The Biz of Pacelinebiz

Turning things on end to achieve results!

Posts Tagged ‘Technology

Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You

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Obsolete

Obsolete

No, I am not giving you the stiff arm. I am no longer in possession of a traditional land line telephone number.  As of early June I cut the cord to the land line and now we rely on our cell phones.  This move was made easier since our 2 year contract was up and in the past two years the cell phone reception has improved.

This elimination of a seldom used resource saved about $34 per month. This is not a large sum of money but why pay for something that provides no value?  The question you might ask is; what are we going to do with the $408 annual savings? Lucky for you I have a list!  Check it out below.

  • Pay for a modest a weekend getaway – the saving should cover the cost of a hotel for two nights and money for activities. I don’t have to add in dinner as a cost since we normally go out to eat on Friday and Saturday night.
  • Four new tires for one of our cars – not sexy but I would rather have fresh rubber on my ride than a useless land line that only gets calls from telemarketers.
  • Trick out my bike with lightweight wheels – replace MPH that is lost by aging with technology!
  • Drive 4,896 miles for “free” at $2.50 per gallon and at 30 MPG.
  • Buy about eight candy bars per week every year at $1 each. Not recommended but you COULD do it.
  • Sponsor a child overseas for $1 a day.
  • Contribute half of it to a good cause and use the rest to pay down debt.
  • Save the $34 each month at 4% and in 15 years you would have $8,367.10 to blow however you like.
  • Depending on your age, buy a term life insurance policy for $100,000 to $300,000 face value.
  • Get the neighbor kid to cut your grass every other week for six months. I like that idea!
  • Buy a chair for the living room that only you are allowed to sit in like Archie Bunker.
  • Buy a gift for your spouse and treat her like she deserves – unlike Archie Bunker.

Maybe you can find a way to save a few bucks each month and have fun deciding what to do with it. Have a great week.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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There is an "App" to replace me

There is an “App” to replace me

In September 2014 I wrote a blog about the push for a $15 per hour minimum wage. I cautioned that it was a very bad idea and described what would happen if it were to be implemented.  You can read about that by clicking here.  As it turns out the push has continued and the fast food industry has reacted well before the rate has reached $15.  Click here to read what a former CEO of McDonalds has to say about this in a recent article.

My prediction of what would happen is coming true and instead of helping those who work in minimum wage jobs or at entry-level jobs near minimum wage it will hurt. There will be fewer entry-level jobs.  Please don’t hail me as an economic genius; this is really simple to anyone who has any business sense.  The technology has been available for a long time and now that labor is becoming more expensive a switch to automation becomes more viable.

At the beginning of June, Chick-Fil-A launched their mobile ordering app similar to the wildly popular Starbucks app. This switch to automation was inevitable and the ruckus that the $15 per hour movement caused simply accelerated the move to machines.  I applaud the move to more technology only because it is a more efficient way to “deliver the goods”.  My wife and I use the app that Panera Bread has to order food and pick it up when we are ready.  It is a fantastic way to avoid the lines and save time. I am worried about where all the low skilled workers, students and people looking for part-time work to augment their income are going to find employment.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

July 10, 2016 at 8:01 am

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.

Underappreciated Tools Of The Trade

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All Stars in action

All Stars in action

Last August I wrote about the tools of my trade and today I am going to write about some underrated tools that I take for granted.  After today I vow to do a better job in paying these tools the respect they deserve.

My list begins with a free version of a pdf printer.  I use it to print to a pdf file rather than to a piece of paper.  The version I use allows me to append or add-on to the original file so that I can create a multi page document from various sources.  I use this almost daily so it is definitely something I could not do without.

Along the same lines is a free pdf converter program.  I use this less often but when I do it is extremely valuable.  This software will convert a pdf file to a jpg file which I use when I see an article in my local paper that is about a friend or business associate.  I convert it and send the jpg picture file to them so they can use it for their social media like Facebook or LinkedIn.  Of course they can also print the picture and frame it depending on how significant the occasion.

A Canon flatbed scanner.  The model is; CanoScan LiDE 25.  I bought this in 2006 when I started my business for about $50 and it is still working and I use it several times per week as a scanner or copier.  Before I got my multi-function printer it was the only way for me to make a copy.  Once I upgrade to Windows 10 I think it will have to be retired since I doubt there will be a printer driver for it.  This may have been the best $50 I ever spent on a business product.

A Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse.  I also bought his when I started my business in 2006 and they both still work flawlessly.  I can’t remember the price but I think it was around $40 for the set.  The keyboard is especially nice since I need a full size keyboard for my hunt and peck typing skills.  It also has the accountant’s numeric keypad which is also invaluable.  What can I say, I get excited about little things.

The final thing on my list is a 21 inch monitor I bought in 2009 to help when I am working from home.  It was essential when I had a smaller laptop screen but even now with my 15 inch laptop display I use it full-time when I am not on the road.

Honorable mention:

  • 500 gigabyte Toshiba external hard drive
  • Midland 13 port, powered USB hub,
  • Brother multi-function printer (Fax/Scan/Copy/Print)

If you don’t use these tools you might want to consider doing so to ramp up your productivity at a low-cost.  Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

April 17, 2016 at 8:01 am

Newspapers In The Digital Age

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Marietta Daily Journal 2-3-16

Copyright 2016 – Marietta Daily Journal 2-3-16

The column above comes from my local newspaper, The Marietta Daily Journal.  I am a subscriber and have had issues in the past with how they price their product.  You can read about that by clicking here.  While I have some problems with the games they play with pricing subscriptions, Mr. Murphy is correct when he states that the local newspaper is alive and well.  I am happy to see that he understands what value he can deliver – good local reporting that you can get nowhere else.

I have said for several years now that the local newspaper should not bother with any national or international news. We can get that from thousands of places as Mr. Murphy states in his column.  If any space is devoted to national or international news; please present it with a more thorough analysis.   Provide the kind of analysis that we can’t get on the evening news that only presents the headline and not much else.  Invest the time to scouring the local coverage area – and go deep into details that the reader needs to know.  Be the eyes and ears at the commissioner meeting or at the school board meeting.  Oh, and by the way, do it without revealing a bias.

What can we learn from this column about the business side of the newspaper? One thing we can learn is to meet criticism head on with good reasons for your actions.  The strongest point he makes is to be willing to stand behind his product and let customers walk if they don’t think there is value.  The fact is the Marietta Daily Journal is the only daily newspaper in Cobb County so if you want the local news they are the only game in town.  Another thing is to not be satisfied with the status quo.  They have a monopoly but he states in the article they are experimenting and improving their online content and are going to roll out a new iteration in March.   This does not sound like satisfaction with the status quo to me.

There is no such thing as a free lunch and the internet generation needs to learn the lesson just like “deadheads” back in 1891. Apparently “deadheads” were people who read the paper by borrowing it from a neighbor.  I guess even back in 1891 people were looking for a free lunch.  Mr. Murphy uses the same logic as they did back in 1891.  If it is good enough to want to borrow/read it online you should “be a man” and pay for it.

Believe in what your business offers and be ready to defend it on the value it provides. Have a great week.

Light Bulbs!

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I Contain Zero Mercury

I Contain Zero Mercury

I’ve never given much thought to light bulbs.  They are only something you think about when they are not working properly. They are like an offensive lineman in football.  You never pay them much attention until they get a penalty or allow a sack on the star quarterback.  Today I have been forced to give some thought to light bulbs and you probably are thinking that can’t be a good thing.  Other than providing blog topic fodder you are correct if you think that.

Here’s the story.  Last week the light bulb for my garage door opener went out and I didn’t give it much thought.  I knew I had to deal with it when I had the time.  Then early this week I noticed a bulb was out in my office ceiling light.  Later that day the ceiling light over the kitchen table went out.  By then it seemed strange that all these lights were going bad.  I took my last old-fashioned incandescent bulb and replaced the light in my office. Then I looked to see if I had any in the basement.  I did not.

I was in a fix it mood so I went to change the light bulb over the kitchen table with one of the new-fangled “green”, poisonous-mercury laden ones.   I have an ample supply of them in the kitchen pantry.  Mercury intermingled with my food stuffs?  I know, just as I was writing that sentence it occurred to me that a better place needs to be found for my mercury stash.  As I removed the burned out mercury light I realized it is a different type of light than the supply I have nestled in between the rice and quinoa.  (We have quinoa but never eat it. I don’t know why we have quinoa, but I like saying it at various times for no reason because it sounds funny. Kin Wah)

With my plans to have ample light over the kitchen table scuttled, I decided to change the bulb for the garage door opener when I realized I had at least two issues.  The first issue is; I don’t have any incandescent bulbs that are bright instantly.  The second issue is; if I install the poisonous bulb that s – l – o – w – l – y gets bright, will it endure the vibration from the motor of the garage door opener?  Incidentally, these bulbs are supposed to last longer – up to nine years on average.  Why is it that the incandescent bulb I replaced in my office has been there since before we moved into our house about five years ago and the long-lasting poisonous one over the kitchen table was installed two months after we moved in?   Where is my nine years?   My office light is in use much more than the light over the kitchen table. Hmmm.  That makes me want to say Quinoa.

Get yourself some Quinoa, you’ll be glad you did.  Have a great week.  

Written by pacelinebiz

December 7, 2015 at 8:01 am

Pricing Your Product

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This Is A Newspaper

This Is A Newspaper

Today’s topic is an issue I am dealing with right now regarding my local newspaper. For those of you under 30 a newspaper is the thing that old people use to protect delicate items from being broken when being shipped. Yes, I read a newspaper and I am not ashamed to admit it. They have a great deal of value for local news and that is the only reason I like to have one delivered to my driveway.

Now, back to the issue at hand — my newspaper and its pricing policies. I have subscribed to my local paper on and off for about three years. That is the problem. It has been on and off. I first got an introductory one year subscription for $89 for one year. When the subscription expired, the renewal was $115 and I reluctantly renewed. As the next year was ending I was definitely thinking I needed to offer the newspaper my renewal at $89 or less. I could no longer justify the $115 price. The renewal arrived and I wasn’t offered the same $115 that I already thought was too high but $155! This was a 35% increase! I didn’t even bother to call and haggle, I was done with the paper.

It has been a about year since I did not renew and over that time I have gotten offers to come back but none were good enough to entice me back. Finally, a few weeks ago I got an offer that I could not refuse. It was 6 months for $35! I imagine after the 6 months is done they will go back to their $155 rate per year and I will drop them again. My question is; why did they not just set a reasonable price and they would have been more likely to keep me without interruption and we all would have been better off.

They way I look at it if they would have stayed at $89 per year they would have been better off since they got nothing from me for a year, $89 for a year and $115 for a year and now $35 for a half-year. The delivery person would have liked this since my neighbor has been getting the paper continuously throughout this saga.

I fully understand that newspapers are undergoing extreme changes in their industry but they need to ascertain the proper selling price (the perceived value) of their product and develop a good estimate of the revenue stream from subscriptions and advertising and adjust their cost structure accordingly. This is probably easier said than done especially when technology has disrupted the status quo so greatly.

One thing they should do is improve on the quality of the product. Get more in-depth and better local reporting that is still essential to any concerned citizen or business owner. Why there is any space devoted to any national issues in a local newspaper today is beyond my comprehension. For years we have been able to get national and international news in real-time on radio, TV, Cable, the internet and now Twitter or Instagram.

I will end with the admonition to all business owners to price accordingly because discounting your product cheapens the value and in the end you may get less than you otherwise could have if you set a reasonable price in the first place.

Have a great week; I need to drop my special renewal rate card in the mail box (They are paying for the postage!)

Written by pacelinebiz

September 21, 2015 at 8:04 am