Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Can You Return a Car Online?

Each year the residents of Chez Carlino pledge to perform roughly 90 percent of holiday shopping online.

And in each season, although rising, our e-commerce percentage vs. traditional shopping still hasn’t quite approached 40 percent. While my neighbor, who averages 10 packages a week – holiday season or not – invites the local UPS and FedEx drivers in for coffee and Danish, I get a brief knock at the door and a gruff acknowledgement during a delivery.

But while one can sing the praises of avoiding throngs of bargain hunters and road rage duels over an available parking space, there are just some things that I cannot and will not buy online.

Take cars for example. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Partner Branding

On the occasions that I’m fortunate enough to be asked to speak before an association or a CPA firm, one of the concepts I continually stress and review with attendees is defining the difference between “brand loyal” clients and “partner loyal” clients.

Clients who are brand loyal, usually are, more often than not, clients of the larger firms – those with a widespread regional presence or even a member of the Big Four. Those clients rarely have a personal relationship with the people performing their audits or 1040s, as opposed to the partners at smaller firms who form an almost intimate bond with clients over the years and whose retention rates hinge on the strength of those relationships.

That’s why it’s often more difficult to facilitate a merger between two smaller firms with partner loyal clients, because one of the first questions that a client will invariably raise when learning of a pending merger, is asking whether the partner they have come to know and trust will still be there? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Toothaches and 1040s

In addition to gaining several unwanted pounds, getting trampled by bargain hunters during Black Friday and coming across the expensive discovery that one of the pipes under the kitchen sink has suddenly sprung a slow leak, my Thanksgiving holiday was capped off (pun intended) by a nagging toothache that turned out to be a slight crack in one of my rear molars.

It was time to see Dr. Jeff, my New York City-based dentist since 1997.

Dr. Jeff is one of those rare finds in any walk of life, a caring professional who quickly diagnoses a problem but doesn’t perform any unnecessary work and, for lack of a better description, is spectacular at what he does.

 I should mention at this point that it’s been nearly three years since I’ve made the daily commute into Manhattan from my northern suburban residence, but despite the massive travel inconvenience, I continue to see Dr. Jeff often taking a train to the city as early as 6:30 am to do so.

I’m sure many of you out there who are comfortable with your dental or medical professional feel much as I do. Why go through the hassle and red tape to change when you have someone you trust with your teeth or overall health?

I found him much the same way that many find their accountants – via referral. My supervisor at the time needed a root canal and immediately began singing the praises of her dentist and how painless he made what is often a painful experience. Having gone through a series of dentists whom I’m sure received their training in prison, I immediately jotted down his number and with hands clasped in prayer hoped he’d be taking on new patients.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Taxing Weekend

I was reminded of the above-cited vignette about taxes during the circus know as Black Friday shopping.

In addition to suffering a severe tryptophan hangover from ingesting ungodly amounts of turkey this weekend, I was also dragged kicking and screaming to several malls and outlets by an unrelenting spouse who somehow convinced me that due to the rise in online retailing the crowds would be less than in years past.

I questioned that hypothesis when I did my best impression of Jackie Chan, fighting off three overzealous housewives who wanted the same leather coat as I did. The truth be known, a 35-year background in boxing is no match for an angry veteran shopper brandishing a rolled-up sale circular.
Having managed to escape without life-threatening injuries, I just happened to glance at the register receipt after several purchases and noticed that despite the advertised “door-buster” prices, we still had the, ahem, privilege of paying New York State taxes on the merchandise.