The Biz of Pacelinebiz

Turning things on end to achieve results!

Archive for September 2014

Coming Soon To Your Local Fast Food Restaurant

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That was extra mayo and onions, right?

There has been much discussion lately for a push to increase the minimum wage to as much as $15 per hour. This is above wheat many people currently earn and would seem like a great idea if you were making less than $15 an hour. For this topic today I don’t want to argue for or against a $15 minimum wage rate. What I want to explore is what effect that would have on jobs that are paying at or slightly above the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Specifically, I have been wondering why quick service restaurants such as McDonald’s don’t already have cashiers at their restaurants replaced with a hand-held device that can take orders and process payments at the table where you will consume the food? Perhaps they can design a system that lets you do this once you are signed on to their Wi-Fi using your mobile device. That would be cool. They don’t even pay for technology they can piggy back on your smart phone, tablet or other connected device.

I can think of several advantages:

  • This will decrease order errors due to misunderstandings and will guarantee better attention to detail in placing the order. I say guarantee because I am sure you care more about your sandwich not having onions and mayo on it than the typical person taking your order in the current system.
  • I will no longer be fuming while I stand in line waiting for my food to arrive – hopefully without onions and mayo. I can relax at my table and talk trash with my companions or surf the web with blazing fast Wi-Fi on my smart phone. Before I know it my order is delivered by an employee and the only worry is that the guy who made my burger was able to keep onions and mayo off my burger. See, the new order system eliminates one level of possible error.
  • More efficient use of square footage in the restaurant. Restaurant designers will no longer have to devote an area for customers to stand in line and order/wait. Less waiting area means there can be a bigger area for people to dine. More revenue, same square footage is a nice equation. Maybe this will lead to lower costs to the consumer?
  • Less labor costs by eliminating slow, human order takers with the new, streamlined system. This would lead to lower costs to the consumer and perhaps extra dollars spent in R & D making products slathered with cheddar cheese and topped with bacon low-calorie AND healthy. Sounds like a win anyway you look at it.

If the labor costs went to $15 an hour I wonder if this might hasten the implementation of my great ideas? Probably not, I am just talking crazy. Have a good week

Written by pacelinebiz

September 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

The Evolution Of The Video Conference

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Webcam

Webcam

In 1999 I started work at a large manufacturing company that made parts for the automotive industry.   In addition to a dozen manufacturing facilities we had a corporate headquarters (where I worked) and a sales office outside of Detroit.  I mention this because in this office we had videoconferencing equipment to talk with vendors or suppliers or to our sales office and the few production facilities that had the equipment.  I remember participating once or twice and thought it was pretty cool.  It was just like when Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw would interview a person in another location or talk with a reporter in the field.  The one difference was the video was a little choppy when we did it over our T-1 line.

Fast forward to about 2008 and with a laptop and cheap USB camera you could also video conference with anyone over the internet – and it was a little choppy over the “fast” DSL.  I used this technology to have online meetings with clients when I began my business.  It was nice to be able to have that capability without needing expensive equipment and an IT department.

Fast forward to August 2014 and my mother and I were “face time-ing” with iPad’s and there was not choppiness at all over the internet at 30 Mbps.  This technology has been available since the iPad was rolled out at the very least.  The next thing is for me to use Google Hangouts to video conference with my wife over our cell phones using wi-fi when I am working out-of-town.

Soon, Apple is supposed to come out with a wrist watch and I bet we will eventually be video conferencing that way which is even better than Dick Tracy’s 2-way wrist radio.  For some reason, that seems very cool to me.  What is next?  Beam me up, Scotty?

Have a great week.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

September 22, 2014 at 8:01 am

Employee Benefits In 2014

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This is one type of employee benefit

This is one type of employee benefit

I recently reviewed a research report that was written by the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) on the state of employee benefits in 2014.  See the full report on the SHRM website by clicking here.  They provided an executive summary at the beginning of the 80-plus page report and I will further summarize the results with an emphasis on its effect for employers under 25 employees for today’s topic.

  • They surmised that the increased amount of the health care cost being paid by employees is why there has been a 12% increase in the number of companies offering Health Savings Accounts over the past 5 years.
  • Over the past 5 years there has also been a shift towards preventative health and wellness benefits as a strategy to reduce costs.  These are things like smoking cessation programs, coaching, and incentives for participation in a wellness program.
  • Defined benefit plans continue to fall out of favor and only 24% of the organizations involved in the study had a defined benefit plan.  Defined contribution plans are becoming more popular but plans with hardship withdrawal provisions are decreasing.  Flexible spending plans for dependent care as well as undergraduate education assistance and 529 plans have been decreasing.
  • Paid time off plans are becoming more popular while being paid specifically for personal days is decreasing.  Companies offering child care and elder care benefits declined over the 5 year period. In addition, flexible working benefits other than telecommuting remained about the same.
  • Other benefits like travel planning, company-sponsored sports teams and the like decreased during the survey period.  The only thing that increased in this area was the use of payroll debit cards (pay cards) so that employees without a bank account could be paid through a payroll direct deposit.   I am assuming that was increase driven by the employer for the need for convenience and processing efficiency.
  • Lastly, professional and career development benefits and housing and relocation benefits decreased while business travel benefits remained mainly unchanged.  The only change in the business travel benefit area was the decrease from 54% to 30% for reimbursement of personal telephone calls while away from home for work travel.  This is mainly due to the lower need due to cell phone plans that have moved to free long distance or unlimited talk and text.

I hope this is helpful and I encourage you to read the report online or download it for future browsing to see how your company compares to others in the study.  Have a great week.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

September 15, 2014 at 8:01 am

What To Do When You Have Writer’s Block

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Thinking

Thinking

Every once in a while “bloggers block” can set in and it will be difficult to think of something to write about.   When that happens, it is best to stop trying to think of an idea and do something else.  An idea will come to you when you least expect it.  I have had this happen before and this is what I wrote about.

I was trying to think of an idea so I thought I would perhaps write about a topic I have written about before.  So I ranked my top 20 used “tags” (this is what is used when someone one does a topic search on Google or other search engine) and this is result after 262 blog posts.

Tag name Number of times used
Humor 68
Lists 52
Business Lessons 45
Childhood Memories 37
Trivia 37
Motivation 35
Technology 32
Holidays 30
Reflection 29
Sports 26
Summer Activities 25
Change Of Seasons 23
Customer Service 23
Christmas 22
Nostalgia 22
Sales Tips 22
Product Review 21
Sarcasm 18
Cost Savings 15
Baseball 14

I am not certain what any of this means but I guess I am a little surprised I wrote about trivia and lists so often.  Of course this very blog is trivial and contains a list so there you go!  I am nothing if not consistent in my approach to blogging.  As I mentioned above I have written 262 blogs so far of which 110 are business related and the other 152 are non-business topics.

Next week, I will have a business topic and promise to try to do better.  Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

September 8, 2014 at 8:01 am

The Simple Truth

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The Simple Truth

The Simple Truth

Today is Labor day and in addition to a holiday for many of us in the United States, it is also the unofficial end of summer.  It is also when I go back to my normal schedule of alternating between a business topic and non-business topic.  I will continue on this schedule until December when I devote the month to Christmas related topics.  It is also the 5th anniversary of this blog which I started on September 7th 2009.  You can read that blog by clicking here.

Today’s topic will be brief.  I am going to list a few simple truths that every business owner needs to understand or keep in the forefront of his mind.  These are mostly observations I have seen in my experience.  These are listed in no particular order.

  • If you are not the company expert in an area of your business, don’t ignore it.  Trust the person who IS the expert to provide input to you so you can make informed decisions.
  • Businesses are just like people; having toys are nice but they can distract your focus from the important things and can put you in debt.  Avoid debt and require a reasonable payback period.  A toy’s payback period is usually never.  Having excess cash is the only toy I recommend.
  • Don’t underestimate the abilities of your employees.  Put them to the test, they might surprise you.  Even if they don’t, you have gained valuable information.
  • Don’t expect most employees to share your enthusiasm; the company is your vision. You take on the risks and the rewards and you are compensated as such – so are they.  If you want them to think and act like an owner but pay them like an employee shame on you if you don’t understand they are not buying in.
  • Always be looking at ways to change your business for the better.  Find new ways to create value for your customer.  Don’t be afraid to drop unprofitable sales or customers.  Replacing them with more profitable ones is addition by subtraction.  Why waste time on low margin work when you can add-on higher margin work.  Yes, it is ok to fire a customer.

I am going to close by attaching one link from each year for what I think is the best business topic of that year that you may want to read or re-read.

From 2009: Managing Your Time Better  

From 2010: What Zone Are You In?

From 2011: A Business Lesson – From Wine Tasting?!

From 2012: Pizza And Pi…Or Who Moved My Cheese(Pizza)

From 2013: Business Lesson Confirmed At A Local Eatery

From 2014 (so far): The Story Of Mordecai And Ebenezer

Have a great week.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

September 1, 2014 at 8:01 am