02.27
2019

6 Ways to Build a Successful Business

Contrary to popular belief, creating a successful business doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and effort to build and then maintain success. In today’s business world, having time is a luxury that most people, including owners, don’t have. So how does a growing business thrive, survive, and become successful in a world where there’s so little time? Easy. Success is built over time. It may take a few years, or even a decade, to reach the pinnacle of successfulness, but it’s all worth it in the end. To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible, and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they’ll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money, only to find it is much more difficult than they thought.

Here, six easy ways to help build the successful business that you’ve always wanted.

Understand your Brand
Know your brand more than your logo. By knowing your brand, you will know what you do and how you do it. You’ll even know what your customer interactions are like, and what type of information you should share on your social media channels. The concept of a brand extends far beyond just your company logo. It includes your business’s core values and every interaction you have with customers and suppliers. In effect, your brand creates and maintains your reputation and so reflects your customers’ experiences with your organization.

Stand Out
What makes you stand out from your competition? Standing out means that you have to find a different means to make your product more irresistible than your competitors. Once you figure out what sets your products apart from the competitors, weave your differentiators into your company’s marketing messages.

Marketing
Your marketing material should connect to the needs of your audience. You’ll want to develop and determine your niche, so that you can know who you are marketing to. It is critical that you know who your audience is so you can determine the best way to reach them. Some products and services are geared toward a wide audience, while others target a more specific market. You need to know as much about your audience as possible.

Have Great Products and Service
Word of mouth is often a great lead generator for getting more sales. Having top-notch products and services that people can talk about is a critical part of your brand. Refine your product, test it out, and then refine some more. Be sure to always put developing your product first, not the money.

Respond to Pain Points
Think about the struggles and challenges your customers face. Every successful business has products or services that respond to a customer’s biggest and most important needs. Our suite of solutions, for example, addresses the pain points of companies that manage mobile employees. We provide companies with the ability to send out recurring work orders, email notifications, manage timesheets, execute workflows, and much more. Since we know our customers, we’re able to build products that make it easy for them to manage their mobile employees. Make sure you know what problems your customers face most, so your products will be needed.

Communicating the Brand Values to Employees
Many companies fail to spread their brand’s way of thinking. The soul of the company may be totally clear to the founder, but that doesn’t mean it’s clear to the employees. Remember that your branding isn’t only for management, but everyone who is a part of the company should be able to understand and communicate the branding.

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02.22
2019

Introducing Encore’s Self-Help Wizard

We’re always looking for ways to help improve your experience when using our mobile solution. So we’re happy to announce the launch of a brand new tool now available to all of our customers. The Encore Self-Help Wizard is an interactive troubleshooting guide that gives you the ability to navigate your way to answers for a wide assortment of the most common issues you may encounter when using our software.

This gives you the option of bypassing the necessity of reaching out to our Tech Support team for those simple, easy-to-fix matters. But most importantly, it gives you access to a robust resource you can rely on during evenings and weekends when our representatives are not available.

The Self-Help Wizard lets you choose between device and web support. From there, you can select from a list of problems, including the inability to log in, reports not emailing properly, devices not tracking, and excessive battery draining, among others. Once the issue is identified, a solution (or series of potential solutions) is displayed, walking you through the process of correcting the situation themselves.

In most circumstances, the Self-Help Wizard should be exactly what you need to quickly correct the issue and get back to doing what you do best: running a successful, efficient business. But if the technical issue at hand requires additional support from one of our experts, you can request a callback directly through the tutorial and one of our representatives will reach out as soon as possible.

Though we strive to give you as smooth an experience with as little interruption as possible, we do know that hiccups are bound to happen. We hope this additional layer of support proves to be a useful tool for you and keep things moving as efficiently as possible.

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02.15
2019

6 Ways to Be More Professional at Work

If we were to ask your colleagues how professional you are, what do you think they would say? Would they sing you praises? Or would they suggest that you’re a little too rough around the edges? If you’re leaning more toward the latter of the two, it may be that you need to step up your game a bit. It really doesn’t take much to reshape your look around the office so that you exude a level of professionalism that commands respect … and gets you noticed by the people that matter most.

Look the part.
Whether or not you like it, appearance plays a big part in how others perceive you. Of course, you have to take into consideration your industry. If you’re working at a construction site, it’s probably not a great idea to show up in a three-piece suit. But are you always dressed in worksite–appropriate attire, including all necessary safety gear? Whatever the setting, dress accordingly so you’re always sending the right visual message.

Be reliable.
This can cover a lot of areas. Unexpected circumstances notwithstanding, are you always on time? When you tell someone that you’re going to get something done, are you sure to follow through by the deadline promised? When your team is down a member, are you the go-to person who helps pick up the slack and make sure it’s business as usual? Your goal is to be the person everyone knows they can count on.

Clean up.
We’re not talking about your appearance here. We covered that already. This time, we’re talking about your personal space. Whether you have an office, a cubicle, or spend most of your time behind the wheel, keep your workspace as clean and organized as possible. You may regard your clutter as your own form of organized chaos, but others will only focus on (and remember) the chaos.

Communicate well.
You don’t have to be the most eloquent speaker to convey professionalism. But you do need to make sure that what you say — whether it’s in person or through a written message — makes sense. It’s never a good look if others have to seek clarification (especially if it’s through someone else) every time you say something. Don’t feel the need to ramble endlessly, but do provide enough information for folks to fully understand.

Respect others.
This goes along with the previous tip. You don’t have to necessarily like everybody you work with — though it does make the work day a heck of a lot more enjoyable — but you should treat everyone with the same level of respect. Know people’s limits when it comes to joking around and don’t try to push the envelope. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, pull the person aside rather than making a spectacle.

Listen, Linda.
When someone wants to speak to you, are you quick to blurt out your opinion? Or do you listen quietly until they’re done speaking? Hopefully, you said the latter. People want to know they’re being heard completely. So, if you want to send the message that you truly care about what someone has to say, make sure you give them the opportunity to not only speak up but to say finish their thought. Talking over them or cutting them off to give feedback sends the message that their voice isn’t important and that you don’t have time for them. If it’s truly a matter of not having the time at the moment, go out of your way to plan a time you can speak uninterrupted.

When it comes to being professional in the workplace, a little does go a long way. Simply follow these tips and you’ll really start to get noticed. You’ll earn the respect from your peers and start to open doors that lead to more opportunities.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.13
2019

Reasons Why a Website Makeover May Be Necessary

The virtual world is an obscure place where anything and everything goes. With such freedom in the cyber world, many businesses can be complacent in their interactions with customers. Although many businesses know that the potential of their success can rest in one simple customer review, some still seem to think that maintaining a well-rounded and innovative website isn’t important.

We live in a world where people Google before they shop, visit online review sites like Yelp before they dine at restaurants, and check in via Facebook as they go about their days. In addition, the online presence of a business is just as important as the brick and mortar shop. In the physical world, a successful business owner wouldn’t want broken lights, smelly rotting garbage, or hazardous sidewalks in front of their business. This same mindset should be seen for the virtual world. Each day, businesses should be updating their websites with the appropriate security codes to make sure that their sites are secure for their customers. One of the primary ways hackers gain access to a site is through outdated software. The visual aesthetics should be trendy, relevant, and up to date.

Let’s face it: Millennials are running the show now, so staying up to date on the most popular ways to reach the masses should be at the forefront of every growing business. Apple Inc. is one of the companies that does an amazing job at engaging with the masses. Each time, a new iPhone (or any new Apple product, really) debuts, people flock and wait in lines for days to purchase it. Essentially, before a new Apple product makes it to the stores, its online presence not only says, “Here’s the new Apple product, it does this and that …” but it also, “This Apple product fits your needs in this way.” Apple Inc. develops materials centered on the needs (and wants) of the customer.

But having a site filled with outdated or irrelevant material simply makes you look inefficient and disinterested in your visitors’ needs. If you can’t proudly promote the website you have currently and available for the world to see, take it down. A bad website is far worse than no website. But let’s be clear: Both are bad for business.

In today’s technology-driven world, where smartphones control the marketing industry, online reviews are businesses’ golden tickets for to becoming just as influential as Oprah. Businesses need to have the latest technology so it’s easy for customers to download content, make payments, and purchase items. There are two common approaches to accommodating new technology. You can either make regular but smaller incremental changes over time, or you can do a complete refresh every few years.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.08
2019

5 Tips for Staying Focused at Work

Do you find yourself at a loss when it comes to staying focused at work? Whether you’re in the field or back at the office, distractions abound. No matter where you set up shop, these distractions inhibit productivity and negatively affect your company’s bottom line. So what can be done to keep yourself and your team constantly moving along as efficiently as possible? We have a few tips that help keep us on track and (virtually) distraction-free.

Break down your goals.
Sometimes the lack of focus can stem from a feeling of being overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on the potentially daunting overall task at hand, break things down into smaller, easy-to-digest goals. Have a project to finish by end of the week? Set up a realistic plan for what you aim to accomplish each day in order to reach that final goal, and focus on the day’s agenda instead.

Break down your day.
In the same vein as the previous step, dividing your day into segments helps prevent the risk of the brain fatigue that can come with working on something nonstop. Even the most dedicated workers need to take periodic breaks. Without them, you’ll start to notice your focus dwindling … fast. Make a point to get up every 60–90 minutes to stretch your legs, go for a quick walk, or just get out for some fresh air.

Block out distractions.
Whether or not you realize it, little things — even as simple as the light sound of casual chatter in the background — can cause you to lose focus on the task at hand. If you find yourself constantly veering off track, figure out a way to counter this. It could be as simple as putting on a pair of headphones to maintain focus, or perhaps you’re better suited to finding a quiet corner to work in for certain parts of the day. Whatever the method, put up a buffer between yourself and the distraction.

Block out your schedule.
Are you frequently inundated with meeting requests that throw your plans for a loop? Even though meetings are a necessary part of work life, they can sometimes get in the way of productivity, especially if they’re so abundant you have little time to dedicate to important projects. Set up a specific block of time every day that makes you completely unavailable to calendar requests and use this time to plug away at whatever is top on your list.

Put away your phone.
Our smartphones have become as much of a burden as they have a godsend, particularly in the office. On the one hand, they make sure we’re always connected. But on the other hand, they … well, they make sure we’re always connected. So while you can access your important emails from anywhere, you can also pull up your favorite social network, text messages, or latest gaming addiction. When staying focused is imperative, try closing your phone in a drawer (with the ringer silenced), so you’re not even tempted by the tantalizing lure of a push notification. In the least, practice this method when the threat of an ever-approaching deadline is looming over you.

With just a few slight modifications to your behavior, you’ll start to notice huge changes in your overall focus and productivity, which can quickly translate into increased profits for your business.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.06
2019

Ways You Can Protect Your Investments When the Stock Market Plunges

If the stock market was to crash tomorrow, businesses need to be confident and ready to come face-to-face with any type of financial crisis. CNN Money suggests that having an Inverse Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) guards your finances by going in a different direction than the market itself goes. Often times these ETFs move faster than the market itself. Investopedia.com says that investing in ETFs is similar to holding various short positions or using a combination of advanced investment strategies to profit from falling prices.

To stay at the top of the game, businesses need to have a financial portfolio that contains bonds, stocks, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT), and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS). According to Forbes, first you need to have some bond exposure in your portfolio. Bonds offer a useful hedge to equity exposure. Bonds are a debt security that’s similar to an I.O.U, so when you purchase a bond you are basically lending money to the government, municipality, corporation, and federal agency known as an issuer. Stocks are shares in the ownership of a company. They represent a claim on the company’s assets and earnings. Investor.gov says that investing into a REITs provides a way for individual investors to earn a share of the income produced through commercial real estate ownership — without actually having to go out and buy commercial real estate. According to Forbes, REITs may be beneficial because real estate is what economists call a “real” asset that can rise in price, even if the dollar falls in value. Bonds are nominal assets, very dependent on the value of the dollar, and so would likely fall in that scenario. To further protect investments, businesses should invest in TIPS, which provides protection against inflation.

It’s not only good to protect finances during a recession, but it’s also good practice for businesses to start managing and running daily workflow effectively. If a recession does come, businesses don’t want to worry about losing extra money due to mismanagement.

One of the ways for businesses to properly manage the nuisances of running the day-to-day business is to use our solutions.  Our money-saving products can help to manage a mobile workforce more efficiently. Each feature provides businesses with the confidence they need to face any recession, such as timekeeping, GPS tracking, and dispatching. They were designed to make the process of running a productive workflow easy.

The timekeeping feature provides management with the ability to oversee the individual timesheets of big and small crews, all from a single mobile device, including adjusting incorrect or missed time records and integrating timesheet data directly to payroll. In GPS tracking, management can set permissions to view tracking information on an individual or group basis, and it supports mobile devices across different time zones. Daily orders can be scheduled and generated automatically with the dispatching feature.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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02.01
2019

How to Prevent the Flu at Work

As you probably know, we’re right in the heart of flu season. Though it may seem like we’re a little late to the game here, with sub-Arctic temperatures making their way into the country and a polar vortex to reckon with, we thought it a good opportunity to review some of the best practices for fending off illnesses in the workplace.

When your workforce is largely mobile, there can be even more to worry about, as far as tracking germs and bacteria into the office. They may be interacting more with the general public, increasing their exposure to bugs that spread like wildfire, particularly when brought back to the confines of an office.

That being said, even though there’s a good chance you’re already doing these, if any aren’t already a part of your regimen — you know who you are — let this serve as a strongly encouraged reminder to do your part, since illnesses can bring productivity to a screeching halt.

Wash your hands.
You know the drill. If you use the bathroom, please wash your hands. (While you’re at it, it’s really a good idea to just go ahead and make this one a priority year round.) It doesn’t take long and every doorknob, conference room table, company vehicle, punch clock, and colleague/customer hand will be better off as a result.

Watch what you touch.
It’s basically second nature, and you’re probably doing it without realizing, but this time of year, do your best to avoid touching your face, particularly your nose, mouth, and eyes. Consider these ports of entry into your body. Excessive touching essentially lays out a red carpet for germs and welcomes them in with fanfare.

Guard those sneezes.
If you feel a sneeze (or a cough, for that matter) coming on, turn your head away from anyone nearby and unleash into the relative safety of your elbow pit. If one sneaks up on you and your hands become a human sneeze guard, you know the drill: Wash your hands.

Clean up after yourself.
Have you been making a habit of cleaning up your desk on a regular basis? We’re not talking decluttering here. (Though that’s another excellent habit to increase productivity.) At least once a week, it’s a good idea to pick up some antibacterial cleaner and give your desk, keyboard, lamp, etc., a good wipe down.

Go home.
Coming down with an illness? Talk to your team leader (from a safe distance), pack up, and go home to get some rest. If you wake up sick, call to let your superior know, and then stay home. Keep your germs and/or viruses out of the office, away from customers, and just focus on feeling better.

Reach out to your doctor.
If your symptoms are beyond that of a common cold, persistent with no sign of slowing down, or you just need reassurance, it’s time to make a call to your doctor. That’s what they’re there for. Better to have official word from an expert so you can get yourself back on track as soon as possible.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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01.23
2019

Practical Ways to Keep Track of Your Employees’ Hours

Managing a large or small business can be hard and sometimes stressful. There are many factors for management to prepare for on a daily basis. For many businesses, managing and keeping track of employees’ hours can be tedious and irritating for the person that’s working alone in the back office. But if timekeeping is left untouched or unnoticed, businesses can collectively lose millions or even billions a year to the Department of Labor (DOL).

Not having a realistic approach to timekeeping may result in overpaying employees for hours that were not worked. Paychex.com reports that for many businesses, the idea of lost time refers to employee vacations and sick days. But what managers and business owners often fail to consider is that it’s also possible to lose time in much smaller increments that can add up significantly throughout the year. Employees can “steal” time in a variety of ways and for a plethora of reasons. They might ask another employee to “buddy punch” their time card; they may take a few extra minutes for breaks or lunches. It’s estimated that up to 10 minutes per day is lost due to tardiness, early departures, and long breaks or lunches.

Although timekeeping can be a hard job, there are ways to make this task simple. Developing a feasible method for timekeeping can keep employers on their toes. The most reliable method to track hours worked is to have a time-clock system. Depending on the industry, it may not be the easiest solution to tackle; plus, it is not legally required that you have a system in place.

However, implementing an easy-to-use payroll software is the best combination of efficiency and cost for businesses. The benefits of using a single-use tool are that it works better with existing business software, and it saves both time and money.

Timekeeping with Actsoft allows workers to increase daily productivity by reducing the amount of data entry needed for daily tasks. And it validates time by having field workers clock in and out for shifts, breaks, and lunches directly from their mobile devices. All time punches are time-, date-, and GPS location–stamped, and all information is transmitted to the back office almost instantly. Managers also have easy access to employees’ timesheets to review, approve, or correct content on the timesheets at any time.

If you’re working in the construction industry, for example, we can help you eliminate wasted time and trips to the office to submit timesheets. And with the supervisor time entry feature, crew leaders can capture time of their teams on their mobile device to input manually. And you can get instant updates on worker availability, job assignments, and dispatching activity.

Not having the proper timekeeping software could potentially cost you more than a few thousand dollars is mispaid wages. There isn’t any company that wants to waste precious money on something that can be prevented. But we can help safeguard your company’s assets and worth by having efficient timekeeping.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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01.18
2019

5 Tips for Improving Employee Safety

When it comes to safety in the workplace, following a set of guidelines can be a surefire way to make sure your team is staying as safe as possible. Here, we list out a set of five top-level rules that will help keep your whole crew focused on doing their jobs properly.

Never take shortcuts.
In the race to get to the finish line, it may seem like the perfect solution is to skip a step here and there, if it gets you to the end faster, right? But there’s a problem when you take that approach: You may be able to push something off your plate a little faster and bask in the glory of some kudos at your impressive turnaround time, but at what cost? What impact might those skipped steps, small as they may seem, have on the project down the road? If we’re talking the construction world, even the slightest misstep can be a catalyst for a series of detrimental repercussions. Work quickly and efficiently, but be thorough.

Get enough sleep.
Not to sound like an overprotective parent, but: Are you staying up too late at night and heading to work on a half-empty tank? It’s not just that getting the proper amount of sleep is better for your overall health, but when you aren’t fully rested, you can’t think at full capacity, your reaction time slows down, and you become forgetful. All of these can easily lead to dangerous work situations, particularly out in the field. Moral of the story? There’s a simple solution: Get to bed at a decent hour.

Clean up after yourself.
We’re not talking about the clutter on your desk, here. (Though, as we’ve discussed previously, there are plenty of benefits there.) But when you’re dealing with industrial equipment, tools, or even just warehouse stock, it’s hazardous to yourself and others when things aren’t put where they should be. The last thing anyone wants is an injury because a machine wasn’t properly tended to, or boxes of inventory were haphazardly stacked in a rush.

Follow the rules.
This seems a bit obvious, but it warrants revisiting. If you’re working on a construction site and hardhats are required, wear them. If you’re constantly on the road, obey all the signs and signals. (Yes, even when the light’s yellow but you just know there’s plenty of time to make it through … Don’t.) There’s a reason these rules are in place, and it’s potentially costly and dangerous water to tread when you decide it’s okay to take them lightly.

Ask questions.
Drop all misconceptions about how it appears when you ask “too many” questions. Of course, when you work in a specific industry, there’s a certain level of knowledge you are expected to have. But if questions arise, and you’re truly confused about the proper course of actions for a task, go ahead and ask for clarification. It’s better to double check and do it the right way than to wing it and face possible issues that could have been avoided.

Just by following a few simple rules, you’ll find that not only will production run a lot smoother, regardless of your industry, but you’ll be faced with far fewer accidents in the workplace. The environment you provide for your staff will be significantly safer and, as a direct result, morale will be elevated.

Have any questions on how Actsoft can help you?

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12.14
2018

Tips: Drive Safer This Winter

They say the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. But for drivers, there’s another guarantee they’re always faced with: less-than-desirable conditions on the road due to inclement weather. This is especially true during the colder winter months, when a nefarious storm can wreak havoc on a run-of-the-mill drive, transforming it into a course straight out of Mario Kart. (Blue shells not included.)

Driving in the winter months — a time when road conditions can morph from normal to slick with ice in a matter of minutes — can be especially problematic for companies with a mobile workforce. Added precautions need to be taken (e.g. reducing speeds, warming up vehicles, etc.), all of which can impact daily operations. Here are some of our suggestions to help keep your drivers safe on the road while keeping your business running as smooth as possible.

Clean off your vehicle.
This one may seem obvious, but as anyone who has driven after a snowfall can attest, the practice is not universal. Don’t just clear enough so you can see out the front and rear windows. Take care of the roof, the hood, all of the windows, and even the bumper. Unexpected snow and/or ice whipping off vehicles and onto others is a hazardous, easily preventable catalyst for accidents.

Check that battery.
Believe it or not, plummeting temperatures can directly impact the health of your vehicle’s battery. This can be especially detrimental to electric or hybrid vehicles, reducing the distance you can travel on a single charge. Before the extreme weather hits, have your battery inspected and make sure it’s up to snuff. (And if you’re driving a hybrid, always have ample gasoline in your tank, just in case.)

Fill up your reservoir.
We’re talking about the windshield-wiper fluid, of course. This stuff goes fast in the winter months, so make sure you always have plenty on hand; choose a quality winter blend that will help aid in de-icing your windshield. And, while you’re at it, check those wiper blades to make sure they’re up to par for the double (or triple) duty they’ll be pulling.

Increase your distance. 
In prime conditions, you should generally be shooting for a vehicle following distance of about four seconds. But when roads are covered with slick snow or that dreaded black ice, it’s best to increase that to roughly ten seconds. This way, you’ll have more than double the reaction time in the wake of any mishaps.

Keep moving. 
While attempting to strong-arm your way up a slick hill by speeding can just result in spinning wheels that take you nowhere, coming to a complete stop can also leave you stranded or (worse) sliding back down from where you came. However, do be sure to slow down as you reach the peak of the hill so your descent on the other side can be slow and steady.

Keep your tracking devices working properly.
Just like in cases of extreme heat, arctic temperatures can have adverse effects on your smart device. When your tracking device of choice is a phone, this can usually be avoided by making sure your crew keeps their devices with them when they depart their vehicles. But if you prefer, say, a securely mounted tablet, consider investing in something like the GPSLockbox Atmos cradle. This innovative mount was designed to restore tablets to functioning temperatures, whether by warming them up or cooling them down.

Driving in the winter months can be a little more daunting than normal, but it certainly doesn’t mean that mobile businesses need to come screeching to a halt. Just be sure you and your crew adhere to these extra precautions and it’ll be business as usual. For even more winter driving tips, head on over to AAA.

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