Tag Archives: new technology

business strategy

What Your Business Should Do Before The End Of January

Using last year’s failures as a roadmap to success: What your business should do before the end of January.

The beginning of each year brings new opportunities and challenges for business owners. Some of us are dying to put last year behind us, while countless others feel inspired by the way their business year ended.

There are three things I would suggest every business owner do before the end of January:

  1. Assess your past,
  2. Plan for your future, and
  3. Move on.

While 2012 is still fresh in your mind, as painful or pleasant as it may have been, it’s time to sit down and access what worked and what didn’t for your business — and most importantly why. Dig in, and be certain why it was a success. Was it a new hire? Better technology or training available for your employees? Perhaps the price was right and your business was on point for a top trend of 2012.

Be determined to start the New Year knowing what works and doesn’t for your business, and find your next course of action — whether it’s maintaining established goals, adding an employee or implementing new technology.

Often times business owners/managers are spread too thin. Is now the time to hire that assistant manager to help keep all of the balls in the air? Although we’re passionate about many things our businesses have to offer, some items just don’t have enough margin of profit to continue. January is a perfect time to assess your financials on main items and see what your true margin is and if it’s best to continue or discontinue the product.

One great universal truth that is hard for business owners to accept is that there are several operating costs outside of our control, including business fees, taxes, accounting etc. We have to do our best to divide and distribute those costs in order to make the year a success. If you haven’t already, now is the time to educate your employees and, when necessary, customers about the cost of doing business. We’re all here to help and serve the community — while making a profit.  The profit must be planned and be within industry standards; too high and you’re a thief, too low and you’re out of business.

In a service-driven business, like mine, it’s imperative that I understand the labor, the payroll taxes, the wear and tear of maintenance for the truck, the cost of the added miles to the truck, the liability I take on, the insurance incurred, the gas, the loss of it not going to another call, etc. I have to respond to these costs, and for my business that meant implementing a service fee; it helps keep my job costs lower. Others in my industry offer free service calls and oftentimes show up to a situation where they aren’t really needed or there is minimal opportunity for work. In some cases, these competitors pass the cost off to another area of business or simply aren’t offering the level of customer care I’m committed to maintaining.

Now is the time. This is the year for your business to be profitable by knowing what has and hasn’t worked in the past, how much your jobs cost, and knowing what you can offer as a leader. Let’s make 2013 the best year yet for your business.

For more information about Benjamin Franking Plumbing, visit benfranklinplumbingaz.com.


Facial Recognition Coming To A Store Near You

Last month, in my post, “Maybe a Little Big Brother is OK,” I wrote about behavioral marketing on the Web. By that I mean when technology tracks what kinds of things we seem to be interested in by our Web browsing behavior, and then serves up advertising tailored to our apparent interests. I talked about how what at one time seemed somewhat scary now seems benign and even helpful. At least I certainly find it helpful and most people I talk to feel the same way to the degree that they notice it at all.

But that’s on the Web. Now new technology is being brought to market that has the potential to change the way we experience brick-and-mortar shopping — shopping in stores — just as significantly.

Last month, at Digital Signage Expo 2011, we (Flypaper Studio) got a lot of attention when we demonstrated a Flypaper/Intel solution that served advertising content on digital signs to passers-by based on their gender and estimated age. It’s an example of facial recognition technology. It uses a camera built into or attached to the sign. In our case, the camera was delivering the video stream to Intel’s AIM Suite software, which would assess if anyone were actually looking at the sign. If anyone was, either individuals or groups, the software would determine their gender and estimate their age. It would then send that information to the advertising content that had been built in Flypaper, and the content itself would determine which ad or ads to display.

The benefit to the viewer of the sign is that they see advertisements (or information) that are more likely to be of interest to them. The 65-year-old male doesn’t see a Baby Gap ad, for example. The benefit to the advertiser is that their ads are displayed to people who are more likely to be interested.

When the digital signage is touch-screen, as ours was, the possibilities are even greater, because the content can measure effectiveness and utility. For example, of women ages 30-40 who were shown version A of an Ann Taylor ad, only 25 percent approached the sign and began interacting with it. But when they were shown version B, 35 percent did so. Again, both viewers and advertisers benefit.

This is only one example of the types of things that are becoming possible. In future posts from time to time I’ll describe how loyalty programs (think VIP cards for grocery stores), mobile devices like smart phones, and digital signage can all work together to improve shopping experiences out in brick-and-mortar land.