Saturday, April 18, 2009

No more $.009

There are a number of important components in my industry that have recently become less expensive including the cost of building materials, some insurances (not health care) and of course gasoline. The recent gas prices have been a nice break but I vividly remember the pain I felt last year. I was on a July fishing trip in Canada where we drove 10 hours North from MN and the cost to drive that distance was insane. All I could think of were dollar signs as my fleet of four Meadowview Construction vans were commuting all over the North Shore of MA from one construction site to another. I have yet to invest in solar powered, hydrogen or hybrid work trucks so the 10 mpg trucks are our best option to carry our full compliment of tools and materials. I am not sure how the new technologies will be able to address this specialized segment of vehicles. A routine fill-up was costing me North of $150 a pop every time a van filled up.

One thing that has always mystified me was why the oil companies tack on that extra 9/10 of a cent onto each gallon. After a little research I discovered why. The bottom line is that this extra $.009 per gallon equals an astonishing $2 billion extra dollars per year for Big Oil. Broken down to an amount I can understand, that is about $4.50 for the average driver. Since my company employs 6 above average drivers, I reckon that sum is closer to $9.00 per year per employee, or $54. I figure we are above average because our trucks get 10 mpg and we generally drive more miles per year than the average driver. Imagine all the things that a small business owner could do with $54. I could take my wife out to eat at a decent restaurant, buy a good bottle of Patron Tequila, invest in 1/2 hour of business coaching, or even buy two MA state fishing licenses.

I am sick and tired of Big Oil consistently eeking out an extra $54 a year from my business. It's time we take a stand. No more $.009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Being Ignored

I kind of figured that by this stage of my career I wouldn't be ignored so often. Yet, when I emailed one of my best friends last week to say hello and inquire about something we were working on together, I got nothing in response. This wasn't the first email. When, a week ago I contacted a prospective client to ask if they had any questions about a bid we gave them, I am still waiting for a response. It doesn't seem to matter that the bid consumed well over 40 hours of my time as well as many hours from my fellow business owners who perform various sub trades.

Being ignored is dispiriting, even to someone who has a pretty full and meaningful life. You almost feel like you don’t count. This time of great uncertainty, I am convinced, is causing many to crawl under a rock and hide or to stick their heads in the sand like an ostrich. Perhaps ignoring someone has become easier with the electronic age. I know I get lazy sometimes with my email responses and if it is something I would rather not deal with I tend to put it off or IGNORE it. Maybe the sender will just forget and I can always say I didn't get it or it got caught in my Spam Filter. I find myself constantly emailing people several times to get a straight up answer. In most cases (when it comes to proposal acceptance/rejection) I would much rather have a simple NO as opposed to nothing at all. After all, every NO is one step closer to a YES.

And if you’re one of those people who feel ignored, please take comfort in knowing that unfortunately, in our ever-faster-paced society, the human touch is often lost on us. There are plenty of very worthy people who are also being ignored these days. I suppose the best thing we can do is to not feel sorry for ourselves and try and keep your antennae out for opportunities to bring a little humanity into other people’s lives.