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Archive for November, 2012

Properly Packing Seasonal Decorations Makes Future Holidays Merrier

November 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Dottie Coll

Pittsburgh, PA — Gifts are given, treats are eaten and, before you know it, another holiday season has come and gone. It’s time to pack it all up until next year.

Preparing for future holidays can be made easier with a little thoughtful planning when packing at the end of the season.

“Carefully packing and organizing items can prevent damage or even worse, breakage,” said Dottie Coll, franchisee of the Pittsburgh locations. “Take the time to make sure the job is carefully done in order to preserve decorations for next year.”

Here are some tips from TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® when packing away seasonal decorations:

Delicate items
• Wrap breakables in tissue or packing paper. Do not use newspaper –- the print may wear off on ornaments. Shred used paper run and recycle it as packing filler.
• Decorations with photographs or food should be sealed in a bag to keep them intact and prevent insects or mice getting to them.
• Boxes with dividers are best to pack ornaments. Check with local moving companies for these kinds of boxes with adjustable inserts.
• Keep extra hangers, hooks and ornament parts in a labeled bag or box.
• Wrap lights around empty wrapping paper tubes to keep them from tangling.
• Leave the plug accessible by taping the ends of the light strands to the end of the tube. That way you can quickly test the lights before unwinding them next year.
• Store colored lights in a dark place to prevent fading, especially blues, greens and purples
Wrapping paper
• Hanging garment bags provides good storage for wrapping paper rolls. Use outside pockets for gift tags, cards and tissue paper.
• Cut an empty wrapping paper tube from end to end and slide it over a used roll to protect it until next year.
• Save ribbons and bows by packing them loosely to keep their shape.
• Wrap holiday candles individually in cellophane. Store in a cool place so they don’t melt.
• Pack an “open first” box for the decorations needed right away, like extension cords.
• Take special care if items are stored in a damp area, such as a basement. Keep boxes away from sources of heat and moisture.
• Most importantly, label every box. The more detailed the description, the easier it is to find. Use different colors to distinguish different holidays, such as orange for Halloween, brown for Thanksgiving, and red or green for Christmas.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the largest franchised moving company in North America. It includes more than 200 locations and more than 1,400 trucks on the road. Each location is independently owned and operated, and sells boxes and packing supplies. Locations complete both home and business moves, as well as packing and unpacking services.

For more information, call) TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® at 412-881-1111 or 412-259-8777 or visit www.twomenandatruck.com.

SCORE Client HRV Conformance Verification Associates Eligible for National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

November 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

For Immediate Release
October 09, 2012

For Information, Contact:
Stephen Cohen

{Pittsburgh, PA} The Pittsburgh Chapter of SCORE is pleased to announce HRV Conformance Verification Associates, Inc. (HRV), a SCORE client since 2003, was named Ernst & Young Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Region Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 and is in contention for the National Award to be announced in November. Rochelle Stachel, Founder and President of HRV, accepted the award in the Construction Category.

When Rochelle Stachel decided to start her own business, she did not go it alone. Very analytical by nature and an engineer by training, Rochelle first sought out the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA referred her to SCORE (formerly Service Corps of Retired Executives). Over the course of the nine year relationship with SCORE, Rochelle has worked with a series of counselors, each contributing different skills and talents to HRV from the initial launch of the business through their phases of explosive growth.

HRV sought assistance from SCORE to support their start-up based on the pragmatic understanding that SCORE counselors knew things about business that Rochelle did not. While her background in engineering, accounting and consulting served as a springboard for the possibilities of HRV, Rochelle knew she needed practical advice and mentoring that she could not get from her extensive reading and research into entrepreneurship. SCORE counselors brought the real world experiences of having addressed and overcome the challenges that she knew she would be facing.
“They saw in us what we didn’t see in ourselves”, said Rochelle. “Howard Martin and later, Dick Fitzgerald and Bill Mariotti, gave us moral support and acted as a sounding board. They were our cheerleaders. They affirmed what we were doing and helped us see that what we thought were mountains were actually hills that we could easily cross. The added validation was that in their own careers and business endeavors, they had often overcome the same obstacles we were facing, so they were coming from a position of familiarity and experience.”

HRV was launched in 2003 from a home office. They landed their first contract in early 2004, a mere 9 months after start-up. Growing from two employees to the current count of 120, HRV has enjoyed sustained year over year growth. Throughout, HRV continued to turn to SCORE.

Both Dick and Bill built their own businesses so they understand firsthand the challenges of the course upon which HRV was embarking. As volunteer SCORE counselors, they are available to mentor companies. “We wore all the hats in our own businesses so we understand the breadth of the issues that HRV would face. We offer the added value of being objective and like teachers, our reward is the hope that our clients will do well and listen to our counsel. We receive no economic benefit as counselors, so we have no ax to grind,” Bill said.

Dick and Bill are quick to point out the benefits of working with SCORE. “We have tangible evidence that SCORE has helped to create jobs and improve businesses in Western PA. As mentors, we recognize that what our clients need more than anything is an unbiased, objective sounding board; that is the role that we are happy to fulfill. We are happier still when we can help them celebrate their success.”

The success that HRV has enjoyed has garnered significant recognition, awards and accolades. Her SCORE counselor, Bill Mariotti, nominated her for 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Bill explains why he chose to nominate HRV for this prestigious award, “HRV fit the profile. The firm grew every year in all facets that could be measured: revenue, personnel, etc. They have a great opportunity to compete on the National level and share the stage in November with the likes of LinkedIn.” In addition to the E&Y Award, HRV has been recognized by the Pittsburgh Business Times as one of the fastest growing companies in the area every year since 2007. Ms. Stachel was also recognized as one of the top 10 CEO’s in Pittsburgh and was awarded the Pittsburgh Business Times’ Diamond Award. The Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce honored HRV with a Small Business Excellence Award.

SCORE is a business counseling/mentoring organization. SCORE provides free counseling, resources and advice to people who are in business or want to start a business. SCORE also provides free or low cost Workshops on Business Topics. Volunteer counselors are experienced owners or managers of businesses that volunteer their time to help small businesses succeed.

About HRV Conformance Verification Associates, Inc.
HRV, established in 2003, has become a recognized leader in the construction management and materials and construction inspection industry. From its inception, HRV has expanded its services, serving various industries in the private and public sectors including: the bridge and highway, water and wastewater, rail, power and commercial construction. Building a corporate foundation based on a passionate commitment to quality service and employee excellence, HRV strives to have each and every client trust that when they turn their projects over to HRV, they can be assured that the work will be performed by qualified individuals and at a level that exceeds their expectations. HRV’s mission is to become an eminent leader in the construction management and quality assurance, quality control industry through proven excellence, commitment to clients and employees, and use of technologies.
HRV is a certified WBE/DBE and their corporate office is located in Pittsburgh, PA. www.hrvinc.com
About the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Program
The Entrepreneur of the Year Program honors entrepreneurs regionally in June, leading up to the national awards in November. The US Entrepreneur of the Year Overall Award winner then moves on to compete for the World Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Now in its 26th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year Program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 140 cities in more than 50 countries throughout the world. Awards are given to entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.


November 19, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Patricia Thibault
Social Security Manager in Pittsburgh, PA

The summer of 2007 felt like a bad dream for Terry Anderson. Reeling from a recent cancer diagnosis, she was downsized from the company where she’d worked for 11 years. “There was no severance. I had no insurance,” she said. “I was terrified.”

Terry began receiving Social Security disability benefits and took an extended period of time away from work. Later, Terry learned about ‘one-stop career centers’ that provide free employment-related support services through Social Security’s Ticket to Work program to people receiving Social Security benefits. She decided to see what the Iowa Workforce Development Center, her local one-stop, had to offer. There are more than a thousand one-stop career centers across the nation.

The one-stop staff explained that the Ticket program is designed for people who receive Social Security disability benefits and are committed to achieving self-sufficiency through eventual full-time employment. Through the Ticket program, Iowa Workforce helped Terry coordinate her career preparation and job hunt. She updated her computer skills and built confidence in her prospects for long-term success. “They offered workshops on interview skills,” she said. “I had my resume refurbished. I learned fresh strategies. At first, I was too proud to ask for help. I’m glad that I did.”

While Terry was eager to move on, she was apprehensive about finding work and losing her benefits. Terry learned about special Social Security rules called “work incentives,” that help people who receive disability benefits transition to the workforce and become financially self-sufficient.

For example, people receiving disability benefits can keep their Medicare coverage and their cash benefits while gaining work experience during the Trial Work Period. Terry was relieved to learn about another Work Incentive called ‘expedited reinstatement,’ allowing her Social Security cash benefits to restart without a new application if she has to stop work within five years because of her disability.

Another helpful Work Incentive, known as a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), allows Social Security disability recipients who meet the income rules for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to set aside money to pay for items or services they need to reach a specific work goal. These can include educational expenses, training, job-related transportation, business startup costs, tools and equipment, child-care costs and even the cost of job interview clothes. By approving a PASS, Social Security agrees to exclude certain income that would normally lower an SSI payment amount. At the same time, the person agrees to go to work, with the goal of eventually leaving disability benefits behind and becoming financially self-sufficient.

In 2009, Terry found work as a Loan Servicing Specialist and a second job in retail where she trains cashiers and enjoys interacting with customers. Terry was grateful that Social Security helped her “get through the storm.” She built a better life through work. She no longer receives Social Security disability benefits. “Now I’m healthy. I have two jobs. I love both of them. Life is good.”

With support from Ticket to Work and Iowa Workforce Development Center, Terry found her path to self-sufficiency. To learn more about the Ticket to Work program, call the Ticket to Work help line at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY/TTD, 1-866-833-2967)or visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Business Program Calendar, November 2012

November 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Programs are held on Thursdays at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Downtown & Business, 612 Smithfield St., Pittsburgh, PA 15222. They begin at 12:15 pm and are free and open to the public.

November 1 Public Speaking: Tips, Tools and Techniques
Dennis Snedden, Time Management Services

This session will teach you how to prepare, practice and present more effectively, increase
your speaking comfort and confidence, and how to overcome your fears and reduce

Special Program!

November 8 Writing Your Own Last Chapter
J. Franz, MD
Anna Hays, Attorney – Julian Gray Associates
Closure Speakers’ Bureau – an initiative of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation

This session begins with a DVD that focuses on the lives of local families as they take an active role in their own end-of-life planning. The screening will be followed by a discussion, facilitated by Dr. Franz and Attorney Anna Hays, who will answer questions and explain the many resources available through www.closure.com. that will help start the conversation about final wishes. You’ll learn how to put your wishes into writing and complete legal documents that will protect your choices. Your family will thank you for it.

November 15 What is Sustainable/Responsible Investing?
Ellen M. Marcus, Financial Advisor
Oppenheimer & Co., Inc.

Oil Spills …Upper Big Branch Mine explosion…ongoing debt crises…what, as an investor, can you do to effect change with corporations around the world to head off such devastating events? What are the tools of change to make this happen? How can you marry your personal beliefs to your investment strategy? Join us at this session and find out how you can make this happen.

November 22 No Program – Happy Thanksgiving!

November 29 Tricks of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud
FINRA Investor Education Foundation (DVD -56 minutes)

This documentary explores who is at risk for investment fraud. Interviews with victims, securities regulators and fraud investigators will give you the information that will help you identify the persuasion tactics fraudsters use and the steps to take before making any important financial decisions.

Did you Know?

November 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

That Not all American voters have always been allowed to participate in elections?

That Because of slavery, African-American males were not given the right to vote until 5 years after Civil War was over?

That the 15th Amendment gave African-Americans the right to vote in 1870?

That Women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920 (the 19th Amendment).?

That there are still some states that do not allow felons to vote?

That simply put, voting is how you can help to determine who will run the government of your country?

That voting in every election is how one person makes her/his voice heard to those people in charge?

That one vote does matter?

That the 2000 presidential election was decided by fewer than 600 votes in the state of Florida?

That many local and state elections have been decided by even fewer overall votes?

If you think something is wrong , either with your registration or local polling place, contact the election board in your district and your state.

November Events

November 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

Power Lunch
November 2 -Friday
Westmoreland County
Seams Like Home Bed & Breakfast
Vanderbilt, PA.
Cost $30. 1:00-3:00
RSVP melanieansell@comcast.net
November 2 - Gallerie Chiz - Opening Reception - 5:30 - 8:30 - First Friday Art Walk, December 7 - 5:30 - 8:30 - www.galleriechiz.com
November 2 - Time: 8:30 am to Noon, Place: Chatham University, Gatehouse - Cost: $40.00 - Student Rate: $20.00 with valid ID
Register online at www.chatham.edu/cwe or call 412-365-1253 for more information - The Listening to Your Business workshop is a hands-on, facilitated workshop designed to provide women business owners and managers with the critical evaluation tools and action steps they need to maximize the growth and profitability of their business. The Listening to Your Business workshop is a fast, inexpensive way for you to listen to your business and develop a strategic direction for the future.
November 3 - Dress for Success, Pittsburgh Presents Ladies Afternoon Out - 1-4 PM - Christian Klay Winery, Chalk Hill - tickets: $30 - 724-437-1341 - http://dfsladiesafternoonout.eventbrite.com to register

Business Exchange Networking Lunch
* Give a 1-2 minute commercial for your business.
* Bring business cards, brochures, and samples.
* Make new business contacts.

Four Dates and Locations:
Nov. 7 - Wexford, Atria’s, 12980 Perry Highway, Wexford
RSVP: email Michelle Zmijanac at
Nov. 14- Mount Lebanon, Atria’s, 110 Beverly Road,

Mt. Lebanon
RSVP: email Tina Nobers at TinaNobers@CMNNutritionGroup.com

November 14th, PNC Park

Meet Pittsburgh’s best coaches, representing a variety of specialties, at PCA’s Coaching Works! Experience first-hand, through coaching demos and one-on-one sessions, how coaching can benefit you personally or your organization. Join us for this enjoyable and informative  event, November 14th from 4-7 pm at PNC Park. It might just change your  life!


Learn More & Register!


Nov. 21- Murrysville, Bella Luna Trattoria, 5060 William Penn

Hwy, Monroeville, PA 15146
RSVP Carol@CarolBrineyWorkFromHome.com

Nov. 28- Fox Chapel, Comfort Inn (Old Holiday Inn) in RIDC

Park, Ohara Twp
RSVP: 412-781-8773 or PlanBConsultant@comcast.net
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $18 (Bring cash; No-shows will be billed for the lunch)
RSVP: By Monday prior to the event

For more info, go to: www.blxnetworking.com

November 7, 2012
A Night of Business Networking & Social Encounters

The Pittsburgh Professional Connection is Pittsburgh’s fastest
growing and most prestigious networking organization in the city.
Complimentary Appetizers and a cash bar and as always, no fee at
the door for members and first time guests. If you have attended one
or more of our events and are not ready to commit to a year’s membership,
there will be now be a fee required to attend. If you would like to join our
organization and attend all of our monthly networking events and member
only events FREE, visit our website to join.
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Place: Cavo Restaurant, Lounge Nightclub, 1916 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Host: Pittsburgh Professional Connection
Cost: Members and First-time Guests- No charge
Questions: Lynda Schneider & Erica Troshak
Pittsburgh Professional Connection, pghproconnection@gmail.com
or 724-933-6902 Register online at: www.pittsburghprofessionalconnection.com
November 7 - Joyful Reflection: Spiritual Support for the Aging Process - Father Scott Seethaler, O.F.M - St. Louise De Marillac Parish - 320 McMurray Road, Pittsburgh - Space is limited - 412-833-1010 or sfaith@stlouisedemarillac.org
November 8 - Zonta Club of Pittsburgh - Join us as we honor Dr. Linda Lane, Superintendent of Pittsburgh City School Districts, with the spirit of Amelia Earhart Award - Rivers Club - $ 30 Members, $ 40 Non Members - Send checks to Zonta Club of Pittsburgh, c/o MaryAnn Reiland, 2002 Bandek Ln, Lawrence, PA 15055
November 8 - EWC Presents “Controlling Stress Before it Controls You” - Rivers Club -11:30 Registration/Massages if desired, 12:00 Luncheon, Speaker/Q&A - For more information, email ewcpittsburgh@gmail.com
November 9 - Brentwood Baldwin Whitehall Chamber of Commerce Women’s Networking Luncheon - 7th Annual Holiday Bazaar - 11:00 AM - South Hills Country Club - Lunch for Chamber Members - $15 - Bring a friend! Lunch for Non-Members - $18 - Display Table $10 - Please make a reservation* by contacting our secretary: Mary Dilla at: 412-884-1233 / secretary@bbwchamber.com
Power Lunch
November 9 -Friday
Washington County
E-Magnify Event
Hilton, South Point
Cost $30. 1:00-3:00
RSVP melanieansell@comcast.net

Power Lunch
November 9 -Friday
Butler County
Location to be announced soon!
RSVP suzannef@zoominternet.net

Brentwood Baldwin Whitehall Chamber of Commerce
Women’s Networking Luncheon
7th Annual Holiday Bazaar
Friday, November 9
11:00 AM
South Hills Country Club

The monthly luncheon meeting* of the Women’s Networking of the Brentwood Baldwin
Whitehall Chamber of Commerce will meet on Friday, November 9, 11 AM, at South Hills
Country Club. (Lunch will be served at noon.)
To help us with our holiday shopping, and to provide greater opportunities for local and
home-based businesses, the monthly meeting of the Women’s Networking of the Brentwood
Baldwin Whitehall Chamber of Commerce is hosting our 7th Annual Holiday Bazaar.
We will once again hold a raffle at the luncheon with the money raise going to the SHIM
(South Hills Interfaith Ministries) food pantry. Please bring a prize item to donate. It can
be a promotional item from your business, a gift card, or anything you would like to donate.
We will sell raffle tickets and when your number is drawn, you can choose your prize!

See you at South Hills Country Club, 11 AM!
Lunch for Chamber Members - $15 - Bring a friend!
Lunch for Non-Members - $18

Display Table $10
Please make a reservation* by contacting our secretary:
Mary Dilla at: 412-884-1233 / secretary@bbwchamber.com

November 14 - Brown Bag Lunch
12:00 – 1:00pm
Speaker: John Amato, M.Ed. Director of Training & Consultation Services
Topic: Leadership & Emotional Intelligence
This presentation will offer participants an opportunity to better understand their own emotional intelligence and how four basic competencies—self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and social skills contribute or detract from their effectiveness as a leader.
Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
1650 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
RSVP: 412.782.5344 x 209 or volunteersofamerica@voapa.org
November 14 - Please join us to recognize the 2012 Racial Justice Award Recipients at the 21st Annual Racial Justice Awards Dinner on Wednesday, November 14, at the Westin Hotel, 1000 Penn Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh. The reception begins at 5:30 pm, and the dinner and award program follow at 6:30 pm.
Cecile M. Springer is this year’s Honorary Chair, and WPXI-TV’s Vince Sims will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. We will also honor Sarah B. Campbell for her contributions to the YWCA and racial justice.
To attend the 2012 Racial Justice Awards Dinner, call 412-255-1261 or go to www.ywcapgh.org.
November 14 - Pittsburgh Social Exchange presents “Pittsburgh’s Largest Happy Hour”- Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille - 6-8 PM - Visit www.PittsburghSocialExchange.com for additional information
November 15 - Disability Resource Breakfast
8:30 – 9:30 AM
Speaker: Gale Bretti, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, M.Ed
Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services
Topic:Seeing Opportunity for Employment
There are very few jobs that individuals with Blindness and Visual Impairments cannot do. Learn more about taking chances and choosing work options that let people with blindness/visual impairments see opportunity in our community.
Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
1650 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
RSVP: 412.782.5344 x 209 or volunteersofamerica@voapa.org
Power Lunch
November 16 -Friday
Pittsburgh Power Lunch
2350 Railroad St.
Strip District, Downtown
Cost $30. 1:00-3:00
RSVP suzannef@zoominternet.net
Power Lunch
November 29 -Thursday
Westmoreland Annual Holiday Dinner & Shopping Extravanganza
One Eleven
Greensburg, PA
Cost: $40.
Time: 3:30 till ????
RSVP melanieansell@comcast.net

Pgh Women’s Network has a Happy Hour 11/29 -5 pm at
1214 Hillsdale Ave Dormont - no charge - drinks & appetizers.
November 30 - The Trustees of the Women;s Law Project invite you to our Annual Party Fun(D)Raiser - 5:45 - 8 PM - Marketplace Design Center - 2400 Market Street, Philadelphia - RSVP by November 12 - www.womenslawproject.org
Get Heard! Get Noticed! Get Leads! (TM).
Please join us this month. This is an informal networking event, open to any business woman who would like to increase her business contacts or clients in the Pittsburgh area. Please bring 10-20 of your business cards, cash for your lunch check plus your $5 non-member meeting fee and be prepared to do a 60 second commercial about your business. We look forward to seeing you there!
WSBA Network Lunch - Allegheny Valley, Thursday, November 1, 2012, 11:30 AM
Evolution Grille, 123 Mulone Drive, Sarver, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - Butler, Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 1:00 PM
Serventi’s Restaurant and Lounge , 438 S Chestnut St, Butler, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - Robinson/Airport, Friday, November 9, 2012, 5:00 PM
Mario’s, 935 Beaver Grade Road, Pittsburgh, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - Beaver County, Monday, November 12, 2012, 1:00 PM
Café Kolache,402 Third Street, Beaver, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - Shaler/Gibsonia, Wednesday, November 14, 11:30
Lin’s Garden, 5560 William Flynn Highway, Gibsonia, PA 15044
WSBA Network Lunch - East End, Thursday, November 14, 2012, 1:00 PM
Smiling Banana Leaf, 5901 Bryant Street, Pittsburgh, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - Monroeville Friday, November 16, 2012, 1:00 PM
Carino’s, 145 Mall Circle Dr, Monroeville, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - South Hills, Wednesday, November 21, 2012, 1:00 PM
Mitchell’s Fish Market, 1500 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - Westmoreland,Friday, November 23, 2012, 12:00
Ground Round Grill & Bar, 960 E Pittsburgh St., Greensburg, PA 15601
WSBA After Work Network-Washington, Monday, November 26, 2012, 6:30 PM
Angelos, 2109 North Franklin Drive, Washington, PA
WSBA Network Lunch - North Hills, Tuesday, November 27, 2012, 1:00 PM
Sesame Inn, 711 Browns Lane, Pittsburgh, PA
WSBA After Work Network, Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 5:15 PM Allegheny Wine Mixer, 5326 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA


Please join us for the Annual WIN-Pittsburgh Wine and Cheese event being hosted at the
Edgewood Country Club on Wednesday, December 12 from 4-7 p.m. Not only will you
have any enjoyable evening of Wine, Cheese and Networking, but you will also have the
pleasure of hearing from Dr. Trina Hess (Dr. Trina Hess’ Humor Academy) speaking on
“LAUGH through difficult ~cHange~!”

Registration is online at www.win-pittsburgh.eventbrite.com or www.winpitt.org

Ironic? Women Now Accelerate Customer Service at the Car Dealership

November 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

by Anne Fleming

Women are the fastest growing segment of car buyers at car dealerships, spending billions of
dollars annually on new and used cars, as well as car service and maintenance. They’re more confident, educated, and prepared to make smart car decisions than ever before, and thanks to dealer rating websites like Women‐Drivers.com, Facebook, Twitter and other online outlets, women are also voicing their opinions on those decisions in greater numbers.

They are finally catching the attention of car dealers, for good reason. Recent findings by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association show 9 out of 10 women are involved in their household’s vehicle maintenance and repair decision‐making process. Industry experts say that 65‐70% of the customers taking cars in for service and repair are women. The landscape of the traditional male‐oriented and male‐dominated dealership is changing.

“Car dealerships have to treat women respectfully or they risk sending customers to their nearest competitor –another dealership, or an independent specialty or ‘big box’ auto repair store,” says Anne Fleming, President of www.women-drivers.com

The car dealer review site is a marketplace connecting women to dealerships that already
promote trust and transparency, as demonstrated through their Women Satisfaction Index® (WSI) scores. “Our service reviews underscore the bottom line for women – when they are treated respectfully and have a good experience, they return to that dealership again and again.”

This is no surprise to dealerships, as customer retention is critical to their business. Vehicle owners visit a dealership’s service lane two to three times a year. The more a customer comes back the higher the likelihood they will not only return for service in the future, but will also purchase their next car there.

Top 10 Dealer Brands for Women’s Experience with Service & Maintenance

Women‐Drivers.com’s WSI® Service scores, indicated by nearly 1,400 reviews (in which 5 is the highest

possible rating) showcase the top women‐friendly brands – Mercedes‐Benz (4.70), Honda (4.64), BMW (4.60), Acura (4.43), Lexus (4.42), Buick and GMC (4.25), Jeep (4.22), Toyota (4.17) and Chrysler (4.09). Paying close attention to their customer satisfaction performance is paying off.
The midyear report showed:

• 73% of women said they will service their car at the dealership in the future
• 53% said they have their car service work completed at the same dealership where they purchased their car
• 66% of the women received follow‐up communication from the dealership after the work was completed

Room to Improve – Negative Data Trends

Many brands remain below the top 10 with lots of room yet to improve regarding customer service and satisfaction.

Women‐Drivers.com’s research across all brands reflects forthcoming feedback from women on their dealership service department experiences. Highlights include:

• 41% were dissatisfied with their last experience
• 34% didn’t like the way the service advisor spoke to them or the way they were treated
• 33% said that their problem wasn’t resolved to their satisfaction
• 23% thought the dealership was lacking in concierge services
• 22% said the dealerships hours weren’t convenient

For those that said they would no longer use their originating service department:

• 69% said they would have their car serviced at the dealership if they were provided with a
Courtesy vehicle
• 41% wanted the dealership to have more amenities like a child play area, Internet and wireless
capability, or a television

5 Features of Top‐Notch Customer Service

Five variables are utilized, in part or in whole, by forward‐thinking dealerships with extraordinarily high loyalty and

retention rates with women consumers. They are:

1. More Women in the Workplace: Over 18% of women working at car dealerships and many are in the
position of service advisor, the first line of contact with the dealership’s customers. These dealerships realize that seeing a knowledgeable woman behind the service counter makes female customers more comfortable to ask questions concerning repairs.

2. Using Technology to Communicate Repair Needs: Most dealers continue to focus on “verbal selling” instead of “visual selling.” Women, many of whom are skeptical of “up sells at the dealership” decline the additional or unforeseen recommendation over 40% of the time. Why? Customers want proof to ensure that the repairis warranted – and, when they cannot see the problem many opt out, and may even feel suspicious about it.

Companies like ClearMechanic.com develop technology for automotive dealerships including mobile apps, expert illustration content and web‐based tools to “visually explain” repairs with real‐time photos and videos. Customers and dealerships alike see this as win‐win. Dealerships that use this “proof‐based”
technology have a 20‐40% increase in success on additional service recommendations while their customer retention rates and CSI scores improve.
3. Go Beyond TV: Make the service waiting area into places where women are comfortable spending time, especially mothers with children. A relaxed and friendly atmosphere with comfortable seating, WiFi connectivity, and flat‐screen TVs are a start. The warmth of the waiting area, the types of magazines provided and the wall colors also enhance the space. Provide hot and cool beverages and a children’s designated play center. Allow for free transportation services so women can run errands while waiting for their car to be finished. Where possible, allow for courtesy overnight vehicles – this concierge service is employed by luxury brands and can have a real impact on women using a dealership, so trickle‐down brands and dealerships take note.

4. Expand Hours: According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average service department is open 56 hours a week compared to an 80 hour average for a specialty car repair chain store. With 40% of children today being born to unwed mothers and 29.5% of households run by single parents, dealerships that expand their hours are expanding their customer base.1

5. The Golden Rule: Put a highly trained listener into the position of Service Advisor – the professional who can hear not only what women are actually saying, but also be interested in what they aren’t saying. Abandon the role as the know‐it‐all automotive expert and strive to support and educate women throughout the entire sales process. Treat women with respect and treat them as the savvy consumers they are.

Without question, customer service and customer satisfaction are being re‐defined by women car buyers and dealerships alike. Women value relationships and trust car dealers who focus on building a long‐term relationship, not just making a sale. Every dealership should strive to be identified as a dealership that women trust, since providing superior service to its women customers means that same level of service to all of customers.

Anne Fleming

President & Car Buying Advocate

Tips for Newlyweds

November 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Mary Grace Musuneggi

In today’s world, newlyweds face a variety of challenges; many of which stem directly from the financial decisions all couples must take. Here are some tips to help on your road to financial success:

• Identify your values
• Create a budget
• Reduce or eliminate your consumer debt
• Start or increase an emergency fund
• Live below your means
• Have regular “financial” family meetings
• Plan and set your goals together as a team
• Educate yourselves about financial issues
• If you have dependents, get disability/life insurance, a will and an estate plan
• Save for your retirement
• Arrange your affairs in a tax efficient manner
• Visit a financial planner

Preparing your initial financial plan is a two person job. As your financial situation evolves, you’ll have the most success if you continue to communicate and work together on your finances.

Mary Grace Musuneggi
Founder and Executive Director
November 2012