The Biz of Pacelinebiz

Turning things on end to achieve results!

Archive for January 2011

Is it time to fire a customer?

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You're fired!

Two weeks ago I wrote about customer service in Back to the basics.  This week I want to write about weeding out bad customers. In this weak economy it may seem odd to suggest getting rid of customers but you need to know what those sales are costing you. What is your margin on your worst client? Are you even making money with them? If not, you can add to the bottom line by subtracting them from your customer list. Below are few warning signs of a bad client:

  • Higher than usual complaints about your product or service
  • Slow payments
  • Increasing focus on price
  • Numerous requests for special handling
  • Unreasonable demands
  • Unethical behavior

If you can immediately identify your bad customer or you have a customer that fits many of the above traits, it might be time to fire your bad customer to devote time on a more profitable relationship.

What would you do if you could stop serving that customer and not lose one dollar on the bottom line?  What would you do – daydream, go home early, work on getting more from existing “good” customers, find new customers? Perhaps now is the time for Turning Things On End To Achieve Results!

Good luck this week taking an honest look at your bad customers.

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Written by pacelinebiz

January 31, 2011 at 10:39 am

On this day in 1935, the world changed forever.

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Beer

Suitable for everyday use

I was struggling today for a non-business related topic and I was bailed out by a historic event that occurred on this day in 1935.  At times when the idea well has run dry, I brainstorm for ideas that might trigger my mind to jump out of writer’s block.  Today was one of those days and I decided to see what happened today in history hoping that perhaps it would give me an idea of what to write about. 

I hit the jackpot.  On January 24, 1935 beer in a can became a reality!  Thousands of college kids and sports fan across the U.S.A. were about to discover a new alcohol delivery system.   I got the information from History.com and have included the first paragraph of the story below.

“Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production.”

To read more click on this link: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history

I find it interesting that during this time the three largest breweries were Anheuser-Busch, Pabst and Schlitz.  Anheuser-Busch remains at or near the top but the other two are much smaller now in percentage of national sales volume.  I am certainly glad this innovation took place because my wife works for an aluminum company that sells cans to Anheuser-Busch among others.   To close, I will give my personal top 3 favorites beers in a can, perhaps you have a different top 3.   The list is not in order because as with children how can you distinguish between your favorite 3 beers?

A)     Iron City, a Pennsylvania beer

B)      Yuengling Amber Lager, a Pennsylvania beer and America’s oldest brewery

C)      Dos Equis Amber lager (not just the cool commercials it is good beer)

 Later tonight I might just have beer in a can to celebrate today’s historic significance.

Have a good week, and please… drink responsibly.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Back to the basics

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This week’s blog will be brief but important since it should be the foundation of why you do what you do.  So often we get caught up in the day-to-day details of our businesses that we lose sight of our mission.  Based on a recent experience I am going to do my best to get back to the basics and remember why I began “Turning things on end to achieve results”  in the first place.  I suggest we all put a mental post it note up and focus on making our customers happy by providing great products or services.  If we do that, everything else should take care of itself AND I think we will all have more fun.

Below is a description of the incident that convinced me to write on this topic:

“That’s exactly what I wanted!”   I recently heard those words from a client of mine when I fulfilled an ad hoc request for him.  When I heard those words; bells, whistles and buzzers were going off in my head.  I had just heard the best thing you can hear from your customer or client – complete satisfaction in my performance.  I had met and probably exceeded his expectations.  I realized at that moment the reason I do what do.  It is not for money or prestige or any other financial reason.  I get my “kicks” by making my clients happy. 

I am certainly not going to stop billing for my services but I am going to keep customer satisfaction in the forefront of my thoughts and it will be interesting to see the results.  I encourage everyone to do the same whether you are working for someone else or have a business of your own.

Have a customer satisfaction oriented week.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 17, 2011 at 11:36 am

Does old man winter have you in a headlock?

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We are a long way from the end of winter and I am already tired of it.  It has been cold and snowy and it seems everyone around me is sick all the time.  I myself have been battling the flu for about 3 weeks.  I am getting ready to watch the College Football Championship game tonight and I am running behind schedule so I am going to give you 10 reasons why I prefer warm weather to wintry weather and turn on the game.

1)      You don’t have to shovel rain

2)      Flowers smell better than a slushy pile of salty snow

3)      Shorts and flip-flops are more relaxing than boots and scarves

4)      A cold beverage on a warm day is better than warm beverage on a cold day

5)      The barbecue grill is better than anything from a crock pot

6)      A baseball game and a hot dog at the ballpark is better than the BCS Championship on a cold January night

7)      A warm, gentle breeze is better than “wind chill”

8)      In the summer the vegetables are growing, in the winter it’s your waistline that’s growing

9)      The soft, silvery dew on the morning grass in the summer is much better than thick ice on your car’s windshield in the winter

10)   The air conditioner cools down the car much faster in the summer than the heater warms up the car in the winter

 Have a great week, even if it is in the middle of winter.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 10, 2011 at 7:44 pm

2011 Tax Changes Affect All Wage Earners

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Greenbacks

As a result of the extension of the “Bush” tax cuts last month, several other things were changed that will affect many people.  The first is the reduction of the Social Security withholding from employees paychecks by 2% – from 6.2% to 4.2% in 2011.  The employer will still have to match at the full 6.2%.  That is the good news – an extra $200 per $10,000 of earnings.  For employers it will also take some fast work to modify existing payroll software to accommodate the change.

Below is the announcement from the IRS website:

IR-2010-124, Dec. 17, 2010

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today released instructions to help employers implement the 2011 cut in payroll taxes, along with new income-tax withholding tables that employers will use during 2011.

Millions of workers will see their take-home pay rise during 2011 because the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 provides a two percentage point payroll tax cut for employees, reducing their Social Security tax withholding rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent of wages paid. This reduced Social Security withholding will have no effect on the employee’s future Social Security benefits.

The new law also maintains the income-tax rates that have been in effect in recent years.

Employers should start using the new withholding tables and reducing the amount of Social Security tax withheld as soon as possible in 2011 but not later than Jan. 31, 2011. Notice 1036, released today, contains the percentage method income tax withholding tables, the lower Social Security withholding rate, and related information that most employers need to implement these changes. Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, containing the extensive wage bracket tables that some employers use, will be available on IRS.gov in a few days.

The IRS recognizes that the late enactment of these changes makes it difficult for many employers to quickly update their withholding systems. For that reason, the agency asks employers to adjust their payroll systems as soon as possible, but not later than Jan. 31, 2011.

For any Social Security tax over withheld during January, employers should make an offsetting adjustment in workers’ pay as soon as possible but not later than March 31, 2011.

Employers and payroll companies will handle the withholding changes, so workers typically won’t need to take any additional action, such as filling out a new W-4 withholding form.

As always, however, the IRS urges workers to review their withholding every year and, if necessary, fill out a new W-4 and give it to their employer. For example, individuals and couples with multiple jobs, people who are having children, getting married, getting divorced or buying a home, and those who typically wind up with a balance due or large refund at the end of the year may want to consider submitting revised W-4 forms. Publication 919, How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?, provides more information to workers on making changes to their tax withholding.

If you prefer, you can click here to read more.

 Now here is some “less than good” news.  Due to the late changes made, the IRS says it will be unable to make the changes to the forms for filing schedule A of 1040 in time and likely will cause a delay until mid to late February before filing can take place.  No additional time to file will be granted so be ready to file by April 15th as usual (unless you file for an extension).   Below is the announcement from the IRS website:

 
 
IR-2010-126, Dec. 23, 2010WASHINGTON — Following last week’s tax law changes, the Internal Revenue Service announced today the upcoming tax season will start on time for most people, but taxpayers affected by three recently reinstated deductions need to wait until mid- to late February to file their individual tax returns. In addition, taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A will need to wait until mid- to late February to file as well.The start of the 2011 filing season will begin in January for the majority of taxpayers. However, last week’s changes in the law mean that the IRS will need to reprogram its processing systems for three provisions that were extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17.People claiming any of these three items — involving the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education tuition and fees deduction and educator expenses deduction as well as those taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A — will need to wait to file their tax returns until tax processing systems are ready, which the IRS estimates will be in mid- to late February.“The majority of taxpayers will be able to fill out their tax returns and file them as they normally do,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of recent tax law changes on other taxpayers. The IRS will work through the holidays and into the New Year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season.”

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the late tax law changes. In the interim, people in the affected categories can start working on their tax returns, but they should not submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process the new tax law changes.

The IRS urged taxpayers to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion over the recent tax changes and ensure accurate tax returns.

Taxpayers will need to wait to file if they are within any of the following three categories:

  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted Dec. 17, which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes and is claimed on Schedule A, Line 5. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students — covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution — is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23, and Form 1040A, Line 16.

For those falling into any of these three categories, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers.

The IRS emphasized that e-file is the fastest, best way for those affected by the delay to get their refunds. Those who use tax-preparation software can easily download updates from their software provider. The IRS Free File program also will be updated.

As part of this effort, the IRS will be working closely with the tax software industry and tax professional community to minimize delays and ensure a smooth tax season.

Updated information will be posted on IRS.gov. This will include an updated copy of Schedule A as well as updated state and local sales tax tables. Several other forms used by relatively few taxpayers are also affected by the recent changes, and more details are available on IRS.gov.

In addition, the IRS reminds employers about the new withholding tables released Friday for 2011. Employers should implement the 2011 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than Jan. 31, 2011. The IRS also reminds employers that Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, containing the extensive wage bracket tables that some employers use, will be available on IRS.gov before year’s end.

 

 If you prefer, you can click here to read more.

 Have a great week and enjoy those extra dollars in your paycheck.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm