June 17, 2010In the previous column, I discussed a merchant who lost the competitive edge slipping into bad buying habits and discontinuing doing what had worked for them in the past. Whether you're a brand new owner, or one who hasn't had a "business physical" for a while, the same principals pertain.
n Know Your Expenses — There are two basic expenses: fixed and variable. Purists will say there's also semi-fixed and semi-variable. This is true but for simplicity purposes lets stay with the two primaries.
Fixed are what your accountant defines as your operating expenses, or your overhead. Examples include your lease payment, loans, officers salary, depreciation, etc. Variable expenses run in correlation with your sales volume. Also referred to as controllable expenses, they include inventory purchases, hired hourly labor, delivery costs, etc.
Daughter finds father in desperate situationJune 17, 2010Dear W.C.,
I am writing to ask for help for my father. He is a widowed senior citizen. I live out of state and just came to the area to visit him. I found him living in a rundown mobile home with no utilities. His car is broke down. He has health problems that he says use up a lot of his income from Social Security. He never told me how badly he was doing.
I am a single mother and unable to help him at this time. I have my own financial struggles and this is why I haven't been able to even visit for several years. The last time we talked he said his phone was being disconnected and we would have to write letters from now on. I asked him how he was doing financially and all he would say was fine. I know he didn't want me worrying about him but now that I have visited I am more worried than ever. When I was looking through a newspaper I came across your organization, The Time Is Now To Help. Can you please help my father?
Recent Community Living
The Time is Now to HelpNeighbor seeks help for single motherJune 10, 2010Dear W.C.,I am writing to ask for help for a single mother and her children. I don’t know how they are even getting by. I drive past their small rundown house every day on my way to work. I am just a concerned neighbor that has noticed a fellow creation in need. All I know is she is raising two children on her own, and one of her children has special needs. Her car looks and sounds like it is falling apart. I’m actually worried for their safety every time I see her drive by. It’s easy to see the house is in need of some major repairs. The mother looks so sad, tired and thin when I see her working outside. I wish I could offer her help but my family is struggling to get by as well. Could you please check in on my neighbor?
Single father casualty of recessionJune 03, 2010Dear W.C.,I am a single father that has become another casualty of the recession. I always prided myself on working hard, paying my bills, and being a good father. My ex-wife has psychiatric and drinking problems so I have full custody of my kids. They are 8, 12, and 14. I have done everything I could to bring these kids up right without any help from their mother. My own mother watched them for me when I had a job. Now I find myself laid off. Our gas has been shut off for a month now and we are about to be evicted. I was never able to have any savings as every penny I earned went to rent, utilities, food, and clothing for my children. I am not a drinker or a smoker. We live very frugally. My mother has been bringing over casseroles because she knows we do not have enough food. My Mother is living on Social Security and just makes end meet. I have applied for assistance but I am on a waiting list. I never dreamed it would be so hard to find a good job. There are a lot of people trying to get a job. Everyone has the same story I do. They just want to provide for their families. Could you please help my family through this rough time?
The Time is Now to HelpSenior worker close to evictionMay 27, 2010Dear W.C.,I have fallen behind in my rent and I am about to be evicted. I live with my adult daughter that has some physical disabilities. She has applied for assistance but has been waiting for over a year. She had to move in with me because she could no longer live on her own. Due to her disability getting worse and loss of her job she has fallen on hard times as well. I am a senior citizen living in a one bedroom apartment and it has been hard for me due to a surgery that laid me up for longer than I had thought. I still have my job but was not paid for the time off. I just need enough help to bring my rent up to date. I am confident that I can make ends meet going forward. I just have to keep my faith and my health.
The Time is Now to HelpSeven years reporting caring, sharingMay 20, 2010Today we share our 362nd column in the Lake Geneva Regional News. For seven years we have been sharing with you what The Time Is Now To Help actually does on a daily basis. We help many families, senior citizens, children, and the handicapped. We often work holidays, evenings, and weekends to bring assistance to those reaching out to us in their desperation. We could not accomplish the many deliveries of food, rental/shelter assistance, car repairs, car donations, budget counseling, utility assistance, etc. without the support we receive from you. You are with us every step of the way from opening the envelope requesting help, to knocking on the door, to holding hands and wiping tears as we give loving support and guidance. I just can’t say it enough times, “We could not do this without you!”
The Time is Now to HelpOur fellow creations need helpMay 13, 2010Dear Readers,I am writing this to you today with a heavy heart. The Time Is Now To Help is in desperate need of funds to help the many poverty stricken fellow creations that have turned to us in their desperation. Together we have eased the pains of poverty. When we found our neighbors living in darkness and cold, we provided utility assistance to bring warmth and light. For many, together we have removed the most desperate fear of homelessness by providing shelter. When we have found people living without food and the most basic needs, we have provided these as well. We research every request to be sure your donation is being used to provide relief to people with genuine needs. We review budgets and lifestyles, and guidance for a long term plan. Together, we provide the daily necessities to survive these very tough times in our beloved United States of America. The following letters are just a few of the many I have waiting for our helping hand. I have had to read some of the most heart wrenching life stories from our neighbors in need, reaching out to us for help. Please help me help them. I usually like to conclude my column with a happy ending of resolution to a life of struggle. These are just a few of the many people waiting for our assistance, that will not have a happy ending until we offer them the caring and sharing they need. Please help.
helping handEliminating unprofitable
merchandiseMay 13, 2010A merchant I know of applied to one of the leading banks for a higher line of credit. The owners were hoping to take advantage of purchasing inventory at a reduced rate through greater volume commitments. The retailer brought along his latest financials as evidence of his trustworthiness and merchandising ability.The statements showed that the company had grown from a modest beginning to a very favorable net worth. The bank was very much impressed, but was disturbed that the company was unable to meet its current bills on time. So the bank decided to investigate the facts behind the figures before taking further action. They found that the owners operated attractive, well-located stores. The merchandise was skillfully displayed with seemingly good acceptance. Floor traffic was ample and the sales volume seemed satisfactory.
The Time is Now to HelpSon wants help for motherMay 06, 2010Dear W.C.,I am writing to ask for help for my mother. She has been a hard working woman her whole life. She is 78 years old and she struggles with arthritis and diabetes but still works 30 hours a week. She has always been the kind of woman to care for others in need. She lives on her own in the same mobile home she has lived in for the last 30 years. My father passed away 15 years ago. He always took care of all the maintenance and kept the mobile home up. Now it is a mess. The appliances don’t work. The roof leaks everywhere. Her utility bills are so high because there are leaks everywhere and her furnace is so old. I wish I could help her myself but I am disabled, wheelchair bound, and have been out of work for the past year. My disability doesn’t even cover my own expenses. I would love for her to live with me but I am living in a one bedroom apartment. My grown daughter is living with me since she doesn’t earn enough at her job to get by on her own. Living together we can just pay our bills. I gave her the bedroom and I sleep on the couch. My mom still drives but her car is in need of some serious repairs. I have tried to talk her into moving into one of those senior apartments but she wants to stay where she lived so happily with my father. Maybe you can convince her it is time to move on.
Helping businesses find successApril 29, 2010In the previous column, I discussed the need to engineer the menu for success by establishing food cost standards.The need to identify and control “profit leaks” that result from waste, shrink and theft were also discussed. I touched upon the role cost absorption plays in pricing entree and that instead of focusing primarily on revenue, that you change the mindset to percentile analysis.If you want to net 15 cents, you only have 85 cents to spend on your direct labor, fixed expenses, food, beer, wine and liquor costs. Controlling the latter will be this column’s focus.
The Time is Now to HelpRaising children alone after leaving abuseApril 29, 2010Dear W.C.,I am a mother raising four children on my own. I left my husband of 10 years several months ago to escape his constant verbal and physical abuse. I had to leave with only the clothes on our back to not raise any suspicion. When we first married he was a kind, loving husband. Even after our third child he still was a good father and supportive husband. Then during my last pregnancy I had many health problems. He had recently lost his job due to the recession and our health insurance ended with it. My husband became an angry, mean man over the next several months. It was as if his whole identity was tied to his job. When he couldn’t get another job he began to take it out on me. He would yell at the children and me for no reason.
LENDING A HELPING HANDEngineering your
restaurant for successApril 22, 2010Most restaurant owners focus on strategies to increase revenues. Ultra successful facilities combine increased sales with effective cost control systems.If it costs you $1.05 to make a $1, you can increase sales all you want, and not show the profit that you desire. Visualize a cylinder of water with 500 gallons of water. At the bottom of the cylinder are a series of small holes — high food costs, liquor, beer, direct labor (hourly employees) and no plan to effectively absorb overhead or fixed expenses (rent, ulilities, salaried employees, etc.)