comments on marketing budgets
    I am responding to Annette El-Jor’s question about allocating marketing dollars as a percentage of gross revenue. First of all, great question Annette and one that few companies ever consider.   My response assumes that the company has been in business for some time and is growing and has fairly predictable annual gross revenue.  So, with all those assumptions in place, marketing dollars budgeted in the year going forward tend to fall in the 3% to 5% range of the company’s last year of gross revenue depending on the company’s appetite for marketing.  Let’s say “normal” is 4%.  Good luck to you Annette!
Mark Matlock
San Antonio, TX
    First let me say thank you for this forum.  Everyone in our industry should subscribe!
    A reader (Annette) asked what our industry uses to determine a budget for marketing.  This may help.
    Marketing spend in our industry varies greatly.  Knowledge level of marketing in the industry varies greatly too.  Established local companies I have observed spend from 0% (business cards only) to more than 2% of revenue on marketing.  The results vary just as much, not always in proportion to the amount spent.  I also observed a start-up operation spend more than 25% of year one sales on marketing.  Ouch!  Some business owners say they get all their work by referral and do no marketing.  National companies marketing varies widely also, from less than 0.5% to 5% of sales or more.  Be careful not to put the cart before the horse with your marketing or do what others do.  Your business plan should detail your unique growth plans including what marketing activities and associated costs you will incur to achieve those goals.  It is important to be able to track your marketing effectiveness so you can identify and repeat what works and do less of what is ineffective.  If you don't have a business plan or are not sure what should be included and how to get started, hire a consultant to help you.  Companies that have a plan achieve what they set out to more so than those without one.  Marketing can raise brand awareness in your main service area or in a planned territory expansion, promote a specific sales campaign, induce a prospect to call you today, introduce a new service offering, differentiate your offer from a competitor or more.
Best regards,
Bob Shoremount
Strandberg Consulting Group
re time cards
    Thank you everyone for your feedback on time card applications! We use Sedona Office and our technicians use the iPad FSU app so we don't need job tracking. I really just need a simple payroll app to create their time cards easier than on paper like they do now. I have received some good options to look at. 
For Dusans comment, not sure what you are talking about. Our office staff (who I  am there with and see what they are doing) have to do time cards and get docked for lunch. They also often work long after the techs have decided to go home. It is not inappropriate to expect or require field techs to clock in and out as well. In fact, it really should be done for tracking purposes for any type of pay day law. They are required in Texas to get over time pay for any time worked after 40 physical work hours a week. I certainly don't think it's good to pay over time when they worked longer one day but didn't get 40 hours due to going home early other days. If you have technicians on salary, I highly doubt they pass the test for that as set forth by the IRS. 
    To answer Dusan's question, from April 26, 2014 article
Employees in many states must have a statutory lunch period, typically a minimum of 30 minutes. This can be unpaid but they should clock in and out if non-exempt or hourly workers to avoid subsequent wage theft claims.  Breaks should be available only if specified in an employee handbook or by virtue of a collective bargaining agreement.  During lunch, employees must be free to leave the premises. An employer can prohibit smoking within a designated number of feet of the premises and, as we move forward in writing manuals, this may include e-cigarettes as well. 
As for internet shopping on office computers, this can be prohibited and a well drafted manual should make it clear that there is no expectation of privacy when using company equipment and that doing so may result in disciplinary action.
Ruth Kraft
comment on simplisafe - from April 29 2104 article
    I like how you pointed out the "100" years part of their advertising.  The first patented electro-magnetic alarm system in the world was June 21, 1853, in the name of Augustus Russell Pope.  I started in this industry in 1981.  Electronic security systems were just starting to be born.  I can still remember using relays and a 6 volt lantern battery. The Digital age had not begun yet, so its really interesting that not only are they lying, but they really don't have a clue.  Could this be a possible class action suit for our industry?  Just curious.
Keith Elliott
Elliott Security & Electronics, Inc.
    There is no long term contract with Simplisafe, but you have to buy their equipment online and when you check out I am sure there are "terms and conditions" that have the protection they need. Nobody reads that stuff but I am sure they have paid an attorney (just not you) good money to write it up. 
Randy Chipman, President
Custom Security
    PS  Went through the checkout tell it wants my cc and no terms and condition. Shocking really. Surprised Dave Rasmey would support a company without managing there risk a little better. Maybe I will buy one, just so I can get in on the class action suit when it comes. 
re alternate communicates from April 23 2014 article
    Regarding alternative communications, I am in the Alabama-Florida-Georgia tri-state area where GSM coverage is spotty, but CDMA seems to work if anything will work.  We don't sell proprietary brands but some brands are somewhat universal.  We install a lot of IpDatatel CDMA models which use CDMA and optional IP.  We also use Telguard models for some purposes (e.g. commercial fire alarm) which use 3G GSM SMS and in our tests the Telguard 3G performs better than so-called 4G of others.
    Thanks for providing this forum.
Ed McDaniel
Wiregrass Systems
Dothan, Alabama

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