Sep
10
2009
0

He’s not feeling the recession

You have to love the ingenuity

You have to love the ingenuity

When I came home after work last Wednesday night I discovered a note taped to my front door.  I’ve scanned it in and posted it to the right.  Basically this guy is putting up notices that they’re going to be coming by the following day to repaint the numbers on the curb.  I LOVE this idea!

  • It’s easy. Just fill out the flyer and hang it outside – they take care of everything else.
  • No risk. If they are going to paint your address and then come around asking for payment, you can always refuse if you think they did a bad job.
  • It’s cheap. His flyer was printed up on half a sheet of paper, so it probably cost him no more than $0.10 for two flyers – plus the half-inch of masking tape.  The advertising costs are bare-bones.  The materials amount to a few stencils and some spray paint.
  • It’s quick. I’m guessing with a proper stencil and some paint, you could whip out a curb address number in about a minute or so.
  • It’s a cash business. I didn’t see anything there about their tax ID number.
  • Slick advertising. They appeal to your sense of safety and security (helping the police, fire department, et cetera find you quickly) and your sense of community (suggesting it is more effective when the whole neighborhood joins in).

But, why stop there?  I bet you could make even MORE money if you took this entire enterprise further:

  • Volume is key. Having as many houses on a single street is probably optimal.  So, putting a little extra polish on these flyers could probably help a lot.  Invest in better paper and use a paper cutter rather than scissors.  Anything to help score a few more houses per street.
  • Price is key. I have to wonder how many people are paying for this service.  What’s the optimal price point?  I’m guessing for $10.00 you might be able to capture a lot more homes on a given street than the $20.00 they’re suggesting.
  • Look important. I’m always getting official looking junk mail – sometimes I even open it.  I’d say use bond paper, a decent home printer or your local printer, print something up that implies you are affiliated with the city or county.  Have an address, phone number, and website ready.
  • Location, location, location. If I were running such a business I would do a little homework.  I would find a well kept neighborhood with a Home Owner’s Association – some area that probably has a vested interest in maintaining the upkeep around their homes.
  • Look really important. If I were doing this, my letterhead would say I was with the “Home Owner’s Association Maintenance Co-Operative of Contra Costa County.”  I’d send out letters a week ahead saying that a person’s street has been scheduled for yearly curbside maintenance, that the HOAMCOCCC was going to through the following week to paint the numbers on an entire street a uniform color and returning the following day to collect payment.

Why in the world did I go to law school?  What a colossal waste of time!  I could probably more per hour stenciling sidewalks than I do as an attorney.  I’m half tempted to give it a shot anyhow.  :)

Anyhow, this just goes to show no matter how bad things are, someone has thought of a way to make money.

Sep
24
2008
2

When to Repair A Laptop

Okay, your laptop doesn’t work.  What do you do once you’re done grieving?  Your options are to:

  1. Fix it yourself. Slowest and cheapest solution.
  2. Pay someone to fix it. Moderately time consuming and expensive, and potentially fraught with peril (your laptop could get damaged or ruined).
  3. Get a new laptop. Quickest and most expensive solution.
Computer Help

Computer Help

Setting aside the idea of diagnosing and fixing the issue yourself, which is just not an option for most people, the choice is usually between fixing and getting a new laptop.  With computer processing power, RAM/memory, hard drive space, and battery life constantly increasing while prices consistently decrease, the ideal time to repair versus buying a new laptop is always going to be a moving target.  There are three main factors to consider when making this decision.

Cost

Cost is probably the single biggest deciding factor.  The good news is that your laptop can probably be repaired.  Sight unseen, it will probably cost you between $200.00 and $500.00 including parts and labor.  A new laptop will cost you roughly $500.00 for a bare bones machine, $1,250.00 for a nice machine, and $2,500.00 and up for a ridiculously powerful machine.

Lifetime

For most people a computer has a 3 year timeline of usefulness.  After that something about the computer will be too outdated to be of use beyond basic usage.  If your computer is more than 3 years old, you’ve had a good run.  Replace the poor thing.

Time & Need

If you need a computer for your business, every hour without your computer means you’re losing money.  If you don’t need it for your business, you’ve got more time to decide.  Your time is important and your downtime is even more important.

Formula

Here’s my totally unscientific and completely quantifiable formula for determining with nearly totally complete guesstimate-approximation of whether you should repair or replace your laptop.  First, let’s assume a constant – the amount you would spend on a new laptop and set that equal to the original purchase price of your current broken laptop.  The formula is as follows:

  • O = Original cost of broken laptop
  • A = Age of broken laptop in months
  • R = Repair cost
  • L = Lost work hours
  • H = Hourly rate

Repair your laptop if:

  • [(42-A)/42]*O – (L*H) – R > 0

Replace your laptop if

  • [(42-A)/42]*O – (L*H) – R < 0

Verdict:

I need to get my laptop repaired.

How about yours?

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