Article

Expert Advice

By Hannah Wallace May 31, 2005

Q. How big should my business be before I consider bringing in a company to manage my payroll?

Michael A. Moran, Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), of Blue Water Insurance Group, LLC answers: When considering outsourcing payroll, ask yourself the following questions. Do you want to spend time on operational or sales tasks? Do you fully understand all of the details necessary to administer payroll properly? Do you have the technology necessary to provide your employees with direct deposit and other electronic tax processing? Do you have the time and staff to keep up with these burdens?

Most small to medium-sized businesses have very limited time and staff. Every spare minute is usually focused on generating new sales or servicing existing customers. Spending time on unprofitable tasks, such as payroll administration, can be very risky to the health of your business.

Focus on your talents and outsource any functions that are not a core part of your business operations. Of course, you have to consider the cost of outsourcing, but you must also consider the opportunities you are missing by spending time on operational needs that do not generate revenue.

Spend 20 minutes each week to gather payroll hours and fax them to a payroll company. On Friday morning, open your payroll packet from your payroll provider and hand out checks. Take the time you save and go make money!

Michael A. Moran can be reached at (941) 373-1310.

Q. With all the talk about spam regulation these days, do I need to be concerned about sending my company's electronic newsletters and other advertisements to potential clients via e-mail?

Jessica Moats of GravityFree responds: I think it's safe to say that the majority of e-mail users are a little (or a lot) relieved that a law has been put into place to regulate the junk mail that shows up in our in-boxes. The CAN-SPAM law (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act), which took effect in January 2004, looks at the subject matter contained in these solicitous e-mails and the shady practices used by some commercial e-mailers to push their messages on you. However, as business owners and marketers who want to promote and advertise commercial products or services via legitimate, cost-effective, time-efficient methods such as e-blasts and electronic newsletters, we're hoping the law isn't altogether prohibitive.

The CAN-SPAM law has businesses rethinking the way they send messages using the Internet. Here are some responsible ways to send advertisements, promotional or advertorial e-mails: First, create a targeted e-mail list. Shoot with a rifle and not a shotgun. If you know your audience (your client base and prospects) your information is more likely to be interpreted by the recipient as legitimate and thus more likely to be read. Second, do not use false or misleading information in the e-mail headers, including the "To," "From" and "Subject" lines. Third, Provide an easy, clear-cut method within the e-mail for the recipients to opt-out (a way for them to request not to receive anymore e-mails from you or your affiliates) and then honor those requests in a timely fashion-within 10 business days of receiving the opt-out request, according to the law. Don't forget to Identify the e-mail as an advertisement or promotion. And finally, include your physical postal address.

By using these and other methods of tightening up your message and how your message is communicated, you're not only complying with the law, you're building trust among the recipients, and refining what your message says and who receives it. That may ultimately result in a higher response/conversion rate-a win-win for everyone.

For more information about the CAN-SPAM law requirements, penalties, provisions, exemptions, and how it affects e-mail communications, visit www.ftc.gov/spam and click on "For Business."

Jessica Moats can be reached at (941) 927-7674 or www.gravityfree.com.

If you have a workplace-related question you'd like to ask the experts, please e-mail Ilene Denton at [email protected]

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