Creating Small Biz DIY Shop Signs On A Budget

laminating signs for business

While in-store marketing is essential for your retail business, it doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor.  You can personalize your retail environment with laminated signs you make yourself.

Why Signs?

  • 68% of customers believe that signage reflects the quality of a business and their product
  • On average, one additional on-premise sign results in an increase in annual sales revenue of 4.75%
  • 68% of American consumers have made a purchase because a sign caught their interest
  • At-retail advertising drives additional sales 70% of the time

 

Advantages of DIY Signs for Small Business

  • Laminated signs are easy to make: a computer, a printer, a laminator, and scissors is all you really need
  • Save money- no costly sign shops or generic store-bought signs
  • Go customizable and creative- create signs that are unique to your shop’s look and feel

What Kind of Signs You May Need

Directional

Directional signage leads customers through your store and guides them to key locations

Branded

Branding your unique product offerings with a distinctive sign sets your products apart. Also, use branded signs to promote well-known brands you offer in your store.

Informational

Along with knowledgeable salespeople, easy to read signs that help customers make purchasing decisions keeps patrons engaged.

Sales

Announcing sales with window signage brings customers in. Make sale signs clear and simple with specific dollar-off or percentage off statements.

New Items

New arrivals in the store need to be promoted. Words like “fresh”, “just in” and “new” get the attention of customers.

Themes

Keeping your store environment in sync with seasons and annual events harmonizes your product offering with customer expectations. Holiday store signs remind customers of gift purchases they need to make and seasonal signs for spring and summer sales put customers in the right mood for buying.

Five Steps To Making Your Own Signs

Design

Word processing software or art software on your computer allows you create any customized sign to fit your promotional purposes. Think creatively and put yourself in the shoes of your customer when writing and designing the sign.

Print

Print the sign on your computer printer. You don’t need to use heavy stock paper, as laminating the sign will make it durable.

Laminate

Laminate the sign so it lasts. If you have frequent or seasonal sales that are similar, laminating keeps your most heavily used signs in good condition, so you don’t have to create new ones. Also, laminating is ideal for creating weather-resistant signs displayed outdoors.

Use a laminator with at least a 9″ wide entry for laminating larger documents

Cut

Trim the edges of the sign after laminating so you have a clean, crisp edge.

Display

Decide where and how you will display your sign. Dangle it from the ceiling, tape it up in your store window or display along with a grouping of products. For shelf displays, use card size laminating pouches and fasten to the edge of the shelf just beneath a special product offer.

Pouch Thickness To Use For Signs

3 mil laminating pouches are rigid and durable enough for signs. Any signs that may encounter frequent handling should be laminated with 5 mil pouches. If displayed outdoors, a more durable 10 mil pouch is best. Select from a variety of pouches.

Choosing a Laminator for Making Retail Signs

How many signs you make determines the laminator you need. Heavier usage laminators are more expensive but hold up under frequent use. For moderate laminating, the Saturn 3i 95 has received good reviews from business owners who make their own signs.

Great purchase for my business!

“Out of the box to first finished laminated sign in under 10 minutes! Easy instructions and very easy operation! I would recommend this product to anyone who needs a laminator for small-business use!”

 

Sources: Point of Purchase Advertising International

 

Fellowes Brands Wins Excellence in Design Award for AeraMax Professional AM II Air Purifier

award winning commercial air purifier

The AeraMax Wins the Gold

Fellowes Brands won the gold level award from Excellence in Design for the AeraMax Professional AM II Air Purifier in their 2017 competition. Judges appreciated the ease of use and visual appeal of the AM II, which won in the HVAC category primarily for its recessed design.

Only 4 inches deep, the slim profile makes the AM II ideal for purifying air for smaller commercial spaces. The AM II also features a hospital-type filtration system including a True HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter to clean air in areas between 150-300 square feet. The patented EnviroSmart technology also detects the air quality in the surrounding environment and automatically adjusts performance.

To accommodate the need for space flexibility, the AeraMax II offers options wall mountable, recessed wall mountable and floor stand options. Learn more about the AeraMax Professional AM II

The Growing Need for Commercial Air Purification

Poor indoor air quality and its impact on health are growing concerns for facility managers and wellness consultants. As a result, the commercial air purifier market continues to expand. Increasing industrial and infrastructure activities are also major driving factors of the global air purification systems market. The market is expected to reach $24.83 billion by 2024.

The AeraMax Professional AM II Air Purifier is part of a broader commercial air purifier product offering from Fellowes Brands which addresses the important issue of indoor air quality in the workplace. Learn more about the full range of Commercial Air Purification from Fellowes Brands.

About The Excellence in Design Award

The Excellence in Design Award features a prestigious panel of judges from respected industry associations evaluating entries in ten industry categories for innovation, simplicity, strong functionality for the user, and other considerations including optimized capabilities, environmental footprint, and energy and cost-savings.

Deserving entries may receive Bronze, Silver, or Gold recognition for aftermarket products the judges deem worthy of such recognition, and these products are profiled, respectively, in a special double-feature in appliance DESIGN’s June issue

Top Three Businesses Vulnerable to Dumpster Diving ID Theft

paper shredding to prevent dumpster diving identity theft

While most businesses secure their online properties with firewalls and encryption, there are still some industries that are exposed to the risks of identity theft through old-fashioned dumpster diving. The emphasis on digital security has caused many businesses to let their guard down when it comes to the adequate destruction of confidential documents. As a result, many identity thieves utilize dumpster diving tactics, focusing their activities on certain types of small businesses, hoping to score big with offices that have left gaps in their identity theft protection plan. Not only do businesses risk the identity theft of their customers and clients, they also risk litigation for improper disposal of confidential information: See the federal HIPAA and FATCA guidelines.

Medical and Dental Office Shredding

While most large hospitals incorporate shredding into their identity theft policy, smaller clinics and medical offices may not be taking the necessary steps to protect the identities of their patients.  A Denver area medical office settled for their identity theft violation which involved disposing of unshredded confidential patient information in an unsecured container: Read more about how  HIPPAA takes trash seriously.

Identity thieves will target small clinics and dental offices, looking for negligence in document shredding in the dumpster behind the office building. Another case involved a Georgia medical clinic in which documents containing patient Social Security numbers, bank account information and names and addresses were found freely accessible by anyone willing to climb inside the dumpster. Learn more about this  Dumpster Diving Case.

In some instances, as in this case in Bloomington, proper shredding can actually be an issue of personal safety to customers:  A drug addict stole Margie Kerr’s pain medication after showing up at the grandmother’s front door. According to police, the thief targeted Kerr after finding her prescription records in a dumpster behind her Bloomington drug store.*  What cross-cut office shredders are best for medical practices and pharmacies.

Real Estate Office Shredding

Prospective home buyers fill out credit applications every day in real estate offices, assuming the sensitive information is properly handled. In many cases it is, but in some instances, busy agents may not take the time to shred confidential documents. Often large volumes of credit applications are piled up by a shredder, only to be discarded without being destroyed. A smart identity thief only has to wait until after hours to see what the dumpster behind a real estate office contains.   Automatic Shredding Solutions for Busy Real Estate Offices

Retail Business Shredding

When you apply for a car loan or fill out paperwork for financing at a furniture store, your completed credit applications may not be handled properly either. In one case at a closed North Atlanta car dealer, Social Security numbers, federal tax information and bank account information were found by authorities. Often closed businesses, having kept confidential files for long periods of time, will dump these documents without shredding­­–an illegal act in most states! Use an office paper shredder to keep your business legal.

Managing A Post Tax Time Paper Purge: A Better Way To Shred

Paper_piles_1024x682

In the wake of tax season, there remains the question of what to do with all that paperwork. Of course, much of it needs to be organized and retained. Though volumes of unnecessary documents, especially for a small business, only take up valuable file space. If these documents contain much of your confidential information they cannot be discarded and need to be shredded.

The time taken to destroy these documents, however, can become a productivity nightmare. Whether you are a small business owner or running a business from your home, spending time feeding papers into a shredder steals away important time from managing your business. In addition, depending on the size of paper shredder you own, there is also the endless emptying of the bin and cleaning up the mess that it makes. And as with most paper shredders, the limited run time means waiting for your paper shredder to cool down before you can continue with your paper purge. All in all, it’s a time vacuum.

New shredder developments, however, can improve productivity. Automatic shredding allows users to walk away from the shredder and back to more important tasks for their business.

The AutoMax 200C and the AutoMax 130C are both designed for small business or home business shredding. Both feature hands-free shredding capabilities with a difference in paper capacity. The 200C takes up to 200 sheets, the 130C, 130 sheets. Here’s how it works:

  • Pile stacks of documents into the drawer—no need to remove staples, or straighten out wrinkles or even pluck paper clips off the documents—the AutoMax automatically handles all that!
  • Close the drawer
  • Press start

The 8.5 gallon pull out bin is also easy to empty when shredding is complete.

If your business also uses credit cards or DVDs, there is also a manual feed slot for destroying those as well. You can also use this slot for destroying any junk mail that may contain sensitive information.

For larger offices, use the AutoMax Commercial Automatic Shredders.

Using the Binding Machine as a Realtor Marketing Tool

real estate marketing binding machine

With spring the housing market goes into full bloom, houses for sale, and buyers house hunting at a frenzied pace. With this competitive environment and limited resources, realtors struggle to create a distinctive point of difference with customers.

Thinking strategically, realtors on a budget can create remarkable property listings using low-cost, easy-to-use binding equipment.

Choosing The Look of Your Property Listing Design

Along with high-quality photography and a professional layout, the impression a good property listing booklet makes also comes from the quality of the binding. Selecting comb or wire binding may be adequate for some listings, but others may require the sleek look and feel of thermal binding. This is especially true for commercial property listings.

Advantages for Different Types of Binding

Comb Binding

  • Offers the flexibility to switch out pages after the document is bound
  • Ideal for bigger presentations—up to 500 pages
  • Lies flat when open for easy presentation

Wire

  • Offers a more secure, permanently bound document at a low cost
  • Lies flat when open
  • Bound pages rotate 360 degrees

 

Thermal

  • The highest quality binding, offering a book-like finish
  • The square binding edge makes it ideal for on-shelf storage
  • Lies flat for mailing. Great as a direct mail piece!

For many realtors, thermal binding is the best choice if you can incur a slightly additional cost in equipment and materials. In a review for the Helios 60 Thermal Binding Machine this realtor explains the value:

“We own a small real estate company in Park Slope Brooklyn. We purchased the thermal binder because we wanted to be able to create wire free and punch free property pitch books. The binder heats up fast and does a thorough job of adhering the glue to the pages of books. It’s quick, easy and very effective.”

 

Know the Four Stages of Your Office Files and Always Stay Organized

Bankers Box document life cycle

The documents in your business actually have a life cycle, passing through different stages of development. Understanding these phases gives you a better grip on records organization for your business, improves overall workplace productivity and gives you the peace of mind of an orderly office.

Stage 1: Active Files

Active files are always in use, need to be  kept close at hand and play a daily and often critical role in your workplace.  Active files are never stored or archived, of course, yet they still need to remain organized so that in the flurry of a bustling office they do not become lost or accidentally discarded.

Active File Solutions

Depending on the number of active files used, different types of filing systems keep records accessible and organized.

Open Sorters for Shared Active Files

Sorters display critical files openly for shared office use, while labelled shelves on the sorter maintain organization. Policies regarding shared active files may include a sign in and sign out process to track important documents around the office.

Bankers Box sorters for active files

Desktop Organizers Keep Active Files Handy

If files are not shared, a desktop organizer can provide easy and quick accessibility for specific documents used exclusively by certain employees. These types of organizers also offer the flexibility for managing different document types from binders of information to folders of multi-page records, to single page documents.

active file organizers

Managing the “In-Between” Nature of Semi-Active Files

Semi-active documents are those that are no longer vital to the everyday operations of the business, yet need to be retained for legal reasons. These types of documents are the most likely to become lost or accidentally discarded as their lack of importance to everyday business puts them “out of sight and out of mind” until an incident occurs in which they are required and they are nowhere to be found.

Basic and Extra Space Saving Systems for Semi-Active Files

Storage for those types of files still keeps them accessible, yet out of the way, most likely in a records room or in an office.

Only have a few files? Use the basic space-saving solutions that stack two units high for desk side or in the back of an office for infrequent access and storage.

semi-active file storage

Have lots of semi-active files? Use an extra spacing-saving solution, stacking 5 units high, storing quite a few semi-active files and always keeping them ready for unexpected and urgent office needs.

semi-active file drawer system

Archival Records Storage

Archival documents lose their semi-active urgency yet still have importance and need to be retained long-term. These may include tax documentation, employee records, including past employees, and long-term legal documents such as contracts.

Archival records may be stored on or off-site. Using the flexibility of storage boxes allows easy access to these files even though they are in storage. The lightweight design also allows the boxes to be easily transported and stacked , whether in a large records room or in a storage unit. They can be labelled for quick identification when they need to be opened up as well.

The average business purchases up to 12 of these Bankers Boxes a year to archive important documents. Maintaining a retention policy helps keep these documents from simply taking up space without a purpose. Know what files are put in archival storage, how long they have been there and when it is determined that they should be destroyed, especially if they contain any confidential information.

Records Destruction

Most documents reach the document destruction stage. Here are the list of the most common documents, outlined by the IRS, that are ready to be shredded by a business after archival storage.*

  • Business Income Tax Returns and Supporting Documents.-7 years
  • Employee Tax Records- 4 years
  • Human Resources Files 7-10 years
  • Bank account and credit card statements- 7 years
*IRS http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p583.pdf

 

 

Office Manager Tips For Reducing Workplace Disruptions

 

workplace disruptions

 

The best efforts by office workers to improve personal productivity may be thwarted by a workplace that is full of disruptions. From an endless thread of emails to co-worker chat sessions just outside an associate’s cubicle, many office cultures can sometimes seem almost counterproductive.

In fact, results based on a survey of 1,200 full-time office workers revealed some of the most annoying office distractions. Gossipy coworkers pull office mates into their conversation and away from big projects, while unnecessary meetings throughout the day only set workers farther away from critical deadlines. Even the temperamental printer’s paper jams can cause roadblocks to assignment completion. Here are some tips office managers can use to reduce disruptions and improve productivity.

A Checklist for Office Managers

Create Both Collaborative and Independent Work Areas

Friendly discussions among coworkers are essential for strong teamwork, but there is a time and a place for everything. Have areas of the office specifically for collaborative discussion and even informal chats. Reserve other office areas for quiet, independent work. Posting signs such as “Quiet, Geniuses at Work”, can make this policy seem less formal. It may also be secretly appreciated by many who need to get work done.

Maintain High Productivity Office Machines

Curiously a worker may curse a faulty fax machine in private but never mention it to the office manager, leaving the problem unresolved. Check up on office equipment to make sure it is performing at its best, which helps maintain high productivity. Also, look for newer, state-of-the-art business machines that actually improve productivity. For example, Fellowes’ AutoMax™ automatic shredders allow workers to shred without manually feeding paper into the machine. AutoMax shredders offer a truly walk away shredding experience. Employees simply load documents then press the start button to begin the shredding process. This elimination of hand-feeding allows employees to return to important tasks more quickly. Select AutoMax shredders can shred up to 500 sheets in a single session. See AutoMax in Action.

Offer an Attendance Option for Meetings

Not everyone may need to attend a meeting. Allow meeting organizers to list critical attendees, and then those who wish to show up if they have the time. This removes the obligation for some workers to attend non-important meetings, so they can remain focused on current assignments.

Minimizing disruptions is just one way an office manager can improve productivity.  Check out other productivity tips for the workplace: Read the article.

Adding a Sit-Stand Desk to Your Home Office

home office sit stand desk

The daily office grind, doesn’t change if you are managing a small business out of your home or working full-time from a home office. Much like a desk job in a corporate setting, sitting down all day can compromise your health.  In fact, as Marc Hamilton a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. indicates: “a man who sits 60 hours at a desk job but still works out for 45 minutes a day five times a week still has a sedentary lifestyle.”

Making the Change to a Sit Stand Workstation

Sit-stand desks are a healthy option to the traditional workstation in that regular standing and sitting throughout the day provides the flexibility and movement that can encourage calorie burn and minimize the weight gain that comes with a excessive sitting, and the great benefit of having one in your home office is that you don’t need to make a request to HR. Newer sit stand designs come fully assembled so they are easy to set up. Most importantly new Smooth Lift Technology makes it easier to transition from sitting and standing and back again throughout the day.

Customizing Your Home Office with Sit-Stand Workstations

Personalizing your home office to fit you is one of the great benefits of working from home.  Select a Sit-Stand that has full adjustability. The Lotus Sit-Stand features 22 different height settings and 17″ of vertical adjustment so that you can position your workstation for personal comfort.

So Many Computer Cords to Manage!

The high-tech nature of the modern home office may mean tangles of computer cables. Choose a sit-stand with cable management options so your home office looks uncluttered. The Lotus also features a device charging slot which allows your entire workspace to move freely with you-no cable strain or tangles.

Working with More Than One Monitor

If your home office profession requires multiple monitors, you will need to find a sit-stand workstation that accommodates that need. The Lotus offers the option of a dual monitor arm kit that transforms your sit-stand into a multi-screen workstation-perfect for programmers!

Learn more about Lotus Sit-Stand Desks.

 

The Risks of the Ready-to-Shred Slush Pile

shredder slush pile

Many busy offices may not shred daily. In fact, Fellowes consumer research shows that as much 30% of offices still shred only a few times a week rather than everyday, which means confidential documents are accumulating in a ready-to-shred slush pile. When you consider that 43% of data losses were directly accountable to internal factors, ranging from disgruntled employees to corporate spies, the unattended slush pile becomes an overlooked risk.

Slush Pile Solutions

An office of any size can still manage a daily shredding policy without compromising productivity. Using an automatic shredder, makes the process easy.

Automatic shredders can handle loads of shredding all at once hands-free, eliminating the need for hand-feeding documents into the machine. This is the most common cause of the slush pile, as papers are typically set aside for a time when an office employee can handle a large shredding task.

Some models of automatic shredders feature scheduled shredding options, allowing automatic shredding to be done after business hours on a daily basis. Piles of confidential documents left exposed overnight are vulnerable to identity thieves who often take jobs with cleaning crews for the very purpose of gaining access to these documents.

Automatic Shredding-Not Just for the Big Corporate Office

Add automatic shredders to a small business as well. With the 130C  automatic shredder, small offices can also improve productivity and eliminate the risk of the ready-to-shred slush pile.

Why Accountants Need To Review Their Shredder Policy During Tax Season

shredding during tax season

Digital identity theft is the primary concern for most business professionals, including accountants. Yet during tax time, strategic dumpster diving is a common technique used by identity thieves. Focused on dumpsters behind office buildings where accountants and tax preparers conduct business, identity thieves rely on the hectic busy season to create lapses in document-based identity theft prevention.

Shredding Policy Basics

  1. Ensure all employees know what documents must be shredded. Create a list of key documents as reference for all employees.
  2. Shred all documents during working hours. Avoid leaving slush piles of paper to shred while not in the office. Cleaning crews may accidentally toss these papers if they appear as trash.
  3. Ensure shredder bins are emptied regularly. When employees are busy, full shredder bins often lead to documents being set aside to be shredded later, only to be discarded as regular trash.

Choosing a Shredder for an Accounting Office

Select a paper shredder that accommodates the size of the office.  Large, commercial shredders are ideal for any size shared office as they require less frequent emptying. Small office shredders placed by employee desks work well too. Automatic shredding is the latest in shredder technology and allows documents to be safely destroyed even after office hours with computerized settings. Learn more about Automatic Shredding

Make sure to use cross-cut shredders. Strip cut shredders are okay for households, but do not provide adequate document destruction for businesses. Cross-cut shredders grind documents into 5/32” x 1-1/2” cross-cut particles.(Security Level P-4).  For greater peace of mind, consider a micro-cut shredder.

Learn more about shredding security levels

Lax  Tax Document Destruction in the News