How to Do a Sales Pitch in Commercial Real Estate

In commercial real estate, you will undertake a variety of presentations, in a variety of circumstances. Most of them are business-like in nature, focusing on the needs of the tenant, the property buyer, or the property seller.Get to the core issuesEach of these groups has unique property requirements and points of focus. It is their needs which must be identified and clearly addressed in the sales pitch or presentation. Many successful commercial real estate agents will have a preliminary meeting with the client or customer so that they can identify key issues and concerns. This allows the commercial agent to return to the client or customer in a few days with a well structured proposal that addresses the needs of the customer or client.It’s all about THEM, not YOU!When you design an investment or commercial property proposal for presentation, the document should be 90% regards the property and the client. Frequently you see this rule disregarded or broken with the proposal document being largely regards the agency and the personnel.Rarely is the property transaction a simple matter of the property rental, the property price, or the physical elements of the property. In most situations, it is the combination of these things which must satisfy a fundamental equation of need that the customer or client has. In getting them to this fundamental need, you will identify an element of pain that the customer or client is experiencing. This is what you focus on.They are ExperiencedIt is interesting to note that many clients and customers in commercial real estate are reasonably comfortable in circumstances of business negotiation. This means they may not tell you the total big picture or all the elements of a transaction until they are ready. Conversation and connection in the presentation process should be biased towards the client or customer using well selected questions which allow the agent to interpret the body language coming from the client’s response.When you believe you have identified the element of clients pain related to the property transaction, you start to magnify the problem in terms of today’s market, then offering stable and logical solutions that your real estate agency business can provide to the client or customer. Invariably, the commercial real estate transaction in today’s market centres on financial matters such as:
High vacancy factors
Other property choices and chances are available
Underperforming leases
Unstable cash flow
Unstable tenancy mix
Tenanted conflict
Escalating building operating costs
A shift in demographics which exposes the property to a unstable future
Mortgage payment pressures
Age of the asset
Needs for refurbishment or extension
Competition properties attracting tenants away from the subject property

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This type of information and interpretation requires your intimate knowledge of the local region. This is by both property type and by location. This is the higher value that you bring to the customer or client. Being able to distinctly define local market awareness is a major advantage in any commercial real estate presentation or sales pitch. You must be seen as the best knowledgeable solution to the problem.From ExperienceAfter many years working exclusively in the commercial real estate industry, I found that my unique skill was in market knowledge and the display of that in any formal presentation to the client. Being able to talk about market trends and financial performance in a solid and sound way will help the client understand that they need your services. Coupling that with your extensive and relevant database of enquiry clearly shows the client that they need you.A fantastic commercial real estate presentation is a function and balance of lots of things. Things like:
A well established pre-planning process is a strategic advantage for every commercial real estate presentation. Strategy is everything in commercial real estate. Every property presentation requires planning.
Making sure you are asking the right questions of the client or prospect. Plan your questions relative to the subject property so that you help the client think about opportunity and changes that are possible.
Using your market knowledge and giving good answers. Have a variety of market facts and trends available to call on. Feed them into your presentation; facts are always useful. They can also be used as a channel to direct the discussion when the client is forcing you to justify your approach or your experience. Confidence and control must be the basic rule of your property presentation. When the client takes control of the presentation you have lost.
Using your experience in the marketplace so that you are telling relevant stories of success in similar properties. Stories of other properties will always interest of the client.
Making sure your personal presentation is optimised for the connection in the presentation. It can be that you are using a combination of the proposal document, the marketing document, and computer slide presentation, samples of your database, photographs of the subject property projected on to slides, and photographs of comparable properties projected on to slides.
Choosing the placement of people at the table or strategically positioning them in the room is always important. Much has been written about where you should sit relative to the client. The basic rule is adjacent to the client rather than across an area of barrier such as a table. Being within arm’s reach allows you to pass documentation to the client at the appropriate time. Documentation should not be provided to the client until you are ready for them to review it; otherwise it is a distraction of their attention.
Make sure that your proposal is simple and yet well directed with a clearly defined outcomes of sale or lease. Many proposal documents in commercial real estate are much too wordy so the main messages are lost and not clearly defined. The best proposals are less wordy and more illustrative. The best balance of a commercial real estate proposal is a mixture of 25% words, 25% pictures, 25% graphs, and 25% white space. This becomes a document which is clearly read and understood.
Combine good illustrations and photographs of the subject property into the proposal or presentation so that any lengthy descriptions or paragraphs are broken up. This will keep interest of the client in your documentation.
Make sure that your marketing package is value for money, and yet reaching the target market that the property serves or needs to attract. All too often, we see examples of generic marketing by the commercial real estate agent to the broader and less specific marketplace. Showing the client that you clearly know and will attract best the target market will always help your conversion to a potential listing. Be very specific about the target market and how you will reach it.
Ensure that your commission costs are fair and reasonable for the location. In most circumstances, discounting your commission should not be an option as it will make you poor and remove or detract from your enthusiasm for the sale or lease. ‘Cheap’ means ‘cheap and without focus’ and the client needs to know this. The property deserves better. You are not cheap because you are the best and you do a great job. A fair commission is always paid for a positive property outcome.
Always provide testimonials that are relevant to the property transaction. When you combine relevant history and details of happy customers into your presentation you will make the client feel more comfortable.
Always display clear and sound market knowledge that impresses the client relative to their property. This will include extensive awareness of comparable properties that compete with the subject property. You should be able to talk solidly about property prices, comparable rents, rental growth, returns on investment, changes to the future demographics of the area, and properties in the immediate precinct of relevance. In many cases, it pays to walk around the local area just prior to any property presentation so that you bring immediate and clear pictures of the precinct to the discussion. Many times this has been of significant advantage in my presentation processes. Talking about neighbouring properties localises the client and their thought processes.
Come up with a variety of ways to serve the client. Innovation and relevance will always impress. In today’s market, this is relatively easy considering the marketing opportunities and tools provided by the internet & technology. Be proactive in your property promotion processes so that the listing for sale or lease stands uniquely different in its marketing campaign from the others in the area. This does not have to be expensive to the client or to your office, given that the internet and electronic technology is historically cost effective. In today’s market, the traditional methods of publicising the property in the property pages of the local paper, is becoming much less important in the marketing campaign. Most commercial property buyers and tenants research the market from the Internet first and foremost.
Almost every property agency will say that they have excellent communication and connection skills to support the property promotion process. From experience, this is largely incorrect and typically the average commercial salesperson or leasing person will exercise ordinary communication channels with the client. Put yourself in the shoes of the client. They expect and deserve frequent updates on the promotion of the property even when nothing is happening or when the adverts are producing little response. When a property campaign is not producing the results, it is important that you act or adjust with alternative recommendations and strategic changes to the promotional campaign for the client to consider. Rarely would you get to the property campaign correct in the first week. It is in this time that you must consider fine tuning the promotion process so that the target market is being reached in a timely and effective way. This means that every property enquiry generated from your promotions must be tabulated so that you understand what channels of marketing work most effectively with the property in question.
When addressing the client or the client group in a formal property presentation, the answers and information you give must be delivered well and provide relevant solid property knowledge, in a practiced and professional delivery. Any sales or presentation tools relative to the property must be relevant and you should know how to use them with exceptional skill. Fumbling and faking information is not tolerated by the client.

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So there you have it. These are some of the key skills to use in a commercial real estate presentation. Whilst many real estate agents think that they are the best alternative in the market to promote sell and rent commercial property, the reality is they do not get the message across when it matters most in front of the client.To be the best commercial real estate agent in your area, you must show that you are just so, and you do this in the first 10 minutes of the time that your presentation takes. The client will have formed an opinion by then.Be prepared to walk away from any demands for discounting that the client or customer demands. In this market they need a great commercial real estate agent providing a great job; discounting is not an option. Show pride in your services and walk away when the client demands discount in marketing or lower commissions.

Custom Clothing Labels For Sports And Athletic Wear

There are many professional manufacturers that develop some of the finest sportswear available in the market, and you probably know exactly who they are because they make sure all of their apparel carries their company label. However, all clothing companies and start up apparel companies may not understand the benefits provided by having permanent woven, printed, or PVC labels attached to their products and instead they only use removable hangtags. In this article you will discover why it’s extremely important to have professional looking labels on your sportswear, as well as why it’s important for your target audience to identify your brand through the professional labels you use.One of the most important reasons a customer buys a certain type of sportswear is mainly because of the brand association or the manufacture. If someone likes your products chances are they will come back to purchase more. But you have to ask yourself, how will they be able to purchase more if you don’t provide them with professional and permanent labels that lets them know who you are? This is an important step in product recognition, and without a doubt labels make the product complete. With that being said, it will be very important as a business owner to choose between sports woven labels or sports PVC labels to complete the look of your product.

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You might be wondering if these types of labels will work for other important products you carry such as accessories, jackets, hats, hoods, jerseys, sports memorabilia or any of the other products you might have and the quick answer is, yes! Regardless of the type of products you carry, there are many different types of labels that will work in your specific situation. On the other hand, you may not even be a company or an apparel store and you are simply looking for professional labels for your specific sportswear line, and if this is the case you will find everything you need in the professional woven, printed, or PVC labels that are available in the market.Clothing labels can help your business in many ways, they’re a powerful marketing tool that you shouldn’t overlook. Some specific goals that are very important for any business and you can achieve by having proper labels on your products are: Company Branding, Customer Loyalty and Company Recognition.

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The best way to brand your company in the eyes of the consumer is to have excellent quality labels on your products. Customers will also hold more loyalty to your products if there is a company name with a good quality label attached to their sportswear. These are only a few things customers look for when associating products with manufactures.Another more important aspect is company recognition. If your company wants to enjoy excellent exposure and recognition, you will need to make sure each and every product that leaves your business carries a professional sports label that identifies who you are.Whether you are a company or a private individual, all of your sportswear should contain excellent quality labels that identify your products and provide product recognition.

Dog Couture Shops With Unique Dog Couture Clothing and Accessories

People who own dogs, know how precious they are. It is like a family full of uncondtional love and care. It is a wonderful creature on earth that amazes each and every individual with its intellect and ability to sense any upcoming danger. Your dog is happy when you are happy and it is sad when you are sad. It is always there to protect you, no matter what.Being blessed with such unique qualities, your dog deserves a unique lifestyle. Dog boutiques make it possible to happen. Keeping the singularity of your dog in mind, dog boutiques have come up with everything, that you ever wanted or needed.

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Clothing is one of the basic needs for human being; however it is one obtrusive requirement for your dog also. Dog owners have a strong desire to make their dog look different. Dog couture shops have awesomely worked on this outlook of dog owners and have come up with the luxury dog clothing. They have designed clothes for small as well as big dogs.Dog collars serve as the dogs identity as well as enhance its beauty, if they are from the designer dog collar collection. Dog couture boutiques have a wide variety of dog collars by well known and widely accepted brands like bone diggers, chrome bones, F&F, Ed Hardy, Dublin dog, Gwen Gear, Juicy Couture, Hartman & rose, ruff stuff and the list continues.In order to protect and control your dog, you can find a surprising collection of dog life jackets and harnesses. The sizes range from the smallest of dogs to the largest. Apart from controlling your dog, like collars, dog harnesses also add beauty to your dog’s appearance.

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While swimming, dog life jackets play a vital role in your dog’s protection. These are available in various colors and design providing you with the freedom of choosing best for your beloved dog.The list still has a lot in it, which includes dog bandannas, dog carriers, fashion accessories, furniture, grooming & spa, leashes and many more. Dog couture shops have established themselves as the first choice and final destination for dog owners. One, who loves his dog, can not find a better alternative to get something valuable for his worthful dog.

Global Trends For the Financial Service Industry

As the economic crisis continues to unfold, the financial service industry faces serious challenges. The crisis is rooted in continuous imbalances, including long periods of low interest rates, rapidly rising asset prices, and massive credit and savings imbalances. The 2007 and 2008 Reports from the World Economic Forum predicted these changes as continuous risk to the market.Earlier decades of exceptional growth and capitalism at its best have now caused the market to adapt to tighter credit, growing government intervention, slowing pace of globalization, and no economic growth. With increasing regulations in the United States and decreasing availability of credit, the industry faces a significant risk of stunted growth. The global recession is also affecting the financial sector because of capital markets and decreased aggregate demand, according to Max von Bismarck, Director and Head of Investor Industries.This article will provide leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry with five unique and timely trends to keep in the forefront of their growth strategies for the next five years. These five key trends will shape the post financial crisis in a holistic and systematic manner.FIVE KEY TRENDSGLOBAL BANKING. According to the World Bank, although many banks such as American Express, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase conduct business in multiple countries, they are relatively regional in the United States. In order to grow, the financial industry will have to infiltrate emerging markets. For companies that have a more aggressive growth strategy, the spread to emerging markets such as Africa and Asia presents unparalleled opportunities for profit and increased market share.IT PLATFORM SHARING. Network World confirms that financial service firms’ business strategies must be altered for the new dynamics and intricacies of today’s market. Immediate access to information and integration along product lines and geography are a must for future success. With the need to supply information to a global market, firms must decrease cost. One cost effective initiative is the use of platform sharing; like cell phone companies that collaborate with local companies in order to decrease cost and increase access, financial firms can do the same.

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E-BANKING. A special report from The Economist sees that with 3.5 billion people with cell phones and an expected 10-20% year over year growth, personal and business banking transactions are conducted through cell phones more and more. Thus, E-banking capability is quickly becoming an increasing requirement in order to compete in the marketplace. E-banking capabilities provide companies with essential flexibility and differentiation in the market through Internet-based service applications.MOBILE MONEY. The increase of mobile phone usage in emerging markets makes mobile money a safe, low cost initiative for the financial sector. It is an easier way to transfer money to family and friends, money is sent, and payments and withdrawals can be made without ever going to a physical bank or payment center. M-Pesa, an early developer of mobile money, concluded that mobile money “has enormous social and economic benefits.”SELF-SERVICE. Self-service and the customer should be a primary focus for firms in this new financial service world, according to IBM. AppViewXS is a self-service portal firms can purchase, so customers can check the status of their account and gain instant access to available services. Customer questions and concerns are addressed more quickly, states an IBM representative. This technology automates many processes; the result is that staff workload is reduced while representatives operate faster and more efficiently.Financial service firms need to have sustainable, steady expansion in the emerging markets in order to grow in the future. Deloitte and Touche Research reports that financial service firms have not positioned themselves to capitalize on more geographically dispersed opportunities. More than 93 percent of the executives interviewed for this report acknowledged that their firms “are not operating in a globally integrated fashion.”The same report states that financial firms need to invest away from veteran or mature markets and toward emerging markets because “by 2025, veteran markets will be rivaled by other markets with faster growing economies and increasingly sophisticated financial product appetites.” USA based firms can look toward Japanese and African markets for expansion opportunities. Kennedy Consulting analysts believe that the market will rebound from the global financial crisis in 2011, but there will not be any return to the robust levels prior to 2007 until much later in the decade; hopefully, the five key trends in this report will help the leaders, employees and investors in the financial service industry to look toward a robust sound future.In addition to growth strategies, in the 2002 Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Henson and Wilson discuss the extreme changes that have occurred in the financial service industry and how many firms are trying to develop and execute successful strategies based on innovative technology and customers. Aside from the regular ups and downs of the financial world, technology and innovation will always prevail as the win-win for the financial service industry. Because online banking has become the norm for most customers, technology will be very important in these firms’ strategies.With the customer at the center of most trends in financial service firms, creating new values for their current and potential clients beyond current expectations will be a top priority. The need for convenience mixed with technology makes mobile money a great initiative in the emerging as well as the developed markets. Many firms have speed pay, the ability to pay without swiping the card, as part of their credit card services. An embedded chip in the credit card enables payments to be made by putting the card close to the payment processor. Mobile money will be an expansion of payment and money transfers without the need for a card, the need to go to a physical bank, or to use Internet banking. Payments, transfers, deposits and withdrawals can be made with a cell phone.

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The World Bank concurs that innovative technology and an increase in e-business strategies will lead to much lower costs and greater competition in financial services. Internet and related technologies, the World Bank affirms, are more than just new delivery channels; they are an inexpensive, different, and very effective way to provide the same services. Since financial service firms must grow organically, build customer loyalty, and accommodate the customers’ expanding needs for services and convenience, partnerships with new technology businesses will allow them to lower their expenses and be competitive.Established firms such as Amex, Citibank, and others can partner with groups such as the wired tech savvy Google Alumni who are not averse to risk and who own fledgling technology businesses that are reshaping the industry with a new wave of innovative products, write Spencer Ante and Kimberly Weisul of Business Week. Mobile Money Ventures is one such fledgling company that is a provider on the forefront of alternative financial service products. Small companies such as these are able to provide well-known financial firms the wherewithal to open in emerging markets where there is a need for cooperation with other firms in order to attain then obtain the local customer base.Today’s competition is fueled not just by profitable customers, but also by the firms that are the most efficient and cost effective. Procedural and cultural clash will result from expanding into unknown markets as seen by the history of Citibank in Asia Minor. But in the long run, tighter regulations, new technology and improved business processes will cause expanding in emerging markets not only to change the demographics of the clients (both geographically and core clients), but also to better the global economy and the future of the financial services industry. Keeping the previous trends at the forefront of managers’ strategic plans, financial firms will rebound bigger and better than ever.

What Is Web Marketing And What Strategies Should You Use?

There is plenty to learn about web marketing which is a very large field. If you wish to make the most of it you will have to come up with new and creative ideas. Effective web marketing requires that you take full advantage of latest developments in business as well as technology. The right steps will help you to build your site and create a successful web-based marketing business.There are many things that you have to learn about. These include building SEO tools into the website. As long as you follow the right steps you will not find it hard to make your internet business successful. Times have changed and today web marketing is much more than simply opening a website and placing banner advertisements on various sites.

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The modern version of internet marketing involves much more and its main goals include:
Communicating your message to your customers
Conducting research
Selling goods and services as well as even advertising space
Web marketing also involves:
Setting up your own site
Search engine marketing
Email marketing
Banner advertising
Online press releases
Blog and article marketing
Social media marketing
If you want your web marketing efforts to succeed then you need to get the right mix. In addition, you also need to use the right strategies. The first such strategy is that of looking for low-cost and affordable website hosting options. Try to find a host that does not charge too much but at the same time you should also be wary about scams which can trap you if you are not careful when dealing with hosts that charge you a low price for hosting your website.Secondly, you need to make full use of social media sites. Social media can open up an entirely new market for your products and services. If you need help with your social media efforts you should seriously consider hiring a reputable social media expert.Content marketing is another important web marketing strategy. You should do your best to create outstanding content and for that you may have to hire a professional writer. If you try to write the content yourself or without hiring a professional writer you would end up with content that will not attract your customers.

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It is also a good idea to stay in touch with your customers. If they respond to your blog posts makes sure that you write back to them. Finally, releasing press releases is also a very good and effective web marketing strategy. However, before releasing a press release you must make sure that your business has some worthy news to share with your customers. If you do not have any news to share then do not use press releases.

Do You Need An Employment Lawyer?

An employment lawyer is a legal representative who specializes in employment-related cases. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, sexually harassed, treated unfairly and discriminated against, an employment attorney can guide you in your rights as an employee.In addition to this, employment advocates often handle labor-related disputes, including issues regarding financial discrimination, worker’s compensation, wages, and other types of injustices. So if you have recently been a victim of such discrimination or injustice, you should immediately contact a competent employment attorney. The lawyer will advise you in such a situation. Also, he or she will defend you at the court of law. Furthermore, he/she will handle all the paperwork and present arguments in your favor to win the case.Does an Employer Need an Employment Lawyer?As an employer, you also need the services of an attorney. While it is the responsibility of the employer to handle most of the employment issues, some matters are quite tricky and difficult to deal with. Thus, you will need the help of a lawyer conversant with matters employment. An employment attorney helps you stay abreast of changing labour laws, which may be difficult for you to understand or interpret in your own. He or she can review any agreements you entered with your employees, such as severance agreements and employment contracts.

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He/she can review personnel policies or employee handbook to ensure legal compliance. In addition to this, a lawyer protects you against violating laws pertaining to occupational safety & health, pay checks, family leave and overtime pay just to name but a few. An employment advocate can also advise you when it comes to making critical decisions such as whether dismissing an employee is lawful and what steps you can take to reduce the risk of a potential lawsuit.An Employment lawyer will offer you the best defense against the injustice done to you. Whether it is a case of harassment by the employer or a case of worker’s discrimination, a competent and experienced lawyer will be able to defend you in the most professional manner.Such a legal expert may also represent you to negotiate for compensation amount because if you don’t hire his services you might get cheated by the employer. For example, an employer might trick you to get less compensation than you deserve.When Is the Best Time to Contact an Employment attorney?Many claims pertaining to employment law have deadlines or time limits often known as ‘statutes of limitations’. That is why it is always recommended to file your case sooner rather than later. Even so, it is very important to choose an experienced and competent lawyer to represent you.

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Things to ConsiderThere are several things to be considered when choosing an employment advocate. These include time involved, cost, location, etc. A lawyer can be found through referral services provided through various professional law associations or through friends and family. Information is also available through search engines on the internet or through the Yellow Pages. You can check advertisements of employment lawyers in newspapers and magazines.So, you can see that there is a great deal of benefits of hiring an experienced employment attorney. If you feel you have a few claims to make against your employer or employee, then the best thing to do is to contact an employment lawyer in your area to discuss the issues.

What Are Travel Cards and What Do They Do?

The Centers for illness Control & Prevention on Saturday commenced distributing cards at airports receiving flights returning at once from Hong Kong warning travelers returning to the US from Hong Kong & Guangdong Province, people’s republic of China & Hanoi, Vietnam that they might have been exposed to cases of harsh acute respiratory syndrome.The cards are being distributed by quarantine officers at Chicago, O’Hare international airfield; L. A.; old York town, JFK world airfield; Newark; & San Francisco. These airports are the sole U.S. Airfields receiving direct flights from HK. No U.S. Airfields receive direct flights from Hanoi or the Guangdong Province. CDC officers expect to grow the distribution of cards to port, Alaska & the territory of Guam later today.

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The cards also offer steering designed to aid physicians in making a diagnosis by advising travelers to inform their physicians about recent travel to the influenced regions, & whether they have been in contact with individuals who displayed symptoms of SARS.The travel cards warn those returning from the three areas that they should monitor their health for at least three days. They are also suggested to contact their doctors if they become ill with a fever accompanied by a cough or problem in breathing.The CDC advises consultants & other clinicians to be on the lookout for travelers who:As of March 15, 2003, the CDC had received reports of SARS cases in HK & Guangdong Province, people’s republic of China; Hanoi, Vietnam & Canada, Singapore & Thailand. For that reason the World Health Organization has issued emergency steerage for travelers & airlines so that persons displaying symptoms of the sickness can receive immediate health care & can be brought to the attention of public health authorities. These individuals are also advised against travelling while ill.Have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher;one or more symptoms of respiration illness including cough, trouble breathing, difficulty in breathing, hypoxia ( insufficiency in the quantity of oxygen reaching tissues of the body ), X-rays indicating the presence of pneumonia, or breathing trouble; &one or more of the following:History of travel to hong kong or Guangdong Province, people’s republic of China, or Hanoi, Vietnam inside three days of symptom onset;

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Close contact with people with breathing illness having the described travel history. Close contact includes having cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with respiration secretions & body liquids of a person with SARS.Additionally, airlines should:Alert the destination airport of any passengers meeting the case definition criteria;Arriving passengers who are symptomatic should be referred to health authorities for assessment & care;The passengers & crew should provide all contact information for how passengers can be reached for the subsequent fourteen days to airfield health authorities.Aircraft passengers & crew should be informed of the person’s status as a suspect case of SARS [*SCO].

Super Hobbies – Make Money From Your Hobby

“Today is life – the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”Hobbies and pastimes are most often done purely for enjoyment and pleasure. Pursuing a hobby can not only be rewarding for its own sake but also lead to acquiring new technical skills and specialist knowledge. Personal fulfillment is usually the aim of most hobbies rather than financial reward.An important determinant of what is considered a hobby, as distinct from a profession (beyond the lack of remuneration), is probably how easy it is to make a living at the activity. It is very hard make a living at coin or stamp collecting, but many people find it is enjoyable nonetheless; so it is commonly regarded as a hobby. It is generally accepted that a person who does something for pleasure rather than remuneration, is called an amateur or hobbyist.

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But that should not preclude a person with a passion for a particular hobby from making money from his or her hobby. What if I told you that you could make a substantial income doing something you love? Traditionally people made money from their hobbies by selling a finished product (such as pots of jam!) or by providing a service such as furniture restoration in their spare time. Many people find that making money with a hobby is more like fun than a job.Money for Jam!Nearly everyone has a hobby of some sort. There are so many different types of hobbies such as arts and crafts, bird watching, collecting coins / stamps, cookery, DIY, furniture restoration, model making, rock-climbing, painting, photography or remote controlled cars. Not only are these hobbies are highly rewarding but they also offer an opportunity for the person to share their specialist knowledge to others and make a profit in the process.Here is how it works. Lets say that you are interested in cookery as a hobby. You spend many hours in your spare time creating wonderful dishes and even sell the odd cake or pot of jam down the local market or at a community fete. But what if you could pull together some of your favorite recipes and put them into a downloadable e-book that people would be willing to pay for and could be sold even while you were asleep! Rather than making a bit of pocket money on the side you could have people from around the world paying a premium for information on a subject that you know and love.

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This is something that anyone can do regardless of whether you are a teenager interested in games or a grandparent interested in furniture restoration. There are many smart people (who do not necessarily have any technical skills) turning their passion and hobbies into a lucrative business. You could be doing the same.

Employment Screening – Getting It Done Right

Employment screening means, essentially, checking out a job candidate’s background. Is the person who he or she claims to be, with the qualifications stated in the resume or job application? Does the candidate have any criminal convictions or other disqualifying qualities or issues?It’s easy to get employment screening done nowadays – a few mouse clicks will get you an online report on just about anybody via one of the hundreds of Web-based employment screening companies out there. But, frankly, many of the screening services being offered online are cursory and, well, unreliable at best. Are you sure you’re really getting a valid, reliable screening report? Will it stand up to scrutiny if a legal issue (e.g., God forbid, a lawsuit) ever happens to your company? To judge this, you need to know a little about employment-related background checking, which is what this brief article is about.First, you should be aware that pre-employment screening in the U.S. is closely regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and various state employment laws. The law does of course permit employers to conduct background checks on potential employees, but employers are required to disclose in writing to the job applicant that they intend to do so, and if an “adverse action” is taken due to information found in the background check (i.e., the person is not hired), then the employer has to inform the applicant of this and disclose the specific unfavorable information uncovered.Oftentimes, such unfavorable information consists of a criminal records finding. A thorough pre-employment check should always include a comprehensive criminal records search. If your job candidate has been convicted of fraud or other serious crimes in the past, this is obviously relevant to your employment decision (although the law requires you to consider each case of a criminal record finding on an individual basis in terms of its seriousness and job relevancy.)It’s also important to be aware that many “third-party” pre-employment screening services (especially Web-based companies) do a less-than-adequate job of searching criminal records. They simply don’t cast a wide enough net in their searches. Most conduct criminal records searches only in the state-of-residence or even just the county-of-residence of the job applicant. So your applicant may have a fraud conviction, or even a lengthy rap sheet, in another state, but come up clean on the pre-employment check.

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Many people with criminal records are quite aware of this shortcoming, and simply move out-of-state when job hunting.That’s why your screening company should run a national database criminal records search as part of the screening process. Unfortunately, the best national criminal records databases currently available to the public are incomplete. They omit data from numerous counties across the country and sometimes contain out-of-date data. So it’s important to supplement the national database criminal records search with onsite searches at county courthouses in your job applicant’s counties-of-residence. All reputable pre-employment screening agencies have this capability.Accepting your screening agency’s “standard” pre-employment screening report, if it checks for criminal records only in your applicant’s state-of-residence, is clearly inadequate. Your otherwise-impressive applicant may have a history of serious fraud convictions or other crimes in another state.But even the criminal records searches described above are not enough. To be really thorough, your screening agency must also check:– Aliases. Has your job candidate been convicted of a crime under another name?
— Warrants. Is your candidate wanted somewhere in the U.S.? Although you can’t legally deny an applicant a job for this reason, you can suggest that he/she reapply once the criminal warrant is cleared up. The same is true if the applicant is out on bail pending prosecution. You can ask the candidate to reapply after appearing in court and clearing the matter. (Note that you can’t legally inquire whether your candidate is in a drug rehabilitation program, however, as this may fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and compromise your position should litigation ever occur.)
— Federal convictions, such an income tax evasion, mail fraud, drug trafficking, and immigration law offenses.
— International “wanted” lists, such as Interpol’s.
— And yes, even terrorist watch lists. Why not? — it’s easy to do.Unfortunately, very few pre-employment screening companies are this thorough. To most, pre-employment screening is a “volume” business and each applicant you submit gets a quick and cursory (not to say “quick and dirty”) once-over. However, if you specifically request the above additional searches, most will comply.After An Employment Offer Has Been MadePast workers’ comp claims are the most obvious type of public record to research at this stage. You can’t legally check to determine if your job applicant has a history of making workers’ compensation claims prior to making an offer of employment. Workers’ compensation history searches must always be conducted post-offer. However, this type of information can obviously be a valuable tool in your fraud-fighting arsenal. Not only can it identify habitual claim filers, it can also help your company avoid placing new employees in positions that may pose risk of re-injury.Note, however, that employers may not rescind an offer due to finding claims and must make a reasonable effort to accommodate a previously-injured worker. Even so, a workers’ comp history search can be useful at the time a new employee is brought aboard in verifying his/her employment record supplied on the job application. If an applicant has failed to list a previous employer against which he/she filed a claim, this says something about the employee’s integrity and likelihood to file future claims.Currently, workers compensation history data is available in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wyoming. California requires prior written approval by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers Compensation Electronic Data Exchange (EDEX). Your pre-employment screening agency should be able to provide the needed forms.Workers compensation searches are not available in: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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So criminal records (if thoroughly researched) and workers’ compensation histories can be extremely helpful — what other types of public information might be useful in the investigation of a suspicious claim? There are innumerable categories of records and searches that could be mentioned. Here are a few to consider:– Civil Suits. You can research civil suits online through most counties’ websites. A good listing of county websites and phone numbers is available on Background Check Gateway.
— Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites. Did your candidate post pictures of himself/herself surfboarding off Malibu while collecting disability? Interesting.
— Newsgroups. Did you know that at Google Groups you can search someone’s postings to newsgroups (of which there are thousands and thousands nowadays) going back years? Yet many people have no idea their postings are public information which can easily be tracked by their name or email address. What’s your candidate talking about these days in the NASCAR Enthusiast newsgroup?
— Blogs. Same principle. If your candidate, like millions of us, keeps a chatty public diary online (i.e., blog), you can listen in via
— Career sites. Is your candidate applying for other jobs by posting a resume on or other career sites? It might be revealing to find out what qualifications he/she is claiming in those applications.– Real Estate. Has your candidate recently taken out a mortgage on a new house or condo? This can be an indicator of financial stability, an important qualification for many types of positions. You can research this at, among many other sites.Accessing public records used to be an incredibly difficult chore. Your main tool in the “old days” was shoe leather as you plodded from courthouse to courthouse digging out dusty records. Now, with the Internet, it’s easy. You can access public records on your job applicant or employee which are scattered nationwide in minutes. Give it a try and you’ll soon wonder why you never made full use of public records as an employment-screening tool before!

The Evolution of Business Service Management (BSM)

Looking back, the emergence of business service management (BSM) seems inevitable. This new generation of tools helps IT organizations manage technology infrastructures within the context of the key services they provide for their customers. BSM tools are critical enablers for the increasingly popular process-focused IT Service Management (ITSM) approach.

What’s driving this evolution to BSM and its related IT management paradigms? Executive Consultant Troy DuMoulin of Pink Elephant, an ITIL events and consulting firm, explains, “The interest in ITIL, the evolution of legislation like SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002), and the interest in standards is symptomatic of something much more rudimentary. At the base of this growing focus on formalization and legislation is a growing awareness of exposure and dependency that the business has on IT. Before, IT was seen as an enabler, supportive but yet somehow separated from the business processes themselves. But now there is a realization that there is no true separation between the business process and the underlying IT services and systems.”

Information technology has become so vital to business today – so ubiquitous in every aspect – that most businesses literally cannot function without it anymore. Even simple manual tasks like filling a car with gas or cashing a check now require the support of an IT system.

This heightened reliance on IT has placed companies at a crossroads. They are compelled to address this new dependency by putting processes and technology in place to ensure IT does its job serving the business effectively. So the move to BSM can be seen as a natural reaction to the new way IT interacts with and enables business.

“BSM is a way for a company to agree on what the business expectations are, and manage the IT performance to those agreed upon expectations,” clarifies Brian Childers, a consultant who also serves on the Board of Directors for itSMF USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting best practices in IT services management. “Once we understand the expectations, we can build the processes to suit the expectations, and manage against them.”

Vendors are responding rapidly to these new service management imperatives. Leading software providers – like HP, BMC, Mercury and Managed Objects – are already introducing new BSM-versions of their popular tools to help revolutionize the way IT managers gauge technology performance and leverage that knowledge to meet business needs. And new kinds of automated, self-learning software from companies like Netuitive, are making it easier than ever for managers to cut across their technology silos and tie together their existing management tools.

“Over the years – especially during the frenetic IT build-out of the late 1990s – companies cobbled together a mishmash of systems within their IT organizations,” adds Tony Gilbert, vice president at Netuitive. “The result now is a heterogeneous set of components in the IT environment, and individual departmental silos for managing each one. The right set of BSM tools makes it possible to tie together all of these pieces of technology across an enterprise and to monitor IT from the perspective of the service it delivers.”

BSM tools help IT groups see technology in terms of how it impacts their business services, and zero-in on the cause of a particular performance issue that is affecting that service — a capability companies do not have when they manage IT solely through technology silos. The new BSM tools can also enable a company to prioritize resources based on the relative importance of multiple business services. For example, a brokerage firm could manage online trading or online banking services holistically instead of piecemeal within silos: the server group, the database group, the application group.

More Than Just Technology

But completely changing a management approach is not easy. “For the last 20 years our industry has been focused on managing technology. Management of IT has been by domains, such as mainframes, networks and databases. But those domains don’t truly live in isolation.” Pink Elephant’s DuMoulin continues, “A basic premise is that there is a business requirement for IT to understand how any given IT component relates to another and how these devices support or potentially disable a business process. When you understand IT from this perspective you see that you cannot manage by technology or device. You need to understand the relationship between those devices, and how they relate to IT services, and ultimately how IT services are consumed by business.”

The people factor remains an issue, too. For many organizations, BSM often requires a corporate culture change. IT personnel must learn that they don’t just manage boxes and applications, but actually provide services that the business consumes in order to survive and thrive. Most experts agree that the tools are out there, and are necessary, but they go hand in hand with changing processes and changing the way companies perceive the value of IT.

“Some people believe that it doesn’t matter what technology you use as long as you have the right processes in place,” comments Ken Wendle, the ITSM Solution Lead at HP. “But I have always said that IT service management is a combination of people and process, enabled by the right technology, all working in synergy with each other. It is about the intelligent blending of technology to enable and enforce the right processes, which then will allow an organization to execute around business priorities.”

“I have seen companies that put the right processes in place, and trained the right people, but then created process silos,” HP’s Wendle also notes. “But ITSM is about cutting across the technology silos, not just creating another set of process silos on top of them. ITSM is about taking a holistic approach.”

The BSM Evolution Continues

Where is BSM going from here? “One of the missing ingredients today is the enrollment of the business community,” itSMF’s Childers believes. “They need to understand what BSM is and why they would want to support it. I think the better job everyone does with bringing the business side onboard, the faster BSM will progress.”

“I don’t think companies have gained all the benefits of technology that they could,” HP’s Wendle agrees. “The business people need to understand and appreciate what IT can do to help the business side of the organization.”

Clearly there is work to be done, but the adoption of ITSM and the BSM tools that support it continues to gain momentum as more companies realize this is a prerequisite for success in a new world where business and IT have become one.

“The prediction is that over the next five years, ITSM will be as impactful as ERP systems were, or maybe more,” itSMF’s Childers concludes. “I don’t think ITSM is going away, because it makes too much sense.” And innovative BSM vendors will continue to develop new tools to help.