You’ve hired good people, but how do you keep them happy and productive when raises, bonuses, and other forms of compensation may not be in the budget? That’s a dilemma many corporations face—especially in today’s economy.
One possible solution is to improve your company’s benefit package. In fact, a recent report by the Society of Human Resource Management found that “many job seekers frequently place greater importance on health care coverage, flexible work schedules, and other benefits rather than on their base salaries.”
Unfortunately, however, some benefits—such as employer-sponsored health care coverage—can be prohibitively expense. That’s why you may want to look into a Voluntary Payroll Deduction (VPD) program like employee-owned life insurance. VPD has become one of the most popular ways for consumers to purchase life insurance, and it can be an easy, cost-effective way to show your employees you care. In most cases, these programs can be set up using your existing payroll system, and they are therefore simple to administer. Because the insurance company usually provides all the information and materials, there are virtually no direct, out-of-pocket costs to your business.
If your company can’t afford to give raises this year—or if you just want to help your employees feel a bit more secure—consider adding a Voluntary Payroll Deduction program to your benefit package. When it comes to retaining key employees, it could be the best and the least-expensive investment you ever make.
Note: Employee participation in a payroll deduction insurance program is completely voluntary. Since this program is not intended to be subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), employers cannot contribute to, or endorse, this program.
This educational, third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Simon Bloomfield, Agent, New York Life Insurance Company. To learn more about the information or topics discussed, please contact Simon at 508 362 4279, [email protected]
What makes a consumer of a service or product choose one company over another? Is it customer service, good prices, or is it the sales person? It might be all of these, but when it comes to choosing a website design company, the buyer wants one that is knowledgeable, and offers personal interaction for the site’s creation.
A Good First Impression:The design of a website may not be the most important factor overall, but it does play a role in making a good first impression. People often place too much emphasis on the design and not enough on the functioning of the site. Your website represents who you are, and what you offer. There are several questions that you should ask.
Pixles Place Design; www.pixlesplace.com. We offer different web design packages.
Pet ownership represents a large emotional – and financial – commitment. Whether you buy from a pet store or a breeder, adopt an animal from a shelter, or take in a stray, initial costs are just the beginning of the story. This guide examines the different costs associated with pet ownership and helps you know what to expect, how to plan for these expenses, and potential ways to reduce the financial burden of pet ownership.
The Lifetime Cost of a Pet
There are two main cost areas when owning a pet: the initial cost (adoption costs, vaccinations, training, etc.) and then general costs over your pet’s lifetime (food, toys, routine vet visits, etc.) Combining both of these costs together will give you a rough estimate of the lifetime cost of your pet. Even without some of the larger expenses like a fenced in backyard, initial costs like vaccines, heart-worm prevention, toys, training, and food can add up to $680 or more. Throw in routine expenses such as dental care ($40 to $80 per year), food ($240 per year), and grooming ($30 per visit) and you’re looking at $300-$400 per year before major medical expenses.
One of the first expenses of pet ownership is the adoption or purchase price. The price of purchasing from a breeder is typically influenced by the demand for that particular breed. Reputable breeders will charge fair, if competitive, prices, while backyard breeders will charge high prices to earn a profit. You should avoid purchasing from backyard breeders; their practices are driven by money rather than care for the animals. Backyard breeders often purchase from puppy mills and other unethical institutions. The Partnership for Animal Welfare provides a useful guide for identifying the differences between backyard breeders and legitimate breeders. Legitimate breeders know their breeds and can refer buyers to other satisfied customers, while backyard breeders will sell to whomever is willing to pay.
Adoption costs, on the other hand, cover a variety of expenses. Many shelters and rescues will microchip animals, provide medical care and heartworm care, and in some cases even spay and neuter animals. The cost of all this care can be upwards of $800, but shelters rarely ask this much. The upper range of most adoption fees is around $500, but can be higher in some cases.
Medical costs are arguably the most expensive aspect of owning a pet; even smaller expenses quickly add up. The average vet visit can be anywhere from $50 to $400, while dental care runs about the same. Vitamins are usually around $100 per year, and preventative medication for fleas and heartworms are each around $20 per month. None of this includes emergency treatments your pet may require. Pet insurance is another expense that can be marked as a medical expense, but is well worth it. We explain pet insurance in a later section.
Depending on the breed of dog or cat you own, grooming can be a relatively minor cost or a budget-breaking one. Long haired breeds require much more grooming than short haired breeds, although you can often reduce the cost of grooming by handling it yourself. Brushing your pet’s hair daily and trimming their nails at home can save $50 per month.
Pet food will be a large portion of your yearly pet budget, but despite common belief, your pets don’t have to have the most expensive food. Many pet food claims to be “all-natural” and “premium”, but there isn’t much regulation on what it takes to meet those qualifications, they are typically just marketing terms. Price isn’t the determining factor in quality, make sure to do your research on what best fits your budget and pet’s needs. A 22-pound bag of Purina One Complete cat food will cost around $17.48, while a 50-pound bag of Kibbles ‘N Bits dog food is around $22.98 from big-box retailers. Depending on the size of your pet, this could be enough for a single month.
Equipment costs vary wildly depending on the individual. If you need to fence in your backyard, you’re looking at well over $1,000 on average. However, for an indoor pet, you may only need water and food bowls and a few toys. This cost depends entirely on your personal circumstances.
Training is an optional cost. Cat owners likely won’t need to pay for training because most cats don’t require it but dog owners have two options: pay for training or train their pet themselves. If you have owned a dog before, then you may be able to get away with training it on your own unless it is a particularly difficult breed. If you’ve never owned a dog, then professional training can be worth the cost. Not only does training reduce behavioral issues, but it can also reduce costs later in the future; for instance, the cost of a lawsuit or medical treatments if your dog bites someone.
Joanne Lekas, CPDT-KA, of Happy Dog Behavior Training, has taken her love of dogs and her 25 years’ of sales and consulting experience and has transitioned these skills to help people live happier lives with their dogs.
It’s called Programmatic Media Buying. And, although it sounds like something you can’t wrap your head around, it’s the hottest thing in marketing and advertising! What is it? It’s online display advertising on the most targeted level you could imagine.
That you can understand. This is also easy to understand – it’s very targeted, easily measured and highly successful especially when it’s based on specific demographic, behavioral and geographic criteria. It means, finally advertising directly to who your prospects are, where they are and what they’re looking for!
That’s right. You can really target your advertising. You can actually measure the results. And, your advertising message or branding, if well-concepted and executed, will make your campaign most effective.
The first time we presented this to a client, they said, “That’s what we’ve always wanted!” Who wouldn’t? Imagine being able to spend a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand buying advertising.
Better yet, imagine having your display ad or video appear where your prospects are instead of where you think they might be. And, the best part, you can see the results, make necessary changes and measure your success during your campaign instead of waiting for it to end and do the post-mortem.
It’s not voodoo – it’s science! But, before I go any further, if you’d like to know more about digital marketing and Programmatic Media Buying, we can explain it to you. But first, you really need to know where and how to begin.
What you may think you know about marketing your company may no longer apply. And, if you know that you don’t know anything about it, you shouldn’t feel alone. More than three quarters of today’s businesses don’t know what they need to know or have no viable digital strategy.
If you're in business, your web presence is very important. Just having a website and Facebook page just isn’t enough. You have to determine whether or not you want to be among the one in four businesses in your DMA (Designated Market Area) whose success is driven by a well thought out digital marketing strategy that’s supported by a targeted Programmatic Media Buy.
Here’s what you need to do. Determine where your sales, growth potential or brand recognition stands right now. Ask yourself if you want to improve your situation and how much time and investment you’re willing to earmark in order to reach a goal you feel you can reach.
Do you have a strategy? What is it? How about a goal? If your goal is to increase sales, you’re already off to a bad start. Why? Because more than likely, you haven’t determined what the reason, or purpose that is really behind that goal.
There are so many ways of increasing sales and not all of them include getting new customers – we should talk! Once you determine what you want, you first need to evaluate whether or not you have a web presence.
No, having a website isn’t enough. Neither is having a Facebook page. How many likes does it take to convert into a single sale anyway? Do you know? What is important is knowing whether or not your website is mobile-friendly!
Since more than half of the world accesses the internet on their mobile devices, it’s a good idea to see if your current website is responsive – you know, mobile-friendly. A responsive website is a site that is easily navigable on a small screen like a smartphone. Check it out yourself at www.mobiletest.me.
Once upon a time, some really smart guy named Marshall McLuhan said that “The medium is the message.” Think about it. Your digital media marketing message will be delivered and displayed on the Internet.
What’s that mean?
It means you have to create a compelling and engaging message or value proposition that not only speaks to your targeted audience – it also has to be share-worthy. The message then is the content.
If you have been optimizing your web presence with a well thought out SEO plan, then you know how important content is. Content is bait!
There is so much more you need to know. So, contact Spectrum Marketing Group to let us know you’re interested. We’ll get back to you and set up an appointment to discuss how we can help you build the business you’ve always wanted.
Ron Fortier is a Marketing Consultant with Spectrum Marketing Group, a multimedia marketing and consulting agency located in New Bedford, MA. Spectrum's team of professionals help business owners, corporations, civic and non-profit organizations to better leverage their marketing efforts.
Planning together has proven benefits.
According to a UBS Investor Watch survey, when both spouses are involved with key retirement decisions, they’re happier and more optimistic about their future. But if you’re like most couples, just one of you is making most of the decisions, and that often causes the less involved spouse to feel anxious about retirement.
Putting in a little extra effort now can pay off for both of you. If you’re not already planning for your retirement together, here are some tips to help you get started.
Six suggestions to help couples plan for retirement:
1. Decide what’s important
A good first step is to come to an agreement about your goals in retirement. Ask yourselves, what do you want your wealth to accomplish? What do you dream about doing one day? And, here’s one question that couples often forget to consider: What’s happening now that can impact your financial future? For example, are you helping support adult children or your parents? You can think through these important questions together and create a plan to pursue your goals once both of you agree on them.
2. Find a risk tolerance you both can embrace
According to Investor Watch, women are often more conservative than men when it comes to investing. Work together to find a comfortable balance between your spouse’s risk tolerance level and your own. Couples report that this is the most satisfying approach when it comes to planning for retirement.
3. Don’t forget long-term care planning
Life expectancy continues to grow, and many of us are spending more years in retirement. This makes issues like healthcare and eldercare more important than ever. Start having conversations now about developing a long-term care plan for both of you. For example, do you envision staying in your home as long as you can? How heavily will you rely on family to provide your care? How do you intend to fund future health and long-term care costs?
4. Coordinate your strategy for Social Security
Even if you’re not counting on Social Security as a major source of income in retirement, it’s important
to know that couples have various options to consider. Making informed decisions before you start taking Social Security can lead to significantly higher benefits over the course of your retirement. Discuss the best option to maximize your Social Security benefits with a financial advisor.
5. Keep both of you in the know
It isn’t always easy for both of you to be involved in every financial decision, especially when it comes to managing your accounts. But, it’s good for both of you to know the following: your net worth; your assets, liabilities, insurance, property and financial accounts; where each of these items is held; and how to access your money once you retire.
6. Get involved and stay involved
UBS Investor Watch reveals that this is the most important step couples can take to keep from feeling
stressed about retirement. Make it a point to review investment statements together. Check in with each other to see if it’s time to adjust your strategy, and make sure you are both involved in conversations with your financial advisor, as well as your lawyers and accountants. You should talk on a regular basis to make sure you have the information you need, your goals are aligned and you’re pulling in the same direction.
For more information on retirement planning for couples, contact UBS Financial Services Inc./Iyannough Wealth Management Group in Hyannis at 508-362-1800 or 800-444-7949.
Traveling today takes more planning than every before. Since 1996, Kensington's at Mashpee Commons provides support and solutions to travel safe and comfortable.
We can help guide you to gaining Global entry and TSA precheck privileges. Protect your identity with RFID products wallets and bags. Know before your journey what the airline(s) will allow you to carry on to avoid paying more. A simple luggage scale can save you hundreds of dollars.
Click here to have the Free Traveler Tip and checklist.
What are RFID-blocking wallets, bags and accessories?
They are designed to help insulate you from a very particular brand of electronic pickpocketing, called RFID skimming/digital theft. The concern is that most credit cards, passports, and driver's licenses now come with embedded radio frequency identification chips. Reduce the risks of identity theft and your cards being shut down in the least opportune moments. We carry the latest and best products from sleeves to whole bags.
What is a 311 bag?
Liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:
Some Travel Tips
Shop Kensington’s in Mashpee Commons before every trip to ensure you have all that you need to have a safe and hassle free journey.
Daniel J. Collins is a Partner at Kensington's. Click here for Kensington's website or visit the store at 4 Central Square, Mashpee Commons.
I am often surprised to hear from fellow business owners that they are not members of their regional chambers of commerce. Reasons vary from “the chamber only benefits tourism related businesses” to “I am too busy for networking events” to “my business is too small to benefit from a chamber membership.”
While the chambers of commerce certainly do work to promote our region as a destination, and offer networking and educational opportunities which can be of value to any business owner, this is just part of their mission. The chambers work to promote an area’s economic vitality as a whole while advocating for every business, at both the state and local levels of government, on the critical issues confronting the business community.
As active and enthusiastic members of both the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, we see firsthand how these organizations also work to support every business in their region by providing educational opportunities, and in seeking solutions to the myriad of challenges every business owner faces every day. The return on investment that we have received from our chamber memberships has been invaluable.
Here are just a few of the chambers’ recent accomplishments:
Larry Drago is President of BizChecks Payroll Service, a local, complete, privately owned Massachusetts payroll company, processing payrolls throughout New England, with the majority of clients on the South Shore, Cape and Islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
You’ve decided to buy rather than lease your business location. You’ve signed a Purchase and Sale Agreement. Now what?
Preparing an application for commercial real estate financing can be daunting if you’re a first-timer. The process is nothing like qualifying for a residential mortgage. Here are a few tips to make it go smoothly.
1. Know your stuff
Since your business will be responsible for paying the mortgage, the strength of the business is key to success. But the business cannot speak for itself, so you have to speak for it. You can do this by producing accurate financial statements. If growth is going to help repay the loan, projections are also necessary. Use a
professional, if needed. Have a firm grip on understanding, interpreting, discussing and defending your business’ financial statements. You should be your business’ strongest supporter!
2. Assemble the best loan application possible
Commercial loan applications include a “Needs List” of supporting documentation that you’ll have to provide. On the Needs List will be business tax returns, personal tax returns, a personal financial statement (PFS), year-to-date financials and other information. This documentation is a lender’s primary tool for underwriting and approving a loan. Preparing an accurate, complete and readable PFS indicates to a lender that you are engaged in the process and know where you stand financially.
Providing all of the requested items – in their complete format – in a timely manner is a reflection of your business management ability. If you are having difficulty providing something, don’t ignore it, talk to your lender about it. There may be another solution!
3. Seek help
There are plenty of free resources out there to give you guidance when applying for a commercial real estate loan. Coastal Community Capital, SCORE and the MA SBDC, all of which are supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, are just a few. The SBA’s mission is to “help entrepreneurs start, build and grow businesses in partnership with public and private organizations.” Review your Loan Package with one of these resources prior to submitting it to a lender. Revise if necessary. Discuss your business’ financial statements too. The practice will help you fine tune your presentation to a lender, even if the lender is a resource, such as Coastal.
4. Go for it!
Timing has never been better. Interest rates remain low and real estate values are still reasonable. If you are still unsure, a resource provider can help you analyze your options.
A virtual office is simply an enhanced PO Box. Virtual office providers offer a number of different enhancements, but at a minimum they include a commercial street mailing address and some type of mail handling service. Some virtual office providers simply forward mail to another location. Others offer additional choices and can include electronic notification and mail management.
Electronic mail management is a particularly convenient tool which forwards to the user a picture of his or her mail piece by email, along with a drop down list of options for handling the mail (forward, scan, recycle, shred or hold for pickup).
Virtual offices can also come with a virtual phone, which is a phone number that is unattached to any physical phone, and simply forwards to an existing physical phone of the user’s choice. For example, a self-employed individual can have a separate business phone number via a virtual phone, but have calls to that number forwarded to a personal cell phone. It allows the user to answer with a professional greeting for business calls, or to send them to a business voice mailbox.
Virtual offices are also ideal for the larger business that has a land line phone system and receptionist at a central location but wants to maintain one or more virtual “branch” offices. It allows them to have a presence in multiple locations at a fraction of the cost of physical branch offices. It also allows them to come up in Google searches in geographic areas other than physical location. In this case the virtual phone number is usually forwarded to the main reception desk at the company headquarters.
There are virtual office providers who do nothing but provide virtual offices and have no physical space available for use by customers. But most virtual office providers are also shared workspace providers, so their virtual office packages usually come with some hours of physical space usage. Therefore, when the customer happens to be in the neighborhood he or she has a place to work, hold a meeting, or simply make a pit stop in a comfortable club-like professional environment.
For anyone thinking about a virtual office, now is a great time to look into it more seriously. Technology like electronic mail management is upping the convenience factor, and the maturing of the market is making it more affordable than ever. About the blogger: Robbin D. Orbison is president of CapeSpace LLC, Cape Cod's first full service co-work/business center. Conveniently located just off Route 132 in Hyannis, CapeSpace features private offices, semi-private workstations, business lounge, meeting and training facilities, beverage bar, virtual offices, and an array of business services and amenities.
Robbin D. Orbison is president of CapeSpace LLC, Cape Cod's first full service co-work/business center. Conveniently located just off Route 132 in Hyannis, CapeSpace features private offices, semi-private workstations, business lounge, meeting and training facilities, beverage bar, virtual offices, and an array of business services and amenities.
The buzzword “Big Data” generates a lot of hype in health care these days – but many companies are still struggling to develop efficient ways to use their vast data sets to build competitive advantage. While continuing technology advances make it easier for companies to capture, analyze and report on larger quantities of data than ever before, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming and costly to manage.
At CVS Health, we are investing in myriad new ways to use the power of data to reinvent pharmacy to extend the front lines of care. The most critical component of our data strategy is ensuring best-in-class security. However, our data also must be accessible in a cost-effective way to appropriate end users. With our IT partners, our analytics team has launched several initiatives to make it easier for colleagues, prescribers and others to use our data every day to make better decisions.
We also are investing in advanced analytics to provide more personalized services and efficient operations. Here are just a few examples:- Our investment in data visualization has helped us demystify billions of rows and columns of data tracking our PBM clients’ spend on pharmacy benefits. We now can offer simple, meaningful visual presentations to help these clients understand what’s driving their drug spend, and then design benefit plans that improve access for their members while reducing costs.
These are just a few examples of the innovative ways that teams across CVS Health are using advanced analytics. We are continuing to roll out new initiatives that will further demonstrate how data, “big” or “small,” can help us reinvent pharmacy to drive value for our customers.
Bob Darin is Chief Analytics Officer of CVS Health. You can learn more about Bob and his team on the CVS career site.