October 2012 Archives

All marketing programs have a cycle. Dates and time lines that need to be adhered to in order to make sure that the overall plan is a success. It is all about developing a program that communicates the brand messaging and develops a strong call to action.

For many of my clients, this means developing a custom marketing piece that is unique to them and speaks directly to their brand and messaging. Custom usually equates to overseas and in today's market, that still mostly means Made in China.

As I tell my clients over and over again, if you want quality, but you want it at a lower price point, time lines need to be extended. That means being able to look 90-150 days into the future depending on the project.

Now comes the tricky part. . . Chinese New Year. For those people who live on a Lunar Calendar, it comes at the same time every year. However, to those of us in North America, we need to be cognisant that the date moves and that production SHUTS DOWN for upwards of 3 weeks per year.

This is something that people out West do not seem to grasp. People travel like it's American Thanksgiving, but stay for a longer period of time. It can take them upwards of 5 days to get home and 5-7 days to get back, if they do come back. Projects that arrive at the plant less than a month before Chinese New Year can almost be guaranteed to not ship until after people come back.

This can lead to real panic for those who have not planned accordingly. We tell our clients that we should have orders to China no later than the second week of November. There are moulds to be made, proofs to be sent and signed off upon, raw materials to be ordered and time allocated for production and shipping prior to Chinese New Year.

If you are currently dealing with people who do not regularly procure from Asia, don't. They will not have the expertise to drive the process, assure product quality, make sure that proper testing is done to meet North American safety standards and have no recourse with suppliers if there is a problem.

In today's world, where everyone thinks they can just go online and procure custom projects from overseas and have them arrive on time and right, they will eventually be sadly mistaken.

Let us be your experts to help you drive your marketing process, develop custom marketing pieces that dovetail with your brand and messaging and take care of your offshore procurement and development. We have nearly 20 years experience and we are hear to Get YOU Noticed! in a positive way.

In this video, Richard Leveille, the Executive VP of Franchise Development & Real Estate for Smoothie King, shares how the Buxton model uncovers:

Who Smoothie King guests are;

What life segments they fit in to, and;

Know how to put stores around them.

Today, Smoothie King has about 520 domestic stores and a little over a hundred international stores. Leveille's primary focus is on the development and the real estate side of business.

Leveille needs to ensure that the franchisee puts its store in the right trade area and the right physical location in that trade area.

For retailers and restaurant chains, there is certain limited data that is really available to help us make the right decisions.

SmoothieKing the ability to really analyze what's in the hearts and minds of the consumers in the area. Leveille can analyze hundreds of locations anytime, day or night.

Leveille admits that prior to Buxton, Smoothie King didn't really know who its guests were, their buying habits or what they liked.

But, after utilizing lifestyle segmentation, the company now knows which segments fit its customer base and which ones, on a priority scale, spend more money in stores. This information helps determine where to put Smoothie King stores and what trade areas to focus on.

According to Leveille, the most exciting thing about Buxton is that the people really understand what Smoothie King is looking for.

He now feels confident that Buxton had the tools, databases, delivery systems and SCOUT management system to provide what he needed to make a difference in the company.

While the meatiest provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect in 2014, there are some requirements to tend to right now. Make sure you are ready to comply with the following:

1. W-2s. Most employers need to make sure their 2012 W-2s (i.e. those issued in January, 2013) include the premium cost of their health care plan. Small employers, meaning those that issued fewer than 250 W-2s last year don’t have to comply until 2013, meaning the W-2s they will issue in January, 2014. The premium should be shown in Box 12 with the code DD and should include both the employer and employee share combined.

2.  Medicare Payroll Tax–Beginning in 2013, high wage earners on your payroll, defined as those earning more than $200,000, will be subject to an increased Medicare payroll tax on the amount above that threshhold. The employer contribution will not change. Here’s an example: If Jane earns $300,000, her first $200,000 is taxed at the regular rate of 1.45%. The remaining $100,000, however, must be taxed at a rate that is .9% higher, 2.35%. Be sure to set up your payroll systems accordingly.

3. Summary of Benefits Comparison (SBC)–This form is due to employees on the first day of your first health coverage open enrollment following September 23, 2012. The SBC was designed to help employees better understand and compare their health insurance plan choices. So for plan years beginning January 1st, you will need to get these to employees by December 1st. Most likely your health providers will be able to create them for you to distribute to employees. Note that electronic copies are permissible but you must provide a hard copy upon request.

For the SBC template and everything you need to know about the Affordable Care Act, subscribers may refer to HRSentry’s Healthcare Reform Kit, under the HR-Related Modules under the Knowledge Menu.

It’s 4AM and I’m wrapping up some unfinished business for the week. Such is one of the perils of being at a conference (this week was Franchise Update Leadership & Development Conference) the better part of the week. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Especially as I think about the extraordinary experience and character I am privileged to be around at franchise events.

And, I am ever so thankful to those franchise professionals that are always, without fail, willing to share their experience, insight and perspective. To those, and they know who they are… my very sincere thanks and appreciation! You are truly leaders in many ways, and ones that exemplify what makes franchising great!

As I was preparing to post the above statement on Facebook and LinkedIn, I came across an article that I believe further wraps up the week for me. In the article, Federal Reserve chief and avid baseball fan Ben Bernanke saluted the playoff-bound Washington Nationals on Friday as an example for gridlocked U.S. government leaders of how to succeed by making wise, patient decisions.

“People decry the absence of leadership in Washington these days. My response: Look no further than the home-team dugout at Nationals Park,” the Fed chairman wrote in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal’s online edition.

The Nationals just completed the best regular season in their eight-year history, winning the National League Eastern Division with the best record in Major League Baseball. The team begins the playoffs on Sunday in hopes of securing the first World Series berth for a Washington team since 1933.

He said the formula for the team’s success rested heavily on the wisdom and experience of its manager, Davey Johnson.

“He combines the best of two seemingly at-odds managerial traditions,” Bernanke wrote, noting how Johnson used the latest statistical advances as well as old-fashioned scouting.

“Davey is also really good at identifying and nurturing talent. Most strikingly, he has shown himself willing to sacrifice short-term tactical advantage for the long-term benefit of bolstering the confidence of a player in whom he sees great potential,” Bernanke said, citing how Johnson gave under-performing players a chance to improve.

“Many of us in Washington could learn a thing or two from the Nationals’ approach,” Bernanke said.

Well, I believe many of us in franchising could learn a thing or two from this as well…

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Consisting of a national campaign to raise awareness about disability employment issues, this year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”

There’s no better time to remember how vital it is that employers engage in an interactive dialog with employees who have a disability. The interactive process, required by federal law, is basically a dialog between the employer and employee which helps them come up with a reasonable accommodation (that does not create an undue hardship for the employer) to help the employee perform his or her job. Again, the interactive process is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Just last week the EEOC filed suit against Regions Bank in Tennessee for age and disability discrimination. The bank fired a branch manager after she requested accommodation for a disability. The suit alleges that the bank refused her request for reasonable accommodation and failed to engage in the  interactive process to accommodate and, further, that it treated younger managers more favorably.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2009 greatly expanded the definition of who is considered to be disabled. The question, therefore, has shifted from being about whether someone is disabled to how the person can be reasonably accommodated.  Employers should understand that, while they do not necessarily have to agree to a specific accommodation requested by an employee and they do not have to accommodate someone who is not qualified to do the job (with or without accommodation), they absolutely do need to engage in the interactive process.

HRSentry subscribers may find further information about complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (and the Amendments Act of 2009 which greatly expanded the definition of who is considered to be disabled) by logging in to the HRSentry dashboard. Under the Knowledge Menu, click on HR Topic Modules to find the ADA Kit

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2012 is the previous archive.

November 2012 is the next archive.

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