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Mobile App is a Powerful Part of Communications Strategy for Peak Kids

Mardi Obray of Peak Kids shares benefits of working with Mobile Inventor.

Responsiveness and creativity brought Peak Kids’ app from concept to reality more quickly than anticipated.

Surpass Expectations

Mobile Inventor has the process of developing a mobile app down to a science. By providing customers with a template for setting up their app ideas, they give those who may not be able to visualize what they think a place to start. Layering on that the option to customize when necessary, Mobile Inventor helps customers take their apps in directions that they never imagined.

“Mobile Inventor was easy to work with and very responsive to our questions. We were thrilled that the development cycle was shorter than we had anticipated and that – through their creative suggestions – we were able to make our app more than we thought it could be.”

Save Time, See More

Time is a hot commodity for parents. Using their app, Peak Kids is able to provide cutting edge services that help them to make use of idle time and make plans when their needs are top of mind.

PeakKids-AppThe mobile app also helps Peak Kids to expose more information to parents by:

  • Sharing the demand for classes so they can enroll immediately.
  • Delivering notifications that could change their plans for the day.
  • Promoting sell out details with events .

“Parents using our mobile app can quickly enroll their child before their preferred class sells out and they know the second we know that a class won’t be held. It definitely keeps them on the forefront of our communications and helps us to create our own demand factor.”

Be the Cool Gym

Offering the mobile app has helped Peak Kids become the cool gym. Parents have a better way of doing business and enjoy the value that using the app provides. It delivers a distinction from others offering similar services and enhances brand. A mobile app is a great tool to use in conjunction with other customer service and marketing strategies for offering continuous improvements to your customers’ experience.

“We believe that our mobile app has enhanced our business. We’re thrilled with the way that it is seamlessly incorporated with Jackrabbit and excited about the time savings that it offers to our parents and our staff.”

Technology Can Transform Gyms

Implementing management technology can be intimidating. But when change can inspire transformation, isn’t it worth a little anxiousness?

Owners – who initially feel they’re taking a tremendous leap of faith – soon understand that automating processes and offering online, self-serve options can completely transform the way their gyms operate. Business management systems automate tasks that are mundane to do yet vital to operations and help owners get a better handle on the health of their business for critical decision making. And, the icing on the cake is that implementing technology gives your gym a powerful competitive edge.

Technology can change your gym before your eyes by:

  • Giving you the tools to focus less on processes and more on teaching.
  • Enabling relationships to be built because staff is freed from their computers.
  • Providing the primary factor in obvious improvements to your customers’ experience and your staffs’ performance.
  • Helping owners get business end of the gym out of the way of what really matters – the quality of each student’s learning experience.

With the support of powerful technology features that a good business management system should have, owners can identify and realize what the real potential of their gym is.

If you think your management system lacks powerful features, click here.

Read about gyms where implementing technology has been transformational: Barron Gymnastics   Double D Gymnastics

Build Your Business: Business Practices to Keep in Mind as You Start a New Season

Where do you want YOUR business to be in 2 years? What do you want it to look like?

Do you know that the business environment is rapidly changing, and that the landscape will almost completely remake itself in the next 2 years? What is the best way to stay both abreast of, and ahead of the game?

This article contains, from the business perspective, a checklist for your business to succeed for the upcoming season and far beyond!

Understand that no one business system is perfect, nor does it exist in a vacuum. Business is a fluid concept, and businesses must adapt to the present times.  However, if we have a format for setting, logging and tracking the changes, we are way ahead of the game … and can survive and thrive!

The BusinessGrades® system reveals the 8 vital areas and essential checklist items that lead to:

  • “turnkey” operations where very little falls between the cracks;
  • a marketing system wherein dollars spent are Investments, not merely Expenses;
  • harmonious human resource utilization from start to finish;
  • coordinated information technology, front office operations and customer service;
  • increased revenues and profits;
  • intelligent facility allocation, productivity and maintenance;
  • decreased risk;
  • an inspired staff; and
  • more freedom for your life!

If this sounds like exactly what you need … then that is because it is!

The BusinessGrades® process is now an online application, with the free (Lite) version available at www.SuccessDash.com.

BusinessGrades® provides a clear road map to success in any service industry, and particularly in the Children’s Activity Center industry (businesses that have some combination of sports instruction, arts, entertainment, and education). Let’s take a more detailed look at each area.

ManageSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • A Business Manager focuses on strategy and systems.
  • The number one priority of a Business Manager, or any person, is to develop a Personal Organization and Effectiveness plan.
  • Becoming a “student of business strategy” is an essential skill. Knowing WHY businesses fail and succeed TODAY is the key to riding the wave to profitability.
  • Business Managers understand that a business without documented systems is like a ship without a rudder.
  • Business Managers understand that business is a fluid concept, and must adapt to the present times.
  • Business Managers understand that the ManageSmart module sets the stage for the successful implementation of all other modules.

MarketSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • A Marketing Manager develops a strong team.
  • The number one priority of a Marketing Manager is to understand and execute the prerequisites to a successful and timely marketing plan.
  • Understanding your local area demographics and customer segments is essential for “target marketing”.
  • Marketing Managers understand that marketing is a mixture of strategy, brand, products, advertising, word of mouth, referrals, community involvement, social communications and more.
  • Marketing Managers understand that the MarketSmart module sets the stage for the successful implementation of all other modules.
  • Marketing Managers understand the reality that business is a competition. You either build your market share … or give up market share to competitors … and the choice is yours!

 PeopleSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • A Human Resources Manager develops a strong team.
  • The number one priority of a Human Resources Manager is to plan for the “lifespan” of managers and other employees through the company.
  • A Human Resources Manager documents everything.
  • Human Resource Managers understand that training and development (continuous education) is the key to staff retention. Beyond the BusinessGrades® system and online dashboard, the ManagerGrades and OfficeGrades dashboard platforms work together to set a complete plan.
  • Human Resource Managers understand that the PeopleSmart module sets the stage for the successful implementation of all other modules.
  • Human Resource Managers understand that a deeply educated and highly motivated staff is a major key to competitive advantage in the marketplace.

TechSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • Someone in the organization (owner, office manager, IT manager) develops and maintains a Cloud Computing Technology map.
  • The number one priority of a Front Office is to organize all of the daily, weekly, monthly and other “as-needed” duties and tasks into a working office manual.
  • A Front Office Manager sees that everything is documented.
  • A Front Office Manager builds a great team, and understands their role in coordinating communication with parents, children, staff and owners/directors.
  • Front Office Managers understand that the TechSmart module sets the stage for the successful implementation of all other modules.
  • Front Office Managers understand that a major key to competitive advantage in the marketplace is a consistent ongoing and future-facing Customer Service culture.

 FinanceSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • A Financial Manager is necessity, not a luxury, and should develop a very detailed description of the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual responsibilities.
  • A Financial Manager sees that all financial transactions are documented.
  • A Financial Manager is able to produce monthly or on-demand reports that contain meaningful data to ownership or administrators.
  • A Financial Manager shall give guidance on pricing, discount and value strategies, as well as input into forecasting and expansion plan financing.
  • Financial Managers understand that the FinanceSmart module sets the stage for the successful implementation of all other modules.
  • Financial Managers understand that beyond the “competition results” on the gymnastics or cheerleading floor, the dance stage, the swimming pool, etc. – there exists a far more REAL competition in the financial results arena!

 FacilitySmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • A business shall have a Facilities Manager, with a very detailed description of the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual and “as-needed” responsibilities.
  • A Facilities Manager sees that everything is documented of past, current and future repairs and maintenance projects.
  • A Facilities Manager understands that the major components of running an efficient facility are Space Allocation, Space Productivity and Space Maintenance, and is able to participate in discussions about these areas with ownership or administrators.
  • A Facility Manager can research and give guidance on energy conservation and “green” programs.
  • Facility Managers understand that the FacilitySmart module sets the stage for the successful implementation of all other modules.
  • Facility Managers understand that an efficient, well-maintained facility is a definite competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • The online application recommended for this purpose is www.RiskAssure.net.

RiskSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • Everyone in the company has a moral responsibility to understand the components of a solid Risk Management system.
  • Risk Management has several components, including:
    • Safety
    • Insurance
    • Advance Legal Defense Planning
    • Emergency Action Plans
    • Security
    • Crisis Management
    • Risk Management means advance preparation in each of these areas. Although it might not be as “fun” as other business module elements, it is the one area that can quickly put a business under if ignored.
    • A great Risk Management plan can reduce insurance premiums.
    • A great Risk Management plan can improve profit margins.
    • Everyone should understand that the RiskSmart module sets the stage for the continued survival and success of the business.
    • The online application recommended for this purpose is www.RiskAssure.net.

 InspireSmart – Understanding the Essentials in progressive order:

  • While “motivation” may be a completely “inside job”, inspiration is the responsibility of owner, directors, administrators and managers.
  • Inspiration has several components, including:
    • Motivation
    • Success Formulas
    • Goal Setting
    • Change Factors
    • Innovation and Creativity
    • Negotiating
    • Leadership
    • The InspireSmart module provides a personal development program for everyone in the business.

The InspireSmart module provides the “fuel” for the continued survival and success of the business – but is only effective when the rest of the BusinessGrades™ and Success Dashboard components are in place!

Frank is the creator of the BusinessGrades® system, an industry standard rating system for children’s activity center businesses, as well as the related online www.SuccessDash.com application.

Ways You Can Improve Your Swim School

Would you like to improve your swim school business? Maybe by improving the quality of the teaching at your school, create energy in your existing customer group and draw new customers to your school? There are three actions that can set the stage for positive change in you swim school business and help you to do all mentioned above for your school and more.

First of all, join at least one nationally recognized association. Why? This will:

  • Improve your credentials
  • Give your customers confidence in your ability to teach their child to swim
  • Increase your knowledge of the swim school industry
  • Provide access to resources that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to use

US organizations that fit the bill for this: The World Aquatic Babies & Children Network (WABC), the United States Swim School Association (USSSA), and the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA).

Secondly, you must have an affordable incentives program that motivates your staff. Why?

  • Incentives go beyond what pay can do to incentivize your employees to be extraordinary
  • Uniquely skilled teachers keep customers coming
  • Happy employees make happy customers

Here is a great example:

The Swim Lessons Company in Columbia, SC put a “love their teacher” competition in place by promoting it in the monthly enewsletter. Teachers are paid bonuses for compliments they get from parents – $5 cash for every emailed compliment received. The compliments are also read during the monthly staff meeting when the case is handed out.

Thirdly, take the time to understand what your teachers need help with and put it into their training content. Isn’t this expensive and difficult?

Actually – No.

  • Lots of teacher training resources are available online
  • There are DVDs that cover virtually every swim education course that you can imagine
  • Resources enable you to keep it simple or be as comprehensive as you’d like

By paying attention to what is going on in these three areas of your swim school business, you can improve the results that you’re getting. Just think, you will have greater knowledge of what is trending in other swim schools, you can make sure that you have instructor continuity and you can continuously improve your teachers’ skills and expertise. And improvements in these areas will help to make your school the one that everyone is talking about.

Original Source: Articles from Jim Reiser, Swim Lessons University

 

 

Blogging to Build Business: Get It Right and It Works

If you are hesitant already and are thinking that no one reads blogs, think again. You are reading one right now. This article is actually a blog post on Jackrabbit’s blog.

How does blogging helping you increase revenue?

A good blog does three things:

  1. It brings new people (potential customers) to your website.
  2. It keeps customers and potential customers engaged.
  3. It builds credibility for you and/or your team.

Don’t call your blog a blog

Have you ever been a website and clicked on a link that said “blog”?  Exactly, few people do. It’s not the most exciting title and it means very little to people outside of ramblings and/or company promotion.  Not to mention, the word ‘blog’ is kind of ugly and very close to the word, ‘blob’. I recommend naming your blog something relevant to your business such as “Tips for Teenage Health”, “Dancing for Life” or “Gymnastics Insights”. Topics like these are interesting to a specific audience and tell your website visitors what your blog is about.

Don’t Use Your Blog as an Advertising Tool

So often, I see blogs that are just a list of promotions. Would you read a book or magazine that was made up of only advertising? Of course you wouldn’t. Obviously, the goal is to promote your business but, if you use your blog to push out advertising and promotions, you are missing the point. The goal is to build an audience by providing valuable information and connecting with your potential customers. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Be Interesting

The key is delivering information that your audience will find valuable. Start by defining your target audience. If your target audience is made up of mothers with kids between the ages of 3 and 13, then provide information that these moms will find interesting and valuable. For example, “Healthy eating for growing teens”, “Tips to help you motive your kids” or “Helping Pre-teens manage their time”, etc. The key is keeping your target audience in mind.

Leverage Current News and Events

An easy way to come up with blog post ideas is to read the news. There are thousands of new stories and some of them can relate to your business and your customers. Leverage these news stories by sharing them and providing comments or recommendations. For example, you can take a story about someone succeeding against all odds and use it to help remind your audience that a positive attitude can make a big difference. It doesn’t have to be ground breaking but, it does have to interesting.

I hope you found this blog post interesting and valuable.

Photo Credit:  Some rights reserved by Thomas Hawk

Running a Seasonal Business: The Rules of Engagement

So – your business has seasonal highs and lows. How do you deal with it and keep your sanity?

There are some basic Rules of Engagement that can help you.

At its simplest of course, you must generate enough profit during your busiest times to operate in your slowest times. But the nine rules below show you that there is a little more to it than that.

Don’t assume that just because you have a seasonal business flow that you don’t have the same challenges as other businesses. You do – and you also face unique challenges.

Take these “Rules of Engagement” under advisement in understanding how to successfully sustain a seasonal business.

 

Rule One: You must KNOW your market.

Like the back of your hand – know your market. This is important so that you are sure that there is enough demand for your products or services to sustain the business. This information can be obtained through some simple market research. Be sure to ask potential customers whether they would buy from you at the prices you’re thinking of charging. If they answer yes to that, then ask more questions to find out what they buy, how much would they buy and when they would prefer to buy it. Understand your competition well. If you don’t, you can’t set yourself apart. You can also learn a lot from your competitors – just don’t assume everything they do is right or smart. Also stay current with your knowledge or you will miss the boat somewhere.

Rule Two: Announce your presence.

As a seasonal businesses, you must work harder to promote yourself – often simply to remind customers that you’re still there. When you ramp up for a season or do your between season marketing, remember that you must time your publicity and advertising so there is time for a decision process to take place.

Remember that with marketing, planning is important. If you don’t plan, you can’t budget and if you don’t budget you will never have “enough” money to reach your prospects through all of the channels that could bring you sales.

Rule Three: Don’t run out of cash.

Because your cash flow isn’t consistent, you may have challenges in managing your income over the entire year. Cash is king and if you don’t have it to operate during your slower season, it will be a royal pain. You need to know the set period of your highest income and how much you must take in a reserve during that time to sustain yourself. It is also important to know what must be paid out during slow season so that amount can be set aside when income is plentiful. This not only requires a plan and management but self-control. There will be many temptations to spend money you have in hand instead of reserving it.

Rule Four: Only buy what you need.

This is directly related to Rule 3 because it takes self-control to do this. Over-spending can cost you dearly in forcing cutbacks or borrowing during slow season. You must accurately estimate the demand that you must budget for during slow season by using your market knowledge/research. Spend every dollar of your money as if it were your last. That also means that it is critical for you to operate your facility efficiently and shop around for the best deals and values in the products and services you need.

Rule Five: Employ enough of the right people.

One of the worst things you can do is understaff. Make sure that you have enough help to serve your customers with quality. This also requires that you hire wisely. Failure to do either of these things will cost you customers. Temporary employees are a cost-effective solution for busy seasons, but leave yourself enough time to recruit the right people before you need them.

Rule Six: Make sure you’re legal.

Ignorance of the law doesn’t stand up in court. Seasonal businesses don’t get a break. License requirements, health and safety requirements, payroll and tax requirements – they all apply to seasonal businesses too. Don’t operate with insufficient legal knowledge – the consequences are much more expensive than the professional help.

Rule Seven: Seek reliable tax advice.

The same applies to taxes. You don’t get a tax break so make sure that you are following the tax laws that apply to the type of legal structure of your business, its turnover and your total personal income. Seek professional help from an accountant or CPA with this one to make sure that you are operating with the maximum possible tax-efficiency and taking all of the deductions you qualify for.

Rule Eight: Last longer by diversifying.

If offering packages or special seasonal services don’t help you to maintain your desired revenue levels  during slow season maybe you could modify your offer to give it wider (and more long-lasting) appeal. The changes might only need to be subtle (and therefore inexpensive). Existing customers are often your best source for additional revenue so be sure to consider other services that you offer that would appeal to them and target your marketing to reflect this.

Rule Nine: Use quiet times to improve what you offer.

Slower times are the best opportunities that you have to make changes or additions to what you offer. You an even try testing new services with a limited group to see if your new ideas “have legs”.

Use your slow season to consider new ways to market or improve your business during your busiest times and to create detailed marketing plans and budgets to guide you that can help you to be more efficient in the way you market all year long.

It’s no surprise that many who are successful at operating and growing seasonal businesses are sticklers for maintaining a regimen that focuses on cash flow. This is what keeps their spending in check and helps them to operate comfortably – regardless of which season it is.

 

For more information on Jackrabbit’s online class management system, visit JackrabbitTech.com.

How Instagram Helps Grow Your Business

Be where your target audience is. Market to them there. Be one of them. Support them and they’ll support you back.

Instagram is the place to be for teenagers and young adults online. They are starting to prefer that over Facebook and Twitter. In fact, young teens only have Instagram accounts. Why? That’s where their friends are.

If you want to understand your students better, get on Instagram.

Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Use hashtags –  A hashtag is the #symbol and is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram photo. People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their post to categorize those posts and help them show more easily in searches. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other posts marked with that keyword. [Read more about hashtags here.]

2. Post compelling content – Share photos that your fans will like. Are there any motivational quotes you can share? What about photos at your business? Maybe even funny photos of your staff – your students will relate to them and have an instant connection. Humanize your business. Show that you are people too. Bad hair day? Messes in the kitchen? Busted radio? We all have the same life problems.

3. Share widely – Reposting photos from your followers gives them a bit of celeb status. Pick a student once a week to repost a photo from. This will make them anticipate who will be chosen next week. Hopefully, it will get them to engage with your account more. Don’t be afraid to follow people back – users will love it.

4. Be generous with likes – Supporting your followers via Instagram means liking their photos. Reposting will also show support. Making them feel special can be done with one like.

One great thing about Instagram is the ability to link your account to your Facebook and Twitter. This lets people know you’re on all of the sites. Post about being on Instagram on Facebook encouraging them to follow you.

So, what does all of this mean for the growth of your business? The answer is simple – publicity and word of mouth. Separate yourself from the competition by being the organization who is involved in social media, connecting to customers, and being relatable.

Create relationships with your customers to be more than just a dance studio, swim school, gymnastics center, etc. Be the place they look forward going to and connect with you outside of class.

 

Small Business Blogging

To Blog or Not to Blog?

The trend for small businesses that are blogging is definitely on the rise – especially for those in less tech savvy sectors. In fact, a broad range of less tech savvy businesses were surveyed by Technorati (a full-service media company publishing high quality, fully edited, original content daily on a wide range of topics) and the findings revealed that more than half of those not blogging this time last year – are doing so now. There has been a surge in interest in online marketing and social media among these companies – so much so that Facebook saw 40% growth in its number of small business pages in 2012.

The sectors of small businesses that use class management software – many of whom are still learning how to maximize technology in their organizations – are also on the average novices in the online marketing and social media game. Blogs are a component of online marketing and are also growing in usage by small, less tech savvy businesses because their dynamic, keyword rich content can help smaller organizations gain competitive advantage against their major sector dominators because they can share their knowledge and their uniqueness with customers and with those that they would like to have as customers. It helps to level the playing field somewhat because – regardless of your marketing budget – you can put lots of good quality content out there.

Read more about the growing adoption rate of blogging by small businesses on Technorati.com.

20 Great Customer Service Ideas – Vol I.

No business can succeed without outstanding customer service. As the saying goes, it’s not a department, it’s an attitude. I’ve listed 60 ideas and broken it into three volumes. You will receive Volume 2 & 3 the next two Tuesdays.

  1. Friendly, knowledgeable people answering phones and manning the front desk 12 hours a day. Don’t have an automated service, but instead wow them with at least four lines, message on hold, and friendly short voicemail.
  2. Web page updated at least every Friday and when new info becomes available
  3. Your sign in front of your building has to be good!
  4. Spend money on things like flowers outside
  5. Add a canopy on your building so kids won’t get wet when dropped off
  6. New student checklist for the front desk to know who is new that day
  7. Give parents a lesson confirmation card upon enrolling with all important info needed for the first day
  8. Get up and open door if a mother has a stroller or carrying babies
  9. Greet everyone, even if on the phone, whoever enters the door –know names of new and old customers
  10. Same desk person every week and have front desk person involved in themes. They can wear leis, witch’s hats. etc.
  11. Say, “goodbye and thanks for coming” to all who leave
  12. Nametags out for new child and a child in a makeup
  13. Introduction of class theme, and review at the end for the parents!
  14. Money back guarantee
  15. Free trial classes available for those “fence-sitters”
  16. Video clips of all classes on website
  17. Encourage free tour and class placement
  18. Referral payment $20 (sometimes offer Double Referral Month!)
  19. Make-up reminder cards
  20. Unlimited make-ups in spring and summer

Bonus: Dress code reminder cards for those students who aren’t wearing what you want in class

 Remember:

  • Think relationships!
  • Sweat the small stuff and if a parent wants something, give it to them.
  • Create happiness at every touch point in your business.
Great customer service is a work in progess. There is always time to make a child feel special or impress a parent.  Need More Help? Click here to purchse #167 Customer Service Systems That Make a Dramatic Difference in Retention as an instant video download. Prefer hard copy? Click here.

Handbook is Critical to Business: Why Do You Need an Employee Handbook?

No business
is too small to have an Employee Handbook. If you have employees – regardless of the number – you should set up rules and policies for guidance. When your organization is small is actually a good time to establish this guide because it will serve you well as your staff size increases. An established Employee Handbook provides a baseline for governing and a gauge that you can set measurement (and therefore quality standards) by. The handbook also gives your employees parameters or boundaries to abide by and helps them to understand what you expect of them.

One of the most uncomfortable and unprofessional situations to experience is working a company that does not standardize the way it operates. Basically, it is just asking for trouble to have no ground rules to follow. Without the rules you’re just sort of making it up as you go. When there are written guidelines, no one can dispute decisions – whether they are positive (promotions/accolades) or negative (probation/dismissal). It makes things simple because they are plainly stated and available for everyone’s reference.

An Employee Handbook helps you avoid:

  • Detrimental business interruptions, such as favoritism and discrimination, are non-issues.
  • Failure to appropriately respond to crisis situations is eliminated.
  • Confusion about required benefits is cleared up.
  • Unclear holiday or vacation policies are defined.
  • Employee frustration over unclear guidance and expectations.

Creating an Employee Handbook simplifies running your business.

The Small Business Association (www.SBA.gov) is a tremendous resource for you as a small business as you try to put the best pieces of your business puzzle together.  Almost every general business component that you can think of is covered there. It is vital to review information from such resources to ensure that you are covered in the way you operate, handle hiring and employees, wages, taxes, benefits and customers and in the way your finances and organization structure is defined.

An Employee Handbook is the piece of the puzzle that we’re covering today, but explore the SBA’s site. You’re sure to learn or confirm lots of important business details!

Purpose of Your Employee Handbook

Your Employee Handbook is the most important communication tool between you and your employees. A well-written handbook establishes your expectations for your employees, and describes what they can expect from your company. An employee handbook should describe your legal obligations as an employer, and your employees’ rights.

Components of Your Handbook

The most effective employee handbooks cover:

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Conflict of Interest Statements

Although NDAs are not legally required, having employees sign NDAs and conflict of interest statements helps to protect your trade secrets and company proprietary information.

Anti-Discrimination Policies

As an employer you must comply with the equal employment opportunity laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Your employee handbook should include a section about these laws, and how your employees are expected to comply.

The Employment Discrimination and Harassment guide provides information on your legal requirements as an employer.

Compensation

You should clearly explain to your employees that your company will make necessary deductions for federal and state taxes, as well as voluntary deductions for the company’s benefits programs. In addition, you should outline your company’s legal obligations regarding overtime pay, pay schedules, performance reviews and salary increases, time keeping, breaks and bonus compensation.

The following SBA resource pages provide information on your legal requirements as an employer:

• Wage & Hour Laws

Employment Taxes

Workers’ Compensation

Work Schedules

Within the handbook, describe your company’s policies regarding work hours and schedules, attendance, punctuality and reporting absences, along with guidelines for flexible schedules and telecommuting, if offered.

Standards of Conduct

Make sure you document your expectations of how you want employees to conduct themselves in your workplace, from dress code to ethics. In addition, it is important to remind your employees of their legal obligations, especially if your business is engaged in a regulated activity (for example, your company’s legal obligations to protect customer data or to avoid insider-trading activity).

General Employment Information

Your employee handbook should include an a overview of your business and general employment policies covering employment eligibility, job classifications, employee referrals, employee records, job postings, probationary periods, termination and resignation procedures, transfers and relocation, and union information, if applicable.

The following resources provide information on your legal requirements as an employer:

Employment & Labor Laws

• Foreign Workers, Immigration & Employee Eligibility

Performing Pre-Employment Background Checks

Terminating Employees

Unions

Safety and Security

This section should describe your company’s policy for creating a safe and secure workplace, including compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s laws that require employees to report all accidents, injuries, potential safety hazards, safety suggestions and health and safety related issues to management.

Safety policies should also include your company’s policy regarding bad weather and hazardous community conditions.

Finally, add your commitment to creating a secure work environment, and your employee’s responsibility for abiding by all physical and information security policies, such as locking file cabinets or computers when they aren’t in use.

The Workplace Safety & Health guide provides information on your legal requirements as an employer.

Computers and Technology

Computers and communication technology are essential tools for conducting business. However employee misuse can have serious consequences for your company. Therefore, your employee handbook should outline policies for appropriate computer and software use, and steps employees should take to secure electronic information, especially any personal identifiable information you collect from your customers.

Visit the Information Security page related to privacy for more information on your legal requirements as a business owner.

Media Relations

It’s a good business practice to have a single point of contact for all media inquiries, such as yourself or a public relations professional. You don’t want your employees to bring unwanted attention to your company by speaking about your business in ways that could easily be misrepresented in the media. Your employee handbook should include a section that discusses how your employees should handle calls from reporters or other media inquiries.

Employee Benefits

In your handbook, detail benefit programs and eligibility requirements, including all benefits that may be required by law such as disability insurance, Worker’s Compensation Insurance and COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).

The employee benefits section should also outline your optional plans for health insurance options, retirement, employee assistance, tuition reimbursement, business travel, and any other fringe benefits your business provides to attract and retain employees.

The Providing Employee Benefits guide provides information on your legal requirements as an employer.

Leave Policies

Your company’s leave policies should be carefully documented, especially those you are required to provide by law. Family medical leave, jury duty, military leave, and time off for court cases and voting should all be documented to comply with state and local laws. In addition, you should explain your policies for vacation, holiday, bereavement and sick leave.

Create an Employee Handbook the Easy Way

To save you time and help you avoid the process of creating a handbook from scratch, SBA offers a free employee handbook template in conjunction with Entrepreneur.com. This basic Employee Handbook Template covers the topics listed above and can be customized using your company’s specific policies.

Please examine more Employee Handbook information at the SBA site’s section on the topic.