Even Movers Are Using Influencers
Moving companies, insurance agencies, and tax specialists are all finding ways to attract attention on TikTok and Instagram.
Here are today’s highlights:
The Supreme Court will hear a case about nuisance disability suits.
Evidence that we’re entering a credit crunch is mounting.
The government is going to start looking for bias in small business lending.
Why do some companies post job listings they have no intention of filling?
Even the most mundane businesses are turning to influencers: “Once primarily the domain of industries like beauty, fashion, and wellness, influencer marketing has taken a turn for the banal. Insurance agencies, tax specialists, and other services are turning to people who are building careers on creating content posted to platforms like TikTok and Instagram. In some cases, in exchange for social-media promotion, influencers may receive services free or at a discount. For businesses, the payoff is the exposure to new audiences and the influencer’s branding sheen.”
“With its fleet of purple, pink, and blue trucks wrapped in cheeky taglines (including ‘We’ll be careful with your kid’s toys. And your adult toys’), [Ross] Sapir’s Roadway Moving has become a social-media star in its own right as influencers share testimonials about the company on Instagram and TikTok in exchange for free or discounted moves.”
“On a recent Friday morning, Isabel Tan waited for Roadway’s movers to arrive at her Manhattan one-bedroom to pack up her kitchen, her shoe closet, her bedroom and all of her furniture. It was the third year in a row that Ms. Tan used the company’s moving services, free of charge, as a barter agreement in exchange for content.”
“I don’t want it to just be like, ‘Hey, look at them pack,’” said Ms. Tan, a 27-year-old beauty, fashion, and lifestyle influencer known to her nearly 300,000 Instagram followers as @prettyfrowns. She posts five to 10 ephemeral stories a day, and about one post a day to her Instagram grid. ‘There needs to be more of a story.’”
“Ms. Tan’s hope was to capture the feeling of being ushered through a major life change: moving in with her partner. Ahead of the move, she prompted her followers to submit any advice about moving in together.” READ MORE
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could affect ADA accessibility suits: “The court agreed to decide whether disability rights advocates can sue hotels, restaurants, or other businesses that provide public accommodations for violating the anti-discrimination law when the advocates have no intention of patronizing those establishments. In other words, do so-called ‘testers,’ whose sole intention is to force those businesses to comply with the ADA’s accessibility requirements, have standing to sue? If the court decides the answer is no, it would be a win for businesses that claim such suits — sometimes filed by the hundreds by single litigants — are nuisance cases that threaten to destroy businesses that do not have the financial resources to engage in lengthy and costly legal battles.”
“‘This case does not involve any allegations of discriminatory treatment,’ states a brief from attorneys representing the Coast Village Inn and Cottages in Wells, Maine, one of many businesses disability activist Deborah Laufer sued after visiting its website and finding no information about ADA accommodations. ‘Instead (Laufer) merely alleges that a public website did not contain information she did not need.’”
“But disability rights advocates say such a ruling would essentially rewrite the ADA, which was designed to put enforcement partly in the hands of those best positioned to recognize public access discrimination: those with disabilities.” READ MORE
Evidence of a credit crunch is mounting: “Act fast on that loan, a banker warned the couple planning to open a pickleball bar in Florida. In Maryland, a toy retailer is struggling with delays in renewing his credit line. An Indiana car-loan financier is nervously watching for any signs of trouble in repayments. In the early fallout from banking sector turmoil, American small businesses are facing a tougher time accessing capital, compounding already-tight lending standards and soaring interest rates. That’s a bad omen for the U.S. economy, and bankers are warning that things will only get worse. The evidence is pointing toward the credit crunch economists warned about as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank sent tremors throughout the financial system.”
“Customers are still spending at Mike Brey’s toy retailer Hobby Works in Maryland, but the company’s founder is growing restless about financing the business going forward. Brey has been trying to get his $250,000 working capital line at his regional bank renewed for more than a month now — a much longer delay than previous years.”
“He’s not sure whether the delay is related to issues at the lender — his banker won’t say. He has the same credit rating, assets and financials as last year. The only big difference is SVB.”
“‘As I go through these crises, this is how they always start,’ he said. ‘They say it’s fine. It’s contained. It’s just this one industry. Then things just go off the rails.’” READ MORE
The government is going to start looking for bias in small business lending: “The rule would require all small business lenders that make more than 100 loans per year to report on the self-identified demographic data of the borrower. That includes lines of credit, business credit cards, merchant cash advances as well as traditional banks and credit unions. The rule defines a small business as one with gross revenue under $5 million. Proponents of the rule argue that collecting the data will help quantify and measure gaps in small business lending to better address any issues.”
“The rule has faced pushback from lending groups. The Independent Community Bankers of America has asked the agency to exempt more community banks and small businesses from the new proposal. The CFPB should exclude banks with assets of $1.3 billion or less and define small businesses as those with $1 million or less in annual revenue.”
“Republicans in Congress have generally opposed the new rule. Rep. Dan Meuser, chairman of the House Small Business Committee subcommittee on Economic Growth, tax and Capital Access, called the rule a ‘wrench’ in a vital aspect of the economy in a hearing a few days before the new rule was released and increased costs to smaller banks and other organizations.” READ MORE
The administration is pushing for more regulation of midsize banks: “President Biden on Thursday called on financial regulators to toughen oversight of medium-size banks that faced reduced scrutiny after a regulatory rollback during the Trump administration, his most aggressive response yet to the failure of two banks this month that rattled the nation’s financial system. Mr. Biden’s proposals would not require any action from Congress and could be accomplished by regulators, administration officials said. They include requiring banks to protect themselves against potential losses and maintain enough access to cash to carry them through a crisis.”
“The proposals would also subject more banks to annual stress tests conducted by regulators to ensure that they could survive events like the Federal Reserve rapidly raising interest rates, a catalyst in the failure of Silicon Valley Bank this month.”
“They would broadly increase regulation on banks with between $100 billion and $250 billion in assets, like Silicon Valley Bank.”
“Many of those measures could have helped regulators spot and stem problems earlier at Silicon Valley Bank, which saw losses mount quickly on its balance sheet as interest rates rose over the last year.” READ MORE
Apple has introduced a buy-now-pay-later service with no fees on purchases up to $1,000: “The tech giant debuted Apple Pay Later earlier this week, allowing users to split purchases ranging from $50 to $1,000 into a series of smaller payments, following the lead of popular financial services such as Affirm and Klarna. The system is integrated into the company's existing Apple Pay setup, meaning merchants won't have to opt-in to provide Apple Pay Later to customers, according to the company. It is also incorporated into Apple Wallet, allowing users to track, manage, and apply for loans from their phones.”
“While buy now, pay later has swelled into a multibillion-dollar market, amassing more and more users each year, critics have accused the services of being predatory to borrowers.”
“Recent findings from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau show that users of buy now, pay later services are more likely to have significant debt elsewhere — such as in student or personal loans, or in credit card debt.” READ MORE
Companies are routinely posting job listings for jobs that don’t exist: “In a survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers last summer, 27 percent reported having job postings up for more than four months. Among those who said they advertised job postings that they weren’t actively trying to fill, close to half said they kept the ads up to give the impression the company was growing, according to Clarify Capital, a small-business-loan provider behind the study. One-third of the managers who said they advertised jobs they weren’t trying to fill said they kept the listings up to placate overworked employees. Other reasons for keeping jobs up, the hiring managers said: Stocking a pool of ready applicants if an employee quits, or just in case an ‘irresistible’ candidate applied.”
“Given the uncertain economic outlook, some job ads may be more wishful thinking than anything else, says Vincent Babcock, a Nashville, Tenn.-based recruiter. Such a strategy, he says, risks turning off applicants who may view the ads as misleading.”
“For employers, constantly looking for talent can make sense, says Kelsey Libert, co-founder of Fractl, a digital marketing agency. She says her company keeps ads up for associate positions even when they aren’t hiring, because turnover for those jobs is often higher than other roles.”
“Every month, Indeed removes millions of job postings that don’t meet its standards from the website, including inactive job postings, he says. Indeed says it has recently seen more employers dial back their recruiting efforts. Job postings on the site have fallen by 11 percent since the start of 2023.” READ MORE
Yang Bing-yi brought soup dumplings to the world: “Mr. Yang and his wife, Lai Pen-mei, opened their first modest storefront in 1958, laying the foundation for what would become a franchise that their children and grandchildren have expanded to more than 170 locations across Taiwan, mainland China, and 13 other countries, including the United States, Japan, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates, with a menu that includes such specialties as wontons in red chili oil, shredded tofu and seaweed salad, and steamed truffle-and-pork dumplings. A Hong Kong branch has been awarded a Michelin star five times.”
“[Ken] Hom, the chef and writer, said in an interview that Mr. Yang’s drive for precision — down to the diameter of the wrappers and the weight of each soup dumpling — set a standard that has stood the test of time and transcended borders.”
“‘We don’t care if people say that Din Tai Fung’s food is expensive,’ Mr. Yang told reporters at an event in 2003. ‘Compare it with anything else and you’ll know the difference immediately.’” READ MORE
21 HATS PODCAST
I Just Cut My Pay: This week, Paul Downs tells Shawn Busse and Jay Goltz that his year has not gotten off to a great start. This was supposed to be the year that Paul unleashed a bold, new marketing campaign that would put his business on an entirely new trajectory—and perhaps it still will be. But for the moment, his revenue has fallen considerably short of his expectations, which has presented him with an unwelcome choice: Should he hold-off on the marketing campaign? Or should he cut his own salary? Along with discussing Paul’s decision, we also talk about the process of rethinking a website, how to use LinkedIn, and why Paul and Shawn continue to perform their own HR chores.
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Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren