, depending on the words used in the search -- what Moxley calls "multi-intent queries."

multifacetedfeaturedsnippet.max-1000x1000

Source: The Keyword

As we wrote earlier this month, displaying more featured snippets in the SERP introduces a higher barrier to earning clicks, especially if the snippets answer the query sufficiently enough that the user doesn't need to look -- or click -- any further.

"Testing methods to maximize featured snippet exposure is going to become the norm in SEO," says Victor Pan, HubSpot's Manager of SEO. "But being able to turn that view to a click, an engagement with content, and trust with your website has, and will always be the tougher problem."

2. Better Ads Standards Take Effect

Last summer, Google announced that on its Chrome browser, it would be removing ads from sites that don't meet the Better Ads Standards. The initiative launched on February 15, and Google began blocking ads that did not meet the criteria.

The goal was not to do away with ads completely. Rather, it was to discourage webmasters from creating and placing digital ads that interrupt a user’s content consumption -- characteristics like automatically playing loudly, or not allowing users to navigate away from the ad until a certain amount of time has passed.

Coalition for Better Ads_Better Ads Standards Source: Coalition for Better Ads

However, Google also wanted to ensure that critical ad revenue wouldn't be lost as a result of these changes. In fact, better ads would actually boost those efforts, as intrusive ones motivated users to install browser plugins that block ads altogether -- which would remove any ad engagement and the resulting income from its display.

According to Chris Bentzel, Google's Engineering Manager, early tests of this feature showed that it was, for the most part, effective. The 42% of tested sites that failed the Better Ads Standards actively took the initiative to remove their intrusive ads and, three days before the launch, passed and met the criteria for a better user experience.

It sounds as though webmasters will be notified by Google if their sites contain non-compliant ad experiences. If, they have not addressed and modified the ads to meet the new standards within 30 days of notification, Chrome will actively block ads on that site.

Sites with such intrusive ads will display the following message:

Untitled-44 Source: Google Chromium Blog

3. AI Comes to AdSense

We've written a lot about the things that a bot can do (albeit, not always well): write a screenplay, compose a classical masterpiece, name paint colors. And now, it seems, AI can help you build an ad campaign.

Last month, Google AdSense introduced a new feature called "Auto ads," in which machine learning helps marketers place and monetize ads with smart automation.

With Auto ads, the AI behind the feature crawls your site to find the best pages and areas for potential ad placements, and displays them only when the probability of both a strong performance and user experience are high.

It does this, as the name suggests, automatically -- all the ad manager has to do is select the ad formats she wants to use in her AdSense settings, then copy and paste the generated code on the pages where ads can be displayed.

To emphasize, copying the code onto all pages doesn't mean ads will actually display there. That's where the machine learning comes in to determine if it's an optimal location for ad placement.

newblogpic Source: Inside AdSense

4. AMP'd Up Emails

The AMP initiative -- or Accelerated Mobile Pages -- was first introduced by Google to help webmasters create sites and ads that provide a rich experience, but also load quickly and maintain a high performance across different browsing platforms. That, as the name suggests, includes mobile.

Until recently, the open-source AMP initiative only applied to websites. But early this month, Google announced that it would be launching a preview of "AMP for Email" for Gmail developers, which is slated to bring those same fast, rich, and high-performing experiences to email.

One of the primary goals, according to the official announcement, is to allow users to complete more tasks without navigating away from their inboxes -- things like RSVPing to events for which they receive HTML email invites, completing a survey, or managing email subscriptions.

Source: The Keyword

Email marketers and developers can sign up for a preview here.

5. Other Google News You May Have Missed

Clips Is Now Available for Purchase

Google Clips, the wireless smart camera announced at the company's October 2017 #MadeByGoogle event, was officially released for purchase last month -- only to receive less-than-stellar reviews.

Many were confused about the camera's purpose when it was first released, The Verge reporter Sean O'Kane describing it as a "deeply weird product." On Tuesday, his colleague Dan Seifert didn't have much better to say, reviewing Clips as something that "just doesn’t work that well."

Android Announcements From Mobile World Congress

At Mobile World Congress 2018 (MWC), Google announced it will be introducing two new Android programs to smartphones: The Go edition of Android Oreo, and Android One.

The former -- which will be built into select phones from Alcatel and Huawei, among others -- boasts a more optimized experience with higher speeds for devices with a memory capacity of less than 1 GB. The latter will introduce an entirely new suite of devices, primarily from Nokia.

Source: The Keyword

A Further Foray Into the Internet of Things

Google is no stranger to the internet of things (IoT), with the ability to control Smart Home lighting and more with Google Assistant-enabled devices. And with its recent acquisition of Xively, it appears that the company has grander plans for that sector.

Xively, previously a division of LogMeIn, is largely known for its device management capabilities. But rather than contributing toward future buildout of consumer IoT products, this "addition of Xively’s robust, enterprise-ready IoT platform," wrote Google's IoT Product Manager Antony Passemard in a statement, "can accelerate our customers’ timeline from IoT vision to product, as they look to build their connected business," making it a logical fit for Google's Cloud IoT Core team.

Until Next Month

As always, we’re watching all things Google. We’ll continue to pick out top news items, algorithm updates, and trends that can aid your marketing.

Until the month goes out like a lamb, have a great March.



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Time is Running Out! Remember These 5 Tax Challenges and the Solutions to Overcome Them

The 5 Biggest Small Business Tax Issues (and How to Beat Them)

It’s tax season, and that means small business owners everywhere are starting to worry about how and when they’ll file their year-end returns. Tax season is a stressful time for everyone, but especially for small business owners, who often have more complex financials to work with than individuals — but considering there are close to 28 million small businesses in the United States, at least you’re in good company.

It helps to thoroughly understand why the season is stressful, pinpointing the biggest and most significant worries so you can address them proactively. So what are the chief concerns of small business owners during this hectic period?

The Biggest Small Business Tax Issues

These are usually their most pressing concerns:

1. Timing. Timing is an issue for all small business. Between daily operations and long-term management issues, you have enough to worry about — adding a heap of tax considerations at the beginning of the year makes it even more difficult to properly manage your time. That’s why online services have cropped up to try and streamline the process; they can shave hours off the manual process of filing taxes and give you checklists to ensure you haven’t missed anything, but can’t eliminate the burden entirely. On top of that, many small business owners end up filing late, which comes with its own share of problems.

2. Record keeping. There’s a lot to keep track of in a small business, including your revenue and expenses. You should have every receipt for business-related purchases stored somewhere you can access them easily, but for most small business owners, that’s a tall order. One of the best solutions for this is utilizing a receipt scanning app, like Shoeboxed or Wave, which will automatically and digitally store this information. You’ll still have to make a concentrated effort throughout the year to scan and store this information properly, but it will be worth it when you shave hours off your time and rest easy knowing all your records are kept accurately.

3. Underreporting. Unfortunately, many small business owners run into the problem of underreporting income or expenses. Because they often deal with a larger number of small clients, they might forget about a section of income, or neglect to take advantage of a significant deduction. Underreporting in small amounts generally isn’t an issue, but in large enough volume, it can land your business in hot water. Accurate record keeping and detailed reporting are your best preventative tools here.

4. Complex advantages. There are some significant advantages specifically meant for small businesses, such as the Section 179 expense deduction and certain capital gains taxes. However, many of these are complicated, with special requirements that make them harder to take advantage of. In addition, some of them expire and are replaced practically every year. Knowing how best to utilize these savings is an elusive art form, but working with a professional can help you sort things out.

5. Ambiguous deductions. Small business owners can also be confused by the nature of deductions; what counts as a business expense isn’t always clear, especially when your personal and professional lives seem to blur together. For example, should you deduct the costs of maintaining a home office if you only use it one or two days a week? Again, the best solution here is to work with a professional, who will help you figure out the exact requirements here.

High-Level Goals

Overall, there are three simple actions you can take to make your life much less stressful:

  • Plan ahead. The further ahead you plan, the better, for nearly every aspect of the tax filing process. Thinking ahead will keep your records better organized, and will help you manage your time so you can file before the deadline.
  • Work with a professional. Even if you’re experienced in filing business taxes, it’s a good idea to work with a professional. They may know things you don’t, giving you greater advantages, and they’ll be able to do the work more efficiently as well.
  • Keep things organized. As much as possible, keep your records organized throughout the year. It will save you time and stress come tax season.

There isn’t much you can do to restructure the tax system, but you can take control over the issues in front of you. Work with your team to proactively identify your most significant problem areas, and squash them in time to feel confident about your tax strategy.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Time is Running Out! Remember These 5 Tax Challenges and the Solutions to Overcome Them" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz Work to Shield Small Businesses From Cyber Attack

Is This New Cyber Risk Management Partnership Right for Small Business?

A new partnership between Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz seeks to protect small businesses from the growing threat of cyberattack. The threat to small business is growing, with around 43 percent of all cyber attacks squarely aimed at this segment.

The Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz Cyber Security and Insurance package was established so small businesses can manage the risks they face from the threats of common malware and ransomware. And when they do become victims of an attack, the service gives them the resiliency to quickly recover and minimize their downtime, the companies say.

The cybersecurity threat small businesses face is alarming. More than 72 percent of successful data breaches happen in smaller companies, and around 71 percent of owners say they don’t have confidence in the cybersecurity measures they currently have in place. With all the associated risk, and many citing data breaches as their number one concern, almost two thirds or 65 percent go without cyber insurance.

Cyber Risk Management Partnership

The cyber insurance and security package created with the collaboration of Cisco, Apple, Aon, and Allianz is a comprehensive solution designed to protect the organization as a whole.

Jason Hogg, CEO of Aon Cyber Solutions, explains the approach in a release announcing the new service. He says, “This holistic solution provides our clients with an integrated approach to addressing ransomware risk. We can provide customers with guidance on what cyber defenses, resources and processes to deploy to improve their cyber posture. It’s the improved cyber posture that makes them eligible for enhanced/broader cyber insurance protection.”

As part of the Cyber Risk Framework, this solution allows organizations to act on the risks they face with streamlined access to the right tools to strengthen their security while reducing cyber risk.

The process starts with an evaluation of your digital ecosystem to provide the insights you need to bolster the security posture of your company. Once your security profile has been strengthened with tools from Apple and Cisco, your organization can qualify for enhanced cyber risk insurance. This is where the insurance underwritten by Allianz and sold by Aon comes in to add another layer of protection.

According to the partnership, “This enhanced insurance offers broader coverage terms and conditions than generally existing insurance coverage.”

With this solution in place, you will be able to respond to advanced threats faster, empower your employees, increase your cyber insurance profile to get protected from additional risk while gaining security expertise.

Though information on the total cost of the program was not provided, more information is available by contacting any one of the partners for more.

Image: Cisco

This article, "Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz Work to Shield Small Businesses From Cyber Attack" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz Work to Shield Small Businesses From Cyber Attack

Is This New Cyber Risk Management Partnership Right for Small Business?

A new partnership between Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz seeks to protect small businesses from the growing threat of cyberattack. The threat to small business is growing, with around 43 percent of all cyber attacks squarely aimed at this segment.

The Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz Cyber Security and Insurance package was established so small businesses can manage the risks they face from the threats of common malware and ransomware. And when they do become victims of an attack, the service gives them the resiliency to quickly recover and minimize their downtime, the companies say.

The cybersecurity threat small businesses face is alarming. More than 72 percent of successful data breaches happen in smaller companies, and around 71 percent of owners say they don’t have confidence in the cybersecurity measures they currently have in place. With all the associated risk, and many citing data breaches as their number one concern, almost two thirds or 65 percent go without cyber insurance.

Cyber Risk Management Partnership

The cyber insurance and security package created with the collaboration of Cisco, Apple, Aon, and Allianz is a comprehensive solution designed to protect the organization as a whole.

Jason Hogg, CEO of Aon Cyber Solutions, explains the approach in a release announcing the new service. He says, “This holistic solution provides our clients with an integrated approach to addressing ransomware risk. We can provide customers with guidance on what cyber defenses, resources and processes to deploy to improve their cyber posture. It’s the improved cyber posture that makes them eligible for enhanced/broader cyber insurance protection.”

As part of the Cyber Risk Framework, this solution allows organizations to act on the risks they face with streamlined access to the right tools to strengthen their security while reducing cyber risk.

The process starts with an evaluation of your digital ecosystem to provide the insights you need to bolster the security posture of your company. Once your security profile has been strengthened with tools from Apple and Cisco, your organization can qualify for enhanced cyber risk insurance. This is where the insurance underwritten by Allianz and sold by Aon comes in to add another layer of protection.

According to the partnership, “This enhanced insurance offers broader coverage terms and conditions than generally existing insurance coverage.”

With this solution in place, you will be able to respond to advanced threats faster, empower your employees, increase your cyber insurance profile to get protected from additional risk while gaining security expertise.

Though information on the total cost of the program was not provided, more information is available by contacting any one of the partners for more.

Image: Cisco

This article, "Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz Work to Shield Small Businesses From Cyber Attack" was first published on Small Business Trends



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New in February—advancing creativity, teamwork, and management in the modern workplace

Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

New Office 365 capabilities this month include tools to improve the quality of your work, craft compelling resumes, and work with team members outside your organization. Office 365 administrators also benefit from new ways to manage collaboration at scale, communicate complex ideas, and protect their employee and customer data. Read on for details.

Enhanced tools for creativity and teamwork

We continue to build on intelligent technology in Office 365 with a new set of AI-powered features to improve the process of content creation.

Improve your writing with Editor—The new Editor overview pane in Microsoft Word brings together a set of tools to optimize the process of editing and finishing your work. While you’re editing a document, Editor overview shows a summary of opportunities for enhancement with corrections, refinements, and stylistic suggestions that take into account the context of the overall document, allowing you to make changes linearly or by category.

Additionally, for education subscribers, the Editor overview pane provides teachers with a dashboard to understand common errors individual students make and inform lesson plans. Editor overview is available to all Office 365 subscribers and replaces the traditional spell check pane. To get started, click the Check Document button in the Review tab of the ribbon.

Animated screenshot displays the Spelling and Grammar capabilities in Microsoft Word's Editor.

Editor shows a summary of opportunities for enhancement with suggested corrections, refinements, and stylistic changes within the context of the overall document.

Craft compelling resumes in Microsoft Word—Last November, we announced Resume Assistant, a new AI feature in Microsoft Word to help you craft a compelling resume with personalized insights powered by LinkedIn. This month, Resume Assistant began rolling out to Office 365 consumer and commercial subscribers on Windows. With over 80 percent of resumes updated in Word, Resume Assistant helps job seekers showcase accomplishments, be more easily discovered by recruiters, and find their ideal job. To learn more about Resume Assistant, read the official LinkedIn blog or visit Office Support for tips, tricks, and information on how to get started.

Brief animation showcases Resume Assistant in Word.

Resume Assistant helps you craft a compelling resume with intelligent, personalized insights powered by LinkedIn.

Work with guests in Microsoft Teams—We’re rolling out the ability to add anyone as a guest in Microsoft Teams. Previously, only those with an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account could be added as a guest. Starting next week, anyone with a business or consumer email address—including Outlook.com and Gmail.com—can participate as a guest in Teams with full access to team chats, meetings, and files. Guests in Teams will continue to be covered by the same compliance and auditing protection afforded to Office 365 subscribers, and can be managed securely within Azure AD.

Get to information faster with StaffHub Now—Updates to StaffHub provide new ways for Firstline Workers to manage their day. The new StaffHub Now tab includes a preview of your workday, with notes, activities, and breaks all in an easy-to-read format. We’re also making it easier to quickly access StaffHub by bringing it to the Office 365 App Launcher. StaffHub subscribers can navigate to Office.com and sign in with their work account to get started.

Updates for Office 365 administrators

Updates to Office 365 this month help administrators manage access to resources, better understand what information they have stored, and strengthen their compliance posture.

Enforce naming conventions across Office 365 Groups—We introduced the ability for administrators to set naming policies for Office 365 Groups. This top requested feature allows organizations to enforce consistent naming structures and block specific words from being used. Naming policies are automatically applied when a user creates a new group, and can include dynamic attributes from Azure AD, such as department, office, or geographic region. This makes it easier for administrators to manage groups at scale, and for users to identify relevant Office 365 Groups in the global address list. Office 365 subscribers can try this feature for free while it is in public preview. For licensing details, visit Office 365 Support.

Create advanced network diagrams in Visio Online—Last year, we introduced Visio Online, a web-based version of the popular Microsoft diagramming tool. Starting this month, Visio Online now includes a variety of network topology and equipment shapes, giving administrators the tools to create detailed network diagrams and plan their IT environment. We also introduced new canvas capabilities like Dynamic Glue and Control Points, giving all users greater control over shape customization and making it easier to produce complex diagrams. Visit Visio Online Support to learn more.

Screenshot displays network topology and equipment shapes in Visio Online.

Visio Online now includes network topology and equipment shapes to create detailed network diagrams.

Prepare for GDPR with new compliance capabilities—The European Union’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect May 25, 2018 and sets a new precedent for data protection and compliance. Throughout February, we announced several new capabilities in Microsoft 365 that leverage the cloud to help organizations meet their compliance obligations. Compliance Manager, now generally available, helps you assess and manage your risk and prioritize tasks to achieve organizational compliance. We also introduced new features in Azure Information Protection (AIP), including the general availability of AIP Scanner, which enables you to automatically discover, classify, label, and protect sensitive data in apps, cloud services, platforms, and on-premises. Learn more about these new features in our latest GDPR blog.

Changes to Office and Windows servicing and support—As part of our ongoing commitment to help our enterprise customers with the deployment and maintenance of their corporate environments, we announced changes to our servicing and support models. These updates include servicing extensions for Windows 10, changes to the Office 365 ProPlus system requirements, and new details on the next perpetual release of Office and Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release of Windows. Read more about the details on our TechNet blog.

Learn more about what’s new for Office 365 subscribers this month at: Office on Windows desktops | Office for Mac | Office Mobile for Windows | Office for iPhone and iPad | Office on Android. If you’re an Office 365 Home or Personal customer, be sure to sign up for Office Insider to be the first to use the latest and greatest in Office productivity. Commercial customers on both Monthly Channel and Semi-Annual Channel can also get early access to a fully supported build through Targeted Release (Clients, Services). This site explains more about when you can expect to receive the features announced today.

—Kirk Koenigsbauer

The post New in February—advancing creativity, teamwork, and management in the modern workplace appeared first on Office Blogs.



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MIT rates No. 1 in 12 subjects in 2018 QS World University Rankings

MIT has been honored with 12 No. 1 subject rankings in the QS World University Rankings for 2018.

MIT received a No. 1 ranking in the following QS subject areas: Architecture/Built Environment; Linguistics; Chemical Engineering; Civil and Structural Engineering; Computer Science and Information Systems; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering; Chemistry; Materials Science; Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy; and Statistics and Operational Research.   

Additional high-ranking MIT subjects include: Art and Design (No. 4), Biological Sciences (No. 2), Earth and Marine Sciences (No. 3), Environmental Sciences (No. 3), Accounting and Finance (No. 2), Business and Management Studies (No. 4), and Economics and Econometrics (No. 2).

Quacquarelli Symonds Limited subject rankings, published annually, are designed to help prospective students find the leading schools in their field of interest. Rankings cover 48 disciplines and are based on an institute’s research quality and accomplishments, academic reputation, and graduate employment.

MIT has been ranked as the No. 1 university in the world by QS World University Rankings for six straight years.



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‘Small Business Revolution – Main Street’ Returns for Third Season

City Selected for Third Season Of Small Business Revolution-Main Street is Alton Illinois

Have you seen “Small Business Revolution — Main Street”?

It’s the show where a whopping $500,000 revitalization prize is awarded to one city, by Deluxe Corp. This month, Small Business Trends connected with Amanda Brinkman from the program to discuss its third season, which begins later this year with co-host Ty Pennington. We discuss Brinkman’s role at Deluxe, what businesses can learn by watching their past and upcoming content, and how they’re using Facebook Live.

Third Season of Small Business Revolution-Main Street

A creative visionary in marketing and media, Amanda Brinkman has innovated for brands like Reebok, BMW, Sony, Toro, Virgin Mobile and more. Her work on BMW Films kicked her career into overdrive. Brinkman currently works with Deluxe Corp. as chief brand and communications officer, and in 2015 she made a bet that an authentic program — branded as the Small Business Revolution championed by Deluxe — would garner more results than she could buy with traditional advertising.

The show, named “Small Business Revolution — Main Street”, chronicles the program’s impact on communities and countless lives. The winning city for the show’s new season was announced on Feb. 27, 2018 via Facebook. Content from the two previous seasons have gained 11x the reach and impressions of a traditional media buy with the same spend.

Brinkman is honored to serve on the boards of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Make-A-Wish, the Children’s Theatre Company and the Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Chicago Board. She also passionately volunteers for an array of causes, including the Special Olympics, Feed My Starving Children, People Serving People, the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota, the Jeremiah Program and more. She’s also a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable. Engage with her on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook @amandakbrinkman.

City Selected for Third Season Of Small Business Revolution-Main Street is Alton Illinois

Small Business Trends: What is the Small Business Revolution all about and which city won Season 3?

Amanda Brinkman: The Small Business Revolution is a movement. We are creating a revolution across the country to celebrate small businesses and their critical impact on our economy and our communities. This year marks the third season of “Small Business Revolution – Main Street”, which annually awards one small town with a $500,000 revitalization for its Main Street and its small businesses. We received thousands of nominations from towns across America and spent the last couple of months visiting and researching the finalist. After naming five finalists and inviting the public to vote for their favorite, Alton, Illinois was named the winner.

FacebookLive

Small Business Trends: How has Facebook Live been helpful even before the third season of ‘Small Business Revolution — Main Street’ begins?

Amanda Brinkman: Facebook Live has been an incredible tool for energizing our passionate Small Business Revolution audience and engaging with them in real time — especially at key points throughout the program. For example, when we visited 10 short-listed towns in January to determine our five finalists, we did a Facebook Live broadcast from each town with a local representative. It was an amazing way to shine a spotlight on all of the communities and share with our followers the amazing communities we were visiting. We’ve also used Facebook Live to make major announcements, such as the reveal of our five finalist towns for Season 3 and the inclusion of Ty Pennington as our new co-host. It’s fun — and effective — to have everyone learning the news simultaneously and weighing in with their comments.

Small Business Trends: Let’s hear a recap of what Deluxe is, for those who don’t know.

Amanda Brinkman: Deluxe was founded more than 100 years ago with a legacy in the check-printing space. Today, it is a growth engine for small businesses and financial institutions, serving 4.4 million small business customers across the country. Deluxe provides small business services and products such as website development and hosting, email marketing, social media, search engine optimization and logo design — helping small businesses with marketing so they can focus on the aspects of their business that they love most.

Small Business Trends: When does the new season air? How does Ty Pennington fit into the show?

Amanda Brinkman: Season 3 will debut this fall on Hulu, YouTube and SmallBusinessRevolution.org. Seasons 1 and 2 are both on SmallBusinessRevolution.org where you can see what’s at stake for Season 3, and how small businesses in these inspiring communities have overcome challenges with help from Deluxe. We enlisted Ty as a co-host for Season 3 because of his proven track record of working on projects that help transform and improve lives, homes and communities. Now, he’s going to help us transform an entire community!

Images: Deluxe Corp.

This article, "‘Small Business Revolution – Main Street’ Returns for Third Season" was first published on Small Business Trends



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