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Jack and Marge Clark honored at Rotary meeting

Jack and Marge Clark were recently honored at a Rotary meeting. Standing behind them is Rotary president Amanda Gerhardt.

Jack and Marge Clark were recently honored at a Rotary meeting. Standing behind them is Rotary president Amanda Gerhardt.

Cedar Springs Rotarians gathered at the historic Mangiamo Restaurant in Grand Rapids to celebrate the past and upcoming years. The Rotary club presented a special award to Jack and Marge Clark, with a $1000.00 donation to the Rotary Foundation in their name.

Jack has had 59 years of perfect attendance to weekly meetings, showing his commitment to the Rotary ideals. Marge has been a faithful servant to the Rotary effort to wipe out polio from the face of the earth. She has been painting pinky fingers purple as a fundraiser for many years.

Rotarians shared stories of how the Clarks have led and impacted lives by their own example of “Service Above Self.”

The musical group Perculators entertained the Rotary group following a delicious dinner.

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Platinum Powersports

 

If you are looking for a good used motorcycle, ATV, or other type of recreational vehicle, you might want to check out Platinum Powersports, located at 11745 Cedar Rock Drive.

Owners Tony LeFever and Jennifer LeFever established the business in 2012, and are recently new to the Cedar Rock area. They provide sales, service parts, and accessories, for top Powersports brands such as Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Polaris, Arctic Cat and Can-Am. They have recently added the Yamaha brand of motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, scooters, and power equipment.

“We specialize in pre-owned motorcycles and have the area’s best selection of pre-owned Harley Davidson’s,” said Tony. “And with the addition of Yamaha, exclusively for new machines, we will be the Yamaha experts.”

Tony has spent his entire professional life working in the industry, from motocross racing teams to dealerships. He is a state certified technician and has 10 years of experience at corporate Yamaha.

“We will have the cleanest used bikes around, have the best selection of Yamaha products, and offer the best service—guaranteed,” said Tony.

They are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Wednesdays they are gone riding! For more info contact them at 616-379-6060.

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Five tips for better financial health

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) As the calendar turns over a new year, it’s a good time to take stock of your finances. Evaluating what missteps you made with your money in the past year, determining how you can correct those errors and setting a realistic budget will put you on your way to better financial health in 2016.

A top New Year’s resolution is putting money into a savings account each month, according to a recent survey of working adults by the Principal Financial Group. Leading money management priorities include paying down debt (28 percent), saving for retirement (25 percent) and building a savings account for emergencies (15 percent).

Achieving those goals starts with setting a budget that you can reasonably follow, said Kevin Morris, vice president of retirement and income solutions at The Principal. However, the group’s recent survey shows many Americans have plenty of room for improvement.

In 2015, workers reported that they blew their budget on dining out (24 percent), food/groceries (19 percent), entertainment (15 percent) and other consumer goods (15 percent), among other things. On top of that, employees’ top financial blunders included not saving enough (20 percent), accumulating credit card debt (11 percent) and spending outside their means (9 percent).

“It’s not surprising to see that American workers continue to blow their budget dining out,” Morris said. “It’s easy to spend $30 here and $40 there on a meal and not think twice about it. But what if they put that money toward something more long-term, like retirement? Or building up their savings? Over time, those pizza deliveries and nights on the town add up and can make a huge difference in your budget.”

Getting your financial house in order doesn’t have to be a burden. Follow these tips to establish a budget and begin building healthier money habits:

Account for incidentals. When listing all the people and places you owe money, it can be easy to overlook other expenses that really add up. Things like a work wardrobe, toiletries and personal hygiene items are necessary purchases that should be reflected in your budget.

Expect the unexpected. Even the best planned budget can fall apart when unexpected expenses arise. Ensure that you’re not only directing a sum of money to your savings account each month, but that you’re earmarking some of that money for emergency car repairs, an unplanned visit to the veterinarian or a critical home repair.

Don’t treat your budget like a bad diet. Like a crash diet, being too restrictive with your budget will leave you discouraged and exhausted. And maybe hungry. The key is to be honest with yourself about your spending. Look at your spending history – you might be surprised to see where your money goes. Be sure to set a reasonable budget that allows you manage your finances without falling off the wagon.

Leverage rewards. It may seem counter-intuitive to use a credit card for expenses you don’t need to buy on credit. But if you use a cash back rewards credit card for your regular essential purchases and even bills, you’ll have some extra income each month. Deposit those rewards in a savings plan or allocate them to help pay down debt each month. Just remember that this approach only works to your advantage if you pay the balance each month.

Research all your money management options. A solid budget is the foundation of a good money management plan, but the type of accounts you use can also influence your financial situation. A financial advisor can help you understand the benefits and limitations of various types of checking, saving and investment accounts, as well as other products to help maximize your savings and minimize debt.

Find more information to help guide your budget planning as well as the full Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers study at
principle.com.

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Consumer alert from the BBB

BUS-Consumer-alert

Preferred Client Services, Global Vacation Network, Dudley Media Group

From the Better Business Bureau

BBB Serving Western Michigan is alerting consumers about the business practices of Preferred Client Services and associated companies. All have F-ratings with the Better Business Bureau.

Thousands of consumers report they are receiving offers in the mail for a free Android tablet if they participate in a marketing study.

In the past 12 months, 28,000 consumers have inquired about Preferred Client Services on the local BBB website, and some have filed complaints. Preferred Client Services lists their address as being located on Sparks Drive in Southeast Grand Rapids.

In this case, the consumer complaints listed on the BBB site for Preferred Client Services, Global Vacation Network, and Dudley Media Group help paint a more complete picture of these organizations. Read several complaint excerpts below:

Preferred Client Services:

“I received a letter promising an android tablet if I participated in a market study/promotion. When I called there is no android but avacation ad received a letter promising an android tablet if I participated in a market study/promotion. When I called their is no android but vacation ad. This is false advertising, bait and switch. F Rating by BBB and prior news casts supporting. Very immoral, dishonest company and all that work for it represent this behavior.”

Global Vacation Travel:

“Received deceptive, official-looking letter offering a free Android tablet computer, when in fact, it is an attempt to lure me into purchasing a vacation package. The letter Reads: “Once you have received and tested your Android tablet, we ask that you compete the brief survey that we have enclosed and return it to us. Whether you complete the survey or not, the Android tablet is yours to keep.” Letter signed by Stephanie ******* coordinator of Product Research of Preferred Access Network. The survey sheet is included in the letter; the tablet isn’t. A toll-free number must be called and the code# is given.”

Dudley Media Group:

“Misleading advertising being sent through the US Postal System.

I have copies of the advertisements that were mailed on two separate occasions. The company is the front man for a Vacation company operating in Florida. The first advertisement was made to look like a survey that all you needed to do was review a Tablet that they would ship to you for free and you get to keep the tablet for participating in the survey. The second one I received was made to look like a US Postal Parcel Pick Up notice. When you call the number it’s a Vacations company that gives you a 10 minute pitch and then asks your household income. If you are under 40K you aren’t qualified and they tell you another number to call to schedule a pickup of an Android Tablet a month away in Palm Harbor which is over an hour away from where I live. The first advertisement I received that was made to look like a survey said they would ship the tablet to me. After multiple phone calls and emails to the company they insisted I could only pick up the tablet and they no longer shipped them. I have saved both mailings and would like to provide a copy of them.”

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Ask Score: Business operations

 

Follow these simple guidelines when hiring a consultant

From time to time, as a small business owner, you’re likely to bump up against a problem you can’t solve yourself. That may be because you don’t have the right experience or knowledge to correct it. Or it may be because you are perfectly capable of meeting the challenge but can’t justify the time it will require of you, given your many other responsibilities.

Solving that problem or challenge at a quieter time may not be an option if the goal is to move the company forward. So how do you know when it’s time to hire a consultant to find the solution, to remove a major distraction from your business day, and perhaps to avoid a costly mistake?

Much like an independent contractor, consultants come in on a short-term or project basis. For an agreed-upon fee, they will agree to

  • analyze or solve a problem
  • set up a new procedure or system
  • conduct research
  • advise on a one-time activity, such as setting up a corporation

The general advantage of using a consultant is that you pay only for the information and guidance you need. An example of a situation where a consultant might make sense is when you need to create a marketing and advertising program. A consultant can develop your advertising plan and then leave it to you to implement. However, the same consultant may undertake certain tasks within the plan- perhaps having to do with creating ad messages or finding the right graphic designer.

Some day-to-day activities and situations may require short-term consulting help, such as making a fix in a proprietary software program. When identifying, purchasing, and implementing  a comprehensive computer system, by way of contrast, would require a software consultant on a longer term basis.

For better cost control and a more reliable estimate, have a completion date in mind for the project. An open-ended consulting relationship may create dependency while becoming a financial drain. In addition, use caution when considering a more generic management consultant, who may not be able or willing to specify the work he or she is prepared to do to focus on a problem area.

To begin the search for a consultant, tap into your own network for recommendations, then check references. You’ll want to know what problem the consultant was engaged to solve, whether the work was completed on time and within budget, and whether the consultant produced a quality product.

And for other perspectives on your involving outside experts in your business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” The SCORE Grand Rapids office has 35 local volunteer business counselors who provide free and confidential business counseling to small business owners.

Call SCORE at 1-616-771-0305 to talk to a counselor, or e-mail us at score@grandrapids.org  or online at   http://www.scoregr.org./

 

Free and Confidential Counseling

SCORE, 111 Pearl Street NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

(616) 771-0305   wwwscoregr.org

E-mail:  score@grandrapids.org

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Cedar Springs Brewing Company 

Post photo by  J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photos by J. Reed.

Post photos by J. Reed.

The Cedar Springs Brewing Company, 95, North Main, officially opened its doors to the public last week Friday, November 13, with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. Eager patrons lined up around the building, and waited for a chance to get in and sample not only what was on tap, but also the various German and American dishes on the menu. Patrons filled the establishment all weekend long.

“We were excited at the enthusiastic response for our opening week and weekend and did our best to stay on top of everything,” said owner David Ringler. “While we were disappointed to run short in the kitchen on Sunday, we’re back to work getting better and preparing for this weekend as we’re planning live music on Saturday and getting ready for our Community Pub Crawl next Saturday.”

Ringler said their hours would be flexible as they build up their supplies, but they intend to re-open to regular hours on Thursday through next week. They will be closed Thanksgiving, but should be otherwise be open through their pub crawl next Saturday, November 28 (barring any supplies shortages).

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Red Flannel Festival earns first place at MFEA convention

Red Flannel board members at MFEA convention. Left to right: Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Michele Tracy, Rick Knapp and Steve McBride.

Red Flannel board members at MFEA convention. Left to right: Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Michele Tracy, Rick Knapp and Steve McBride.

Michigan Festivals & Events Association (MFEA) announces Red Flannel Festival of Cedar Springs, as the first place winner in the MIFun Awards Promotional Budget $20,000 – $50,000 category. “It’s such an honor to win such a prestigious award at a State level for Red Flannel Town,” said Festival President Michele Tracy. “The Board works very hard to have an outstanding, professional marketing portfolio. We’re proud of our track record of consistent wins!”

The Red Flannel Festival competed against three other entries in their category.

The MFEA MIFun Award winners were recently honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon held November 6 during the 23rd Annual Michigan Festivals and Events Association Convention at the Boyne Mountain Lodge in Boyne Falls, MI. Red Flannel Festival Board members Michele Tracy, Mark Laws, Brynadette Powell, Rick Knapp, Jr. and Steve McBride all attended the conference.

The MFEA MIFun Awards competition draws entries from festivals and events throughout all of Michigan. Entries are divided into three budget levels; Promotional Budget under $20,000, Promotional Budget between $20,000 & $50,000 and Promotional Budget over $50,000. The prestigious “Peoples’ Choice Award” goes to the entry deemed the favorite of all MFEA Convention Attendees.  There were 10 entries representing proud communities that celebrate and promote Michigan’s heritage, agriculture, talents, four seasons, history, products, sports, foods and magnificent waterways.

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Ask Score: Business start-up

 

Ask the right questions before you open a small business

 

If your goal is to open a small business, chances are you have many questions. And that’s a good thing. For example, if you haven’t already, sooner or later you may be wondering:

How do I get a business loan?

Where are good places to advertise?

What workplace safety laws govern my business?

Should I be a sole proprietor or form a corporation?

What should my pricing formula be?

Can my community support another business like mine?

How do I interpret an advertising rate card?

Should I run the business from home or rent space?

Where will I find suppliers?

Should I trademark my business name?

Is my product marketable online?

What goes into preparing an employee handbook?

Should I have an attorney review all my documentation?

One proven resource for getting the right answers to all of these questions is SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit association that aids the formation, growth and success of America’s small businesses. SCORE Grand Rapids has 35 volunteer business experts who donate their skills, experience and insights through free, confidential counseling.

SCORE’s business counselors have worked for successful small businesses as well as companies known worldwide  such as Hewlett Packard, IBM, Xerox, Steelcase, Herman Miller and Fifth-Third Bank. You can be mentored by bankers, accountants, marketing experts, computer programmers, line managers, human resources professionals or CEOs. SCORE brings expertise that encompasses both the general issues every business must face and such specialized areas as contracting, marketing, design and manufacturing.

 To learn more about SCORE, visit our national website at www.score.org  or the local SCORE website at www.scoregr.org.These Internet resources provide information on starting, financing and expanding your business. In addition, SCORE’s Web site offers how-to information.

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Crackdown on debt collectors using illegal tactics

*BUS-Crackdown on debt collectors

Do you get harassment calls from debt collectors? Do they threaten to take you to court, have you arrested, or garnish your wages?

The Better Business Bureau gets calls every day from consumers who are dealing with questionable collection agencies.  This week the Federal Trade Commission announced the first coordinated federal-state enforcement initiative targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. This is a crackdown against collectors who use illegal tactics such as harassing phone calls and false threats of litigation, arrest, and wage garnishment. The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission offer the following information on fair collection practices:

Debt collectors may not contact you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m., unless you agree to alternative times. They may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax; however, they may NOT contact you by postcard.

Consumers can communicate with collectors via their personal email if they so choose. This may help to reduce the number of phone calls and allow consumers to maintain better records of their interactions with debt collectors. If a consumer wants email communication, they must put it in writing to the debt collection agency.

You may stop a collections agency from contacting you at work by sending a registered or certified letter with the request. Once the agency receives your letter, it may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact, or to notify you if they intend to take a specific action.

Collectors must send a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe and the name of the creditor that you owe the money to. If you believe the company contacted you in error, you must write within 30 days after the initial contact; upon receipt of your letter, the company must cease collection activities. If the company can provide proof of the debt such as a copy of a bill for the amount owed, the company may renew collection proceedings.

Prohibited Practices 

Debt collectors may not:

1. Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property, or reputation

2. Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau)

3. Use obscene or profane language

4. Use phone calls to repeatedly harass you

5. Fail to identify themselves on the telephone as a debt collector

6. Advertise the debt

7. Indicate that actions such as a lawsuit will be taken against you, which legally may not be taken, or which they do not intend to take

8. Collect any amount greater than your debt, unless allowed by law

9. Take a payment arrangement prematurely

10. Use false, deceptive or misleading statements when collecting a debt.

For more information go to bbb.org or ftc.gov.

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The Rustic Roof

 

Are you looking for that special something to make a room feel comfortable and homey? How about some vintage and rustic décor? Look no further than the Rustic Roof, 6 S. Main, in Cedar Springs. They may have exactly what you are looking for.

The shop, opened by Dawn Reyburn, specializes in floral design, rustic wedding décor, wooden signs, antiques, candles and more.

Dawn feels that the different talents of the artists, builders, and wedding planners they use make their business unique, and their prices give them an edge over the competition.

“We hope to grow into a prosperous business for people to come to for all their decorative needs,” said Dawn.

The business is open 9 to 4 Monday and Tuesday, 9-7 Wednesday, 9-3 Thursday, Friday 9-4, and Saturday 9-2. For more information call (616) 696-2516.

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