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Saturday, June 29, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself general business matters:

1. Recently, the heating and air conditioning plant for half of the building went out and had to be replaced, which cost ten thousand dollars. Fortunately, there was that much in reserve because that's how we run ADB. I had a chat with Joel, the graphic guy, about it, and he was shocked to learn (as we all had to) that buying a major thing (refrigerator, heating and air conditioner, car) does not mean you'll have one for the rest of your life. They only last so many years and then you have to buy a new one. A young couple getting married and buying a house needs to plan their budget to account for the replacement of major-cost items at inconvenient intervals. When we bought the first Kyocera (those babies cost about eight thousand each) I didn't really realize that in five or six years we'd be scrapping a worn-out printer and buying a new one. At least Leanna did and had the money on hand to replace that when it happened.
2. One of the business TV shows I enjoy is CAR LOT RESCUE about the consultant who goes to failing car dealerships and saves them from bankruptcy. (As with all business shows, it usually comes down to a failure of leadership.) One owner didn't want to be "mean" and remotely turn off the cars of customers who did not make payments. One owner thought that customers arrived on his lot ready to buy a car and he did not need sales people, just some pretty girls to smile and keep the customers company. It seems to me that working on a car lot is a job for a "car person" who likes talking about cubic somethings and horsepowers and ratios and stuff. (I hate that stuff not least because I cannot make sense of it, and I'm an engineer!) One trick the consultant made them do was to shuffle the cars around the lot every day so that it looks like new cars have arrived even if they haven't. (I think the lesson there is that running a retail business is WORK and every day you blow off the work is a day you make less money.)
3. I found another couple of business shows about tow trucks. (One show was in Canada, the other in California. Both focused on mountain roads and bad weather.) Some of the things I noticed included: A tow driver got on a crash site and only then discovered that another driver had borrowed key tools. Why did he leave the yard without inspecting his truck and knowing that he didn't have something important? One tow company owner made sure that he got all of the best-paying jobs for himself. That may be cash smart, but it really upset his employees who had little respect for a boss they considered to be a thief. One driver got onto a crash site and observed that she had not been trained to handle that particular type of situation. Why didn't her boss have a training program?

4. If I ever appeared on Shark Tank, the first part of my presentation would be: "Kevin, you are dead to me. I won't accept any offer you make and frankly don't even want to hear it. Please don't interrupt anyone else making an offer."

 5. I keep seeing in Bar Rescue that bartenders have to learn to make a cocktail in less than a minute. Why not mix the most popular cocktails ahead of time by the gallon and have them ready and pour them into an ice shaker when somebody wants one? I mean, do the liquor and mixers get stale? Or is it the show-biz performance of mixing the drink that really counts? I don't drink or go to bars so I really don't get it.

6. It upsets me (a lot) that spammers abuse common courtesy to the point it has been driven out of email correspondence. The other day, someone in the office got an advertising email about tracking our truck fleet using GPS. He took a moment to advise them that they were obviously contacting the wrong company. The problem is that they now know that the email address they  used (his) is a valid address and that he opens all of his email if the subject line is even remotely clever enough to avoid screaming SPAM! So, they can now sell his email address for many times what a generic address is worth.