Projecting a Corporate Image

Corporate Image or Reputation refers to the manner in which a company and its activities are perceived by outsiders. A corporation is defined by how people see it.  All organisations have their own unique corporate image but a few actually work to protect and project it. Globalization plays a major role in the rise of corporate image programs because companies want to find ways to promote themselves in new markets.

Many organisations work hard to create a positive image in the minds of their stakeholders.  There are fundamental aspects to the process of managing one’s image:

Corporate Identity – This encompasses the unique traits of the organisation. It is used to differentiate it from other companies and help carve out a niche for its advertising. This identity is comprised of four components, including corporate strategy, corporate culture, organizational design, and operations. Corporate Strategy is the overall plan that determines how the company approaches the market and its policies on how to compete. Corporate culture refers to the shared values and beliefs that the members of the organisation share and relate to. It is responsible for the organization’s behavior.  Organizational design refers to the choices made by top managers to develop organisational relationships. It includes the degree of decentralization, the number of staff personnel, organisational roles, and other internal systems and procedures. Operations refers to the combination of activities the firm engages in, these activities can influence its identity in a variety of ways.

Corporate communication – This is the link between identity and image. Principal sources of corporate communication are product names and logos, formal statements (mission statement, code of ethics, annual reports, advertising, and company slogans), and employee’s behavior during public events, such as trade shows , networking sessions, as well as unscheduled events such as lawsuits.  “Reputation problems grow like weed in a garden”, Davis Young wrote in his book “Building your company’s good name”.  It is important to stay vigilant on how a company speaks and acts.

Feedback – A continuous feedback system is important, so that business owners and branding managers can receive accurate up-to-date information on how the company is perceived.  This allows modifications to be made quickly. Feedback can be come from any number of sources, including employees, salespeople and clients.

Here are some more ideas for helping to project a good image:

  1. Appeal to your largest audience
  2. Brand – Ensure your stationary looks good. Don’t hesitate to spend some money on brochures and business cards. Coordinate every channel including letterhead, shipping labels, invoices, trademarks, samples and product labels, so that quality remains consistent. These things say a lot about your company and if handled well, can do wonders for your professional reputation
  3. Website – In the digital age, where everything is a click away, it takes only a second for the public to browse a company site and make a decision. Make sure your website projects a professional image and is informative and easy to navigate. It should also include your current contact information, including your phone number, address and other social media outlets.
  4. Participate in trade associations & councils.
  5. Keep the press informed and get involved in the industry at large. For example, you might join an engineering association and work towards bettering the industry for the people in it.

To build a strong corporate image, long term planning is a must.  It is not something that anyone can accomplish in a few weeks.  Nevertheless, it is an important investment that will create long term gains for any company.

Avi | DBPC Blog

10 Ways To Reward Employees

Employees are one of the most important assets if any organization. Their hard work and commitment play a huge part in making a company successful. As a result, staff loyalty is key. There are multiples factors that will influence someone’s fidelity, including management style, work environment and recognition of their work. Remember that for most individuals, feeling appreciated is just as important as a good salary. If the company is content with the bare minimum in compensating employees, people will move on and find an employer who will value their work more. Company rewards are a great way to show your employees how much you appreciate their efforts. Make sure to recognize employees after successful outcomes, such as adding a new client, meeting company goals, closing a sale or completing a project. Involve everyone in the decision; people feel better when the reward also comes from their peers instead of just management. The following list will show you many different ways, in which you can reward your employees.

  1. Thank You: As simple as it seems, a quick “thank you” is a good start. Sometimes companies don’t have the financial capacity to afford tangible rewards, but by just saying this magic word, a person will feel that their work is appreciated. Ensure that management adopts this is a habit. You would be surprised how many managers never say “thank you” to their team. This is one of the main reasons why people end up disliking their superiors and move on to other companies.
  2. Lunch or Dinner invitation: Invite your employees to lunch or dinner as a token of appreciation.
  3. Flexible Hours: Let your employees set their own schedule to the degree that it’s possible. This flexibility will be highly appreciated by them, especially to new parents and students.
  4. Extra vacations or day off: Give one or more extra vacation days to employees who excel, or those who are helping increase profits substantially .
  5. Celebrate Special Days: Celebrate your employees’ birthdays, new babies, weddings or any other special days. It’s not necessary to have a full-on party; a simple card with everyone’s signature and a small present will be cherished by any employee.
  6. Food and Beverage: Be a little spontaneous. From time to time, buy pastries or coffee for your employees. This will brighten their day and show your appreciation.
  7. Wall of fame: Every month acknowledge the work of one of your employees. Put their picture on a wall of fame and let everyone know how much you value this person’s work.
  8. Public recognition: After a successful job, write a memo congratulating a particular employee or team for their effort. Acknowledge the impact of their work on the company’s overall success.
  9. Pay for Their Commute: Reward punctual employee with a gas card or a public transit pass. This will not just acknowledge their devotion but will also motivate other to be on time.
  10. Awards: Every year create an award event for your employees. Recognize their punctuality, efficiency, cooperation, leadership and other critical skills they may have demonstrated.

Be constant with your rewards, and ensure every person who deserves to be recognized is on your rewards list. Don’t let management show favoritism to particular employees. Base the decision on feedback from  other employees and team leaders. Establish a well-maintained reward program for your company, and don’t forget that a simple “thank you” will always be appreciated.

Viviana | DBPC Blog

Identifying Job Hoppers

Hiring has never been an easy practice, and job hoppers have long been the bane of HR managers around the world.  That being said, the nature of the job market has changed a lot over the last few decades, and some degree of job hopping is expected for most of the workforce these days.  With that in mind, it is useful to be able to identify the individuals who are more likely to leave you high and dry at the most inopportune time.

First, it is important to separate legitimate job hoppers from people who have simply worked jobs that are short-term or contract-based.  For example, people in event management, construction and consultant roles will naturally move from company to company.

One of the most common types of people to look for are what’s termed an “opportunity” job hopper.  These are people who are either overqualified for the position and will likely leave to pursue another opening, or they are individuals who already have a strong established work history and will likely leave if a better financial/scheduling offer is made.  Now this isn’t to say that companies should avoid hiring someone simply because they’re overqualified.  It is important to first take a look at their actual work history and see how long they typically stay in a position.  Many people, especially new graduates, are looking for stable income and may stay much longer than you originally anticipate.

Some hoppers can be spotted just by a quick glance at their work history.  With others, however, their habits may not be apparent until you interview them.  For instance, they could have left their last company relatively quickly with a legitimate reason, but when you talk to them about it, they have nothing but negative things to say about working there.  Probe a little bit further, and you may find that they have the same negative opinion about many of their former workplaces.  You’ve just discovered a perpetual malcontent – this is someone who will inevitably leave because they find it difficult to adapt to the working world and will be unhappy no matter where they go.

In some cases, it can be difficult to identify either type of hopper. Either their work history is sparse, or they do not disclose this information during interviews.  This is when references become important, as their former employers can provide honest insight that the candidate might not be as forthcoming with.  In addition, asking the right questions during the interview can force the candidate to give you useful answers.  For example, a question like “name your greatest achievements from a few of your last positions” will force them to think about their previous roles in a positive light and can also tell you whether they contributed anything of value before they left.

Finding the right person for a position is never easy, and spotting job hoppers early will definitely make the process more demanding.  That being said, it is absolutely worth the extra time and effort to make sure you avoid hiring the wrong person.  The alternative is much more costly.

Lance | DBPC Blog

The Positives and Negatives of Extending Credit

While it won’t be relevant to every business, customer credit is an established method that some companies have successful used to generate increased revenue.  By extending credit to their customers, some businesses will allow them to defer payment for a period of time – essentially loaning them the product in exchange for the promise of money later.  Sound risky?  It definitely can be.  That’s why it’s important that you know the ups and downs of extending credit before you decide to add it to your business model.         

Competitive advantage

Credit allows you to provide your goods or services to individuals who otherwise may not be able to afford it.  This not only expands your market, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition.  These new customers are also likely to be more loyal, as you are one of a small number of companies who will accommodate their budget.

Get customers to spend more and build goodwill

Goods we want to purchase are often out of reach.  We may want that shiny new TV or couch, but we can’t afford it right this moment.  By offering credit on big ticket items, more customers will be willing to shell out for a luxury item.

Allowing your customers to defer payment is also a demonstration of trust on the part of the organization.  As a result, your consumers will feel more valued and be more likely to return for other purchases down the line.

Unsecured loans are inherently risky

The most obvious downside is that deferred payments will naturally make paying the bills a much more complicated process.  You might defer payments on a new desk until January, but what happens when you need money now?  The unpredictability of a sales model based on unsecured loans is one that many business owners may be poorly equipped to deal with.  Even if you schedule sales to cover your monthly expenses in a timely manner, a single customer not paying on time can throw the whole system into disarray.  The business will be missing a significant amount of revenue that it desperately needs to keep the company running, and likewise, the customer will be charged a significant amount of interest, which they may be unable to pay.  As such, it is crucial that owners are careful about who they extend credit to, and that they don’t offer more credit than what they can afford in case they are not paid.  They must also ensure that they have sufficient cash flow to sustain their business during dry periods.

For many businesses, it is important to note that any missed payments will cause consumers to accumulate interest on the entire amount that the item is worth.  You must be clear about what your interest rates and late payment policies are if you want to avoid alienating your customers.  This makes evaluating your customers’ credit rating a pivotal part of the sales process, but this also requires additional time and money.

Once again, bear in mind that not every business can or should offer credit.  But if your company specializes in big ticket items, then it can potentially be a boon to your sales.  Weigh the pros and cons carefully, and decide if it is right for you before you take the plunge.

Lance | DBPC Blog