By now every successful business has learned the most important branding lesson: Relationships matter. A well-managed brand practices relationship selling. Its people support the brand when they provide customer service, when they work hard for customer success, when they communicate personally and add the human touch to organizations large and small.
It’s easier said than done, however, when everything from supply chain failures to personal difficulties seems to sabotage those all-important customer relationships. If you’re feeling that your business relationships are on shaky ground, start checking your 5:1 numbers.
The 5:1 ratio – 5 positive interactions to 1 negative interaction – was developed by researcher and interpersonal expert John Gottman, known for his ability to predict divorces with 90% accuracy. Decades of observation supported his theory that a healthy relationship could survive some conflicts as long as the positive behaviors outweighed the negative by a ratio of 5:1.
Gottman’s recommendations for positive interactions apply just as much in business as they do in marriages. His suggestions include:
- Be interested – Listen to your customers.
- Demonstrate they matter – Look for ways to show your customers they are valued.
- Intentional appreciation – When your customer does something noteworthy, compliment them.
- Empathize and apologize – Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. If they’re uncomfortable, apologize and make it right.
None of this is new, but you have to do enough of it – 5 times over – to make up for a negative experience.
And it’s always easier to keep up the number of positive interactions if you have taken steps to make those positive behaviors easy for everyone. For example, if you have added RFID to your inventory system, you can quickly and accurately assure a customer that their purchase is ready for pick-up. If you have digitized your paper documents, you can give a patient instant access to their medical records or other secure private documents.
Keep track of your 5:1 interactions, and use the technology that makes it easy to maintain the golden relationship ratio. Your business relationships (and your personal ones) will thrive.
Photo © fizkes / AdobeStock
There’s no denying that inflation has hit us all, businesses and consumers alike. Small business owners report year-over-year revenues are up a whopping 87%, but that increase isn’t showing up on the bottom line. Profitability has actually dropped 4%.
Some business owners are pulling in their horns, deferring improvements and delaying expansions. Others see an opportunity to upgrade their operations by taking advantage of a generous tax break: Sec. 179.
Sec. 179 allows businesses to deduct 100% of the purchase price of equipment of new or used equipment, up to $1,080,000 for Tax Year 2022. And if you spend more than the $1.08 million ceiling, you can still deduct a portion of additional equipment purchases up to $2.7 million – all in the first year of ownership.
Even better, if you finance the equipment, the entire purchase price is deductible even though you haven’t paid the full amount. In effect, the deduction puts money in your pocket.
This deduction applies to a wide range of equipment:
- Computers, hardware peripherals, and software, including RFID systems
- Office furnishings, including file storage systems and lockers
- Office equipment
- Tangible personal property used in business
- Property attached to your building that is not part of your building, such as a warehouse rack system
Here is one example of how Sec. 179 pays you back:
- One Important Caveat: You must make sure to put the equipment into service by December 31. This means your vendors need to ensure delivery in time to let you use your new equipment on or before December 31. (NOS has a quick-ship program for many of its products, for just such fiscal-deadline situations.)
If inflation has you deferring much-needed equipment purchases, talk to your accountant about the benefits of Sec. 179. Then talk to your vendors about delivery dates that will let you put your new equipment to work by December 31. You could come out way ahead!
Lean management’s goal of continuous improvement is reliant upon optimal information flow. In other words, you’ve got to get the right information to the right people at the right time if you want to improve. If you’re managing an operation that keeps much of its information on paper, you might be struggling with the right people/right time/right information intersection.
A major part of the lean management philosophy is the elimination of waste, including excess wait time, excess motion, excess inventory, and overproduction. Paper documents, and the information they contain, can take time to locate (excess wait time). They generally aren’t ready to hand, and require extra physical effort to use (excess motion). And because of paper’s excess wait time and motion, people tend to generate extra copies (overproduction) which then become a storage problem, a security problem, or a sustainability problem.
Document digitization – converting paper documents to digital documents – streamlines the flow of information. Digital documents are organized into a file structure that can be searched with electronic speed. They can be accessed instantly with the touch of a screen or a keyboard. When everyone who needs the information can easily access the centrally-controlled digital documents, there’s no pressure to make multiple copies. With document digitization, there’s no more excess wait time, excess motion, or excess production.
Paper’s inherent properties run counter to the lean management philosophy. Digitization of paper documents supports lean management by reducing waste. Learn more about digitization, and get lean.
Photo © Tierney / AdobeStock
Art crime is the third highest-grossing criminal business in the world, according to Art Business News. Art can be forged. It can be stolen. It can even be “discounted” via price tag switching. In fact, art is subject to all the security issues of any retail product sold in department stores – but with a much, much higher price tag.
- Fakery – Modern art in particular is a forger’s paradise, as portrayed in the documentary film “Made You Look.” Provenance (chain of custody) is important to art buyers, but imperfect provenance can be disregarded in the heat of an emotional purchase. In “Made You Look,” a single gallery owner was so eager to acquire works of noted modern artists that she overlooked their questionable provenance, resulting in a multi-year $80 million fraud.
- Theft – Museums and private art collections aren’t the only places where fine art is found. Corporations, too, have significant investments in art. Deutsche Bank, for example, owns works by Kandisky, Mondrian, and Francis Bacon. Unlike heavily-guarded museums and private homes, these works are on office walls where they are far more vulnerable to theft. Although corporations avoid the negative publicity associated with a theft of one of their artworks, it is an unfortunately common occurrence.
- Label Switching – Galleries don’t always display the prices of art works, but often a short-term exhibition will include pricing on or beside each piece. Fraudsters will distract the gallerist while confederates change the price, then pressure the harassed gallerist into a quick sale at the fraudulent lower price.
However, collectors and gallerists are increasingly using RFID technology as a way to secure their art investments. RFID excels at asset tracking, providing real-time ongoing data about an asset’s name, location, origin, age, value, components, and its movements (historical and prospective). RFID tags are inconspicuous and don’t detract from the appearance of the art. They don’t damage the artworks in any way. Most important, they protect these priceless objects from loss.
Of course, fine art authentication and asset management is just one of the many ways in which RFID serves business owners. From facilities management to inventory management, ERP, and MES, the data supplied by RFID keeps enterprises productive and profitable. Talk to an RFID expert and learn about the benefits for your business.
Photo © zmijak / AdobeStock
The pandemic revealed that remote work was not only possible, it was productive. And it was appealing to employees. They leveraged the Great Resignation to keep on working remotely, or at least working on a flexible hybrid schedule. Remote and hybrid work had benefits for employers, too, who downsized their offices and reduced overhead. It was a win for everyone.
Now that employers and employees have what they asked for, how is it working out?
The results are mixed. Although 83% of employees want a hybrid workplace, a recent report from JLL Global Research found that hybrid workers don’t feel properly supported in their new workstyle. The open office design is not optimal, particularly for staffers who come to the office expecting to do focused, heads-down work. Some find hot-desking to be problematic. For others, information access is a problem; teams on flexible schedules have difficulty sharing documents and other print resources, especially when those documents are removed to home offices.
Managers and administrators are tinkering with adjustments to office layouts and scheduling apps, but some technologies, digital document technology in particular, are proving their value in companies with hybrid operations.
In one example reported by the Washington Post, a construction company discovered that hybrid work gave them a competitive advantage. The company “had never considered a hybrid or remote model for the 40-plus back-office employees … But when the pandemic hit, the company adapted, jettisoning cumbersome workflows that required staff to pass files around the office, and adopting a streamlined cloud provider.”
That new information flow has allowed the company to expand their operations from a single urban region to a multi-state territory. Moreover, not one employee has been lost to the Great Resignation. The Washington Post doesn’t specify the dollar value of increased sales and reduced hiring and training costs, but the benefits are apparent.
Any unplanned change takes time and testing to work out the kinks, and pandemic-pushed hybrid workstyles are no exception. Your business, like others, may be trying out a variety of imaginative solutions – mandated in-office days, more enclosed offices, or one of the many workstation-scheduling apps. But document digitization needs no trial period to prove its worth. Ask a business owner who has moved from paper to digital operations, then talk to a digitization professional. With digital document technology, you will solve one of the hybrid-operations conundrums – information access – and set your business up for future success.
Photo © Robert Kneschke / AdobeStock
Inflation is the hot topic these days. A perfect storm of bad weather, a pandemic, armed conflict, and supply chain breakdowns have put a price squeeze on consumers and businesses alike. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but finger-pointing isn’t a solution. Instead, smart business leaders are looking to their own operations for ways to mitigate inflationary pressures.
One of those solutions is technology, in the form of better information, increased efficiencies, less waste, and speedier actions. RFID technology in particular addresses these needs, and it’s a tech solution that already exists in many operations. From logistics and retail to healthcare, pharma, public safety, and education, RFID counts objects and tracks their movements with unmatched speed and accuracy.
Here’s how RFID combats inflation:
- Accurate information – RFID’s inventory accuracy approaches 98%, far above any handcount. With accurate information, over-ordering is eliminated, saving time, storage space, and money at a time when conserving funds is exceptionally important. With RFID, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, for instance, doesn’t have to contract for extra warehouse space and over-order in case their inventory isn’t accurate.
- Increased efficiencies – RFID tracks supplies from manufacturer to storage to user, creating an early-warning system for potential stock shortages. Managers can adjust their order timing to account for uncertain supply chains, keeping adequate supplies on hand for operations at all times. Hospitals, for example, can keep a steady supply of medications flowing from their in-house pharmacies into the hands of patients.
- Less waste – RFID provides aging information as well as quantity and location. Whether a business is working with perishables like foods or drugs, or longer-lived items like durable equipment, using operational inventory in a timely manner prevents waste. Return on inventory investment stays high, and inventory losses (and costs) stay low.
- Fast actions – RFID is constantly monitoring an inventory’s quantity, location, and age and delivering actionable data. Managers can react quickly to any opportunity, whether it’s incoming supplies or outgoing products.
Inflation is, in part, a consequence of actions out of our control. RFID puts you back in charge of the things you can control. Use its data to manage better, and stand up to inflation.
Photo by ajr_images © / AdobeStock