Archive for November, 2014

In light of Republicans capturing control of the state House after 60 years in the minority, Albuquerque Business First’s Dan Mayfield highlighted what policies could have a greater chance of passage in the upcoming legislative session, and high on the list is right-to-work.
As of Jan.1 this year, 24 states are right-to-work states, wherein labor unions are barred from including so-called union-security clauses in collective bargaining agreements with employers. In the remaining collective-bargaining states, of which New Mexico is one, unions may require all workers covered by the agreement to pay dues or fees to cover the cost of bargaining activities. In other words, workers may be required to join a union as a condition of their continued employment.
Union leaders have long argued that since a union represents all workers, and since all workers of a bargaining unit benefit from collective bargaining, each worker must pay his or her fair share of dues or else unfairly receive a free ride.
Like unions, chambers of commerce are member associations. The Internal Revenue Service has described chambers as “direct[ing] their efforts at promoting the common economic interests of all the commercial enterprises in a given … community.”
ALL the commercial enterprises in a given community, it said, even the nonmembers – the “free riders,” in union parlance. And the IRS requires a chamber, as an exempt organization under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, to have a “meaningful level” of membership support.
But unlike unions, chambers have never guaranteed their income by codifying dues payments from those they represent. In fact, in 1913, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sought tax exemption through the forerunner of IRC 501(c)(6), it argued in congressional hearings that when chambers of commerce “succeed in their purposes, they increase the incomes, not of themselves, but of the individuals in their communities, irrespective of membership in the organizations.” But to keep the doors open, chambers must earn that meaningful level of membership support by demonstrating their value and, bottom line, actively selling memberships. Chambers have to prove their worth. How is it fair that unions don’t have to do the same?
So for now, New Mexico is a “right-to-dues” state for unions, by statute and by contract. I’m envious, because the Hobbs Chamber must live the mantra “evolve or dissolve” every day, because it is no more immune to negative market forces than our member businesses. We chambers are scrapping to remain valuable, viable and sustainable, and it’s a tough environment. Earlier this year, Albuquerque Business First reported the revenue and net income of 25 New Mexico chambers of commerce, pulled from each organization’s 2012 tax return. Of the 25 chambers listed, 40 percent showed net losses. The Hobbs Chamber, for one, could not withstand consecutive years of net losses, and I assume many of our peers couldn’t either. Can a city’s commercial body afford to see a community institution like the chamber of commerce dissolve?
What to do? For starters, I challenge every New Mexico business owner, executive and manager: Corporate citizenship begins with a membership in the community chamber of commerce. Support the organization that supports you by being a member of the chamber of commerce of each community in which your business operates. If you’re not sold on moral obligation alone, then let me tell you, first among your member benefits is that chamber membership dues, sponsorships and fees paid are tax-deductible business expenses. Some businesses can deduct as much 60 cents of every dollar.
Today in Hobbs, one in about five Hobbs-area businesses is a Hobbs Chamber member. While a sampling of businesses reflecting the wider business community is passable, it doesn’t take a statistician to know a chamber best represents “all the commercial enterprises” when 100 percent of those businesses are on the membership rolls. Sure solves the question of sustainability, as well. Thus, we have articulated the goal to be a “100% Chamber Community” – that the Hobbs Chamber will continuously strive to earn 100 percent of the Hobbs area’s licensed businesses as its members.
So, here’s a challenge to every community chamber of commerce to do the same: let’s compete for bragging rights to see who can come closest to being a “100% Chamber Community” by June 30, 2015. Who’s in?
Grant Taylor is the president and CEO of the Hobbs Chamber of Commerce.

How To Rank Higher In Google Maps

Guest Blogger: Michael Kern from Inform Local

graff of success for having learned how to rank higher in google mapsLearning how to rank higher in Google Maps will improve the amount of calls you receive, and traffic to your website or storre front. The traffic and phone calls come from locals in your area that are searching for your products or services. I am going to list the best resources to find citations, and give you advice to improve your Google local business directory listing. Plus I am going to tell you my two favorite and most powerful citation sites.

There are a lot of factors that go into improving your position in Google’s directory. I want to talk about what I consider to be the most important factor, which are citations. If you want to check out all ranking factors and see some studies, check out these articles: Ranking Factors, Google Places quality guidelines and Rank Correlation Data.

Citations Types

A citation is a reference of your business on a webpage other than your own. Citation Example 1: Having your basic business information (Name, Phone number, and Address) listed on Yahoo local. Citation Example 2: When someone writes a review about your business, usually in an online directory like Yahoo Local, or even in a blog post, or press release.

Why Citations Are An Important Ranking Factor

Google only wants to list real local businesses. Webmasters trying to get traffic to their websites have been spamming Google for ever, trying to get their businesses listed outside their actual geographical area. So in order to verify the information entered into the Google Maps Directory, Google crawls the web looking for other instances, or mentions of the same business. The more citations they find, the more they trust, the higher you’ll rank.

Citation Sources

So now we understand that we need more citations than our competition, but where do we get them? There is an awesome free tool, I don’t know how long it will remain free, so use it soon. Citation Finder will let you know where you are listed and where you’re not. It delivers you to the page you need via a link, so you can list your business.

There is another way to find citation sources. Put your competitions phone number into Google and search, this will show you all the places they are listed. Repeat this search for your top 3 or 4 competitors and you will have a long list of citation sources.

My Two Favorite Citation Sources

Not all citation sites are created equal, and some are better than others. While you want a lot of citations to help move up your Google Places position, some sites will send customers ready to make a purchase (bingo). The Better Business Bureau (BBB), and your local Chamber of Commerce, are great resources and citation sites.

It is my belief that easy to get citations are not worth as much as citation sources that verify the information that is submitted to them. Some citation sources mail you a code to verify your mailing address, or they call you to verify you actually have the phone number you say you do.

To get an accredited BBB listing, you have to show them your business certificate, and /or show licenses and certifications, sort of prove how long you’ve been in business. Who but real businesses will go through this process.

Many people go to their local Chamber of Commerce, or the BBB when looking for services. These companies are trusted to provide reputable local businesses. Some chambers will let your customers leave a review, and the BBB ranks your business in part by reviews left by past customers (reviews are really citations within a citation).

Nobody has told me Google’s grading system, but I have managed to help my clients get into the top three spots and many to number 1 with what I just shared. One of the keys to learning what works and what doesn’t work is testing.

SEOMOZ.org had a tool that gave you weekly updates. It would give you present and historical rank data. You could see your Google Maps rank for any keyword you plugged in. It also gave you the same data for Bing Local and Yahoo Local. The tool is out of order right now, but we are told it will be back better than ever real soon.

Now you know how to rank higher in Google Maps, get out there and get your citations. It is time consuming work, so add a few every week. You may want to bookmark this post to come back to the tools I have listed.

Hit me up in the comments with any questions or to tell what you have done to improve your local Google places ranking.

http://www.generalservices.state.nm.us/statepurchasing/ has complete information for local small businesses about doing business with the state and working through the procurement process.

For similar information for the City of Santa Fe go here http://www.santafenm.gov/bids_rfps

And for Santa Fe County http://www.santafecountynm.gov/asd/purchasing_division

Many government agencies are required to assign some purchasing to local small business. Take a look at how LANL helps local suppliers here http://www.lanl.gov/business/small-business/general-information.php