Finding and Keeping Good Employees

Wednesday, February 07 at 02:00 PM
Category: Arvest News

The following article is republished with permission from the Feb. 8, 2018 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

When I am visiting with local small business owners about their biggest challenges, the majority of them answer, “Finding and keeping good employees.”

As unemployment rates in Northwest Arkansas have declined and stayed at historically low levels, the issue of finding and keeping good employees has required more attention and resources from employers. This significant variable in the business equation is one to pay close attention to when considering starting a new business or major change in one’s business.

When putting together a business plan, many will plug an arbitrary number into the “payroll” line item without digging into what makes up the line item. Expecting even average performance from an employee may cost you much more than the hourly wage estimations from the region. The expectation of average performance (and many owners expect more than just average) from average pay may not be met.

As current and potential business owners are working through their labor projections, they need to ask themselves some critical questions:

  • Do I fully understand the day-to-day operations of my business and what my current (or future) employees are doing?
  • Do I have clear guidelines for duties and performance for each of my employees? Were expectations made clear when the employee was considering employment? Have these been communicated clearly and frequently?
  • How involved will my employees be in the strategy of growing and improving my business? Do my employees understand how the business makes a profit and ways to increase the margins? Do I have incentives in place for this behavior? Do I share bottom-line performance with my employees or is it kept a mystery?
  • Will I give employees financial and operational responsibilities that are not overseen (e.g. bank deposits, reconciliations, customer invoicing and collections)? Do I have a system of checks and balances in place for certain critical duties, and are these procedures reviewed regularly? Do all employees and contractors (payroll, accounting, etc.) know that I will be auditing transactions and documentation on a regular basis (This happens much less than you think, and to dire consequences)?
  • What are the key skills and traits a good employee needs, and am I ready to train the rest?
  • Am I passionate about the mission of my business and can I effectively convince my employees of the same?

This may sound like a lot of work, but a business will not be successful if it does not have the right people in place working toward the same goal. If, as an employer, you do not have a clearly articulated mission and clearly defined expectations, you will spend greater time and resources on frequent employee turnover, and expose the business to unnecessary reputational, operational and financial risks.

Loyal, energetic and easy-to-teach employees have always been in high demand and – with reports indicating 90% of small business owners plan to hire 1-2 new employees in 2018 – the competition for these individuals will become more intense.

Potential employees have options. Employers will need to do some soul-searching as to what makes their business special and unique. Employers will also need to be creative with how they incentivize their employees and possibly, how they require labor from them.

  • Does your employee need to work 8-5? Can the work day be defined differently, but still achieve the desired results?
  • Can the business achieve its goal by supplementing the existing staff with key, industry-specific experts (e.g. marketing, human resources, accounting and finance)?
  • What motivates your employee? It may not be the almighty dollar, but a more flexible schedule with a chance to take four weeks off and bike the Great Divide Trail.
  • How does your business contribute to the world in a way that improves it? Will your employees feel they are part of a larger, socially conscious movement?
  • Are you communicating with your employee about how their individual performance is contributing to the overall goal and success of the business? Do they feel like they are making a difference?

As you contemplate the new year and what it means for you and your business, make sure you are spending the time and deliberation required for your employees. They are so much more than a line item.

Eileen Jennings is a commercial lender for Arvest Bank in Fayetteville. She can be reached by emailing


Tags: Financial Education

8 Ways to Simplify Your Financial Life

Sunday, January 21 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

As you ring in the New Year, you may make resolutions to spend more time with your family and friends, improve your health, or focus on your financial well-being. To help you get started on that last one, consider taking time to streamline and automate your finances so that you can free up your schedule, alleviate money worries and give your other resolutions the time and effort they deserve.

Here are eight easy ways to get more out of your money and save time.

  1. Use online and mobile banking. Don’t spend valuable time wondering what your account balance is or if a check has cleared your account. Instead of calling the bank or reviewing your monthly account statement, enroll in online and mobile banking to view up-to-the-minute account activity — any time. With these convenient services, you can check balances, transfer funds, and even set account alerts to notify you about specific account activity. Arvest offers Online Banking with BlueIQ™ and Arvest Go mobile banking to help you organize and stay on top of your finances.
  2. Pay bills and people electronically. Think paying bills is a hassle? You can make the process easier by paying bills electronically with online bill payment and transfer services You can pay just about anyone — from your babysitter to the utility company — with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on your phone. You can even arrange to have recurring bill payments set up to make paying your rent or mortgage easier each month. Arvest BillPay, Arvest to Arvest Transfers and Popmoney are services that give you the control and flexibility you need to move your money where it needs to go.
  3. Set up automatic debits. Need to pay your gym membership or your monthly phone bill? You can save time by having these vendors automatically debit your account each month. Generally, the vendors’ websites will include information regarding automatic debits. You’ll need to provide your account number and routing number to set up the services.
  4. Shop with your debit card. Whether you're going to the grocery store or on a vacation, be sure to bring along your debit card for a fast, safe, and convenient way to pay for purchases. Using a debit card is much faster than writing a check and a lot safer than carrying cash. Arvest Chip-enabled debit cards work anywhere Visa® is accepted.
  5. Deposit checks from your mobile device. Need to deposit a check, but you aren’t near a bank or ATM? With Mobile Check Deposit, you can deposit your check in seconds — right from your mobile device. Enjoy faster access to your money with Mobile Check Deposit.
  6. Sign up for electronic statements. You'll not only save valuable time storing and filing statements; you'll also help save paper and the planet. Arvest e.Statements are available through online banking and delivered as PDF files for most accounts.  
  7. Set up transfers to savings. Saving money is possible, especially when you can arrange to have funds automatically deposited in your savings account each month.
  8. Sign up for direct deposit. Why wait to receive a paper check on payday?  With direct deposit, your funds can be automatically deposited into your checking or savings account on payday, giving you quicker access to your money.


Take advantage of automated services to make 2018 the year you bank smarter and save time! 

Tags: Financial Education

Saving Money on Gas

Saturday, January 20 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Whether driving cross-town or cross-country, everybody wants to save money at the pump. Regardless of the make and model, your car's estimated gas mileage is just that — an estimate. Here are some simple steps to help you get the most mileage out of your vehicle:

At the Pump

·       Check your owner's manual for the most effective octane level for your car. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher octane gas* than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit — and costs you at the pump. Some cars do require premium fuel, so before you fill up, check your owner's manual to find out if the higher-priced gas is required or just recommended.

·       Shop around. Specialized phone apps and websites can help you find the cheapest gas prices in your area. Also, many gas stations advertise regular weekly specials at their locations.

On the Road

·       Start driving as soon as the engine is started. Modern engines don't need much time to warm up. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating, and will stay warm after stopping.

·       Don't speed. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour. According to*, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.

·       Avoid unnecessary idling. It wastes fuel, costs you money, and pollutes the air. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a wait.

·       Use overdrive gears and cruise control when appropriate. They improve fuel economy when you're driving on the highway.

·       Minimize the need to brake by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for slow-downs and red lights. Anticipate bends and turns on familiar roads. Letting up on the gas often eliminates the need for braking.

·       Use the air conditioner only when you absolutely need it. Air conditioning dramatically reduces fuel economy. Most air conditioners have an "economy" setting that allows the circulation of unchilled air. Many also have a "maximum" or "recirculation" setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air conditioning load — and save gas.

·       Combine errands. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

·       Remove excess weight from the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can reduce a typical car's fuel economy by up to two percent.

·       Avoid packing items on top of your car. A loaded roof rack or carrier creates wind resistance and can decrease fuel economy by five percent.

At the Garage

·       Keep your engine tuned. Tuning your engine according to your owner's manual can increase gas mileage by an average of four percent.

·       Keep your tires properly inflated and aligned. It can increase gas mileage up to three percent, improve handling, and prolong the life of your tires. Check your owner's manual or the door jamb for the proper level of inflation (not the tire itself, which shows the maximum tire inflation pressure); check the tire pressure when the tires are cold, because internal pressure increases when the car has been on the road for a while and the tires heat up.

·       Change your oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can improve your gas mileage by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.

When Shopping

·       Be skeptical about any gizmo that promises to improve your gas mileage. The EPA has tested supposed gas-saving devices — including "mixture enhancers" and fuel line magnets — and found that very few provided any fuel economy benefits. Those devices that did work provided only a slight improvement in gas mileage. In fact, some products may even damage your car's engine or cause a substantial increase in exhaust emissions. For a full list of tested products, visit*.

Information courtesy of Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.  


Tags: Financial Education

Give Yourself the Gift of Identity Protection

Tuesday, December 12 at 02:00 PM
Category: Personal Finance

It may not show up on many shopping lists, but identity protection could be one of the biggest gifts consumers can give themselves this holiday season. 

That’s because, according to Javelin Strategy & Research, an estimated 15.4 million consumers were victims of some type of ID theft in 2016. That number is up from 13.1 million in 2015. 

Arvest Bank understands how much people enjoy the holiday season, but we also want to remind everyone that December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Arvest also wants consumers to know it is critical to know how to help protect themselves from identity thieves because of the long-lasting effects such an attack can have on their credit and bank accounts. 

With that in mind, here are some tips created by the Federal Trade Commission that can help consumers avoid identity theft. 

  • Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home, and lock your wallet or purse in a safe place at work.
  • Limit what you carry. When you go out, take only the identification, credit, and debit cards you need. Leave your Social Security card at home.
  • Before you share information at your workplace, a business, your child's school, or a doctor's office, ask why they need it, how they will safeguard it, and the consequences of not sharing.
  • Shred receipts, credit applications and offers, insurance forms, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards, and similar documents when you don’t need them any longer.
  • Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office. Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. If you won’t be home for several days, request a vacation hold on your mail.
  • Before you dispose of a computer, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.
  • Before you dispose of a mobile device, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device.
  • Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
  • Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative: think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become 1W2CtPo.
  • If you post too much information about yourself via social media, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. Consider limiting access to your networking page to a small group of people. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.
  • Install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often.
  • Don’t open files, click on links, or download programs sent by strangers.
  • Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.
  • Don’t use an automatic login feature that saves your user name and password, and always log off when you’re finished. 

For more information on privacy and identity protection, visit* and look for the ‘Tips & Advice’ tab. If you’re interested in the kind of identity-theft protection that includes theft-resolution and file-monitoring services, Arvest offers IDProtect®* with some of its checking accounts. Identity monitoring services can alert you if someone tries to open an account or secure a loan in your name. To learn more about Arvest Bank and IDProtect®, visit and select IDProtect® under the ‘Personal’ tab.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution

Tags: Financial Education, IDProtect

6 Secrets to Avoiding a Post-Holiday Empty Wallet

Friday, November 10 at 01:00 PM
Category: Arvest News

Making it through the holidays with your budget intact may at first sound unattainable; however, with planning and a little effort, it is possible.

As we approach the busy holiday shopping season, here are a few tips to get the most out of the festivities while ensuring that your post-holiday wallet isn’t bare. After all, ‘tis the season to have it all! You shouldn’t have to sacrifice fun and relaxing holiday experiences with your friends and family because of budget restrictions.

1. Get Organized 

Find out how much you have in your budget to spend on gifts, cards, decorations, food, travel and events this holiday season. Make lists and set a budget. Keep track and hold yourself accountable. 

2. Enjoy Free Events

Love to go caroling or see your downtown covered in lights? Many of these types of events are free and open to the public. Check your town’s online calendar of events and social media for budget-friendly holiday activities.

3. Think Beyond Traditional Gifts

Consider less traditional gifts to save money this season. Experiences, scrapbooks, babysitting offers and baked goods are good options. What about redeeming gift cards or items from any of your rewards programs as no-cost presents to hand out to loved ones? You could also organize a volunteer day with your friends and family, donating time to help improve your local community. If gifts are a must, consider implementing a gift swap or draw names. 

4. Plan for a Potluck

If you are planning a holiday gathering, consider hosting a potluck-style meal with each attendee bringing a different dish. Keep a list of what everyone is bringing so that you avoid duplicate dishes. You can create a customized online sign-up at*

5. Look for Discounts on Travel

Travel can be a huge holiday expense. Look for discounts on airfare and bus tickets. Sign up for email alerts from your favorite transportation providers! According to a study by*, if you are traveling for the holidays, you are generally better off booking your flights early to snag the lowest fares. You may also be able to make it home for the holidays by redeeming your credit card rewards points.

6. Earn Rewards Points

You can also maximize earning on your holiday spending with rewards points and promotions that are available during the holidays and into the New Year. For example, new Arvest Flex Rewards™ Credit Card customers can earn up to 10,000 bonus points (a $100 value) in your first three months using the card. This offer is good for new cards until Dec. 31, 2017. Plus, for new and current card holders, Arvest is giving customers the opportunity to earn DOUBLE their points for every $500 they spend up to $2,000 from Nov. 1, 2017 until Jan. 31, 2018. For any additional spend beyond $2,000, customers would still continue to earn the standard base level of 1 point for every $1 spent as part of the Arvest Flex Rewards™ program. You can visit your local Arvest branch or call (866)952-9523 to learn more! Be sure to keep track of your credit card spending and pay off the balance each month to maximize your earning potential.

We hope these tips help you to cut costs this holiday season, so you can spend less time worrying about your spending and more time enjoying your friends and family. 

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.



Tags: Credit Cards, Financial Education

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