9 Employee Perk Ideas You’ll Want to Try
The success of your business relies entirely on your ability to recruit and hire top-level talent. Not only that, you have to do everything in your power to nurture that hire so they remain with your company long-term.
Unfortunately, this is something many business owners neglect and it continues to have a negative impact on their business until they do something about it. Offering traditional employee benefits definitely helps attract the talent you need, but it’s often not enough in today’s landscape.
Don’t worry, we have you covered with some amazing ideas for unique employee benefits that aren’t offered everywhere. They’re a way to separate yourself from the competition and incentivize recruits to show interest in your company.
Let’s take a look:
We know what you’re thinking right now, “I don’t have to pay for my employee’s tuition, do I?” The good news is no, unless you want to. While it would certainly be enticing to anyone interested in a job and an education, it’s not necessary.
Instead, you should consider certifications, specific courses, and extracurricular training that you might see as beneficial to the employee’s ability to do their job efficiently. If you offer to pay for it, they’re more likely to do it without hesitation.
2. Create the Ultimate Break Room
Let’s be honest, all work with limited play is difficult to pitch to anyone in this modern era. If you truly want to win over recruits, creating a dedicated space in the office or warehouse for employees during break hours can do a lot for morale and productivity.
Not only will your employees be more excited about coming to work and getting started, but they’ll continue to perform at their best throughout the day since they’re being given a true break as a reward.
3. New Parents
No, you won’t be offering to give your employees new parents. You will, however, be giving your employees greater benefits when becoming parents. Since we can all agree that juggling a newborn and a job at the same time is difficult, you can win recruits over by offering extended parental leave.
It’ll give recruits the sense that they can stay within the company long-term, especially since most people plan on starting and growing their family at some point in their life.
4. Do You Love Pets?
Let’s be honest, there’s something about having a pet around that helps boost morale and improve the overall vibe in a room -- any room. That’s why introducing a “bring your pet to work day” in your office can be extremely beneficial.
It can something you do yearly like “bring your child to work day,” or it can be something you do more frequently, sort of like “casual Fridays.” Either way, you’re going to make your employees extremely happy when that day comes.
5. Discounts Always Work
Whether you’re a business with a product or a service, offering discounts and coupons to your employees is another gret way to entice them to work for you. Especially in this day and age, everyone is eager to save money whenever they get an opportunity to.
It’ll also give them a reason to try your product or service, meaning they’ll be more involved in the company overall and have experience on the other end of the spectrum (as a customer). You can also give similar discounts to family members and referrals.
Things happen in everyone’s life at different times and they don’t always come with a warning. Other times, employees just want to take a break from everything and leave on vacation for a week. Either way, paid time-off becomes a blessing for these individuals.
Offering PTO benefits to your employees shows them that you care about their well-being. It shows you want them to stay their best at all times, even when life throws a curveball -- and if they need that break, they don’t have to take a financial hit as well.
7. Health & Wellness
Part of making sure your employees stay healthy year-round is making sure they have access to gyms, workout equipment, and even personal training. Employees that workout regularly are going to be healthier, which is good for your business because it means they’re giving you and your customers their best every day.
Reimbursing employees for these things goes a long way. Of course, you’ll need to set limits to what is included, but simply offering them a partial payment would help. Plus, it’ll incentivize them to use it more often.
8. Company-Wide Events
Anytime you have a team-building day, company-wide event, or retreat, you immediately start to grab the attention of recruits. Just the thought of being a part of those activities will make them not want to miss it. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to showcase the personality and character behind your business.
When employees get together outside of work and bond on a more personal level, they feel moer comfortable working with each other and it often leads to an increased performance out of them. They build a chemistry that you can’t find elsewhere.
9. Everyone Needs Food
Who doesn’t love food? What if you were to start offering lunch to your employees or even snacks throughout the day? Not only would it keep employees happy, but they’ll be more energetic and have the fuel they need to get through the harsh demands of the work day.
A great way to do this is by offering snacks everyday, but also picking one day of the week where you buy lunch for everyone in the office. It gives them something to look forward to and shows you care about your employees -- something they’ll definitely take notice of.
Of course, these are just some employee perks you can introduce in your company to help attract, recruit, hire, and maintain a roster full of top-level talent. When you can gain that, you’ll start to see your business take shape and build a level of sustainability that sets everyone up for future success.
Prepare Your Online Business for Tax Time
Every year, tax season rolls around whether you’re prepared for it or not. It’s one of the most stressful times of the year, but one of the only times of the year we all come together and witness the same pain.
If you’re looking to finally have a stress-free, organized, and well-prepared tax season, we have the step-by-step guide for you! Follow along as we help you take control of your taxes this year.
1. Don’t Forget These Dates
The most important thing you need to know when tax season rolls around are the specific dates that act as deadlines for turning things into the IRS. While they can sneak up on you, adding them to your calendar and setting up multiple reminders will help you stay on top of everything.
Here are the most important dates to keep in mind:
- February 1 - make sure you’ve sent your 1099-MISC to any contractor and W2 to any employee if you paid them more than $600 for the year. This also needs to be reported to the IRS.
- March 15 - make sure you’ve filed your individual and partnership tax returns by this date, that way you can receive the Schedule K-1 in time to do your personal tax return.
- April 15 - make sure you’ve filed your personal tax returns by this date, otherwise you’ll be subject to a penalty or fee.
There are plenty more dates that you’ll need to know, but they’ll differ depending on the type of business you own and how big it is. Always make sure you consult with an accountant so you can feel confident when tax season rolls around.
2. Do You Have Your Receipts?
One of the most time-consuming tasks when tax season comes knocking is finding all the receipts you’ve accumulated throughout the year. These are going to prove to the IRS that you did, in fact, pay for all those expenses you mentioned in the tax return.
While most people still maintain paper receipts year after year, it’s not a sustainable or efficient way of getting things done during tax season. Instead, use one these platforms to simplify this process:
- Evernote - a free platform that allows you to access scanned receipts or photographs taken of receipts. They also have a personal scanner that does everything for you.
- ShoeBoxed - a service that costs up to $100 per month and allows you to ship an envelope full of receipts to the company and they’ll enter all the data for you.
- Expensify - as low as $5 per month and allows you to link a bank account to track expenses and transactions in real-time. There’s also an app that allows you to scan or take photos of receipts.
Getting your receipts organized before tax season rolls around is one of the most beneficial things you can do. It saves you a lot of time and allows you to focus on what’s really important.
3. Where Are Your Bookkeeping Records?
Before you enter tax season, it’s important you have a clear idea of what your books look like, where all your records are kept, and make sure they’re up-to-date. Doing so will protect you against an audit and better prepare you for what lies ahead.
There are two major ways of bookkeeping for business owners -- doing it yourself or having a professional do it for you. With the amount of accounting software available today, it’s extremely easy for owners to do it themselves.
At the end of the day, it comes down to preference. You should pick method and right software that works best for you, your business, and your day-to-day operations. As long as they’re accurate, up-to-date, and accessible, then you’ll be fine when/if the IRS shows up at your door.
4. Taking Care of Independent Contractors
Independent contractors make it easy when paying them throughout the year because they don’t require you to pay taxes. They do, however, need you to send them their 1099-MISC by February 1 and the same needs to be sent to the IRS by March 31.
There is a $600 minimum, however, meaning you don’t have to do this for any independent contractor you paid less than $600 the previous year.
5. Do You Understand Sales Taxes?
While sales tax can be a tricky and complicated subject, we’re going to touch base on the basics so you have a better idea of what to expect. Since these laws and guidelines generally vary by state, it’s important to do your own research. Of course, speaking with a professional makes this easy for you.
In order to have the right to charge sales tax in a certain state, you need to have a physical connection to that state -- which is called having ‘nexus.’ Once nexus is achieved, you can charge whatever that state allows.
You might be asking yourself, “What’s considered having a physical connection to a state?”
Living in that state is certainly the most popular way to gain nexus, but you can also achieve it by owning an office in that state, having employees that live there, a warehouse, hosting a pop-up shop in that state, or simply storing inventory in that state.
Since it’s a requirement that this sales tax is collected from the consumer and paid to the IRS every year is essential to limiting penalties and fees when tax season rolls around.
6. Do You Need a Tax Extension?
Many business owners get confused every year by the meaning of a tax extension. On the surface, you would think it means business owners get an extension to pay their taxes. In reality, you still have to pay the IRS by the original date.
So, what is a tax extension, then?
A tax extension gives you more time to do all the hard things -- the number-crunching, receipt-finding, and filing -- that some business owners save until the last-minute. In order to file a tax extension, you just need to fill out a form that requests it, along with the estimated tax payment and payment.
If there are any issues with the extension, the IRS will reach out to you. If not, then nothing happens and you’re expected to then file your taxes before the new date. The date will depend on the type of business you own, which breaks down as follows:
- Partnerships - file before March 15th for a 7-month extension by the IRS.
- Corporations - file before April 17th for a 6-month extension by the IRS.
- Sole Proprietors - file before April 17th for a 6-month extension by the IRS.
If you don’t have the money to pay for the taxes, you don’t have to send the payment right away. Instead, you’ll receive a fine for each month they don’t receive a payment. While you don’t have to send the payment, it’s best if you want to avoid a fee.
7. Deductions Save You a Lot of Money
One of the bright spots of tax season is the ability to list tax deductions, which are expenses that fall under the ‘business’ category. Since these expenses are meant to start-up, maintain, and grow your company, they effectively lower your expected taxable income.
Knowing what these deductions are is crucial to ensuring you receive the most benefits come tax season. If you’re an online seller, here are some of the most important deductions to consider:
- Home Office - in order to use your home office as a deduction, it needs to be used regularly and exclusively for work purposes. If so, you can deduct $5 per square foot of office space, but no larger than 300 square feet.
- Education - classes and courses that contribute to your business can also be deducted on your tax return.
- Utilities - if you pay monthly internet and phone bills for your business, those can be deducted on your tax return. You’ll need to account for personal use, so be careful if you use the phone or internet for other reasons other than just work purposes.
- Website - the cost of maintaining your company website is also viewed as a deduction. This can include the cost of themes, hosting, domain registrations, and any work you have done on it.
- Contractor - if the process of hiring an independent contractor costs your company money, you can deduct that cost on your tax return.
- Shipping - you can also deduct the cost of shipping goods to your customers, which includes both postage costs and packaging costs.
- Vehicles - by using a mileage tracker, you can track how many miles you travel for business or work. At the end of the year, the amount of money you spent on gas for those trips can be deducted from your return.
- Services - if you pay for any online services that contribute to your business, such as Spotify for store music, Amazon Prime for deliveries, or Microsoft Office, then those expenses can be deducted.
- Equipment - any equipment you purchase that contributes to you or your employee’s ability to do their jobs can be deducted. The process for this is a bit complicated and should be done by a professional.
In addition to those, your business could be eligible to list some expenses as ‘start-up costs’ if you’re new to the game. This is crucial, since there are often a lot of expenses that could count as a deduction when first opening your business that wouldn’t normally be counted for other businesses.
8. Do You Need Help?
Navigating through the many demands of tax season can be difficult for a business owner that already has a growing to-do list each and every day. That’s why most business owners elect to have a professional manage their taxes and financials throughout the year.
There are also a wide range of software programs, applications, and services designed to make it easier for business owners to manage themselves. You just have to find the one that works best for you and your business.
If you need help at all during this process, feel free to contact Consultants In-A-Box. We can help you find the right solutions that are catered to meet your needs year-in and year-out. We can’t wait to help you and your business continue to grow!
Paying Workers Without Paper Checks
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a widespread of challenges for businesses of all sizes. Not only has it changed the way businesses think and act, but it has changed the demands of employees and consumers alike.
One of the things the pandemic has changed forever is the way employees are paid and how they receive their money. It’s clear your employees and their families are in a tough position right now and they need as much help as they can get.
Unfortunately, many employers are still utilizing paper checks on payday -- opposed to the wide range of options available today. In fact, paper checks are one of the least-preferred methods when getting paid and it’s time for businesses to take notice of it.
So, why shouldn’t you use paper checks?
When business owners choose to pay their employees with paper checks, a majority of them don’t understand the process involved when printing the checks, placing them in envelopes, and sending them out. Not only does that require physical labor, but it requires time when dealing with shipping and handling.
As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, physical labor is still difficult to manage and there isn’t even a guarantee that it’s available. In addition to that, employees need their money sooner than ever because a majority of them are living with their backs up against the wall.
When your business uses paper checks, it does more harm than good to the employee -- and even your business. It costs you money, it takes time, and employees are stuck waiting an unnecessary amount of time just to get paid for the work they’ve already completed. Some of them might have to pay a small fee just to access that money, especially if they don’t have a bank account.
If that’s not enough to persuade you to consider paying employees electronically, think about all the different hands -- as well as germs and potential viruses -- that touch the paper check before reaching your employees. With how important public health and safety is today, paper checks present far-greater risks than we once imagined.
There’s a Better Option When Paying Workers
For the business owners out there that think paying their employees via paper checks or even cash is the only option when paying workers, we want you to think again. Paying them electronically is a much-more feasible option in today’s economy, putting you and your employees in a position to succeed short-term and long-term.
It shows your employees that you’re thinking about them and that their needs matter to your company. In an age where many employees feel like they’re not being heard or appreciated, this can go a long way -- not just for you, but for the rest of your employees and customers.
With so many different options out there, including direct deposit, individual pay cards exclusive to your payroll, mobile wallets, and even services like Zelle and PayPal. Desperate times cause for desperate measures and your employees would do anything to rid themselves of dealing with paper checks.
If you need assistance or guidance when switching from paper checks to electronic payments, Consultants In-A-Box is here to help. We’re experts when it comes to payroll, human resources, and accounting services for businesses of all sizes.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your business find the success you were imagining when you first opened up. One of our trained professionals will assist you immediately.
Why Delivery Workers Deserve More Credit
The way consumers shop today is far different than the way they shopped 20 years ago. They not only have the ability to shop whenever and wherever with the rise of mobile technology, but they can also have just about anything they want delivered right to their door -- all with the touch of a button.
Some might call it being lazy, while others call it being smart. Either way, delivery services have sprung up in just about every industry. You can have food delivered to your home, furniture, flowers, groceries, mail, and anything you can find at the department store.
Of course, none of this is possible without delivery drivers. They’re the real MVPs here and deserve all the credit for making this possible. They bring convenience to another level and do it with a smile on their face.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the five major reasons you should show more appreciation and gratitude towards the delivery workers you encounter everyday.
1. They Satisfy Those Cravings You Have Throughout the Day
Do you remember 20 years ago when you would ask your family, “Do you guys want to order delivery tonight for dinner?” Everyone got excited, but they were met with the same two options -- pizza or Chinese food.
It’s not that those are bad options, but they definitely get boring after a while. Eventually, you and your family want to order something new and exciting for delivery. That’s where delivery workers come in.
Whether you want sushi, steak, donuts, ice cream, or a giant sub, you can easily order it online and delivered straight to your door in real-time -- all thanks to your delivery driver.
2. It’s Always Good to Interact With New People
When you get something delivered to your home, whether it be clothes or food, you’re bound to get a different delivery driver every time. This is great for the person that loves interacting with new people everyday.
Delivery drivers are supposed to be courteous and they often go through the same interview or hiring process as any other employee. That means you can rest easy knowing your driver will appreciate the, “How’s your day going so far?” when they arrive at your home.
Don’t be scared to spark a conversation. They have a job to get back to, but everyone likes a little distraction every now and then.
3. They’re Not Always Met With a Friendly Face
While a majority of delivery drivers are courteous and contribute to a positive experience when having something delivered to your home, they aren’t always met with that same positivity from the homeowner. It’s equivalent to the rude customer that shows up at a retail store.
If you don’t want to add to your delivery worker’s already-stressful day, show them your appreciation when they arrive at your door. They don’t get it often and it makes them feel special. Remember, a simple “Thank you, have a nice day!” goes a long way.
4. They Make It Easy to Work From Home
With so many businesses closing temporarily, others closing for good, and even more employees forced to either work from home or not work at all, it seems like everyone’s life has suddenly been compromised. We’re all being asked to do different things and act in ways we haven’t before.
Of course, this has made it difficult to do things that were so simple before. Buying groceries, going to the store for new shoes, going to your favorite Italian restaurant with the family. Instead of allowing this to completely change how you live your life and work, delivery drivers make it easy.
You can spend as much time at home as possible without having to leave it to run errands.
5. They Limit Your Risk of Getting Sick
One of the biggest threats we face when going out in public today is sickness. If it’s not the flu or a cold, then it’s something more serious like COVID-19 that we can catch. Face masks and social distancing help, but not everyone follows the guidelines and it puts others at risk.
If you don’t want to risk getting sick in today’s chaotic world, delivery drivers take the risk for you -- that way you can have the food you want, the clothes you want, and anything else you or your family needs during these difficult times.
As the world continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, delivery workers will only become more necessary and essential to the working economy. They’re met with a lot of pressure when doing their jobs, which is why we need to show them a little appreciation when we interact with them.
The Most Effective Way to Use Live Chat
Most business owners today know what it takes to provide a unique, personal, and positive customer experience when physically interacting with the customer. Unfortunately, many business owners can’t mimic that same success when dealing with customers online.
If you’ve been struggling to find success in this area of your business, offering live chat options can certainly help. Some studies suggest that customers who use live chat during the sales cycle are three times more likely to purchase something from your business.
As effective as it is, many online stores and online business owners don’t feel they have the time, money, or energy to keep their customer service lines open 24/7. The good news is you don’t have to offer live chat 24/7 and you don’t even have to offer it more than a few hours every week.
Of course, you’ll have to be careful about what times you pick, but that’s easy to figure out when you have the right strategies to implement. Don’t worry, we’re going to discuss three of the most beneficial ways your business can start offering live chat without spending too much time or money.
Let’s get started!
1. Utilize Live Chat During Peak Hours
The first way you can make live chat work for you and your staff is by only offering it during peak hours. Since most customers are going to have questions during certain times of the day, those are the times you should target when launching live chat services.
You can already gauge this by looking at the amount of questions you currently receive and when you receive them. Google Analytics is another great tool you can use when learning your customer's traffic patterns on your website.
You also want to account for all the customers you receive when running certain promotions, newsletters, or marketing campaigns. Since these are sure to bring traffic to your website, it’s best to have your live chat open for any questions you might receive.
Once you can find those peak hours to launch your live chat, experiment with 1-2 hour shifts and record your observations so you can reassess how everything is operating after a week or two. In due time, you’ll learn what works best for your customers and they’ll get the service they need -- when they need it.
2. Take Customer Feedback Seriously
When offering live chat to your customers, you’re going to want to make sure your chat queue doesn’t get crowded with questions, comments, and concerns. It adds stress to the situation, results in customers having to wait (which defeats the purpose of live chat), and makes your business look bad on all ends.
So, what does this have to do with customer feedback?
Believe it or not, those negative comments and bad reviews you get mean more to your business than you think. They are your opportunity to improve your business and offer an even greater service than you did before -- to everyone and anyone.
When you listen to your customer’s feedback and implement the changes they want to see, you effectively limit the amount of similar inquiries that are sure to flood your inbox.
Let’s take a glitch on your website for example. When one customer sees it, another one is bound to eventually. And when one customer reaches out to you about it, that means another one will unless you take care of that glitch.
The same goes for those frequently asked questions you get asked every single day. By offering a FAQ page prior to reaching out to live chat, you can eliminate those basic questions from flooding your inbox.
All of this is designed to keep your live chat tailored for those custom inquiries and difficult questions that actually matter.
3. Focus On the Inquiries That Matter
The moment you start marketing or promoting the fact that you offer live chat, there are going to be a lot of people that have questions and suddenly want to know more about what your business does -- especially when you place it at the bottom of every page on your website.
The truth is, not all inquiries are going to be worth your time and some of them are going to come from people that aren’t really that interested in what you have to offer. At the same time, you have to accept their question and give them your time.
Instead, you should be strategic about how you display your live chat, where you showcase it on your website, and at what times you make it available. This will put your business in a position to succeed with live chat.
For example, only showing the live chat option when visitors land on your ‘contact me’ page or the ‘checkout’ page. You can also tailor it to only show on certain product or service pages, which comes in handy if you get a lot of questions about one product in particular.
While you want to help anyone that comes your way, it’s best to focus on the inquiries that matter most and are more time-sensitive than other questions. All the other questions can be answered via email or a support ticket.
If you need further assistance when introducing live chat to your customers for the first time, then Consultants In-A-Box is prepared to help! We know this is something many business owners are scared to offer due to how tedious it can be, but we can help make it easy for you and your staff members.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business better interact with its customers -- after all, what’s more important than their satisfaction?
How to Give Your Customers Virtual Estimates
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many businesses to operate, especially with social distancing guidelines in effect throughout the world. Of all the businesses affected, service businesses have had to do some of the most adapting during these difficult times.
Much like a majority of the other roadblocks businesses encounter, the digital world comes to save us yet again. By offering virtual meetings, giving virtual estimates, and even providing customer care virtually, any business can continue being helpful to their clients or customers during this pandemic.
If you’ve been wondering how your business can successfully make this transition as smooth as possible, don’t worry. We’re going to detail what you need to do to better help your customers during this difficult time.
The first thing you need to do is assess what you’re capable of doing virtually. Not everything is going to be possible, but certain services and procedures can. For example, contractors can give estimates for a repair job virtually, but won’t be able to complete the repair without physically being there.
Try writing every single service you provide on a piece of paper. Grab a separate piece of paper and separate it into two columns -- one labeled ‘virtual’ and one labeled ‘contact.’ If a service can be done virtually, put it in the corresponding column. Do the same with non-virtual services.
Once you find the services that can be done virtually, you’ll be well on your way to making your customers feel much more comfortable about doing business with you -- especially those that are at an increased risk of getting sick.
That was just the first step, though. There’s more to do if you want to deploy those virtual services properly, but that’s where the decision comes in.
The second step in this process is the decision. It involves deciding between the various different options available when launching your virtual services. With the way technology is always advancing, it might seem the opportunities are endless.
Most business owners immediately think of utilizing phone calls and emails, which are certainly helpful in some situations. At the same time, customers already have access to those. If they trusted it, they’d already be using it.
That’s where video calls truly come in handy. Many of them don’t require much to get set up, whether you’re a customer or business owner -- such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts.
The decision should be based on what your customers want. Think about the platforms your customers are most likely to use and already have downloaded.
Now that you’ve had a chance to decide which platform and method of virtual estimates is best for your company, it’s time to let your customers and clients in on your recent decision. Unless they know about it, they won’t know to utilize it.
There are many ways to do this. While none are more powerful than social media, you should also consider posting it on your service page, as well as in a blog post and email newsletter. Again, you’ll know which way is best when reaching out to your customers, so keep them in mind when preparing this.
Once you start informing customers about your recent decision, you’ll start to receive virtual appointments. Make sure you pencil those into your schedule just like any home visit you would normally do, the only difference being you don’t have to travel anywhere.
It’s also good practice to follow up with the customer after the call to give them a written estimate, which acts as a summary of what you discussed on the virtual appointment. It’s best to do this via email, that way you don’t have to bother them with another call.
Getting Virtual Estimates to Work for You
Offering virtual estimates does a lot for the business you’ve worked so hard to build and maintain throughout the years, but it’s also a great way for newer companies to gain trust and clout within their industry.
When customers learn you have virtual estimates -- especially when those estimates are free -- it does two major things for your company. First, it minimizes the amount of phone calls and emails you get. Second, it gives you a chance to set yourself apart from others.
It also limits the amount of house calls you need to make, reduces your risk of getting sick, and allows you to follow local or state guidelines.
If you’ve been struggling to get virtual estimates to work for your business, Consultants In-A-Box can help. We take great pride in helping companies find the most effective ways of keeping their business running strong through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve the way your business operates during these difficult times.