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How to Negotiate Commercial Rentals with Your Tenants

Anyone with any experience in commercial property leasing will tell you that this type of property rental is a very different beast. While you still need effective tenant screening to make sure you’re renting to the right person or organization, there are many other factors to consider too.

Types of Commercial Rental

Commercial leases come in many different forms and formats, with a huge variety of terms and contract clauses, but while there’s certainly no one size fits all solution, there are few basic options:

  • Percentage leases, which are common in retail spaces, include the base rent for the unit, as well as a percentage of monthly sales.
  • Net leases, double net leases and triple net leases are another common commercial form of lease, which leave tenants liable for taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs in addition to rent. They’re great if you want to be a hands-off landlord.
  • Gross leases are much less common, and are also known as “fully serviced leases.” In this type of lease, the landlord takes on all the extra costs and hassles, and the tenant just pays their rent, which includes the costs and management fees, often called a “load factor.”

Insuring Your Investment

One of the biggest factors in commercial leasing is ensuring that your long-term property investment is secure, and that’s why insurance is such an important part of this type of lease.

This is one of the reasons why commercial landlords need to think so hard about what the acceptable use of your property will be, and how insurance will be handled. Aside from regular insurance, you will also need to ensure that your tenants carry adequate public liability insurance too, because that helps to prevent third party injury and damage claims.

Choosing a Good Commercial Tenant

Commercial property leasing is a much more complex process than its little residential cousin. While your tenant selection for a residential property is all about character, track record and employment checks, there are several other factors to consider when choosing a tenant for your commercial rental:

  • The nature of the business. Is it high risk or dangerous? Seasonal? Is it in a high-risk industry?
  • The length that the company has been in business. Brand new companies might not have access to credit or any credit rating at all. Are the business owners prepared to take personal responsibility?
  • If the business is new, have they offered to provide you with a business plan? This can be a good indicator of how their business will fare.
  • Do they have all the certifications and licenses necessary to operate in the city and in their industry? Get written verification and copies of all these.
  • Do they have all the insurances needed to protect their business and your property? Again, everything in writing.
  • Are they willing to agree to a specific use provision? Just because their business is in one area now, does not mean it will stay in that industry, and you want to be able to cancel the lease if they switch to an undesirable sector or business model.

These are just a few of the things you will need to discuss with prospective business tenants for your commercial rental property. Most importantly, verify as much as possible, and get everything in writing. If it’s not in the lease, signed and sealed, it cannot be enforced.

How Federal Tax Liens Impact Employment

You’ve probably heard the old saying that there are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. A Federal tax lien is the literal documentation for the latter. The Federal government issues these liens to recover unpaid taxes, and they are proof that when it comes to their money, the IRS is a well-oiled and ruthless machine.

In fact, once a Federal lien has been issued, the government has the power to seize assets, attach property and more. It can prevent the person who is subject to the lien from getting loans, and may bar them from certain jobs in your organization.

In short, if you’re hiring, tax lien searches should be part of your employee background screening process, and here’s what you need to know about the process.

It’s Not Top Secret… But Close

Tax liens are what is commonly known as “secret” liens, in that the Federal government is prohibited, by law, from disclosing anything at all about them with anyone other than the tax payer in question. So, if you thought you could just call up the IRS and ask about a particular candidate, think again.

What the government does do, however, is issue a notice of Federal tax lien (or NFTL) that is lodged with the deeds office in county in which they reside. If you know how to search those records, you can establish that there is a lien against a particular person.

Credit bureau also record tax liens on individual reports, so if credit checks are part of your hiring process, you should find out during that search.

But You Might Not Be Able to Ask..

The challenge with employee screening in the U.S. is that it’s not only a Federal matter. Different legislation in each state could impact your ability to even request a credit report from a prospective employee, with a few exceptions.

Generally, even in strict states like California, which typically doesn’t allow employers to request credit reports, if you can show that the report is relevant to the position (for instance, a direct financial position), you can still request the information.

As with everything, your tax lien search request needs to be justified, relevant, and non-discriminatory, and if you’re not sure whether your process fits into those criteria, you should definitely seek professional or legal advice.

How Tax Liens Affect Employees, and You

While you can’t always find out if current or prospective employees have tax liens, you can be sure that if they do, there will be an impact.

Employees who are in financial distress are always a risky gamble, depending on the severity of the problem. Owing taxes to the Federal government is usually a pretty severe one! Employees who have tax liens may also be barred on working for projects for state or federal government too, which may impact your company’s chances when bidding on projects.

Finally, the IRS also has the power to garnish wages, so you may find that you have more administrative tasks when paying employees who do have tax liens, which can make the process of managing your payroll more complex.

Risks of Hiring Unverified Employees: Fraud, Espionage and ID Theft

If you’re not doing everything possible to perform identity verification on all your employees, you are leaving yourself open for unimaginable financial, organizational, and even legal damage.

Consider, for one moment, that the average teenager in America probably knows someone who can get them a fake ID that could get them into a club. Now consider that there are people out there who make a living out of identity theft, and have considerably more resources at their disposal.

Even the most convincing looking documentation could easily be fake, and identity theft and fraud are far, far more pervasive in the U.S. than you probably realize. If you are taking any credentials or documents at face value, you might already be at risk.

The Figures Don’t Lie

Of the nearly two million complaints that the Federal Trade Commission received and investigated in 2014, approximately 14% were identity theft related. Of those, 6% were employment related. That works out to about 16,800 cases in that year alone. That’s a little over 46 cases, on average, every single day.

That’s just the cases that were discovered, reported, and investigated too. If the alarming trends in identity theft around the world are anything to go on, the true figure might well be considerably higher than that.

People are lying their way into jobs, and to keep them, and it’s happening all the time.

Why Do People Commit Employment Related Identity Fraud?

The reasons why people commit this type of fraud vary significantly from case to case. Sometimes, they’re simply trying to hide a checkered past. Sometimes, they’re deliberately hiding who they are, with the intent to cause chaos within your organization. In those cases, some of their reasons may be:

  • They are employees of your competitors, engaging in industrial espionage.
  • They have falsified education and other credentials, with the goal of being hired for jobs they are not qualified to hold.
  • Insinuating themselves in positions of financial authority, to siphon or embezzle funds.
  • They are hoping to gain access to your network, to copy or share customer’s digital records from inside your company.

When employees do deliberately engage in identity theft during the hiring process, it’s often with the intention of achieving their goals, and then simply disappearing.

The more sophisticated the fraud and the higher the position, the more damage and cost there is likely to be, and it’s significantly harder for the authorities to catch someone if they have no idea who they are chasing.

Protecting Yourself from Employment Related Identity Fraud

These scenarios may sound far-fetched. Like something out of a Hollywood movie, that could never happen to you.

But they can, and in many well-documented cases, they have. Those are just the cases that have made main stream media, too. There are plenty more tied up in court, or in the hands of the authorities, never to be solved.

The simple fact is that had the employers in all these cases (reported and not), conducted a thorough identity verification process before hiring the individuals in question, they could have avoided many of these situations. You can too, and you should.

If the position in question is high powered, and the credentials are complex and hard to confirm yourself, then hiring a company that specializes in professional due diligence services can cut through the Gordian knot of information for you. It may delay the hiring process slightly, or cost a little more than your in-house checks, but it could save you time, money, and even legal trouble later.

Top 5 Questions to Ask Potential Tenants

They say we decide whether we like someone or not within seconds of meeting them. Often, without even realizing it, and before we’ve even shook their hand, we know whether we are going to get along or not.

First impressions can be surprisingly accurate, and if you’re a landlord, you’ve probably experienced an instant like or dislike of a potential tenant more than once. But while gut feel can go a long way towards choosing the right tenants for your property, it’s not the only thing you should be relying on. At the very least, you should be asking these five questions as part of a tenant credit check before you short list anyone.

1. Why Are You Moving?

Most people work for work, school, or family reasons. If a tenant doesn’t have a good reason, or avoids the question (or eye contact for that matter) that’s a big warning sign that something might not be right. Question them a little more if you don’t get an answer you can believe. The last thing you want is someone who’s running from criminal activity or something worse taking up residence in your property!

2. How Many People Will Live with You?

Most normal people assume that if you’re renting a three-bedroom condominium to a family, there will be two parents in the master bedroom, and a child in each room. Maybe one extra child sharing with another, if one room is bigger. However, not everyone sees it that way. Some people will cram two kids into each room, and then a few family members in the basement, with one on the couch for good measure!

Not only do you not want your rental property to be overcrowded because it will increase wear and tear, but that might well be against fire codes and other bylaws in the area. Make sure you state how many people are allowed in the property!

3. When Are You Moving?

You might be willing to be flexible on moving dates for the right tenant, but if they’re moving months after you need to fill your property, or far too early, then it’s probably not a good fit. Keep their tenant credit check information on file if they seem like great tenants though. You never know what might happen in future!

4. What Do You Earn?

This can be an uncomfortable question for new landlords, but it’s not an unreasonable one. If someone earns too little, they probably can’t afford to rent your property and pay their bills, and at some point, they’re going to be late with one of those.

Don’t write them off immediately though. Sometimes, a single tenant may earn too little, but they may share the rent with a romantic partner or a roommate. Find out what their arrangement will be, and what their collective earnings will be before you make a decision.

If anyone refuses to share information for a tenant credit check, however, take them off the list. This is not an unreasonable question in this situation, and if they won’t answer it, they probably don’t make enough to afford the rent.

5. Do You Have References… and Can I Call Them?

This is another big question, and an important one in deciding who you rent to. You want to rent to someone who has at least one previous rental relationship, and who was a good tenant. Track record is a very good indicator of behavior going forward.

If a tenant says no to reference checks, find out why. They might still have a compelling reason why you can’t. In that case, decide whether you will accept personal character references or references from employers instead.

6 Reasons to Use a Professional Background Screening Company

You wouldn’t take your kid to an unqualified dentist, would you?

A professional background screening company offers accurate results, applicant privacy, fewer mistakes, improved outcomes, compliance knowledge, well-developed solutions, use of best practices

Chances are, you’ve considered doing your own screening, your own due diligence, and your own reference checks. If you own or manage a company of a certain size, you probably have competent people who could probably manage the process adequately, and you sure would like to shave a little off the budget.

However, while saving money in business is usually a good idea, foregoing a professional background screening company might not be the best way to do it. In fact, using a professional company might save you more time and money than you think, now and in future.

1. Lower Cost

You might not realize it, but unless you have a highly skilled HR team already on the payroll, DIY screening can cost you more right off the bat. If you use an employee or employees who don’t know how to conduct screening to do the checks, you’re still paying them their hourly rate while they figure out what to do and how, and go through the process. Those hours add up quickly, and the result may well cost more in wages to staff members than hiring the pros.

2. Improved Accuracy

There are plenty of ways that data can be corrupted when running background screening, from a subtle misspelling to missing one crucial organization when conducting your screening. Professionals double and triple check information before they present it to you, and they already know who to contact and what to request.

3. Less Legal Risk

A professional background screening company team knows what they can ask and how, but they also know what you absolutely cannot ask an employment candidate, potential tenant, or someone else. Asking the wrong questions can get you in legal trouble, and that gets expensive fast. If you’re not absolutely sure, trust a professional.

4. Improved Privacy

We’ve all seen the chaos that happens when an online company gets hacked, and private information is leaked. Screening results are the same thing, on a smaller scale. If you are not absolutely sure that you can protect every shred of personal information you gather on a candidate, then you should absolutely hire professionals to do your screening. Because they will only share information that you need and are entitled to, and because they will store and or destroy screening results correctly, you’re protected from breach of privacy claims.

5. Knowledge of Requirements

A professional background screening company won’t need to research what you can and should know about any candidate. They already know. They have a list of items that need to be checked off, and how to go about getting the information needed to do just that. They won’t skip crucial steps, and they also won’t waste time and money on unnecessary or illegal screening processes.

In fact, most companies will work with you to determine your own best practices, based on the application of the screening results, your industry and needs, and various other factors.

6. Peace of Mind

There’s a reason you take your car to a licensed mechanic rather than the guy down the street, or trust the best orthodontist with your kid’s braces. You know they’re going to get the job done right, and if they don’t, you know that they will go out of their way to fix the problem.

That peace of mind may be last on this list, but it’s probably the most important item. Because no one needs any more worries when you’re trying to run a company.

Protect Yourself Against Professional License Suspension with Due Diligence

Keeping a documented trail of your actions can be very beneficial in the long term.

Joining any profession is a long, hard, expensive process. It’s an achievement to finally be entitled to those letters behind your name, and to practice in the field you worked so hard to become a member of. You probably spent many years in college and possibly graduate school, and a few more climbing the ladder from the very bottom.

Having your professional license revoked, and all that work be for nothing is probably unthinkable, and it’s certainly the worst thing that could happen to most professionals, whether doctors, lawyers or engineers, or any other profession.

Sometimes, due diligence is all that stands between you and the decision leading to professional license suspension by the governing body of your profession. Here’s what you need to know.

Reasons for License Revocation

The reasons why professional licenses are revoked vary from profession to profession, and from state to state, but there are a few common and not-so-obvious reasons why you might get in trouble:

  • In many health and therapy professions, any inappropriate relationship with a patient.
  • In financial professions, falling behind on taxes or any financial impropriety.
  • A lack of ethics or moral compass.
  • Criminal activity not related to the profession. Usually, this falls under the umbrella of bringing the profession into disrepute.
  • Knowingly steering clients in the wrong direction, and failing to honor the special relationship between professionals and their clients.

Those are all very broad, and it’s always a good idea to review your own profession’s code of conduct regularly, to make sure you stay on top of the requirements.

Burden of Proof

Generally, when you are subject to disciplinary action or censure by a professional body, it’s a long process. You’re not likely to be stripped of your license overnight, except under extraordinary circumstances. The organization will probably receive a complaint, conduct an investigation, and then have a hearing or hearings to determine the accuracy of the claims.

The burden of proof will usually be on the accuser, or in the case of criminal charges, on the courts.

How Due Diligence Can Help You

Due diligence has a big role to play in protecting yourself from spurious claims, or from claims or accusations that arise through no fault of your own.

If you can prove that you did not break any laws, and that you acted in the best interests of your clients, and the reputation of the profession, to the best of your ability, there’s a good chance you will beat a claim of negligence or professional misconduct. But the trick is to make sure you have that proof, to avoid professional license suspension.

Take care to document every decision you make in your business and your professional life. Never take anything at face value. Research every deal, every situation and every scheme that is presented to you as a professional. Keep careful records of all your research, along with names and dates.

By having a clear, documented paper trail that clearly sets out your thought process in every situation, if you are ever required to defend your actions, you will have everything you need at your fingertips. Because no one expects professionals to be perfect. We all make mistakes. Due diligence just proves that it was, indeed an error, and not deliberate flouting of the rules.

The Shift Towards Using Big Data in Employment

While big data might not tell you Bob in accounting wants to write a novel, it can determine that males in his field are looking for creative ways to offset work stress.

Big data. Everyone is using it. Everyone is singing its praises, and it is, apparently, the best thing since sliced bread. While you’ve probably heard about its applications in marketing and sales, you might not have heard about the ways to use big data in employment and recruitment.

While many people believe big data is the solution to all recruiting problems, some concerns about privacy and discrimination remain.

What Is Big Data?

Big data is a term that refers to information that is collected from large groups. The internet has been a huge driving force for big data, since it has made it easy for search engines, social networks, marketers, and other organizations to collect massive amounts of information from users.

This data is usually anonymous, in that individual entries cannot be linked to one person, but they do offer unprecedented insights into trends, buying patterns, interests and more.

How Do We Use Big Data in Employment?

Every day, huge amounts of data are being collected by companies all over the world. That data is then analyzed to find trends. Based on the data these companies have on hand, they can tell you on which day people in a certain age group are more likely to buy a car in a particular city, or when a specific type of person might be inclined to start thinking about having children.

That’s great for developing marketing strategy, but it’s also being used by large companies to analyze their workforce.

These companies approach big data analysts, and request specific information on trends for their workforce, based on the city they live in, age groups, education levels and other factors. The data analysts then provide information based on the likelihood for that group to do certain things.

So, while they might not know that Bob from accounting wants to write a novel, they probably don’t need to do an employee background check to tell his employer that males between 45 and 50 in his particular field are likely to be looking for creative outlets to offset their work stress.

It’s surprisingly accurate, and even though it’s anonymous, it is a little scary that organizations out there know so much about us.

The Pros and Cons

On the one hand, companies are using information from big data to improve their health care policies, create employee wellness programs, and improve internal promotions.

On the other, big data is also telling companies when female employees may want to have babies, and things that relate directly to race, religion, or gender, or based on otherwise innocuous information in an international background check. That information may lead those companies to discriminate against employees, by passing them over for promotions, or screening them out of the employment process altogether.

It’s a double-edged sword, and it’s one that should be treated with the utmost care by every employer out there.

Big data in employment can tell you many things, but it’s no substitute for people skills, and you will always need to retain the human element in your hiring and promotion process. Because while big brother can collect all kinds of data about us, it still can’t see what we think or feel, or what we’re really like as people.

How to Avoid Work-Related Employee Burnout

It’s ironic that our modern devotion to working harder, for longer hours, getting an employee background check before employment and continuously pushing to get more out of our employees can often result in the exact opposite. Employee burnout is a growing problem, particularly in the middle management and lower executive levels of a high performance culture, where workers are constantly pushing themselves to keep climbing the ladder.

Employee burnout is bad for individuals, it’s bad for teams, and it’s bad for companies. Here’s what you need to know to help prevent it in your company.

What Is Employee Burnout?

Employee burnout is a type of work related stress that goes beyond what would be considered “normal” to the point where employees are mentally and physically exhausted, may become physically ill, and are completely disengaged and disinterested.

Prolonged and ongoing stresses are typically ignored until they become overwhelming.

What Causes Employee Burnout?

There are many causes of employee burnout, and the truth is, most cases don’t have a single cause, but rather, they’re the accumulation of months or years of problems that are not dealt with at the time. Those problems might include”

  • Workplace bullying or toxic teams. Workers spend a third of their lives with their colleagues, and when there are bad apples in the proverbial bushel, they do tend to infect their peers.
  • Sometimes, burnout is simply a matter of putting in too many hours, for too long, or taking on too many roles. This is one of the reasons why it’s often the best employees that suffer burnout. They try to do it all, and it simply gets too much.
  • Physical working conditions. Excessive heat, cold, noise or other factors can result in stress, and if stress goes on for too long, it can lead to burnout.
  • Boredom or lack of mental stimulation can also lead to burnout. If financially literate, potential star employees are forced to do boring, menial, or meaningless tasks for a long time, they will eventually “check out.”

Who Gets Burned Out

The interesting thing about burn out is that while it can happen to anyone, it typically happens to good employees more often. That’s because good employees start out more invested, want to achieve great results, and are likely to push themselves too hard for too long to get the job done. A comprehensive employee background check will be able to alert you to the possibility that you have one of these workers, so you can take steps to protect them.

Preventing Burnout

Preventing employee burnout starts with your hiring processes. Since so much of it is related to office politics and professional relationships in the workplace, careful employee screening to ensure you’re hiring or promoting the right people is crucial to prevent this problem.

Limiting overtime by your star performers, and ensuring that employees take breaks and vacations is another important part of the process. As tempting as it is to give your star performers more and more to do, don’t. Keep them focused, and keep them from over extending themselves.

Listen to problems and grievances, and be approachable. Most employee burnout happens gradually over years, so there is always time to solve problems before they affect your employees and your business.

Finally, pay close attention to the relationships on your team. If there’s one person that seems to be causing trouble, consider changing their role or taking disciplinary action. A toxic work environment will almost certainly result in someone important burning out at some point.


Drug Testing in the Workplace: Can You Do It?

If you’re wondering whether you can implement pre-hiring or general workplace drug testing, then you’ve probably realized it’s not all that simple. In fact, while there are some federal laws that do apply to workplace drug and alcohol testing, most of them are state specific, and they often change.

That means that there’s no simple answer to the question of whether you can implement a blanket drug and alcohol policy, and you will need to consult the law books in your state before you do.

However, while we can’t give you a definitive answer on that particular question, we can give you some general information that can help you to do your due diligence, stay within the law, and protect your company.

Drug Free Workplaces

While there is no blanket act of US government that requires or entitles all employers to have drug free workplaces, the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 did require certain types of employers to develop drug-free workplace policies. Often, these employers were in the public sector, or are government contractors, but there are other industries that are covered.

As of 2010, however, the Department of Labor ended their drug free workplace program, and the law making and enforcement once again became a case by case process.

Industry and Career Specific

The federal laws about having a drug and alcohol policy in the workplace are complicated and confusing, and that’s made worse by state level laws that alter those rules and regulations. One area that is not complex or complicated, however, are the various industry-specific rules and regulations. Some of these include:

  • Oil and gas industry jobs, which often require drug and alcohol testing for on site employees, due to health and safety laws.
  • Transport and trucking industries, where employees may be required to undergo testing to receive or keep their certification, or by laws against driving under the influence.
  • Military, police or other civil service professions.

There are several industries and careers where drug and alcohol testing are the norm, generally in order to protect the public. If you’re not sure what the standard practice in your industry is, contact industry bodies and licensing authorities, who should be able to give you the information you need.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

Even if your state is one where drug and alcohol testing is allowed, there are still several pieces of legislation that protect various worker rights, which may include:

  • Disclosing your policies when you hire employees, or requiring employees to sign agreement to policies implemented after their hiring date.
  • Requiring written consent to testing (although certain states do allow disciplinary action for refusal)
  • Most states require that employers allow employees to explain or contest negative results.
  • Drugs used to treat disabilities or diseases are usually exempt from disciplinary procedures.
  • In most cases, employees who do test positive for drugs or alcohol in the workplace must be offered counselling or assistance in dealing with substance abuse problems.
  • Laws change all the time, so make sure that you schedule regular reviews and updates to any drug and alcohol policy you put in place.

A Potential Mine Field

The truth is, drug and alcohol testing in the workplace are a very tricky prospect for any employer, and developing a fair and enforceable policy can be a mine field that may best be left to an attorney or specialist in the field. It’s a balancing act, and as important as it is to ensure safety in your workplace, it’s just as important to ensure that you are legally compliant.


Landlords: How to Give a Reference on a Former Tenant

One of the more challenging aspects of being a landlord is getting asked to provide a reference. In our litigious society, you are probably concerned that you’ll handle it wrongly one way or another, and that one of the parties will seek legal remedies against you.

That’s not an unheard-of situation, and it is a legitimate fear, but at the same time, other landlords need to have accurate references, just like they need proof of income and criminal background checks. Here’s how you can give a tenant reference while still protecting yourself from retaliation.

Stick to the Facts

Many landlords have heard rumors that they can’t give tenants a bad reference. This is not true, and if there are definite, verifiable facts that pertain to a particular tenant, you have a responsibility to let other prospective landlords know.

Information you might want to share includes if a tenant was a slow payer, or skipped payments altogether. If they did documented damage to a rental property, you might share that information too, or if they were arrested for criminal activity while they were residing on your property, that is definitely something you would need to share.

Likewise, if they were quiet tenants who never caused any trouble, documented or otherwise, those are facts that their new landlord could use to finalize his (or her) decision.

Avoid Opinions and Emotion

We’ve all had that one tenant who was annoying, rude, or otherwise unpleasant to deal with, however, just because you didn’t get along with them, that doesn’t mean they’re bad tenants. If you can’t prove it, and your comments are based on opinions, emotion, or personal issues, they have no place in your tenant reference.

Remember that if you can prove that your statements are true, that’s not slanderous. If you simply don’t like someone and give them a bad reference for that reason, however, you may well find yourself in court.

Keep It Short, Sweet, and Neutral

Even if you don’t like a tenant, and they haven’t earned a glowing reference from you, they are entitled to a fair tenant reference. So, if they are relatively easy to rent to, pay their rent on time and have been reasonably responsible and easy to work with, just say that. You don’t have to provide a long, complicated reference. Just state the facts, answer the questions you think you’re qualified to answer, and leave it at that.

Understand That No Reference Could Be a Reference Too

If you decide not to give a tenant reference because you’re afraid of the fallout, your refusal may influence your tenants’ new prospective landlord negatively, and that might still get you in trouble.

Don’t Lie to Get Rid of Them

Finally, there are instances where landlords lie about truly terrible tenants, simply to get rid of them. Don’t do it. If you do lie about your tenant and mislead their new landlord, and they do suffer a loss, not only do you lose landlord credibility but they may well decide to come after you for damages.

Terrible tenants tend to leave large swathes of destruction in their wake, and there’s almost certainly going to be proof that you lied about the tenant reference in that trial.

Developing an Effective Compensation Plan for Employees

It’s one of the toughest elements of running a business: figuring out how to compensate employees well enough that they stay, without putting your finances at risk. You need great people, but you also have to be able to afford them, and keep your costs as low as possible, so you can stay competitive.

You’re certainly not alone, but the good news is that there are some creative ways you can develop a compensation plan that works for everyone.

Be Prepared to Hire “Green” Employees

A great trick for employers with limited wage budgets is to look for employees who don’t have a lot of experience, but have shown an aptitude for the field. Recent graduates know the theory, are eager to learn, and most importantly, may be willing to work for lower starting salaries, in exchange for that experience.

Hire Recent Immigrants

It’s not only recent graduates that have the knowledge but lack experience, it’s also recent immigrants. Many immigrants have extensive qualifications and experience in their home countries, but their lack of local experience puts them at a hiring disadvantage. If you are willing to go through the process of global screening in addition to your usual screening, you could literally have a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon working in your company, for a great rate!

Make Part of The Package Performance Based

Jobs that only offer commission tend to attract desperate people who don’t stick around very long. That’s usually not good for your business, so it’s best avoided.

However, while commission only packages are a bad idea, making a portion of the overall compensation package performance based is a great one. Employees will work harder if they know they’ll be rewarded for their efforts, and if you’re only paying that extra portion for real results, it makes good business sense too.

Ask Your Employees

The best way to figure out a compensation strategy that will keep your valued employees happy is to ask them. Very often, employees already have an idea of non-monetary perks and rewards that they’d be willing to take in lieu of extra money. They may ask for additional paid time off, or job specific training that will benefit you too.

Don’t Forget Equity

While you’re working on a compensation plan that will help you to attract and retain top talent, don’t forget equity. Top employees may be happy to accept shares in your company, or a profit sharing arrangement, instead of financial reward. Be careful with this option though. You don’t want the wrong people to own a stake in the company you struggled to build!

Outsource Non-Essential Jobs

A great way to free up more cash for your star employees’ compensation packages is to outsource non-essential functions to freelancers or companies. If you are going to use companies, however, make sure you have a small business background check policy in place!

Know Your Limit

It’s always tough to balance the need to attract and retain qualified staff with the financial constraints of business, and sometimes, no matter how creative you are, and how much you want to keep an employee happy, you simply can’t manage to meet their needs. It’s important to know what your limit is, and to be prepared to walk away if you can’t negotiate a deal. It hurts to lose a great employee, but there are others out there.

Guide to Finding the Right Tenants for Your Rentals

You’ve got a healthy rental portfolio. You’re happy with your property investments, and you’ve built up some solid equity in your properties. The only problem is, you can’t seem to find or keep the right kind of tenants, and you find yourself scrambling to fill vacancies a lot more often than you’d like.

Believe it or not, you’re not alone, but there are several things you can do to change all that.

Know Your Ideal Tenant

The very first thing you need to do is define your ideal tenant, and be realistic while you do. If you’re renting out a plain but serviceable apartment that’s close to public transport, you’re not going to be renting to slick young professionals.

Likewise, if you’re renting a home that’s near to the best school in the district, you should be tailoring your rental to families with school age children, rather than trendy young hipsters.

The most important thing you can do is to have a clear picture of who your ideal tenants are, and what’s important to them.

Be Honest About the Property

Take a long, honest look at the property that you hope to rent. Is it clean? Functional? Does it have an orange ‘70s kitchen and grimy grout lines?

If you’re trying to rent a property that you can’t imagine yourself ever living in, you can’t expect to find great tenants, so if things need a little refreshing, it may be worth making the investment.

Make It Easy to Rent from You

Most people these days find apartments to rent on the internet. So, if you’re still advertising in the newspapers, you’re probably missing out on the majority of tenants in your area.

Sign up for internet rental sites, and consider other convenience upgrades, like making it possible for tenants to pay rent by credit card or even PayPal! The easier it is to rent from you, the more likely people will be to make that initial call.

Don’t Skimp on Screening

If you haven’t had tenants in your property for a while, it can be tempting to rent to the first person who contacts you. That’s the biggest mistake you can make, and you are not only taking a gamble that the tenant is a good one (and not a complete nightmare), you’re putting your property investment at risk!

You should always conduct a thorough tenant check, including rental reference checking, bankruptcy searches and credit reports, and criminal record checks. The only way you can be sure you’re not renting to someone who is going to avoid paying, or turn your basement into a meth lab, is to do those checks!

Be a Good Landlord

The secret to profitable rental properties is not only to find great tenants, but to keep them. If you can keep good tenants in your property for several years, you have hassle-free, regular income on tap. The best way to do that is to be a good landlord.

Be reasonable, be available when they need you, and make sure that you carry out all your responsibilities on time. After all, you can’t expect your tenants to be perfect if you’re not willing to do the same!



Creating a High Performance Culture - What It Looks Like

Many managers and business owners mistakenly assume that “high performance” is a synonym for “workaholic.” It might surprise those people to learn that just putting in longer hours does not guarantee that an employee is a top performer. In fact, if the research is to be believed, it may be the employees who work fewer hours who are more productive.

So, if you’re just watching to see who’s still at their desk an hour after quitting time, stop. If you want a high-performance workforce, it may be time to change your company culture.

Put Results First

If you’re the boss who stands at the door, handing out frowns and tardy slips to anyone who dares to stroll in one minute after starting time, and who records which employees work the most hours, it’s time to forget that whole attitude.

High performance teams aren’t the ones that reward quantity of time worked. They’re the ones that reward results. After all, squeezing ten extra unproductive hours out of an employee won’t help your bottom line, but rewarding employees who save you money, or increase sales, will. Single out the employees that get the best results, and figure out how they do it.

Give Your Team the Tools They Need

If your team is working harder than ever, but it’s not showing on your balance sheet, then they may not have the right tools for the job. Review how you do everything, and look for tools, software and training that will help your team to do their jobs better, more efficiently and with better results.

Hire Right

There’s an old saying about trying to force a square peg into a round hole, and the same goes for hiring. If you’re trying to force an employee who is not used to being super productive into a high-performance team, you may be fighting a losing battle.

Take a closer look at your talent recruitment strategies. Create profiles of your ideal employees. Take more time on pre-employment checks, and upgrade your employee verification process.

Look beyond college results to employment track records. Has the employee done amazing things elsewhere? Do they have the habit of job hopping? If so, why? Tailor interview questions to find out how candidates would improve your team’s performance, and whether they’re simply putting in time, or a genuine go-getter.

Embrace Change

One of the most common issues for companies these days is often that they’re too set in their ways to change. They’ve been around for so long, and things have always been done a certain way, that they stagnate, and their younger, quicker, more nimble competitors run rings around them.

If you ever catch yourself saying that you’ve always done something that way, then it’s probably time to force change. Hire a top performer from one of those younger competitors. Change how you do things. Investigate new technology. Embrace change, and make continuous improvement a part of your culture.

Competition is tighter in business than it has ever been, and you need to be the very best that you can be to stay relevant and profitable.

Understanding Broadband Privacy Regulations and How They Impact Your Company

In our modern world, big brother really is watching our every move, every second of the day. Every time you log into social media, surf the web, perform employee background checks or buy something with a credit card, there’s a company out there somewhere that’s collecting that information, so that they can add it to their “big data” repository, and analyze your behavior along with the behavior of millions of people like you.

That analysis can be used to drive marketing plans, develop new products, or in many other ways. It’s exciting, but it’s also kind of scary. Which is why so many people welcomed the recent decision by the FCC to limit the data collection abilities of broadband companies.

What Was the Big News?

In case you missed it (and a surprising number of people and companies did!), in October of 2016, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to impose new privacy restrictions on broadband companies.

The ruling, which was widely reported as ground breaking, requires companies like Comcast, AT&T, and others to obtain express permission from consumers, before they can collect or share certain browsing data and information.

That’s a huge deal, because it means that those companies can no longer spy on everything you do if you don’t want them to, or sell the information they gather about you to companies looking for a marketing edge.

The ruling does not cover private, opt-in services like Facebook, Twitter, and other websites, which are still allowed to collect data, but that you can choose not to use.

Why This Is a Good Thing

Until this new legislation was passed, companies could track users unless they opted out. There was no requirement to give permission. It was assumed. You had to proactively approach individual companies to remove that permission. It’s no surprise no one did that.

That change is good news for consumers in general, but it’s good news for companies too. After all, every time employees used your computers to browse the web, they were building an information profile of your business… and that might have included things that you probably wouldn’t want recorded about your company!

A Great Time to Review Information Security Policies

While we celebrate a landmark change in internet browsing, it’s worth taking the time to review your own digital policies.

Have you created one? Does it set out how your computers and internet connections may be used, and what may not be done? Have you expressly informed employees that when they use your computers, their browsing history is not private? Make sure you have watertight policies, that they are updated regularly, and that each employee signs them.

Just like broadband companies are now required to ask your permission to track consumer information, you need to be very specific about what you track and review. There may come a time when your employee’s browsing history becomes a legal matter, and you really don’t want to take any chances in this area.

Finally, while we’re on the topic of all things digital, don’t forget to include an online search and social media review in your employee background checks. You would be surprised what you can find out about most people, just by searching online.

The Importance of Non-Financial Factors in Employee Retention Programs

There’s an old saying that goes “people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” What that means is that the number one reason most people leave jobs is because they don’t get along with a manager or supervisor, and that’s usually true. It may surprise you to learn that, but it’s not money, location or any other single factor that impacts employee turnover the most. It’s the people they work for, and when you’re looking for ways to improve culture and retention, this is a good place to start.

Identify departments where you have high turnover, and take a closer look at the management structure, and if that doesn’t solve the problem, consider the following options.

Hire Right

Getting and keeping the right people in your organization can have a huge impact on your bottom line, and it all starts with your hiring policies. Instead of using the hiring process to exclude as many people as possible, use tools like character reference checks to find people who are skilled, experienced, and loyal team players.

The right team goes a long way to company success, and to employee retention.

It’s Not All About Money

There’s no denying that money is a core factor in the employment relationship. People work because they need money to live, and if they didn’t have to, most would probably be out surfing, climbing mountains or creating art.

If you’re already paying your employees market-related or better salaries, and you’re still struggling to hold on to them, then you need to start looking at non-financial retention methods, which may include:

Access to in-house or external training. Great employees are always looking for ways to improve their skills, and this benefits them and you!

– Improve the working environment. While you might be far from sick building syndrome, there’s no denying that a nice, comfortable work space makes being at work more enjoyable for everyone. Install standing desks. Paint the walls a bright, sunny shade. Start an employee graffiti wall. Whatever it takes to spruce up your space.

– Listen to your employees. Even if you think your managers are the best thing since sliced bread, it’s your employees that have to work with them, and they might be having a very different experience. If one employee complains, it may be personal. If they all do, it’s a cause for concern, and a reason for action.

– Stop micromanaging. Employees want to have some autonomy, and to feel that they can make decisions and take action within the scope of their job. If you’re hanging over their shoulder all the time, that can’t happen, and they’re going to find somewhere that they can be creative and make a real difference.

– Have an internal promotion policy, and stick to it. Your people want to know that they are working towards something, and if you’re hiring outside the organization for all the best jobs, they won’t feel that way.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t all be like Google, with their free food, chill out rooms and maker spaces. But there are things every company can do to make working there more enjoyable for everyone, and when people like their workplace and their jobs, they stay longer, and that’s good for the bottom line.