Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Reduce Postage in Your Amazon Business

One of the most overlooked areas to save money is on postage. Many Amazon Sellers believe that USPS Postage rates are non negotiable and represent a significant part of some product offerings. Any money you save on postage will mean direct dollars in your pocket. So let's take a look at some simple steps that an Amazon Seller can take to reduce their postage spending.

For shipper's that are mailing more than 500 packages per day in the US and / or over 50 packages per day. Internationally, you will soon see that using a Parcel Consolidator is a must. Both the United States Post Office and Parcel Consolidator's offer various rates for different sizes and weights of packages. It would be extremely prudent to review several service offerings before selecting one. For larger shipper's, it may become apparent that several service provider's may need to be used to maximize service to your customers while minimizing your postage spend.

Let's take a look at some simple step's you can take to reduce your postage spend TODAY:

Priority Flat Rate Boxes - This method is extremely advantageous for Sellers shipping very small but heavy items. For instance, Battery Sellers sending Lithium Batteries that are quite heavy but can fit inside of a flat rate box or envelope. Someone shipping a 2 pound package to California could save almost $5.50 per package using this method.

First Class Mail - This method is best suited for lightweight packages weighing less than 13 ounces. This service also provides free delivery confirmation. If your mailing items that weigh between 1 and 3 ounces this is the best and least expensive service to utilize.

1st Class International Mail - In 2013 the USPS has presented a recommendation to the Postal Regulatory Commission that they increase their rates significantly. The cost of mailing one 5 ounce CD to Canada will go up from $3.60 per item to $8.55 per item in 2013. Many Amazon Sellers currently enjoy some healthy sales from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. This is one area that a Parcel Consolidator can assist. Using a Parcel Consolidator could bring your cost below the 2012 rates and should be a must for any SERIOUS Amazon Seller.

Priority Mail International - In 2013 the USPS has presented a recommendation to the Postal Regulatory Commission that they increase the rates significantly. The cost of mailing a 1 pound package to Canada will go up from $23.25 per item to $28.25 per item in 2013. Many Amazon Sellers currently enjoy some healthy sales from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. This is one area that a Parcel Consolidator can assist. Using a Parcel Consolidator could bring your cost below the 2012 rates.

Another way to save on postage is to print your own postage from your computer. will automatically extend to you their Commercial Base Postage rates which they have access to. You will instantly have access to reduced postage rates from the ones quoted above. is easy to use and it allows you to batch process your orders. In addition, allows users to automatically check for address errors and will make the necessary corrections to ensure delivery.

Maximize Postal Savings using a Parcel Consolidators

In order for you to maximize your postal savings you will want to use a Parcel Consolidator. Parcel Consolidators work in conjunction with the USPS and eliminate the sorting and transportation traditionally performed by the USPS. A Parcel Consolidator will drop ship your material as far downstream into the USPS cycle, enabling them to do what they do best, deliver to your door. Most consolidators have tracking capabilities that allow customers to monitor shipments from time received in their operation until final delivery by the USPS.

The greatest Postage savings comes when Amazon Sellers are mailing items in the 14 oz to 16 oz weight bands. Parcel Consolidators have the ability to offer Postage Rates at ounce increments that are significantly less than Priority Mail. If you were able to save $1.00 per package how much additional revenue could you add to your bottom line?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Employing Flat Fee Recovery Techniques

There is a better way to collect the money owed to you other than contingency collections. Although contingency systems of recovery does have its place in the world of debt recovery recovering at a one time low rate upfront often is the best method because clients typically receive every penny of whats owed to them paid directly. This allows typically for several steps of the collection process to be made before entering into a more aggressive contingency process.

For those who have performed their research be certain that the total amount of your debt is greater than the amount being charged to commit a company to go forth and collect the money owed to you. Although sometimes it is understandable that the principle far exceed the cost you my incur through collections do not let emotions become involved in making a the smart choices necessary to recovery the funds owed to you. You're not likely to pay out $50.00 to submit a correspondence or simply involve a collection agency when you're only due $25.00 so try to find a low cost that makes since. Remember the fact that latest research state that most companies spend an average of $31.90 pursuing after past due debtors. So seek out a business that delivers what you need for less than that amount owed.

1. Does the agency employ registered or are they a legitimate collection corporation?
2. Do you get features to include solutions at increased cost?
3. Do you actually have the potential to advance the case even more into contingency?
4. Can you get the issue worked by legal representation?

Flat cost sets itself apart from contingency based debt collectors primarily due to the nature of the system. Flat payment is made up of you or your organization paying a low upfront fee to proceed with a third party collection firm dispatching a correspondence, posting to credit, and quite possibly making phone calls. This procedure is all done in the first thirty days, which is exactly where the highest chance of collections are present with 100 percent of the money retrieved being paid directly to you.

Having this 30 day grace time frame where all of the funds collected are paid to you right away is the most essential aspect of using a flat fee based collection agency. Right after your current thirty day period is finished you can choose to move into contingency collections, drop your case, or move forward with legal activity.

In summary you need to get started with a flat fee system that provides you the power of an authorized collection company with the return on your investment being all of the revenue owed to you or your business. It's a straightforward choice in your pursuit to obtain what's rightfully due to you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where to Find Scrap Metal

Where do I find scrap metal?

This is probably the hardest obstacle for anyone trying to break into the scrap metal industry. After all, no matter how much knowledge you have in your head, you don't get paid until there is metal on your truck. Well, today you're in luck because I'm going to disclose some of the methods I personally use.

It's Not Who You Are, It's Who You Know

What's true in most of life is true in the scrap metal business. The more people who know your name, the more metal you will get, period. One of the best ways to do this is to get some business cards made up. If you have a business name, great, but if not, you can still just make some cards with your name and a brief description of what you do and what you pick up. You can get them made up at a local store like FedEx/Kinko's or another local printing business, or you can also order them online from a site like Once those are made, start handing them out to everyone you can. Give one to anyone you talk to about metal, leave some at your local businesses like laundromats, just get them out there.


I mean this in the most literal sense. Every industry, and every person on the earth uses metal in one way or another. A few years ago, the hunt for metal was a bit easier. The scrap metal prices at the time were much lower, and as a result many automotive garages had trouble giving away their bulkier items like exhaust pipes or hoods and fenders. Today, however, prices on those metals are about 5x higher than they were, so while people may have not bothered to spend a couple hours cashing in $20 worth of metal, you can be certain those same people will gladly spend the time today and make a quick $100. I know I will.

Stop #1 - Your local automotive shops

So, garages can be a great place to begin searching for scrap metal since they generate scrap every week. Of course, this isn't a secret, so be prepared for some competition. In this business, money talks, and if you can offer to pay for some of the metal, you will have much more success. When I go to a garage, I usually pay for the more valuable items like rotors, non-ferrous metals like aluminum (radiators, transmissions, etc... ) and catalytic converters. One quick warning about converters, if you aren't familiar with the markets and grading of converters, do not buy them. There is good money to be made on converters, but It is very easy to lose money on them, and there is no way to easily tell the value of one. Weight and size are not indicators of a converter value. Even guys that have been doing this for years occasionally end up eating a $30 or $40 loss on a cat because they made a bad call.

When you get to a garage, go around back and mention to the first person (mechanic) you see that you're interested in buying metal, and they should be able to direct you to their supervisor or whoever is in charge. You will need to speak professionally and concisely. When the supervisor (or whoever you were directed to) hears the words, "scrap metal" you will most likely be immediately turned down. (If not, then great, you just landed your first client!) If this happens, just casually mention one item you wanted to buy and how much you're paying. For example, I might say something to the effect of, "Oh, okay, I was just asking because I'm paying a dollar a piece for rotors." I've seen this statement change a lot of minds, and most of my accounts were landed after someone told me no. However, if they are still not interested in your services, politely thank them for their time and take your leave. If they are on the fence just ask to leave a card with them. They may not ever call you, but then again they may, so it's worth dropping a card.

Rinse, Repeat

These are the general tactics you want to use anywhere. Watch for businesses that are closing down or ones that are just moving into a building. Be sure to check estate and yard sales for unwanted items, and be sure to ask if there's anything they're getting rid of that isn't up front for sale. This can lead to broken items like extension cords, lawnmowers, etc... Many people don't realize these items still have value and are glad just to be rid of them. Post an ad in the local paper and on Craigslist. Like I said before, the people who know your name, the better your business will be.

Really, you should just be checking everywhere. I've bought car batteries from my local dump, picked up chairs, desks, and computers from schools, removed stainless from an old Pizza Hut that was converted into a car dealer. I've removed water heaters from apartment complexes, home heating oil tanks (Make sure they're empty!), broken down equipment from farms, batteries from marine/rv repair shops, a variety of metal from my local private trash service, and the list goes on. When I say metal is everywhere, I mean literally everywhere. All you have to do is ask.

For those who scrap cars, one of the best ways to pick up unwanted cars is to drive around and keep an eye out for cars with expired/no license plates, flat tires, or are covered in snow or leaves. Many times, owners will just leave a car like that in their driveway because it's broken and they haven't taken the time to do anything with it or are unsure of exactly what they should do. If you show up at their door offering a solution and cash, you've got a good chance of getting the car. I'd say, about half of my cars come this way. Be sure to use the same tactics that I mentioned above. If you get the car, be sure to leave a couple cards with the owners so they can tell their friends.

Some people are nervous about answering the door for strangers, or you may just happen by while the owner is away. If this happens, just leave a card on the vehicle in question and write an offer on the back. As always use common sense and don't enter yards that are posted with No Trespassing signs or other deterrents.

The Bottom Line

The scrap metal business is all about networking. You won't succeed by sitting at home and wishing. Get some cards made, take some time to go out and find it. The best thing is that once you're known in your community, you won't have to search nearly as hard. I had a good 30 mile radius set up of contacts, and was at the point where metal would find me. I've actually given stuff away to friends in the business because I just didn't have enough time to go and pick it up. Start advertising today and you'll have a richer tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Moving Cleaning Business Owners Closer to Their Goals

Let's face it; you have no business doing stuff that's not directly related to your BIG goals.

For cleaning business owners this would be things like:

a. Cleaning your buildings (more on this later)
b. Picking up/dropping off supplies at your accounts
c. Going to the bank to make deposits
d. Balancing the business checking account

During your busy workday, remember to ask yourself, "Is what I am doing, this minute, moving me measurably closer to my goals?" (I have this on an index card next to my computer, to remind me often.) Just the simple act of asking yourself this question several times a day will dramatically increase your productivity.

If it's not moving you forward toward your goal, making you money or attracting clients, why are YOU doing it? Granted, it may be important, but a much better usage of your company's most precious resource (YOU) can be much more effective elsewhere. Drop it or delegate it now. (Please take a moment now to write that same question on a sticky note or index card and tape it to your own computer and phone.

So, let's examine the examples above one by one:

1. Cleaning buildings
This is an area where many cleaning business owners make a mistake (I know because I did the same thing for years). If you can hire a (good) employee to do this at $9.00- $12.00 per hour you should do so right away. I know, your first thought is "Nobody is going to do it as well as I would" and you're probably right. But does it need to be perfect or does it just need to be great? If you can get (or train) someone to do a great job at it, think of how much time that frees up for you. And, let's be frank. If you are doing something you could pay somebody $10 an hour to do it that means you're working for $10 an hour. Is that your goal?

Yes, when you first start your business, you may need to clean a few buildings. But as soon as you can, you need to get started hiring and training good employees to work alongside you-and then without you, so that you can be free to spend your time developing and pursuing the BIG vision that led you to start your company in the first place. You can always devote that extra time to marketing your business...

2. Running supplies
Again, this is a function that has to be performed to keep your cleaning business running. Someone needs to pick up your (or be on hand to receive deliveries from your distributor of) chemicals, supplies and equipment. But you can hire a delivery person for about the same amount as a cleaning person and this will also help you to become more efficient about grouping these activities together instead of spending time running around town because your cleaning staff forgot to order or pick up what they needed.

Train your staff to order once a week or twice a month. I used to have people pick up supplies when they came to the office on pay day for their checks. We'd provide a continental breakfast and sandwiches from the market and this encouraged people to come in. It also gave a 'celebratory' atmosphere to pay days that kept everybody in good spirits and made being responsible for their own supplies more of a carrot than a stick.

3. Going to the bank to make deposits
This activity has been made completely obsolete by new banking technologies. Encourage your clients to make ACH deposits directly into your account (saves them time, postage, and check stock). You can also use Intuit Quick Books (and many other small business accounting programs) to allow people to pay your bill electronically.

In a worst case scenario, if they still send you checks you can either use your bank's pre-addressed envelopes to make your deposits by mail or many banks (including Chase) now offer the ability for you to take a picture of the check on your smart phone and deposit that way. No more driving to the bank, Yay!

4. Balancing your business checking account
I cannot over emphasize the importance of balancing your check book every month, but it's worth every penny (usually $25-$75 per hour) to pay a bookkeeper or accountant to do this for you. Most of the time this will take about 30 minutes per month, so the cost is negligible. It needs to be done in a timely fashion to protect you against fraud, and is a must in keeping you up to date on your financial picture. But it's such a "not fun" job that most business owners put it off or don't do it at all (a mistake that can cost you big if someone has fraudulently accessed your account).

One thing to remember though: YOU should be the one to receive, open and review all bank (and credit card) statements (a 5 minute job at most). Don't ever stop opening your own mail (no matter how big you get). Reviewing it yourself protects you against a dishonest bookkeeper or worse. You've heard of "checks and balances" right? This is an area where you want to relinquish some control but don't give up complete control, ever.

Of all the things that are on your "To Do" list for today, what *3* things will you do before end of day to get closer to your BIG goals? These will be your priorities for today. Do this daily and you'll find yourself moving much faster towards the ideal business success and life you've been dreaming of.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Making It Easy to Get and Keep Clients

There are tons of examples of poor customer service, of clients leaving businesses. But what about those businesses who go above and beyond, those who practice Extreme Client Care? Who make us feel, if not cherished, then at least wanted? Or who make it super easy to do business with them?

Some recent examples and lessons we can learn/incorporate into our own businesses:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts-- my policy is up for renewal this month and not only did they send a simple-to-read-and-understand renewal package, when my account executive was on vacation during the time I needed to make changes someone else stepped in and made it super easy for me to do what I needed. When was the last time you heard good things about a health insurance company?

Lesson: Is your business set up to handle customer and client inquiries/requests/updates and make it super easy, dare-I-say-it even pleasurable, in the process?

The Home Shopping Network-- I have a "slight addiction" to watching HSN whenever Wolfgang Puck is on. I absolutely adore his cookware and when he's on HSN, he makes tons of things which spark ideas for different meals, etc. So, kudos to Puck for showing me how to use his cookware and how easy it is to quickly make great meals (When was the last time you taught your customers and clients how to use your products/services?) and then there's what HSN did (I only watch when Wolfgang's on so not sure when they implemented this)... you can now purchase straight from your television using your remote. No need to grab the phone and wait on hold or grab your phone/computer/tablet. They've made it super easy to impulse buy (I'll save the pros and cons of this for another article).

Lesson: There are two here:

    How can you make it super easy to do business with you and
    How can you teach your clients how to use your products and services?

And then there's Middlesex Savings Bank-- they have a great radio commercial about living and becoming involved locally and the mindset that many of us who live locally share. They call it "a shared point of view on local day-to-day life" and go one step further. Middlesex has created a "personality quiz" on their site so we can see if you're a good match for each other. Just knowing that makes you want to take the quiz and become part of their community.

Lesson: There are two here:

    How can you create a community around your business?
    How can you break out of the mold of your industry and do something innovative?

It's one thing to read this post and think "interesting". It's another to read it, jot down some quick answers to these questions and schedule a time to take action/delegate/discuss with your colleagues/mastermind group

Thursday, September 27, 2012

5 Myths About Business Insurance

The sad difficult-to-market truth about public liability insurance is that it doesn't really care about you as a person. Instead it works out where you are on a spreadsheet, how much you could cost the company and whether you're worth the risk. It's a form of gambling whereby if you lose, you sort of win, which is supposed to balance things out. Also, just like gambling, the house always wins and in this case it should win, because if it didn't, everyone would lose.

That is admittedly a tortured and awkward way of putting things, so now that I've successfully confused myself - let alone any of you reading this - into a neat little muddle, let's go through five popular myths regarding to business insurance.

1. I don't need insurance because I'm careful

It's an understandable logic, but it's not always up to you when you have an accident. Let's put the fact that everyone has off days to one side for the moment and consider that you cannot always control the factors that circle your life on a daily basis. A good analogy would be driving: it doesn't matter how careful a driver you are, there are millions of other people on the roads who really aren't and might be about to leap out of that turning too late for you to do anything about.

Being careful is a given. In fact, insurance is unlikely to cover you at all if you are reckless or have behaved stupidly, but being careful can only stop so many accidents. Business insurance is there to catch the rest.

2. I don't need employers' liability for temps or volunteers

This is just plain incorrect. The requirement for insurance is not triggered by you having a full time contract or paying an individual for their services.

If you think about why insurance is there in the first place, this does make sense. You are responsible for the well being of these people because they are doing what you tell them to do (or at least they should be). If they then have an accident or become ill due to something that you've done, they should be able to seek compensation for that. Whether the individual involved is paid or not, or is full time or not, really doesn't and shouldn't factor into the equation.

3. I'm not big enough to need insurance

This argument can cut both ways. If you're not that big, you probably can't afford not to have insurance as well. A single unfortunate accident could put out of business completely. If you're not a big company, then chances are that unless you do something extraordinarily risky, your premiums won't be that big either. What you pay is largely dependent on the size and scale of your operations. Equally if you do something that is so dangerous that you have such high premiums, you really can't afford to not have insurance anyway so you might just have to live with that expense. Additionally, if you're a small company, you could actually be personally liable for some claims and some of your personal assets could exposed depending on the nature of the liability, so it's even more important to check up on this.

4. I work from home therefore am covered by my home insurance

That might be something you want to check. Most home insurance policies won't cover a workplace, and if you work out of a spare room or from the kitchen table, you might find you've inadvertently turned part of your home into a commercial property.

Although you probably won't need anything like public liability insurance as it's unlikely that you'll be receiving a large number of visitors, some form of cover for important documents, equipment, or anything else that's critical to the running of your business might be something you need to look into.

5. If it was that important, it would be a legal requirement

I can understand the logic in this - after all car insurance is a legal requirement, as is employers' liability, so why not other forms of business cover like public liability insurance?

I'm not sure why it isn't a legal requirement, but even with this in mind, it would not reflect well on you as a company if you had reached a certain size or level of risk and hadn't taken it out without a very good reason.