Mud throwing is not a team sport

Before we begin let’s take a look at some basic definitions.  First, what is MUD?  According to dictionary.com, MUD can be described as a wet soft earth or earthy matter, as on the ground after rain, at the bottom of a pond, or along the banks of a river.  I think we can all agree on that one.  They also suggest a more informal definition; “Scandalous or malicious assentation’s or information”.  An example of this might be,  “The opposition threw a lot of mud at the candidate”.

Secondly, what is a team? The simple definition (for the purpose of this article) can be stated as “A number of persons asmud throwingsociated in some joint action to perform a task”.  Many of us think of teams as related to sporting events. But teams can also be a group of individuals that are part of a group or organization that have a common goal or task to complete.  At your place of work you might refer to your coworkers as a team.  Other teams can be your study groups when taking college courses, or even members of clubs you belong to.   As a matter of fact, as members of the ARA of NJ, we can be considered a team.  We are all associated with each other and we do have common tasks, such as the success of our industry, promoting standards, educating our potential customers and future rental entrepreneurs.

Speaking of sports, I read in the Wall Street Journal recently an article comparing the careers of David Wright and Derek Jeter.  For those of you who are baseball fans, I’m sure you are aware of these two NY stars.   For those of you that are not, just bear with me for a moment.

If you look on paper at the statistics of these players they are pretty similar, but the big difference over their careers is that Derek Jeter has been a member of the very successful NY Yankees while David Wright has been a team player for the not so successful NY Mets.  Now what if the situation was reversed?  Do you think we might see each player a little differently?  The obvious answer is yes.  Although both players have great individual stats, the success of the entire team makes the difference.  Although you can be thought of as a great superstar, the bottom line is you will be judged and remembered favorably on the success of your team.

One common trait both these players share is they are representatives of their respective teams.  If you notice at press appearances they each play down their individual accomplishments and speak highly of their team accomplishments.  This, to me, is a sign of a “class act”.  You can be sure if either of these players started throwing MUD, (see informal definition above) the press and the fans would be all over them.   We can list many sports figures in various sports that have learned this the hard way.   How many athletes have had their careers cut short when they take up MUD throwing?   Although they might think it hurts the person they are aiming it at, in the long run, it will come back and only hurt the one throwing it.

I consider myself fortunate that I can work with many members of the ARA of NJ. I consider these people players on my team, not only on large events, but also for advice and suggestions on everything from products on the market to specifics on venues and events we all commonly do.  As team players, we respect each other and keep communication channels open.  Throwing MUD is not even an option.  Our respect for the rental industry and its success is the glue that binds us together.  Much like David Wright and Derek Jeter, we represent our Association and the Rental Industry.  For those of us that have been in the industry for many years, we have developed a bond that keeps us not only as friendly competition but as team members we can count on.

For those of us in this Industry and any other Industry or sport that think MUD throwing will make them a better person, I believe they should do some soul searching.  When the day is over, and you are alone each of us needs to look himself or herself in the mirror and say: “Am I proud of who I am and what I did today”.

There is no sport that I am aware of that tolerates MUD throwing or encourages it.  Even politicians have learned that it doesn’t get votes.  The most successful individuals and companies have learned that teamwork is the key to success.

Growing up, my grandfather told me often “If you have nothing nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything at all”.   Many family dinners and gatherings he was very quiet.   I assume he had his reasons.  The point though is well taken and understood.

We have all made choices in our lives and have chosen careers that suit us.  I would think that we should all respect each other not just for our own personal satisfaction but for the good of our industry.  The next time you feel like throwing some MUD, step back and think of the consequences.  Mud throwing is not a team sport. That is clear as day and NIGHT.

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Who needs a good laugh today? Need Health Insurance

For those of you that are small business owners there comes that day each year when it’s time to renew your companies Health Insurance.  Today was that day. It’s gotten to the point that I, along with my partner and brother, know that what we are going to hear from our insurance sales representative is not going to be good news but rather how bad is going to be this time.   Well today we were quite surprised.

Obviously your thinking, WOW! did the rates go down and your company is saving bucket loads of money?   Not exactly.  Usually it’s how much more is it going to cost us this year to get less.?    This year it was not much different.  It is definitely going to cost us much more to get much less.   So why is this something to laugh about?   (well almost laugh) What is wrong with this picture?

If you have been following health care in this country, you certainly understand the giant mess we have created. Over 70% of the country wants the new (Obama) health care policy repealed that took literally decades to create.  The law is so confusing I don’t think there is a soul that really understands the whole package. The doctors certainly don’t like it, and many are abandoning ship by either retiring early or joining private health care groups that don’t accept insurance.   Hard to believe that a typical driver on a Coca Cola route without a college education can actually make more than a qualified physician today. Who is the smart one here?

Just trying to understand how health care is going to work can make you sick.   What have we done and what is going to be the end game?   The bottom line is small businesses like ours will be paying through the nose and this will continue to keep our economy stagnate with little growth.  Is there a solution that will work?   When will we be able to have affordable health care for small businesses?   We believe there are ways to do this, but we are going in the wrong direction.  Let’s put the politics aside and come up with a plan that is small business friendly and that the typical business can grasp and offer to current and new employees at a favorable rate.

Today’s meeting with our insurance representative was not so much of a meeting but as a good dose of reality.   It only took a few moments while thumbing through the numbers and the various plans available that we really aren’t buying insurance anymore, we’re  just buying a premium.   No matter which plan you look at they all have greater co-pays, less coverage, more out of network cost, extremely high hospital coverage  and generally more rules and regulations. So basically as a small business the choice is very obvious. There is no choice.  The only option is to take the plan that is affordable.    Any other choice will simple put you out of business and then there would be no reason to have health insurance.

In a way you have to say this is almost comical.  Imagine if you’re the insurance sales rep and your job is to come in and explain this situation:  “OK Steve and Stuart,  here is your choice.  You can spent 200% more this year and get 300% less coverage or you can spend 100% more  for this year and get 200% less coverage.  Which one will it be?  Hmmm let’s think about this.   Bottom line is there is no choice but the one that will keep you in business until at least until next year’s meeting.  Insurance is now a matter of shopping for PRICE not for services.  Our rep did a great job in helping us see the picture and believe it or not we actually felt pretty good coming out of the meeting.  It would of been nice saving those bucket loads of money but coming out with a clear understanding of what health insurance is about today was a great reward.  Although it’s going to cost us significantly more and we will be getting less, we are still providing our employees health insurance.

As American’s we have come to accept that change is inevitable in our political system and along with it will come mandates that will impact us all.  Health care regulation is  the “Genie out of the bottle” and if we don’t do something to get it back in,  it just might make small business disappear.

Respectfully

It’s a jungle out there. Have you tried Guerilla marketing

Reprinted from ARA Advantage September 2010 issue:

When it comes to marketing your business, perhaps it is time to think outside of the box —try guerrilla marketing.  What is guerrilla marketing?  According to Wikipedia, it was invented as “an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought provoking concept to generate buzz and, consequently, turn viral.”

The father of this type of marketing is Jay Conrad Levinson, who defined the term in his 1984 book, Guerrilla Marketing.” In essence, it is marketing that relies on unconventional methods — your imagination and not on money — to get your business noticed. Whether it is through publicity, social networking sites or some other method, it is a strategy that many have used to get their businesses noticed.

Steve Kohn, owner of Miller’s Rentals & Sales in Edison, N.J., has successfully used social networking, one such aspect of guerrilla marketing. Why has he jumped on the bandwagon? “Businesses like ours have figured out that this is the way to promote and grow our businesses,” he says. “In the early ’90s, I watched as businesses developed websites. The growth was amazing. Today, it’s hard to find a growing company that doesn’t have a Web presence. Much like websites replacing Yellow Pages as the pre-eminent advertising platform, we might be watching the evolution of social marketing merging with or replacing website marketing.”

For Kohn, guerrilla marketing and social networking are a perfect fit. “There are so many unique things you can do,” he says. “Each day, I see more exciting concepts that companies are coming up with. If your passion is marketing, then this is going to be the moment you have been waiting for. Social marketing is more powerful than a website because it’s 100 percent interactive. The idea behind social marketing is to get your current and future customers involved in the conversation. The trick is how to do this successfully.” Kohn realizes that social networking offers customers “instant gratification,” he says. “Try to imagine having a virtual interaction with a client and being able to instantly discuss a product, show them a photo or even display a video without ever having to speak to them. If that’s not instant gratification, then I don’t know what is. The consumer today wants information instantly; social marketing is perfect for this.”

To see how Kohn has used social networking to market his business, go to:

http://facebook.com/Millersrentals

http://wordpress.millersrentalsblog.com

http://twitter.com/millerpartyrent

Is technology making life easier?

Typing my first blog on my new iPad. Amazing isn’t it? Well it depends on your point of view and perspective. Let’s think about this for a moment. A concept of a blog is the first hurdle we have to get across. What exactly is a blog and why am I writing it? To be perfectly honest, I do like to write and I do like to share my views but more important than that I believe the purpose of a blog is to increase the exposure of not only what I do, but what my company does and this is all part of a successful marketing strategy.

So now we have jumped the first hurdle, great. Now why write with a iPad. There are other ways such as my desktop, laptop, net book, iPhone and yes even a pad and pencil. This one is easy to answer. I’m simply enjoying playing with this new high tech gadget and it’s very simple to sit here in an airport terminal and write this. Even more interesting, as I am writing this how many people are walking by and just checking this out in amazement asking how I like the iPad

Sitting next to me is my travel bag which originally was designed to carry my laptop. In it now is my Dell mini, just in case I could not figure out the iPad, assorted chargers for all my techno garb, a digital recorder, digital camera, Zune, assorted sync cables, batteries, laser pointer and a pack of tic tacks. Is all this gear necessary ? Is it making my business trip productive? In my opinion, absolutely!

Many say that I am a gadget guy? There is some truth to this. Bottom line, is I am always looking for ways to make my job easier which can allow we to do more things that I enjoy in life such as spending quality time with my family and friends. Is this happening? To a degree, yes as long as I don’t let the technology consume me

There are many times when too much technology can just become a burden. If you live your life for the next new cell phone, video game, software upgrade and so on then you are letting technology control you. This is bad. There is a limit to what we can handle and there has to come a point when enough is enough. There was a time when a new computer came out and I had to be the first to have. Believe it or not, my office at work still has a Dell dimension which is 8 years old running XP. It does everything I need it to do and I am very comfortable with it. That is the key. If you are using technology and you have a comfort level, then go with it. The minute you cross that level, your asking for trouble. Everyone of us has a unique comfort level and that is ok.

I know when I do computer training and I cross a person comfort level, I’m going to loose them. The trick is to make technology work for you. If me or anyone tries to force technology on you, it will come with resentment. When you learn or acquire something new that can fit into your personal groove then it’s a good thing. Don’t acquire a new device just because it’s available or your friend just got one, get it because you can see how it will make a task you do easier or it can help you improve on what you do.

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 11:53 am  Comments (3)  
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Rememeber when quality was job #1

Spring training is officially under way.  How exciting is that.  This morning on the radio I heard that CC Sabathia was throwing faster than a runaway Toyota Prius.   For those of you that have not been following the Toyota saga that would be 94 mph.   First that is great pitching, but most disturbing is it being compared to faulty car performance.

Yes. Toyota is having its issues but they are just one piece of a economy that is so based on price rather than quality that corners are being cut and systems are failing.  I personally see this as a wake up call that as a society, we have to really take  a look at what is important and where we want to be in the immediate future.

As a small business owner I see first hand how price is driving this economy.  Its like nothing else matters.  Is the public so bent on a cheap price they are willing to risk not only quality but safety as well?   I think we have reached a point when we all need to speak up and let our voices be heard.  Please bring back quality.  I would like to see the day when “Made in America” means something again.

If we continue on like we are going, we will  see more accidents, more equipment recalls, more companies filing chapter 11, more lawsuits and more products that we depend on coming in from overseas.  Lets start to demand and insist upon quality made products and services.

Not only will this improve our safety and lifestyles, it will also serve as an economic stimulus for our country to get out of its growing debt.  Yes, we all agree quality comes with a price.  But you know what else comes with quality, that would be “PRIDE”.  Lets make and provide products and services that we can be proud of.  Pride is something that is needed today.  Lets take  pride to live in this country,  take pride to be an active member of a society that produces  exceptional products. Pride is something money can’t buy, it has to come from within.

Spring training is a new beginning for a new season.  You know the pride you have when your favorite team wins after playing an awesome game?  Lets have that same pride on the products and services we deliver.

Fixing Health Insurance….hmmmm

I find it amazing that the government is attempting to repair health insurance.  I wonder if  they realize they are the ones that broke it in the first place.   As a small business owner I have seen health insurance go from bad to worse in record time.  The bottom line is small businesses are the ones that end up paying for this  debacle.   My two biggest issues with health insurance are first the government itself and secondly the insurance companies.

Our politicians seem to believe if they support the insurance companies that in turn they will support their political campaigns.  Simple put, this is wrong!  Our politicians have made insurance companies into a legalized crime entity.  I firmly believe if we fix issue with insurance companies, such as set limits on what they can make and the powers allotted to them, and keep the politicians out of their business we would have a better shot at fixing health care.

As an individual and a business owner dealing with Insurance companies is as much fun as root canal. Actually I would take the root canal first (probably not covered anyway).  Each year our company switches providers just so the increase in rates is less.  Keep in mind we are not doing this based on quality of service or lack of,  put strictly  trying to pay less of an increase, which no matter what company you choose you will end up getting anyway. In order to keep rates at reasonable levels, we are forced to take higher deductibles, higher co-pays and weakened drug prescription plans. This is just flat out ridiculous and unacceptable anymore.

Don’t you just love the term “Out of Network” . This is the insurance company version of ” We tried to shake that Doctor down and he wouldn’t play ball with us so he is out” .   If every Doctor said no to Insurance company demands and terms of payments wouldn’t that be interesting.  So basically what happens is your insurance company decides who you will see for treatment, how much they get paid, and what medicines you will take.  Is this freedom of choice which is suppose to be one of the fundamental values of our rights as Americans? Come on….

I would like to see the day , when we can research what Doctor we want to see, make a timely appointment (without a referral) and then pay the doctor directly a reasonable and fair fee based on the laws of supply and demand like everything else we purchase from groceries to airline tickets.  Maybe we can even shop for sales and coupons like every other vendor we use.

Right now the thought of getting sick and needing a doctors care makes me even sicker knowing what I will have to do just to get reimbursed and the administrative paperwork that is involved.   So the trick to beat the system now is to stay healthy and pay the outrageous premiums.  Not much of a trick is it?  The insurance companies will just become more profitable and more powerful.

Maybe if enough of us write about it and speak our concerns our message will be heard.  This is not an issue that is going to be solved by Democrats or Republicans.  It has to be fixed by all of us.