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May 2013

PR content can enhance search engine results for your website

Claire Celsi is the Director of Public Relations at Lessing-Flynn

When meeting with clients, the state of their website inevitably comes up. Not surprisingly, Search engine spider the focus is on the design, not the content. Search engines like Google constantly "crawl the web" to find new and interesting content to deliver to users. Having a "static" website, tells the search engines, "Move on, there's nothing to see here." The result is a lower ranking for your site compared to sites that are updated more often.

Companies that create their own content have a big advantage over those who don't. "Content" is a general term and can mean written material such as news releases, articles, photographs or videos. After the content is used for its intended purpose, posting it to your website is a cheap way to flag down the search spiders and say, "Hey! Look over here! New content!" Search engines reward you by ranking your site higher.

Public relations activities naturally generate very positive content. News releases, product launches, awards, employee activities and newsletter articles should all be repurposed on your site. 

When meeting with your website developer, be sure to ask them if your site is working for you to attact new customers. Here are some other simple tips to make sure your site is optimized and attracting the attention it deserves from search engines:

  1. Do you have a site map? Websites with site maps are easier to index and provide structure. Here's a free site map generator that will create a site map for you.
  2. Create outbound links. It's not just "nice" to create links to give readers more information, it's also crucial for optimizing your site for search. 
  3. Repurpose content: Does your site have a newsroom or an "About" page where you can post public relations content? If not, create one.
  4. Make your content easy to find. When you add a new page or article, be sure to link to it so it's easily found.
  5. Use social channels to link to your site. Don't post on Facebook or Twitter without a link - you're wasting an opportunity to create a click on your site.

If you'd like to explore this topic some more, here are some free resources from Google.

-Claire Celsi

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Raise your stinking gate!


Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

It's 9:50 am. I'm in the mall, standing at a store's entrance, peering in through the gate that locks the store for the night. The employee is inside, chatting on the phone and sipping a soda. The marketing message I got by being kept waiting until exactly 10 a.m.?

My business was not all that important to her.

While I was pacing and making mental note to never visit this store again, it occurred to me that many of us do the same thing to our clients/customers. Now, you might not have a gate that keeps clients from entering your front door, but think about other "barriers" that might be in the way.

You can advertise "customer friendly" all you want, but if they stumble over obstacles when they come to buy, your clients will quickly get the "your business is not important to me" message.

Here are some of the places we might be slamming the gate down on our own customers:

Hours of operation. Are they convenient for you or for your customer?
Access. How well does your e-mail, website, phone system etc. work?  If a client is in a jam -- do they know how to get a hold of you this very second?
Promptness in returning calls. A client phone call is an order/sale waiting for confirmation.
Clarity in pricing and products/services. Do your customers know what you sell and how much it will cost? Does it actually cost them that much or are your invoices a little surprise?
Willingness to listen. When your client has an issue with you or your product, do you attempt to make adjustments or changes that demonstrate that you listened? Or do they get "reasons" why it has to be that way?

Want to really check? Call a couple clients that you've lost. Have a frank conversation. My bet is that somehow they could not get past a gate. Maybe it's a gate you don't even see. 

~ Drew, MMG's Top Dog

Green when green wasn't cool

Rob Smith is a principal at Architects Smith Metzger Juno lighting kit

I bought a house built in 1981 and have learned first-hand what sustainability is all about. The house was built by a builder for himself. He probably did not think he was being green, but he was. Several items have amazed me as I update a few things.

The one that blew me away was the lighting. The house is full of brass track heads and brass eyeball fixtures. The track and track heads are made by Juno Lighting, which is still in business. Juno has decided to not make their system obsolete with new models so I can get a white track head that works perfectly on my 32-year-old track.  Now THAT is being green. How many manufacturers have updated and left people out in the cold just to update?

Updating the recessed cans was a similar story, and again Juno came to the rescue. It takes me about 10 minutes to unscrew the existing inner workings, screw in a LED fixture and I have much more light than before.

I bought the LED fixture at Lowes for $35 and it is rated for 35,000 hours. I figure if the half bath fixture is on for four hours a week (I doubt it would be that high) I won’t need to change the lamp for 168 years!!! So now I am passing it on.

What do I take away from this? I am going to think about the brand next time I buy something. Do they have staying power?

If you have a similar story, let me know at rsmith@smithmetzger.com.

-Rob Smith

8 steps to managing legal costs in a transaction

Steve Sink is the founder and managing partner of Phoenix Affiliates Ltd.

I am often asked by both buyers and sellers for suggestions to control their legal expenses when entering into a transaction. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Most attorneys charge by the hour, so prepare prior to any meeting or call.

2. Familiarize yourself with the documents which will be used.

3. There is no legal document(s) which can cover all contingencies.

4. Scan and email documents vs. mailing and delivery.

5. Consult with others who have experience in transactions (sellers, buyers, CPAs, bankers).

6. Ask for a quote.

7. Determine the experience and expertise level of the attorney who will be representing your interests.

8. Request that the transaction documents be drafted by the other party.

Good Luck!

Steve Sink



Cause marketing for retailers -- Part II

Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place

In my last blog, I outlined some important do's and don'ts for retailers to follow when doing cause marketing for a charity organization or social issue.

One important aspect to define upfront is that any cause marketing is a partnership. Not only does the cause need to fit with your particular business in some way or another, but the charity has to be ready, willing and able to really get behind your efforts. If you're doing all the work and they're not promoting it, what you're doing isn't going to be nearly as successful as it could or should be. It may not be successful at all. Don't be shy about asking how the cause is going to support your efforts.

Elaborating on a point I made in my last post, it's very important to give yourself plenty of lead time. That's especially true if you're a new retailer.

That last thing you want to do is let your enthusiasm for a cause or pressure from its supporters stampede you into throwing together a haphazard campaign in a matter of days or weeks. At best, you'll end up harried and frazzled. At worst, the effort will be a complete bust that won't do you or the charity any good.

While it will differ from cause to cause, you need to give yourself a lot of time to develop news releases and marketing materials, identify the right products and pricing, and prepare your sales staff for the big event.

Cause marketing, which is often tied to a particular event like Heart Month in February or Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, also can be an ongoing activity. We're exploring the idea of publishing a cookbook that will be sold year-round with proceeds to go to the appropriate cause or causes.

Finally, whenever we've promoted a cause at the Heart of Iowa Market Place, I've always taken the time to analyze the campaign at its conclusion. And, you should, too. Be sure to ask yourself: Was it a success for the charity? Was it a smart use of our time and marketing resources? What can we do to make a follow-up campaign better? And, finally, should we really do it again in the future?

-Kelly Sharp

Playing with fire: Using an IRA to finance your business


Joe Kristan is a CPA at Roth & Company P.C. 

When that great opportunity to start or buy a new business comes along, you probably need some cash to jump on it.  For many of us, our IRAs are the biggest financial asset. Yet unless it's a Roth IRA, you generally have to pay tax to get at the money, and if you are under 59, you also owe a 10% penalty. You may be able to get most or all of the cash in your Roth IRA tax-free, but then future earnings on those funds are taxable.

That's why it's tempting to try to have the IRA itself own a business. A recent Tax Court case shows that IRA ownership of a small business is playing with fire.

The biggest danger of owning your business in an IRA has been the risk of having a “prohibited transaction.” The tax law has hair-trigger rules for pension funds and other exempt organizations to prevent abuse of the funds by related parties or trustees. If you have one, you have a penalty tax of at least 15%, and maybe 100%. Worse, you terminate your IRA.

The Tax Court case involved a C corporation owned by IRAs. As is typical in a closely-held business, the lenders wanted a loan guarantee from the entreprenuers. Disaster ensued:

The Tax Court said this constituted an “indirect extension of credit” to the IRA (my emphasis):

 As the Commissioner points out, if the statute prohibited only a loan or  loan guaranty between a disqualified person and the IRA itself, then the prohibition could be easily and abusively avoided simply by having the IRA create a shell subsidiary to whom the disqualified person could then make a loan. That, however, is an obvious evasion that Congress intended to prevent by using the word “indirect”. The language of section 4975(c)(1)(B), when given its obvious and intended meaning, prohibited Mr. Fleck and Mr. Peek from making loans or loan guaranties either directly to their IRAs or indirectly to their IRAs by way of the entity owned by the IRAs.

This was a prohibited transaction, blowing the IRA. That meant when the corporation was sold in 2006, instead of a tax-free sale inside an IRA, it was a taxable sale by the owners. The result was over $400,000 in additional taxes, plus another $90,000 in penalties.

I suspect there are a lot of similar taxpayers out there.  They will be following this case if it is appealed with intense interest. If this ruling holds, this will be a catastrophe to such folks, in the same league as the ruin caused by Incentive Stock Options (ISOs) exercised just prior to the dot-com collapse. The ISO disaster was bad enough to get Congress to enact legislative relief. 

-Joe Kristan

Business complaints on social media: do or don't?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Recently I was told (anonymously) that I shouldn’t ever put anything negative about any business on my social media. I found that a little strange, but wondered if I use social media because it’s my profession or because of my age and generation. I decided to do a little informal research and heard the following results and opinions:

1)   Try other avenues before social media

In my particular cases that were referenced – both times I was having a problem in dealing with a company. I had tried many different ways to solve it before I went to social media. This seemed to be a general consensus of everyone else I spoke to. By the time they were posting things on Facebook about or to a company they had multiple phone calls, conversations and talks and just felt they were out of options. Businesses have a HUGE opportunity here on the customer service side to “save” a client, especially if social media is usually someone’s last stop before that client is on their way out the door. They might as well do some damage control!

2)   At least you’re standing behind your words

There is sometimes nothing more frustrating than when someone complains, yet they don’t give you their name and information so you can try and make it right. In the case of social media – although you’re complaining, your name is definitely right there with it. I think that is a plus. You’re definitely giving the company a chance to take care of the issue for you.

3)   Be respectful

As with anything in life, you probably catch more flies with honey. Certainly it is “your” Facebook page and yes, you are entitled to post whatever you want. But is that really the best option? I always try to make sure I’m not posting anything on my Facebook that I wouldn’t say to my own mother (mostly since we’re friends on Facebook!). There is always a right way to complain, and swearing, being completely unreasonable, and name calling probably isn’t it. If you need to vent or discuss with a company, make sure you always remember just because it’s a Facebook page doesn’t mean there aren’t humans involved. There is someone responsible for reading that and responding to you, or a person who actually owns the business. Play nice.

4)   Know there could be consequences – good or bad!

For me professionally, I own a business and posting the wrong thing on another business’ page (even if I feel it’s merited and respectfully written) might come off aggressively to other decision makers around me. Someday down the road, that perception could negatively impact my business. Even if you don’t own a business – people just doing business with you could be affected.

For me personally, usually if I’m posting “something about a business,” it’s actually something I’m writing on their page so they are aware of it and then they might fix the problem I’m having – which is definitely a win!

Overall, the general consensus of my research was if you see someone complaining on social media in a respectful way, it’s probably just their way of trying to take care of their business. Professionally, my guess is that we will start to see a lot more of this, so applying the tactics we use when dealing with companies’ call centers and managers when we have a problem is the best way to help get our problem solved!

I’m curious what you think, though, so tweet me @interactivekate and tell me if you use social media as a platform to handle any issues you might have with businesses?


6 steps to successful "out-of-your-league" networking

Emilee Richardson is the president-elect for the Young Professionals Connection, and is theDC
marketing and communications coordinator at the Science Center of Iowa.

Last week, I was in Washington, D.C. as part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership's annual trip.

In case you don't know, each year, the Partnership takes roughly 200 business executives and community leaders to D.C. for the purpose of education and advocacy. Each year, the YPC president-elect is sent on the trip. This year, that privilege was mine.

This trip is truly unique. The Greater Des Moines Partnership represents more than 4,700 businesses and 150,000 employees in Central Iowa. And on this year's trip, 190 of us came together to represent one unified voice advocating for the issues most important to our region.

That's a powerful voice, wouldn't you agree?

The trip consisted of meetings, workshops and receptions... essentially, it was 60 straight hours of networking (which was evident by my lack of a voice on Friday).

Now, I’m no newbie to networking. But at the Iowa Congressional Reception on the first night, as I mixed and mingled my way around the room of seasoned business leaders, I realized that I was a little out of my league.

Networking is easy with your peers, but when it seems that everyone knows everyone - and everyone has been doing this since before you were born - it can be a little intimidating. I didn’t go all the way to D.C. for nothing, though, so I decided to dive in. And as I did, I found a pattern... one that weirdly resembled a military maneuver.

6 steps to successful networking, Top Gun style:

  1. Find a wingman. This way, you won't look really awkward while trying to accomplish the next several steps. Your wingman can be a friend or acquaintance. Preferably, your wingman will be someone who also is looking to meet a few of the movers and shakers in the room.

  2. Identify a target. In these situations, there are often people in the room who you know of but haven't officially met; or maybe there’s an acquaintance who you want to chat up or pitch an idea to. Find this person (or persons) in the room.

  3. Move into position. Many times, your target is already in a conversation. Prepare to network by meandering through the room with your wingman and positioning yourself within 10 feet of the target. This is important so that you will be able to swoop in as they're leaving a conversation or jump in during a lull. Avoid awkwardness by conversing with your wingman. Leave yourself available by glancing around the room. [Pro tip: Do not make eye contact with your target until you are ready to swoop. Otherwise, you'll blow your opportunity.]

  4. Make a smooth entrance. When you see your target moving away or notice a lull in conversation, make your move. If you know the person's name, follow these steps: (1) approach, (2) say the person's name and (3) say something along the lines of, "good to see you!" If you don't know the person's name, follow these instructions: (1) approach, (2) say something along the lines of, "I don't think we've met. I'm ____."

  5. Introduce your wingman. After initial hellos, introduce your wingman to the target with a simple, "Have you met ____?" There’s value in knowing people, and successful leaders know this. By making the introduction, you appear well-connected and gracious. Plus, you’re helping out your wingman, too!

  6. Make a graceful exit. This is the tough part. If your target doesn't initiate the exit, you can oftentimes be left with nothing more to say. A few strategies for a graceful exit: (1) excuse yourself to get another drink / check out the food, (2) say “well, it was really nice talking with you” and exchange cards or reiterate how you plan to follow-up. Always end with a firm handshake and by thanking them by name.

Note: While these tips are said with a hint of silliness, they are mostly accurate. Networking is a skill that can only be mastered with practice. It is good to have a few guidelines going in, but what works for me might not work for you. If you have other successful networking tactics, I’d love to hear!

-Emilee Richardson

What's your rubber duck?

DuckiowabizYesterday I read an interesting article in USA Today about how boutique hotels are trying to differentiate themselves and create "an experience" for their guests. Being able to call down to the front desk for a fish or having a Bose iPod player in the room is old news.

Now, you might find themed rubber ducks in your mini bar. There's a DC hotel that even offers electronic cigarettes. And if you're ever in Denver, check out the Sky Hotel in Aspen. They offer mini oxygen tanks in case you need a little boost.

Not all of the examples in the article were whimsical. In Chicago at the Hard Rock Hotel, you can request the nursing mom package (fridge, breast pump, extra bottles, etc.) be sent to your room. Worried you'll have a wardrobe malfunction like Janet Jackson did a few years ago? No worries if you're staying at one of the Morgan Hotels. They have an emergency kit that includes double-sided tape to prevent any accidental malfunctions.

While all of these examples sound a little off the beaten path -- that's sort of the point. A little something extra to create some buzz or even to get you to choose one hotel over the other. It's a good reminder to all of us that our consumers are hungry for more and that more doesn't have to be a big deal. Sometimes something small can be a big deal.

And a big deal means that in today's wired world -- their duck or wardrobe malfunction kit will get plenty of attention on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or Twitter.

That sort of buzz can't be bought. It can only be inspired by something out of the ordinary. 

Stan Phelps wrote about this concept in his book, What's Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth. Stan's premise is that compannies who do something a little extra get noticed. His book is living proof -- example after example of organizations that inspire word of mouth, the best marketing you can possibly earn.

Marketing is about being so remarkable that people can't help but talk about you. That if you absolutely delight someone - they will not only come back but they'll bring friends. They become your sales force. 

So -- what do you do for your customers that would get them talking? What's your rubber duck?

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

What can you share?

Rob Smith is a principal at Architects Smith Metzger

My last blog encouraged readers to add to the list of stuff we could share with ourMan with tools neighbors or friends rather than consuming more and more stuff. Does every house on a street need an extension ladder? 

Sharing is a very sustainable action. The side effect is neighbors getting to know each other and maybe even working together. All in the spirit of sustainability! Does it get any better than that?

Added to the list from last blog, the list grows to 20 items. I checked my stash and I can admit to owning seven of the twenty items. Probably half get used once a year.

  • Extension ladder
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Chain saw
  • Pruning saw (I always wanted one of those)
  • Sidewalk edger
  • Lawn aerators
  • Bike racks for the car that get used a few times a year
  • Home kitchen products like the dreaded ice cream maker that takes up space
  • Air nail gun
  • Carpet cleaner

And from last blog

  • Rototiller (better yet, just rent one or hire it done)
  • Pressure washer
  • Air compressor
  • Floor buffer
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Belt sander
  • Wallpaper steamer
  • Fertilizer spreader
  • Post hole digger

The challenge is still out there to see if we can come up with a list of 100 things!  Contact me at rsmith@smithmetzger.com

-Rob Smith

Cause marketing for retailers -- Part I

When done right, cause marketing can generate a number of benefits for retail businesses that extend far beyond the company's bottom line.

There's the satisfaction of helping a worthy charity or particular cause with both money and publicity. There's the stronger bond created with existing and new customers. There's the ability to contribute to a good cause without having to dig deep into your own pockets, which is often very difficult for a small business to do. And, there's the opportunity to show people that your business truly cares about the community.

When done poorly, there's the possibility of alienating customers, diffusing your company's marketing focus and even losing money.

That's why it's crucial to put some real thought into any cause you support through your retail business.

At the Heart of Iowa Market Place, we've done some cause marketing, but we have some clear guidelines we follow. Your retail business should, too.

First, we support causes for which we have an affinity. The truth is, we're asked several times a day most days to support this or that charity. Your business probably is, too.

As much as we'd like to, we simply can't support every group that asks us. You have to be particular about the causes you choose. There has to be a logical connection for your business that ties into your marketing and products.

(Be sure, too, that your employees know what to say when charities come into your business to ask for donations because your customers are watching and listening. Our employees always politely take the information and let them know the owner will get back in touch with them.)

Second, any cause marketing must be part of your overall marketing strategy. I map out an annual marketing strategy and any cause marketing is included in that early planning and only with a great deal of thought.

Third, you want to make it fun for your business and employees to promote that cause.

Finally, make a budget for cause marketing and stick to it. In the end, it will not only give you the fortitude to decline the bulk of requests but it will also provide a clear focus for your efforts.

-Kelly Sharp, owner, Heart of Iowa Market Place

What would be the 'coolest' economic development investment?

Note: Kyle Oppenhuizen is a reporter for the Business Record. 

Yesterday, Gov. Branstad's office told us they would announce the "largest-ever economic development investment in Iowa." The announcement was to be made at 4 p.m., giving us about five hours worth of speculation in the newsroom.

It made us wonder: What would be the COOLEST project the governor might announce? My vote was for a pro sports team - which I knew, of course, was highly unlikely.

Turns out, the MidAmerican Energy wind energy expansion that was announced IS pretty cool. Approximately 40 percent of the company's electricity will come from wind energy by the end of 2015.

But pretend for a second you didn't know about MidAmerican's plans. If someone told you that a company was about to make the largest-ever economic development investment in the state, what would you hope for?

Let me know. Comment on this post, on the Business Record's Facebook page, or with the hashtag #IAdreamproject on Twitter.

-Kyle Oppenhuizen

Reporter, Business Record

The REIT way to reduce taxes?


Some entreprenuer friends got excited when The New York Times ran Restyled as Real Estate Trusts, Varied Businesses Avoid Taxes.  A sample:

A small but growing number of American corporations, operating in businesses as diverse as private prisons, billboards and casinos, are making an aggressive move to reduce — or even eliminate — their federal tax bills. They are declaring that they are not ordinary corporations at all. Instead, they say, they are something else: special trusts that are typically exempt from paying federal taxes.

The trust structure has been around for years but, until recently, it was generally used only by funds holding real estate. Now, the likes of the Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates 44 prisons and detention centers across the nation, have quietly received permission from the IRS to put on new corporate clothes and, as a result, save many millions on taxes.

Changing from a standard corporation to a real estate investment trust, or REIT — a designation signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower — has suddenly become a hot corporate trend.

So is your tax advisor failing to tell you about a great new way for your business to avoid taxes? Probably not.

Real Estate Investment Trusts are nice for those who can use them. They get to deduct earnings they pay out to their owners as dividends, avoiding the double-tax that applies to most "C" corporations. The distributions qualify for the lower 23.8% top rate on dividends for the recipients, instead of the top 43.4% rate on individual rental income. 

Sadly, they probably aren't for you. First, they only work if you have the right kind of income. This limits mostly passive real estate or real estate mortgages; other assets have to be in a taxable non-REIT entity. Some entities can make this work by dividing up their assets between the REIT and the taxable entity, but it doesn't fit everybody.

A bigger obstacle may be the ownership restrictions. A corporation requires at least 100 shareholders to elect REIT status. So you can get around that if you have 99 close friends who are willing to own token shares, right?  

Wrong. You don't qualify as a REIT if five or fewer shareholders own more than 50% of the REIT. What's more, attribution rules add the shares of related owners together, so you can't get around that by giving ownership to, say, your kids.

Who can use a REIT? A corporation with a wide ownership base and a lot of real-estate related assets. REITS with Des Moines connections include General Growth Properties and Macerich, led by Des Moines native Arthur Coppola. Owners of smaller real estate businesses can sometimes get REIT benefits through an "UPREIT" partnership with an existing REIT. But for most entrepreneurs, REIT status is unavailable. That's a shame; if I had my way, all corporations would be taxed like REITs.

-Joe Kristan

When do sponsorships make sense?

Bike month MiddendorfSponsoring events can be a smart way to use your public relations budget, or they can be off-target. Companies are always getting asked to support events by becoming a sponsor. But it should be a two-way street, benefiting both the sponsor and the organization they are supporting. Before writing that big check, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  1. Make sure the sponsorship matches your mission. Middendorf Insurance sponsors Bike Month because they are interested in wellness. Hubbell Homes sponsors Anawim because it's in keeping with their corporate mission of providing housing for people in our community.
  2. Employee Buy-in: Do your employees support the organization you’re sponsoring, or is it the boss’ pet project? I’ve been to a lot of fancy dinners where the tickets have been purchased by an executive, but the seats remain empty because not enough employees have buy-in on the project. Why sponsor something if your employees are not passionate about it? Instead, look for an organization that everyone can support.
  3. Does the sponsorship save you money over creating your own event? If it would cost you less to sponsor than to create your own event, then you’d be better off just writing a check than running a whole separate event. Events have all kinds of hidden costs, like insurance, security and publicity that can really break the bank.
  4. Loss of productivity: Is the sponsorship plug-and-play, or is it going to require a big staff time investment? Be sure to factor in these labor costs, and the cost of lost employee productivity.
  5. ROI: Will your sponsorship provide a return on investment for your company? ROI does not necessarily have to be increased sales. Sometimes the goal is just increased name recognition with your target audience. 

Taking all this into consideration, many companies do use sponsorships as an effective public relations tool. Once in a while, re-evaluate all the sponsorships you've signed on to, and only renew the ones that make total sense for your entire enterprise.

Claire Celsi is the Director of Public Relations at Lessing-Flynn in Des Moines, Iowa.

Employees with second jobs

In this economy, many people find it necessary to have second jobs. Reasons for those jobs vary from person to person and are needed for many different reasons. You probably have employees who have second jobs and you may not even know about them. Just because your employee has a second job does not mean they are not happy working for you.

Have you addressed second jobs in your handbook? Do you have a policy which states what kinds of jobs your employees may take? If not, you might want to take a look at the topic. Depending on what your business, is you might want to limit where employees can work part time. For instance, if you are a CPA firm you do not want your employee moonlighting for a tax place during tax season. In some industries it is OK to work in the same field, such as the food industry or healthcare. A nurse is a nurse no matter where they work but an accountant deals with clients. You do not want your clients going to another firm and following the employee.

It is a simple policy to implement and in certain cases much-needed. It also does not hurt to have in your handbooks that employees need to clarify it with human resources when they are seeking a second job.  The point is not to tell them they can’t, but to make sure they are not moonlighting with a competitor and also to find out why they need it.  Remember, they might really need it because of circumstances that you have no control over such as divorce, a spouse losing a job, kids going to college or they want to get out of debt. You need to be fair but firm with them.

-Susan Jones

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