Elyse gave us some great tips for "Generating unlimited referrals". These included use a transition statement such as asking for help; ask for an "introduction" rather than a referral; it is ok to say "no" but would like to meet anyway to paint a picture for them of your target demographic such as Sales Manager of 3 or more; at a networking meeting identify your targets; shut up after asking for a referral as the person is thinking; after the first name ask who else should I be talking to; find out the best "preapproach" for a business sell - how do you know them, when to contact, does the person like to chat or get to the point, what do you respect about them.
Brent shared information about Habitat International as well as Habitat for Humanity Gwinnett. The Burns Rd project had a delay resulting in a Duluth Project moving ahead of Lilburn in the schedule. The Lilburn Project should happen at the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019. Companies that contribute money to a project are allowed a certain number of volunteer slots. If on a given week they cannot fill all of their slots, the slots are opened up to other groups of individuals. Habitat also has a home repair program called A Brush With Kindness which includes painting, landscaping and minor repairs for qualified (often elderly) .homeowners. Stay tuned for information on the Lilburn Project later this year.He
Jay's practice covers general business, transactions, litigation for small/medium size businesses. He described the importance of forming a business entity such as LLC or S Corp (favored by IRS over LLC). S Corp needs a corporate minutes book and annual minutes while this is not required by an LLC. He advises to not co-mingle funds. Have a business account to collect funds and pay business expenses. Always use the full name of the business. You form an LLC to protect your personal assets but the LLC can be challenged if the business is inconsistently present under names different from the LLC.
Doug shared an update of current and near future construction in and around Lilburn. On Arcado Rd between Killian Hill and Hwy 29, there is one single family home development and 2 townhouse developments. The old City Hall-Annex will have a 9 home cluster neighborhood with shared green space. A large parcel across from the Library-City Hall will be a senior living development by Noble Village. The former Wexelbury development is now being referred to as "Trig Square". The development will have an old town feel and is is expected to be similar to the development in Suwanee with businesses fronting the main streets and parking and townhouses behind the commercial area. A higher living density will attract more restaurants to the area. This is just a few of project coming our way.
Clay Cox, GA Representative for District 108, was our May luncheon speaker. You may recall Clay was a representative in 2004 - 2011. He gave up his position to run for Congress which he lost. Fast forward 6 years and he is back as a state representative as a "retread" rather than a "freshman". This gave him a unique prospective particularly when it came to the state budget. Georgia is required by state law to have a balanced budget. His previous stent covered the economically very difficult period of recession and the need to make painful cuts in the state budget. This time around the economy has much improved, the budget process was smooth. Our state budget came out to $25 Billion which puts Georgia at 49th in per capita spending, an indication of good stewardship. The #1 budget item was k-12 Education at 38%. Clay is on the Transportation, Energy, Communication and Juvenile Justice Committees. When asked about what is happening legislatively to help small business, he mentioned a couple of items where some are in place and others are in the draft process. These include tax incentives for hiring people receiving government aid, refurbishment rather than new build on low vacancy strip malls, etc. If you have questions or ideas related to legislation that will help small business, please contact Clay. Face time with state and local government officials reinforce the notion of how state laws and regulations impact us more on a day to day level them federal laws.
Speaker Brad Stevens of Entreholic spoke on “Using Innovative Strategies and Tools to Grow Your Business on a Budget”. This guy has so many great ideas and tools to help run, grow and market a business, it is like drinking from a fire hose to hear him speak.
Speakers David Will & Cara Sullivan shared information on the Parkview Cluster Foundation. The Foundation operates under the Gwinnett County Schools Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All contributions are tax deductible and are distributed to Parkview HS (30%), Trickum MS (30%) and 10% to each of the 4 feeder elementary schools. Operating expenses are covered at the county level, so all donations go to the schools. Teachers at the schools submit grants on projects for academic enhancement. Athletics are not covered under this organization.
Lobbyist Lindsey Scott. Lindsey works for Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgen as a Legislative Liaison. She helps keep legislators in check, lobbies for legislative issues impacting insurance and helps promote (or stop) specific legislation. She covered a number of interesting topics. Insurance Agents can get certified as health councilors and can charge a fee for this service in situations where there is no commission. "Surprise Billing" happens when you have an emergency visit to an out-of-network hospital or have a procedure at a network location but an out-of-network person participates and you get a bill. Instead of the consumer dealing with these type items, there is legislation that will let this be handled at the insurance level rather than placing the burden on the consumer.
The BAPS Mandir in Lilburn a Hindu place of worship. The word "Mandir" stands for "mind at peace". The property is large (30 acres) and open with an infinity pool and 4 buildings. The temple is constructed of hand carved pieces of varying types of stone which took artisans 18 months to prepare followed by 18 months of assembly on the property. The temple was dedicated in August 2007 and included 1.3 million hours of volunteer service in its construction. Some individuals left their jobs to devote their entire effort to this cause. There are no signs giving credit to individuals or companies for sponsorship.
State Senator (District 9) PK Martin's legislative duties focus on insurance, economic development and higher education. How insurance companies behave and how much health insurance costs are of concern at the state level. There is legislation related to provider directory accuracy. This is especially difficult in rural areas which often use "Rental Networks". Businesses that send workers out-of-state need to notify their agent, as states like Florida require a Florida workman's comp policy. Ask about work-based learning discounts (i.e, Drug-free workplace).
Officer Mike Johnson, Community Outreach Liaison for the Lilburn Police Department, gave a very informative and well attended presentation on ways to improve the safety of our businesses. Businesses can request a Security Survey for existing businesses or those in the planning stages. The survey will result in a 5 to 6 page report which will address problems and suggest plans for correction. He covered concepts such as the use of hostile vegetation (bushes with thorns), placement of female bathrooms, lighting quality, dumpster placement, walkability, sustainability, law code versus advice and loss prevention. A property owner (ie a strip mall owner) may be held responsible for crimes made easier from their negligence.
The take home message was that measuring AND understanding the traffic to your website is essential for making the best marketing decisions. Even big companies don't always do a good job with this even though they spend the big bucks. There are many free tools and a great place to start is Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics Academy. See more at turneyweb.com .
Nakia Sanford, LBA President, Primerica Rep and self-identified "Millennial" lead a discussion of smartphones and social media for business. Basically the meeting was a "safe space" for those of us past 40 to ask questions related to social media, such as the purpose of "#". The discussion focused on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LInkedin. She explained those accounts can be linked, but be carefully the posts are appropriate across platforms.
Art Wood who wears many hats including the one that started Fuse Networking explained the different strategies for business development including the advantages and disadvantages of each. "Closed networking" is a great way to build a sales team but had expenses and restrictions associated with it. You can "purchase" sales leads, but the final sales depends heavily on the bottom line and less on the personal relationship between the sales person and the purchaser. The effort can end up being more time intensive and risky lowering the ROI. Art particularly likes "open networking". He finds it to be cheaper, ends up with better clients and has a wider pool of individuals with which to get and give referrals. He encourages each person to audit how you are spending your networking time and evaluate if those efforts lead to the types of connections you want.
Chris McJunkin and Collin Berggreen of Advanced Benefit Solutions shared with us the concept of a PEO or Professional Employee Organization model for providing benefits to small and medium size businesses. Under a PEO model your business comes under the tax id of the benefits provider but the business retains operational independence. This gives your small business (typically 10+) access to Fortune 500 level benefits.
Rick Kent of Creative Insurance Solutions presented an excellent talk on "What's New in the Healthcare Exchanges". As a Federally Certified Agent, Rick is able to help individuals navigate the Healthcare Exchanges and select the best plan for their needs. As an agent, he can also bundle an exchange plan with add-ons that could save the client money over a higher level exchange plan.