Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Now Hear This!

There are inarguable certainties that accompany the aging process.

Receding hairline? Check. Well, to be accurate, no hairline.

Expanding waistline? Check – sort of. I like to think I’m fighting the good fight against that one. But in full disclosure it’s a lot harder now than when I was 25.

And perhaps more importantly than the physical deterioration, less patience? Absolutely!

My waning lack of patience has progressed to the point where if I’m in the rare mood for a quick-service meal, I refuse to go to the drive through and sit there idling while the cashier inevitably screws up the orders of the cars in front of me.

Ditto for the bank. I will not be held hostage behind someone who decided they need $200 in quarters and simultaneously requests a stack of deposits or money orders to boot.

Which brings me to the topic de jour of which I’m only going to say once.

Now that we’re post April 15th, I will again restart my conversations with potential successor and seller firms.

But for the record I will make two attempts to contact you and help you with your succession plans whatever they may be. After that you’re on your own. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Customer Service Overload

When it comes to hoarding – whether clothing or functional accessories – I’m a split personality.

For example, when I find a comfortable nightshirt – it will often last through several presidential administrations. Other times, I wear something once and then immediately donate it to a local charity.

As best as I can remember I have had the same soft briefcase for nearly 20 years. It has carried me through three different jobs, hundreds of airline flights and conventions, and I have often even taken it on vacations.

In other words, it’s a keeper. Or rather it was.

Alas, the other day I discovered a tear at the bottom ridge which sort of would defeat the purpose of carrying items in a briefcase.

So, I decided to visit one of our area’s large electronics and office supply retailer and pick out a new one.

I had a fairly good idea of what I was looking for so I figured my visit there would be relatively short since I had other weekend errands to run. Just pick one out, pay for it and then exit.

That is until I ran into an eager-to-please junior sales clerk.

I explained what I was looking for and in return I received an understanding nod and an escort to what amounted to at least five racks of laptop/briefcases.

The ensuing conversation went something like this.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Not-so-subtle Art of Reinvention

When you work remotely, you seldom bypass an invitation for a free lunch. Not only for a chance to get out of the office, but also for the opportunity to interact with someone personally as opposed to receiving an email or hearing a voice at the other end of the phone.

So, with the signs of early spring in full bloom in the Northeast, I made a 60-minute drive up the scenic Merritt Parkway in Connecticut to meet with the CEO of one of the country’s Top100 firms.

I was greeted by the executive at white tablecloth Italian bistro, and instead of a menu, he had his iPad spread out over the table displaying a power point presentation that detailed the sea changes that have occurred at the firm since he assumed the leadership reins some three years ago. In the first 10 minutes he shooed the waiter away three times.

The firm, which by design I’m keeping anonymous, had previously been quite active in the M&A arena often to the detriment of organic growth. He explained that he put the brakes on that strategy immediately and instead focused on how to grow internally and concentrate on what they do best as well as explore other rapidly growing niches.  

Where they previously had assigned managing partners for each office, he streamlined that down to a single managing partner for each region. That firm had a footprint.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

No Such Thing as a Free Ride

I promise this will be my last auto-centric column for a while.

But in my meager defense this vignette actually has an accounting angle – sort of.

Over the weekend my health club displayed a gleaming new McLaren automobile – of course cordoned off from touchy feely onlookers with thick velvet ropes and patrolled by a security guard who looked like someone straight out of the Blackwater recruiting catalogue.

Apparently, the local dealership was giving gym members a chance to win the car via $250 raffle tickets. Should you hit the proverbial jackpot a $300,000 McLaren Spider Coupe was all yours.

One member whom I shall refer to as Ralphie, decided to take a chance. Now Ralphie does not have the financial means of a hedge fund manager or a plastic surgeon – in fact Ralphie is one of the school bus drivers in my district. So, $250 would more than likely take a sizeable bite out of his weekly budget.

I tried mightily to talk him out of it. Thus, the conversation went something like this: