Social Media Is Good for Business
Maine Business School alumnus Jeffrey Schweitzer, EPA, CEP, ATP of Northeast Financial Strategies Inc., in Wrentham, Mass., is using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to grow his family business.
“Just as email has become a major part of business 15 years ago, social media has done the same today,” said Schweitzer, a tax and financial services professional who earned a bachelor’s degree from MBS in 1997. “It has made it possible to enhance our advertising, find out what people are looking for, and build relationships with our clients and their families. It ties us to our community by helping us keep up to date on what’s going on.
“Since today’s consumers rely on social networking sites as well as online communities, blogs and the Internet to find information about products and services, it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to adapt their business to the changing times,” he continued. “If people in this business don’t make it a point to get on these platforms today, they’re going to miss out.”
Founded by Schweitzer’s father, Jim, in 1976, NFS offers financial and estate planning, investments, insurance, accounting, payroll, and income tax preparation for individuals and small businesses. The company serves about 800 clients. In addition to Jeff and his father, the NFS team includes Jeff’s wife Dawn (Wright) Schweitzer ’97 and neighbor Michelle Ricci.
Although he originally planned on a career as a radio disc jockey, Schweitzer discovered the salaries in that industry to be disappointing. He joined NFS in 1998, learning the ropes with help from his father and continuing education courses. Today he holds his Life, Accident and Health Insurance Broker’s license and has earned the Estate Planning Associate (EPA) designation and the Certified Estate Planner (CEP) designation, and is an Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) through the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT). He specializes in financial and estate planning, insurance, accounting, payroll, income tax preparation and notary services.
“I wear many different hats and I enjoy the variety,” he said. “I like dealing with all kinds of people and the challenges they bring me. No two people are the same and everyone’s situation has its own complexities. We work with everyone – people right out of college, young parents with families, pre-retirees, and seniors. Every day is an adventure!
Schweitzer also loves being involved in a family business.
“You’re working alongside people who are willing to do what it takes to get the job done the right way for the client and who are working equally as hard because it is our name that goes on the final product.”
A technophile who always enjoyed using social media, Schweitzer found it natural to take the next step and use it professionally. His father, who always considered NFS to be a front-runner when it comes to technology, liked the idea of having a company presence on social media sites.
“Although my father isn’t involved with Twitter yet, he does have his own personal Facebook page,” Jeff Schweitzer said. “He has always made sure that we stay up on ways to keep the business ahead of the rest when it comes to presence online.”
Schweitzer also uses technology to advance his business in other ways. He manages an extensive company website that includes links where viewers can get information about financial concepts and business financial decisions, as well as access financial worksheets and government documents and forms. Customer testimonials also can be found on the website. He created the website after taking a Management Information Systems (MIS) course at MBS. It has evolved from a one-page business card to what it is today (nfsnet.com).
Schweitzer also writes a company newsletter that he sends out by email each week. Each newsletter deals with a different topic and includes inspirational quotes and short stories. He updates the NFS website daily in the typical “blog” format, with timely information on tax and financial happenings.
Last September he won a YouTube video contest launched by Life Insurance Selling Magazine, a sales publication for life, health and financial planning professionals. He credits his victory to his friends on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“I have quite a strong group of social media connections whom I asked to vote for me and who helped me win 55 percent of the votes,” said Schweitzer, who won an iPad and a “Producer Profile” article complete with cover photo for his winning video about the importance of purchasing life insurance. “This drives home the point about how powerful social media is and how it allows you to reach a huge amount of people.”
Nearly 15 years after graduating from MBS, Schweitzer continues to fall back on his business education. “The Maine Business School gave me the skill set to handle the challenges I face every day in business,” he said. “I constantly revisit principles used in my accounting, marketing, and management classes. My professors were phenomenal – they pushed me to excel past my limitations. And my classes were challenging and rewarding.”
The days fly by for Schweitzer, who is proud of how far he has come since graduating from MBS. Running a successful business means listening to clients, acting on their feedback, keeping promises, staying accessible and visible, and being active and involved in the community, said Schweitzer who lives in Wrentham. He and his father sponsor local sports teams, host fundraisers for local organizations, and coach teams for the local sports programs including the American Legion Baseball program which Jeff and Jim Schweitzer organized and founded. In addition to participating in the extracurricular activities of his three daughters, ages 8, 5 and 3, he volunteers in their classrooms. A life member of the University of Maine Alumni Association and the National Eagle Scout Association, he serves as secretary for the Massachusetts/Rhode Island Chapter of the National Association of Tax Professionals and as treasurer of the Wrentham Youth Baseball/Softball Association.
“Giving back to the community is a priority for us,” he said.
Image Description: Jeff Schweitzer