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David Romano sells Benchmarkinc Recruiting

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 11.05.45 AMWichita, Kan.—Earlier this year, Bradley Cotlar, former vice president and CFO of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet of America franchise group, and his wife, Jennifer, acquired Benchmarkinc Recruiting, the recruiting division of Benchmarkinc Consulting, from David Romano, founder and well-known consultant, trainer and author. The division is one of the leading job recruiting firms in the flooring, disaster restoration, window coverings, home furnishings, electronics and home improvement industries.

“David Romano and Benchmarkinc have a strong reputation and are the leaders in recruiting, consulting and training in the industries they have serviced,” Cotlar, owner and chief matchmaker, said. “Their proven practice and systems made it an easy decision to pursue this opportunity.”

With this acquisition, Cotlar will be able to leverage the company and systems Romano created and continue on his legacy of providing clients exceptional, hassle-free service by quickly finding and placing top-notch candidates into their companies.

“We were adamant our successor understood exceeding client expectations was as important as profitability,” Romano said. “We considered many proposals and believed Brad to be the most capable of carrying on our legacy, because his ethics are impeccable and he understands the industries that we serve. We are grateful to all of those who have allowed us to be part of their companies and feel supremely confident the new version of Benchmarkinc Recruiting is poised for even greater success.”

Since the acquisition, the office in Raleigh, N.C., has been moved to Wichita, Kan. The Benchmarkinc Recruiting name will remain.

For more information, visit: bmarkinc.com.

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Al's column: Pros and cons of ‘S’ and ‘C’ corporations

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Roman Basi

 

(Second of two parts)

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 3.49.34 PMIn part one of this segment, I talked about the pros and cons of structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC). In this section, I will discuss the differences between “S” and “C” corporations.

With an S corporation, profit is not subject to self-employment taxes. The self-employment tax is 15.3% for those who are self employed and encompasses both Medicare and social security taxes. Normally, when a person is employed by a company, the employer pays half of the tax subjecting the employee to only paying half of the full tax. When one is self employed, he or she must pay the full tax on their own. Under the use of a Subchapter S corporation, salary (not profit) is subject to self-employment tax. However, if the salary is insufficient, the IRS can reclassify the profits as a salary subjecting them to self-employment taxes.

This differs from LLCs, whereby both salary and profits are subject to self-employment taxes. For people with incomes below the social security threshold amount, this can result in a significant amount of money being put into self-employment taxes. This can be good or bad depending on one’s retirement planning needs and expectations.

Since S corporations are flow-through entities, losses can be deducted. This is also true for the LLC. However, this is in contrast to C corporations in which shareholders cannot deduct losses. Note: If an S corporation is experiencing losses, it can deduct them, and the owner will recognize the loss on his income statement, leading to a lower tax liability. However, there is a limit. You cannot deduct amounts that exceed your investment and loans to the company.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.35.04 AMDuring operation of an S corporation, profits are taxed only at the shareholder level as opposed to C corporations, which are taxed twice. Just like with the LLC, the profits—not the distributions—are taxed.

When winding up the affairs of the entity and dissolving the business, profits are taxed once. This differs from C corporations, which can be hit very hard with taxes upon dissolution of the corporation.

Subchapter C corporation. Even though C corporations are taxed once at the corporate level and then at the shareholder level, certain tax advantages can come into play due to new tax legislation. Profits from a C corporation to a shareholder are known as dividends, not distributions. Dividends from C corporations enjoy a special tax rate at 15% to 23.8%. This means that money received from a C corporation, no matter if it is $1 or $1 million, every dollar is taxed at a maximum of 23.8% and is not subject to ordinary income tax rates, which can run as high as 43.4%.

At the corporate level, C corporations enjoy lower tax rates than most people do at many income levels. If your income is low enough, you may be able to use this to your tax advantage. If the corporations’ income is below $75,000, it can be to the advantage of the corporate holder to use a C corporation.

Another advantage of running a business as a C corporation is there are no ownership restrictions. Nearly any person in the entire world—United States citizen or not—can own the stock, and there is no restriction on the number of shareholders. Generally speaking, having a C corporation allows the businessperson to accumulate a large amount of profits, reinvest them, etc., and not have to pay taxes at a personal level.

When deciding which entity type to go with, remember to carefully consider the various tax and legal ramifications.

 

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Marketing mastery: Creating profitable referral relationships

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Second of three parts)

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.45.16 AMIn part I of this segment, I outlined the reasons why developing referral relationships with other businesses is such a powerful and important strategy for growing your business. I also presented two strategies for developing these relationships. Here are some additional ways to create these referral relationships.

The 3-step system
Step 1: Send letters to 10 business owners with whom you might want to work.
Realtors, designers, remodeling contractors and carpet cleaners are a great place to start. Make sure these companies have good reputations. Tell them about your business and that you would like to meet with them to discuss the possibility of developing a referral relationship. The letter should include a grabber to get their attention and set you apart. I’ve used dollar bills, lotto scratchers and dozens of other enticements. Always tie the letter in with the grabber.

Step 2: Call the business owner. Don’t try to sell him anything during this call. Your only goal is to schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility of working together to help each other grow.

Step 3: The meeting is where you establish the relationship. Make sure there is a synergy between the two of you and ensure you can work together. You don’t want to partner with a jerk. Discuss each others’ goals and what a mutually beneficial relationship would look like. Ask if you can stop by his place of business and leave business cards or other information.

Nurturing the relationship
Let’s say you begin a relationship with an interior designer who owns a brick-and-mortar store and has four designers on staff, plus a receptionist. You want to make friends with every one of her employees, including the receptionist, because these people will send you the majority of referrals. Stop by her business and introduce yourself to her staff. Bring cookies or other treats to leave behind. Leave a business card holder full of your cards on their front counter so they can give them to clients.

Don’t assume these people will remember you. Within a week you’ll be forgotten unless you continue to nurture the relationship. Subscribe each employee to your monthly newsletter. If there are seven people who work there, send seven newsletters personally addressed to each employee.

Drop by their business every month or two with goodies. If they are sending you a lot of referrals, send in lunch for the entire staff. Drop by around the holidays with seasonal treats.

Your goal is to become a hero to the business owner and the entire staff—to be their friend. You’re doing this for one sole purpose: When one of their customers needs flooring, they’ll instantly think of you and you’ll get the referral.

This may sound like a lot of work, but consider these numbers: Let’s say your average ticket is $3,500 and you have referral relationships with 20 businesses, each sending you a paltry four referrals per year. This equals $280,000 in revenue with few marketing costs. Imagine if you developed 40-60 referral relationships. You could easily add $1 million or more to your annual revenue.

In part III I’ll reveal creative ways you can do affiliate marketing with businesses who send you referrals.

 

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Technology: Podium places online reviews front and center

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.25.11 AMPodium, a customer interaction platform, is looking to make it easier for flooring retailers to manage their online reviews and customer interaction. The company, which was founded in 2014 by Eric Rea and Dennis Steele, allows businesses to not only build and manage online reviews, but also drive interest with potential and existing customers through channels like text message. By collecting reviews, businesses can improve their local search optimization, which generally means they rank higher in search results to ultimately drive more business.

“We compare online reviews to the new word of mouth,” said Matt Boyce, director of demand generation. It is with this focus, he notes, that Podium has developed its platform and features.

Not to be confused with other platforms, Podium is not a traditional marketing company. What separates Podium from other platforms is its focus on helping businesses communicate and interact with their customers to get reviews and in-depth feedback.

“Podium offers a customer interaction platform that focuses on making the exchange of collecting customer feedback on key websites really easy,” Dallin Palmer, sales director, home services, explained. “We use a three-stage program to help retailers get found, get chosen and get insight into their business.”

One of Podium’s key features is its text messaging system that allows businesses to ask customers for reviews with a push of a button. By using this feature, businesses are able to request a customer review—to any device—seconds after a service is performed. According to the company, this increases the business’ probability of gaining more reviews.

Podium takes this feature a step further by generating an easy-to-use, interactive text message that allows the customer to choose which review site she would like to use. The list of review sites the customer sees is completely customizable by the business sending the text message. Podium has found that the top two platforms most businesses target are Facebook and Google. In addition, while the company doesn’t generate reviews on Yelp, it is an official Yelp Knowledge Partner, which means it can pull Yelp data for a business into the Podium platform, according to Palmer.

While the platform is available to all types of businesses, flooring retailers can really benefit from Podium’s products, Palmer explained. “For most flooring business owners in most areas you’ve got really stiff competition. We’ve found in situations where you’re selling a commoditized product, people are looking at the reviews and past experiences of others to learn about the services they will receive. Consumers leverage these reviews to make buying decisions.”

The ultimate goal, according to Palmer, is to change the paradigm. “We want to revolutionize the way local businesses go about communicating with their customers. It’s all about identifying the needs within this area.”