The Biz of Pacelinebiz

Turning things on end to achieve results!

Archive for May 2016

Peanut Butter And Jelly…And Staples

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A winning combination

A winning combination

What do these have in common you ask?  Peanut butter and jelly are great combinations and Staples, the office supplies retailer, is using a combination to save on costs.  I wrote about this strategy in 2012 and you can read my thoughts by clicking here.  If you do not want to read my blog about this, I will summarize my suggestion and summarize the article that discusses Staples idea for cost savings.  If you want to read the full article, click here.

My suggestion was to combine resources or cost share.  I focused mainly on operating space for companies that did not compete and operated at different times of the day or year.  A few items I suggested were an ice cream shop sub-letting their space in the cooler months to a soup and warm beverage shop.   I also suggested a pizza shop and bakery could share space and operate throughout the day.  The bakery would be open for breakfast and lunch and then the pizza shop would take over until they turned it back over to the bakery.

Staples is doing a very similar thing to save on the cost of having too much retail space.  They are now beginning a test in the Boston area to partner with a company that offers work space for business owners who need a temporary office or to meet with a client on an occasional basis.  I suppose this can work at least to recoup the cost of excess retail space but a more complimentary relationship would save on cost and increase sales.  They could look for a relationship that would draw more traffic to the stores from customers who would buy more Staples products.  The people who need a virtual office on an occasional basis are probably not heavy users of office supplies since they tend to be solo-preneurs who can function most of the time from a home office.

I give Staples credit for making the effort even if they are late in recognizing the need and opportunity.  I wish them luck as e-commerce and the continuing trend toward digitization is shrinking the size of the office supplies market.

Have a great week.

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The Upside Of Getting Sick

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I don't Feel So Good

I Don’t Feel So Good

As I write this I am in the early stages of a cold.  I couldn’t figure out last night why I was so bothered with some nasal passage clutter.  I thought maybe this was my reaction to high pollen levels.  I was wrong about that and I found out what was wrong today when I tried to have a conversation on the phone and my voice was “compromised”.

So, now that I know what is wrong; what to do about it?  Obviously I will blog about it but what else?  The proper thing is to rest and drink plenty of fluids and perhaps take a pain reliever-fever reducer.  After I write this I believe I will be heading to bed for some shut-eye.  I might go to the post office and finish a load of laundry but after that I will be powering down for a nap.  Of course I need to cut the grass and ride my bike so there will be a deal I need to make with myself.

Assuming I eventually succumb to the call of the soft, fluffy, welcoming bed; what can I expect to do after my rest is over?  This leads me to my topic; the upside of getting sick.  In delineating the positives that come from dealing with the common cold I shall use a list.

  • I can use it as fodder for a blog
  • I can use a bullet point list
  • I don’t have to shave and no one will give me grief
  • I can pretend that I am not sick but just being lazy in an effort to “stick it to the man”
  • It gives me an excuse to watch season 2 of Family Affair on Hulu without repercussions from my wife
  • Chicken soup is on the house!
  • Household chores will have to wait or be assigned to a lawn service or the neighbor boy
  • Watch baseball day and night – wait I do that all the time
  • I can sleep in late without guilt assuming I won’t need to get up for another reason
  • In seven to ten days you recover so I can enjoy some down time to recharge

Have a great week; I will be fighting a cold.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

May 22, 2016 at 8:04 am

Ten Things Every Business Owner Should Know

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The Secret Formula

The Secret Formula

I have created a list of important questions that every business owner should know about their company.  These might not be the most important, and the list is far from comprehensive, but they are definitely things that should have your attention.  Below is the list and after the list a few comments to make you think.

  1. What is the best source of revenue?
  2. What is your biggest expense?
  3. What is the biggest hurdle holding you back from being better?
  4. What is your most profitable product or service and why?
  5. Who is your best customer?
  6. Who is your worst customer?
  7. What do you do best?
  8. What makes you different from the competition?
  9. Would you buy from you?
  10. Why do your customers buy from you?

Items one and two on the list are similar and are critical to understand since they are most significant to your bottom line.  Your biggest expense is where you should start first when looking to cut costs.  For many businesses this is cost of goods (Materials) or it is labor costs.

Item three is good to know because it is restricting you and by alleviating it you will soar to new heights.  This is probably the ability to generate more sales or government regulation for many businesses.  This is especially true for small businesses since they usually don’t have the luxury of full-time sales force or compliance department.  This task is handled by the owner or someone who is not skilled or trained in sales or government compliance.

Item four can be easy to quantify in terms of profitability but could be a mystery as to why.  I urge you to get to the bottom of why it is most profitable because there is a good chance that you have hit on something that differentiates you from the competition. This is the “why you stand out from the crowd” answer.  That is gold.

Items five and six are also similar and you need to know why.  For your worst customer you may want to consider what you could do to spend less time with them and more with the best customer.  This can be a type of customer not a specific name of one.  What attributes are associated with the best and the worst.  Getting rid of the worst can be addition by subtraction.

Item seven might be the answer to item four.  Find this out and do more of it and customers will come your way and be happy and spend more and be more loyal.  That is why it is gold if you know the answer.  If you don’t why or are not sure – ask some of the customers who buy your most profitable product or service.

Item eight is linked to number seven.

If you can’t answer yes to number nine then you need to correct that immediately.

For number ten if you don’t have a good idea – ask them.  You might be surprised by what they tell you.  It is information you will need to act upon depending what they say.

Have great week.

My Favorite Car

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1994 Dodge Intrepid

1994 Dodge Intrepid

I wrote about all the cars I have had over the years back in 2011 and I only have 1 to add to the list.  Today’s topic is not about the one I need to add to the list.  It is about my favorite from that list.  If you would like to read about the cars I had click here.

My favorite car from that list is the 1994 Dodge Intrepid.  I am not sure there is one thing that made it my favorite; rather it was several things that I liked.  Those things are:

  • It was something I liked the first time I saw it and I bought one – that made me feel good.  Chasing the bait of Madison Avenue advertising geniuses I suppose.
  • It had a lot of options that were new to me.  Sun roof, remote keyless entry, power seats and door locks, tilt steering wheel (I rarely used it), arm rests wide tires and aluminum alloy wheels.  I had 95,000 miles on the rear tires before I had to change them!  They were Goodyear Eagle tires.
  • I t also had a very roomy interior and a rear spoiler to add just a touch of sportiness considering it was a four door sedan.
  • It had a metal flake paint job that made it look like two different colors depending on the angle of your view.
  • It had decent horsepower and got 20 mpg around town and 28 mpg on the highway which was pretty good for those days.  It actually did a little better than that on trips, I got as high as 30 mpg.
  • It had a cab forward design which accounted for the roominess.
  • The one drawback was the horrible head lights.  They provided very little illumination and I would drive with the high beams on and would rarely have anyone from the other direction complain by flashing their lights at me.
  • It did not have a fold down rear seat, if remember correctly, but I think the trunk was big enough to fit my bike when I took off the front wheel. 

I hope you enjoyed my review of this old car.  It must have been good for me to still rate it so well after all the years and cars I have had since.  Have a great week, driving your jalopy.

Written by pacelinebiz

May 8, 2016 at 8:01 am

The Problem With Problems

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I Need Answers

I Need Answers

Inexperienced employees have a difficult time in solving problems.  Not only because they lack the technical skills obtained by working in their field over a period of time, but because they lack a systematic approach to solving a problem of any kind.  They don’t assemble all the facts, identify missing information, understand what order tasks must be performed or even if certain things are dependent upon completion of other tasks before proceeding.

A common problem is not asking for help.  They may spin their wheels for a long time before asking a question.  It is difficult to ask questions when you are new.   They might not want to admit to a supervisor that they don’t know what to do.  This is understandable and can be alleviated by a supervisor who tells them it is OK to ask questions if stumped.  It is also a good idea to give some hints on what stumbling blocks they may encounter.  After all, the supervisor may have had the same problems when they were starting out.

Another good idea for a supervisor is tell them what the answer might look like in a general sense so they know what they are “shooting for”.  Yes, the supervisor needs to take a role in helping the newbie learn how to solve problems.  This is a fine line to walk.  You have to be able to give them the nudge they need without becoming a crutch.  They need to learn like the rest of us – by making mistakes and not repeating those mistakes the next time around.  When you feel the pain of a mistake in problem solving, it is much like getting burned by fire – you remember it.

I suggest that anyone who has an inexperienced employee under their care that they take the responsibility to give guidance to avoid wasting time, but not to deprive them of learning from mistakes.  I like to share stories of the things I did when I was starting out to let them know it is OK to make mistakes.  I also tell them to make it a goal to not make the same mistake twice.

Good luck with bringing up the next generation of problem solvers.  You can be part of the legacy that they will leave.  Have a great week.