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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Maximizing Free Social Media Utilities to Promote Your Small Business







Utilize social media to promote your small business. The process requires a front-end loaded investment in time, but it is well worth the effort when using free or very low cost utilities on the Internet. The return may surprise you.

Set up a Google or Word Press blog as an extension of your web site.  A blog is quite different from a web site. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days. 

SmallBusiness Teaming 

Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client or potential teaming partner with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. 

Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically The idea is to refer clients to article links at your web site and your blog to avoid having to repeat yourself over and over in new business marketing, thereby keeping yourself available for specific inquiries and closing deals. 

Link everything together and begin answering questions as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that can benefit your product and services. Utilities like Twitter, Facebook, Empire Avenue, Pinterest and About Me will serve your site well. 

You may wish to consider Google Ad Sense for cash flow.  It is free and could supplement your income with ads in the margin of your blog. 

Integrating and networking platforms together is the best approach. Most of the free applications of the type discussed here have profile features to link back to your blog and many will automatically publish your content on their site, once linked. 

Content is king and the queen is a hub of strong useful information with spokes emanating from it like those of a wheel to many free social networking platforms where your brand, your consistency and your offerings drive the engine that is your enterprise.

Please see the below link for an example of how the above principles have achieved. 

Integrated Utilities Linked as a Composite on "About Me" 


Sunday, March 1, 2015

GOVERNMENT CONTRACT WAGE DETERMINATIONS

MANAGING COMPLIANCE WITH THE SERVICE CONTRACT AND DAVIS-BACON ACTS


INTRODUCTION:


When pricing government contracts, in particular service contracts, the small business will encounter government wage determinations under the Service Contract Act and Davis-Bacon Act. These determinations specify the minimum wages and related benefits that must be paid to all hourly employees charging time directly to a federal service contract as part of a total compensation plan.   

The Department of Labor Manages the Wage Determination program.

DOL Wage Determination Web Site


Contractor compliance with Wage Determinations  is subject to audit by the Department of Labor, Defense Contract Audit Agency, or other agency audit procedures. Failure to prove compliance may subject the contractor to debarment from all government contracts for up to three years.

Service Contract Act, as an example, requires minimum wages be paid per labor category as defined in the Directory of Occupations and listed as minimum wages per labor category on the Area Wage Determination incorporated into each contract. The wages are mandatory minimums paid employees for every hour worked on the contract as defined by The Act, both full-time and part-time. A typical Wage Determination is below: (Please Click Image to Enlarge)



MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

When bidding a service contract with a requirement containing a Wage Determination, the labor category wages and fringe must conform, as a minimum,to the Wage Determination in the government Request for Proposal (RFP).  The personnel must be paid not less than the wages and fringe benefits specified in the determination when the contract is awarded.   


Due to competitive factors and labor market concerns the company may propose labor and fringe exceeding the Wage Determination, but the bid cannot go beneath the government specified rates.  Below is a typical conformance table for an engineering firm with the Wage Determination information of the right side and the company bid rate on the left side of the table.  (Please Click Image to Enlarge)

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The Fringe element of the Wage Determination conformance is usually discussed in the basis of estimate for the fringe rate in the price proposal. A major project in a given location may impact on the company wide-fringe rate if existing fringes in the company do not meet the minimum requirement for the wage determination in the area being bid. This can be a deciding factor in a bid/no bid decision on a prospective project.
 
When conforming a labor category to a government wage determination,  the title of the company job need not be identical to that to which the government wage determination refers, but the company job description must be made available to an auditor for compliance mapping purposed; i.e. the role of the individual and the scope of his or her job description must very closely match the government documents. It is best to use existing company labor categories and descriptions and work any exceptions during the conformance process, conveying the results in the form of a table similar to the above in your proposal.

If a particular wage determination selected by the contracting officer in the RFP appears to be vastly out of sync with the scope of work in the prospective contract, it is best to bring this to the government's attention in the form of a question or a suggestion for improvement during the Q&A or draft RFP comments phase of the bid process.  But remember, your question, its answer and any action taken by the CO will be made available to all competitors. 

In many instances competitive labor rates, and in some cases benefits as well, will be higher than those specified in the government wage determination. Wage determination updates by the government often lag rapidly changing technical labor markets and area economic trends.

Evaluate your initial GSA Schedule and renewals against area wage determinations, since the government may choose to buy off your schedule or you may choose to use your GSA Schedule rates to bid a procurement where a wage determination applies.

Demographics in your company may play a role.  Accumulation of labor cost history driving a pay rate in one geographic location of a company for a given labor category may not meet government wage determinations if that category is used in another geographic area with a different area wage determination in a substantially different labor market.  Many larger firms maintain standard rates across multiple geographic locations to deal with this factor.  

SUMMARY

Regularly review your company labor category rates and fringe benefits for ongoing compliance with DOL Area Wage Determinations. Sample the DOL Wage Determination web site regularly as a normal function of maintaining your labor rates and fringe benefits costs.