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Tag Archives: Housing

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What’s the BIG Idea? Episode 2: Steve Jurash on leading through crisis

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In this episode of What’s the BIG Idea? Hank Boyer visits with Steve Jurash, president of the 5,000-plus member Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia (MAP), one of the largest regional trade associations in the eastern United States. MAP represents several hundred thousand manufacturing employees.

In March 2020, Jurash led MAP through an incredibly challenging period, dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, an event that brought manufacturing everywhere to a sudden halt. With several hundred thousand employees’ lives affected by his decision-making, Jurash faced one of his most challenging periods of leadership. He shares more than 20 best practices effective leaders use to navigate during periods of crisis.

About What’s the BIG Idea?

What’s the BIG Idea? was born during the global pandemic of 2020. I spoke with a number of business leaders about how the pandemic was changing the ways they ran their organizations. I heard some amazing accounts of how the crisis brought out innovative and creative approaches to address the challenges these leaders were suddenly facing. I wanted to find a way to capture their authentic stories and energy and share it with others who might be similarly inspired to overcome their own set of challenges.

Each edition of What’s the BIG Idea? is a six to eight-minute conversational interview with a high achiever who is making a difference in his or her organization, field, or industry. What’s the BIG Idea’s host is Hank Boyer CEO and founder of the international management consulting firm, Boyer Management Group, and host of the No. 1 national syndicated business radio show, Executive Leader’s Radio. What’s the BIG Idea? is provided to viewers in partnership with the self-improvement team at Achiever’s Circle.

For more information about What’s the BIG Idea? or to inquire about being a guest, contact hank@boyermanagment.com.

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How AI is affecting commercial real estate now and what to expect in near future

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology that is currently transforming almost all industries, from the IT sector and marketing to agriculture and everything in between. Commercial real estate is not an exception.

As agents and business owners want to optimize their operations, the use of additional CRMs or software for transactions has become more popular. There’s nothing strange here, as these tools can optimize effectiveness by allowing you to arrange a one-stop place where you would seamlessly manage your leads and clients. With AI entering the real estate market and integrating these tools, they can open completely new horizons.

So, let’s see what AI trends are becoming popular in the commercial real estate niche:

Chat assistants

Smart chat assistants, more commonly known as chatbots, are a great help for all support departments because they ensure the visitor gets faster and more accurate responses to their queries. In real estate, speed is critical. If you cannot help a customer, they will leave for the competitor. And since the market of real estate is oversaturated, not being able to serve your customers in time can play a bad trick on your reputation.

How it works: Chatbots analyze the client’s query based on the keywords and provide the relevant answer depending on the context or search for the most suitable guides from your knowledge base to share them with clients.

Advantage: Your website visitors receive top-notch customer service and quick help without long waiting times. Chatbots can work 24/7 and never get tired. Besides, you save on support personnel, saving human efforts for less typical requests.

Smart analytics

With AI applied to analytics, you can rest assured that your promo efforts, competitor analysis, and the behavior of your potential and existing customers will be processed in the best possible way, delivering powerful insights to act on.

How it works: Algorithms used to analyze data run on big data, gathering tons of information. Thus, their results will be more accurate due to the higher number of samples. They can be also used in making forecasts and predictions, because based on the previous results, the system will be able to provide you with the probability of an action.

Advantage: With smart analytics, you will be able to do user segmentation to better target your ads and offerings, analyze marketing campaigns, and assess the performance analysis of your campaigns to maximize ROI.

Data processing

Dealing with a big amount of data is a usual thing for real estate agents. Often, this information is not properly sorted and is coming from different places, which means that your agents will have to unify it to be able to match the information with the available data to fulfill clients’ requests.

How it works: Smart algorithms use the aggregated information about the client or property from the listing and structure it in a way that it’s easily accessible for real estate agents and act on these data by contacting this client, matching the property.

Advantage: When manually done, this process requires a lot of time that can be used much more efficiently. Thus, with smart data processing, your agents will be able to put the efforts into some other important activities. With intelligent processing, you will be able to automate certain workflows and simplify operational management.

Wrap-up

As AI is in its development stage at the moment, it’s still far from perfect and has a lot of flaws and inaccuracies.

But taking into account the pace of its evolution, we can expect that machine learning algorithms will become more complex to resolve more sophisticated tasks and make the life of real estate agents easier.

Delegating all the routine tasks to smart assistants to focus on building a long-term relationship with the client is a dream at the moment, but may be a reality that is coming sooner than we expect.

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The dangers of home title fraud: What it is and how to stop it

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It’s time to look at one of the latest cybersecurity threats out there. Typically, when you think of cyber scams, you’re usually thinking about things such as credit card fraud, identity theft, viruses, phishing, and so on.

An emerging trend is home title fraud, which literally is robbing people of their home and the home equity they have built up over the course of years. You might be surprised to learn that real estate and rental fraud grew more than 2.6 times the rate of credit card fraud from 2015 to 2019.

How does this happen? First, forged deeds can be created by using easy to access online data. The perpetrators then try to file paperwork with the county claiming that they own your home. Finally, you as the true homeowner is typically unaware of what’s been happening until it’s too late: you then receive a letter indicating that you’re being foreclosed on.

Protect your home from home title fraud today and check out how you can stop this crime in its tracks through the visual deep dive below:

Infographic courtesy HomeTitleLock.com

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Healthy buildings: Construction’s answer to health crises

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After 12 months of living under the shadow of a global pandemic, burnout about the topic of health is spreading contagiously. If we’re not actively working to keep others healthy, however, we’re likely to experience future, large-scale outbreaks. The buildings in which we live, work and thrive can be more effective at protecting us from harm and preventing the spread of disease by incorporating intelligent design elements.

Healthy buildings are structures designed and built with the intention of improving the lives of occupants. Buildings that are “healthy” use responsibly sourced green materials in thought-provoking designs that showcase well-ventilated, light-filled spaces. These structures use openness to encourage natural communication between occupants that might otherwise be limited by a closed-off floorplan.

Healthy buildings are certified with nine points of inspection:

  1. Air quality
  2. Ventilation
  3. Presence of pests
  4. Thermal health
  5. Moisture
  6. Water quality
  7. Lighting
  8. Noise
  9. Safety

These human-centric design elements are intended to increase health, productivity and happiness. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the features that make healthy buildings so healthy, and about the benefits they offer to those who live and work within them.

Infographic courtesy BigRentz.com

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How the construction industry builds smarter with artificial intelligence

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With the advent of sophisticated machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence, the construction industry is one of the many sectors to be positively impacted. Traditional processes are no longer efficient in the world of digitalization, and AI is here to stay. Designers, project managers, and construction workers on site are now able to use AI technology, such as surveillance drones, 3D printers, and construction robots to automate time-consuming tasks and increase efficiency throughout the value chain.

Today, the construction industry is still facing various problems such as labor shortage, cost overruns, schedule delays, and safety issues. However, as companies in the sector continue to upgrade their equipment and technology to keep up with digitalization, the improvement of production output and logistics efficiency is inevitable.

Infographic courtesy BigRentz.com

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Infographic: Understanding eminent domain

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One of the basic understandings of the American dream is having a house and land. What if the government then came along and tried to take your land? If you own land, you need to know your rights when it pertains to eminent domain. This is happening across the nation.

Eminent domain has roots based on the Fifth Amendment, and grants the government the rights to seize private property without the owner’s consent — with two main points: as long as the government provides just compensation and has claims for public use, it is permissible.

You might ask “what is just compensation?” If your land has been targeted for an eminent domain case, you’ll likely receive a notice of intent by mail. You then may be appraised on the size and value of your land and be given a purchase offer based on that appraised value.

Knowing your rights includes getting appropriate legal counsel who can help negotiate your terms. Check the following visual deep dive on eminent domain below:

Infographic courtesy Dallas & Turner, PLLC

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COVID-19 accelerated change. How do you stay ahead moving forward?

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This article first appeared in Real Leaders.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst that accelerated change in almost every industry. What used to take some companies five years to accomplish remarkably took them only five months during the pandemic. From at-home grocery retailing to working at home virtually, companies digitized their businesses and changed how they delivered services at unprecedented rates.

Many businesses had no choice but to rethink how they created value for customers and how they operated. New ways of delivering existing services were created. Entirely new products and services were developed and launched in record time.

While some companies were better positioned to deal with the challenges the pandemic presented, others struggled.

Given this, consider these three relevant questions for all business leaders in the context of their own organization and industry:

  • Why did it take a pandemic to accelerate innovation and change?
  • How did your organization fare?
  • What will your organization do differently to stay ahead moving forward?

Businesses that were far along on their digital transformation — those who’d already moved to a more agile organization and had a deep understanding of their customers — were in a better position to deal with the challenges the pandemic introduced. They could seize the market opportunities it presented.

For example, the unprecedented rate of change and disruption occurring in the financial services industry, along with changing customer preferences and expectations, had caused some organizations to already rethink everything they do, adopt technology, and be more agile and innovative.

US Bancorp of Minneapolis was well positioned coming into the pandemic, having gone through its own agile transformation the few years prior. This enabled them to maintain business continuity, effectively serve customer’s needs, and continue to quickly launch new products and services. Robinhood and Reddit had business models and the digital reach that enabled them to continue to create value and grow. Peloton, Roku, and Zoom were poised to pounce when the lockdowns hit.

For some companies, lockdowns increased the demand for their products and services. However, their ability to meet those demands was contingent upon how agile and digitally connected their organizations were both inside and outside. For US Bancorp, products and services that used to take them years to develop took them months by the time pandemic struck, giving them an advantage going into it.

Other businesses were not so fortunate. Coming into the pandemic, what used to take them years still took them years, putting enormous pressure on organizations. Traditional retail is one such example. While low-end retailers like Walmart and Target weathered the storm (in part because they were allowed to stay open), many other high-end retailers couldn’t quickly adjust, as evidenced by the many closures in 2020 — including Pier 1 Imports, Papyrus, and Victoria’s Secret.

Although some companies weren’t as well-positioned as others coming into the pandemic and had slow cycles of innovation and technology adoption, some rose to the occasion and adapted. They rapidly adopted technologies and found new ways to deliver products and services to add additional value to customers.

For example, one European company that delivered on-site quality management auditing services found new ways to conduct remote audits through the use of video inspections and how information was shared. Now, this is being sold as having more value to customers than the way it used to deliver these services and this approach will outlive the COVID pandemic.

Moving forward, smart manufacturing technologies, remote sensing and monitoring, and direct connections into systems will open up more possibilities to innovate and provide quality management services that create even more value and better outcomes.

The opportunity to create more value for customers was always there

Every industry has examples of products or services that were traditionally delivered one way, but fundamentally changed in response to the pandemic. You can probably think of some in your own industry and company.

The opportunity to radically change how a service is delivered and how customers are engaged has always been there: the technology to enable it has been available. Why did it take a pandemic to force change in some industries and for companies to discover different ways of working that also create more value for both their companies and their customers? When the pandemic fades and is no longer a catalyst for accelerating change and disruption, what will be the driving force?

Many organizations learned they could get done in months what previously took them years. Why was it taking them years? They learned they could fundamentally change how a product or service was delivered and consumed, creating more value for the customer. Why didn’t they see this before and act on it? These are fundamental questions that every business leader should consider.

How to stay ahead

The pandemic has provided many important lessons. It will serve business leaders well to reflect on their organization before the pandemic, what they observed about their organization during the pandemic, and what learnings they can apply to help make their organization more agile and resilient in a world where the pace of change only accelerates around them.

Here are five things to consider moving forward:

1. Speed. If you discovered that it took a pandemic to get done in months what usually takes years, identify the underlying root causes that previously held back progress and address them. Your organization needs to be able to keep up with the pace of change without having a virus to force the issue. Next time it will be a competitor — or possibly a new entrant not constrained by a legacy culture or traditional industry practices — that disrupts your business and creates more value for your customers.

2. Opportunity. Don’t underestimate the opportunities that exist to proactively transform how you can create value for customers, disrupt your industry, and differentiate. It’s possible to do things very differently than your organization may have imagined. When everyone in an industry does something the same way, a wonderful opportunity exists to find a way to do it differently and create additional value for customers.

3. Advantage. Did you come into this pandemic well positioned? If your organization has the ability to think differently, is digitally capable, and can develop and implement forward looking strategies quickly, you are in position to put your competitors on the defensive, create more value for customers, and drive growth. Don’t wait for the next pandemic to strike and force everyone in the industry to change. Be proactive and continually find opportunities to rethink what you do and how you’re uniquely creating value for customers. It will be harder for competitors to catch up.

4. Risk. Pre-COVID, risk in some corporate cultures might be doing anything that changes the status quo or is difficult and could fail. During COVID, risk was not doing what was difficult and needed to be done. Post- COVID, organizations have a choice regarding which path is riskier. How does your organization perceive risk?

5. Strategy. Evaluate your organization’s strategy development capability. How is it helping the organization think differently, challenge assumptions, and take an outside-in view? Is it able to effectively facilitate bringing together a deep understanding of customer needs, opportunities in the value chain, and the organization’s unique competencies to reimagine how value is created? Can it develop strategies that lead to differentiation and growth — not just differentiation from your competitors, but differentiation from how your organization has been doing things?

The winners moving forward will be organizations that are agile, digitally capable, and proactively willing to rethink everything they do. Applying some of these lessons to your own organization will help position it in front of change, not behind it.

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5 less explored marketing channels that can bring a lot of value

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Marketers have multiple options to promote their products and services. You have almost certainly heard of email marketing and social media marketing. Marketers use these methods because they work. And when the marketing is effective, the money comes in.

But what about the other avenues you might be ignoring? In this article, let’s look at five less-explored marketing channels that can still bring a lot of value to your business.

5 Less-Explored Marketing Channels to Drive Value

These five marketing channels tend to be overlooked for several reasons. Some entail a big marketing budget. Others require a lot of effort to set up. However, all of them are worth exploring because of a single reason: they work.

Image: BambooHR

1. Your Website

Many marketers don’t view their website as a marketing channel, but it might be the most important one of all. The website is where most of your potential customers will go when they want to know more about your brand. If the website works well and gives them the information they need, they are more likely to stick around and make a purchase. If not, they’ll leave and not come back. In other words, your website can determine whether or not you’ll get a conversion.

To ensure you make a good impression with your website, here are some things you should do:

Make sure it loads quickly.

Ensure it has information valuable to visitors. A blog with useful content can help attract leads.

Make sure it has a strong and user-friendly interface.

You must make your website discoverable, too. It pays to work with a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist if that’s not your area of expertise.

2. Referral and Affiliate Marketing

However fantastic your website is, it’s not enough. If you rely only on people going directly to your website for conversions, you’ll be disappointed. One of the best ways to drive new business your way is to let others do some of the work for you. This is where referral and affiliate marketing can help you.

Referral traffic refers to the people who visit your site without searching for you on Google. So, when someone gets to you through another website, Google considers that as referral traffic. Some of the best ways to get referral traffic include writing guest posts for other sites, engaging in industry forums, and posting on discussion sites such as Reddit and Quora.

Pro tip: when people come to you through referral traffic, you might need to pitch your services to them. Having a proposal template, like this example of an SEO proposal template, ready to go can help you save time and land more customers.

In affiliate marketing, you pay affiliates (also known as publishers) to promote you by giving them a commission when someone buys through their unique link. You can create an in-house affiliate program or join an affiliate network. The great thing about affiliate marketing is you pay the commission only when the affiliate delivers.

3. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing allows you to promote your products or services to new, relevant audiences. Using this method means that you pay an influencer for access to their audience and platform.

Influencers can successfully promote your brand because they have two things: followers and authority. So when they say positive things about your brand or products, their followers will believe it. Done right, influencer marketing can help you get much closer to your marketing goals surprisingly quickly.

Here’s an example of a recent influencer campaign from Ralph Lauren.

You need to choose the right influencer for your brand. They should have a significant number of followers who are interested in your niche, but the engagement levels of those followers is far more important. The influencer must also share your brand values.

Once you think you have found the right influencer for you, get in touch and make your partnership pitch. Use proposal management software to keep track of things if you’re reaching out to several influencers at once.

Track your influencer marketing campaign’s metrics as you go so you can make adjustments as necessary.

4. Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing is precisely that: marketing that relies on people telling others how much they love your brand. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any type of advertising. BigCommerce also reported that a whopping 74% identify word of mouth as a key influencing factor in their purchase decisions.

Getting word of mouth marketing traction takes some time, but it’s not as difficult to do as you might think. Put your customers first, provide amazing service, and make sure your product is as good as it can possibly be. After that, the recommendations will start rolling in.

Don’t just rely on organic word of mouth recommendations, though. Once you get people talking about how great your brand is, implement strategies to amplify word of mouth. For example, you can encourage your loyal customers to leave reviews on your website. You can also use customer feedback to your advantage to improve your business even more.

5. Podcast Marketing

Podcasts are incredibly popular nowadays. According to KickoffLabs, podcast listenership has grown by 75% since 2013. Oberlo reported that the average weekly podcast listener subscribes to six shows and listens to seven episodes per week. In other words, you’ll be missing out on potential traffic if you didn’t use podcasts to market your products.

But don’t make the mistake of launching a podcast just to pitch your products or services. You need to provide value. For example, you can discuss current trends and other relevant topics in your niche, interview experts, and provide tips and advice. Then weave in your calls to action organically.

Wrapping up

With effective marketing, a business can attract new customers and increase revenue. However, you might need to look beyond the standard marketing strategies and try out some less explored channels.

The five I’ve discussed here are just some of the effective strategies you can try. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try things out. You’ll soon find that perfect marketing mix you’ve been looking for.

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6 tips for financing heavy equipment for your construction business

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Heavy equipment financing permits you to get a bank loan or lease to buy construction equipment for your business. This makes it more convenient to have equipment without purchasing the equipment outright. The construction equipment that is bought with the loan acts as collateral for the loan. Heavy-duty construction equipment that can be financed includes forklifts, bulldozers, excavators, engineering equipment, and tractors.

Although you may have the funds to purchase the construction equipment you need, it is best to opt for heavy construction equipment financing. This will allow you to devote your cash flow to more important networks. This article features six tips for financing heavy equipment for your construction business.

Loan for Your Equipment

If you decide to take out a loan for your equipment, the equipment will automatically be yours upon purchase. Your equipment can also be used for equity once you pay up your loan. This is beneficial if you need to buy additional pieces of equipment. Another option is to utilize a lease back agreement. In this case, the loan company is able to acquire the equipment, once the lease is up.

It is much easier to take out an equipment loan than a small business loan. This is because the regulations aren’t as risky. Plus, various factors are taken into account, which includes your experience with using the equipment. There are tax advantages associated with financing using an equipment loan. For example, it can be used as a tax write off.

Keep in mind that you must have a down payment when you get an equipment loan. However, you can avoid a large down payment if you have a number of assets. Your assets can be used as collateral and, in this case, you wouldn’t be required to pay a down payment. The only downside is that if you don’t make timely payments on your loan, your property will be seized and resold, to pay off the loan.

Lease the Equipment

Leasing equipment will significantly save you a great deal of money. Additionally, you will get the latest equipment. Since it isn’t a loan, your monthly payments will be reduced. You will also not be required to pay a down payment for the equipment.

Leasing offers plenty of flexible benefits. For instance, you will be able to negotiate the terms of the lease. If you decide that you want to end the lease agreement and would rather keep the equipment, that option is available. Additionally, you will be able to outright purchase it at a discounted price. Unfortunately, there is a termination fee, but you won’t have to continue to make payments. Also, the interest rates will be a bit higher than an equipment loan. Plus, you will not be able to build equity since there aren’t loan payments. However, another benefit of leasing is that it is tax deductible.

Qualifying for a Heavy Equipment Loan

The amount of the loan is dependent on the type of equipment you want to purchase. So, it isn’t just based solely on your business credit score or revenue. Keep in mind that every loan company is different. However, if you have a great cash flow and good credit, you should have no problem with qualifying for a loan with good rates. If you happen to have poor cash flow or a not-so-good credit score, you can always offer a down payment for the heavy equipment.

Interest Rates

The interest rate of the loan depends on your business experience, credit score, and equipment type. It also depends on whether you pay a down payment. If the equipment isn’t very expensive, you may still have to pay high interest rates. However, more expensive equipment tends to have lower interest rates. Depending on the loan company, interest rates are usually between 8% and 30%.

Term Lengths

The length of your loan should coincide with the equipment’s life expectancy. For example, if the lifespan of an equipment is 50,000 hours before repair is needed, it is wise to have a term length of four years or less. However, it all depends on how often you use the equipment each week. In most cases, the terms of the loan will not exceed the life of the equipment.

Timing of Loan Financing

Fortunately, the equipment loan underwriting process isn’t as rigid compared to unsecured loans. Most of the time, you will receive financing in a matter of two business days. Online lenders tend to finance loans quicker than financing through a bank.

Once the equipment is financed, the next step is contacting the vendor. The vendor is the company that has the equipment and, therefore, determines how long it will take before you receive the equipment. Be sure to have the invoice from the vendor. This will speed up the process so that you are able to get the equipment in a timely manner.

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Why you need diversity in the supply chain

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It’s hard to imagine that we live in a world that’s been in a pandemic for about a year now. We all can probably think back to when we heard the news of when it was hitting China, then in Iran, Italy, England, and progressed to our own backyard in the United States. Prior to the pandemic hitting the U.S., the pandemic was already impacting everyone throughout the world via the supply chain.

Why does the supply chain need to be diverse, you ask? There are underserved populations and businesses that are minority-owned who are not getting a seat at the table.

According to Avinandan Mukherjee, dean of the Lewis College of Business at Marshall University: “[S]mall companies are at the mercy of larger retail buyers and suppliers sometimes, they do get less focus and attention, especially when production is lower at the other end. So bargaining power definitely creates some risk for smaller companies.”

Also, large corporations are often missing the mark for their minority suppliers. Diversity needs to be less talk and more action. The Diversity Consortium is working hard to adjoin supplier solutions, community impact, and is redefining the rules of engagement:

Infographic courtesy The Diversity Consortium

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