Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Google Local reviews and ratings restructured--more weight to social users is viewing these changes closely and our engineers are already noticing the changes announced by Google. This will greatly affect the way users see and use the local business information. It is clear that Google sees local business as the future (no secret that about 80% of entire US dollars are in local business space). This move is definitely good for a lot of reasons and keepcustomer research team will analyze each of the changes.

The importance of reviews and ratings is again emphasized by Google here because they adopt Zagat rating system to improve the accuracy of reviews. That is a great move. Not only does such a review system give more insight into customer opinions, but it also eliminates spam reviews and number of bogus 5 star ratings from the Internet. surveys business owners to know about word of mouth

It is interesting to throw the question out there to the business owners. What do business owners think is most valuable when it comes to marketing their business on the Internet? Google consumer surveys is an amazing tool to launch interesting surveys and know about valuable trends from Internet users. used Google Consumer Surveys to find how business owners plan to spend their money to get business from Internet--the results were fairly predictable--websites and word of mouth marketing stand out as the top areas of spending (at least that's what the business owners think).

It is interesting that more business owners in mid west region think that word of mouth is more important than everything else. Email marketing, SEO and social media and Reputation management are also important for businesses, but not a top priority it seems, and rightly so. Why you ask? The most important thing for any business is to get people to buy once they find the business online. Word of mouth and website are natural steps towards customer purchase. Customers like to read opinions about the products and services once they see the products on website (so having a website is very important).

Besides, it is easy to market word of mouth on your own website where you can publish the best reviews from your customers (It is the only place on the Internet where you are fully in control of your content). Assuming the reviews are an honest selection, people do tend to trust website reviews as much as reviews found elsewhere on the website.

As a business owner, what are you going to bet on? Word of mouth definitely seems to be safer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We’ve moved!

Check us out on the brand new Google and Your Business blog.

Why the move? After being around for a couple years, we thought the phrase “small business” didn’t quite capture everything we were trying to say. It’s really about bringing you the stories, best practices and updates that can help you make the web work for business — large and small. Read the full announcement here, and be sure to update your bookmarks and subscribe to the new blog for updates.

Posted by Vicky Tait, Google and Your Business Blog Team

Friday, May 25, 2012

Help Desk Hangout: Learn about Google Earth Pro

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, Google Earth experts +Dan Cohen and +Alex Kain taught us how your business can use Earth Pro to help you visualize your company’s data. Missed it? You can watch the full hour-long Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel (look for the minute-by-minute breakdown in the description so you can easily skip around):

Here are a few of the questions you asked us to answer during the Hangout:

What is Google Earth?
Google Earth’s client software that's used primarily as a visualization tool. You may have even used it once or twice to swoop in to the globe and check out your house! And Earth Pro is a professional product with a few additional features you can use, which we dive deeper into during the Hangout.

What are some features of Earth Pro that can help my business?

A ton! Let’s break this down into the highlights:

  • Advanced measuring tools: Quickly and easily measure and stylize complex polygons. Property developers and building designers can quickly estimate the area and perimeter of a property. Afterward, they can quickly stylize the polygon so it’s easily seen on their map.
  • Save premium imagery: Save premium images of the maps you create in Earth Pro for inclusion in your business materials. Save a premium image of all your customer locations to share with your investors.
  • Bulk data import: Import and stylize CSV files (with address or lat/long data), GIS shapefiles, or GPS data to include in the maps you create. Real estate agents quickly upload and locate all the properties in their portfolios by importing CSV files containing the addresses of their properties.
  • U.S. premium data layers: Take advantage of the robust U.S. Demographic, Parcel and Traffic Count data layers that are a part of the Earth Pro package. Architects fly to the location of their next project, use the parcel data layer to find the parcel number, and use the parcel number to find the zoning restrictions for the property they’ll be working on.
  • Movie Maker: Quickly and easily create high-definition movies. Nature touring companies create high-definition videos using Earth Pro that take you along the path of their tours.

Do I have to commit to buying Earth Pro upfront? 
Nope — just sign up for a free seven-day trial to see how you like it.

To learn more about how to get started with Google Earth Pro, check out our overview site (FAQs, customer stories, and more!). And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout at 11 a.m. PT Wednesday May 30 when we teach you more about AdWords.

Posted by Vanessa Schneider, Google Places community manager

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Makeover House Reveal- The Master Bedroom

Okay, it's here! The very last reveal...for now...until I finish the last room that I didn't get to..then that will be the final, final reveal;o)
Anyway, today I am sharing with you the master bedroom reveal.
This is the before shot.
The bed was so-so. The lighting was an issue for the homeowner, and the elliptical was an eye-sore.
 Here is a close up shot of the bed. Nothing to make you say wow. 
 But this could make you say "wow", right? What do you think about that headboard? The homeowner was totally over having the sleigh bed. She knew that she didn't want a foot board an longer. 
We scoured a local antique store looking for the perfect windows to make a new headboard. I cannot take credit for this idea. This one was entirely hers. And I think she did a fantastic job of coming up with the idea. Her bed looks awesome now!
We also brought in the roll top desk from the office to take the place of the "eye-sore elliptical."

 All of the bedding was purchased from Stein Mart. The comforter set was a bed-in-a-bag set, but I mixed and matched the quilt and pillows. The lamps came from T.J. Maxx...I really wanted to keep them:o) I may have to go back and see if they have another set of them because I think they would look fab in my bedroom;o)
 So quite a change, don't you think?
The before...
 And after...

So there you have it! That is what we worked so diligently on for the past week. We were completely exhausted by Friday night, but we were proud of what we accomplished together. I think the hubs and I make a great team:o)
I hope you enjoyed all of the reveals this week! Hopefully we can get the "blue" room complete and I can share that with you soon! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What kind of a company is

That is an interesting question asked by lot of professionals since keepcustomer engineers go lengths to satisfy their customers. We sometimes find ourselves working late into the night because we are fixing our clients websites--not because we HAVE TO, but because we LIKE TO.

Despite, that our company's vision and goal has been to formulate a effective campaign for small and medium sized businesses to get more customers through Internet. Most of the services existing out there claim to do one thing or the other--but very few firms (high end firms) actually care about overall goal of the business when it comes to online marketing (for e.g. some do SEO, some do Social Media, some do reputation management, and some even promise MORE CALLS by giving another phone number--It is tough to list everything here!!)

ok, that was a long background, but simply put--one word--We are "Word of Mouth Marketing and Customer Retention company"--We want you to keep your customers (both current and potential customers). Each and everything that we do for businesses has one common goal--to keep customers coming back and continuously hear their feedback (and promote it).

Word of mouth is not really marketing, it is just customers talking about businesses, and that is all people care about and so should businesses who are serious about staying in business.

We will continue to set high standards and continue to help businesses get access to affordable and well rounded internet marketing products and services.

Makeover House Reveal-The Office

Can you stand all of this revealing? Are you over it yet?:o) Well you've got one more post to suffer through after this one;o)
Today I am revealing the office.
The homeowner is a business owner, and does work from home. So she needed a space that was practical. She also wanted her office to be a place for crafting as well. 
 It wasn't really a space for crafting and was kind of cramped from all of the work stuff. 
 So here is how we made the space work better for both areas.
 We bought shelving from Lowes and hung it on the long wall of the office. They are 6 feet in length. I found some really nice matching boxes at T.J. Maxx. I bought ALL of them:o) I wanted her to be able to have plenty of storage for her scrap booking materials as well as anything else that needed organizing. 
 She had this chair and ottoman in a guest room. The colors were very similar to what she already had in the office, so it was a perfect fit. On the wall behind the chair is a thimble collection that belonged the her mother. A VERY special piece:o)
 The armoire will eventually become a sewing cabinet. 
 The ladder bookcase was a purchase from a yard sale site on Facebook. That was a last minute find, and I am so glad that the sale went though. The color matched perfectly with the room.
 The hubs made this table. Didn't he do a fantastic job? He made this table in just a few short hours..when he finished, I told him I wanted one:o) 
My philosophy in decorating is that everyone should have at least one piece of furniture painted in Krylon Cherry Red:o)
This table is 6 foot in length. On one end, she can do her work and check email and on the other end, she has space to scrapbook.
Sorry for the glowing lamp. I told you a few posts back that the lighting was terrible due to lack of sunlight.
 Anyway, I am super thrilled with the end result of the office. It looks so much bigger now that it has been de-cluttered, and it's a great space to create in now:o)
So, once again, the before...
 and the after....
You've held on for this long...can you wait one more day for the final reveal?? The master bedroom will be revealed tomorrow.
See you then!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Makeover House Reveal-The Hallway

Welcome back for part 3 of our reveal series!
Today will be a quick post. It's only the hallway, but I felt it was worth sharing because I thought it was pretty:o)
This is the before...
Just a lonely bookcase crammed full of books and photos.
 And the after....
 The pictures came from Old Time Pottery, as well as the sconce.
The small bookcase came from Hobby Lobby.
 This arrangement seemed to fit the space better. It needed a little something, but not too much because we didn't want the hallway to be crowded.
I tried to make sure that the prints had some blue in them because this is the hallway that leads to the unfinished blue entertainment room. I will hopefully get to finish it very soon:o)
So here is the before again..
 and the after..
Come back tomorrow and see the office reveal!

Small businesses talk about growing online

With so much advice about what businesses should be doing online and not always enough time to sort through it all, sometimes the most useful thing is to hear from someone that’s doing it right.

Recently in Detroit, Accelerate with Google was proud to take the stage with several local small business leaders for a panel discussion on growing businesses and relationships online. Joined by 80 other Detroit-area businesses at the Michigan Minority Procurement Conference, the panelists shared stories of their successes and challenges forming relationships in the digital age.

Google has worked with these businesses to help them grow their presence online, and they’ve really embraced a digital-first strategy to finding new customers. Here are some of their tips:

Amy Courter, Chief Information Officer, VisionIT
“A good starting point is to first define and align your strategy for being online. Determine your goals, audience, message and interaction. For VisionIT, our roots were in web development and part of this industry requires us to continually evaluate our online presence. The new age of marketing is about building brand, interest and awareness through customer loyalty and adding value for the consumer. As traditional models lose their efficacy, and inbound marketing gains popularity, we learn that it’s more important to earn people’s interest, instead of buying and forcing it.”

Leah Fairman, Director of Sales, Corporate Snobs
“Having an online presence has opened many doors for our company. We have been able to capture a particular market share in our business that our local competitors haven't due to a lack of their online presence. Getting noticed when your customers are looking for your products and services speaks volumes for your company. It sends the message that you are serious about your business, trustworthy and in tune with current technology. This makes you a serious player in your industry.”

Linzie Venegas, Chief Marketing Officer, Ideal Shield
“The most important thing that I have learned since I have moved to online space is that you must put someone in charge; this person must continuously evaluate your website as well as website presence. I have also learned that it is important to adapt to new technology. For instance, we are looking to move to Google Apps for Business, and this will save our company money and allow our IT people to work more efficiently.”

Later this week, another group of entrepreneurs we admire – some of the startup founders from the NewMe Accelerator – will sit down at Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference and share their wisdom on growing their internet businesses. Google will also be there to share classroom-style workshops staffed by our team on how to grow and promote your business online, and mastering search engine strategies. The Entrepreneurs Conference has been a great venue every year for entrepreneurs to network and find successful strategies for growth, and we are looking forward to meeting some of you there!

Posted by Chris Genteel, Business Development Manager - Global Diversity

Monday, May 21, 2012

Introducing the Webmaster Academy

As more and more customers are searching for products and services online, it’s important for businesses to have an established presence on the Internet. We’ve heard a lot of business owners say they’d like to learn how to do this, so we are excited to announce Webmaster Academy. Webmaster Academy will walk you through the information you need to get your site up and running with Google in easy to understand steps.

For example, the Academy has information about how Google Search works and how to create a great website for your users, along with information on how to use great (and free!) diagnostic tools such as Webmaster Tools. It’s divided up into easy, short lessons so you can track your progress. At the end of every lesson you’ll be one step closer to having a great website.

Stay tuned here for upcoming posts from the Webmaster Academy, including topics like:

  • An explanation of how Google Search works (get a sneak peek by watching this video)
  • How best to represent a brick and mortar business online
  • An introduction to Search Engine Optimization

We’re excited to share more with business owners of all sizes. Be sure to check out the Webmaster Academy and spend some time exploring!

Posted by Garen Checkly, Search Quality Team

Makeover House Reveal-The Dining Room

Today I am sharing with you the dining room makeover.
There were just a few challenges in this room...all which were easily remedied:o)
In it's former life, this room was a bedroom. As the family grew, they added on, and decided to make this space the dining room. They knocked through the wall and opened the space up to the kitchen. 
One of the challenges of this room was the new furniture layout wasn't really flowing for this particular space.
 The wall color was also a challenge. The room was very cave-like because it was so dark. That was definitely an easy fix. The homeowners were kind enough to have all the painting done prior to the hubs and I coming in.
 This is the "after" shot. It is truly amazing what a new wall color can do for a room, isn't it? 
 So, here is what we did. We had the homeowners remove the leaf in the table and change the direction, so that the table fit the space better. When they have a large group over, they can always add it back:o)

 I cleaned out the china hutch, and displayed a pretty butterfly set she had tucked away. I also pulled out her silver tea set. You can see it through the glass panels. Before, the homeowner had multiple plates, bowls, serving dishes, and glasses filling the china hutch to the brim. I lightened the load to make it more visually appealing and less of storage piece. 
 The homeowners collect spoons on every vacation, and they were displayed in the entertainment room. I thought a better spot for them would be in the dining room, only because you use a spoon more in the dining room than in a t.v. room...great logic, right?:o) I think they work really well in the space.

 I found the plate racks at Old Time Pottery for $8 a piece. This was the only thing I hung in the entire house. My fingers were so sore after that, that I decided the hubs had to be in charge of the rest of the hanging:o)

So one last look at the before...

and the after...

Next up for the reveal series will be the Hallway.

Measuring what matters for your small business

Editor's Note: The SMB Blog team wants to wish everyone a Happy National Small Business Week! To kick off the week, we're continuing a new series we're calling Measurement Mondays. Stay tuned to the hashtag #MeasurementMondays on Google+ for ongoing tips and thoughts to help businesses measure the things that matter.

As a business owner, there are many different metrics that are important to you - like what were my sales this month, and how many new employees can I hire this year? Similarly, there are important things that you should be measuring for your online marketing efforts which can help you improve your customer experience and potentially drive more sales.

Here are five things that every business should consider:

  • Start by identifying the right goals for you: Think about the business objectives of your website and marketing efforts, and identify specific customer actions that represent success. For instance, maybe your goal is to drive foot traffic to your store or to boost requests for an online quote. Other goals like signing up for a newsletter, viewing an important page on your site, or filling out an inquiry form can also be important indicators. Just as every business is unique, the metrics that signal success will vary. But it’s crucial for every business to know what matters to you so that you can make the most of your marketing efforts.
  • Understand how to measure ad effectiveness: Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s time to create ads that drive people to your store or site to achieve those goals. The most basic measure of your online ad effectiveness is your clickthrough rate (or CTR) which is the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (called impressions). CTR shows you how often the people who see your ad end up clicking on it, and a high CTR signals that users find your ads helpful and relevant.
  • See whether clicks are leading to conversions: It can also be important to see whether those ad clicks actually led someone to buy from you. To do this, you can use tools like AdWords Conversion Tracking, which is a free tool in AdWords that shows you what happens after a customer clicks on your ad. Did they ultimately buy something from your site or sign up for an email newsletter? By looking at how your ads impact conversions on your site, you’ll learn which keywords and ads are effective at bringing valuable customers which can help you invest more wisely.
  • Examine how online efforts are driving offline customers: For some businesses, driving traffic or calls to your brick and mortar store can be more valuable than a website visit. When people search for local products and services on their mobile phones, like a nearby hardware store or a local restaurant, they often prefer to call the business directly. With click-to-call ads, mobile shoppers can easily call your business directly from an ad that they see. Within your ad reports you can see the number of calls that were driven by your ad campaigns. Asking your customers at checkout how they heard about your company can also be an easy way to keep track of what is really bringing them through your door.
  • Keep measuring, keep experimenting: Businesses these days have no shortage of data available to them, and I know that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. The important thing about measurement for every business is to just get started and keep experimenting. Your customers and your business are constantly evolving, so remember not to set it and forget it. There often isn’t a right or wrong answer, but the data can reveal insights that help you win the moments that matter with your customers.
I hope these tips have given you some food for thought about how measurement can help you reach more customers and drive more sales. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how you can take your website measurement to the next level. Happy measuring!

Posted by Francoise Brougher, Vice President of SMB Sales and Operations

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Makeover House Reveal-The Living Room

Well hello there. It's been quite some time since I last posted. You wouldn't believe what all has been going on around here. And things won't be slowing down until next week. (keeping my fingers crossed;o))
Last week I re-decorated a friend's home....with the help of my very wonderful husband. Without his help, I would not have been able to finish even one room...Why, do you ask? Well, I'll tell you why. Because last Saturday, I decided I wanted to repaint the upstairs bathroom. I removed the HEAVY contractor grade mirror to make sure that the entire bathroom was painted. When I tried to put the mirror back, bad things happened, and I ended up with 2 stitches each in my index and middle fingers on my RIGHT hand...grr! So I have been a "lefty" for the past week.
So I heavily depended on the hubs to help me work on this HUGE undertaking. I had to redesign 5 different spaces in one week. I still have one more room to complete. We ran out of time and steam:o)
Because there are soooo many pictures, I am going to post on each room individually. 

This room was difficult to lay out because of the location of the front door and the fireplace. The front door couldn't be moved for obvious reasons, but the fire place was able to be relocated. 
 Here is another angle of the living room. All of the furniture was lined up against all of the walls.

I wanted the homeowners to actually use their fireplace instead of walk past it every day. This seating arrangement is definitely a lot more intimate. They will be able to enjoy sitting in front of their newly relocated fireplace this winter. The furnishings in this seating area were already apart of the home. I "shopped" the house for the favorite kind of shopping...FREE. The only thing I purchased was the ottoman. 

 This is where the fireplace had been. I moved this desk in from the entertainment room. The large picture above the desk was a yard sale purchase....for $25..SCORE!
 Since I moved the couch off of the long wall, it looked extremely bare and it needed to be filled with something, but it couldn't be large because it was a walkway. Enter small console tables. I found the matching prints at Old Time Pottery, and the tables and metal wall hanging from Hobby Lobby. Now the space is filled, but not obtrusive.

Here's a shot of the room showing the front door.
So, one last look at the before...
and after...
I'll be sharing the dining room next.
Stay tuned!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Help Desk Hangouts: Getting to know Chromebooks, Part II

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we continued our conversation about Chromebooks for your business (if you missed the first one, check out our recap). Chrome product manager Glenn Wilson and Will Paulus walked us through the management console, which allows you to oversee your fleet of Chromebooks in a low-touch, scalable way. Miss the event? You can watch the whole thing on the Google and Your Business YouTube channel. And, if you’re interested in learning more about Chromebooks, fill out this form ( to stay up to date on all the latest news and product announcements.

Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

What can I do with the Chromebooks management console?

Quite a bit! The typical actions include:
  • Setting configuration settings for your managed (enrolled) devices, like turning off Guest mode.
  • Setting configuration settings for users on your domain, like force-installing certain extensions.
  • Tracking device state, like when a device was last used, or what version of the OS it is running.
What about user login tracking? I want to know who the last person to use a Chromebook was.

We’ve heard this request a lot recently — it’s on our to-do list.

Will there be remote wipe available if the Chromebook is lost or stolen? Similar to the mobile policy in the management console.

First, it’s important to note that every Chromebook encrypts all user data, so even if it is stolen, there’s no way for anyone to get to your data without your password. Remote Wipe is on our list.

Can you block based on content type? Like block gaming and adult sites?

We don’t have content type filter in the management console; however, most administrators use a third-party filtering service to do this. You would simply set your devices and users to use the proxy setting the third-party service gives you. If you are interested in finding which filtering services work well with Chromebooks, please contact sales.

Be sure to join us for next week’s Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT Wednesday May 2, when we discuss Google Earth Pro. We’ll be collecting your Earth questions early next week on the Google+ Your Business page.

Posted by Toby Stein, Google+ community manager

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Word of Mouth is highly influential--customers keep it simple

Yes, customers are keeping it simple--they really like to read unbiased opinions from other customers of the business. Online word of mouth is becoming more and more powerful as seen in the above graphics. There are number of reasons for that apart from the fact that people use more and more mobile devices and computers for searching businesses. One of the most important reasons is people are going beyond their friends opinions when it comes to buying things.

A simple example of why online word of mouth is becoming more powerful
Our friends and family might not always be the people we can rely on for product and services advice. Imagine you decide to go for a vacation to Japan. I don't think many of us are lucky to have Japanese friends or people who have been to Japan. So what do you do? We rely on the Internet, we read blogs, we watch Videos, we see pictures of places in Japan and then we read reviews of hotels and locations we plan to visit in Japan. is helping businesses by harnessing the power of the Internet.

Think about it, Internet has information from people with expertise on various subjects. It is more likely that we will find better information on the Internet than we might get from our old uncle, our best friends or people who claim to know about the subject. I personally found that I started making better decisions about which restaurant to pick, which Auto Repair Shop to go to next time, and where to go nearby for a hair cut--it works wonders.

Of course word of mouth does have its limitations, but so does everything in this world. Did you know there is only 1 No.1 Top spot in search engines when people are searching for your business? But, it only takes 1 HAPPY CUSTOMER to spread the message across the Internet and get more customers? Are you willing to put more money on that 1 spot or each and every single customer?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Announcing the next series of Learn with Google webinars!

Earlier this year, we introduced the Learn with Google webinar program, and we were delighted to see thousands of you show up to learn about a variety of Google advertising products and solutions. Today, weíre happy to announce the continuation of our series with 10 new webinars over the next few months. During each webinar weíll share tips and how-toís to help make the web work for your business.

Check out our upcoming live webinars below:

  • May 23 at 10am PDT: Getting Started with Google Analytics
  • May 24 at 9am PDT: Building Blocks of Digital Attribution
  • May 31 at 10am PDT: Introduction to TrueView for YouTube
  • June 5 at 10am PDT: GoMo: Mobilize your Site with Quick and Easy New Tools
  • June 6 at 10am PDT: Our Mobile Planet: Understanding U.S. Smartphone Consumers
  • June 7 at 10am PDT: Introducing Mobile Apps Inventory in AdWords
  • June 12 at 10am PDT: Get Local with ZIP Code Targeting to Increase Sales/Leads
  • June 14 at 10am PDT: Search Optimization: Tips, Tricks, and Tools
  • June 19 at 10am PDT: Bringing the Power and Control of Search to Display
  • July 10 at 10am PDT: Account Management Tools for Large Advertisers and Agencies

Visit our webinar page to register for any of the sessions and to access past webinars on-demand. Weíll be adding new webinars as theyíre scheduled, so check back regularly for updates. You can also stay up-to-date on the schedule by downloading our Learn with Google Webinar calendar to automatically see upcoming webinars in your Google Calendar.

Whether your goal is to engage the right customers in the moments that matter, make better decisions, or go bigger, faster, we hope that youíll use these best practices and how-toís to maximize the impact of digital and grow your business. Weíre looking forward to having you at an upcoming Learn with Google webinar!

Posted by Erin Green, Marketing Coordinator

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Word of Mouth Marketing--Some do's and don'ts

Word of Mouth Marketing can be tricky and hence it is very important that every business knows what exactly can be done and what practices can literally put one out of the business. In United States, there are specific rules which are to be observed when dealing with customers and soliciting word of mouth from the customers. Are you one of the marketers mentioned in the video?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Google Apps brings Brazos Bookstore into the 21st Century

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Enterprise Blog.)

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is Jeremy Ellis, General Manager of Brazos Bookstore, a neighborhood institution based in Houston, Texas.

Brazos Bookstore has been part of the Houston literary community since 1974. In addition to selling a diverse collection of books, we pride ourselves in connecting our community with authors from our area and around the globe. When the store’s ownership changed in 2006 and the possibility of shutting down became known, the community of Brazos fans petitioned to keep our doors open. Thanks to them, we’ve been able to continue our long-standing tradition where we host author events, readings and exhibitions from writers such as Walter Cronkite, Julia Child, Kofi Annan, and P. J. O’Rourke, to name a few.


When I joined the staff in September 2011, Brazos was still operating in many ways as it did in the 70s and 80s. Employees would schedule the author series on a single paper calendar, and only one of our computers had email set up. All of our software was outdated, and the programs that were available ended up causing more roadblocks than value.

We needed a system that could better manage our day-to-day operations. Since I was already familiar with Google from personal use, moving the bookstore to Google Apps for Business was a natural transition. Today, all seven of our employees are able to access their email and calendars from any computer in the store, at home, and on their smartphones. This accessibility not only eases communication between the staff, but also keeps everyone up to speed on events, shipments and other activities at the shop.

Scheduling author visits on Google Calendar is easy, instant, and live, and it’s saved us from double-booking authors. I’m now able to easily collaborate with our buyer when we’re planning in-store events, which has streamlined the process for ordering books and helps me track book sales from author readings.

Google Apps has given us the organizational tools we need to continue serving Houston’s literary and arts culture. Our vision over the past forty years hasn’t changed, and now we have the technology to support our store for the future.