9 Reasons Why You Should Work With A Telecom Consultant

Pivotel Networks

For business owners, working with telecommunication providers is painful but necessary. Most people struggle to decipher “tech-speak” to try and understand the best solution for their unique challenges and business needs. It can be so overwhelming that business owners are often tempted to give up and just say ‘yes’ to any proposal that seems to fit.

This is where a telecom consultant like Pivotel Networks comes in. At Pivotel, we evaluate your business requirements and match these with customized solutions that fit your needs. Moreover, we are committed to building long-term relationships with our customers and will help resolve issues as they arise in an efficient and timely manner.

Here are 9 more reasons why you should consider using us as your telecommunications consultant:

  1. Customized solutions. We will design solutions based on industry trends and best practices, ensuring that you receive the best solution possible.
  2. Carrier neutrality. We can work with various providers, allowing us to offer excellent solutions options from different carriers.
  3. Implementation assistance. We will assist you in integrating these new solutions into your work environment.
  4. Billing audit. We will provide a billing audit to make sure that everything has been billed accordingly. 
  5. Customer care. Get help with escalations. Need help in escalating an issue or ticket? We can help to escalate tickets until they are resolved.
  6. Budget management. Work with us to find a solution that’s well within your budget.
  7. Circuit Inventory. We will keep track of all your circuits so you don’t have to.
  8. Support. We provide technical support as needed.
  9. Infrastructure analysis. We will audit your current communications infrastructure and determine if you are utilizing the best and the most cost-effective solution for your business.

Should you decide to partner with us, we’ll begin with an in-depth analysis of your current infrastructure. We’ll then identify the pain points that need to be addressed. As a telecom consultant and business phone systems expert, we can present options from different carriers and provide unbiased advice on which solutions best fit the nature of your business and budget.

Based in Nashville and serving Middle Tennessee, business phone systems expert Pivotel Networks strives to be your advocate and ally in an ever-changing world of telecommunications and technology. Get in touch by calling (615) 499-7900.

Coronavirus Car Tips: What to Disinfect In Your Car Right Now

GPO Tuning

While the coronavirus pandemic has prompted people to work from home, they still need to drive every now and then to do their errands. Essential employees also have to commute to work daily. During this time, staying safe and healthy means disinfecting areas and things we come in contact with, and that includes your car.

A BMW service center in Nashville, GPO Tuning shares tips on how to disinfect your car thoroughly.

Here’s a checklist of car surfaces to clean and disinfect

When a person with coronavirus coughs or exhales, tiny droplets are released and could land on surfaces. The coronavirus can live on surfaces for a few hours to up to several days depending on factors such as the type of surface, temperature, and humidity. The virus can spread when people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. 

To reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, Nashville-based BMW service center GPO Tuning recommends disinfecting car surfaces regularly. Focus on frequently touched areas such as:

  • Steering wheel
  • Key and remote fob
  • Exterior door handles
  • Trunk lid
  • Interior door panels
  • Start button, if your car has one
  • Dashboard
  • Audio systems
  • Touchscreens
  • Rearview mirror
  • HVAC vents
  • Gear shifter
  • Turn signal lever
  • Windshield wiper controls
  • Center stack knobs
  • Center console and armrests
  • Seats
  • Seat belt and buckle
  • Headrests
  • Cup holders
  • Parking brake

Hard, non-porous surfaces such as armrests, door handles, seat belt buckles, light and air controls, doors, windows, and grab handles can be cleaned with soap and water before applying a disinfectant. Soft, porous surfaces such as fabric seats should be cleaned with products formulated specifically for the material. Electronic touchscreens are sensitive and should be cleaned and disinfected following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Here’s a list of disinfectants considered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against the coronavirus. Always read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for concentration, application method, and contact time for all cleaning and disinfection products. Do wear gloves while disinfecting your car, and try to do so in a well-ventilated area.

Just as important as keeping your car coronavirus-free is making sure it’s safe to drive. While regular car maintenance is easy to overlook, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your vehicle. Ignoring maintenance can end up costing you more in the long run. If your BMW needs more than just a thorough disinfection, schedule an appointment with GPO Tuning, a  BMW service center in Nashville. Their team of technicians provides a mix of factory training, ASE certifications, technical school training, and have over 100 years of combined experience, making sure your vehicle is in excellent condition.  

As an essential service provider for transportation, GPO Tuning is open for business. Get in touch with them today to book an appointment.

German Performance Options (GPO Tuning) is Nashville’s most trusted independent BMW service center. Call 615.248.9466 to speak to one of their service advisors.

Choosing The Right Boarding School

Currey Ingram

Whether you’re considering a boarding school in Brentwood, Tennessee, or other location, here are some of the things you can do to make sure you’re giving your child the best educational experience possible.

List your must-haves

Sit down with your child and talk about all areas of the boarding school experience that need to be considered, including the boarding school’s location, campus and class size, extra-curricular activities offered, tuition and financial assistance available, inclusivity, and philosophy. This will help sift your non-negotiables from the things you could do without.

Take it a step further and ask your child to think about their long-term goals. Where do they want to go and who do they want to become? The right boarding school will provide an atmosphere that encourages them to grow along this path, both inside and outside the classroom. 

Consider the private boarding school’s mission statement

A boarding school’s mission statement is crafted to reflect its values and goals; it will ultimately be the basis for how the school’s decisions are made. Brentwood boarding school, Currey Ingram Academy’s mission statement, for example, is to provide an exemplary K-12 day and boarding school program that empowers students with learning differences to achieve their fullest potential. Take time to think about whether or not this school reflects your values as a family.

Explore Currey Ingram’s curriculum, teaching methodology, and how the school works to uphold social, emotional, and academic balance. These factors will determine how the school assigns homework, conducts tests, grades performances, mentors its students, and sets long-term learning goals. The culture within the boarding school’s teaching community is reflective of the culture created within the classroom. 

Seek first-hand reviews

This of a boarding school education as an investment. While statistics like state rankings, test scores, and student-teacher ratios are important, first-hand reviews will give you a feel of the school beyond the numbers. This can help you decide if a boarding school is the right fit for your child.

Check if the boarding school has programs and support systems in place for holistic student development

A student’s interests will evolve over time, so variety is essential. Does the boarding school’s curriculum include science offerings, an arts program, and special interest classes? Does it have an excellent athletics program as well as facilities to go along with it? Are there mentorship opportunities available?

Currey Ingram Academy, a well-known boarding school in Brentwood, provides programs for visual arts, music, photography, theater, and video production that give students multiple opportunities to share their talents and to be recognized for their work. Students are encouraged to participate in and/or support the school’s athletics program.

Get a feel of the community life

For a truly exceptional boarding school experience, students and teachers must have a strong rapport with one another and value each other’s contributions to the community.

Select faculty members of Currey Ingram Academy have joined the Residential Life staff and live alongside boarding students in the school’s new residence hall. They are there to make sure the students’ experience is rewarding, safe, and fully-integrated with all aspects of living and learning on campus.

Look up the school’s history and traditions, as these in part shape the school’s approach to community building.

Schedule a tour 

An on-site visit will give you a clearer view of everyday life at the boarding school. Observe student-teacher dynamics: Do they greet each other? Do they greet you? Are they fully engaged with the discussions taking place within the classroom? 

Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions on housing arrangements, protocols in the event of a medical emergency, food options, college placement assistance, and weekend activities.

At Currey Ingram Academy’s boarding school, mission-appropriate applicants are invited on the Brentwood campus for individualized shadow days. All prospective students are expected to participate in classroom activities and complete all homework, if given. Lunch and a snack will be served in the dining hall at no charge. 

Remember that admission departments are just as hopeful in finding the right boarding school-student fit as you are. At the end of the day, it all boils to choosing a place that inspires your child to learn and thrive to the fullest.  

A boarding school in Brentwood, Currey Ingram Academy supports and empowers students with learning differences to achieve their fullest potential – academically and socially – within an environment that fosters holistic student development. Get in touch by calling (615) 507-3173.

Interior Design Tips: Your Guide to Buying a New Rug

The Linen Duck

There’s more to a rug than its colors, patterns, or textures. A great rug helps ground furniture and define a space. It also protects floors from scuff marks, absorbs noise, and provides plush padding underfoot.

If you’re looking for a new rug and are looking for interior design services in Nashville, a visit to The Linen Duck (located in Columbia, just 40 minutes south of Nashville) is always a good idea. Here are a few of their rug shopping tips:

The Linen Duck

Get the right size

The right rug size depends on several factors: the room’s dimensions, the furniture in it, the function of the space, and the look you’re trying to achieve. 

For the living area, the rug should be centered under the coffee table and selected with the furniture arrangement in mind. Living room rugs usually range from 5’x8’ to 9’x12’.

For the dining room, always choose a rug that’s bigger than your table. To get the ideal size, a simple rule of thumb is to add 36 inches to both the length and width of your table (or 36 inches to the diameter if it’s a round table).

When choosing a rug for the bedroom, give your feet a soft surface to walk on and go for a rug that’s 18 to 24 inches beyond each side of the bed. 

A common mistake in interior design is buying a rug that’s too small. When in doubt, go for the larger option. The rug’s size could spell the difference between a space that looks haphazardly put together and a thoughtfully decorated one.

The Linen Duck

Know your rug materials

Wool rugs are durable, affordable, and naturally stain-resistant. These rugs also retain heat, which would be perfect cold winter months. On the other hand, wool rugs have a tendency to shed and might need regular vacuuming. 

Cotton rugs are low maintenance and easy to clean. These rugs are less likely to shed than wool rugs but are less durable. Cotton rugs are machine-washable and are an ideal choice for spill-prone areas such as the kitchen.

The Linen Duck

Silk rugs are soft and luxurious, making them a great choice for the bedroom. On the other hand, these are delicate and can be expensive, not to mention difficult to clean and maintain for high-traffic areas.

Eco-friendly natural fiber rugs are often braided and are made from materials such as jute, bamboo, or seagrass.  These rugs are best used in relatively dry rooms where it’s less likely to be dirty since these rugs are difficult to clean.

Stain and fade-resistant, durable synthetic fiber rugs are suitable for functional areas like entryways, hallways, or patios.

Consider the overall look of your space

Choose a rug that complements your room’s décor. A patterned or colorful rug will complement rooms with a muted color palette. Colorful rooms will benefit from the visual contrast a neutral rug provides. The Linen Duck

Take care of your rug

Always read the care instructions on the rug’s label to make sure you’re cleaning it correctly. Spot clean stains right away, and turn your rug 180 degrees every so often to prevent certain areas from being more faded and worn out than the rest. 

The Linen Duck’s interior design center has hundreds of sample options to choose from. Special orders usually arrive within a week. Learn more about rugs from our online guide or visit us in the store.

The Linen Duck offers interior design services in Columbia, TN, just south of Nashville. They are open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. Call (931) 548-2422 or visit their website to learn more.

Your Guide To Residential Asphalt Driveways

Hargrove SealcoatingHomeowners know that a cracked and neglected driveway affects the overall aesthetic of a property. If you’re still deciding whether or not paving your driveway is a good investment, wonder no more. Laying an asphalt driveway or repairing cracked asphalt will enhance your property’s long-term value and curb appeal.

It only takes one to two days to lay an asphalt driveway if it is done by a professional contractor, and you don’t have to wait a long time to start using it again. While residential paving expenses will depend on your location and specific requirements, it is generally affordable. However, there are factors to consider to make sure your driveway paving lasts and functions as it should. Here are some of them.

Driveway Foundation

Your driveway’s foundation must be sufficiently compacted before any paving work can be started. Failing to have a proper foundation can make or break the quality of the asphalt pavement.  Make sure cracks and holes are filled out, and there’s a drainage system in place. 

Drainage

Having an effective drainage system is crucial to an asphalt driveway’s quality and durability. Water should never be stagnant on the pavement’s surface; neither should it pool around the edges. To prevent water stagnation, driveways are usually raised in the center and built lower along the sides.

Patio and walkway drainages should be kept further away from the driveway.

Tack Coating

This helps the asphalt overlay adhere to the foundation. Tack coating is usually sprayed on a deteriorating surface to ensure its evenness before adding the asphalt overlay.

Paving Material

Your choice of paving materials would depend on the specific demands of the project. In some cases, an aggregate base may be the best choice. In others, a full-depth asphalt application would be highly recommended. A professional contractor such as Hargrove Sealcoating will survey the area to determine the best pavement material for the job.

Pavement Width

A one-car driveway would typically require a width of 8 feet. But it is recommended to set the width at 10 feet so there’s enough space for larger vehicles.

Expand the width to 12 feet if you want to accommodate pedestrians, too.

Pavement Thickness

Asphalt contractors would either use asphalt over an aggregate base or use asphalt all the way through. Asphalt thickness will differ depending on which case. An asphalt overlay would be at 1.5 to 2.5 inches, whereas a full-depth asphalt pavement would be at 5 to 6 inches total.

Asphalt Surface Course Application

The surface course is the top layer of the pavement and it should be laid in such a way that it is able to withstand high traffic and environmentally-induced stresses without cracking or rutting. It aims to provide an even profile with just the right amount of texture to ensure sufficient and safe skid resistance.

Location

Your driveway’s location should consider your property’s natural topography. An area that is too flat an area will cause drainage problems while an area with steep slopes could become slippery and dangerous. As a rule of thumb, a driveway should have a grade of less than 15 percent, which means that it should not rise more than 15 feet over a distance of 100 feet. 

Surrounding trees and natural features should be taken into consideration in the construction of your driveway.

Everyday Traffic

While cars do not damage the surface of your driveway, heavy-duty vehicles parked regularly on your driveway can. It is recommended that trucks should not park on your driveway for at least a year after the paving work is completed.

Sealing

Asphalt driveways last for about 25 to 30 years. With regular sealcoating, or the application of a protective coating against the elements, your driveway could possibly last longer than that.

Maintenance

Cracks, potholes, and ruts should be repaired as soon as possible as these could speed up the deterioration of your residential asphalt paving. Asphalt patching is a fast and effective solution to these concerns.

Serving Columbia, Spring Hill, Franklin, Brentwood, Thompson’s Station, Lewisburg, Murfreesboro, and Nashville, Hargrove Sealcoating specialists provide asphalt crack repair services. Call them today at 931.619.6718. One of their service advisors will be happy to assist you.

Q&A: Here’s How You Can Boost Media Relations With SEO

McKeeman Communications

There are 6 PR professionals for every journalist in America. It’s an exciting yet challenging time for PR practitioners: while the industry is booming, it’s harder to capture the attention of journalists faced with the onslaught of 24-hour news cycles, consolidated newsrooms, and the possibility of AI-assisted writing. PR firms in Charlotte, NC are constantly battling for top-of-mind awareness.

How can you cut through the clutter and make sure the right people actually open your pitch? Here’s where having a robust search engine optimization (SEO) strategy comes in. Kim McKeeman, CEO of McKeeman Communications, a PR firm serving Charlotte, North Carolina, answers some of your burning questions.

Why is SEO important even in what’s considered traditional media relations?

Kim: Journalists use search engines to look for resources, just like everyone else. SEO enhances the searchability of press releases and other placements.

How does one craft a press release optimized for search?

Kim: Insert primary keywords, company names, and locations into headlines, sub-headlines, content, and boilerplates. Write in a conversational tone as Google penalizes keyword stuffing and will flag your content as spam. Keep headlines short: only 50-60 characters of a headline will appear in the search results, so keywords should appear before your content gets cut off.

How do you determine which keywords to use? 

Kim: If you don’t have a dedicated SEO team for this task, PR firms in Charlotte NC such as McKeeman Communications recommend studying your niche. Keep track of relevant topics and questions that prospects, customers, and other shareholders ask. Start building your keyword list from the common phrases that emerge.

Press releases have images that go along with them. Can these be optimized for search as well?

Kim: Absolutely. With Google shifting from text to a more visual way of finding information, it only makes sense to do so.

Google’s search engine results display just as many image results as they do text-based results. An image’s alt text is the copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load, and it makes the image clickable. Including images with highly relevant alt text increases the searchability of your press release.

Use a unique image (relevant to your content, of course) rather than a stock photo whenever possible. Even its placement in an article matters: if you have an image that you’re trying to rank, keep it close to the top of the page. 

Another best practice is to select a distribution service with high online exposure. PR Web, for example, has a website distribution of 30,000 bloggers and journalists.

How can we verify if we’re pitching a story to an authoritative website?

Kim: Check the website for quality backlinks. Backlinks are important because these represent a vote of confidence from one site to another. If several sites link to the same website, search engines can infer that the content is worth linking to. A backlink from a trusted website will increase your own site’s authority and search ranking. 

While Google does not disclose its metrics for determining a site’s authority, this Backlink Research tool developed by Moz lets you check the backlink profile and Domain Authority of any site. It’s not exact, but it’s a good indicator.

How can PR pitch emails stand out?

Kim: If you haven’t heard from your favorite journalist regarding your PR pitch, don’t give up just yet. Journalists looking for resources and story ideas will go through their archived emails. This can happen weeks, months, or even years after the initial pitch was sent. Therefore, it’s important to craft PR email pitches in a way that will make them easier to find. 

Think about what words or phrases most accurately describe your theme. Incorporate main keywords into the email subject line as well as the main body of the pitch whenever possible.

Writing the article yourself and pitching it directly to a publication gives you the opportunity to incorporate essential keywords and backlinks. Include anchor text leading to a specific blog post, an FAQ page, a white paper, an archived newsletter, or other content you provide for free. Doing this tells Google that you are an expert on a particular topic.

These SEO strategies will help drive media relations efforts, which in return, creates more value for the organization. 

One of the top PR firms in Charlotte, NC, McKeeman Communications is in the business of building brands and reputations. If you want to learn more about how your media relations can benefit from SEO, call (866) 341-2650 or email info@mckeemanpr.com

Business and Organization Resilience

ImageQuestNatural disasters, global pandemics, and economic volatility have exposed the fragility of supply chains, healthcare systems, and businesses in general. Organizations have declared their intention to bounce back and rebuild more resilient businesses, but not all of them have the capacity to do so. Very few companies are able to design for, measure, and manage resilience.

Business resilience: Its importance and benefits

Resilience can be defined as a company’s ability to absorb stress, recover functionality, and thrive amid different circumstances. Business resilience is important, now more than ever, because the landscape is evolving at an unprecedented rate. 

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Advocating for Classroom Accommodations and Academic Support

Currey IngramThe number of students with different learning needs has increased in recent years. These differences are not observable in most cases. As a result, students with learning needs are often overlooked or misunderstood. Faculty members and school staff must understand the implications of learning differences so they can advocate for classroom accommodations and provide them with opportunities to thrive and succeed.

What are accommodations?

Accommodations are modifications in the way tasks are presented that allow students with learning differences to complete the same assignments as the other students. Accommodations do not change the content of the assignments, alter how tests are evaluated, or give these students an undue advantage. Rather, accommodations enable students to demonstrate what they know and not be impeded by their learning differences.

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Using Security Cameras to Reward Employees Who Are Doing the Right Thing, Thus Preventing the Bad

ICU Security

The human brain is naturally programmed to absorb visual content better than a page filled with words. Moreover, an average person retains 95 percent of a message when it is watched and only 10 percent when it is read. Combine visual content with movement and sound and you’ve got video – one of the most – if not the most – compelling media formats around. 

Whether they’re recording videos non-stop, on schedule, or only when motion is detected, security cameras are becoming the norm in the workplace. Apart from their traditional functions of movement surveillance and loss prevention, security cameras have now taken on highly crucial roles in business environments. Nashville security camera provider ICU Security cites some examples of how security cameras can help employees understand and embrace core processes and procedures in the workplace, thereby boosting productivity and morale. 

Employee training. With security cameras in place, companies can document employees performing tasks based on best practices and use the footage as training materials for new hires. Organization veterans don’t have to be pulled out for time-consuming training duties, allowing them to focus on jobs at hand.

Moreover, the periodic review of these videos could help management plan for future training programs that could unlock each team member’s full potential.

Recognition of outstanding behavior.  Security cameras can capture an employee’s exemplary behavior, which could be reinforced through a well-deserved reward or recognition. Other employees could watch the video to see what worked and evaluate if there are still areas for improvement.

Equipment operation. Organizations can use security cameras to verify and document the proper use and maintenance of critical equipment. 

Workplace safety. Security cameras provide companies with a definitive way to validate whether teams are complying with established safety protocols, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Customer service improvement. Audio-enabled security cameras can provide details that would otherwise be missed when video-only systems are used. Managers can resolve employee and customer concerns by watching and listening to what took place.

Note that the reasons behind video surveillance efforts must be clearly communicated to everyone concerned. Transparent and sensible policies lead to a loyal and high-performing workforce.

Established in 1999, ICU Security are Nashville-based security camera specialists serving communities in  Brentwood, Murfreesboro, and Franklin, TN. Get in touch by calling (615) 208-2891.

When Is The Best Time To Asphalt Your Driveway?

Hargrove Sealcoating
A new asphalt driveway can elevate the look of your home. It’s a durable surface where you can walk or park your car. To make it last for several years, asphalt must be properly installed under optimal conditions by an asphalt paving professional.

Choosing The Best Conditions For Asphalt Work

In its workable state, asphalt is viscous, flexible, and easy to pour and spread across a surface given the right environmental settings. Asphalt can be difficult to manage when it’s too cold outside, and teams would need to work quickly before the asphalt cools and hardens. On the other hand, it can take longer for asphalt to cure when it’s too hot. The ideal temperature would be somewhere near 70 degrees. This typically happens in spring, late summer, or early fall depending on where you live.

Why Precipitation Matters

Precipitation is another important factor to consider when planning asphalt paving work in Nashville. Water seeping into the sub-base will freeze during winter, which causes it to expand and damage the asphalt above. Heavy rainfall can cool down the asphalt surface before the team could have the chance of properly leveling the material.

Review Project Timelines

The amount of work to be done on your driveway will affect the timing of your asphalt paving project. It could only take 1 to 2 days to refresh an existing driveway, but it can take a week if you are planning to install a new one entirely. Consult with a Nashville-based asphalt paving contractor and schedule your project accordingly.

Remember: The first two weeks are the most crucial for your new asphalt driveway; it is still vulnerable and prone to breakage during this time. Do not drive on it for 3 to 5 days, and wait for up to 7 days before parking a vehicle on it. If you do, park in the early morning or in the evening when temperatures are lower.

For your asphalt paving and repair requirements, call Nashville-based Hargrove Sealcoating at 931.619.6718 for a free consultation and quote. One of their service advisors will be happy to assist you.