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Is It Time For A Change? A Change To Your W-4 That Is…

When did you last give any serious thought to your W-4 form? For some of us, the answer may be when we did our taxes. For others, it may be when we started our last new job. And for some of us, we may be answering the question with a question. What’s a W-4?

Regardless of your answer to the “when did you last. . .” question, there is no better time to review your W-4 information then now when your 2013 tax filling is still fresh in your mind. But, let’s start with a little tutorial.

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Fear the DOL Wage and Hour Audit Part 2

I write this as a second installment in a three-part series on employer audits. This month we wrangle wage and hour audits. Lest you think this only a compensation topic, read on because it ties into the Affordable Care Act and so-called roll-up costs for benefits.

A few weeks ago, The Great Oz at the U.S. Department of Labor let us peek behind the curtain to see what they have cooking for later this year. The DOL will crank up wage and hour audits of employers — your employer groups. You want to know about this because it is a pearl to talk about with your employers and because it can affect their benefits.

I recently went on a service call with a producer to one of his clients. This client wanted to know about the ACA. The client offers lawn care services. He had 172 employees who work suburban lawns with fertilizer and weed killer products. He told me all 172 employees receive a salary and work 50 hours per week. A flag went up. How long have you employed that size of workforce with that sort of salary and work-week requirement, I asked? Many years, he said.

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Utilizing Design to Help Your Business: Part 2

“Began with the end in mind”

What does marketing mean for your business? Many small to mid-size businesses – which comprises the majority of companies in the US economy 1 – limit their marketing efforts to traditional marketing methods. They use a newspaper advertisement or brochure, maybe a website which is basically another manifestation of the company brochure. But a sound marketing strategy involves a much more than creating advertisements and posters in order to make money.

Although, the complexities of marketing are enough to intimidate any business owner, implementing a simple and constant marketing strategy can take your business to the next level. Marketing is both an art and a science and is used as a tool to communicate and build relationships. However, doing it well does not have to be complicated.  If marketing is approached from this simple perspective, it can work wonders for your business.

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Blogging and Content Marketing for Brokers

On Tuesday, April 8th, FON is sponsoring a broker forum featuring our client BBI and it’s owner Jim Edholm. One of the things Jim is going to talk about is how he utilizes the content on FON to write blogs, newsletters and direct mail for his agency. Good content marketing happens when you create and share interesting content that is meant to help, not sell. The idea is simple: get your clients eager to hear from you so you stay top-of-mind with them.

Some industry studies suggest that small- to medium-sized businesses that blog regularly on their websites, get up to 55% more traffic than those that don’t blog at all. 55%! That’s a lot of opportunity to miss. Of course, sitting down and writing just any blog post on any subject isn’t going to work either. Doesn’t mean you need to be a rocket scientist to come up with compelling insurance blog ideas. 1 Continue reading

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Don’t Miss Our Next Smartcasts

smartcast-logo-GTWFutureOffice Network is presenting two Smartcasts this month covering topics both in human resources and in property and casualties.

First up is guest presenter, Frank Goodwin. Frank is an authorized OSHA Trainer and Safety Consultant with over 40 years of experience with OSHA safety training. As a consultant, he has taught safety to hundreds of companies and thousands of students in more than 40 states.

Frank’s Smartcast called Workplace and Home Fire Safety Practices will take place on April 10th at 10am (CST), and cover:

  • Keys to fighting a fire
  • Fight or flight
  • Emergency hazards in the workplace
  • General fire prevention rules
  • Fire basics
  • Fire extinguisher basics

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The Unofficial Start to Summer

In Major League Baseball cities throughout the country, the crack of a baseball bat in the air, as die hard and passive baseball fans alike are celebrating Opening Day. For many, regardless of the weather, Opening Day marks the unofficial start of summer. You remember summer don’t you? It’s the season of sun and fun, warm weather, outdoor activities, and VACATION.

We American’s await the arrival of summer with a great degree of anticipation, especially us in the “snow belt.” By the end of March, trust me; we have had our share of cold, snow, and ice. But for all this talk about summer and vacation time, we just don’t take full advantage of it.

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Insurance Broker Friendly Apps

As an insurance broker, you’re always out and about. You’re running from a morning meeting with a prospect to a luncheon with a client. You’re marketing to prospects, renewing expiring contracts, and you need mobile apps that will put you ahead of the competition. The following list of mobile apps will help insurance brokers do just that.

CardMunch

How It Works: CardMunch acts like a business-card scanner, but with a twist. It uses real humans to read and transcribe the cards you upload. Use the app to snap a photo of a business card and upload. A little while later, you get the transcribed info sent back to your phone. You can manage these contacts within the CardMunch app using LinkedIn, or add them to your iPhone contacts, where you can sync them with Outlook or another contacts manager.
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Cancer and Obamacare

The Associated Press recently surveyed 23 of America’s premier cancer research and treatment facilities. Nineteen centers responded. Four of the 19 centers reported being accessible through all plans available on healthcare.gov. Those centers dropped from insurance plans include M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, the largest and, arguably, most influential cancer research and treatment in the world. Cancer Treatment Centers of America were also on the cutting floor.

President Obama talked specifically about cancer and its place in the Affordable Care Act. We have him on videotape. He said, and I paraphrase, that cancer patients under the ACA would continue to have access to the nation’s premier cancer facilities. That turned out to be untrue.

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Utilizing Design to Help Your Business

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”…

Most of us are very familiar with this quote and find it to be quite true as it relates to many areas in our lives.  We live in a world where it’s important to make a good first impression. First impressions give us reasons why we choose one thing over another.  When it comes to growing your business, a good first impression makes all the difference.  In this blog, and in subsequent blogs, I will share ideas on how you might better market your business.

Present Your Business Appropriately ‒ Logos

What is a logo? Logos are graphic symbols used to describe a business or organization. They may be solely graphic or may include a logotype of your company name. Does your logo represent your business appropriately? Before you even began to utter persuasive words to describe the wonders your business, realize that your logo has already communicated that for you, or perhaps it’s done a poor job and you’re somehow losing business.

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Secretary Of Labor Has Been Directed To Update Overtime Regulations

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum which instructs the Secretary of Labor to update regulations regarding overtime protections. According to White House officials, and supported by a fact sheet issued on that same date, the President’s memorandum will change the overtime laws so that a number of new workers would be entitled to overtime compensation.

Specifically, the change would amend employers’ wage and hour obligations as spelled out in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to make overtime compensation available to a wider group of employees currently considered to be “exempt” from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

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