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- Bandera Business Association - Biz advice for small town merchants


Author Tom Eglehoff has written several books on successfully marketing businesses in small towns, such as Bandera. Over the next few weeks, his sound advice will be presented in this Bandera Business Association column.
To increase their share of the revenue market, local business owners should consider implementing these simple suggestions. Making a business successful is no big mystery, according to Eglehoff:
Intellectual property - Intellectual property on the net is defined as software, patents, books, videos, music, photographs, trademarks, fictional characters, copyrights and web pages. Protect your web site and the information there.
Keep in mind copyrights don't apply to ideas or ways of doing things. Probably the best example of this is clumping cat litter. The guy who invented clumping cat litter just had a good idea that he couldn't protect. Pet supply companies called down to research and development and asked how many formulas they could use to make clumping cat litter. The answer was maybe 10,000 different kinds of ingredients and formulas.
Don't forget the kids - There may be times when you have a special project that requires temporary help. A cleanup campaign, an in-house mailing or help moving the business to another location. Instead of hiring part-time workers from a temp agency check the local high school or university.
Groups of responsible and dependable youth are always raising money for some school project. When you use students, two things happen. You don't have to pay payroll taxes, but you do make a tax-deductible donation for your business if you check the cause with your accountant.
Sponsor teams - One great way to get involved in the community is to sponsor a sports team. The parents of the team members will certainly frequent your business. We have a local hockey team that's doing well and many businesses associate themselves with the team. Don't forget to add your website address on any team literature or signage.
Uneven workloads - Some businesses are under real strain during certain times of the year. Sometimes they overstaff with too many full-time employees. The solution is to hire part timers at higher pay for less hours. You'll save by not having to pay benefits to part timers, coupled with the need for fewer full-time employees, resulting in higher quality part timers who remain with the company longer.
Ensuring employees see 'big picture' - It's hard for small, growing companies to pay people as much as some larger companies. The cost of insurance and other benefits are high and employees usually don't understand the cost of keeping them on the payroll.
Make sure employees know the score when you hire them. If their base salary is $25,000, let them know with insurance and benefits the total package may be $36,750.00. When raises come around, an 11 percent increase may amount to 4 percent salary and 7 percent increase in benefits. This way the employee is more in touch with the actual earnings and the sacrifice made by the company.
If they helped, pay 'em - Many companies seem to feel that they shouldn't pay any type of bonus to part time employees. Keep in mind that these folks helped with customers, production and delivery. They also talk about your business in their private everyday lives. If they're on your payroll, they are necessary and should be made to feel so.