How to Set up Retail Employees to be More Efficient

It’s important in the retail industry that work be done efficiently. Whether it’s working at the register, restocking merchandise, or answering customer questions, there’s not a lot of time to spare. When employees are not efficient, this often leads to a significant decrease in customer satisfaction, sales, and overall company productivity. Of course, this isn’t always the employees’ fault. With various tasks comes time wasted by nature, but with modern advances in retail technology, you can help them cut down on that waste and make the most out of their most productive hours. The following are a few ways you can tackle this problem to help to ensure that your retail employees have all the tools they need to prevent any time being wasted.

Time Management

Clocking in and out in of itself can be a major time-waster. While the punch card shows when they officially clocked in, that doesn’t account for the time that they waited in line with the others on their shift to punch in, or the time it takes for them to put their card away, get ready, and get to their station. The same problem comes with clocking out, but your employees are still required to work the same set hours, which means that they’re wasting clocked-in time just working around the time management system. By leveraging the power of cloud-based solutions for clocking employees in, employees can clock in without having to wait in line or fumble with old-fashioned punch card machines. Clocking in and out for lunches and shifts will be much more efficient when your employee can clock in from their phone, saving their frustration as well as the time you’re paying for.

Organization

Organization is a critical aspect towards encouraging your employees to engage in and maintain increased efficiency. Nothing wastes time more than when an employee is constantly stuck looking for the items they need to do their job, rather than actually doing their job. Setting aside lockers or designated shelves for employees to keep their belongings and equipment will reduce wasted time and even reduce the instances of lost or broken equipment. This saves your company in both time and costs, as well as shows your employees that you are aware of their needs and working to help them succeed.

Improved Communications

One area often overlooked for improving employee efficiency is in the area of general in-house communications. The use of Motorola 2 way radios in NYC retail businesses can lead to significant increases in response time and team work from your employees. Calling out on the intercom isn’t an efficient or effective way to get the right employee to the right place for customer assistance, or for any task for that matter. Being able to address employees directly and privately through two-way radios allows for employees to address one another as a group or get the attention of an individual employee as needed. By utilizing the services of unified communication installation experts to make this type of efficient employee-to-employee communication possible, customers will be thrilled with the increase in service efficiency.

The Company Newsletter

A great way to keep your employees informed on how to ramp up efficiency in the workplace is by providing tips and insights through a companywide employee newsletter. This can be especially helpful for new employees who may not yet be fully aware of all of your company’s policies and procedures. The tips being provided can help to inform employees, both new and old, on how to improve their own efficiency on the job. This also will help with quickly and effectively alerting all employees to changes in shift schedules, policy adjustments, and extra-hours opportunities in a way that they can reference later as needed.

By taking these steps to improve your company efficiency, it will be much easier to cut down on wasted time. Retail employees are generally paid by the hour, which means that time is money in this industry, money that no one can afford to waste. If these solutions don’t appeal to you, try holding an open meeting with your employees to see if they are aware of any issues that make their job harder and impede their productivity. Maintaining open communication with your employees can help reap great benefits and give you the feedback you need to ensure optimum efficiency in your business.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Expanding Your Online Business: 4 Things to Consider Before Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Location

Many companies have expanded from brick-and-mortar operations to offering only online stores that can be used to purchase products and services. It’s a huge sector of the economy and has been growing rapidly since the introduction of the internet. 

However, what if you wanted to do the opposite? Instead, you could evolve from an online-only operation to also having brick-and-mortar locations. This too can lead to increased profit. Still, there are serious pitfalls you need to avoid. Here are four things to consider before making this transition.

How Niche Is Your Business?

The great thing about the internet is that it gives you access to millions of people you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This includes consumers with extremely specialized interests. While you may be able to find enough of these individuals online to make a profit, achieving the same success in one geographic location may be much more difficult.

Will You Appeal to the Local Customer Base?

Similarly, you also need to ensure that you have the ability to actually appeal to the consumers in that locality as well. Your store may be a hit online with shoppers that live in Manhattan. However, if you start a brick-and-mortar location in Rapid City, South Dakota, the consumers there may find your New York-centered branding and marketing off-putting.

Can You Afford All the Costs Involved?

The most significant advantage online stores have over brick-and-mortar stores is the elimination of a lot of overhead expensive and startup costs. Obtaining a building that consumers will actually enter can be much more difficult than finding warehouse space. You will also have to be able to afford all the other expenses required to maintain that store like utilities, rent, and much more.

Do You Have the Management Skills?

Operating a brick-and-mortar store takes distinctly different management skills than managing an online store does. Customer service, for one, will often be face-to-face. You will also have to recruit and train employees that will work with customers directly. You need to ensure you are up to this task or your brick-and-mortar store will flounder as a result.

Just because you are successful with an online business does not necessarily mean you can translate that success to brick and mortar. However, there is still the possibility you could make a fortune by making this transition with your company. If you think brick and mortar can work for you, consider obtaining construction management services and other services that can help you plan for your new stores.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Best Ways Managers Can Motivate Their Team

It’s hard to keep everything right on schedule when the office morale is low and people are slacking at half of their work capacities. According to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, 55% of them are unengaged and as many as 16% are actively disengaged. So, how do you get the other 71% to wake up? Simple, by following the instructions below:

Make it worth their while

No matter how interesting your employees’ job may be, sooner or later, their initial enthusiasm will fade, and they’ll feel like dogs chasing their tails. As a result, their productivity levels will drop, leaving you with a workforce operating at half-capacity. To avoid this, you need to constantly be raising the bar and setting new challenges for your employees. According to these statistics, 86% of millennials would keep their current positions if their employers provided them with career training and development, while 87% of them stated that professional development and career growth opportunities are very important. This could be anything ranging from specific job-related skills, languages, computer skills, and so on. In essence, by investing in your employees’ development, you’re effectively hitting two birds with one stone, as their newly acquired skills will keep them both motivated and more productive at the same time.

Provide them with regular feedback

Providing your employees with a steady stream of feedback will show them that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed. According to PwC, 69% of employees stated that they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized. Give praise where praise is due and acknowledge all of your employees’ hard work to keep the morale afloat. Also, don’t hesitate to hand out constructive criticism to those employees who might be slightly under-performing, as 92% of people surveyed agreed that, when appropriately delivered, negative feedback is an effective performance booster. So, skip the dry formalities of the annual and quarterly reviews, and call up a meeting face to face. Just be wary, as some employees are more sensitive than others. Always give positive examples of their performance first, before criticizing them, in order to avoid hurting any egos.

Give out incentives

For some of your more competitive employees, a simple pat on the back simply won’t do. Instead, they’ll want a more formal sign of recognition for their troubles that they can share with their friends and families. Show them that you care and give them a master gift card, take them out for a fancy dinner, or offer them some paid time-off to spend with their loved ones. This will give them a sense of accomplishment that will motivate them to work even harder. Also, don’t forget to commemorate important milestones with your employees, both company and individual ones, as they are the ideal time for you to be generous and thoughtful.

‘Laissez-faire’

One of the worst possible things you could do inside the office, is to try and micro-manage each and every one of your employees. This is not only highly demotivational, but counter-productive at the same time, as frankly, no one likes having someone breathe down their neck while they’re working. What’s more, employees will get the opinion that you don’t trust them and as such lose confidence in their own abilities. Rather, what you should be doing is giving them some increased autonomy by letting them do things their way. Be flexible, let them organize their own schedules, don’t choke their creativity with unnecessary rules and regulations, and they’ll respect you more for it. According to this survey, 89% of companies reported better employee retention due to the implementation of flexible work options. So, focus your attention on more important matters, and cut your workers some slack every once in a while.

Create a positive working environment

Nurturing a healthy office atmosphere is vital for the overall productivity of your employees, and their mental well-being as well. Team-building events are an excellent way to break up the monotony of the daily grind and let your employees have a bit of harmless fun. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be something elaborate and expensive, but something as simple as a casual Friday, or a spontaneous night out. The most important thing, however, is that it’s something totally unrelated to work, as the main idea is for people to let off some steam and get their minds off work. All in all, these events present the perfect opportunity for your employees to bond with their co-workers and improve their mutual working relationships.

To sum up, different strategies appeal to different people. What works for one employee may not be the case with the rest of the lot. Therefore, it’s vital to keep experimenting with various combinations of these methods, in order to find just the right concoction for your specific workforce.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

7 Tactics to Improve Office Morale

One of the most important aspects of any company is employee morale. If you get unhappy workers, you will get a depressing, inefficient company. That’s why you, as a manager or boss, need to give your all if you want things to improve. Below you will see a couple of tips to do just that.

Avoid and shut down workplace drama

The first thing you should do is avoid, and put an end, to any office drama. Any infighting, arguments, or bad blood should be resolved as soon as possible. If you don’t, it can get much worse, and really heat up. Either talk to the people directly, or direct them to HR.

A big part of is avoiding any office gossip. It should be discouraged as often as possible, and really makes the entire company seem unprofessional.

Learn how to communicate more effectively

It’s not just enough that you have good intentions. You need to know how to get your point across in a way that people will actually listen and care. We suggest you learn how to communicate more effectively. Focus fully on the person that’s talking to you. Never interrupt and try not to judge.

Understanding how to present yourself is important. Focusing on reading body language is a big part of this, as is practicing it yourself. Watch your tone. Even if you mean well, some people just react differently. Some like loud people, others are intimidated. Humor is also important. Sarcasm and irony can be light-hearted and completely innocent, but some simply won’t get the joke and may end up insulted.

It’s all about understanding yourself, how you present yourself, and other people and how they react.

Show that you care

Now, we don’t mean bribing them with donuts and Starbucks every day (though that would be appreciated). We mean actually not letting them stress about their bills, medical coverage, and other bureaucratic nonsense. Keep all that nonsense in check. Have a cleaning lady over regularly. Keep the fridge and toilet supplies stocked. If the AC breaks down, get a repairman there the very next day.

Also, have a lawyer or even doctor on hand (depending on your line of work). Get the best work injury lawyer you can find on retainer if your people deal with dangerous equipment. If you have some specialized equipment, have a repairman on hand as well. Little things like this are a very clear and direct sign of respect. Actions do, in fact, speak louder than words.

Feedback is everything

Actually, listen and focus on what people say. Let them know that if they have any problems or issue, they can always come to you. Create an atmosphere of trust, of allowing people to be relaxed. The worst thing for employee morale is being afraid of being ridiculed by their superior.

People like and respect when somebody respects them. Having their thoughts and opinions heard out can really make a difference. Furthermore, you accepting feedback from them goes a long way. Even if you disagree, the very act of accepting it means a lot.

Be empathetic

Empathy goes a long way. Just because you’re at the workplace doesn’t mean it’s all cutthroat, mechanical, turn of the century rat race. No, you should be understanding. It’s one thing if you have a lazy employee. But if somebody’s parent died, or they were sick, or they have any other tragedy in their life, try to cut them some slack.

Try not to judge, you don’t know what a person is going through. Think of your job as you and your employees against a problem, rather than some class warfare at the office.

Find some time for your people

Find some time for your people. Set up schedules, or just have an hour every week where they can come to you and voice your concerns. Advertise this fact, let them know. Have an hour where there will be no interruptions, where the phone is off, and everybody is relaxed.

Be positive

Finally, be positive. A boss or manager who is always on the edge, who is stressed and depressed, is not a good sight. If they see you like this, they will think the company is in trouble, and so, their jobs too. They may even (understandably) think about seeking a new job. Even if things aren’t going perfectly, try to to at least keep appearances until things calm down.

If needed, learn how to regulate your stress better. Know that investing in some time off, or some more leisure activities, will actually end up making you more efficient. You will be a better boss or manager, and a better person in general.

Conclusion

And there you have, an end to office drama and depression. Just because its work, doesn’t mean it has to be this depressing and difficult affair. Just keep all these tips in mind, and we are certain things will improve.

 

btyAlexander Hunkin is an Australian based startup advisor with in-depth experience in growing business. His meaningful and strategic advice have helped in setting and growing many startup companies in Brisbane and Perth. Alexander is also a content creator for different niches including business, career, finance, and marketing. When he isn’t busy working, you can find him cooking exotic meals, scuba diving, and cycling.

4 Ways Business Managers Can Better Connect with Their Employees

The most effective managers are those that make it look effortless. Connecting with your employees is the best way to become more effective at your job. Here are some techniques that you can use to help you better connect with your employees.

Practice Open Door Relationships

Almost every manager will say that they have an open door policy. Employees know that some managers are just saying this instead of practicing it. You have to practice what you preach. Take the time to listen to what your employees have to say. Be sympathetic and try to help them brainstorm solutions to their problems. You may find that they’re more willing to be open with you in return. This could help you to be aware of ongoing issues within your employee group.

Provide an Outlet

There will be times in which your employees need to vent. Let them know that this is okay as long as they’re respectful of their coworkers. Another venue to provide them with an outlet is to host an event or company party. This will allow everyone to get out of their element and socialize. Look into using a rental company like Party People Rentals & Sales to help you with your party needs. It will give you more time to focus on planning activities instead of the logistics.

Be a Mentor

Give your employees an opportunity to grow into a new position if they’re interested. You can help them achieve their goals by providing mentoring and helping to set goals. This will give you a chance to have a meaningful conversation with them about their motivations and desires. You may find that you have more in common with your employees than you had previously thought. This can garner you more respect with other employees.

Get down with It

Some of the most effective managers are those that understand all aspects of the job. Lead by example and pitch in if someone is out sick or there is a large project looming. If employees see that you’re willing to help out when needed, they view you as more approachable. This may be all that you need in order to start connecting with them. A manager that’s willing to get into the trenches tends to be more respected and trustworthy.

The first place to start when connecting with your employees is to make it personal. Having a vested interest in their success will show them that you care about their well-being and livelihood.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

6 Common Reasons Your Marketing Plan Isn’t Generating Leads

Marketing has never been easier according to the experts. Today, an entrepreneur with zero experience and an internet connection can learn the tricks of the trade. All of the info is available online at the click of a button. As a result, businesses and blog and the platform of your choice can compete. Forget about the size as it doesn’t matter. Whether big, small or medium, there is nothing you can’t achieve concerning marketing.

So, if this is the case, why are you struggling to generate leads? It isn’t as if you don’t use modern techniques such as search engine optimization. And, you also invest in paid marketing such as pay-per-click. Still, the amount of leads coming back to you is poor, and you can’t figure out the problem. It’s a head-scratcher.

Without a steady flow of leads, it’s challenging to make conversions and increase sales. Sadly, failure is always an option in business so it’s essential to fix the issue as soon as possible. Without knowing the details, it can be very tricky. The good news is that there are six common reasons for lack of leads underneath. Hopefully, these will be able to help you reverse your fortunes.

Your Aim Is Off

Regardless of the plan, it isn’t going to work if it is aiming at the wrong people. There is no point throwing darts in the dark because it’s a waste of time and energy. Oh, and don’t forget the money either. The key is to optimize every feature to give it the best chance of succeeding. The first step then is to find a base of people who are going to be interested. That way, there is more of a chance that it will grab their attention and make them curious.

You may have an idea of the base, but there’s also a chance that you don’t fully understand the demographic. Are women or men more likely to buy the product or land on the site? What age range? Why do your services seem to resonate with this group? Delving into the specifics should help you find your perfect customer/visitor. Once that person is in your sights, aiming at him or her, and millions more like them is straightforward.

A buying persona should keep you on the right track. For those that don’t have one, visit Lead Forensics now and check out the post for more info.

And So Are Your Methods

The people aren’t the only thing to consider; there’s the method too. Every individual has a preferred contact setting depending on their tastes. For example, the older generations are advocates of speaking on the phone. Some hate cold-calling because it’s annoying, yet they like the directness of talking to a human advisor. Your job is to figure out which people like which platform and then use the info to target them.

Although it sounds like mind-numbingly long work, it’s not too tricky. Use age as a factor to break the base down into groups. The baby boomers have already gotten a mention, so now focus on the other subsections. Young customers are easy because they love to interact via social media. To optimize their experience, try and figure out which account is their favorite: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. The trickiest people are the inbetweeners. Middle-aged men and women are retro and modern at the same time, which makes them awkward. An excellent tip is to use their personal info. For instance, entrepreneurs and business-oriented people will respond to email blasts. A housewife or husband may prefer an app because it suits their lifestyle.

Whichever one you choose, be sure to engage and interact when possible. Adding value often sticks in a person’s mind and encourages them to follow up.

The Tone Is Wrong

It’s essential to speak to people politely and respectfully. Still, there is no need to be boring. Boredom turns people off and makes them want to run a mile. So, finding a balance is a must to ensure there is value in the interaction. There is nothing worse than picking up the phone to listen to a sales rep babble on without pausing. When the other party can’t speak or ask questions, there is bound to be frustration which will result in them bouncing. This is one sales error to watch out for, but you can visit ej4 today for lots more.

Tailor the experience to the platform. Calls should have a consistent tone and shouldn’t be out of the blue. Cold calling is a sure-fire way to get them to hang up without a word. Emails are less formal and can use a chatty, colloquial voice. Also, there’s lots of room for multimedia such as photos, videos and gifs, so don’t be scared to get creative.

Social media is where the most informal interactions take place. When people log-in to their accounts, they don’t want to see forced, pointed, corporate tweets and posts. The most successful marketing plans center on organic conversations full of witty banter.

You’re Jumping The Gun

From the beginning, the end goal is in your sights. If the strategy can get them to convert or make a purchase, then everything will be hunky-dory. It’s important to keep the result in mind but it shouldn’t be at the forefront of the plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of jumping the gun and peaking too soon. Users hate this because it feels as if they are being forced into doing something rather than making the decision naturally.

Focus on providing the right info at the right time. To do this, analyze the process and where everyone stands on the spectrum. Are they at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end? The answer is essential because what you offer should be totally different for all three. At the start, an interested party wants as much info as possible so that they can compare and contrast. The middlemen and women love to hear about solutions to their problems. And, the guys and girls at the end want a sweetener to seal the deal.

By all means, get in front of them early to catch their eye but don’t be pushy. Everyone knows being clingy is a huge turn-off.

Patience Isn’t Your Strong Point

There is lots of activities available and not enough time to get through every single one. As a result, it’s tempting to discard the ones which don’t seem to work. After all, what’s the point in wasting time and money? Although changes can be positive, they can also be a hindrance. In this scenario, a lack of patience may cause you to throw away a feature which will work in the future. There is no way to tell if it is a failure until enough time has passed.

With that in mind, don’t get anxious when something appears not to work. Instead, let it grow and prosper until you are sure. Otherwise, there may be a lot of money left on the table. Take content marketing as an example. It takes a while to build up a reputable portfolio. Some of the market leaders have been doing it for decades and are still learning.

So, the aim isn’t to throw out as much content as possible and hope for the best. Instead, you need to focus on quality over quantity and build a core brand to get results. However, don’t assume they’ll appear out of thin air overnight because it takes hard work and endurance.

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You’re Not Number-Driven

Some people don’t believe in stats and they have a good reason. If you are unable to speak the language, then a lot of info can get lost in translation. Lots of businesses have developed strategies they thought would work yet they tanked. Why? It’s because they read the numbers wrong and didn’t understand the nuances. Still, marketing is a numbers game.

The reason is analytic software. Today, it’s easy to see who is doing what and why without basic math skills. The program does it all for you and prints the info in easy-to-understand chunks. More importantly, it shows you where there are flaws and what needs fixing. It’s incredible the number of strategies that have glaring flaws yet continue regardless. To put it into simple terms, it’s because the people in charge don’t use the analytic software.

Reverse engineer the data to locate the solutions. For example, go back and see where the leads came from in the first place. Then, compare the different sources to the success rate. Are there some which provide better conversions than others? Use this to figure out what gets you the best quality results, which in turn should reveal the best quality leads. Although it’s easy for analytic software to take a backseat, you need to keep on top of it on a regular basis.

Do any of the above seem like mistakes you are making currently? Could they be the reason lead generation is suffering?

4 Ways Surveys Can Help Build Your Startup Company Strategy

Running a startup business is, in fact, quite difficult. Aside from trying to find a way to make it on the market, there are also a lot of challenges and obstacles startup owners face. It’s also quite complicated to fully understand whether or not your business idea will succeed on the market and if there’ll be any demand for your products or services. What’s more, startup businesses usually lack the sufficient funds to conduct extensive and thorough market research.

Luckily, where there’s a will there’s a way – and that’s conducting surveys. That way, startup owners can obtain the necessary information that will help them create a good strategy, without investing too many resources into it. In addition, you can rely on relevant data you’ve obtained directly from your target audience and potential customers. Simply put, you’ll be able to make more strategic and smart decisions. Here are a few ways surveys can help you build a startup company strategy.

Identifying your target audience

As mentioned before, startup businesses are generally not funded enough to conduct in-depth market research. You can assume who is most likely to be interested in your products and services, but you can’t know for sure nor do you know anything important about those potential customers. However, the key to success is knowing all there is to know about your target audience. Fortunately, surveying people doesn’t involve a hefty investment at all.

When creating a survey for your research purposes, make sure you include questions that will shed light on your audience’s demographics, overall interests, preferences and expectations. This will help you familiarize yourself with your target audience and understand their needs as consumers. That information will help you improve your products or services, so that you’ll have a better product/market fit for your startup. You can conduct the surveys both online and in person. Just make sure you analyze the data properly in order to extract vital information from it.

Tracking customer satisfaction

If you’ve started to build an online presence for your startup and also started making sales, it’s important to know how your audience perceives you so far. Customer satisfaction is essential for business success. The main reason is that if your customers aren’t happy, your reputation, bottom line and chances of success may drastically decline. That’s why it’s important to follow-up with your customers after interactions, sales and other activities.

Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback. You can offer a simple incentive to your customers and ask them to participate in paid surveys online. That way, in exchange for their feedback, your customers will gain something of value in return. This will help you gain information that will assist you in improving your customer service and support. Not only that, but it will show your customers that you’re making an effort and that their opinions matter to you.

Testing products and features

Every business looks to grow and develop further by introducing innovation. Adding features to your products or services may be a good way to boost engagement with your customers, but it may also backfire if not done properly. If you want to add something new, it’s safer not to surprise your customers, but instead, ask them for their opinions. You can conduct a survey where you’ll describe new features to customers in detail and ask them what they think about it.

If your audience is generally pleased with the improvements, you can move on to the implementation stage. If not, you should avoid it altogether. That way, you not only show your customer that you care and that their best interest comes first when designing new features, but it also saves you time and resources on developing features that might fail from the start.

Assessing your marketing performance

When launching a marketing campaign that has a purpose of promoting your startup business and inspiring your audience to engage, it’s always a good idea to track important metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). However, without a general input from the customers themselves, you can’t be absolutely sure how well-received your marketing campaign actually is. It’s very risky to keep an ineffective marketing campaign running.

That’s why you should turn to surveying your audience once again. Ask for feedback on your marketing efforts and encourage customers to speak up. Make sure you ask the right questions, so that you can gather the most valuable information from the answers. Their feedback will provide you with information on how to improve your content, promotions and offers. In short, it will help you improve your marketing campaigns, so that they become more efficient in delivering value to both your customers and your startup.

It’s no secret that many startup businesses have difficulties maintaining their growth while trying to figure out the best approach to stand out on the market. That being said, surveys can be quite beneficial to startup owners, especially when they lack the means and the funds to conduct proper research. If you ask the right question from the right people, you’ll gain valuable information that will help you develop an exceptional startup company strategy.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com