Tag Archive | "business"

Matthew Osborn Joins Ponte Vedra’s National Auto Care Corp. as Chief Information Officer


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – National Auto Care Corp., a leading national administrator of vehicle service contract and ancillary products, has named insurance and TPA industry veteran Matthew Osborn to the newly-created position of Chief Information Officer. Osborn will be a member of the Senior Leadership Team.

Osborn brings more than 25 years of technology and business development experience to his new position at National Auto Care. He has served in various areas of the industry, including agency management, training, and most notably, as a technology leader for Allstate and Allstate Benefits. His new role will lead the IT, Project Management, and Process Improvement teams with the goal of improving and optimizing the business experience of agents and dealers working with National Auto Care through several transformative projects currently under way.

“I am very happy to welcome Matt to National Auto Care,” said Tony Wanderon, CEO. “He brings a wealth of experience as well as a positive management style that will further our efforts to offer the most responsive and effective service in the F&I industry.”

Osborn holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Barry University in Miami, FL, an MBA from Jacksonville University, and is a candidate for Doctor of Business Administration at Jacksonville University. He and his family live in Jacksonville, FL.

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Portfolio Is Again Named One of the Best Places to Work


LAKE FOREST, CA – Portfolio has been named one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Orange County. This year’s award is the third time the company has been recognized in the survey. The awards program was created in 2009 and is a project of the Orange County Business Journal and Best Companies Group.

“We strive to create a work environment where our employees enjoy interacting with each other and applying themselves as a team to meeting the needs of our dealers, agents, and consumers, so we are especially grateful for this recognition,” said Brent Griggs, President and CEO. “The fact that 75% of the award is based on our employees’ day-to-day experience in our office attests that we are succeeding in that goal. It’s the best team of people I have ever had the opportunity to work with and I appreciate each one of them.”

The county-wide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Orange County, benefiting the county’s economy, its workforce and businesses.

To be considered for participation, employers had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

– Have at least 15 employees working in Orange County;

– Be a for-profit or not-for-profit business or government entity;

– Be a publicly or privately held business;

– Have a facility in Orange County; and

– Must be in business a minimum of 1 year.

Organizations from across the county entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Orange County. The first part consisted of evaluating each employer’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top organizations and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Orange County and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final ranking.

The ranking of the winning organizations has been released via a special section of the Orange County Business Journal’s July 25th issue.

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7 Face-To-Face Networking Mistakes That Could Kill Your Professional Image


Despite all the online ways to link up with potential clients, I still believe making in-person connections needs to be a part of every business owner’s networking regimen. When you’re face-to-face with people, you can form bonds more easily because they get a more complete picture of who you are through your voice, body language, and appearance, reports Forbes.

That’s powerful and wonderful … unless you get careless.

While face-to-face networking can result in prospects gravitating to you, it also holds the potential to drive them in the opposite direction. Could your networking habits be turning off other professionals and causing you to lose out on business opportunities?

Avoid these networking no-nos:

1. Interrupting conversations. “How rude!” That’s what I think when someone walks up without apology and interrupts a conversation I’m having with another person.  Although discussions won’t typically be too in-depth at networking events, it’s still in bad taste to cut off conversations between others.

2. Practicing the “hard sell.” Want a surefire way to make connections eager to avoid you? Then push your products and services right from the start when meeting them. Doing so makes you appear aggressive as well as desperate—definitely not the impression you want to make!

3. Complaining. Remember, you’re there to connect with other professionals. While commenting on the venue location, décor, hors d’oeuvres, or other amenities can help ease you into a dialogue with someone, it can have a negative impact if your words are uncomplimentary. Others might perceive you as snide and ungracious.

4. Being all “me, me, me” and not taking an interest in others. Sure, you’re doing great things and everyone should know more about that. But you’ll do yourself a greater service if you forgo making yourself the center of attention and instead listen to what others have to share about their businesses. By asking open-ended questions and turning a keen ear to their needs, you can assess whether or not they may be a viable prospect. And then later you can follow up to share more about what you can offer them.

5. Having a few too many cocktails. Woot! Yes, networking functions often come in the form of mixers with a bit of a party atmosphere. But I’ve seen otherwise polished professionals turn into hot messes because they didn’t control their alcohol consumption at events.

6. Speaking ill of someone else in the room or about your clients. No, no, no. Don’t EVER do this. You never know who knows whom. Need I say more?

7. Dressing like you don’t care. Although many networking events are relatively casual, take care not to go too far with the informality. If you’re not sure what the dress code is, I recommend erring on the side of slightly overdressed. Worst-case scenario will be that you look a tad more professional than everyone else. No one will think less of you for that.

Done with attention to making a first-rate first impression, face-to-face networking can open doors to lasting professional relationships. Put your best, most engaging you out there every time—and take care to avoid networking missteps that could turn off prospective customers.

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In Uncertain Business Environment, Millennials Want More Risk


According to a new survey, Millennials may not be as short-sighted as older generations would have you believe—especially when it comes to owning or starting a business, reports Fox Business.

The Wells Fargo Millennial Small Business Owner (SBO) Study found that a strong majority (80%) of Millennial Entrepreneurs, born between 1982 and 1997, say they plan to grow their business over many years, and eventually pass them down to children–even though 59% reported not having kids yet.

According to the research, these small business owners, ages 19 to 35, see their ventures as long term investments—and they’re more willing than the older generation to take financial risks to grow.

“We found that Millennial small business owners have a much longer-term horizon for their businesses than many may perceive them to have,” said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo’s head of Small Business. “They recognize an investment in their business is an investment in their future.”

Market research firm GfK interviewed 1,005 entrepreneurs who’d been in operation for at least six months, full or part-time. Those interviewed were also required to be the primary or shared financial decision maker, own at least 50% of their business, and report annual business revenue of up to $5 million.

Millennials surveyed differed most from older small business owners in their willingness to take on business debt, even though both generations reported being equally wary of owing money.

Two-thirds of Millennial small business owners said they believe it’s important to take on some amount of debt for growth–even if it means opening, carrying a balance on, or maxing out personal credit cards–while just half of older SBO’s agreed. Further, 21% of Millennial small business owners said they expect to take on some form of debt next year.

Small Business Segment Manager for Wells Fargo Doug Case called these findings an important revelation.

“I’m surprised that this generation, having such an affiliation with the Great Recession, has that enthusiasm around growth and are big dreamers and planners,” Case said. “I thought it was great to see that, even with the financial environment they’ve seen, and also the fact that a lot of Millennial business owners carry debt from school. It’s encouraging that those realities have not dampened their spirit.”

Members of both generations said they started their businesses to gain control of their futures, become their own bosses, and have more flexibility in where, when, and how they work. But Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to begin a business venture because they’re passionate about it.

“They live and thrive off of the future and the next plan,” Case said of Millennial small business owners. “It’s driving more of an immediacy and technology-driven business operations. It’s requiring [businesses] to become tech savvy.”

Despite economic headwinds and heightened volatility on Wall Street, three-fourths of Millennials said they are optimistic about business growth in the coming year. That’s compared to just half of owners 36-years old and up.

But could that optimism be resting primarily on a lack of world experience?

According to Case, an alarming number of Millennials don’t have business plans, though he said their strong sense of entrepreneurship and dedication to survive and thrive is a good place to start.

“The challenge for all Millennial small business owners will be around creating sustainable business models,” Case said.

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6 Authentic Ways to Inspire Other People When You’re Not Great With Words


In order to succeed, almost everyone–whether business owner or employee–must not only stand out but also be inspirational. Leading requires the ability to encourage, to motivate, and to inspire, reports Inc. 

But what if you’re not comfortable speaking to groups… or even to individuals? What if finding the right words is something that always seems to elude you?

That’s okay. Instead of using words, inspire others through action. Here are some genuine ways to be inspirational–and to have a lot more fun in the process.

1. Don’t try to talk. Just do.

Words are often quickly forgotten. What most of us say isn’t particularly interesting — but what we do can definitely be.

So spend your time doing instead of talking. Actions are memorable. Actions are inspiring. Actions inspire other people to follow your lead and take actions of their own.

And that’s especially true when you…

2. Do unusual things.

Draw a circle and put all your “stuff” in it. Your circle will look a lot like everyone’s: Everyone works, everyone has a family, everyone has homes and cars and clothes….

We like to think we’re unique, but roughly speaking we’re all the same–and similar isn’t inspiring.

So occasionally do something really different. Backpack to the next town just to see how many people stop to offer you a ride. (Don’t take them up on it, though, since unless you appear to be in distress the people eager to give you a ride tend to be the last people you want to ride with.) Try to hike/scramble to the top of a nearby mini-mountain no one climbs. (Do yourself a favor and take water along.) Compete with your daughter to see who can swim the most laps in an hour. (If you live in my house you’ll lose really, really badly.)

Or work from a coffee shop one day just to see what you learn about other people… and what you learn about yourself.

Whatever you do, the less productive and sensible it is the better. Your goal isn’t to accomplish something worthwhile. Your goal is to collect experiences.

Experiences, especially unusual experiences, make your life a lot richer and way more interesting–to you and to other people. You can even…

3. Do the occasional stupid thing.

I know. You’re supremely focused, consistently on point, and relentlessly efficient.

And you’re also really, really boring.

Remember when you were young and followed stupid ideas to their illogical conclusions? Road trips, failing the cinnamon challenge, trying to eat six saltine crackers in one minute without water… you dined out on those stories for years.

Going on “missions,” however pointless and inconvenient, was fun. In fact the more pointless the mission the more fun you had because that made it all about the ride and not the destination.

So do something, just once, that adults no longer do. Drive eight hours to see a band. Buy your seafood at the dock.

Or do something no one thinks of doing. Ride along with a policeman on a Friday night. (It’s the king of eye-opening experiences.)

Pick something it doesn’t make sense to do a certain way… and do it that way. You’ll inspire other people to take chances of their own — and to not worry about what other people think.

4. Embrace your own cause…

People care about–and remember–people who care. Stand for something and you instantly stand apart — and inspire people.

But…

5. But don’t ever talk about your cause. 

People who brag are not remembered for what they’ve done. They’re remembered for the fact they brag. (That’s why the first — and second — rule of doing good is to never talk about the good you do.)

Do good things because those things are good for other people. Don’t worry: the less you say, the more you will inspire others, because they’ll know you do what you do only because you care.

6. Get over yourself.

Most of the time your professional life is like a hamster wheel of resume or curriculum vitae padding: you avoid all possibility of failure while maximizing the odds of success in order to ensure your achievement graph tracks ever upward.

Inevitably, that approach starts to extend to your personal life too.

So you run… but you won’t enter a race because you don’t want to finish at the back of the pack. Or you sing… but you won’t share a mic in a friend’s band because you’re no Adele. Or you sponsor the employee softball team… but you won’t actually play because you’re not very good.

Personally and professionally you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all conquering image.

And someday, without noticing, you’re no longer a person. You’re a resume.

Stop trying to appear perfect. Accept your faults. Make mistakes. Hang yourself out there. Try and fail.

Then be gracious when you fail.

When do, people will be inspired, because people who are willing to fail are rare–and because people who display grace and humility, especially in the face of defeat, are incredibly rare.

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4 Steps for Launching Corporate Social Responsibility at Your Business


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a hot topic in the business world. Companies of all sizes are being encouraged (and sometimes forced) to become more responsible in their communities, reports Entrepreneur. Being a responsible “corporate citizen” includes two important components: 1) things an organization does to society and 2) things an organization does for society.

The first component of CSR requires companies to do no harm to the communities in which they operate. It’s not acceptable to pollute the environment, sell unsafe products, promote unhealthy practices, or mistreat employees. In our new world of social transparency, organizations that do harm in any way won’t survive.

While this first component of CSR is a responsibility of all organizations, the second component is an opportunity. In other words, organizations have the basic responsibility to do no harm, but they also have the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. There are huge advantages to building an organization that does much more than just make money. The entrepreneurs I’ve met across America are passionate about serving their communities and feel the benefits of doing so far outweigh the effort, time, and cost.

Having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to their communities, I’ve observed a simple process they follow for getting involved.

1. Clarify your values.

Your “why” or purpose for being in business is the foundation for everything you do. Having a clear purpose naturally leads to a set of related values. For example, Richard Chaves’s driving purpose is to create jobs in a city he loves. Consequently, he values projects for his company, Chaves Consulting, that lead to more jobs. He also values excellent training, ongoing education, and community building.

Based on your purpose, what are the things you and your teammates value most? Do you value education, continuous learning, innovation, exceptional service, technology development, health and wellness, teamwork, or ethics and integrity? Clarifying your values is an important first step in linking your business with your community. You want to support initiatives that are consistent with your purpose and values, while avoiding things that aren’t consistent with your purpose and values. Your community involvement should always enhance your overall company brand and reputation.

2. Assess your skills.

After clarifying your company values, the next step is to reflect on the key skills and core competencies of your organization. What are you really good at? What do you do better than other companies? What things can you contribute that other people cannot? Then, looking at this list, which ones are you the most passionate about? For example, you may be great at calculating your taxes but not very excited about this skill. On the other hand, you may be very good at and very enthusiastic about solving technical problems. The key is to list your core competencies that you’re most passionate about sharing. What are you most interested in? What kinds of activities bring you the most joy? What contributions do you want to make? After answering these questions, you’ll be ready to identify potential community projects or organizations you want to support.

3. Find potential projects.

As your business grows, many people will approach you about supporting their initiatives. It’s great if you can help them, but it’s better to select potential projects in advance based on your purpose, values, skills, and passion. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a hodgepodge of projects that aren’t directly related to your brand or community of customers. Creating a list of potential projects is easy: Do a Google search on nonprofits, charities, and social organizations in your area. Many cities also have a nonprofit association that can help identify community needs, or you can call various government agencies and ask which organizations are working on certain problems that interest you: education, human services, workforce services, or rehabilitation. To find the best matches, start with a broad list of projects before narrowing down your options.

4. Select the best matches.

Now you need to select one or more projects to support that are great matches with your overall company brand, including purpose, values, skills, and passion. I recommend you work with organizations that serve the same community you do. For example, our customers in the food business were interested in health, nutrition, and fitness. Consequently, we supported running events, fitness fairs, and athletic teams. If you’re in the food industry, you might support various hunger organizations. If you’re in construction, you might get involved in housing projects. If you’re in computer services, you might support a school computer literacy program. While serving constituencies outside your community is admirable, it doesn’t help you build a consistent brand and reputation.

In addition, you should get involved with local projects and organizations whenever possible. The more interaction you have with people in your own area, the more rewarding the service will be for you and your team. This is easy if you’re building a geographical community but harder if you’re building a niche community. However, you might support national organizations that have a main office or regional presence in your area. While it’s great to send money to causes elsewhere in the world, that doesn’t always bring you and your team together in a community effort.

Creating your community strategy

The organizations we build can play a huge role in addressing the challenges we face in our communities. While we have a responsibility to do no harm, we also have a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference. I encourage all the aspiring entrepreneurs I work with to build a social component into their business plan from day one. At first, the contribution may be time, skills, and expertise. Later on, it may include financial resources as well. Using business models to address community concerns provides great solutions to our challenges as well as tremendous benefits to our businesses. The questions below will help you create a sound and well-planned strategy for making a difference in your community:

1. What is your purpose and the brand you’re trying to build in your community?

2. Based on your purpose, what values are most important to you, your team members, and your organization?

3. What are five to 10 key skills and core competencies that you, your team, and your organization have to offer?

4. From the list of skills above, which ones are you and your team most passionate about sharing with your community?

5. What are some potential nonprofits, charities, social organi­zations, or government organizations in your community that may benefit from your company’s involvement?

6. Select several organizations from your list that you’re most interested in supporting. Why is each a great match with your overall company brand?

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