San Francisco Relocation – Prepare to Fall in Love

Exploring San Francisco Neighborhoods

San Francisco SkylineIf you are relocating or on temporary assignment to San Francisco, you might consider you are a lucky person.  San Francisco has been called “ Baghdad by Bay” and likened to Rome and Lisbon because the city is built around seven hills.  When I am new to area I usually ask questions of a “native” to find out about the real finds in my new city of residence.  Our curiosity and adventurous spirit motivates us to discover those special places that will become our new favorite places.

You can learn about a city in many different ways, but since San Francisco is known for a diversity of ethnic groups and it’s many neighborhoods, what a great way to explore your new city for your temporary assignment or relocation:

Fisherman’s Wharf: The Maritime Museum, with the lore of old sailing vessels to Love, Chaos and Dinner at Teatro ZinZanni, Fisherman’s Wharf has something for young and old alike.  If you like to shop or eat, the possibilities are endless.  Start with Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square, stopping by the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee, to a little known treasure at Pier 45, Musee Mecanique.  Musee is a vintage selection of old player pianos, pinball and fortune-telling machines, which graced the Cliff House in the 1900’s and Playland at the Beach, with the bonus being that admission is free.

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Mobile Apps Increase Business Productivity

Improved Business Communication and Productivity

SLC Minilypse-City LibraryAt SuiteAmerica, we are enthusiastic about mobile apps and technology.  We have found mobile apps have improved communication with clients and increased our productivity.  We were wondering what the statistics were about mobile apps and business productivity, so we did some research.  We were intrigued with the findings.  Bill French of iPad CTO mentions, “an Aberdeen survey of 240 enterprises suggests that [overall], the use of mobile apps designed specifically to help employees get their work done, increased productivity by 45%.  Further, the data reveals that operational efficiency rises almost as much (44%) when enterprise apps are made available.”

Some further interesting data, Bill French says, “The productivity and performance survey data demonstrates why mobile app strategies are taking on an increased importance and gaining momentum in corporate IT and executive suites.  But this awareness extends all the way down to the smallest businesses.  As a result, it’s not surprising to see how this realization is affecting mobile app strategies in all types of businesses.”

Aberdeen reports the top three mobile strategies and their respective percentages:

  • Improve communication and collaboration among team members (66%)
  • Rapidly deliver actionable information to the point of decision (48%)
  • Use mobile software to increase customer intimacy (42%)

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Corporate Housing More Than a Business Solution

An Underutilized Resource in Multiple Situations

iStock_000021736546SmallWhy would you choose corporate housing over a hotel room or extended stay hotel?  A hotel stay fits a typical one or two week vacation great, but with extended vacations or temporary stays over a two week period, people miss the comforts of home.  Maid service is wonderful, but you miss having a refrigerator stocked with your favorite foods and a hotel room can become confining for longer stays with it’s average of 300 square feet.  For travelers with an extended stay in one area corporate housing is a tremendous resource.

For extended stays, corporate apartments are more economical that a typical hotel room of the same quality.  Most clients find a break-even point is about 21 days; this is the tipping point when a corporate apartment becomes a better choice economically than a hotel room.  Corporate apartments come fully furnished and can be customized to meet your particular needs.  Also, with stays greater than 30 days a client is not subject to hotel taxes, which can be up to 25% of the room cost in some areas.

Freeing yourself form the confines of a hotel room by choosing a furnished apartment gives you an average of 750 square feet of living space; parking, an exercise facility, swimming pool, washer and dryer, high speed Internet, utilities, luxurious bed and bath amenities and a fully equipped kitchen.  Corporate housing gives you many of the comforts of home at a price that is hard to beat.

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The Success Edge-Goal Setting

The Critical Difference in Goal Achievement

4083276-happy-team-of-customer-service-operators-calling-on-phoneMany of us have been to goal setting workshops, made New Year’s resolutions or have attained goals.  But what makes goal setting work?  Why is goal setting a critical component in achieving success personally or in business?  A wise man once said, you would pack differently if you knew you were traveling to New York rather than Hawaii.  An obvious fact, but why do some people achieve goals while others seem to take a slalom course through life?

Psychology, attitude, and aptitude are discussed in many books from Richard Bolles’s What Color is Your Parachute to Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People and how they influence attaining your goals.  But, it is Mark McCormack’s book, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School that explains the 1979 Harvard Business School study with students in the MBA program at Harvard, outlining the critical difference goal setting makes in attaining goals.

Students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”  The results were startling from a MBA program, only 3 % of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13% had goals, but not written, and the majority, 84% had no specific goals set at all.

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Career Opportunities and Temporary Assignments

What Are the Benefits of Temporary Assignment?

CareerWhy would you want to take a temporary assignment with your company?  A temporary assignment doesn’t always herald job death, but can be the vehicle for expanding your career opportunities.  When a corporation is going through major growth and expansion, sometimes your career path can seem less clear, especially when you are offered a temporary assignment.

As a corporate housing company, our personal transition coordinators have heard both the personal and career oriented choices people are addressing with accepting a temporary assignment.  We have listed below some possible benefits to your career in accepting a temporary assignment:

The opportunity to gain experience and skills: A temporary assignment can give you an opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable experience that wouldn’t be possible with your present position.  Pilot programs or testing new markets for company expansion brings opportunities to people that are willing to take on a temporary assignment.  Clear communication is important in ascertaining whether this is truly a temporary assignment or whether a division or company office is being downsized due to a company merger or acquisition. When you have all the facts, you can make the best decision for your career and personal life.

The opportunity to flex your job skills: A temporary assignment can give you the opportunity to flex both your job skills and management abilities.  Often you can find your career path blocked in a corporation; but with a temporary assignment, all new vistas can open up for career advancement and personal development.

Networking opportunities: New city, position, colleagues and opportunities for making connections with people you would have never known had you not taken the temporary assignment being offered.  Networking and expanding your sphere of influence is the juice that propels careers forward; you can see your temporary assignment as an opportunity to kick your career up a notch.

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Relationship Tips for Temporary Assignment

Living Separately During Temporary Assignment

Couple-Walking_smallUsually we don’t go into relationship thinking; wouldn’t it be great to live separately.  Life doesn’t always flow the way we think it will.  Temporary assignments can throw a curve ball into the best of relationships when only one of a couple moves to a new city. It is not always possible for both people to move with a temporary assignment and the reasons are as varied as the people; careers, children in school, finishing a degree, parents in ill health, finances, etc.

As a corporate housing company, many of our relocation specialists hear the dilemmas people are dealing with in accepting a temporary assignment and have offered their compassion and suggestions to help smooth the path to their new city of relocation.  We offer some suggestions below from years of helping people make the best of a temporary assignment when only one of you moves:

Manage expectations: Communicate clearly about your needs, wants, finances, children, career, communication and anything else of importance to you as a couple.  Try to under promise and over deliver to minimize disappointments. Try to keep your pictures of how it should be in check and appreciate what is.

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The Technology Investment Equation

Technology Investments Questions & Tips

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New technology can help companies innovate and streamline their business. We have listed some questions to consider before making the investment in time and money in new technology for your company, helping you to evaluate whether the technology will be a sustainable investment for your business.

Some questions to ask before making the investment:

What is the technology and what will it do for our company?
You should be able to understand how the technology works and what it will do for your company.  Seek alternative opinions and input from colleagues about the pros and cons before adopting a new technology.  A new technology should simplify a process, relationships, system or end result, if not it is probably not the best choice.

Who makes the technology?
If your company is going to rely on a new technology it is best to find out everything, you can about the company who manufactures the technology, technical support and customer service before you invest.

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Relocation Survival Guide: Packing and Moving Tips

Good Planning Reduces the Stress of Moving

Family unpacking boxes in new home smiling

Thriving during relocation involves good planning and anticipating possible challenges before they happen.  We would like to provide some moving advice and a checklist that can help you be proactive in thriving during the transition period.  Many of these tips may seem obvious, but often get overlooked in the fast pace of a move.

From experience, we know the importance of  putting together a relocation survival kit, those items that make the transition period less stressful and allow you to glide through the moving process.  The items listed below are items we suggest are your do-not-pack items:

  • Luggage to pack 3-5 days of clothing for each member of your family
  • Personal survival kit for each family member including: toiletries, toilet paper, makeup, hair dryer, medication, supplements, etc.
  • Tool Set for disassembling and reassembling furniture
  • Protect your memoriesif an item is irreplaceable, don’t pack it (including bills to be paid for the next month), valuables (passport, birth certificates, etc.), and jewelry
  • Snacks and food for moving day

Tips for insuring a smooth moving day success

dog-in-box

We have found that disorganization and lack of planning can make moving day stressful for clients.  With a little forethought and implementing some of the hints below, you might find that you sail through moving day with ease.

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Social Media-Art of Customer Engagement

Using Social Media to Accelerate Business Growth

groupHandshakeChoose the social networks that your clients use-that is best place to start your company’s social dialogue. The growth we have seen in social media from the height of MySpace in 2007 and SecondLife to Facebook and Twitter emerging as social media leaders in 2009 to the emergence of Foursquare and Groupon in 2010 is a trend we see in social media to constantly change and adapt to our use, lifestyle and businesses.

You are now able to build on the relationship capability of social networks with the addition of location-based elements we see the emergence of social shopping as a real opportunity for business.

As your company hones their social media presence, remember to keep some of your tried and true marketing tools because they still have an important role to play.  Websites, email, blogs newsletter, brochures, and CRM software still have their place.  All of these marketing elements help support your social media presence and give alternative communications avenues to support your customer service goals.  By combining traditional marketing with social media marketing techniques, you are able customize your marketing message and increase the impact of your company’s message.

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Art of Customer Engagement

Enhanced Service Through Social Media

The cornerstone of excellent customer service is a high degree of trust that fosters a quality relationship. No matter how good the newest widget, it is only a tool to help develop a simpler way to maintain a good relationship with clients.  Whether we are talking CRM software or the newest mobile application, the tool is only as good as the trust and relationship building skills of the company liaisons.

It always comes down to the relationship and trust that has been built between a company and their clients.  There are three fundamental pillars for establishing trust with a client:

  • Integrity: This part of the equation is based on behavior and is driven by a company’s consistency and transparency in relationship to their business and clients.  It has never been more important to be consistent since with social media any bad news travels fast via social media channels.  Any one can have an off day, but what happens the remainder of the year is what counts.  When a company gets bad press or has a customer service challenge, they need to respond quickly, address the situation calmly and honestly, acknowledge it, make it right and move on.
  • Ability: This is based on the quality of a product plus customer service and is judged by demonstrable results in the consumer arena.  Poor customer service can undermine the best of products and eventually the clients trust.
  • Behavior: Clients look for congruent behavior with implicit and explicit brand and business values; and responsiveness to the client based on those values.  Incongruities between behavior and values erodes trust and the relationships that a company has worked hard to build with clients.

Both TOMS Shoes and Zappos are great examples of these principles in action. Both companies focus on their culture, consistency and keeping values and goals in sync with both management and their employees.  Also both companies have broken many traditional business rules, but have risen to the top through their united values and their commitment to providing excellent customer service. Toms and Zappos are great examples of company outreach through social media. See some wonderful examples of corporate social media outreach: Twitter-Zappos, Twitter-Toms-Shoes, Facebook-Zappos, Facebook-Toms-Shoes

Social networking can accelerate your business growth and your customer service engagement.

Next week we will explore customer service enhancement with social media tools.