January '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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1 4 P R I N T W E A R J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 9 BUSINESS BUSINESS MANAGEMENT MANAGEMENT Your Personal Business Trainer tions. What was once done with catalogs and snail mail is accomplished now in milliseconds with an e-commerce website and electronic mail confirmation. Heck, even bills are paid with electronic transfer of funds—driving the days of "the check is in the mail" into obsolescence. But, haven't we become a little too impersonal in our customer-relationship management practices? I realize you may be saying that funding and supporting the travels of an outside sales force to the doorsteps of your clients has become cost-prohibitive since your target sales territory has grown from covering your hometown to spanning the globe. But, why not investigate the feasibility of virtual sales calls, web conferencing, and hosting online events? Initially, only large corporations could afford such technology. When it was founded in 1996, Cisco's WebEx Communications ( immediately captured a large per- centage of the online meeting market. Then came which made the idea of virtual meeting affordable. Today, there are dozens of such service companies. recently reviewed the web conferencing players and wrote, "Onstream Meet- ings, Adobe Connect, and GlobalMeet are our top picks for web conferencing services. Each of these programs is very simple to use and includes some of the best tools and features compared to other web meeting software. Some solutions, such as ReadyTalk, have options available for webcasting and webinar services that give you the chance to host presentations, both recorded and live, regardless of your audience size." With inexpensive, easy-to-use web cameras, file sharing, and high-speed internet connec- tivity, web conferencing is bringing the future of face-to-face sales calls, real-time technical support, and interactive training to nearly everyone with a computer and internet ser- vice. The only thing that may be missing is the hearty handshake that seals the deal. MEANINGFUL REWARDS How up-to-date—and, more importantly, effective—is your employee-recognition program? Sadly, some companies have abandoned theirs or failed to implement one at all. Bob Nelson is a best-selling au- thor and leading authority on the subject. He has chastised today's businesses for not revamping their performance-improvement system with the same vigor that they have modernized their physical plants. He brings to our attention that most workers do not remain with the same employer long enough to earn a five-year plaque, let alone a gold watch after a 30- year career. In most organizations, years-of- service awards have become associated more with endurance rather than performance. Equally questionable, yet widespread, is the practice of employee-of-the-month programs. Nelson says, "We don't need em- ployees-of-the-month as much as we need employees-of-the-moment—and we need them each day, every day." Lately, there has been a shift to informality in employee recognition programs. Smart companies are empowering their manag- ers and front-line supervisors to come up with unique, individual ways to recognize superior and sustained performance. Pon- der this: Wouldn't you expect to contribute and make a difference with your effort from your very first day on the job? Wouldn't you want more involvement in the decisions be- ing made at your job? More appreciation when you do good work? More flexibility in your work hours and more balance between your work and personal lives? Because each of these questions are most often answered with a resounding yes, forward-thinking businesses are being more creative in the way they use rewards that make a positive impact today. The au- tonomy of telecommuting and flex-hours, bonus paid time off, authorization to nego-

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