Archives for September 2015

pet policy story - dog

Pet Policy: Human and Pet-Friendly Guidelines So the Office Doesn’t Go to the Dogs

Click here to view the original story posted by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Ric Zampatti, CEO of The Barter Company in Kennesaw, oversees just 12 employees, but two workers not on the payroll are equally critical, contributing to the morale of both workers and visitors. Their tasks include checking up on employees who seem stressed or ill and making newcomers welcome. One of them has taken on additional duties as the office greeter and maintains a vigilant position by the front door.

Not only are these two vital to the office’s ability to function, they’re cheap: A few snacks, regular meals, fresh litter boxes and an affectionate caress every now and then are all these office cats require for compensation.

“Rosco sits by the front door, but Bobo usually hangs out on the desks of employees,” said Zampatti. “Last year, we had an employee who broke her back and was in daily pain. When she came back to work, Bobo was there, giving her love and support to get through the day. They earn their keep by making my employees happy and enhancing morale. If people are happy, they want to come to work, and as an owner, whatever I can do to enhance the work experience is worth it. It’s not only a minimal expense; it’s a no-brainer.”

Zampatti’s cats live in a 5,000-square-foot office, and employees take turn checking food levels, cleaning litter boxes, taking the pets to the vet and dropping by on long holiday weekends to check up on them. The shared responsibilities mean Zampatti opens an employment interview with one question: “Are you allergic to cats?”

“We had one person who said yes, but she was okay taking Benadryl every day,” said Zampatti. “Unfortunately, the cats won out, and she left us. Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of turnover, so it’s not much of an issue. But it’s a common scene to be in a meeting with a client when the cats jump up on table, and every once in a while, we do get someone with an allergy. But that just makes meetings shorter. Most people, the first thing they do is give the cats a pet.”

Cats and dogs are becoming increasingly common in office environments, said Cal Morgan, president and CEO of the Atlanta Humane Society. And these are not service dogs, specifically trained to assist people with disabilities. They’re personal pets brought in by their owners.

“We regularly get calls from companies asking for advice and looking for policies on how to handle companion animals in the workplace,” said Morgan. “It’s not surprising when two-thirds of employees have a companion animal at home, which means 7 out of 10 of us are leaving an animal when we go to work. Since research has shown that most people consider an animal to be a member of the family, people feel closer to their pets and want them in their personal and work environments.”

Allowing pets to come to work means setting guidelines to avoid conflict, not just between the pets but the owners as well. It means being sensitive to workers who may not have a fondness for another person’s pet or have health issues that might cause discomfort. Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor weighed in on the topic, issuing guidelines giving service animals the right to be in the office over an employee’s disapproval.

“But what happens when your brilliant coder brings in his or her German shepherd?” asks Mark Elliott, a partner in real estate law with Troutman Sanders LLP. “Then you may have problems. You might have one dog. Great. Two dogs begin to interact. Three dogs and there may be fighting and biting. It’s also like having an employee who smokes; I can keep the behavior to myself, but it might affect other people nearby. A dog’s behavior can still affect other people.”

A pet in the office can also impact an entire working complex, Elliott points out.

“If I’m a landlord leasing to tenants with dogs that are fighting near the elevator bank, it won’t just be one tenant who’s affected,” he said. “There may also be extra costs or burdens that need to be identified when leasing to offices with pets. For instance, there may be higher cleaning costs if a pet comes in with fleas, and your janitorial contract doesn’t cover pest control. Unfortunately, fleas don’t honor tenant spaces. What about the area where the dogs are walked? That has to be taken care of. From a landlord’s perspective, you’ve got to be careful if a tenant insists on pets that you’re allocating costs correctly.”

At the same time, Elliott sees pet-friendly workplaces as the trend that follows pet-friendly living spaces.

“It used to be that the most important amenities apartment owners sold were fitness areas; now it’s areas where you can walk your dog,” he said. “And it’s more than bring-your-pet-to-work Friday; it’s becoming a fundamental right to have so many dogs per square feet. While it’s an attraction for some, it can be a detraction as well. It could limit your hiring ability when some people realize they don’t want to work there.”

The 70 employees at the Nebo Agency on Atlanta’s Westside have taken the pets-at-work policy to heart, said CEO Brian Easter. The Web and mobile design firm, which recently was the only Atlanta business to place on The Bark’s list of top workplaces that allow dogs, has specific guidelines that cover pet issues.

“For instance, we have a 3-dog maximum per day, so employees reserve their days through our dogs calendar,” he said. “We found any more than that is distracting. The calendar also helps us scheduled dogs that work best together and are friendly to clients and customers. We provide toys, treats, bowls and beds, and there are several areas outside where owners can walk the dogs. We haven’t had any conflicts; even allergies aren’t really an issue since we’re in a pretty open space, and we keep it clean.”

Easter, who owns two dogs, has taken his love of animals even further, producing a pro bono campaign to encourage pet adoptions and rescues.

“We have always been passionate about animals and giving back to the community,” he said. “Pets are part of our family, and it makes our employees happy to bring in their pets. The level of happiness goes up and tension reduces when that little face looks up and says, ‘I love you.’”

 

 

 

Read more

5 Ways to Protect Your Company’s Online Reputation

reputation

We live in a search-happy world. Take it as a given: Before customers consider doing business with your company, they’re going to Google it first.

So it’s imperative that your brand has a strong online presence. Creating reputable, sharable, easily searchable content is the best defense against a negative comment or review appearing first in a search result for your company.

The following five online reputation management practices will help you shape your brand’s search results by boosting its credibility online.

1. Keep your company’s website up to date

Your website is the first place people go when researching your business, so make sure you leave a strong first impression.

Once the basics — such as a landing page, contact information and service or product offerings — are taken care of,  you can add extra features.

A bio page is a good place to start. People want to work with a company that isn’t afraid to show off its team. Writing strong bios for your employees is a great way to introduce the people building your company while also humanizing your brand. A strong bio includes the person’s name, profession, area of expertise and past experiences. Be sure to add major career highlights, awards or any other notable accomplishments. Lastly, provide space for hobbies and interests, which gives consumers a fuller picture of you, your employees and by extension, your company.

By keeping your website up to date and providing an extensive bio page, you can help legitimize your company.

2. Create a company blog

A company blog can do more than just increase your visibility in search engines; it can also drive traffic to your site and is a good way to build relationships with your customers. But perhaps most importantly, a company blog can position your team as an industry leader. For instance if your head of marketing is continuously providing insights into the latest industry trends, that provides your company with both authority and exposure.

3. Manage online reviews

Considering that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, showcasing your customers experiences on your website is a great way to create positive expectations right off the bat. In addition, having a large number of positive reviews helps  balance out any negative reviews that may pop up in the future.

The best way to get more positive reviews for your business is to treat your customers with respect on and offline — it will be reflected in the online feedback. In addition, make sure it’s easy for people to write a review on your website, and advertise the fact that you would like to hear from your customers. Consider putting a call to action in your email signature, on your website or even on a sign in your store’s window.

4. Socialize relevant company content

Not only do popular social-media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter rank highly in search results, but they’re great places to push out company news and content. If you’re doing something newsworthy, make sure your customers know about it! Sharing recent press, upcoming events or notable company announcements over social media is a great way to illustrate that your company is active and relevant.

Bottom line: The more social media sites your company is on, the more of its search results you control.

5. Don’t ignore your personal brand

If you develop your personal brand the same way you develop your company’s brand, you’ll have even more visibility and influence over your business’s search results. In many cases, especially when your business is still starting up, your name will be Googled more than your company’s name. It’s important, then, for potential investors, clients and employees to find a positive representation of you online. Your online reputation can be the thing that makes or breaks your business.

Blog-Signature-cropped

Read more

Pet of the Week – Meet Squash

     Squash-2-280x280                        Squash-1-280x280

TBC is partnered up with the Atlanta Pet Rescue in an effort to help find these wonderful animals forever homes! Each week, we will be promoting a “Pet of the Week” that is in need of a loving home.

This week’s “Pet of the Week” is Squash an adorable 1 month old female Labrador Retriever Blend.  She is adorable, loveable and so excited to find her forever home!

Check out more info on this sweet girl here.

Mention TBC when calling or visiting and receive $50 off the adoption fee!

Together let’s help find these animals loving homes!

Blog-Signature-cropped

Read more

Enter our 2015 Food & Dessert Contest!

Each year at our Holiday Barter Show, we hold our exciting Food & Dessert Contest! During the show, attendees will taste samples from all participants and then are given a ballot at the end of the show for voting. The winner of each category will receive $500 CASH!!

Booths are FREE to participants! And TBC pays you $300Trade when you enter!

In order to participate, you’ll need to provide 600+ samples of your food, dessert or both and complete the short form below. Easy as pie! (see what we did there?)

And now for a little throw back to last year’s winners…Charles’ Smokin’ BBQ & Nothing Bundt Cakes!

Charles Smokin BBQ Wins Food Contest Nothing Bundt Cakes Wins Dessert Contest

2015 Food & Dessert Contest

2015 Food & Dessert Contest

All items should be limited to SAMPLE SIZE PORTIONS. IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE SAMPLE SIZE REQUIREMENTS BELOW, YOU MAY BE ASKED TO DISCONTINUE SAMPLING. a. Beverages limited to a maximum 4 oz. Container. No alcoholic beverages.b. Food items limited to “bite size”

Sending

 

Good luck to all participants!

Blog-Signature-cropped

Read more

5 Ways to Get Your Business Ready for Fall

fall

Ready or not, fall is upon us. We hope you’ve had a great summer and that you get to enjoy plenty of mild weather before winter hits. In the meantime, it’s an ideal time for some building and property upkeep that will help you ease into the holiday season and winter knowing you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store. This blog post provides five tips for preparing commercial properties for upcoming inclement fall and winter weather.

1. Start at the Top with a Roof Inspection

The roof is the most exposed part of any building and summer heat, rain and winds can wreak havoc on flat and sloped rooftops alike—quickly leading to problems inside a building. To prevent the need for repairs when they will be more costly or disruptive, a regular fall inspection is always a good idea. If you can easily access the rooftop and it is relatively flat and safe, you may be able to inspect it yourself and perform any necessary preventive maintenance. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to use professionals who are properly trained. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety provides a handy overview of things to look out for.

In addition to inspecting your rooftops, it’s also important to check adjacent ceilings and walls for stains, cracks or other indications that something could be amiss.

2. Make Sure Your Heating System is Tuned and Ready for the Cold

The most difficult time to deal with a furnace or boiler malfunction is when it’s cold and everyone else is having problems too. That’s why performing a regular fall inspection is a great idea. If any repairs are needed, lining them up will be easier, faster and less disruptive to guests and employees.

3. Optimize Air Cleanliness and Energy Efficiency

Throughout the year, dust and dirt builds up in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Since the impact of buildup can include poorer air quality, higher energy bills, and shorter lifespan of HVAC equipment, it’s a good idea to clean them regularly. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association provides a handy checklist that you can use to help choose a qualified contractor.

4. Head to the Basement for a Pipe and Foundation Inspection

Whether or not your building(s) are located in an area of the country that freezes regularly, it’s a good idea to inspect basement pipes every fall. Not only could you prevent the costly business interruption and property damage associated with burst pipes, but you could also save on energy costs. For example, insulating outside pipes and sealing the areas where pipes enter and exit the building can not only help reduce freezing risks, it also reduces heating costs. As does sealing any other cracks or holes in the basement that could let in cold air.

5. Make Sure Your Trees are Healthy and Pruned Correctly 

The trees surrounding your property provide natural beauty, sound abatement and lots of other tangible and intangible benefits, so be sure to give them the TLC they deserve. Autumn provides an ideal time for corrective pruning because it’s easier to spot potential problems. Pruning can help improve the structural integrity of trees in anticipation of heavy snow, ice or winds while keeping your trees looking their best.

Ease into Winter

With school back in session and football season in full swing, we know you have plenty on your mind. Hopefully these five tips will help you get ahead in your business maintenance game so you can spread out work tasks and have a smooth transition into winter.

Blog-Signature-cropped

 

Read more

Taste of Atlanta Tickets Available!

taste-of-atlanta-2015

Taste of Atlanta is this weekend! September 25, 26 & 27

Friday & Sunday General Admission & VIP Tickets Available

Kick off Atlanta’s best “Eat and Greet” event of the year at Taste of Atlanta’s exclusive Friday night block party. Themed “Bucket List Bash this kickoff party will be an epicurean experience of a lifetime with the chance to check off bucket list restaurants one bite at a time. A portion of the proceeds from Friday night’s party will benefit The Giving Kitchen, an organization providing emergency assistance grants to Atlanta’s restaurant community facing unanticipated hardship.

We have 20 Friday Night taste of Atlanta wristbands and 5 Sunday VIP and 7 Sunday General Admission.

Call your trade coordinator for tickets! (770) 591-4343

For more info on the event, click here.

 

 

Read more

Pet of the Week – Meet Queen

Queen-2-280x420  Queen-1-280x280   Queen-3-280x420

TBC is partnered up with the Atlanta Pet Rescue in an effort to help find these wonderful animals forever homes! Each week, we will be promoting a “Pet of the Week” that is in need of a loving home.

This week’s “Pet of the Week” is Queen an adorable 4 month old female DSH Calico cat.

She will! She will! Rock you! Begging on her face, she wants to come home to your place! She will! She will ROCK you! This queen is looking for a new home can’t you see, she wants to meet you?! Queen has a well-mannered disposition for a kitten. She is curious and playful. She enjoys to be held and she is anxious to find a new home and explore! This girl gets along great with her roommates and seems to be very social with people Can’t you find her somebody to love?? Why don’t you come meet her and find out?

Check out more info on this sweet girl here.

Mention TBC when calling or visiting and receive $50 off the adoption fee!

Together let’s help find these animals loving homes!

Blog-Signature-cropped

Read more

Help Us Reach Our Goal Of Donating $10,000 to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

2015-Golf-Tournament-Home-Banner

Our annual “Barter is Smarter” Benefit Golf Tournament is coming up and this year our goal is to raise $10,000 cash and trade for the kids!

Not able to play this year? You can still help a great cause by donating to our friends at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.  No donation is too small and EVERY donation is greatly appreciated!

Click here to donate to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation!

(*and be sure to put “TBC” in the note box so we can mail you a tax deductible letter)

Blog-Signature-cropped

 

Read more

Pet of the Week – Meet Sunbeam

Sunbeam-1-280x280 Sunbeam-8-280x280 Sunbeam-9-280x280

TBC is partnered up with the Atlanta Pet Rescue in an effort to help find these wonderful animals forever homes! Each week, we will be promoting a “Pet of the Week” that is in need of a loving home.

This week’s “Pet of the Week” is Sunbeam an adorable 1 year old female Golden Retriever Blend.

Break out the sunglasses, Sunbeam is here!  She always has a smile on her face and the song of joy in her heart.  She has every staff member and volunteer wrapped around her fuzzy golden paw.  She is fantastic with other dogs and really loves playing with them and then snuggling up for a nap.  She is wonderful with people and has a gentle and engaging personality with people.  When she is very happy she even does an adorable squint.  If you are looking for the love of your life, put on your sunscreen so you don’t get burned by the amazing Sunbeam!

Check out more info on this sweet girl here.

Mention TBC when calling or visiting and receive $50 off the adoption fee!

Together let’s help find these animals loving homes!

Blog-Signature-cropped

Read more