Posts tagged #biz

Have You Tried Vine Yet?

I love technology and all it can bring to life or business. A few days ago Twitter ( By far my favorite social network ) introduced Vine, a service that lets you take 6 second video's easily and share them in your twitter feed. The video can them be viewed inside each tweet like so:

This was my first ever vine video tweet, whatcha think? Honestly, I haven't really gotten a chance to really play with or think about the ways we can use Vine to help promote the business. However, as more people get their hands on the app more ideas will come out.

There have been some interesting ideas vaguely floating around, but they have been more creative and centered around the technology. The coat is still fresh and tacky, not ready to hang the pictures and finish the wall.

I will be interested to see how we or other micro and small businesses use this interesting new addition to the Twitter family.

Check out the post about Vine on the Twitter blog or directly at the Vine site.

 

Should You Fire Your Customers?

Should you fire your customers? A question that I had never really thought about until recently. I never realized it was something that could and should be thought about as a business owner. Customers are what keep the business functioning and without them, we have no business. But what about those customers who always want, want, want and never pay, pay, pay? These are the types of customers that fit the fire-able category in regards to my company. These are the customers that whine about everything, expect you to get their order done ASAP and leave it sitting in my shop for days even though they NEEDED IT right away. Do you have these types of people coming into your business regularly?

Money is always an issue with these specific customers and getting payed is almost impossible. They are leaches that need to be dealt with and as business owners we should take it upon ourselves to fire and blacklist them from our shops. They are parasites who find more time to chat you up and act like a friend than to do their duty as business owners and pay their bills.

I have a few customers who make it a point to apologize for not having the money. They will make specific trips to my shop just to tell me these things. Then I will see them at the supply houses paying for items in cash in excess of what is owed to me. Infuriating! All I ask for is an effort of any kind. Talk to me like an adult and maybe we could work something out in regards to payment plans.

My father and I run a very small shop, so creating financing is tough. However, if I knew a longtime customer was trying, then I could find a way to help them. Times are tough and people are going through very rough patches. I understand needing help, but people need to make the effort as well.

The bottom line in my particular shop is this. I don't care what is owed by these particular "customers" because I feel I will never see it. I have asked for it, called, sent statements and nothing is done. Therefore I have to take steps to fire them and make clear I never want to see them in my shop again.

Sell your losers and hold onto your winners. Stock trading 101.

Posted on February 6, 2012 and filed under Customers, Micro-Business, Uncategorized.

K & E Sheet Metal Now on Google+

Today I finally got a chance to create our Google+ page. If you are on Google+ or have a company page, please add us to your circles and we will do the same. We will be updating the page with photos, news about the company and the HVAC/sheet metal fabrication industry locally and nationally.

Follow K & E Sheet Metal on Google+ HERE

Posted on November 16, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.

Will The Co-Creator of The iPod's New Company Change The HVAC Thermostat Market?

There was a time when everyone saw the Apple iPod and thought to themselves: "What is that white thing with a single button and why is it called iPod? What is i pod? What a stupid name."

"I will never buy one of those, it's too expensive. Nobody will ever buy one of those. What does it do anyway?"

I may be way off, but I know I felt that way until I actually had an iPod in my hand and saw how fantastic and simple it was to use. Now, between that and the iPhone, I don't use anything else when listening to music.

So, will thermostats be the new iPod and change the HVAC industry?

I must admit I have never seen or used the new thermostat from Nest, a company founded by former Apple i-Pod co-creator, Tony Fadell. However, if this thermostat works like other Apple products, then anyone who is an Apple user knows this is probably a home run.

The simplicity and elegance of the case grabs you immediately when you look at the video and photos from Nest's website. Check out more HERE.

The issue for consumers with this new breed of thermostat is the price, coming in at $249. However, when compared to the more expensive and intuitive thermostats at Home Depot or Lowes and if the Nest performs like it says, then it's actually a reasonable cost. Splatf has a great post on the Nest, showing some of these comparisons. Check it out HERE.

Our company installs full duct systems for forced air heating and cooling applications. We have installed many thermostats, a good number of them are very high quality, look nice and are intuitive. However, not all of them are very easy to use and many of the calls we get from customers are in regards to the thermostat. Many have extensive instruction books and complicated ways to reset or fix minor problems, usually ending in the purchase of a new thermostat.

The Nest looks simple and easy to use in pictures and company write-ups, but can it deliver in the real world. That will be the test. But if it can be to HVAC what the iPod was to music, I think they may change the way HVAC and consumers look at thermostats in the future.

For more detail, check out these other sources:

Brave New Thermostat: How the iPod’s Creator Is Making Home Heating Sexy ( Wired.com )

Tony Fadell Demos His New Nest Learning Thermostat ( TechCrunchTV )

Posted on October 26, 2011 and filed under HVAC.

Moneyball and How It Can Help Change Our Micro Business

This past weekend I treated myself to the picture show and checked out the new movie Moneyball. If you haven't heard of or seen the movie, below is the synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Based on a true story, Moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball's conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs.....more

and the trailer:

A specific scene of the movie peaked my interest and made me think about what goes on in my company and the local HVAC industry as a whole. In the scene, Billy Beane is having a meeting with his teams head scouts and they are going over new players to possibly add to the roster. As each scout gives his typical and cliched notes on each player, Beane looks around and realizes that everything is the same, nothing has changed and in order to progress and move forward, things need to go a different way so the team can replace talent, have a successful season and achieve their goals on a very limited budget.

Sometimes in any industry or life, change is the hardest thing an individual or group can do, especially when money is tight. It's scary to venture outside your comfort zone and go against the grain of your normal life or business pattern to achieve something great.

This struck a chord because I have realized that in order for my company to succeed there have to be changes made. The company has run the same way for 20 years and we sometimes seem to be standing still. Not only that, since the economic downturn, it feels like we've gone backwards and are struggling to just get our legs back underneath us.

My main point is that in order for us to move forward and grow the company, we must embrace new technology and new ways of performing our day to day business. Whether it be social networking or easier ways of accepting payment, things need to evolve and move forward in order to avoid stagnation. This will, in turn, breed the success I would like to see for the company in the future.

Making changes can be hard and the old guard will always fight back and disagree with major changes. This is usually why no one takes chances and risk what has already been gained, because they may feel there is too much to lose. However, when things are just status quot and you feel like your standing still or in slow motion, something needs to happen. I am quickly learning that means things need to change. At least, that's how I see it for my company and what may be ahead of us.

The big question, for us, will be what is our best strategy being that we are such a tiny micro business. Resources are limited and so is time because of the responsibility load on both my father and I. There will obviously be many other questions that will have to be answered and that is part of running any business with any budget. I am convinced, like Billy Beane was that season, that there needs to be more out of the box questions asked and answered for this company to succeed in the future.

Go to Amazon and get your copy of the fantastic book Moneyball by Michael Lewis HERE and for your Kindle HERE

 

Posted on October 3, 2011 and filed under HVAC, Micro-Business.

Weekend Links: Small Biz Boost, HVAC Blogging, Web Design Tips

A very busy week and some issues Tuesday ( explained here ) kept me from reading other great articles and posts. It was so bad, I even had to throw in a little shameless self promotion. Have a great weekend! Seven Seconds To Make An Impression: Website Design Tips ( Social Tract )

Facebook, NFIB, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Announce Boost for Small Businesses ( NFIB )

A Family Business Built on Sheet Metal and Great Service ( Intuit GoPayment Blog )

Will Blogging Work for Your HVAC Business? ( ContractingBusiness.com )

Visit our website: kesheetmetal.com

Posted on October 1, 2011 and filed under Link List.

Why The Little Things Matter to Micro and Small Business

Recently I was contacted by someone from the Intuit GoPayment blog about a personal blog post I had written on their mobile payment service. Check out the post here. I was told that they enjoyed the post and was offered an opportunity to give an interview about how I use Gopayment at my micro business. Of course I said, no problem, thinking this could be a great cross promotional opportunity for our business and provide a chance to drive some traffic to our website and blog.  Maybe it would even be an opportunity to get some local promotions started and show our customers that we were featured on a reputable small business blog run by Intuit, a great talking and selling point.

They called the following day to conduct the interview which, even being nervous, I thought went very well. I was excited, as a micro business owner, to have a chance to be spotlighted on the GoPayment blog and be recognized for good service. I love the service that GoPayment provides and have been very happy with Intuit for years, having used Quickbooks and Quicken for some time.

I was told that the post would go up in a few weeks, that I would be contacted for any extra information that they may need, and that I would be emailed the interview when it was ready to be posted (I assumed for proofreading purposes, but you know what happens when you assume).

So I waited a couple weeks, checking my inbox and spam religiously because I was excited for the opportunity and wanted to tweet it, post it, do anything I could to get it out and show people the blog and the featured post about our sheet metal fabrication shop, once it was published.

Honestly, this was the first time we ever had an opportunity like this. I've never done an interview before and this, even though just a "blog", was a great thing for a micro business like ours.  When I say micro, I mean micro. There are just two of us, my father and I, who fabricate sheet metal locally and also install residential forced air heating and cooling systems. This was a big deal for me, my father and the company as a whole.

Fast forward to today.

I have not heard anything about the post from any one and I figured that maybe the interview went worse than I originally projected.

"We've been axed; we didn't make the cut", I thought to myself.

I decided to give the blog a check just in case. They wouldn't just publish the post without letting me know would they? I had been told I would receive an email when the blog was updated with our feature post.

To my surprise....there we were. It was a little strange at first glance, like OK, I had been told I would get an email, but the post is still up and this is a good thing. Time to read it, tweet it, blog about it, and call the family to go online and give it a look.

But then, to my surprise, again.....I'm pretty sure my last name is Raymond, not Reynolds. I take out my license to give it a look. Yup, Raymond. Not good, there is only one other thing that would be worse than getting the last name of a FAMILY business wrong and that would be the actual name of the company. Now my temperature's starting to rise at this mistake. The picture posted was taken from our website without permission and is at least 10 years old, agreed I need an update, but I thought they would at least ask me if they needed images to display. Not to mention that the other photo in the post is a stock picture of flat steel coils. We are a micro business, the post specifies this and the fact that our "rivals" or competition are larger businesses - THEY use giant coils of flat steel to produce their product.  We do not.

So as you might imagine I was just a little upset because one would assume (there's that word again) that a "professional" blog or blogger would proofread their work for inaccuracies before clicking the publish button. One would think.

To be fair, the post was not all bad and aside from these issues I would not have had a problem. However, when you take the photo straight from our "about us" page where our names are clearly written and could have been copy and pasted, the issue becomes bigger in my mind and screams lack of caring for your own work.

Obviously my naivete got the best of me and I will chalk this up to a learning experience for future use. Honestly, I am disappointed in the lack of care that is put forth by individuals today and corporate America in general. My work day is based on making sure our customer service is top notch in order to retain the small number of customers we have. A local business must concentrate on doing a great job the first time so they get the referral call from a brother, sister, aunt or grandfather of the original customer. Word of mouth, it's what we do best.

Big business should take a cue and focus more on this, and make sure that any work subbed out is done professionally and correct because it comes back looking bad on the parent company. In this case Intuit.

After this fiasco I would have been happy with only a re tweet of my original post or just a link to our blog or website. I will surely be more proactive if this type of opportunity comes our way in the future.

The post has since been quickly fixed, which is to be expected. However, I took some screen shots of the original post that you can check out HERE.

Posted on September 27, 2011 and filed under Micro-Business, Uncategorized.