Gunning Daily News

Is Your Price Stealing from Your Profit?

May 20, 2011 4:49 pm

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you know that price can make or break your offering. If the price is set it too high then you can't make the sale. If the price is set too low, it steals away your profit with every transaction.

"When this happens it is a slow death by a thousand drips," comments Jason Marrs, price strategist and co-author of No B.S. Price Strategy with Dan S. Kennedy. "I say drips because a price that is too low is a reflection of something called a value leak. Like a slow leak in your house can go unnoticed for years, all the while causing profound structural damage, so too can a value leak in your business."

So what causes value leaks? Marrs answers that value leaks happen when you fail to recognize and collect on value that you are providing to your customers, clients or patients.

To put it another way, if you are not being compensated for your processing and shipping being faster than your competition—you have a value leak. If your waiting room is more spacious and cleaner than the competition, that is something of value. If you're not being compensated for it, it's a value leak. The list goes on and on.

Every business has value leaks. The question isn't if you have value leaks the question is how many and how severe.

Everything you add to your offering—be that service, quality, experience or something else –adds to the value being received by your customer. These value points also add to your costs of doing business.

"Value points must be recognized, accounted for, assessed and figured into your price," notes Marrs. "This will give you the ability to differentiate your offering from the competition, raise your price and produce more profit. That extra profit will then give you the ability to improve your offering, your service and your security."

Jason Marrs is a pricing strategist who coaches entrepreneurs and other professionals in overcoming price reluctance and resistance.

One in Eight Americans Have Contemplated Bankruptcy

May 20, 2011 4:49 pm

Nearly one in eight Americans—13 percent—have either filed or considered filing for bankruptcy, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com.

The FindLaw.com survey found that people between the ages of 35 and 54 are 50 percent more likely to have considered filing for bankruptcy than people ages 18-34 or 55 and older. People of retirement age (65 and older) are the least likely to have considered filing for bankruptcy (7 percent).

More than 1.5 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy last year, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center. That's the highest level since 2005, which saw a wave of bankruptcy filings just ahead of major bankruptcy law reforms.

Personal bankruptcies are often the result of a major life event, such as loss of a job, a medical emergency, home foreclosure and so on. Bankruptcy laws dictate who is eligible to file for personal bankruptcy, which debts can be wiped out, which debts will remain, and what happens to personal property, including homes.

"Bankruptcy can be a long, complicated and emotionally difficult process," says Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at FindLaw.com. "Even after the bankruptcy is completed, it can affect people's lives for many years afterwards. Bankruptcy can be a useful tool for protecting debtors in some cases, but in other cases may not be the best option. People who are contemplating bankruptcy should consult with financial and legal advisers to discuss the pros and cons of bankruptcy, as well as potential alternatives, such as credit counseling and debt management plans."

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a telephone survey of a demographically balanced group of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

For more information visit www.findlaw.com.

Seniors Have Lost 32 Percent of Their Buying Power Since 2000

May 20, 2011 4:49 pm

Seniors have lost almost one-third of their buying power since 2000, according to the Annual Survey of Senior Costs, released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). TSCL is one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors advocacy groups.

In most years, seniors receive a small increase in their Social Security checks, intended to help them keep up with the costs of inflation. But since 2000, the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) has increased just 31 percent, while typical senior expenses have jumped 73 percent, more than twice as fast.

In 2011, for the second consecutive year, seniors received no COLA. Prior to 2010, seniors had received a COLA every year since 1975, when the automatic COLA was introduced. Seniors are forecast to receive a very small COLA next year.

"For many years, seniors have watched helplessly as the value of their benefits has eroded. Those losses have added up, and millions of seniors— among our most vulnerable citizens—are barely able to scrape by today," says Larry Hyland, chairman of The Senior Citizens League. "To put it in perspective, for every $100 worth of expenses seniors could afford in 2000, they can afford just $68 today."
A senior with an average Social Security benefit in 2000 received $816 per month, a figure that rose to $1,072.30 by 2011. However, that senior would require a Social Security benefit of $1,414.70 per month in 2011 just to maintain his or her 2000 lifestyle.

The study examined the increase in costs of 30 key items between 2000 and 2011. The items were chosen because they are typical of the costs seniors must bear. Price increases for 22 out of the 30 costs exceeded the COLA. The selected items represent eight categories, and each category was weighted (based on typical expenditure levels) in order to calculate the overall loss of buying power.

A majority of the 37 million Americans aged 65 and over who receive a Social Security check depend on it for at least 50 percent of their total income, and one in three beneficiaries rely on it for 90 percent or more of their total income.
To help increase buying power, The Senior Citizens League is lobbying for a change in which Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to determine the COLA. The government currently calculates the COLA based on the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), a slow-rising index that tracks the spending habits of younger workers who don't spend as much of their income on health care.

The government does track the spending patterns of older Americans, and has done so since 1983 using the CPI for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E). By tying the annual increase in the COLA to the CPI-E, seniors would see much-needed relief in their monthly checks. For example, a senior who retired with a benefit of $460 in 1984 would have received $13,723 more over the past 27 years with the CPI-E.

With 1.2 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors groups. Its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association.

Visit www.SeniorsLeague.org for more information.

Consumer Travel Spending Heats Up, Survey Reveals

May 20, 2011 4:49 pm

With the warmer months around the corner, consumers are beginning to organize their wallets to plan for summer activities. And, travel and vacationing top most Americans' lists, according to a recent survey conducted by Ally Bank, with 26 percent of respondents indicating this is where they will spend the most money this summer.

"With so many Americans hitting the road this summer, easy access to vacation money is important," says Deposits and Product Innovation Executive Diane Morais. "When traveling it's helpful to have your funds at your fingertips and not have to pay fees to access it."

While Americans agree on one thing—travel is a priority—many (22 percent) are still considering "staycationing" or picking a local spot for their summer getaway. Data also shows that most Americans are keeping costs low with 37 percent of respondents planning to spend less than $500 and another 33 percent expecting to spend between $500 and $2,000 for summer travel.

"It's never too late to start stashing away vacations funds. One way to do so is to take advantage of low or no-fee checking, savings and short-term CD options like we offer at Ally Bank," says Morais. "Savers can create completely separate accounts for their travel needs and better budget and manage their travel costs without dipping into other savings plans or going into debt."

While cash will be the most popular form of payment, respondents with higher ranging incomes are more likely to have special accounts dedicated to summer travel. Twenty percent of those who make between $75,000 and $100,000 and 15 percent of those making more than $100,000 indicate they will use these special accounts to travel.

Other findings:
• Planes, trains or automobiles: Most (53 percent) Americans plan to take their trips by car and 16 percent will board a plane to get away this summer. Only three percent will set sail on a cruise. Vacationers who live in metro areas (21 percent) are much more likely to travel by plane than those in non-metro areas (5 percent).
• Expenses, expenses, expenses: Thirty-one percent of respondents believe that transportation will cost the most and 29 percent expect accommodations will be the most expensive part of their vacation expenses.
• Coastal influence: Respondents on the coasts (39 percent of east coast respondents and 46 percent of west coast respondents) indicate they take between two and four vacations a year.
• Battle of the sexes: More women (30 percent versus 22 percent of men) indicate they will spend the most money on travel and vacationing this summer.
• Age differences: Respondents in the youngest age bracket—the same group that plans to spend the least on summer travel to begin with (42 percent of those between 18 and 34 years will spend less than $500 on summer travel) —are also those who plan to spend the most (28 percent and a majority) on entertainment and leisure activities during their vacation


Question of the Day

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

Q: Are there standard ways to determine how much a home is worth?

A: Yes. A comparative market analysis and an appraisal are the two most common and reliable ways to determine a home's value.

Your real estate agent can provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on the recent selling price of similar neighborhood properties. Reviewing comparable homes that have sold within the past year along with the listing, or asking, price on current homes for sale should prevent you from overpaying.

A certified appraiser can provide an appraisal of a home. After visiting the home to check such things as the number of rooms, improvements, size and square footage, construction quality, and the condition of the neighborhood, the appraiser then reviews recent comparable sales to determine the estimated value of the home.

Lenders normally require an appraisal-which run between $200 to $300- before they will approve a mortgage loan. This protects the lender by ensuring the home is worth the money you want to borrow.

You also can check recent sales in public records, through private firms, and on the Internet to help you determine a home's potential worth.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

Useful life. The period of time over which a commercial property can be depreciated for federal income-tax purposes. Also known as economic life.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Americans Want to Live a Better Quality Life

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 20, 2011-Nestle Waters North America Inc., on behalf of its six regional spring water brands, recently announced the findings from its recent "Better Things in Life" survey. Included in the results, 95 percent of Americans consider spending time in nature among the best things life has to offer.

In fact, nearly every American polled (98 percent) considered visiting America's national parks one of the best ways to enjoy nature. With 394 national parks as objects of desire, America offers numerous ways to enjoy nature's awe-inspiring beauty. When taking in the best of this country's breathtaking landscape, Americans want to head west, setting sights on the Grand Canyon National Park (49 percent) and Yellowstone National Park (47 percent) as the top choices for national parks to visit.

However, the survey also revealed time as the biggest barrier-and solution. Seventy-nine percent of Americans feel they do not have enough time to enjoy nature's offerings and nearly three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) say that spending time enjoying life's pleasures takes a backseat to work and other day-to-day responsibilities. Furthermore, four out of five Americans (81 percent) agree that "me time" is an important part of making the most of life.

"Finding time to enjoy the quality things in life-such as nature-is an important step to making our lives more fulfilling," says Angela Barile, Group Marketing Manager, Nestle Waters' Regional Spring Water brands.

In an effort to help Americans make time for nature and the things they find rewarding, Nestle Waters is launching the new "Better Things in Life" Sweepstakes for each of its six regional spring water brands. By visiting the website for the spring water brand in their region between May 13, 2011 and November 30, 2011, Americans can enter for the chance to win a grand prize trip for four to their choice of one of our country's 394 national parks along with hundreds of other prizes including tickets to theme parks and local sporting events.

For more information visit www.arrowheadwater.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Good News for Class of 2011: Hiring Market for College Grads is on the Upswing

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 20, 2011-"You're hired." This is the phrase new college graduates long to hear. And for the first time since the global economic recession began in 2007, the Class of 2011 can look forward to hearing it in abundance, reports CareerCast.com, a national job search site and Going Global, the leading provider of country-specific employment information in their new Class of 2011 Hiring Market report.

U.S. companies are hiring in greater numbers than they have been in years and hiring projections are up nearly 20 percent over 2010, according to the new CareerCast.com/Going Global Class of 2011 Hiring Market report.

"Nationwide, the highest demand is for graduates with bachelor's degrees in engineering, business and accounting, followed by medical and communications grads. With the right skills and a diploma in hand, Class of 2011 graduates can look forward to hearing 'You're hired' in abundance," says Mary Anne Thompson, founder, Going Global.

Graduates may find the most promising job opportunities in the Northeast where hiring projections are up more than 25 percent from last year. While government employers dominate this region, jobs are also plentiful in the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, accounting and engineering.

"For example, Philadelphia is one Northeast city rising out of the recession," says Tony Lee, publisher, CareerCast.com. "It was hit hard, but certain sectors- particularly law, education and health care-have bounced back quickly."

Hiring expectations in the Midwest are up approximately 20 percent. Minneapolis-St. Paul is seeing a surge in health care hiring, along with an abundance of jobs in pharmaceutical and computer/electronics manufacturing; the finance, insurance, and real estate sector; and accounting services.

While some cities were hit hard during the economic downturn, others with robust industries, like the IT industry in Seattle and the life sciences industry in Raleigh, have been able to provide more consistent job opportunities throughout the recession.

The job market for new college graduates is expected to remain stable in the near future. This means that graduates of the Class of 2012 and beyond can relax a bit, take a deep breath and continue to work hard on the skills employers are seeking.

For more information, visit www.goinglobal.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Hike, Bike and Paddle Your Way through the Adirondacks

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 20, 2011-This summer, visit Lake Placid and discover the Adirondacks' terrain-wild and rugged, beautiful and scenic-on foot, bike or boat. Home to New York's highest peaks, pristine waterways and thousands of miles of marked hiking trails, the Lake Placid region offers unforgettable outdoor adventures for explorers of all ages.

In the Adirondacks, bikers, cyclists and thrill seekers alike can explore quiet country roads, scenic mountain passes and rugged off-road terrain. Bring your bike and discover all the Lake Placid cycling routes including the Ironman loop, the Wilmington Notch, Pine Pond and Whiteface Mountain-all feature picturesque mountain panoramas.

For hiking enthusiasts, the region provides easy access to over 2,000 miles of designated Adirondack trails-from family-friendly excursions to challenging mountain treks. Lake Placid is the perfect base camp for hikers ranging from those aspiring to climb every one of the High Peaks, to families and friends eager to simply get outside. Whatever your experience level, the many Lake Placid hiking trails accommodate all ages and abilities.

If water recreation is your forte, it's easy to make a splash in the Adirondacks. The region is home to 3,000 lakes and ponds and more than 30,000 miles of streams feeding 6,000 miles of river. The Village of Lake Placid sits on the shores of Mirror Lake and is a short walk from Lake Placid.

The waterways provide navigable flat-water and whitewater for paddling, boating and plenty of fishing. Launch a canoe or kayak from the shore, consider a Lake Placid whitewater rafting excursion on the nearby Hudson River or embark on an Adirondack camping adventure and paddle to an island campsite.

Whatever your Adirondack adventure entails, don't miss popular Lake Placid events and annual competitions including the Lake Placid Marathon on June 12, 2011, the Lake Placid Horseshows June 28-July 3 and Ironman Lake Placid on July 24, 2011.

Lake Placid is a four season destination in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, offering diverse experiences, outdoor adventures, unique events and an ever-changing backdrop to complement all life's activities. The charming Main Street is lined with a variety of shops, restaurants and attractions. Plan your summer vacation to Lake Placid and take advantage of Adirondack lodging packages from the many Lake Placid hotels.

For more information, please visit www.lakeplacid.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Improving Energy Efficiency Tops Wish List When Remodeling Home

May 20, 2011 9:19 am

RISMEDIA, May 20, 2011-Homeowners concerned about high energy bills have put energy conservation home improvements at the top of their must-do list this year this spring. They are looking for green living upgrades that save money without sacrificing space or style.

Because heating costs are typically one of the highest and most variable home expenses, homeowners are considering energy-efficient zone heating options when embarking on home renovation projects.

Craig Shankster, President of Morso USA, has seen an increase in fireplace makeovers in the last few years. "Finding and eliminating wasteful drafts has lead many homeowners to install efficient wood stoves and inserts that transform inefficient open fireplaces into high performing heating zones," he says.

Homes without chimneys or fireplaces can install a fireplace insert with an innovative zero-clearance enclosure. This is an excellent zone heating option for those in the process of a renovation or new build looking to outfit their homes with the advanced technology of a fireplace insert and class A chimney.

Since buying a wood stove is much like buying furniture, you will find a wide-choice of models that match every lifestyle and design interest, including antique, traditional, classic or modern. While evaluating the right size, heating capacity and look of your future wood stove, we recommend that you also consider these three eco-wise tips:

1. Only evaluate approved wood stoves equipped with a non-catalytic combustion system that exceeds EPA standards and are currently tax credit qualified.

2. Look for an eco-friendly seal and a recycled ingredients label that lists the many ways that a stove manufacturer has gone the extra mile to produce the highest quality and most energy efficient wood stove, possible.

3. Similar to grocery shopping, seek out the equivalent of an "Organic Section" in your local fireplace hearth store to compare the quality standards, eco-wise content, and warranties.

Additionally, if living by green principles is important to you-and it should be- properly burning local wood in a high efficiency wood stove is an environmentally-sound action. Given that the use of sustainably-harvested, properly processed and seasoned wood for energy displaces the use of fossil fuels, the result is a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Today is a great time to invest in a wood stove so you can actually keep some green cash in your pocket. The Federal Bio-Mass Tax Credit extension provides a 10 percent tax credit up to $300 for the purchase of a new biomass heating appliance in 2011. This tax credit helps homeowners save on energy costs by utilizing renewable biomass fuels such as wood.

To find out more about wood stove options, visit www.morsona.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.