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Steve Jobs – What I learned October 6, 2011

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Business Improvement, Customer Service, human resources, Improving Personnel Performance, Internet, Marketing.
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Steve Jobs passed away on October 5th, 2011. It’s hard even writing this fact down – the loss is so profound. I remember when I was in training at Apple in 2002, Steve came into the Apple Café and the Director of our program freaked out, warning us NOT to go up to him or talk to him. So we all, myself included, passed on speaking to the fellow who has revolutionized and changed our life.

Crazy isn’t it?

I am an Apple. Having been on the platform since the Apple II (and I may still have it somewhere), I have taken a lot of grief from the naysayers. The detractors said: its a toy, no IT department would adopt it, you could buy three PC’s for the price of one Macintosh, it doesn’t run any good software, blah blah blah. Now look at Apple’s market share and even more importantly, the charged-up, ecstatic, crazy customers that love everything Apple.

It is sad that many people will just get it today that Apple is and will always be something special. Born from a dream by someone who was a college dropout and described as directionless, Steve pursued his dream with fellow entrepreneur, Steve Wozniac. Steve didn’t make computers, he created tools that let us extend our current lifestyles and imagination. Seth Godin made a great point in his blog yesterday when he challenged all of us with the call to action, “What are we going to do with it?” The “It” is this wonderful tool that Steve and the other great folks at Apple have given us.

Now we just need to do like the Nike commercial and “Just do it”!

P.S. if Steve Jobs chose to invent the elevator, it would have a touch screen allowing you to deselect an incorrectly chosen floor AND the door open and close buttons would work! The iElevator would let you select relevant content about the building clients or local events thus helping passengers avoid those unnecessarily awkward elevator stares. The floor would have a small section that vibrates to sooth tired feet. You get the picture. Soon everyone would look forward to riding in an elevator again!

P.S.S. No, I am not an Apple snob – I have a PC and use it – mostly for Excel and VBA. If I were to liken it to a tool, I would call it an allen wrench – very good for very specific tasks. But I don’t carry an allen wrench with me all of the time….. I do, however, carry a MacBook, Ipad, and Iphone 24/7

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Savings Corner – Trimming Your Print/Copy/Ad Specialties/Design Costs March 10, 2011

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Business Improvement, Increase Profitability, Internet, Marketing, Procurement, Savings Corner.
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One of the low hanging fruit baskets of savings that you find in almost every business is printing and its related cousins. This broad category includes everything from design, printing, copying, advertising specialities and the internet.
COPYING: Let’s start with copying. If your office is using inkjet printers – especially lexmark or even some laser printers, chances are you are getting eaten alive in cartridge costs. You have several alternatives – First, if you are in love with your inkjets or laser printer, shop around for toner – hint – the big box office supply places are not the place to shop – we have achieved savings of 30% or more by partnering with smaller distributors and giving them a price target to hit. Second, rent a copy machine (or machine) – most copier companies will rent you a machine, provide toner and guaranteed service for a little over a penny per click on black and white. Color will (of course) be somewhat more expensive and is based on volume but it will still be less expensive than your inkjet or laser. Third, do not buy your paper from the office supply store – buy it from a paper merchant or better still – leverage your printing supplier to provide copy paper at their cost in exchange for your printing business. Fourth, if you have large copying jobs – do not take it to your local Fedex Office – I love the guys that work there but we have been able to save 50% or more using copy wholesalers. If you must use Fedex Office then get a discount card from the manager – you can save 15% or more with that little jewel.
DESIGN: Graphic Design staffing is size dependent on your business – that will determine whether you can afford to do design in-house, use freelancers or employ an outside agency. Regardless of who does your design work, demand copies of both the final files and working files. The reason for this is two-fold – 1) You can make your own versions/revisions without paying anyone and 2) If the designer disappears or the agency goes under, you are protected from having to recreate a catalog or web site from scratch. With the exception of very small businesses, I advocate in-house design and conversion of all paper documents to .pdf or web-based forms. If you can’t design from scratch, learn how to make changes – we have trained numerous companies and the learning curve is not as steep as you might think.
PRINTING: Nothing has become more competitive than printing prices whether you are printing digital, offset, half-web, full-web…. you get the picture. Most companies fail to obtain competitive prices by not bidding out jobs deep and wide – deep because you need to poll a statistically significant number of printers (and that doesn’t mean 3) and wide because you must gain understanding of the printer’s equipment capabilities and how you can leverage your job to take advantage of their production sweet spot. Never give all of your business to a single printer and require that they bid out every job every time – this keeps them honest. Don’t fall for the trap that only such and such printer can do a quality job or that your co-worker’s next door neighbor owns a print shop and will give you a “great” deal. The best part about purchasing printing is that printing prices are relatively easy to reverse engineer since equipment speeds are published, labor is relatively constant and the major ingredient “paper” is easy to source and price.
ADVERTISING SPECIALTIES: This is another easy one. Once you understand the industry pricing codes, you can easily negotiate from a position of power if you choose to use a specialty rep. company. Or if you are adventurous, you can deal direct with most specialty companies because they would rather make a sale to you then no sale at all. There are a lot of variations – I have negotiated cost-plus deals with a rep. company because my client didn’t have time to source. I have also purchased shirts direct from the manufacturer (US and China) and then had them contract printed or embroidered. The direction that I go in is oftentimes dictated by my clients internal resources, the size of the job and the amount of savings desired by the client.
INTERNET: Much harder to explain in a short blog but here’s my attempt. Web design should keep your company’s look and feel which means that you can repurpose (not re-design) your graphics which can be done very inexpensively. Most importantly, I can’t stress enough that you (or your marketing person) need to spend a day researching competitors web sites as well as sites that contain the functionality that you would desire in your own site. Make a list of the components that you like, create goals for your site, a statement of work (fancy talk for a brief describing everything you want the site to do) and then bid these out. Not to an agency necessarily – we use a combination of project managers, freelancers, local talent and foreign programmers. The delivered product should be well-documented so that anyone that understands HTML, CSS, PHP, Java, etc. can make programmatic changes. For larger sites, a content management system should be utilized so that you or your wordsmiths can update the site without a degree in computer science. Finally, be smart about promoting your site. You can go broke trying to create traffic and once you bid out a site, you will get bombarded by hundreds of companies that swear they can make your site a success. The truth is that there are recognized companies who have already figured out optimization, lead generation, nurturing, email campaigns, affiliate programs and the like. Regardless of how you approach your site, spend time researching and (please) don’t reinvent the wheel.

Yours in procurement,
Steve

Steve Gordon specializes in procurement and logistics cost saving initiatives – call him today at 865.356.3575

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

Solutions is happy to complete a complimentary audit of your firm’s expeditures. Just call or write to get started.

If you want to learn how to save money on a particular commodity, just send me a comment or email me directly. I will do my best to answer your request in a future post.

Respectfully,

Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
http://www.costavoidance.org
__________________________________
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

steve@costavoidance.org
(865) 356-3575
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