How To Lose My Business

by Scott on January 6, 2012

in Business Advice

Some people obviously make too much money or are too busy to bother with new customers.  I’ve always been fascinated by those with poor attitudes toward others who are somewhat likely to part with their hard earned money.  Ali and I had such an experience today.

This time around it didn’t have so much to do with “business” as it did with finding a place to rent.  We’re in the process of looking around and are going through the arduous process of scouring various sources, both on and offline, to find our next place to call home.  We found a promising house near us out in rural LA county.

The house is on a working horse ranch and is about two miles from where we live now.  The real estate management company, Southern California Real Estate Management (known by their quirky SCREM acronym), needed to be contacted to show us around.  Their office is about a 30 minute drive from our house, down in the city.  Ali called to schedule a viewing.  And this is the first part of where it gets interesting.

Let's waste gas!

They have a policy that you have to check-in at their office before they will show you a property.  So we had to drive 30 minutes down into town, show our drivers license and then drive BACK 30 minutes with an employee in tow.  This is all apparently done in the name of safety.  Because we might look at a few of their properties in the area over the coming weeks, I asked if our “check-in” would be valid for future tours.  Nope.  Each time we have to drive down to their office and then drive back up to the property.  Keep in mind, the drive between our house now and the potential new house was a mere 5 minutes.  This is where a simple tech solution like taking a picture of the tenant’s drivers license and/or license place with a smart phone and emailing it to the office would make sense, no?  So, whatever, we drive down, fill out the form and head back up.  Here comes part two.

The employee, Vernonica, could not be more un-interested in helping us around the property.  She basically opened the door and said that we could look around.  She was spouting off facts about the property off of some internal sheet, almost oblivious to our questions.  One of our deal breakers for a new place to live is that it must have high speed internet.  Veronica had no idea. (For the record, out where we live, high speed internet is something of a rarity).  Then we asked about laundry.  She said that the laundry was “shared” but that there were no machines. She also didn’t have keys to the laundry room.  And my favorite Q+A back and forth was with Ali:

Ali: “Do all the appliances work?” (while turning on the stove, oven and water)

Veronica: “Don’t turn anything on until your move-in walkthrough!” (Yes, she really said that)

Ali: “Well, I need to know if things actually work BEFORE I make a decision to move in…”

Veronica: “That’s something that ‘processing’ can help you with after you apply.”

Ali: “So, I have to pay your application fee and wait a week before we can determine if I even want to live here?”

Veronica: “Yes, that’s our policy.”

The answers were pretty much the same for everything else.  Does the water work? Is there outdoor lighting? Do we have access to the area near the horse corrals (the house is on a working horse ranch)?  What internet options are available?    And it went on and on.  She had ZERO interest in trying to help us move into the property.  Just wild.

As we got into the car we decided that we would not do business with them regardless of how much we liked the house.

Its not that hard to put a little effort into doing your job with passion.  You don’t have to be the most smiling, happy, enthusiastic person on the planet, but PLEASE, remember to be helpful to people that might pay you something.

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The Best Amazon Comments

by Scott on January 4, 2012

in Humor

I love Amazon.  I buy a lot of stuff on that site.  I’m also an Amazon Prime member, which, if you’re not already a member, you should drop everything and go sign up for right now.  But Amazon isn’t really what this post is about.  I’d like to highlight some of the genius comment writers on the site.

For most items, comments can be helpful in making a purchase decision or learning about certain details left out of the product description.  But there are many items, hidden gems if you will, that are either fake or so ridiculous that they bring out some of the better creative writing out there.

The first item I discovered along these lines was Uranium Ore (355! comments).  Yep, apparently the same stuff used to power nuclear submarines. (Actually, probably not the same stuff).   Here are a few delightful comment snippets:

The quality of this Uranium is on par with the stuff I was bying from the Libyans over at the mall parking lot, but at half the price! I just hope the seller does not run out, because I have many projects on my list including a night vision sasquatch radar, an electromagnetic chupakabra cage, a high velocity, aerial, weighted Mothman net and super heated, instant grill cheese sandwhich maker.

Or

First, I made my own “radiation machine” out of cardboard, painting it silver and gray with spray paint from the local hardware store. The only other necessary purchases were a white lab coat, diabolical goggles , and a cheap-ass fold up plastic lounge chair. Plus this fine product. One $ 39.95 can will treat at least 100 patients!

Then today, I came across a post for the 15 most expensive items on Amazon.  These range in price from a modest $6232 kindle book to a $10,000,000 microchip and all the way up to a 1.2 QUADRILLION poster for the side of a truck.

And again, the comments are priceless:

Clearly, as batteries go, a $384 one is far bigger of a status symbol than a $7 one. You would not want to get caught driving a Lambo in anything less than Abercrombie and Fitch, would you now? Then why would you put a cheapo battery in your LX600? That’s right! You would not.

or

I bought this based on the recommendation of my trusted colleague, Dr. I.Q. Hi. (I’ve been burned in the past by the inferior “Acme” brand disintegrators.) When it arrived, I summoned my partner. Confidently, I told him, “I’m ready to test out my new Model 1000 Disintegrator! And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates!” Then I flipped the lever to the “ON” position.

And what do you know?…. It disintegrated.

or

Sure, the price looks okay for a microsemiconductor. However, for only 6.3 million dollars more, I was able to purchase a macro whole conductor, Sir Simon Rattle of the Berlin Philharmonic.

For a price comparable to this tiny item, you may be able to acquire the full-size André Previn. I recommend you carefully research your options before investing in conductors, micro-, semi-, or otherwise.

I encourage you to check out the list and click through to the comments.  Another hour gone, but another dozen laughs had.

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Email Subscribe in Google Ads?

by Scott on November 15, 2011

in Technology

This is interesting.  I was searching for logo design to see what came up and I noticed that the ad for 99designs (one of my favorite design companies) had an email subscribe box built right in.  Is this new?

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This is an idea that I had a few days ago.  The basic premise is simple.  Most taxpayers think that the government does a poor job of spending money effectively.  That explains why so many people in the US give so much money to charity – in a tax-deductible sort of way.

The better charities of today (my favorite example is charity:water) are very good at showing the effectiveness of every dollar raised.  They also realize that if they become inneffective, that donations will flow to a competitor.  This has created something of a free-market system where donors can see how well their money is being spent.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand.   Would you pay more in taxes (or feel better about what you do pay) if you could designate specific government programs or departments to send the money to?  I realize that this will never happen, but its a good question regardless.  Examples would be infrastructure, education, defense, food stamps, intelligence, etc.

With all the hoopla in our government right now about fixing loopholes and reforming the tax code, it might be interesting to see government agencies actually compete for our money.

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High School Entrepreneurs

September 19, 2011

I’ve been reading a lot recently on the lack of entrepreneur education in high school.  Why aren’t we teaching the fundamentals of starting a business to these kids?  I know there are a few organizations that seem to be on the right track, but they are far from ubiquitous. America is at a turning point, […]

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Intentional Conversationalists

September 13, 2011

Ali and I recently got back from a trip to Greece for her sister’s wedding and had a truly incredible trip.  We were able to travel through Greece for two amazing weeks, first in the Peloponnese and then on the Island of Crete.  I’ll scatter some pictures throughout this post to give you an idea […]

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How to Setup an Email Forwarder

September 9, 2011

For every site that you setup, you’re going to want an email address specific to that domain.  If you continue to use a personal or non-specific email address you risk confusing your site visitors and possibly sending them away.   When you host your account at HostGator, the process of setting up an email forwarder […]

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Installing a WordPress Theme

September 9, 2011

I’ve already talked about the wonders of WordPress and now we’re getting into the meat of the system.  A theme is a set of rules and files that tells WordPress how your site should look.  There are literally thousands of themes out there, all of which look and feel different.  You could have a different […]

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How to Install WordPress

September 8, 2011

WordPress is an amazingly powerful tool.  It was first created as a blogging tool but it has evolved over time into an incredibly robust Content Management System (CMS).  It is the CMS functionality that makes it an awesome business tool. In the video below I walk you through the process of setting up your first […]

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Start a Lifestyle Business

September 8, 2011

In the parlance of the startup/venture capital world, a “Lifestyle Business” is one that is successful and generates a lot of free cash flow but that would not be a good investment from a VC’s perspective.  That doesn’t mean they are not worth pursuing. First, let’s look at why a lifestyle business is not an […]

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