Best.Job.Ever!

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I wrote this blog in Timmins, where I spent a couple of days with members of the Sudbury Team helping the newest Plan A owners get ready to open up their doors for business.  There was an excitement surrounding Plan A Timmins and we were warmly received.  The Dean of Northern College’s Health Care programs set us up to meet dozens of PSW, PN and BSCN students.   And our first local client agreed to work closely with us to orient our newest team members.   Plan A Timmins is off to an impressive start!

As we expand into another great Northern Ontario community, I’d like remind everybody about the benefits of working with Plan A.  Not only is it a much needed support service for our elderly and the people who care for them, it’s beneficial for the people on the A Team!  So why is Plan A the #bestjobever?  Here are my favourite reasons:

  • You’ve got your schedule in the palm of your hand!  At Plan A our shift requests are powered by StaffStat – our own custom designed shift-filling software.  Your shifts are in the palm of your hand through our app, phone calls, emails and text notifications.  If you’re free to work then pick up and if you’re not then ignore.  You can work the minimum 3 shifts a month or 13…the choice is yours to make!
  • The ‘no guilt’ factor. Sure, we’ll hold you to your commitment of 2-3 shifts per month, but you’ll pick those up when you want, not because we’ve called you to ‘guilt’ you into picking up!
  • Extra money.  If you’re like most people, you are finding that with your regular job there’s more month to your money.  Our competitive rates can give you extra cash to pad your bank account, pay off your credit card, take a vacation, get ready for Christmas or anything else you have your sights on! With just three shifts per month you can bolster your salary by  $6000 to $14000 a year, depending on your designation.
  • Make a difference for your community.  Our LTC homes have chronic staffing issues, in fact, many of our clients have said that staffing is their most pressing issue.  When our Plan A health care professionals loan their experience to our clients, it directly impacts our elderly and community for the good.
  • Increase your experience. If you haven’t tried it, what do you have to lose?   Working in LTC is completely different than working in the acute care sector or within the community.  It’s a fast paced and rewarding job that gives you a chance to challenge your skills, hone your critical thinking and spend some time with some truly fascinating people.
  • Keep our LTC resident in their homes. Accidents and injuries among LTC residents are most prevalent when there isn’t enough staff to provide care.  There are many studies that show that our vulnerable population have an increased risk of additional health complications once they are hospitalized; these complications begin as soon as they are admitted.  Keeping our elderly in their homes with specialized senior care is the best thing we can do for their health and safety.
  • We have a dynamic company culture. We are a company that prides ourselves in having each and every team player’s back.   We are celebrating aging and staffing across Northern Ontario and our culture is built around the notion that ‘care givers need care too’.  We want to put people in our homes that can make a difference and we are not going to allow you to burn out while you do it.
  • See beautiful Northern Ontario.  You will have many opportunities to work all across blissful Northern Ontario.  Spend a weekend on gorgeous Manitoulin Island and hike the scenic Cup and Saucer Trail after your shift.  Make a trip to Sault Ste Marie and get in some skiing while you’re there.  Or simply make a stop at the Chez Jean-Marc Boulangerie for some of their famous butter tarts and some Quebec squeaky cheese curds on your way home from your shift in Sturgeon Falls.  There’s no shortage of specialty shops and places to visit across the North.  Why not visit them while you’re helping out?

These are just a few of the reason why Plan A is the #bestjobever.  I would love to hear why being part of the A Team works for you!

SheriSignature

Under Pressure

Under Pressure.jpgI like to think of myself as a pretty positive person. Of course, as someone who runs a company, there’s bound to be times when everything is going smoothly and there’s going to be days where it feels like everything is going wrong. Here’s the thing: sometimes, there will be hiccups, there will be challenges and there will be times when you simply don’t know what to do! These situations can’t be avoided. If anything, with a startup, they must be anticipated. You have to have an action plan to ensure that when the time comes, you’re unafraid, you’re confident and you’re ready. Last week, it was our team that was met with a challenge, a ‘what do we do?’ kind of moment. How did we get through it? The credit goes to 4 key elements:

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  1. Surround yourself with smart people and listen to them:

Sure, you can run your company thinking that you’ll always be the one to come up with ideas and, in this case, solutions. You can ask questions with an answer already in mind and shut down the opinions of those working on the front line or, in a time of crisis, you can sit down, open your mind and listen. It’s likely going to be the person who’s not in panic mode that will come up with a brilliant way out, and given what you have on the line, you’ll probably be the one panicking. Hiring smart people means that when something goes wrong, you’ve got some brilliant minds to help you work the problem.

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  1. Surround yourself with people who have a ‘team’ mentality:

When you run into a difficult situation, wouldn’t it be nice to have people who say: What can I do to help? The key is to have a team that always comes together, that helps each other and that is always willing to go above and beyond. Of course, building this team can be a challenge. It takes time and a team mentality comes from the top down, which means your responsible for creating and maintaining that culture. If you understand the benefit of having people who want the company to succeed because you encourage them and they can see the bigger picture, the productivity in ideas, solutions and actual work, is inevitably going to blossom and improve. It also ensures that you can get out of sticky situations quickly when something unexpected pops up! Sounds like a win/win/win to me!

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  1. Give credit where credit is due:

When someone comes up with a solution, you need to provide credit where credit is due. If you want your team to feel good about coming up with creative solutions and feel good about the outcome, celebrate that person’s victory. We never shy away from giving ‘kudos’ to the rightful person because a ‘win’ for that person is a ‘win’ for the entire team. I never expect to be praised but when I am, I know how great it feels. That good feeling is a natural reaction so don’t be afraid to spread the word when a team member is the one who came up with an idea, worked to get it resolved and/or encouraged a positive outcome.

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  1. Be transparent:

I know that no one likes to deliver bad news. I get it. You feel the panic set in. Will my customers still buy from me? Will they trust that we deliver on our promise? Of course they will… provided you’ve taken the time to nurture your customer relationship and as long as you’re always honest. Lines like “under promise/ over deliver” are well known in the business world because they have a certain undertone; one that ensures that your customer feels they’re not being lied to. If you’re coming to a deadline and you know you can’t deliver, giving that customer a heads-up and letting them know that you and your team are doing everything you can to complete the task is better than letting that deadline come and go. If you’re experiencing a problem with your service, let your customers know ASAP! Ideally, provide them with a solution and an ETA on resolution. You would be surprised by the type of reaction you get from customers who are appreciative to be in the ‘know’, patient while you work everything out and congratulatory once everything has been solved.

All in all, a crisis can be many things but I like to look at them this way: It can break you or it can mold you. It can be destructive or it can be seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. I consider myself fortunate to be at the helm of a company that operates under the 4 principles listed above. It allows us to hit the ‘go’ button with a smart team and understanding customers whenever we’re in a pressure type situation. With that type of winning combination, you’re sure to get ahead of the problem and impress your customers when a problem arises and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

melblog

 

Boss Sauce

IMG_2164.JPGFrom the moment I hired my first employee, my goal was to be the best boss I could be; the kind of leader I had always dreamed of working for.

Building a solid team is no easy task and it would be an impossible task if I weren’t up to the challenge of being a better boss every single day.   And I must be doing something right because I have an incredible team of driven people who truly get what we’re doing, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there!  And they all seem to really enjoy their job!

The following values have helped me to become the leader I am today:

Honesty – I am 100% honest with my team 100% of the time.  I am a boss of my word.   I am also direct, focused and uncompromising when it comes to the direction of my vision, and if I want my staff to appreciate these values, I have to be truthful 100% of the time— even when my voice shakes or when it means somebody may get hurt or if I have to fire somebody I really like.  It is not always easy but being honest is always worth it.

Integrity – This goes hand in hand with honesty.  Doing the right thing when nobody is looking is as important as speaking the truth.  My staff knows that no matter what is going on we always do the right thing. Our mission involves looking after vulnerable people after all!

Optimistic – If I am not optimistic about what the future has in store for my growing vision, how can I expect my staff to be?  No matter what’s going on in the business— a difficult client, a shortage of health care professionals for our shift requests, everyday growing pain—I am sure to bring the optimism!

Supportive – I want to make sure each team player has a job that complements them and that they have the tools to do it well.  I encourage my staff to find ways to make their job as purposeful as possible and will implement any good ideas immediately.  I am there for them when it’s tough and I am cheering them on with their successes.  I have their back and they have mine too.

Sense of humourWhen all else fails, you’ve got to laugh and there’s nobody I enjoy laughing with more than my team.  The laughs in the office are many and they are important because as a rapidly growing company with a boatload of growing snafus, I really want our office to be a fun place to work.

These are some of the things I do to be the best boss that I can be.  I am not perfect but I am approachable, eager to learn and not afraid to be vulnerable in this position.  What works for you?

SheriSignature

Struggle of a Gen Yer in Software Sales

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If you aren’t familiar with Generation Yers or any of their characteristics, I’m going to start with a quick explanation. According to the web, anyone born between the early 1980’s and early 1990’s is given the label “Generation Y”. Those born in the early 1990’s are also known as “Millennials”. As with any generation, Gen Yers have been identified as having certain characteristics that most people born in that generation possess. We’re known for being ambitious, team players, family oriented, impatient and attention seeking, but most of all, we’re known for being tech and web savvy.

Working with StaffStat doesn’t just mean that I call prospects and try to make sales. It also means that I take customer service calls when they come in from staff and users that don’t quite understand how the system works. Some people have forgotten their password and I need to do a simple reset, some aren’t sure how to respond to shift requests via the phone call, text, email or App when they come through, and some don’t understand how to use the system at all. Being a Gen Yer born in 1993, I grew up with technology and I understand it. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m constantly glued to my phone, I watch TV through my xBox, I own an iMac and a Macbook Pro, and I probably have 3-4 iPods laying around in different end-table drawers around my house. I don’t have to call tech support lines to understand how to use my technology and I don’t have to rely on someone else to troubleshoot problems or glitches when they happen.

Being a Gen Yer, I can honestly say that I’ve taken on two of the characteristics that I listed: I am both tech saavy and impatient. Being in the role that I’m in with StaffStat, it’s been quite the learning curve to learn to juggle the two, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Patience is something that I’ve always struggled with. I’m impatient when waiting for things to load, I get angry walking behind someone who walks slower than I do, and I have a tough time driving behind someone who’s “only” going the speed limit. Taking time to be patient and educate users on how to navigate their way through the system and understand how it all works has definitely been something that I’ve had to learn the art of along the way. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to really practice patience and understanding, and with this role I have no choice but to accept it, get used to it and be comfortable with it.

If you find yourself struggling with patience in sales or impatience in general, give the following tips a read to help you destress or overcome your impatience:

  1. Take deep breaths. Although I don’t like that this makes me sound like I have major anger issues, it’s usually the thing that calms me down the most. It gives me a second to collect my thoughts and figure out what I’m going to say and/or do next without sounding annoyed or frustrated.
  1. Go outside. Another thing I love to do if I’m feeling impatient or frustrated or stressed out is go outside and sit in the fresh air for a few minutes. Although it doesn’t alleviate the stress as it’s being built up (if you’re on a call for example), it helps release it afterward. 
  1. I remind myself that they genuinely don’t know. When I’m on a call with someone who’s asking for clarification on something that seems simple to me, I have to remind myself that they genuinely don’t know the answer to the question that they’re asking or they wouldn’t be calling me. No one calls into the tech support line to simply give us a hard time (even though it sometimes feels like it).
  1. I force myself to be patient. Rather than rushing into the fast lane or moving to the other side of the hallway in the mall or grocery store, I sometimes force myself to stay in the slow lane or walk behind those that move slower than I do to get used to it. When I do this it’s usually a good reminder that I’m often rushing for no reason!

TessaSignatureRevised

6 Characteristics of Successful People

Team-Success-SmartTalent.jpgOver the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by individuals who I believe have the characteristics needed to be successful. From my experience, I have created a list of what I feel an individual needs in order to successfully reach a goal. The team I work with exhibit these characteristics and so much more.

‘Success is almost dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret to winning.’ ~ Denis Waitley

Drive. Each and every one of our team members has an abundant amount of drive. We are all determined to get to task and do what it takes to reach our goals. Our team is broken down into individual roles and job descriptions; however, we all go the extra mile even if it’s outside of our job description or expectations.

‘Resilience is not what happens to you. It’s how you react to, respond to, and recover from what happens to you.’ ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

Resilience. Just as any business, we have had our successes and our obstacles. However, it never ceases to amaze me how much stronger our team comes out after a setback or a stumbling block. We strategize, problem-solve and come to a solution for every obstacle we come across. Our obstacles, and thus our solutions, make our team and processes stronger.

‘Patience is a key element of success.’ ~ Bill Gates

Patience. We all understand that success takes a good balance of patience and persistence. Patience is valued and found in every interaction within our team, and with our customers. We all have the capacity to accept or tolerate delay or setback without frustration. We all know that reaching goals as set by our strategic plan takes time, persistence and patience.

‘Integrity is doing the right thing. Even when no one is watching.’ ~ C.S. Lewis

Integrity. Having a strong moral compass and having a team that shares similar values are vital to our successes. I work with the most honest team, we are all accountable for our actions and transparent in all of our interactions, whether it is among one another or with our customers. We are strong because of the trust that we have built together as a team.

‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style’ ~ Maya Angelou

Passion. If you do not have the passion for what we do, you won’t last long. Passion is a necessary ingredient in what makes our team successful. We all believe in our product and that passion shows through in everything we do; whether it is while talking with prospects, customers, colleagues or partners.

‘Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.’ ~ Helen Keller

Optimism. Some moments can be difficult but always looking forward with a positive attitude is another necessary ingredient in our success as a team and a company. What you put out into the universe is what you’ll get back. By living a positive life you certainly attract positive energy.

Our team is built upon many characteristics; however, today I chose a few that I truly value and look for individuals that I want to surround myself with. Success is almost definite when these six characteristics combine to build a strong team of women.

Cheers!

mandyblog

 

 

 

6 Tips to Make Your Content Pop!

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With so many users and businesses on social media these days, it’s extremely easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle. So how do you ensure your content gets more engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, mentions, retweets, etcetera? Read and execute these tips to make your content pop!

  1. Be refined. Use high quality images. It may seem silly, but the photos you use in your ads can say a lot about your business. Your social media profiles are an extension of your brand. Use appropriate images that are high quality: those that are large, crisp, have a great resolution, and are not pixelated. For a list of free stock photo websites to help in your ad creation, click here. Example: the ad featured below was created for our tech company, StaffStat,  and uses a high resolution photo with a simple string of text. 12006682_1226050957420981_8012150053996153925_o.png
  2. Be authentic. In the majority of my blog posts I have said that you should always be as real as possible in your interactions on social media. People love brands they can relate to and those they feel like they know on a deeper, personal level. Consumers want to know who they’re buying from. When creating ads, choose images that align with your brand. Don’t follow what others are doing because it’s trendy. If you’re falsely representing your brand with the images you use, your followers will notice and it could potentially hurt your relationship with them. In managing the marketing for two companies, I’ve noticed that our followers love seeing content highlighting personal stories, blurbs celebrating our successes, and photos from events our team attends. Try posting content that shines a light on your company, culture, team, values etc. Example: a Facebook post linking to a blog post written by StaffStat’s CEO. It’s been read over 1000 times! Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.28.25 PM.png
  3. Be visual. Bright, bold, colourful, and vivid images generally perform better on social media. It’s all about catching your audience’s eye. Using black and white photos with a pop of colour can also create intrigue and stand out among all of the other colourful photos that populate on your followers’ feeds. Example: in this ad, we used a black and white image, with a pop of colour and large, bold text to catch the viewer’s attention.
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  4. Be positive. Happiness breeds happiness. I’m sure many of us know that our Facebook feeds can get inundated with content that isn’t necessarily upbeat. Posting images that are light, fun, humorous and make your audience smile will increase the likelihood of your followers sharing your content, enjoying your messaging and your brand, and ultimately buying your products/services. Example: remember WestJet’s Christmas marketing campaign featuring random acts of kindness? It received over 200 billion media impressions and made a lot of people smile!
  5. Be emotive. Our eyes are naturally drawn to images with human faces, especially those that are very emotive, i.e: smiling, shocked, etc. They are also said to perform better on social media than images that are computer generated. Using such images plays on human emotions and allows people to relate to your content. Example: a recruitment ad I created for our company, Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions features a vibrant background and a very excited nurse! Who wouldn’t want to have the #BestJobEver?13240139_1044782118902420_6873777918039857010_n (1).png
  6. Be flexible. This one’s easy. Don’t constantly be selling and don’t post content of the same type all the time. Switch it up! Post testimonials and ads about your brand, share articles related to your industry, post photos of team outings, and more! Get creative!

There you have it—six tips to build better social media content for your business! Good luck!

MeganSignature

Elements of a Marketing Plan

chess-strategyWhether you’re starting your first business or going into your fifth year, developing a marketing plan is an absolutely critical component of the operation and sustainability of your company. Your marketing plan acts as a guide to help the individual responsible for the marketing within your company implement strategies that align with the goals of your business.

At the beginning of each fiscal year, our company has a strategic plan meeting in which all employees attend. We discuss the various functions of the company (growth, operations, financials, etc.) and set goals for the year. We also discuss the steps and tasks needed to take place in order to reach our goals. Marketing plays a pretty significant role in this, so we all brainstorm ides of how to ramp up our business with various marketing strategies! From here, I craft the marketing plan which acts as a living document for the year and helps me, the Marketing Manager, stay accountable in my work; it guides me in understanding which activities must take place, when, and the cost of each.

Creating a marketing plan isn’t difficult, it just takes some time and careful strategizing. If you follow the steps outlined below that I personally use to create marketing plans, you’ll see how simple it can be! Good luck!

  1. Executive Summary: outlines the who, what, where, when, why of your marketing plan; briefly summarizes your entire plan; write this section last!
  2. Company Description: summarizes the history of your company—how it was founded, by whom, your products/services; explains why your business is unique; discusses the growth possibilities.
  3. Mission and Goals: describes your mission and goals of the business (both financial and non-financial).
  4. Core Competencies: what your company does well and how it plans to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.
  5. Situation Analysis: SWOT: strengths and weaknesses (internal factors that affect your business), opportunities and threats (external forces that presently affect/can potentially affect your business).
  6. Competitors: Define the competitors that exist in your market (think big); define their strengths and weaknesses and how you differ from the competition.
  7. Target Market: Define your customers; be specific; look at the demographics and psychographics, their needs, what they value, etc.
  8. The Marketing Mix: the methods you take to get your product/service to market. Consider the following elements:
  • Product Strategy: What is your product/service? What needs does it satisfy? How will you expand your current offering?
  • Distribution Strategy: Where are your products/services currently placed? Where will you expand? How will you get your product/service to customers?
  • Pricing Strategy: What is the value of your product/service to your target market? Price adjustments? Discounts? How will you increase sales?
  • Promotional Strategy: How do you/will you communicate with your customers? How will you get your message across? Think of social media, experiential marketing, media advertising, networking, public relations, etc. Choose strategies that align with your brand. Include approximate costs of each, as well as when each task should occur and other pertinent information.

9. Budget Schedule & Monitoring:

  • Budget: Include specific financial details (you can pull these from your business plan). Calculate the overall costs of implementing each element of your promotional strategy.
  • Schedule: Lay out exactly when each element of your marketing plan will be rolled out, as well as the execution of each element. Create a chart listing each month, and insert every single marketing activity/task that will take place throughout the year in the appropriate month as well as the cost associated with each. This will help you determine how much money you will be spending on marketing on a monthly (or even weekly) basis. Check out this example I just created:Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 3.44.43 PM.png
  • Monitoring: List how you will keep tabs on each element of your plan. How will you improve/adjust when necessary? How will you know if your efforts are successful? What is your ROI (return on investment)?

MeganSignature