Jerry Gitchel

Jerry Gitchel

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 09:45

How to Avoid an ADA Scam

The Americans With Disabilities Act was meant to protect the rights of Americans. About 15 months ago we started hearing about law firms taking advantage of the act by sending small businesses "Demand Letters" to produce revenue through intimidation. Yesterday we received reports that the practice has arrived here in Jacksonville. Jim Poggott, I-Team reporter with News4Jax reports, "Dozens of ADA lawsuits seeking compliance or cash?" The report indicates the alleged scam involves a law office contacting local small businesses and threatening legal action. They offer to make it all go away, for a price.

We have been working on a related issue, web accessibility. Law firms have been using similar tactics to attack small medical practices. They allege they have a client who was denied access to the practices web site. Same tactic, same demand. Once a medical practice receives a demand letter, it's too late. There is only one effective solution to this threat, prevention.     

Thursday, August 10th I will be presenting the three steps Practice Administrators need to take to avoid becoming a target.

Use the link below to learn more or register now.

Web Accessibility Standards for Medical Practices
August 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

DPC Technology Center
7845 Baymeadows Way
Jacksonville, FL 32256 

A recent article from PracticalEcommerce by Armando Roggio documents the decimation of the brick and mortar industry. As many as 4,000 brick-and-mortar stores have closed in the United States since last year. Armando suggests two reasons, technology, and training. My research indicates it's not about tech, it's about mindset. You need to look no further than popular culture. Marvel comics transformed from comic books to a multi-billion dollar empire simply by taking the same stories out of the books and onto the big screen. It was made possible by the invention of digital effects. 

Take Your Best Self and Make It Timeless

In another recent article, Digital Transformation Is More About the 'Transformation' Than the 'Digital' author Rich Wood makes the case that technology is the enabler, not the engine of transformation. He goes on to say, "Real digital transformation, which holds the idea of transformation at the heart of the concept, is really about applying the new to the iconic, improving it and making it timeless.".

The implications of digital transformation extend beyond retail and comic strips. In three years all industries will be impacted by the disruption. For your business, it comes down to two choices. Will you be a champion or a victim of digital disruption? Three ideas for your consideration.

Develop the Need for Speed

If you were able to increase the tempo of business, how would that impact your bottom line? Digital enables your organization to respond quickly to inquiries, establish a dialog, provide prospects with answers faster than ever before. Closing more sales in less time is the result.

Stretch to Increase Your Reach

It is simple math. More prospects equal more revenue. Digital helps you get your brand story, your grand opening, today's special offer to those you serve best. If you use a street side changeable sign, snap a photo after each change and share on Social.

Place Your Processes on Autopilot

 One of the best ways to leverage your digital resources is by applying it to streamline your business processes. Automate repetitive processes to reduce expenses. Look for ways to transform labor intensive tasks involving paper and pencil into automated digital processes. 

Although it's rarely spoken out loud, fear is the biggest obstacle blocking established business from profiting from their digital future. It starts with the fear of change. It paralyzes business leaders into putting off the inevitable transformation. Then the fear changes into the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). By then, it is often too late.

Develop your 2020 vision for a profitable future. Call 904-566-8325 how your organization can profit from a digital transformation.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 09:16

The High Cost of Customer Loyalty

Actually, the opposite is true. The cost in dollars is low, it's the effort that appears to be costly. It a recent article from Forbes titled, How Technology Can Help You Engage Your Audience The Right Way, contributor John Hall outlines the Golden Equation for digital success,

Technology + authenticity = engagement

Earlier this morning I fired off a reply to a product support ticket from ZAGG, the folks who make a Bluetooth enabled keyboard for iPads. They are not going to send me a replacement for my replacement keyboard. This is the second keyboard where the hinge failed. I expect hardware to outlast the warranty. Neither keyboard made it. The true fail here is customer relationship and retention. ZAGGs one-size-fits-most reply, the $10 gift card and the empty promise of, "please don't hesitate to contact me back. I would be more than happy to assist you" transformed a rabid fan and promoter into a staunch detractor. 

I have an equation for ZAGG, Keyboard + Hatchet = Customer Satisfaction. Join me on Facebook at YourDigitalLeverage this afternoon for the main event.

I feel better already. The main takeaway from the Forbes article is that engagement requires more than an investment in technology, it requires authenticity. In addition to the golden equation, John shares two principals representing a distinct shift in digital mindset.

 Make the shift from me to you

Talking “at” versus talking “with”: It’s a big distinction. It's not about me. It's not about you, talking about me. It's about you.

Pursue new technology for better relationships 

John provides a link to a new product that focuses on communications preferences. I believe it starts with listening, then responding appropriately using the contacts preferred channel. Consider adding "Communications Preference" to your CRM. I added it to Nimble. No more out-of-sync conversations. 

Now, where did I put that hatchet?

 

 

Is this Legit?

The questions start with the arrival of an innocent looking envelope to your practice. It's from an obscure law firm, accusing you of violating a federal law, one you've never heard of. Even though you are holding the actual letter in your hand, "Is this legit?" is still a reasonable first question. The ADA recently addressed these so-called "Demand Letters." The letters quote the Americans with Disability Act (AwDA) and mention Title III, public accommodations as it pertains to businesses. Unfortunately, the answer to this first question is, "It's complicated."

Is it Real?

The AwDA was enacted prior to the birth of the Web. Although internationally developed Web Accessibility Standards exist, the actual US Federal law isn't expected to take effect until 2018. Is it legit? No. Which begs question #2. Is it real? Yes, most definitely. The demand letters include an accusation that a practice is denying access to disabled patients or prospects. The letter demands remediation to make a website accessible and payment by the practice as a settlement to avoid a lawsuit. By the time a practice receives a demand letter, it's more than real. It expensive. Even if you successfully avoid a lawsuit, the cost in time and treasure will impact productivity and profits.

Can this be Avoided?

The law firms involved have developed a process to identify litigation targets. The distance between their firm and your practice is one click. They use an automated tool to determine your site's accessibility. Even the demand letters are automated. Your best defense is to develop a plan to avoid becoming a target in the first place. An even better approach is to understand the challenge, then develop a process to mitigate the risk.

What Steps Could I Take?

The power is in knowing. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) were developed by W3C.org as an international standard for web accessibility. They have developed an automated tool to test your compliance. Involve your web professional. Once your site follows the standards, invest in staff training on how to respond to inquiries from patients who are covered under the AwDA. Develop written procedures they can use to eliminate the possibility of undue attention from a law firm.

What's In It For Me?

Inclusiveness is a growth strategy. Adopting standards that make your website accessible to prospective patients with disabilities is more that a nice thing to do. In the not too distant future, it will be the law. More importantly, it is just good for business.

 

Resources

Join Us in Jacksonville on August 10th for dinner and a discussion on how to make sense of this important topic for all healthcare practices. 

If you mark time in Internet years, it was only yesterday. June 29th will be the 10 anniversary of Apple's iPhone. Why iPhone? Steve Jobs knew users were unhappy with their mobile phones. It launched as a replacement. Why the "i"? The iPhone succeeded because it could adapt to the Individual. Their impact on personal culture has been so profound that we can't remember a time when they were not around. They have starred in major motion pictures, which you can watch on your mobile device. The are with us the moment we wake and are often the last image we see before we close our eyes to sleep. In many cases, they are the objects of our desire we reach for in the middle of the night.

The often intense personal relationship we have with our mobile devices is documented in a LongReads.com article, "A Sociology of the Smartphone". The most critical change is change itself, "[A]ll of the conventions and arrangements that constitute our sense of the everyday now no longer evolve at any speed we’d generally associate with social mores, but at the far faster rate of digital innovation." Each software upgrade forces us to change and adapt. Not always grudgingly, because we perceive our glowing rectangles and providing tremendous value.

Your Results May Vary

Consumers have embraced mobile devices into every aspect of their lives. Businesses on the other hand, still struggle to capitalize on the mobile transformation of our society. Startups get it. Established firms continue to operate in wait and see mode. I must admit I am totally baffled trying to figure out what they are waiting for. If you have an idea, please share it with me.

Mobile Mindset

There is more to mobile than squeezing your website to fit on a mobile screen. Your customers operate with a mobile mindset. It is time you did the same. Here is the difference.

Not long ago businesses focused on finding the right day and time to deliver email offers. Mobile makes this thinking obsolete. A better tactic is to target prospects at the time they are best able to take advantage of your offer. If you use a changeable sign in front of your business to create a drive-by call to action, consider using your mobile device to snap a photo. Post it to social or send it to your loyalty program members in the afternoon. It gives them the opportunity to start thinking of stopping by on their way home. 

"I'll send it to you when I get back to the office." Successful sales team have everything they need to close deals at their fingertips. Have you armed and trained your sales force to work independently in the trenches? Here is an easy way to answer the question. Have your top sales person sit at their desk with their mobile in their hand. Have them run through a mock in-person sales call. Do they have every piece of information they need, not just from the desktop, but also from their mobile device?

The iPhone launched as a replacement for mobile phones. The success of the platform happened when users started adapting it to their individual needs. A mobile mindset includes leveraging all the inherent features. Photos and videos bring customers and your team together. The ability to record or transcribe audio is a feature often overlooked by businesses.

 

As a business professional, your decision to celebrate iPhone's 10th anniversary as less to do with Apple's accomplishment and more to do with what you accomplish with mobile technology. Happy Anniversary iPhone!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 07:33

The #1 Way to Leverage Technology

During my LinkedIn course at UNF last week I recommended the free version of the platform. I believe in mastering the free versions before investing in the paid version of any software. However, leverage comes not from acquiring more tools, it appears in the moment you invest in developing your talents and those of your team. Every business professional has access to the tools of technology. I work with successful companies that have all the tools. The key to their success is their commitment to learning. If everybody has access to the same tools, your firm's best opportunity to create competitive advantage starts with education. It is the #1 way to leverage technology.

Tear Down the Walls

The pace of learning has failed to keep up with the rate of digital transformation. Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn a year ago the user interface, features and content have experienced radical change. When was the last time you invested 20 minutes learning what's new, what's changed, what's gone? LinkedIn has changed direction. They are moving away from Groups and toward Messaging. Advanced Search is one of LinkedIn's most valuable features. Do you know how to use it for prospecting? 

Investing in more technology, or even infrequent training sessions won't deliver the ROI you seek. You have all the technology you need. It's time to invest in yourself. 

Leveraging your digital skills takes more that a New Year's resolution. I'll bet your gym was packed last January. By February things had returned to normal. The best approach to modern learning is to break it into bite-sized chunks. Here's the plan I use.

Add Tech Training to Your Schedule

Open your calendar and make a tech training appointment with yourself. Find 20 minutes on tomorrow's schedule. You get bonus points if you make it recurring. Pick a day and time when you have the energy to focus. Don't worry about the topic or learning objectives just yet. Commit to the goal, the process will appear just in time. Already making excuses? Don't have time? Too Busy? Successful business professionals are disciplined, organized, and committed. Don't worry if you are feeling uncomfortable right now, it's not fear, but excitement you're feeling.

Document What You're Learning

They are called progress notes for a reason. Choose now how you will take notes of what you learn in a way you can retrieve them when needed. I use a plain piece of paper to scribble and scratch out ideas, new words, unfamiliar concepts. I created a Learning notebook in Evernote. I add a note whenever I learn something new. Although I learn best when I write longhand, handwritten notes are difficult to catalog and retrieve. Using a digital notetaking platform and keeping it simple increases the future value of your learning investment.

 Pick Your Shots

Business professionals often use the word overwhelmed to describe their relationship with technology. You will never learn it all, so don't even try. Instead, focus on what you need to learn most. Learning keyboard shortcuts is a quick way to increase work productivity. Learning how to automate tasks you perform frequently increases productivity. Guided discovery is an effective way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools.   

Guided discovery is another way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools. Endeavor to learn something new each week. Modern software programs, Apps, and cloud-based platforms are tremendously powerful tools. A small investment will pay big dividends.    

What's Next

Creating a process and a plan for keeping up with digital transformation will increase the value of your technology investment while reducing that feeling of being overwhelmed. 

I'm planning a Summer Learning Series for many of the major tech tools you use every day. Produced locally, they will be available globally. Interested? Call me at 904-566-8325 for an invitation.

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 06:17

The Day Millennials Killed Applebees

It's not a protest movement or an attack on dining out. Millennials are voting with their feet. SFGate.com reports in an article, Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee's, that generation Y is to blame for declining revenue in the Fast Casual sit-down market. A similar situation exists right here in downtown Jacksonville with brick and mortar restaurants who have requested "protection" from food trucks. Applebees was singing a different tune two years ago when they announced, Applebee’s Recasts Itself as Millennials Bar

It sounded like a great plan: “We’re changing things up and going back to what we do best.” The journey from bright idea to monumental fail was doomed from the beginning. Two words sealed their fate: "Going Back". Like it or not, the world is moving forward. Dining, lodging, and transportation are not the only industries who are facing digital disruption. Your industry is next. If you don't see it, your business will fail. My research indicates 2020 is your deadline. Speed has become the #1 competitive advantage. Your window of opportunity has narrowed. Here are some ideas you can use today to start moving forward.

Stop Buying More Technology

You (and your competitors) have all the technology needed. Digital transformation is not about technology, it's about mindset. Take an inventory of what you have and let go of the technology that no longer serves you. Build a strategy before filling your toolbox with any more tools.

Engage With Your Newest Customers

Not with fancy online marketing or stalking. Stop shouting at them. Start a conversation, engage in social listening. The change you see in your industry is not in technology. It's in the behavior of your customers.

Create Digital Leverage

There are three specific, very important, ways that you can use technology to grow your business success. The technology can help you reach farther. It can bring customers closer while building stronger relationships. It can increase the speed of your execution, operations, growth, and profits. 

The Best Investment You Can Make

Applebees invested $40M in wood-fired ovens for each of their restaurants. Millennials didn't care. As a business owner, your best investment is in building a new mindset. Applebees had all the tools they needed to find out what Millennials DID want. Change isn't about disruption, it's about transformation.

 

I work with established organizations who want a return on their digital investment. When you are ready, let's talk. 904-566-8325.

 

  

Monday, 29 May 2017 15:54

The End of Content Marketing

At least, it is the end as we know it. The term "content marketing" was coined by Penton Custom Media in 2001. The original concept, according to Content Marketing Institute, dates back to 1732 when Benjamin Franklin first published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. Author Joe Pulizzi goes on to say, "But despite the age of the technique, the power it wields hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, examples of brands using content marketing – and the impact of those efforts – have increased exponentially over the years."

More is Not Better

The increase means that your prospects are drowning in content. The onslaught starts early each day with social media updates, blog posts, whitepapers, online videos, and infographics. It's enough to make them want to turn off their phones, or at the very least, tune out your valuable digital content. Value the central issue, followed by who decides what is valuable? The ability to share via copy/paste gives you and everyone you know the ability to share everything with everybody. Content has now become a worthless commodity.  In the recent article, The Content Trap: When Content Becomes a Commodity (and Three Ways to Break Free) MarketingPros suggest a solution.

How to Break the Content Marketing Trap

It starts with basic economics. Businesses can create production efficiencies to reduce cost. They can differentiate their offering based on service delivery. They can re-engineer the commodity to add value. Efficiencies allow you to distribute more content, but buyers don't want more. My clients are finding success in differentiating by channel, including live video. Adding value is the easiest of the three. Focus your content on aligning tightly with what your buyer wants to hear from you, at the specific time they want to hear it is the key. Guide your readers to the right information that addresses their specific needs, challenges, wants, and interests. 

What's Next

Technology continues to provide tools and insight that allows you to target those you serve best. I see a shift away from mass marketing with a return to direct sales. Connecting the dots between your customers topics of interest and your expertise appears to be the shortest path to engagement. An email targeted to a handful of prospects will produce a greater impact that a generic broadcast to thousands.

Additional Resources

Ernie Smith of AssociationsNow.com published more on the topic in his article WHEN YOU SHOULD BUILD YOUR CONTENT AROUND YOUR USERS’ HABITS.

The primary business development goal for any organization is to start a conversation with suspects and prospects. Which is why I’m so baffled by business professionals who insist on pushing those valuable contacts away through the use of social networking. Under the guise of content sharing, they post tweets and profile updates containing links to anywhere but their own web presence. Pushing people away kills your opportunity to start a conversation. Path of Engagement Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to

Path of Engagement 

Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to attraction was Search Engine Optimization. SEO has taken a back seat to Social Networking. There are three destinations that matter when it comes to digital attraction. They all lie along the Path of Engagement.

  • Social Networking – PR
  • Content Marketing – Marketing
  • Engagement – Sales

When SEO was king the path was clear. Your mission was to publish content containing words and phrases your prospects might use while searching online for your services. Your audience has moved. Your new mission is to shift your mindset and your efforts to a new strategy. Social Networking. The new path starts with publishing the same words and phrases through social networking. Your profile updates must contain direct links to similar content on your website. Not to interesting articles somewhere else. Your social linking should always point to your site.

Drive visitors to your site. Use it as the destination where you provide value to your followers. Simply sharing content via copy/paste is lazy. It creates zero value. Is that the brand statement you had in mind?

Publish articles and posts that reference current events and trends then add value by sharing your insight, your expertise.

Internet Game Plan – Social Networking

  • Find Your Audience – Choose to invest in the social networking platform where your audience hangs out. Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood. Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise. Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.
  • Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood.
  • Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.

Insight

Your prospects have left the [search engine] building. Meet them where they are, Social Networking. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017 07:28

Demand Letter, Legal Ransomware

Hospitals proved to be the most vulnerable targets from last weeks ransomware attack—a type of cyber attack where criminal hackers encrypt data on individuals’ or institutions’ computers and demand a ransom to unlock the information.

As if that wasn’t a big enough threat, I’m learning that dental practices are also becoming targets, and in this case, it’s perfectly legal. My healthcare clients have reported receiving demand letters from lawyers threatening legal action to force compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

It’s a legal shakedown to extract payment for lack of compliance with the 1991 Act. It’s possible because of lack of awareness on the part of practices and their web developers. Non-compliance comes at a high price. They threaten legal action unless you agree to their demands. The good news is compliance is fairly simple to achieve and to maintain

It’s all about effective communications with people who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities. It starts with your web presence and extends to communications by telephone and when they present at your practice. I was asked to weigh-in on this issue because of a scary sounding email received by a practice. I’m not sure what I dislike more, the demand letters from lawyers or "the sky is falling" messages from web developers. 

Fact or Fiction

Let’s start with the facts:

  • It’s not a scam. The requirements for effective communication under the act were published in 2010. 
  • The requirements are specific. No guesswork required. Developers have a checklist and a web-based tool they can use to test for compliance.
  • Staff training will be necessary to maintain compliance. However, your investment increases the quality of the patient experience while significantly reducing the chance your practice will become a target.  

What’s Next

Here at Leveraged Unlimited, we have developed a process to address this challenge. Below are some “First Steps” you take to learn if AwDA compliance is a concern for your practice.

  • Ask your web presence developer - contact your web professional to learn if your site is compatible.
  • Self-testing - use the WAVE tool to assess the risk.
  • Review existing procedures - Determine your level of compliance during your daily operations.

Take a Deep Breath

At Leverage Unlimited we believe regulatory compliance in highly regulated industries is fairly easy to maintain. Expectations are clearly spelled out. Uncertainty is eliminated. We also believe the cost of compliance is much less that non-compliance. In fact, it’s just good business.

Concerned about your AwDA compliance? Give Jerry a call with your questions. 904-566-8325

Resources

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