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Archive for January 2016

A Business Lesson From Wal-Mart

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Go Synthetic

Go Synthetic

Note: Yes, I really meant to schedule this for Sunday afternoon.  If this works well I will continue publishing on Sunday afternoon rather than Monday Morning.

A few weeks ago I dropped my car off at a Wal-Mart for an oil change intending to pick it up in the evening when my wife and I went out for a Saturday night dinner. Plans as simple as this usually go off without a hitch. If that were the case, I would not be writing this. There was a problem and Wal-Mart called to tell me that I was not going to get my oil change because they did not have my oil filter in stock. I have a very common car, not some obscure model. They told me to pick it up at my convenience. After I hung up the phone, the first thing I thought was; how does Wal-Mart run out of a very common oil filter? After that I thought they should have made an effort to get a filter from the parts store across the street. Even though that would be extra work and they would be installing a non Wal-Mart filter, it seemed like the right thing to do for their customer. Apparently that thought did not cross their mind and I was upset.

The owner in the store concept is not alive and well at Wal-Mart these days. What would Sam Walton think? I was inconvenienced and they did not seem to care.  Wal-Mart used to be known for going out-of-the-way to assist a customer by walking them to the location of  an item they were looking for in a store rather than pointing to “aisle twenty five”.  Do they still do that?  I think I am going to test that out next time I am there.

I like the convenience of using Wal-Mart for my oil changes especially since they have a decent price when using synthetic oil. As a matter of principle I am re-considering my choice of Wal-Mart for my oil changes as I come from a family that has a multi-generational small business. That small business is an auto repair shop by the way so this issue very relevant to me. I would prefer to go to a small business owner but it is rare to find one as the regional or national auto repair shops have dominated the market.  I might add that this is not good for the consumer as service is not always good and prices seem higher. I know what my dad and brother would have done in this instance, they would not have inconvenienced me.  Do yourself a favor and click here to read why going synthetic is a win for you.

Have a great week pondering the possible loss of customer service values at Wal-Mart.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 31, 2016 at 12:01 pm

It Happened On January 25th

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On this date in history...

On this date in history…

I have listed a few items that caught my eye but you can read the full list by clicking here
I will add comments as I see fit to items I find noteworthy.  They might be sarcastic so be forewarned.

  • 1877 – Congress determines presidential election between Hayes-Tilden
    I wonder if they had a hanging chad problem?
  • 1890 – Nellie Bly beats Phileas Fogg’s time around world by 8 days (72 days)
    You go girl!
  • 1915 – Alexander Graham Bell in NY calls Thomas Watson in SF
    Did he ask him how the weather was?
  • 1924 – 1st Winter Olympic games open in Chamonix, France
  • 1937 – 1st broadcast of “Guiding Light” on NBC radio
    Was this Luke and Laura?
  • 1945 – Grand Rapids, Michigan, becomes 1st US city to fluoridate its water
  • 1955 – Columbia University scientists develop an atomic clock accurate to within one second in 300 years
    But does it take a licking and keep on ticking?
  • 1961 – Walt Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” released
  • 1970 – M*A*S*H, the movie premieres
  • 1974 – Ray Kroc, CEO of McDonald’s buys San Diego Padres baseball team for $12 million
    They are probably worth a billion dollars now.
  • 1981 – 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived back in US
  • 1988 – VP George Bush & Dan Rather clash on “CBS Evening News” about his role in Iran-Contra affair
  • 1993 – Sears announces it is closing its catalog sales dept after 97 years
    Concurrent with that they also suspended production of buggy whips at their East Bullfrog, Texas facility
  • 1998 – Spice Girl Victoria Beckham (Posh) and soccer player David Beckham get engaged
    Wow, and they are still a couple. A couple of what you ask…
  • 2009 – 57th NHL All-Star Game: East beats West 12-11 at Montreal, Quebec
  • 2016 – This blog was published for your enjoyment

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 25, 2016 at 8:04 am

Business Lessons From The 2015 College Football Playoffs

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Lessons From The Grid Iron

Lessons From The Grid Iron

NCAA football crowned a champion last week and I learned a lesson from it that I would like to share with you. I actually learned nothing from the Championship game but rather, the process that got the two teams to the big game.

The business lesson I learned was from the decision to play the two semi-final games on New Year’s Eve. I thought this was a poor choice of time and date and ESPN agreed.  ESPN warned them that ratings would suffer since a 4 O’clock game would interfere with people who were working a full day on New Year’s Eve. The second game at 8 o’clock would be equally as bad since many people have other traditions and activities to pursue on New Year’s Eve. A college football game is not one of them even if it was a semi-final game. ESPN was right about the ratings. They were down as much as 35% from the previous year.

I don’t know much about the TV ratings game or how advertising works but if ratings stay low this will be bad for the Bowl committees involved (less money) and they will eventually adjust their thinking. The lesson to be learned is not so much about choosing when to air a football game as it is how you treat your customers. I am sure the Bowl committees had reasons why they stuck to their guns on the game times they wanted but it appears that their reasons were not aligned with the interests of their customers.

The reason the Bowl committees have billion dollar TV contracts is because the customers pay the bill. If you upset your customers too often for too long no matter how good the product, they will make other choices. They also need to consider their broadcast partners who write the billion dollar checks. They need to remember that people buy from people who they like, trust, and with whom it is convenient to do business. College football games on New Year’s Eve are not convenient for most people.

Have a great week watching your new favorite sport.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 18, 2016 at 8:01 am

Entering A Dead Zone

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A Dead Zone Is Ahead

A Dead Zone Is Ahead

Tonight is the end of the College football season with the national championship game slated for an 8:30 PM start. In case you are not aware, the student athletes from Alabama are playing against the student athletes from Clemson.  In less than a month the Super Bowl, number 50, will be played.  That last sentence was incorrect.  Instead of number 50, I should have written number L.  Whatever.  Apparently the NFL has been pompous for fifty years.

Pardon my jab at the NFL. The point of today’s blog is that; unless you are a fan of NASCAR, the NBA or the NHL it will be a boring few months until baseball begins.  Baseball is the best sport ever in case you forgot.  I know, you might say that the March madness is a great two weeks and I suppose you are correct but I don’t follow that much until it is at the round of eight.

So what to do with the dead zone of sports entertainment that lasts from February until first pitch in April? We don’t have the Winter Olympics to bail us out this year.  The Summer Olympics are being held this year but we have to wait until 2018 for the next winter games in South Korea.  Again I ask; what can we do for the nearly two month dead zone?

Luckily for you, I have some suggestions which you can peruse below:

  • Clean and or organize the basement
  • Clean and or organize the garage
  • Clean and or organize your closets
  • Take up a new hobby
  • Volunteer at the local charitable organization – they could really use your help
  • Begin a workout program on Feb. 2 in honor of Groundhog’s day
  • Catch up on your reading
  • Catch up with your relationships that suffered during the year
  • Knit a blanket or build a grandfather clock depending on your skill set
  • Put your time to good use by binge watching all of the shows you missed

I hope you can find something good to do with your time if none of my suggestions sounded interesting. Have a great week getting ready for the dead zone.

Start The Year Out Right

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Don't Mess With The IRS

Follow IRS Rules

Now is the time to save yourself trouble for 2016. Start the year out right by properly handling independent contractors. The first thing to do is to determine whether or not they really are independent contractors. That is not as easy as it sounds. The IRS has a publication called the Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide – Publication 15A that gives guidelines to follow. I have copied the IRS narrative about common law rules for this and also some of the guidelines below and also have a link to the IRS website where the document can be found. The guidelines are on page 7 of the document.

To determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor under the common law, the relationship of the worker and the business must be examined. In any employee-independent contractor determination, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and the degree of independence must be considered.

Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories: behavioral control, financial control, and the type of relationship of the parties. These facts are discussed next.

A few guidelines are:

  • Behavioral control
  • Instructions the business gives to the worker
  • Training the business gives to the worker
  • Financial Control
  • The extent the worker has unreimbursed business expenses
  • The extent of the workers investment

Read the entire relevant information by clicking here

After the hard part of determining the contractor/employee status the next important thing to do if they are determined to be a contractor is to provide them with an IRS form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) and ask them to return it completed to you before you pay them the first time.

If you do both of those steps, you will not be in trouble with the IRS for a misclassified employee and you will have all the data you need at year-end to send out your 1099-Misc forms to the vendor. Good luck with your 2015 1099 preparation and following these 2 steps will make next year’s filing much easier.

Written by pacelinebiz

January 4, 2016 at 8:01 am