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Free Webinar: How to get your brand all wrapped up in that 'transparency thing' - Wed, 2017-06-21 12:18
Can consumers really see your brand? Do they really see how you're "being transparent" about your ingredients, their sources and quality? This free webinar gives expert advice on what restaurants must make clear today to build their customer base for tomorrow.

Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Small Business Conference – #Gateway17

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 11:30

Gateway ’17, an inaugural small business event aimed at businesses interested in exporting goods or otherwise expanding their customer base in China, took Detroit by storm this week.

The sold-out event features big name speakers like Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma, CEO of UPS David Abney, and style-maven Martha Stewart.

This conference is not so much about sourcing manufacturing of goods in China (although there’s some of that represented). It’s mainly about helping small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs in attendance to network and learn more about tapping into the hundreds of millions of Chinese middle-class consumers.

Jack Ma decided on Detroit for the event because, according to company officials, he and Alibaba are committed to the heartland. And Detroit has recently become revitalized and has a strong entrepreneurial base. According to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, “the Creative Class is here” (giving a nod to the book by Richard Florida called “The Rise of the Creative Class”).

The event opened last evening, and among the speakers was Ma, who was interviewed in a fireside chat format by media personality Charlie Rose. In inspirational and surprisingly candid remarks, Ma outlined the struggles of starting Alibaba in 1999, at a time when the Internet was new in China. “Everything I did before Alibaba failed — everything,” he said, highlighting the need to have an entrepreneurial vision and believe in it.

Entrepreneur and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers Dan Gilbert, who has been a driving force behind Detroit’s comeback, also emphasized how failure is a part of achieving success. He urged the small business owners and entrepreneurs in the audience, “Don’t be afraid to fail.”

The event kicked off with a bang with a team of drummers. But these were not ordinary drummers. They wore lighted suits and drummed to a light show — while being suspended in the air on wires. Ecommerce entrepreneur John Lawson, who attended the event, said after the opening evening, “As soon as I saw that opening drum show, I knew Alibaba had kicked it up to a higher level than your typical conference.”

These drummers at #Gateway17 wore lighted suits drumming while attached to wires suspended in air. Amazing opening

— Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends) June 20, 2017

Tina Yuan of Co.Media, who attended the event, counts Ma as her business role model, saying “He started out as a small business. He says you have to give back. He wants to make others successful and that’s his strength.”

And in fact, helping small businesses is a message that Ma repeated during his opening remarks. People sometimes call Alibaba an eCommerce company, Ma said, but that’s not really a good description. “We’re not an eCommerce company. We help small businesses become eCommerce companies.”

After listening to the keynote speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to drop in for breakout sessions on everything from exporting specific items like clothing or food to China, to learning about the specific offerings of platforms like Alipay (Alibaba’s payment platform). The event also features casting sessions for CNBC reality shows “The Profit” and “Billion Dollar Buyer,” along with customer spotlights and success stories.

The focus of the event is to help small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs explore growth opportunities in China and learn about marketing to Chinese consumers. China is one of the fastest growing consumer bases in the world. So learning how to market and sell to this growing group could provide a major boon for small businesses, likely one of the reasons Gateway ‘17 has drawn in thousands of registered attendees.

About 3,000 people registered to attend the event at the Cobo Center in Detroit on June 20 and 21, 2017. The opening evening appeared filled to capacity.

Anita Campbell, also in attendance at the event, contributed to this report.

Images: Small Business Trends

This article, "Alibaba Takes Detroit By Storm With Sold Out Small Business Conference – #Gateway17" was first published on Small Business Trends

New studies show restaurant 'do's and don'ts' of online ordering, delivery - Wed, 2017-06-21 11:15
As the restaurant industry continues to bask in the big-dollar benefits of online ordering, two new studies shed light on best practices when it comes to online ordering and third-party delivery as well as overall customer experience.

Transform Your Office Manager Into an Office Hero (INFOGRAPHIC)

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:30

When it comes to creating an efficient office environment, you need a hero. And there’s no better person to come to your rescue in achieving that goal than your office manager.

From ensuring the office fridge is always stocked to helping a project manager with a big meeting, the office manager does it all.

How can you make it easier for your office manager to complete all tasks with ease?

Netherlands-based customized product manufacturing company Vistaprint (NASDAQ:CMPR) has some simple tips to save your time and money.

Office Manager Duties and Tips on Getting It All Done

Through real-life situations, Vistaprint suggests some simple ways to accomplish small tasks on time.

Re-Stocking the Office Kitchen with Snacks

This is a regular task for your office manager who’s probably spending hours at the supermarket.

A simple solution is to enlist the help of a grocery delivery service that ensures snacks reach the office on time.

Helping with a Big Meeting the Next Day

According to data shared by Vistaprint, 38 percent of office managers say “an intense workload” or “not having enough time” is their biggest professional struggle.

To address this challenge, they can create a list of their preferred vendors. These will include cross-platform note-taking app, transcription services and video conferencing software, among others.

Helping You Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Office

Rather than treating this as a manual job, your office manager can gather feedback through online tools.

Technology is becoming an integral part of an office manager’s day-to-day work. Forty-nine percent of administrative professionals, in fact, report being asked to identify and provide technology-related solutions at work. With the right tools, office managers can capture information from the employees.

Ordering Branded Products for a Tradeshow

Data reveals event planning is a major part of 84 percent of office managers’ job. Considering the amount of time spent on arranging logistics, an effective solution is to use an all-in-one custom print solution.

To know more, check out the infographic below:

This article, "Transform Your Office Manager Into an Office Hero (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends

Q&A—Online back-to-school shopping up 75%

Store Front Talk Back - Wed, 2017-06-21 10:13
Consumers are opting out of the hassle that comes with brick-and-mortar shopping as the trend of online back-to-school shopping increases over 75% in the last 5 years. Yahoo spokesperson Courtney McKlveen breaks down what retailers can expect this September.

Long John Silver's Deep-Fried Twinkies Are the Best Thing in Fast Food Right Now

Topix - Wed, 2017-06-21 09:35

At first, the deep-fried Twinkies at Long John Silver's were only available as a dessert option on the "Fisherman's Feast" meal deal - after filling yourself with fried fish and hush puppies, you could choose either a strawberry cheesecake or a Twinkie, originally by Hostess but now battered and fried.

Categories: Today's Food News

Is FourKites Tracking Technology a Game Changer for Small Trucking Companies?

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 09:30

The bigger trucking companies like UPS and FedEx employ expensive and sophisticated tracking technology to pinpoint where a package is at any point in its journey. Retailers like Amazon have added two-day shipping and real-time tracking to heighten consumer expectations. The result? More pressure on smaller trucking companies and businesses to compete.

Small Business Trends spoke with Rob Kunzler, Vice President of Marketing at FourKites. The company provides a modern solution through actionable tracking data and other tools. Kunzler says FourKites fills the need for improved information sharing and helps smaller trucking companies and businesses keep pace.

FourKites Tracking Solution Leverage the Full Weight

You might need to leverage the full weight of a global supply chain to ship car parts to another country. Or, you could be a smaller small business that wants to ensure refrigerated fruit stays at the right temperature on a journey across town. Either way, FourKites is modern software designed to share real time data between the shippers, carriers and third party logistics providers in your supply chain.

Like a lot of other good ideas, FourKites was developed to fill a gap. In this case, the innovation was designed as an upgrade in the transportation management software space.

“People are relying on older technologies,” Kunzler says. “We wanted to manage exceptions and against exceptions.”

Shipping Industry Exceptions

Exceptions is a shipping industry term. These occur when something happens to delay a package or shipment in transit so it might not arrive on time. The issue could be something as fixable as a storm washing a road out so a detour is needed. On the other hand, the problem could be as serious as a broken refrigeration unit that spoils a load of produce.

FourKites takes in data from several different sources to provide real time tracking of shipments. Kunzler says the area the technology covers is wide.

“We have 70 plus integrations that roughly covers 95 percent of North America,” he says.

So what are the advantages to small businesses looking to ship their goods by truck? How do the small trucking companies they serve benefit from subscribing to FourKites? The answers start with the ability to get real time data about a shipment from several onboard systems like GPS and more.

Real Time ETA

“When we get that data we run it through our algorithm that supplies real time ETA calculations based on that and other sources like weather and traffic,” Kunzler says.

FourKites has eyes on your shipment and knows what’s happening, is about to happen or has just happened to it as it travels America’s roads. Being able to plan a route avoiding areas where transport trucks are restricted like business districts is another benefit. These metrics are especially important so small businesses know when loads are running behind their ETAs. The company also has a mobile app and provides email scheduling so you can alert customers as any exceptions develop.

Earlier this month, FourKites added real time temperature and location tracking to its arsenal of features. The ability to track the temperature of sensitive items like produce and pharmaceuticals reduces spoilage. It also brings these loads into line with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

“Companies like food retailers need to be able to report on how their loads are doing from a temperature perspective,” Kunzler says.

Image: Four Kites

This article, "Is FourKites Tracking Technology a Game Changer for Small Trucking Companies?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Spotlight: Bryson City Bicycles Offers a Friendly Atmosphere

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 08:30

If you’ve ever been to a bicycle shop, you may have been struck by how exclusive or unwelcoming the environment was. But that’s where one shop, Bryson City Bicycles, aims to set itself apart.

Read about how this destination bike shop has built its business around a simple philosophy in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells bicycles and more.

Co-owner Diane Cutler told Small Business Trends, “Bryson City Bicycles is a full service bike shop that rents bikes, sells bicycles, parts, accessories, maps, info, apparel, and provides service and repair.”

Business Niche

Creating a friendly atmosphere.

Cutler says, “Our location near the world-class mountain biking destination of Tsali in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains certainly helps, but we believe our unbridled enthusiasm is what sets us apart from the competition. Eighty-five percent of our customers are from somewhere else. They’re on vacation and expect everyone to be in the same happy place they are. We provide customers with more than just a rental, repair or product; we provide them with a great experience. That’s what keeps them coming back.”

How the Business Got Started


Cutler explains, “Tired of the status quo, my co-owner Andy [Zivinsky] and I decided to leave corporate America and suburbia to strike out on a life that was more meaningful to us—one rich in natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, like fly-fishing. We discovered the small mountain town of Bryson City, and decided it was the place. But jobs were scarce in the secluded tourist town, so to make a go of it we needed to create our own jobs. With world-class mountain biking just miles away in the Great Smoky Mountains and no local bike shop, we wrote a business plan and here we are eight years later.”

Biggest Win

Winning an award for helping the community.

Cutler says, “Our greatest moment and biggest win was being selected as one of five grand prize winners of Synchrony Financial’s Working Forward Small Business Awards, which recognizes the positive impact small businesses have in their communities. While we’ve won national industry awards over the years, Synchrony Financial’s program for helping small businesses who help their community is a perfect fit for our business model, which is built on giving back.

“Because our customer base depends predominantly on vacationers, our revenue stream plateaued after only a few years in business and resources became tight. This $20,000 award not only made it possible for us to take the next step, but also provided us with credibility and validated our efforts. Using half the award money, we added an e-commerce platform to our brick-and-mortar operation to increase our customer base and even out the skewed revenue stream inherent to a vacation destination. The other half of the award money, earmarked for a charitable cause, was used to donate bikes to the local high school to help kids get active and enjoy the nearby trails they previously could not due to lack of resources or proper equipment and training.”

Biggest Risk

Going into business during a recession.

Cutler says, “Our biggest risk was starting a niche business in a vacation town during a crippling recession (2009). We gave up secure jobs with benefits, moved across the state and sold our house to help finance the business and relocation. Had it failed, we would have been starting at ground zero.”

Lesson Learned

Create a destination.

Cutler says, “If we could do it all over again, we would open shop in a larger storefront. With a larger location, we would add a smoothie counter, sandwich shop or tap room to create a cool, fun destination that appeals to bikers and non-bikers alike. With enough space, we would even offer spin classes in the off-season, creating a much needed source of winter revenue and attracting a new type of customer.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Make that dream into a reality.

Cutler says, “We would relocate to a storefront that substantially exceeds our current 1,000-square-foot location. This would enable us to carry additional product lines, offer a wider selection to our customers and add one or more of our dream amenities to the shop.”

Team Tradition

Bike riding, of course.

Cutler says, “Each year on our business anniversary (which is incidentally the summer solstice, our favorite day) we celebrate with friends and customers by taking a 26-mile bike ride on a remote gravel road in the Smoky Mountains. What makes it especially fun is that it’s 13 miles of uphill, followed by a picnic and recovery, then 13 miles of blissful downhill.”

Favorite Quote

“The harder you work the luckier you are.” -Tori Murden, first woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Bryson City Bicycles; Top Image: Diane Cutler and Andy Zivinsky, Second Image: Andy Zivinsky

This article, "Spotlight: Bryson City Bicycles Offers a Friendly Atmosphere" was first published on Small Business Trends

Toyota bumps up price, power and mpg on 2018 Camry

AutoNews - Wed, 2017-06-21 08:00
The re-engineered 2018 Toyota Camry gets a modest increase to its sticker price, but a big bump in fuel economy and horsepower.
Categories: Latest News

Starting a Wine Business? Here are the States with the Lowest and Highest Excise Tax Rates

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 07:30

If you’re planning to start a wine business — winery, wine shop, wine retail, restaurant, wine bar etc, it’s important to factor in your state wine excise tax rates. Federal and state wine excise rates vary by alcohol content and type of wine. The states with the lowest tax rate are California and Texas as per the Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy research organization.

States Taxes for Wine Businesses

According to the foundation, wine taxes apply to off-premise sales (from retail sources) not (on-premise sales) at a restaurant or bar. That means certain wine types you may be considering to sell, and wines with a higher alcohol content may be subject to higher excise tax rates at your retail source in some states compared to others. You need to know where your state lies on the wine tax spectrum.

Here’s a list of states’ wine excise rates as per the Tax Foundation:

1. States with the Lowest Excise Tax Rates on Wine

The five states with the lowest wine excise rates are California ($0.20), Texas ($0.20), Wisconsin ($0.25), Kansas ($0.30), and New York ($0.30).

2. States with the Highest Excise Tax Rates on Wine

Kentucky has the highest wine excise tax rate at $3.17 per gallon, followed by Alaska ($2.50), Florida ($2.25), Iowa ($1.75), and New Mexico and Alabama (tied at $1.70).

3. Federal Excise Tax Rates on Wine

Federal rates for wines with up to 14 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) are taxed at $1.07 per gallon, wines between 14 and 21 percent ABV at $1.57 percent per gallon, and wines between 21 and 24 percent ABV at $3.15 per gallon. Sparkling wine is taxed at $3.40 per gallon regardless of alcohol content.

Note: This list does not include states that control all wine sales: New Hampshire, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming.

Other Factors that Determine Wine Excise Rates

The Tax Foundation notes that wine excise rates can also include case or bottle fees dependent on the size of the container, as in states like Arkansas, Minnesota, and Tennessee. Moreover, rates may include sales taxes specific to alcoholic beverages and wholesale tax rates, as is the case in Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia.

Wine Glasses Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Starting a Wine Business? Here are the States with the Lowest and Highest Excise Tax Rates" was first published on Small Business Trends

'They don't realise how unhealthy they are': Fast foods rated in major new study

Topix - Wed, 2017-06-21 07:22

"Fast food is now an important contributor to intake of dietary salt, sugar, saturated fat and energy," say the authors of a new report calling for the health star rating system to be extended to fast foods. In fact, fast foods account for as much as a half of our daily energy intake, but less than a quarter of the micronutrients.

Categories: Today's Food News

'They don't realise how unhealthy they are': Fast foods rated in major new study

Topix - Wed, 2017-06-21 07:22

Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer View text version of this page Help using this website - Accessibility statement Join today and you can easily save your favourite articles, join in the conversation and comment, plus select which news your want direct to your inbox. Join today and you can easily save your favourite articles, join in the conversation and comment, plus select which news your want direct to your inbox.

Categories: Today's Food News

Shocking! Fake News Now a Booming Business for Hire Online, Report Says

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 06:30

Twisting the truth and spreading it online is no longer just a fad. It’s a growing industry with a range of services on offer, a new study finds.

The whole business of making money by spinning lies of course presents a moral dilemma. But its rapid growth creates a business opportunity that many people are apparently finding hard to resist.

Fake News Services on Offer

A new report by IT security company Trend Micro reveals there are several services available today to spread fake news. And these services come for a price.

Take instigating a street protest, for example. A fake protest can be announced by paying $10,000. The total price for discrediting a journalist, on the other hand, comes up to $55,000.

Creating fake celebrities is another prominent service available today. It involves a gradual increase in followers and plenty of reposts and voting among other activities.

“It’s never been easier to manipulate social media and other online platforms to affect and amplify public opinion,” Trend Micro spokesman Bharat Mistry told BBC.

Fake News Tricks

The report highlights the difference between “simply posting propaganda and actually turning it into something that the target audience consumes.”

It also reveals the specific techniques used for such a campaign including the buying of followers, fans, likes, reposts, comments and videos.

From a Fake News Publisher’s Perspective

Online publishers like Jestin Coler have turned fake news into a money-making venture.

At the time of the U.S. presidential elections, Coler published a string of fake news articles that went viral. This prompted many to speculate whether they had an impact on the election results or not. Coler, however, insisted their impact had been negligible.

Instead, Coler maintained profit rather than politics had been his motive. He told National Public Radio his profit was comparable to  the $10,000 to $30,000 a month reported by other publishers. Like it or not, publishers like Coler have stumbled upon a profitable business opportunity — even if many may find it unethical .

Fake News Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Shocking! Fake News Now a Booming Business for Hire Online, Report Says" was first published on Small Business Trends

Handwritten Notes - A Hallmark Of Service

Hotel Interactive - Wed, 2017-06-21 05:53
Old-Fashioned Approach Can Help Extend Personal Service Touch

Healthy ASX debut for Oliver's fast food

Topix - Wed, 2017-06-21 05:18

Describing itself as the the world's first fully organic fast food chain, it is planning an aggressive expansion of its healthy, gluten-free and organic fast food outlets on highways along the east coast. Oliver's currently has 20 stores on highways in NSW and Victoria, and estimates it has a three per cent share of the $1 billion east coast highway dining market, which is dominated by McDonald's, KFC and Hungry Jacks.

Categories: Today's Food News

Fascinating Mobile Apps Tactics That Can Help Your Business Grow

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 05:00

Sometimes we can all feel resistant to technology. I think we all look at shiny new tech and think, “But the old way works just fine.” I feel your pain. However, your business will the feel pain if you don’t embrace technology that could help your business grow and attract a new customer base, like millennials. Building a mobile app for your business is one way to leverage technology and automate some of your marketing efforts.

Using a Mobile App to Grow Your Business Mobile App Usage Has Changed

We are constantly connected to content via — laptops, phones, tablets, and wearable technology. The idea of a mobile app as an independent destination is becoming less of a thing. Think of a mobile app now, as a publishing tool. We as users respond by seeing relevant notifications that contain content and actions, not by opening the app itself.

Where Do Your Customers Congregate?

You probably use your smartphone multiple times a day.  When you do, you search Google, use your business phone app, look for directions, check your email, review your bank accounts, and use apps to solve problems, and learn new information. I don’t know about you, but when I’m intrigued by a new business, one of the first things I do is check them out from my cellphone, and if they incentivize me the right way, I will download the app. Since millions of consumers download mobile apps every day, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect with them in that space.

Not Everyone Opens Emails

Open rates for emails have been dropping. This trend is due in part to security concerns but it’s also related to busy schedules.  This could be a great time to start building a mobile marketing campaigns. I run a full-time business and I like to spend as much time as I can with my young son. I don’t always have time to open email or read a sales pitch.

But if I download your app, I want to build a relationship with your brand or claim your incentive. A mobile app creates a form of permission marketing with your customers and prospects that email can’t touch. Once they have downloaded an app, it’s your job to give them a reason to check it frequently, that could include discounts, exclusive mobile offers or new content. Or they can allow notifications from the app which is the way most people are engaging with apps. The relationship is always on their terms. Creating relevant content through your mobile app could boost customer engagement and even generate profits.

Retarget Existing Customers

It’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain existing ones. Many people who download your app may have visited your business or retained your services in the past. You can keep them engaged with features, experiences, and content through push notifications and custom offers. Target each market segment based on their purchase history and shopping habits. You might see an immediate increase in sales and customer activity.

How to Win the Mobile App Game

While mobile apps can significantly boost your business growth, they only work if you market them effectively.

If I’m searching for an app on Apple iTunes or Google Play, the apps that appear at the top of the list will probably capture my attention first, and I won’t continue to scroll too far. Use SEO best practices to make your app discoverable, then promote your app on your website, blog, social media platforms too. You could even include a mention on your business card. If you have a storefront, encourage your customers to download the app through signage. Try offering a special download bonus, such as a coupon, to encourage participation.

Mobile apps should make life easier and keep your customers connected to your brand. If you want my business (and everyone else’s), you might want to consider building a mobile app of your own.

Mobile Phone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Fascinating Mobile Apps Tactics That Can Help Your Business Grow" was first published on Small Business Trends

Maricopa Health Foundation Leverages ETW to Create a Leading Legacy of...

PR Web - Wed, 2017-06-21 03:30

Maricopa Health Foundation realizes the positive ROI of a fully engaged and strategically aligned workforce with the help of ETW.

(PRWeb June 08, 2017)

Read the full story at