Monthly Archives: February 2017

How to Evaluate Your Finance Department

Nobody knows your business better than you do. After all, you are the CEO. You know what the engineers do; You know what the production managers do; And nobody understands the sales process better than you. You know who is carrying their weight and who is not. That is, without were talking about the finance and accounting managers.

Most CEO's, especially in small and mid-size enterprises, come from operational or sales backgrounds. They have often gained some knowledge of finance and accounting through their careers, but only to the necessary necessary. But as the CEO, they must make judgments about the performance and competency of the accountants as well as the operations and sales managers.

So, how does the diligent CEO evaluate the finance and accounting functions in his company? All too often, the CEO assigns a qualitative value based on the quantitative message. In other words, if the Controller delivers a positive, upbeat financial report, the CEO will have positive feelings towards the Controller. And if the Controller delivers a bleak message, the CEO will have a negative reaction to the person. Unfortunately, "shooting the messenger" is not at all uncommon.

The dangers inherent in this approach should be obvious. The Controller (or CFO, bookkeeper, whoever) may realize that in order to protect their career, they need to make the numbers look better than they really are, or they need to draw attention away from negative matters and focus on positive matters. This raises the probability that important issues will not get the attention they deserve. It also raises the probability that good people will be lost for the wrong reasons.

The CEO's of large public companies have a big advantage when it comes to evaluating the performance of the finance department. They have the audit committee of the board of directors, the auditors, the SEC, Wall Street analyst and public shareholders giving them feedback. In smaller businesses, however, CEO's need to develop their own methods and processes for evaluating the performance of their financial managers.

Here are a few suggestions for the small business CEO:

Timely and Accurate Financial Reports

Chances are that at some point in your career, you have been advised that you should insist on "timely and accurate" financial reports from your accounting group. Unfortunately, you are probably a very good judge of what is timely, but you may not be nearly as good a judge of what is accurate. Surely, you do not have the time to test the recording of transactions and to verify the accuracy of reports, but there are some things that you can and should do.

  • Insist that financial reports include comparisons over a number of periods. This will allow you to judge the consistency of recording and reporting transactions.
  • Make sure that all anomalies are explained.
  • Recurring expenses such as rents and utilities should be reported in the appropriate period. An explanation that – "there are two rents in April because we paid May early" – is unacceptable. The May rent should be reported as a May expense.
  • Occasionally, ask to be reminded about the company's policies for recording revenues, capitalizing costs, etc.

Beyond Monthly Financial Reports

You should expect to get information from your accounting and finance groups on a daily basis, not just when monthly financial reports are due. Some good examples are:

  • Daily cash balance reports.
  • Accounts receivable collection updates.
  • Cash flow forecasts (cash requirements)
  • Significant or unusual transactions.

Consistent Work Habits

We've all known people who took it easy for weeks, then dropped an all-nighter to meet a deadline. Such inconsistent work habits are strong indicators that the individual is not attentive to processes. It also sharply raises the likelihood of errors in the frantic last-minute activities.

Willingness to Be Controversial

As the CEO, you need to make it very clear to the finance / accounting managers that you expect frank and honest information and that they will not be victims of "shoot the messenger" thinking. Once that assurance is given, your financial managers should be an integral part of your company's management team. They should not be associated to express their opinions and concerns to you or to other department leaders.

Transportation Management System – An Introduction

A Transportation Management System (TMS) is a software that is aimed at helping business and organizations to effectively manage its logistics supply chain, it helps organizing and tracking the movements of the products and materials. A Transportation Management System also helps in managing shipping units, outbound and inbound shipment scheduling, transportation mode selection, freight bill auditing, payment and processing of loss and damage claims etc.

Some of the basic functions and advantages of a transportation management system are shipment load planning and shipment routing optimization, routing guide, execution management and carrier communication, shipment tracking, freight bill audit & payment, business intelligence and reporting, claims management, returns management, Appointment scheduling etc.

The shipment load planning and routing optimization helps the shippers to plan the loading and then find a suitable and optimized routes as per their requirements. This helps to save a lot of money and time and as a results makes it easy for the shippers to manage.

The routing guide is another feature of a TMS which helps the vendors to get an idea about the inbound routing guides for better cost management. The execution management and carrier communication helps the shippers to find the tools needed to help them in selecting the right carriers along with shipping cost calculation. The TMS also helps you in getting an accurate freight bill audit and also in implementing the payment part. As with any other tools, a transportation management solution also offers business intelligence reporting, which helps you to get more idea about your business and ways to improve it.

A TMS or a logistics management system can also be used as an effective vehicle routing software which helps you in the effective utilization of vehicles used for your transportation purposes. It identifies areas where the vehicles can be utilized effectively without spending much time and money. Since the TMS identifies the shortest route, it will result in reduced fuel consumption and enhanced fleet management and utilization.

For small companies which have a remarkable small transport operations, the use of such a tool is not recommended, as they may not have any difficulty in managing all their transportation activities manually. But for a big company with a large number of vehicles and transportation activities, it is a better idea to avail the services of a transport management system, as it will ease their management activities and help them to save a lot money.

More and more companies have started using logistic management system and hence the demand and competition have increased considerably. So the number of companies providing customized transport management system or freight management systems has increased. Some of the software offered are not having the expected quality and one must be sure to select the right and the best transportation management system for their company. There are also many software having advanced options such as GPS vehicle tracking or GPS fleet tracking system. So while purchasing the transportation scheduling software, make sure that you have spend the money on the right tool.

5 Most Popular Types of Industrial Equipment

There are many forms of industrial equipment used in the workplace. Industrial equipment is usually large and made of materials such as steel and titanium for optimal strength. These machines are often needed to lift and move materials which may possibly weigh thousands of pounds.

A piece of industrial equipment which is not in working order should never be used for any reason. All equipment is inspected at the beginning of everyday to ensure they are in the best condition for workers.

By now, there are a million pieces of industrial equipment racing through your head but the question is, which ones are the most popular and most crucial to the industrial field? Below you will find five types of industrial equipment which are known to be the masters of all machines in the industrial workplace:

1. Bulldozers – Bulldozers are massive machines which are used mostly in the construction and mining industries. Bulldozers have the ability to lift and move vast amounts of dirt and other debris from one place to another. Bulldozers can operate in many conditions including snow, hail and rain. These pieces of equipment are generally used to dig up the ground and provide room for building houses or other types of buildings.

2. Cranes – Cranes are generally used to transport hard, heavy items from one place to another. The arm of the crane is used to swing the object from one place to another and the arm can be adjusted according to how far the materials need to go. Unlike bulldozers, cranes have the ability to transport objects over uneven levels of ground.

3. Excavators – Excavators are engineering vehicles which consist of backhoes and cabs. They are mainly used in the digging of trenches, foundations and holes. They can also be used to destroy objects which are no longer needed for any reason and in which case need to be compressed and condensed.

4. Fork Lifts – Forklifts are warehouse vehicles which are used to lift, hoist and transport extremely heavy items from one place to another. Forklifts are known to be indispensable pieces of equipment in many industrial workplaces.

5. Compressors – Most of the pieces of equipment listed above are used for construction purposes, however compressors are generally used in more of a factory-type setting. Compressors are used to provide high pressures of air or other forms of gases. These devices can be regulated in order to maintain the desired amount of pressure in the tank.

There are many other forms of industrial equipment. Each piece of equipment is designed to perform a specific task which contributes to the overall success in this field of work. Without these forms of equipment many industrial areas would not exist.

Importance of a Digital Media Agency for Global Businesses

There are many businesses around the world, which are considering the importance of digital marketing domain as a vital way to promote their trades online and find potential customers around the world. Nowadays, many small to large level enterprises are moving online and adopting the benefits of digital media marketing. For this purpose, they are availing services of top-notch digital media agencies in the market. It helps them advertise their businesses over the web and increase clientele across the globe. Here, a digital agency plays can play a significant role to promote the client's business and take it to the next level of success easily.

Introduction to a Digital Media Agency

Digital media agency is a right step for global businesses, where they get the complete solution for the online branding of their trades. Also, a digital marketing agency helps businesses plan their online marketing campaigns and promote them successfully over the web. A modern digital agency is more effective for online advertisement of business rather traditional digital options like television and print media. Nowadays, every business needs the back of online digital agencies to give a quick growth of the trade over the web. Here, the digital firm can help businesses by fulfilling their digital marketing requirements like website development, designing, SEO activities, PPC, and much more. For managing all the tasks, digital agencies outsource the work to the experts in the market and manage the client's project smartly. Thus, a digital marketing firm takes the challenge seriously and delivers the optimum result for the businesses under the stipulated time frame.

Types of Digital Agencies

In the competitive digital media industry, you can find different types of digital agencies which can serve you the best digital services for online branding of your business.

Integrated Digital Marketing

It is the agency which keeps track of online branding results of the client's business. For this, they make the right use of client's data, analytics, and other online marketing platforms. Also, the agency plans right strategies to improve the client's website traffic online and track the clicks on it via different sources like mobile, email, and other organic searches of search engines.

Digital Campaign

This agency follows digital advertisement strategies for marketing of client's business and its products or services. Here, the agency makes the digital campaign so attractive that inspires the viewers to take an interest in it.

Digital Solutions

The modern concept of a digital media agency model is being adopted by businesses of all levels these days. This agency offers the avenues to provide a digital impression to the business model and plan an effective marketing campaign to promote it over the web through digital means.

Tips to find the best digital agency in the market:

  • Do verification of its market value and years of experience in the industry.
  • Explore the type of digital services provided by the agency for successful advertisement of client's business.
  • Check for reviews and feedback of the agency's clients.
  • Is there any team of digital media experts'?
  • Check for the qualification and digital media experience of the agency's personnel.

Thus, above are few necessary tips, which you should follow wisely before availing services of any digital media agency in the market.

Thinking of Buying a Used Mobile Home? 18 Steps For What to Watch Out For and How to Do it Right

If you are thinking of buying a used mobile home, there are things you need to watch out for. Buying a mobile home is not like buying a regular stick built. You need to know what to watch out for before you buy a used mobile home. Here are 10 things to watch out for when buying a used mobile home. These tips will guide you to make the right decision and / or how to negotiate in your best interest. Better safe than sorry. My seven years of selling used mobile homes has taught me a lot. I am now passing on that information to you so that you can make an educated choice.

1. Age. If your finances are tight, do not buy anything older than 1977. That is the cutout time for good financing and also the year a lender can determine if the used mobile home is a HUD home. 1976 and older were registered with DMV and not built to code. Therefor, lenders requires a 20% down on a 1976 or older. The term will be no longer than 15 years and the rate will be somewhere around 11-12%. That is a lot to pay. 1977 or newer requires only 10% down, you can get 20 years of financing and the rate is 1-2% lower. That is a much better deal. If the home is newer, the rate can be as low as 8%. Preferable, look for a home that is no more than 15 years old.

2. Park. Not all parks are approved by the lenders. Before making an offer to purchase, get yourself loan approved for that particular park. If the space rent is too high or if there are too many foreclosures in the park, lenders might say no to financing.

3. Rent control. Is it or is it not? Most parks are but some are not. If not, make sure yo fully understand what kind of yearly increase the park will impose on you. You might not mind paying that extra increase per year but each time the space rent is raised, the value of your mobile home WILL go down. Its like a car, depreciating. Still, it beats renting an apartment with people above, below, left and right.

4. Crime. Does the park have a security program? Is the park patrolled regularly by a security patrol company? If not, you probably should stay away. Yes, it is true, all residents have to follow the rules and regulations but if there is no security, many things can happen. A security patrol is a deterrent, crime will go elsewhere. Call the park manager and inquire. You can also call the local police office and ask for a crime report. Strongly recommended.

5. Pets. What is the parks policy? Your 80 ldb golden retriever might have a VERY hard time getting approved. Same for your pitt bull or any other so called "vicious breed". Most parks will NOT approve them. There is only one park in the Santa Clarita Valley that will approve a large dog, even two. However, no "vicious breeds". How stupid. Recently, I had a dog trainer with good credit, a large down payment and a German shepherd. That dog was the most well trained German shepherd but no, considered "vicious". So are dobermans, boxers, pinchers, chows and a couple of more. Inquire with the park BEFORE looking at any used (or new) mobile home. Save yourself the time (and your agents) by finding out first.

6. Neighbors. Most people are nice. However, since you are going to be living in tight quarters (most mobile home spaces are small and set very closely together), go and talk to the neighbors. Both the ones next door and some a few doors down. The ones a few doors down are the ones that will tell you what REALLY is going on. Maybe the couple next door do not get along any more. Maybe there is an alcohol problem. Maybe the kids play too loud. You need to know. Drive by in the evening, hang around for a while. Do the same for the weekend. Spend an hour on a Saturday night, driving around the mobile home park, you will then now if this is a place for you.

7. Managers. Do they do a great job? Do they care? Do they make the residents follow the rules and regulations? Do they arrange get togethers every now and then? Any holiday dinners? Do they publish a newsletter to keep you updated? Do you feel welcome in their office? Most managers take great pride in their park and are happy to try to help you. Make sure that is the case.

8. Trash. An old toilet sitting at the end of a car port? Knee-high weeds? A car jacked up and being worked on in a carport? You do not want that. What you should want, is a clean, manicured park community where the residents take pride in their mobile homes and keeps their surroundings clean. A carport is not supposed to be used for storage (or a back yard). A shed is where you keep your excess belongings, period.

9. Mobile home values. Holding steady? Going up? Declining? Have your Realtor find out for you. Buying a used mobile home is very much like buying a used car. A seller can set any price but is it worth it? Please do not over-pay. If you need to finance your used mobile home, you are then in a much safer position. You are then required to pay for an appraisal to find out the REAL value of the mobile home. However, if you are planning to buy your mobile home for cash, watch out. No appraisal is required but I would recommend you pay the $ 400 to the appraiser. It could save you thousands. The choice is yours.

10. Health and Safety. What condition is the mobile home in? The basics should all be there. If not, it is the sellers responsibility to have it done. That includes;

A. Smoke alarms. Each bedroom needs one, that is the code. And, it needs to be working!

B. Water heater. Needs to be double-strapped and not with those tiny metal bands that has little wholes in them. Is there a pressure release valve? If it where to over-flow, does the pipe go underneath? Should not. It needs to extend out to the side of the skirting. Is the water heater closet dry-walled? Has to be. Any leaks?

C. Steps. Are they solid? No rips in the carpeting (trip hazard)? What about the railing? Is it loose? Can not be. How far apart are the rails? Should not be more than 4 "so that a small child can NOT get stuck in between.

D. Cooling system. Does it work? It is not really a health and safety issue but if it were me, I would insist on it or ask for a reduction in price. Who wants to live in a used mobile home, maybe with metal siding as well, and summer comes around and it is 105 degrees outside.

E. The furnace. When was it last serviced and how dirty is the pad? Take a good look and make sure it works. Have someone come and take a look at it.

F. Plumbing. Any leaks? Should not. Run all faucets and look underneath.

G. Electrical. Does all the outlets and the switches work? Make sure they do. GFI's? You do not want the risk of being electrocuted. Both kitchen and bathrooms needs GFI plugs.

H. Roof. Any leaks? Look around carefully to see if there are any water stains in the ceilings or around the upper walls. How old is the roof?

I. Earthquake bracing. Do you have it? Bring a flashlight and open up the access door in the skirting. There should be (on a double wide mobile home), two in the front and two in the back. Compare them to the regular piers and jacks. Are they beefier? Bolted to the I-beam? They should be. Surprisingly enough, there are still some used mobile homes out there who do NOT have them. On top of that, it is not considered a health and safety issue and it is perfectly legal to sell a used mobile home WITHOUT them!

If you do buy a used mobile home without earthquake bracing and later on decides that it was not the smartest idea, a contractor will charge you about $ 5000 to install them. Not cheap. If it does not have it, ask for a price reduction and then order the escrow company to set aside $ 5000 to the contractor. At the close of escrow, your contractor will come out and install them for you. If you can have him install it the day BEFORE close of escrow even better. Because, if you just take a price reduction, you are going to be so busy moving and exited about your purchase of your mobile home. You'll "forget" about the bracing and end up buying new furniture instead!

Ideally, you should hire a health and safety inspector who KNOWS how to inspect a mobile home

8. Once you are park-approved, it is time to schedule your health & safety inspection. You are free to use any licensed health & safety inspector for your inspection or I can recommend several to you. Besides the health & safety inspection, I would strongly recommend you have an electrician look over the home. Sometimes, a regular h & s inspector can not really know what's going on. These inspections are not free and depending on who it is, they all charge slightly different. When we go to see the inspectors at your future home, please bring your check bock. Once the inspection is over, the inspector will go over his findings with you.

9. It is now 24-48 hours after that the health & safety inspection took place and now we are holding the report in our hands, going through it together. It is the sellers responsibility to cover any health & safety issues, such as electrical, plumbing, roof, smoke alarms, double-strapped water heater and so on. Anything cosmetic is just that, cosmetic and the seller does not have to do anything. However, you could always try to negotiate if you strongly feel there is something you want the seller to do and of course, I am there for you, every step of the way.

10. Termites? Pesky little critters and they are usually EVERYWHERE! We would absolutely want to have the home inspected for that too. We will get a written report with a diagram, showing their findings. Anything that they find that is classified as a SECTION I, has to be taken care of and hopefully, the seller is willing to do that. If not, it's on you. I have a very strong opinion in regards to termites. That is, if I were buying a home, why should I have to pay for somebody else termite problem? I never lived there. I did not invite them. So, why pay? On the other hand, if I got the home at a very good deal, I would probably pay for it. It is your decision and hopefully we will not run in to this problem if the seller gladly pays. SECTION 2 are recommendations from the termite inspector of things that will need attention in the future and are not items that has to be taken care of now. Termite inspections are paid through escrow.

11. Time to order your appraisal. An appraisal will be necessary if you are going to finance your purchase, the lender will require it. This is an expense that can not be financed and you will have to pay it upfront either by meeting the appraiser at your future home or by simply writing the check to the appraiser and let me handle it for you.

12. Your loan conditions. When you first got pre-approved, we submitted certain papers to the lender. There might also be additional paperwork they are asking for and whatever that is, now is the time for us to do that.

13. Your home has now been appraised and hopefully, it did appraise. If not, we might need to either re-negotiate with the seller or you might have to come up with a larger down payment, whatever is the case or we might have to look for another home for you.

14. Your loan documents are now ready to be signed and there will also be additional paperwork from escrow to sign, such as hazardous disclosures. We live in earthquake country, there are massive rains sometimes and we get flooded. You might be close to a prison or maybe an airport. These things are hazardous, we all live with them. Escrow wants you to know this, and you already do. When you go to sign all this papers, please bring your cashiers check for the balance of the down payment. Before you do, I will give you an estimated closing statement so that you know how much to bring. There will be an overage, meaning escrow will ask for a little bit more, just in case. We do not want to delay closing escrow because they are a few dollars short (maybe they needed to over-night a package twice).

15. Time for us to do a final inspection of the home. We want to make sure that everything that needed to be taken care of, has been done. We will do a final walk-through together.

16. You are now going to go to your appointment with the park to sign your lease, read and sign the park rules & regulations and pay your space rent and deposit. This takes about 1 ½ hour. If this is in the middle of the month, escrow will pro-rate the space rent. Parks do not take partial payment, only full. The deposit is refundable after paying your space rent on time for 12 consecutive months. You can then, in writing, ask for it back.

17. The loan has now funded, the money has been received by escrow, every single piece of paper has been signed by all parties involved and escrow is now closed. CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE NOW A HOME OWNER.

18. I will give you your final closing statement from escrow and possibly a check too, together with the keys to the home, TIME TO START MOVING IN!

Again, congratulations. Let me know when the movers are coming, I want to order you some take-out and something to drink, you are going to be too busy and besides, who has time to cook while moving.

Why Road Frontage on Commercial Property is So Valuable

How many feet of road frontage does the property have?

This question is among the most important when assessing the value of commercially zoned property in a city or county. For some, the reason as to why this question is so important may seem rather obvious. However, there are multiple reasons why investors, developers, builders and business owners want to have large amounts of road frontage on their commercial properties.

For business owners, it is best for them to have their stores located conveniently to their customers. If they are on a main highway or road, they will have great visibility to the traffic going by. This can quite possibly bring customers into their stores that they normally would not see through their normal marketing. Also, a customer new to the location can find the store much more easily when in the line of sight. Visibility on major road frontage is a huge advantage for the business owners and their stores.

Another reason why business owners like to have their stores along major road frontage is because of the ease in which customers can enter and exit the property. If they are forced to drive through large parking lots, wind behind other major stores, and park on a land locked parcel, there is a possibility that the customer would go to a more easily accessible competitor.

Now, this may be pushing it a little, because a business should be able to bring customers in on its own through effective marketing and good business practices. However, it is definitely more pleasant to access a place of business that is right by the road, rather than search your way through parking lots, other businesses, and who knows what else. The easier the access, the more enjoyable the experience is for the customer.

The two main reasons for business owners to have their stores on major road frontage are visibility and ease of access. Let's look at why investors, developers, and builders all want the properties they are involved with to have the greatest amount of road frontage possible.

These three people, investors, developers and builders, are the foundation for commercial real estate. They have the money; they have the vision, and they, ultimately, are responsible for building our communities.

More often than not, these people will choose properties to invest in that have the most amount of road frontage, or create the roads so that the office complexes, retail centers, and strip malls have the visibility and ease of access that business owners look for in a profitable commercial property.

The underlying advantage for these investors to develop and build properties with major road frontage is the fact that these commercial properties, known as out parcels, are far more valuable than the land locked in parcels behind them! The difference between these property values ​​can be quite drastic.

For example, recently I was assessing a 56 acre raw tract of land in Rome, GA. It had over 2,000 feet of road frontage on a major highway! The front of the property was zoned commercial, while the back was zoned multifamily. After speaking with the broker and looking at comps (comparable sales), it was clear that the out parcels would be valued at approximately $ 600,000 an acre developed. (They could be worth more if we were able to get national brand stores on the property). However, those in parcels, without the road frontage, would only be valued at $ 225,000 per acre. This is a $ 375,000 decrease in value simply because those in parcels are a few hundred feet away from the actual highway.

This news greatly cut into my overall profit margin.

Not all cases are this extreme. However, it is always true that an out parcel will be more valuable than an in parcel. That is why investors, developers, and builders all want property with major road frontage. It is simply more valuable!

Business owners and investors alike will gladly choose a property with major road frontage over a land locked parcel, or a parcel with little to no road frontage. Use this important fact when you assess properties and the value that they hold.

Understanding Logistics

According to Ghiani (2004), logistics can be defined as the planning and controlling of products and information in an organization. It aims at delivering materials to a given destination for another trying to optimize a particular measure and ensuring satisfaction of a particular set of constraints. These definitions can be simplified to mean the managing of the flow of goods as well as services from the point of manufacture to the point of consumption ensuring that the requirements of the consumer are observed. Activities under logistics include information integration, warehousing, packaging, inventory, security, transportation, as well as handling of materials. Logistics compliments supply chain by add value to place, as well as time utility.

Logistics are identified in different fields due to performance value. These fields include procurement, after sales, production, disposal, as well as distribution fields. This paper will identify the areas where organizations involve logistics as well as the essence of an effective logistics to an organization.

These fields of logistics determine specific activities. Procurement logistics involve make / buy decisions, supplier and other management, as well as market research. Production logistics' key principle is to connect procurement to distribution logistics. This field of logistics determines the capacities of production under available resources in response to distribution logistics. Distribution logistics deal with delivering of finished goods to the consumer or rather customers. Its components include processing, warehousing, as well as transportation. This logistics is most essential since the time, place as well as quantity of production vary from the time, place, and quantity of consumption.

Today, logistics have been simplified through technological advancements. Complexities which hinder effective logistics management can now be visualized, modeled, optimized and analyzed through particular simulation software. These complexities have necessitated the use of this software. Successful businesses are using this software to case the work of logistics analysis and hence providing effective strategies of managing supply and demand. Problems in logistics majorly occur in organizations that engage in product delivery but they can also occur in firms producing services (Ghiani, 2004). Examples of this include garbage collection, after sales services, as well as mail delivery, among others. Maintenance and operational cost of logistics is another hindrance of its use. Research conducted in the United Stated in 1997 proved that organizations used 862 billion dollars as the total logistics expenditure. It is hence essential for organizations to understand how to minimize logistics cost (Rushton, 2000).

Reliability and sustainability are other factors which affect the efficiency of logistics. Reliable systems as well as equipment's should be able to perform intended purpose for the identified period under stated conditions through effective logistics. Inefficient logistics will lead to a wrong probability on performance capabilities of systems hence causing massive losses. Reliability will thus project the probability of systems and equipment in an organization (Landford, 2006).

In conclusion, the main issue under logistics is deciding how and when raw goods and finished products will be shipped, transported, and stored. This unlike other operations management is most evident in modern societies. A logistics system comprised of facilities that have been corresponded to the transportation services. Facilities include locations where goods are processed, and they include manufacturing centers, distribution centers, transportation terminals, as well as dumpsites, just to mention a few. The transportation services move goods between the facilities.

Production Linearity – Eliminating the “Hockey Stick Syndrome”

Why is linear production so important? It's simple; "It's where the money is!" Scrap, rework, overtime and poor quality are all non-value-added costs that increased as a function of the famous "Hockey Stick Syndrome". That is, as we delay our production schedule completions toward the end of the month (or worse, to the end of the financial quarter), there is a tremendous pressure put on Manufacturing that produces shop floor chaos that generates significant non-value-added cost. We usually end up making the production plan and financial forecast because the "Knights in shining armor" come through with a last minute, heroic performance. But, at what cost? Some companies actually give up 10 to 20% of their potential profit margins because they have developed and fostered a manufacturing team that perpetuates the "Hockey Stick Syndrome".

Companies that continue to live with the end-of-the-quarter "push" will never achieve their full growth and profit potentials. How do you smooth schedules and achieve linear production? The challenge is in how to keep daily pressure on the critical path of schedule achievement. We need to have the visibility of all critical tasks and milestones from day one of the quarter and create team awareness and commitment to their timely achievement. Our manufacturing team must become sensitive and proactive in the execution of early production planning details and they must learn to apply their creativity and energy in a linear style. To be sure, up front planning and execution can yield amazing manufacturing results and lead to profitability beyond expectations.

The most effective production manager I've ever known used a huge magnetic board to schedule production planning details and monitor production linearity. An early focus on details, corrective actions and recovery planning was his management style. He would hold early morning meetings every day to status yesterday's progress on the magnetic board and to establish the daily challenges. He was an expert at team dynamics and his people always new what they had to do and they were always provided the tools to get the job done. The combination of the magnetic board, the morning meetings and his team dynamics skills made this production manger an effective leader and an expert in achieving linear production.

Today many production managers are still trying to solve their linear production problem by pursuing a sophisticated computer software solution. Most companies are now using MRPII / ERP manufacturing systems to control their production environments. These systems do not provide a focus on the detail, up front tasks and milestones that are critical to linear production and consequently have not presented a solution to the "Hockey Stick Syndrome". On the other hand, using an old magnetic board in this day and age of computer sophistication may not be an acceptable alternative. A good trade-off might be to develop a simple computer spread sheet specially designed to plan critical production milestones and to measure / monitor production linearity.

Using this daily schedule as the "bible", the next step would be to retrain the "Knights in shining armor" to gradually shift their manufacturing paradigm from end-of-the-quarter "fire fighting" to daily proactive problem solving.

Finally, it is important to differentiate between shipment linearity and production linearity. In a widget, make-to-shelf manufacturing company that build substantial finish goods inventory and in highly engineered capitol equipment manufacturing companies the two linearity measurements will not be equal.

Shipment linearity may be more of a function of Sales' bookings and customer's preference rather than nonlinear production. Consequently, the measure of production linearity must be developed to measure the performance of the manufacturing process and not be influenced by Sales bookings or customer related shipment delays.

Benefits of Hiring an Digital Marketing Agency for Promoting Your Business Online

Online business has hit an all-time high globally, as major and minor companies are creating their own websites and trying to cater to the Internet public. Marketing online is vastly different from offline marketing as the rules and regulations of attracting consumers differ hugely. This is where a digital marketing agency comes in and ensures that online marketing, from creation of websites to ensuring that they excel in search engine rankings, is available to clients as a whole package. Without the help of a digital marketing agency, it is not possible for companies to enter the online market and emerge successful.

The primary benefit of hiring a digital marketing agency is that these agencies are experienced and understand the online world of marketing. Since there are major differences between the online world and the offline world of marketing, gathering professional help for the better performance of a website is highly recommended. Digital marketing agencies have experts on their board who understand what a particular client website contains and how it can be marketed digitally. From keyword heavy content to social media marketing, all options are available and it is up to these agencies to implement these options as per their understanding.

Search engine optimization is the biggest benefit of hiring a digital marketing agency. Marketing online serves no purpose unless people regularly visit a company's website and go through its features and products. Competition in the online market today is mostly about securing high rankings in search engines. Securing high rankings in search engines automatically translates to popularity of the website as well as increase in consumer awareness. A digital marketing agency is well aware of all this and hence can be trusted with the responsibility to increase a website's search engine rankings. They know how to go about it and whether they should take a content related approach or publicize the site via social media, is up to them.

A digital marketing agency also understand that in today's age of flashy and tech-heavy websites, a company can never achieve the desired search engine rankings unless is website is up to the mark. A digital marketing agency also often acts as a web designing organization and designs the websites for its clients. It knows that depending on the content, how a website is to be designed so that what people are looking for in the site can be easily found. From the home page to the page dealing with the features of the company's products to the page about the history of the company, all are available on the website. It is up to the digital marketing agency to put together these pieces in a manner that will be appealing to regular and new visitors of the website.

Since constant presence on the social media is highly necessary for a company to be successful in online marketing today, an internet marketing company ensures that they are able to provide full social media marketing strategies. It is important not only to have Facebook or Twitter pages for companies but also ensure that those are active. Sharing regular links to the company's website and its new products, features and news are a must for every digital marketing agency. They also encourage active interaction between people and the company via social media pages. This helps the company understand their consumers and what the consumers look forward to from the company. Automatically, this gives the company a great chance to improve its search engine rankings.

For companies which are beginning their innings new in the online marketing world, it is highly beneficial to hire a digital marketing agency with proper experience. In that case, it is the company which will have all the experience and will be able to guide the client on how to improve search engine rankings. Clients can give the content and the layout of the website, but it is up to the digital marketing agency to make a site that will ensure that proper consumers are drawn to the site. Digital marketing agencies come across all sorts of clients and they know how the success of a website is achieved. So being dependent on them is actually beneficial for a company, especially the ones who have just begun.

A Career As Restaurant Owner Vs Restaurant Manager

There is a big difference between a career as a restaurant owner and a career as a restaurant manager. Restaurant managers sometimes go on to own their own restaurants, restaurant owners often do a great deal of managerial work and both are heavily invested in the success of the restaurant and involved in its daily operations, but the general similarities end there. The specific roles and responsibilities of a restaurant owner vs. a restaurant manager will be explained in further detail below.

A Career as a Restaurant Owner

Restaurant owners are responsible for overseeing the entire operations of a restaurant, even when they hire someone else to manage it. They make an initial investment and either buys the restaurant from someone else or starts his or her own restaurant. Owners must make additional investments down the line when the restaurant needs new equipment and supplies, or when the business has outgrown its location and needs to move or expand, and they will also be responsible for cleaning up the mess if the business fails. The owner has a vested interest in the success of the restaurant, not just because it's his or her job, but because it's his or her investment, brainchild and often a dream come true. The owner takes the most financial risk, but he or she also gets the biggest payoff if the restaurant is a success.

They vary in their level of responsibility in the kitchen and on the floor. Some owners hire other people to do everything and trust they will make the right decisions, while others are there every day, interacting with customers and staff and taking on managerial duties. Many of them must work long hours every day of the week as they get their business off the ground, but if it becomes a success, they get the opportunity to sit back and relax a bit.

A Career as a Restaurant Manager

They work closely with restaurant owners to ensure that the business runs smoothly. They also have a vested interest in making sure the restaurant is operating at a profit; in fact, this is their primary concern. The manager has pay increases, bonuses and profit shares to entice him or her to succeed, and the fear of losing his or her job to entice him or her to avoid failure. This career requires skills in budgeting, leadership, communication, analysis and planning, as well as a knowledge and appreciation of the culinary arts and customer service.