A Challenge to My Right-leaning Friends

Two years ago, I laid down this challenge to my left-leaning friends – What, specifically, to you expect of President Obama and the Democrats in control of Congress over the next two years such that if these things are not accomplished you will consider it a failure?

I received the following answers (with my assessments):

  • Close Gitmo – (Nope.)
  • End the war in Iraq – (Nope.)
  • End the war in Afghanistan – (Actually has expended it.)
  • Nationalize healthcare – (I would say no, but I think it is more of a mess now.)
  • Increase taxes on the wealthy, roll back the Bush tax cuts – (Will happen after January 1, 2011 when they expire according to the original law, I would call this a no!)
  • Reduce unemployment to 6 percent – (Nope.)

Today, I make this same challenge to my right-leaning friends – What, specifically, to you expect of the Republicans in control of the House over the next two years such that if these things are not accomplished you will consider it a failure?

For those of you in Texas, I will add – What, specifically, to you expect of the Republicans in control of the entire state government by an overwhelming margin to do over the next two years, such that, if these things are not accomplished you will consider it a failure?

Here We Go Again!

More drivel from WebCPA! In an article entitled In search of lost time: Five ways CPAs can increase their billable hours – and their profitability, Brett Owens (who I am sure is a very nice person) states:

The numbers tell the story and it all boils down to time management. If you bill for your time directly or on an hourly basis, diligent timekeeping is something you must do in order to get paid for all of the work you perform for clients. If you bill on a fixed-fee basis, accurate time records help determine how profitable specific clients and projects really are – and if they’re unprofitable, time records help us realize the viability of a client for the long term.

No, no, a thousand times no! Oh, when will this obsession with Marxism end!

Value (or cost) does not equal rate times hours. It never has and it never will.

My First Interaction with The Geek Squad

On Sunday, I had my first interaction with Best Buy’s Geek Squad when my new Mac mini failed to connect to my Windows 7 HomeGroup network. I have to say the experience was disappointing to say the least.

This morning I got a survey from them regarding my experience. I rated them a 2 on the NPS question (what is the likelihood that you would recommend us to a friend/colleague).

Here were my comments at the end of the survey. Let’s see what they do with them. Ryan was the name of the “Agent” with whom I spoke.

    1. Ryan was clearly reading from a script. While I understanding your wanting to give a consistent experience to callers, it would be better if they actually cared, rather than reading me something that says they care. I have talk to other companies tech support in India who (while it was difficult to understand them) clearly cared about my situation.
    2. Ryan tried nothing to solve the problem and made zero suggestions. I called Apple (the problem was with a new Mac mini) and the problem was solved in five minutes.
    3. I really like my Best Buy experience and I am a promoter of yours (yes, I recognized you are using Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score concept), but this was my first interaction with the Geek Squad and it was quite disappointing, put me down as a detractor.

In that case, I want my blood back!

On Saturday, I gave blood as part of a Collin County Libertarian Party event. Today, I received a phone call and it was transcribed by Vonage as follows, “Hello I’m calling on behalf of Carter BloodCare to thank you for saving a life. Now, here’s a blood recipient who’s a lawyer today.”

Carter BloodCare - Be a Part of Something Great.

My first thought was that I wanted to go get my blood back!

Upon listening to the message that last sentence was actually, “Now here is the recipient who is alive today.” And, what followed was a very nice message from a non-lawyer.

As GIlda Radner as Emily Latella said, “Oh, that’s completely different. Never mind.”

Decoy Effect Pricing Example

Sage Business Partner Wayne Schulz of Schulz Consulting posted this great example of using the decoy effect in pricing options from the New York Post on my Facebook page. This is similar to the example Dan Ariely used in his TEDtalk about the Economist. However, in that case, the publisher seemed to believe they had made a mistake and pulled the ad when Ariely questioned them on it.

In this case, I think the Post knows exactly what they are doing. In addition to the dominated option (4 weeks for $9.18), they have also included two anchor products -  $2 for a single issue and $5 for a back issue.

Adding the .18 to the dominated option also gives it an air of precision and simultaneously draws your attention to it. I originally thought this was a bad idea and I wrote Wayne telling him that. I have changed my mind, I think it is brilliant.

I also find it intriguing that they do not list the price per issue of each of the options. Most subscription pricing options provide this. I think not providing it is the smarter idea.

The lesson for professional firms is that you can use the dominated option to influence customers to a higher or lower level (see the decoy effect), but only if you provide options in your proposal. A range of hours from low to high for the same result is not options pricing. In fact, if anything, it is confusing to the customer.

Imagine if instead of a price on an item in a supermarket, they just gave us a range. A loaf of bread would be listed as between $2 – $4. Once you got home from the store (I originally was going to write ‘got to the cashier,’ but that is not accurate), they would send you a final bill indicating that you paid $3.75 for loaf. It sounds crazy, but this is exactly what professionals do when they provide a prospect with a range of hours proposal. It is, in effect, an infinite number of options. It is confusing to the customer.

Don’t do it.! Use options pricing instead.

Really! A Patent for Cost-Plus Pricing! Really!

My friend and Sage business partner Gary Crouch from CS3 Technology in Tulsa, OK sent me this story from the Tulsa Business Journal.

The article details the fact that a local company Fee Technology Inc. has acquired a patent for “a mathematical process for creating a direct relationship between the prices charged to the cost structure of a business.”

Correct me if I am wrong, it is called cost-plus pricing and the patented process is called multiplication.

The Most Effective Email Ever

Today, the most effective email I have ever received arrived in my inbox at 1:13pm CT.

The email was from a co-worker at Sage that I have never met face to face. Amber Kenyon is the senior strategic account manager for partner programs and works out the Richmond, BC office. One of her duties is working on the Simply Accounting partner conference, Simple Partnership at which I am a planned speaker.

It seems there has been decision to obtain special shirts for Sage team members and Amber was charged with obtaining the shirt sizes. Instead of the standard email asking for my size, Amber sent me this instead:

Good Morning Simply Staff,

I am extremely excited to let you know that you have been recognized as members of the staff to attend our Simply Partnership Conference in October. In efforts to ensure that we are organized before the event, I am going to ask you to submit your shirt size to me by tomorrow (Friday, August 13th) to ensure we get the correct size. The shirt will most likely be a golf type shirt to help you imagine yourself in it. If you do not reply by tomorrow I will have to guess and this is what you may end up with.

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I will be starting to send out more information in the next couple of weeks in regards to a schedule, presentation tools and other key bits that you will need to ensure that you are ready to go in October so stay tuned…

Have a great day everyone!

Sincerely,
Amber Kenyon
Senior Strategic Account Manager, Partner Programs
Sage
Suite 120 – 13888 Wireless Way
Richmond, BC, V6V 0A3

That, my friends, is an effective email!

I responded with my size, large, in record time. Her email is fun, witty and  has had the desired effect (at least on me) – a quick response.

Kudos Amber!

A Fair Price?

A recent video from reason.tv noted the word fair in English has few direct translations in other languages. This was fascinating to me being a lover of etymologies, but it also got me to thinking about the expression fair price.

Take a look at the video and please comment on your thoughts about what is a fair price to you?