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Leasing drives boom in outstanding Q1 auto loan balances

AutoNews - Wed, 2016-05-25 12:45
The combined outstanding balance for auto loans and leases jumped 12 percent in the first quarter, bolstered by a 28 percent surge in leasing, according to part one of Experian's latest State of the Automotive Finance Market report.
Categories: Latest News

Online lender Avant scraps auto loan refinancing plans

AutoNews - Wed, 2016-05-25 12:30
Online lender Avant is calling off plans to offer auto loan refinancing as it faces setbacks in gaining affordable capital to make credit available to consumer and business segments over the Internet.
Categories: Latest News

Nando's Peri-Peri Sauce Heats Up Supermarkets Across U.S.

QSR Magazine - Wed, 2016-05-25 12:19
Image Caption: Image Credit: Sauce available at thousands of locations across country.Exclusive Brief: 0

Nando’s Peri-Peri is now widely available in more than 10,000 of the nation’s biggest retailers. Safeway, Kroger, Fresh Market, Publix, and many other supermarkets carry Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce now, and Walmart recently began selling the sauce—made with the African Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper—in its thousands of U.S. retail locations.

Chains: Nando's

3 Ways to Attract Women to Your Retail Store

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2016-05-25 12:00

Every small retailer knows the importance of attracting female customers. Making purchases not only for themselves, but also for their spouses, children, friends and extended families, women wield massive purchasing power and influence, making them a desirable target customer no matter what your store sells. So how can you attract female customers?

How To Attract Female Customers

Eight years after the Great Recession, price continues to be women’s overriding concern, according to a recent study, How Women Shop: Shopping Habits of American Women. Despite a recovering economy, women shoppers have not gotten any looser with their purse strings in the past year. A whopping 97 percent say they are just as sensitive — or more — to price as they were in 2015. In fact, price is the number-one influence on women’s buying decisions — trumping quality, brand, store and availability as the deciding factor.

 This might sound like serious bad news for small retailers — especially when combined with the fact that women love to compare prices and regularly use technology to do so. More than 70 percent use smartphones daily, meaning that as they stand in your store, they can easily buy from Amazon with one click of their fingertips.

But all’s not lost. To lure these desirable customers away from the siren song of online discounts and overnight shipping, try these three strategies:

Rebates, Rewards

Women in the survey love getting rebates — 69 percent say an in-store rebate is an attractive offer. Surprisingly, given their reliance on smartphones, women actually prefer to get post-purchase rewards in the form of plastic prepaid cards rather than digital redemption codes. That doesn’t mean they’ll turn down digital deals, however: Eighty percent say they would accept a $25 promotion on a $100 purchase even if it’s only offered as a digital reward.

Loyalty Programs

Women are also big fans of in-store loyalty programs: Eight out of 10 women in the survey belong to at least one, and overall, they’re very happy with them. There are a wide variety of loyalty programs available that will work for a small retailer, including digital-only programs and those with a plastic card component. Whichever option you choose, loyalty programs benefit you by capturing detailed customer data about each person’s purchasing behavior. You can then use that information to create very targeted and personalized loyalty offers. When sending women loyalty notifications, email is best, preferred by 82 percent of women in the survey. However, 37 percent of women also like getting loyalty offers through apps, while 36 percent like to get them by text message. Ask your customers what method/s they prefer.

Gift Cards and Prepaid Cards

If your retail store doesn’t sell gift cards/prepaid cards, you’re missing out on a huge potential source of revenue. I already mentioned that women would rather get a prepaid card as a post-purchase reward than any other type of reward, but it doesn’t stop there. Three-fourths of women have purchased gift cards in the last year. Two in 10 (19 percent) buy gift cards for themselves; throw in a bonus, gift or reward for purchasing a gift card, and that number doubles to 38 percent. In addition, 70 percent say they would take advantage of exclusive values that require using a gift card, and 54 percent would buy gift cards that can be converted to e-gifts.

Women Shopping Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "3 Ways to Attract Women to Your Retail Store" was first published on Small Business Trends

NRA 2016 focuses on sustainability, technology

FastCasual.com - Wed, 2016-05-25 11:17
Sustainability and technology were two hot topics this year as a variety of sessions discussed both topics, and a multitude of vendors presented products to help restauranteurs tackle sustainability or to use technology to enhance their customer experiences.

Domino's wage theft suit could have big implications for chains

FastCasual.com - Wed, 2016-05-25 10:48
The suit claims that because of the under-calculated hours, employees at the franchises named were not compensated for more than $500,000.

The Ultimate Guide to Periscope

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2016-05-25 10:30

Periscope, the live streaming video mobile app, cemented its position as one of the top social media networks when it was named the, “Apple App Store’s 2015 App of the Year”, an honor the company called, “a delightful surprise”.

While the team behind Periscope may have been surprised, a look at the numbers reveals the app’s meteoric rise: a mere four months after its launch on March 26, 2015, the app boasted 10 million active accounts and 2 million users.

Here at Small Business Trends, we’ve monitored the growth of Periscope closely. The easy-to-use app is a perfect fit for small businesses as it enables them to connect intimately with a wide audience so people can learn more about your offerings while providing, and promoting your, value.

Whether you’ve used the app yet or not, we’d like to help you get the most out of what it offers. To that end, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to Periscope below.

The Ultimate Guide To Periscope

If you’re new to Periscope, we recommend clicking here to begin your journey. At the other end of that link, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to using the app including:

  • Signing in;
  • Tabs;
  • Settings;
  • Watching a broadcast; and
  • Sending a broadcast.

As thorough as that guide may be, there have been many enhancements to the app since it was published. Here’s a highlight on how to use Periscope and some of the most noteworthy new features:

Landscape Mode

Back in September 2015, Periscope introduced landscape mode. You see, up until then you could only broadcast in portrait mode, which limited the breadth of your audience’s view. With landscape mode, your stage grew, as did the possibilities.

Web Profiles for Broadcasters

In September 2015, Periscope introduced web profiles. These handy pages make it much easier to find the recent broadcasts of those you follow. Instead of searching for them in the app, they’re compiled in one place.

Watch Periscope on Apple TV

October 2015 saw the introduction of Periscope to Apple TV. Now you can watch your favorite broadcasters, or discover new ones, in the comfort of your home theater.

Discover Replays on Periscope’s Global Map and Skip Ahead

When Periscope was first introduced, the app’s map enabled you to discover live broadcasts happening across the globe. In November 2015, the team enhanced the map so you could find replays of recent broadcasts as well.

At the same time, the team introduced “skip ahead”, a feature that enables you to move forward in a replay more quickly.

Periscope Broadcasts Embedded In Twitter Stream

While Periscope had always offered the ability to announce a broadcast within a user’s Twitter stream, watchers had to click on a link that opened Periscope to watch. Early January 2016 saw an enhancement to that feature: the ability to watch a Periscope broadcast directly in a broadcaster’s stream without having to leave Twitter.

Periscope Connects to GoPro Cameras

Later in January 2016, Periscope introduced the ability to connect with and stream from GoPro cameras live. For those unfamiliar with GoPro, these light cameras were created to film from a broadcaster’s point of view. Harnesses are available so they can be attached to a car, your body and even a dog. Adding this capability enabled broadcasters to include these thrilling views to their repertoire.

Periscope Sketch

In April 2016, Periscope introduced sketch, the ability to draw on the screen during broadcasts. Sketches are visible for a few seconds and then disappear, making room for the broadcaster’s next piece of art.

Periscope Connects to a Drone

In May 2016, Periscope added the ability to broadcast from a drone camera. Currently available for iOS devices only, this feature introduces breathtaking possibilities.

What’s Next?

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the members of the Periscope team have more enhancements in the works including broadcast search and the ability to save your broadcasts beyond 24 hours.

To stay abreast of what’s coming, keep an eye on the Periscope blog. To learn how to use new features, visit Periscope’s Help Center.

Using Periscope to Promote Your Business or Create One

Nothing attracts marketers more than a hot social network like Periscope. The equation is simple: more people = more exposure = higher odds of reaching your prospects with targeted messages.

As noted above, Periscope fits small business marketing to a tee. The cost is low and the potential for return is high – a great ratio for any small business.

In addition, Periscope is personal; it was made to encourage and build a relationship between broadcaster and watcher. This app is where your personality can shine, differentiating you from your competition both big and small.

How can you use Periscope to promote your business? Here are a few ideas:

  • Behind the scene videos: give your watchers a peek into interesting aspects of your business – how a product is made, how you provide a particular service. The more your show, the more trust and authority you’ll build and both of those lead to sales.
  • Q&A sessions: nothing builds trust and authority better than providing a taste of the value your products and services offer. Whet your prospect’s appetite and they’ll come back for more. One word of advice: keep these broadcasts focused as wandering off topic can turn away viewers who came to learn a certain thing. If there are off-topic questions, compliment the viewer and promise that you’ll do a Q&A session on that next time.
  • How-tos: another way to provide value, you can use how-to broadcasts for a variety of purposes from pre-sale product demos to after-sale “how to use” broadcasts, and process overviews that help a viewer get something done.

You can even use Periscope as the basis to create a new business. For example, Ray Garcia did just that with Telepor.me. His company matches live streamers with people who are relocating or want to take a vacation. For a small fee, the live streamer provides tours of local sights, attractions, and lodging via Periscope so that folks are not flying blind when they plan their move or trip.

Real-World Advice on Using Periscope

With so many users, there’s a veritable legion of experienced broadcasters willing to share advice on using Periscope. Here are some tips and reflections:

  • Former University of Michigan defensive lineman Doug Cohen and his wife, Ally see Periscope as an effective way to drive engagement, the important first step in building relationships. “Engagement, along with what’s being said about you, and being memorable are the seeds that grow real results,” says Doug. “Even if we don’t convert on the spot, I’ve established a relationship. I’ve shown them an innovative, helpful side of me. If they need photography services, they’ll remember us.”
  • Angel investor Shawn Thomas uses Periscope to increase his impact. “One of the things I said to myself was when I achieve success, I would give back,” says Thomas. “If somebody asks a question, everybody on that scope gets to hear the answer and gets to benefit from that question. This helps out more than being a one-on-one mentor with somebody. Including archived replay views, I can mentor and provide experience-sharing with tens of thousands.”
  • Emmy Award-winning talk show host Mario Armstrong uses Periscope because it’s “authentic and low risk.” Armstrong notes, “Video lets you speak your truth. People see the authenticity immediately. This goes much further than words and pictures. Periscope is also low risk because we can test any content slated for a major launch on Periscope first.”
  • Josh Greenbaum, content creator, YouTuber, and aspiring fashion designer, has observed that livestreaming is the best way to reach a the Millennial audience. “Livestreaming has opened the door for different age groups to collaborate,” says Greenbaum. “I’ve been working with one of the founders of the Periscope Summit, Ryan Bell. We have differences in age, location and lifestyle, but we’re learning together through community. As this technology develops, I predict more inter-generational collaborations.”
The Legal Implications of Using Periscope

While there are many upsides to streaming video via Periscope, small businesses need to be aware of the potential legal pitfalls.

A few of the potential issues include:

  • Copyright laws are still in force during live streaming broadcasts. That includes both images and music that are protected by copyright.
  • The “Right of Publicity” gives individuals the right to refuse permission to use their likeness or voice in your broadcasts. This can be troublesome, especially if you’re broadcasting in a public place.
  • Trade secrets and proprietary information, both yours and others, are protected and should not be included in your broadcasts. Doing so it exposes you to unnecessary risk that your small business can do without.
Conclusion

The marketing opportunities provided by Periscope are many. If your small business is not yet using the live streaming video mobile app, we encourage you to give it a try using the ultimate guide to Periscope above.

Periscope Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "The Ultimate Guide to Periscope" was first published on Small Business Trends

Hotel Development Partners Opens Hampton Inn & Suites Atlanta Perimeter Dunwoody

Hotel Interactive - Wed, 2016-05-25 10:24
ATLANTA, GA––Atlanta-based Hotel Development Partners (HDP) announced the opening of the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Atlanta Perimeter Dunwoody. The ...

Canadian company to acquire Kahala for $300M

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2016-05-25 10:23
Deal gives MTY Food Group Inc. long-awaited foothold in the U.S. Deal gives MTY Food Group Inc. long-awaited foothold in the U.S.

read more

Video: Dickey's CEO honored to win Fast Casual Top 100

FastCasual.com - Wed, 2016-05-25 10:10
Roland Dickey Jr., CEO of Dickey's Barbecue Pits, which topped this year's list of the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers, gives an acceptance speech at Sunday's gala in Chicago.

"Best Gelato in America" Now Available for Franchising

QSR Magazine - Wed, 2016-05-25 09:53
Image Caption: Image Credit: Morano Gelato has two shops in New England, looking for more.Exclusive Brief: 0

Morano Gelato, called “the best gelato in America” by Forbes, announced the launch of its franchise system. Morano Gelato is seeking franchisees to serve its products nationwide, modeled after the success of the company’s New England shops. 

Chains: Morano Gelato

Mission Possible

Hotel Interactive - Wed, 2016-05-25 09:36
Hospitality Veteran Larry Broughton Leverages Experience On TV Reality Series

How To Create a QR Code For Your Small Business

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2016-05-25 09:30

The demise of the QR (Quick Response) code has been predicted for some time, but this technology is thriving, especially outside of the U.S.

What Is A QR Code?

Originally designed for the automotive industry in Japan, a QR code uses numeric, alphanumeric and byte/binary encoding modes to store data that can be easily accessed with your smartphone, tablet or PC.  Unlike a traditional barcode which stores limited data, a QR code has a lot more information.

This odd looking image has now evolved to provide a wide range of services, and many countries in Asia it is the go to technology for quickly connecting users to information and services. In China QR codes are used to make payments offline, sharing a password protected Wi-Fi network, transferring money, sharing contact information, logging in to a website and much more.

QR Code Benefits

One of the greatest selling points of QR codes is the ease in which it quickly engages users.

Scan this QR code with your smartphone to see where it takes you.

This QR code was generated in less than a minute, which when scanned takes you to the Like Facebook page of Small Business Trends. This is a simple example how it can be used to interact with your audience with a proven, cost effective and efficient technology. And for small businesses, cheap and efficient is always a great thing.

How to Create a QR Code

The process is so easy, you will be wondering why you didn’t use it sooner. After you create your first code, you will be looking for new and innovative ways to deploy the QR codes so you can connect with your customers in the physical and digital world.

Step One

Find a QR code Generator. Here are five you can use right away. You can use the traditional links, as well as the QR codes, which were put on here to highlight how easy it was to create them.

QR Code Generator

Goqr

Webqr

Visualead

QRstuff

Step Two

Create, design and link the code. It can be linked to any URL, including Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media outlets for immediate access to the content you want your customers to see.

There are two types of QR codes, static and dynamic. A static code is fixed, meaning the data that is stored in it cannot be changed. On the other hand, a dynamic QR code can be edited any time.

You can get really creative when you create a QR code and add color, your company logo and even animation.

Step Three

Test the QR code. You want to make sure the code is working, and it sends you to the right destination. This is especially important if you use a static code, because you cannot edit it.

Step Four

Track how your QR code is performing. You can now analyze the performance of the codes you create by monitoring how much traffic is coming from them, as well as what actions users are taking once they arrive at your website or other destination.

Step Five

Make your QR code accessible to everyone. If you require a special scanner or app, you will greatly limit the number of people that will follow through. Make it app-agnostic so anyone can scan your QR code with their mobile device. After all access is the ultimate goal, and you don’t want to drive people away by making it unnecessarily complicated.

Who is Using QR Codes?

It will be much easier to answer who isn’t.  For large enterprises with a global presence, they have seen how hundreds of millions of people in other countries use it every day. But for some reason, it is not translating in the U.S. with the same enthusiasm.

The not so creative ways marketers and developers have used the technology here might be one of the biggest reason, which hopefully will change as word gets around of how everyone else is using it. However, companies such as American Airlines, BestBuy, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated and many others are using it as part of their overall marketing strategies to engage with their customers in several ways, including for the Online-To-Offline (O2O) commerce that is gaining traction.

Ways You Can Use QR Codes

Once you create a QR code, you can get very creative with them. A South Korean grocery store placed a stand in a subway station with QR codes of the items it sells. All customers had to do is scan the code and purchase their groceries, which according to the company makes the deliveries the same day. This is just one example, here are some additional ways you can use it:

  • Direct customers to your digital presence
  • A discount code
  • Link to Google Maps
  • Link it to your app
  • Place in a takeout menu so customers can place an order right away
  • Act like a URL on a direct response advertisement
  • Add it to business cards so the contact information can be downloaded instantly

The ubiquity of mobile devices has made product information one of the most important factors for consumers looking to purchase an item. A recent Shotfarm survey revealed 95 percent of its more than 1,500 respondents saw it as a, “Very important part of their decision making process.” And almost half, or 42 percent said poor information was responsible for them returning their online purchase.

With QR codes, you can offer information on any product or service you provide and make it accessible right away. It is easy, cheap and worth trying if you are a small business.

Do you plan to create a QR code for your small business?  Do you have a QR code in operation?  Let our readers hear about your experiences and thoughts in comments below!

QR Code Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How To Create a QR Code For Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Reeling in business with sustainable seafood

Nation's Restaurant News - Wed, 2016-05-25 09:10
Aquaculture can help operators offer consumers premium fish, sustainable resources.

read more

Spotlight: Bamboo Watches Australia Keeps Time While Saving the Planet

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2016-05-25 08:30

Innovative business owners are constantly finding new ways to use eco-friendly materials in various products. Bamboo Watches Australia is just one example. The Australian based company uses, you guessed it, bamboo to make quality watches. Read more about the company and its story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What Bamboo Watches Australia Does

Sells Australian made bamboo watches.

Business Niche

Creating an eco-friendly product.

How the Business Got Started

Because of a connection through Kickstarter.

Ricky Zurvas, owner of Bamboo Watches Australia told Small Business Trends, “I discovered a small Aussie brand through Kickstarter that was launching a range of Bamboo Watches and Sunglasses. I had never seen a unique product made out of bamboo and knew the product was validated because how successful the campaign ended. I could see this was a great product to sell as it was eco-friendly and made out of bamboo. I decided to reach out to the brand owners and launch a store selling bamboo watches. I plan to branch out into other related eco-friendly and sustainable accessories in the future.”

Biggest Win

Launching a successful affiliate program with social media influencers.

Zurvas says, “This low cost tactic has grew our traffic and sales combined with other traffic strategies.”

Lesson Learned

Email marketing is important.

Zurvas explains, “One of the biggest mistakes I made was not building a email list as soon as possible. If I could start over, one of the first tasks on my to-do list would have been to create a email campaign. If you’re not building a list you’re losing sales!”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Social media influencers.

Zurvas says, “Most of our traffic comes from social media influences. I would invest heavily in this area and go for the much larger accounts to drive more traffic and sales.”

Favorite Communication Tool

WhatsApp.

Zurvas explains, “I’m constantly in contact with my supplier and our most effective communication is a mobile instant messenger whatsapp. Highly recommend it for no cost team communication tool!”

Favorite Quote

“It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your business. And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time” -Mark Cuban

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Bamboo Watches Australia, Second Image: Bol Varga, owner of Bamb-u

This article, "Spotlight: Bamboo Watches Australia Keeps Time While Saving the Planet" was first published on Small Business Trends

UK production rises 16% in April on strong exports

AutoNews - Wed, 2016-05-25 07:54
UK car production rose 16 percent in April, boosted by strong overseas demand. The SMMT industry group said the numbers support its opposition to a so-called "Brexit."
Categories: Latest News

Does an LLC Protect Your Personal Assets?

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2016-05-25 07:30

When planning to start up a new business, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make will be how you should register your company.

A vast majority of small business owners are keen to operate their new company with the freedom of a sole proprietorship — but worry about personal asset protection should their new startup run aground. That’s why one of our readers asked us about limited liability companies (LLCs) and the legal protections they can offer.

In most cases, these protections are extensive.

When you incorporate an LLC, you are creating a new legal entity that it completely separate from you and other company shareholders. Consequently, each LLC member enjoys what’s called limited liability. That means if the LLC ends up falling flat, gets sued or files for bankruptcy, the personal assets of each LLC member should be protected from getting seized in order to satisfy those company debts.

Personal Asset Protection

Personal bank accounts, homes or various other assets are typically protected. Likewise, the assets of an LLC cannot normally be used in order to satisfy the personal debts of an LLC member.

The only loss an LLC owner will likely face in the event of bankruptcy should be their capital contribution to the business. That being said, there are a couple of caveats. As with other incorporation types, an LLC owner may face some form of personal liability if they have personally guaranteed a particular company debt.

One way creditors can breach the wall between your company and your personal assets is called “piercing the corporate veil”. This usually happens when an LLC member has co-mingled their personal assets with company assets, committed fraud or failed to contribute sufficient assets to their company in the first place. The protection of your personal assets may also be rendered void if you have transferred personal property to your LLC in order to evade creditors. This practice is called “fraudulent conveyance”.

That being said, an LLC generally offers a fantastic level of personal asset protection – even if that company ends up buried in debt. So long as you tread carefully and keep your finances firmly separate from that of your company, you should be relatively safe.

LLC Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Does an LLC Protect Your Personal Assets?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Signs Radisson Blu In Mexico; Continues Latin American Expansion

Hotel Interactive - Wed, 2016-05-25 07:07
MINNEAPOLIS-–Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the world’s largest and most dynamic hotel groups has announced the signing of an agreement ...