Small business retirement planning options

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Promoted to Manager? Great! – What Now?

Congratulations on being promoted to your new management role! Did you have a party? Have you settled into your new desk yet? Did you decide what to do with your pay rise?And are you wondering ‘what now?’I remember well my first promotion to manager. Maybe my experience is something like yours? Here’s how it wentA typical story of the newly promoted managerI was recruited into a job as a ‘technician’ (in the glamorous world of Tax Audit, as you asked). I was good at this so quickly got promoted to senior technician and then manager. We had a party on the Friday afternoon – goodbye senior technician role – and then I was into my management job on the Monday morning. Date of next management course? Six months hence. Likelihood of being coached by my senior manager? – zilch. Result? Six very tricky and stressful months where I managed to make just about every mistake in the management book (and write a few new ones as well)Not fun and not funny – for me, and certainly not for the poor people I was attempting to ‘manage’.Eventually I did get some training. It wasn’t great and I still made a lot of mistakes. But then I got lucky. I got a new manager who was not only skilled at managing, but a great coach. And I became a much better manager. And not a day too soon some would say (including me)Is this sounding familiar? I guess it might (on the basis I’ve rarely met a manager, team leader or supervisor who hasn’t had a similar experience!)What do new managers need?Here’s what I needed when I became a manager and what I see many managers, team leaders and supervisors needing;• Some simple tools I could have accessed from day one would have been hugely helpful. Practical, step-by-step processes that I could have used as ‘road maps’ or guidelines. Some ‘how to’ information. Anything that would have helped me approach my new management role with some level of competence and confidence• Some advice on how to deal with those tricky management situations – the underperforming employee, the high performing (but unhappy) employee. Some help in working out how to motivate my employees to high performance, preferably by someone who’s been there and done it themselves.It’s no fun making it up as you go along or trying to learn by ‘trial and error’ (often with the focus on error). And if you’re anything like most of the managers, team leaders and supervisors I know you just don’t have the time to get out there and do the reading and research on what makes for effective management and then learn how to apply that knowledgeGetting the help and support you needThe biggest mistake I made as a new manager was failing to look for help and support. Instead I tried to tough it out and muddle along. I wouldn’t recommend it. So here are some ideas on how you could get the help and support you need to build your management confidence and competence1. Go to your learning and development, training, HR department or whoever it is who looks after developing people. Don’t wait until they come to you. My tip here is be very specific about what you’re looking for. My experience in life generally is that, the more specific you are about what you want, the more likely you are to get it. If you need, for example, a simple step process for defining and agreeing performance objectives, or a sample agenda for performance review or appraisal meeting, or a planned approach for having a conversation with your staff around improving their performance then go to your L&D, HR, training department and ask them for specifically for that. I think sometimes we make the mistake of waiting for opportunities to come to us in this area of learning. That’s what those people are there to do – to help you develop your management competence and confidence. What sometimes you need to do though is get out there, get to those people and ask for what you want.2. Look for coaching, mentoring or just some good old plain advice. Take a look around and try to identify managers who are managing in a way that you think is effective. It could be your own manager. It could be the manager in the next department. It could be a manager who maybe isn’t in your organisation but who you know is an effective manager. Or ask other people. Ask your colleagues. Who do they consider to be a really effective manager? What you’re trying to do here is to find a model – someone you can learn from. Then the question is, would they help you? Most effective managers are open to helping other managers develop. And again be really clear on what you’re looking for because most people find it easier to say yes to a request if that request is very specific. For example you might ask “I would like some help in thinking through how to explain to my employees that I need them to work in a different way”, or, “I’d appreciate some help with working out how to have a conversation with one of my employees about an area of performance they need to improve.” Get really clear on what you want and then go and ask for it.3. Do some research. If you need tools and techniques, there are many resources out there you can use. You could visit you local bookshop or library or, of course, access some of the thousands of blogs, articles, or videos you can find online. OK so it takes some time, but so does trying to learn by your mistakes!SummaryIt’s easy (as I know to my cost!) to wait patiently for management development opportunities to arise, to wait eagerly for the next training course date to be announced. The issue is we often need help right here, right now. I want to encourage you to take responsibility for your own development as a manager, to get clear on what you want and need and then try to find ways of meeting those wants and needs, so that you can quickly, efficiently, and effectively build your management competence and confidence

Automotive Advertising Agencies Focus on Consumers Vs Auto Dealers to Sell Cars Because Google Does

Consumers prefer to go to the Internet to shop for a vehicle to get information to make a buying decision without having to visit a dealership. Sometimes they turn to the World Wide Web vs. their local car row to avoid being pressured by a self serving car salesperson — real or imagined. Other times their objective may be to save gas and time before they jump into the real world where they may be pressured into making a premature buying decision based on emotion and limited information. Frankly, in many cases, they are right; can you say — spot delivery.Job one for search engines, like Google, is to provide relevant information to their online customers to help them narrow down their list of vehicles of interest and answer associated questions like trade-in value, payment options and the many items that must be addressed before they can select — the — vehicle vs. — a — vehicle. Once those issues are resolved, they need to help their online shoppers find an auto dealer that can provide a vehicle that best satisfies those terms and conditions; in that order — vehicle first and dealer second. My point is that when Google first directs their customers to the most relevant source for their desired information it is not necessarily limited to a particular dealership. Today’s car shoppers are much better educated than yesterday’s. They know what questions they need to ask before they can make a buying decision so their online search words are more able to target vehicles that warrant their consideration rather than limiting their search to their local car dealerships. For better or worse, auto dealers can’t put that horse back in the barn!The adversarial relationship between consumers and auto dealers that governed old world selling processes originated in the real world to help auto dealers control the shopping and negotiation process and they survived briefly on the virtual showrooms being built one on the Internet, but — today and tomorrow — not so much! Once auto dealer’s realized — or more correctly — once customers told auto dealers that they no longer controlled the access to the information that they needed to purchase a vehicle the dealers tried to control the information on the Internet; how is that working out for auto dealers!Automotive advertising agencies first assumed that S.E.O. and S.E.M. was a way to put Google on the auto dealer’s side of the Internet Super Highway. If they placed the right search words, meta tags, URL names — and the various manipulations of the Google search algorithms that automotive advertising agencies have memorized as fast as Google changes them — then they could manipulate the search results to place their auto dealer clients as the most relevant source for the information that customers were searching for and earn the auto dealers a position on the car shoppers short list. Given the vertical priority placed by Google to position a listing on page one based on relevancy to their customers search words or phrases, that technique certainly has value. However, since customers are prioritizing finding a vehicle before a dealer and/or to answer related questions before they open negotiations on a specific vehicle at a particular auto dealer, auto dealers that base their online marketing efforts to accomplish that priority are positioning themselves mid-sales cycle and they may be a day late and a dollar short for a large portion of today’s and tomorrow’s shoppers/buyers.Automotive advertising agencies have attempted to answer customer’s questions on their auto dealership’ websites in an attempt to earn them a top position on vehicle based searches. Their assumption is that the more information the better — as long as it is relevant — however, once at the auto dealer’s site the more accurate priority is “transparency!” More time on page, and more page visits used to be considered a good thing but today, once again — not so much! The easier and faster the online car shopper can find the specific information that they need to make a buying decision the better! Site designs are being simplified with more intuitive user interface and dedicated landing pages or linked micro sites to allow customers to limit the amount of “clicks” or wasted exposure to information that may be relevant to the dealer but not necessarily to the customer; at that time in their shopping cycle at least.Once the shopper actually ventures onto an online showroom the plan is to keep them there by providing direct or linked access to anything that they need to move themselves further down the sales/buying funnel. The dealer may see these information resources as a conversion tool or a lead generator but if they lose track of the truth — that the customer is still in charge — they risk losing them with the click of a mouse. Sorry, but throwing their trade-in keys onto the roof won’t work in your virtual showrooms!The solution is for auto dealers to listen and learn from their online customers before they presume to sell them anything! Human nature has survived on the World Wide Web and relationship based selling still has a strong influence on consumers. Today’s online shoppers are being directed by Google and the other search engines to social networking sites because the marketplace is a conversation and people are social animals. Auto dealers who want to attract customers with a message that they are the best source for information to serve the customer’s interest vs. their own are better served to have their customers make that case for them.Next generation inventory based search portals — like ronsmap.com — accept an auto dealer’s inventory for free with the ability to push their vehicles into social media using their vBack application to Ask-A-Friend or Tell-A-Friend about the vehicle — and the dealer –that they are considering within their social networking communities of online friends. Google has already admitted that they are prioritizing real time social media to establish relevancy, and automotive advertising agencies already know that more vehicles on a site provide more relevancy to more online car shoppers. As a result, they have found that the way to attract more online customers to find their auto dealership as the place to go to get all of their questions answered will be the message that is carried along with their individual vehicles listed on this communal consumer-centric site; which is what the customers are looking for to begin developing their shortlist of dealers to do business with!Customer friendly applications that distribute the information on an auto dealer’s individual website which have the secondary value of functioning as a conversion tool or lead generator are also key differentiators that quickly build branding value for an auto dealer’s virtual showroom and enhance their online reputation as the place to go to get customer’s questions answered vs. their being sold something. For example, GetAutoAppraise.Com is a next generation appraisal tool that provides credible third party trade-in values sourced through NADA with integrated inventory information that allows the customer to review the entire transaction more efficiently. Their trade-in appraisal form includes vehicle, price and payment information to and from both parties to the transaction in one easy transparent and customer friendly process.Video platforms, like SiSTeR Technologies Video CarLot, is another transparent Google friendly application that converts pictures on an auto dealer’s website into interactive videos with human voice that are also pushed out onto the World Wide Web through their dedicated API to You Tube and soon to be announced applications that push their vShock platform onto social networking communities like Face Book. Their proprietary video platform is fully index able for the search engines and it provides relevant information to the customer from within the video as well as direct links through their vShock application that opens a dedicated micro site with similar vehicles chosen from the dealer’s inventory using algorithms and business rules custom designed by the dealer to improve the customers vehicle selection. This process is another example of a customer friendly information delivery system that will improve transparency for the customer once they find an online dealership which will also extend the auto dealers S.E.O..The point is, the more information that an automotive advertising agency provides through their auto dealer client’s websites in the most relevant and transparent manner the better. However, auto dealers need to get online car shoppers to find and visit their virtual showrooms first, and since information is a key differentiator between them and their online competition — or according to Google and online shoppers, it should be – then the information alone won’t make it! Automotive advertising agencies must focus on consumers’ interests in order to best serve their auto dealer clients because Google does; and Google does it because their customers demand it!