Keeping Your Appliances Energy Efficient in Winters

Home appliances appear more or less the same from outside, but they vary a lot when it comes to energy efficiency and cost of operating. Due to the increase in the budget, most of the families tend to cut some of their essential expenses to meet up this increase in power consumption by some of the home appliances that are used to fight the bitter cold.

In this post, you can learn about some of the easy and doable remedies that will help you to save money and energy in the long cold winter months. The tips below will not only help you save energy and stay comfortable but also would be a great money saving tip, especially during the colder months. You can also conduct the energy audit to learn about how and where to save the maximum, and consider making a more significant investment which can prove to be energy saving for a longer term.

Cleaning appliances for efficient useRefrigerator

Refrigerators are the most important home appliance used in the kitchen. This is one of the commonly used power consuming appliances in the majority of the houses. And to ensure that your fridge is energy efficient, here are some of the best tips to follow.

  1. The temperature must be adjusted differently for different seasons. You can easily check the setting of your refrigerator by placing a thermometer in a glass of water in the refrigerator overnight. Just check the temperature in the morning whether it is between 34 -40 degree F. But during winter it must be between 0-5 degrees F.
  2. During winter the freezer space often remains unused. So, keep a gap of at least one inch between the freezer and the refrigerator. You can also fill empty milk bottles and jars with water and keep them in the freezer.
  3. The condenser coils that are present on the underside or the back of your refrigerator must be cleaned using a vacuum cleaner during the winter.
  4. Check the door gasket of your freeze after a certain period to make sure that the seal in the gasket is not damaged. If damaged then replace it immediately so that the cold air of the freeze does not leak out.
  5. Manual defrost refrigerators are better than the automatic one. But they must be maintained properly.  If the ice buildup is thicker than half an inch, then it is time to defrost the freezer and the refrigerator. This will eventually cool down your refrigerator and reduce the consumption of power.
  6. Before putting any food into the refrigerator allow the food to cool down completely.
    The energy-saver switch of the refrigerator should be turned off during winter to save power consumption.


Most of the people tend to waste energy in the name of saving energy. It is not known to most of the people that washing dishes manually uses more energy than putting the whole load in the dishwasher. You can easily make your dishwasher more efficient during the cold winters by following some of the simple tips as discussed below.

  1. Instead of washing only a few utensils, wait until the dishwasher is fully loaded. Waiting for a full load cleans the dishes more efficiently.
  2. If you scrape the leftover food into the waste bin, you can save a huge quantity of water while using your appliance. Scrape the dirty dishes thoroughly using a brush or dry sponge so that the food particles cannot block your drain.
  3. It is better to use the air dry setting instead of using heat drying. This is not only an easy way to cut down the energy used to heat your dishwasher, but it also helps to prevent any damage to your dishes from the high heat. You can do this by either turning off the heat-dry setting of your machine or by opening the door of the machine after washing and then turn off the entire machine.
  4. Try to use fewer utensils as this might lower the number of utensils which has to be cleaned in the dishwasher.
  5. For the proper operation of your dishwasher make sure that the drain and the filter of the dishwasher are cleaned regularly.
  6. While buying a new dishwasher go for the size that fits your needs. Large dishwasher consumes more electricity and is also more expensive.
  7. The dishwasher with “light wash” cycle is a better option as it uses less water and works for a short period.
  8. Go for a dishwasher that has an internal water heater or hot water booster. It is effective as it can raise the temperature of the water inside the dishwasher.

Washing Machine

The use of the washing machine increases greatly during the winter season. Loads of woolen and warm clothes have to be washed during the winter. So, the use of washing machine increases during winter. The following tips would help you to save energy consumption by your washing machine.

  1. Make sure that the clothes that have to be cleaned are dirty enough. Normal washing machine needs 40 gallons of water per washing. So, try to run your machine when it is fully loaded.
  2. Cold water can also clean your clothes in a better way, and using cold water can save energy as 90 percent of the energy used by your machine is used to heat the water.
  3. Avoid using too much detergent and try to use HE detergent for your high-efficiency machine to check the energy consumption.
  4. The water level and the temperature setting should be correctly matched to the size of your load. Too much water for fewer clothes leads to more energy consumption.

Torn about appliance maintenanceDryer

Due to cold weather, the dryers are also put to use more in the winter season. Since it’s consumers power to function, it’s important that you get an energy efficient dryer to save on the monthly electricity bill. Here are some helpful tips to manage the energy consumption of the dryers.

  1. Cleaning of the lint screen of the dryer is a must after every use. Deposition of lint reduces the efficiency of the dryer.
  2. The dryer takes more energy and time to dry up clothes when multiple loads are not dried up back to back.
  3. When buying a new dryer, look for the presence of a sensor which can automatically stop the dryer when the clothes are dry.
  4. Use an indoor drying rack to save energy and reduce the damage of fabric.

It’s important that in case of an electrical fault in any of your household appliances, you get it checked immediately through professional appliance repair service in your area. For Texas residents, there are some well-experienced service providers which you can look up with appliance repair in North Dallas, TX. Also before buying these home appliances mentioned above consider these important factors to get the right product for your home.

  1. Select the suitable size
  2. Look for both the price and the energy consumption
  3. Consider the energy star logo on the appliance
  4. Go through the energy guide provided and if not sure, ask the brand support.

By following these simple rules, you can reduce your utility bill and can live a healthy environment. Keeping your house warm and doing all the household chores comfortably in winter season can often put a hole in your wallet with the high price. By doing above listed tasks, you can learn to make a big impact on your usage and save energy as well as a good amount of money. Start by unplugging all the appliances when not in use, and rest will follow gradually

SEO: How Can Small Businesses Compete with Big Players?

Epic Rocky Moment - Small could fight bigger playersUnderstanding small businesses

It is very common for small businesses to feel intimidated by the big players every time they express interest in entering their respective markets. Though these biggies have huge brand presences that have been around for many years, it is wrong on the part of a small business to assume the weaker position each time a stronger marketing program confronts them.

Put in the right kind of business approach, work ethic and research, and your small business will have every chance for experiencing growth. Truth be told, your small business enjoys a considerable advantage over the giants if you know where to search for appropriate opportunities.

Advantage of the big players

There are some advantages that big business websites have with their SEO, such as:

  • They enjoy immense domain authority.
  • Diverse links in huge numbers visit their websites and bias the search engines to give the content a higher ranking compared to smaller or new sites that lack recognition.
  • The big names are synonymous with being trustworthy, and they have built up their reputation over the years. Many consumers will feel a bias towards buying, liking and trusting these brands as a consequence.
  • They have the financial means that, as a small business, you are unlikely to be in a position to employ. These millions of dollars spent towards marketing efforts will eventually translate to better search rankings.
  • They can invest big whenever something comes up as a major priority. However, the investment will happen only in what they regard as a major priority, thus leaving the ground open elsewhere for the smaller businesses.

Where the small sites enjoy the upper hand

  • You are nimble, taking flash decisions and changing tact when you feel it is necessary without having to wait for approval from the higher authorities. Small teams are capable of getting a great deal of work accomplished in a small time as opposed to the larger teams.
  • You have the freedom of thinking out-of-the-box and letting your creativity go wild. This allows ideas to be executed fast without much interference from a strict hierarchy.
  • Small businesses typically have a better focus on any one aspect of their online marketing efforts. You can turn your attention to the PPC accounts while leaving focus out from SEO for a week or vice versa.
  • You can develop authority on a particular niche that will give you a lot of advantage to exploit in the long run.
  • Though the audience will be small, a small business can build a very strong and positive association with the help of professional New York City’s top SEO expert, thus allowing for faster monetization of goods and services.

Some competing strategies

Here is a look at some of the ways in which a small business can compete with big business in the complicated world of online marketing and SEO.

  • There will always be keywords that big sites will ignore or shy away from targeting

The SEO universe will always have certain keywords that big brands are either unable to target or are choosing to ignore at their own peril owing to PR, legal, or some other issue.

Comparison keywords, editorial keywords, and long-tail keywords usually feature in this list. As a small business, you can exploit these gaps left behind by the big guns and market yourself to anyone who chooses to go online in search of these specific keywords.

  • Target a very specific niche and aim for brand association and authority

Take for example a big business that focuses entirely on organizing travel plans around the world. Your small business in the travel industry can create a niche on areas such as travel destination ranking or focused city-specific itineraries that the big brand cannot use for developing its brand equity.

  • Indirect or hard-to-monetize content is what you should pursue

Mastering the interests of your audicenceBig businesses will focus not only on the keywords but also on the type of content that will allow their customers to make direct purchases, thus pinning down their focus exclusively on the path to conversion.

A small business can look beyond the conversion rate and focus on building authority in their respective niche and with the target customers.

Once that is achieved, they can focus on those content that the big businesses will not look into for their sites. Helpful neighborly tips, guides, and assistance on the niche is something you can consider as the small business owner.

  • Give more value with your content, something the big-brand competitors will find difficult to scale up to

A small business enjoys the position where it can invest considerably in a single piece of content unlike what a big brand would ever want to do. You can look into your niche and decide on a set of keywords that you think will be really important for your business.

The intent you put into this search will make a lot of difference as you set about creating a whole lot of content that caters to varying tastes and target customers. You can build yourself up into a five-star resource center to compete with the three-star resource offered by the big brand sites.

  • Big brands will never invest in one-to-one relationships; this is your big opportunity

Big brands usually go about their job with an attitude of “take it or leave it!” As a small business, you can build on your intent of providing better content with more direct relationships with those with whom your relationships will pay dividends, namely the customers.

While bigger brands have their PR teams handling this, you as a small business can try the direct approach. This will give you more credibility and enhance your authenticity along with the niche appeal. This is one major advantage for small businesses that can amplify their content reach into the stratosphere and make it impossible for your competitors to come anywhere near you.

Big brands and well-established industry names usually have a lot of hierarchy to deal with before an idea gets implemented and executed. All the things that they do have to be done at the scale which is not only time-consuming but also does not allow the same degree of focus. As a small business, these are some of the areas you can exploit to your advantage and become a prominent name in your niche with suitable online marketing and SEO efforts.

6 Amazing Ways To Explore New York City

There are so many reasons why one would want to visit New York. Whether you are going on a business trip or your personal adventures, there are a few things you should consider doing.

  • Fly to NYC via private jetCheck out the incredible Broadway shows. You are bound to find something that will be of great interest to you, from the costumes, the theatre and the whole experience in general.
  • The statue of liberty. This statue is a symbol of hope and freedom and is a great place to visit. It is in on its island, and you get to climb up the statue. Since it is a symbol of hope, it gives every person some encouragement and a sense of excitement
  • Times Square. As many of you may have already seen this in the movies, it is a good idea to experience all the bright, loud and busy life here. It is as shown in the movies and it does not disappoint.
  • The hotels and the food. Despite the very expensive cost of staying in one of the fancy hotels, it is a good idea to go to some and just get the feel of the place. Check out their floors, walls and all the interior decor; it might just spark some creativity in you.

There is a lot of food that is of different cultures and may be of interest to you. If you do not mind having some delicious junk food, this is the place to be. From the different pizza joints to the dog stands in the streets, you will definitely eat till you drop.

These are just, but a few things you can do while on your trip and there are so many experiences you can have too.

Ways of exploring New York

Having discussed some of the things you can do, you may wonder how you can explore this huge city and not miss out on anything. Well, there are a couple of ways you can achieve your goal;

1. Walking

New York is one of the greatest walking cities in the world. It is no wonder that the best way to explore it is on foot. You get to interact with the locals, admire the amazing architecture and enjoy the busy life in the city. It is always best to map out your destinations according to neighborhoods because it will save you a lot of time, energy and money.

If you do not want to go at this adventure alone, there are numerous walking tours that focus on different thing to choose from. These tours are the best because they are led by professionals who know the city very well and are willing to openly share the knowledge they have

2. Observe the city from above

This is perhaps the most breathtaking way to explore this city. It gives you a clear outlook on the amazing buildings and different architecture in the city. You get to see some high rise buildings that you probably never thought would exist. You can have this experience on rooftops together with other people looking for the same. Going to the panoramic rooftop bars for a small price will let you enjoy some mesmerizing skyline views, and it will be a good experience.

You can also hire a private jet and fly over New York City for that broad experience that you would otherwise not have gotten. You can easily fly from one place to the other while enjoying the amazing view beneath you.

3. Go on a cruise

There are so many ways to see the city from the water and a lot of companies offer amazing excursions from sunrise to sunset. There are also some New York water taxis that offer breathtaking views of the harbor, statue of liberty and empire state building. The best part about this is that you can get out and get back on as many times as you wish.

However, if you are not a big fan of large water bodies, then you should definitely opt out of this to avoid ruining the amazing experience you should be having in this city.

4. Movies

Some of the most amazing movies of all time have been filmed in this great city. If you are a great fan of movies, then you would definitely not want to miss out on a movie tour. Exploring the different filming locations of the most famous movies is a great experience that should be enjoyed.

You may decide to do your research and go for the tour on your own or you could join the touring groups. Joining other people on such a tour will not only be more fun but will also ease you off the research. You will get to learn a lot more than you would if you went at it alone.

NYC shopping district6. Shopping

Some of the most well-known brands when it comes to clothes, shoes, furniture and many other things are located in the city. Whether you decide to do some window shopping or actually buy stuff, it is a good idea to visit this stores. Some people cannot afford a lot of the things there but who said you can’t dream. This kind of a trip would open your mind to new possibilities and maybe improve your creativity.

7. Take the Subway

 There is nothing that will give you a sense of the real New York like public transport. This being the largest and most extensive subway system in the world, you are bound to meet a lot of people to talk to and tour the city like a local. You may not get how it works instantly but there are apps that can help you navigate your way around public transport.

It is without a doubt that New York City is filled with amazing things that you can do. There is something for everyone. Just take your time and fully enjoy your trip. Eat all the good food, shop all you want and explore the city to your best capacity.

Do not forget to interact with other people and their culture. As we all know, traveling and interacting with other people opens up our minds and we start to see things from a different perspective.

The Dark Side of Collaboration

How do you know the specifications zipped through a new application to an engineering team in China and a top supplier in Boston have not also wound up in front of a competitor in Baltimore?

So reads the latest item on the “What Keeps Manufacturing Executives Awake at Night” list. As the concept of collaborative manufacturing—the cross-functional and, increasingly, cross-enterprise processes within supply chains, product development lifecycles and even corporate finance— penetrates deeper into high-level strategy, executives must ensure that the drive toward greater visibility includes sufficient controls.

Security technology in place when in business collaborationControls to Keep Competitors in the Dark

Those controls should keep competitors in the dark about sensitive R&D; information, intellectual property and key financial figures without blinding trading partners to crucial engineering information, product specs and pipeline metrics. Effective risk management around collaborative activities requires an understanding of a company’s technical, intellectual property and financial exposures so that those issues can be factored into high-level decisions.

Collaborative technologies, such as the NetLedger’s Web-based sales-order processing, CRM and help-desk offering, enables RLE Technologies, a manufacturer of water-leak detection products in Fort Collins, Colo., to respond immediately to sales opportunities from customers like Dow Chemical, NASA and Westinghouse by locating the raw materials to fulfill the order should it occur. RLE’s primary security concern was using a hosted solution to obtain greater collaborative capabilities. “There is an inherent security risk in all ASP models,” says MIS Director Matt Lane. “We evaluated the security of our data concerning its safety and integrity. In the end, we decided that we could do a decent job of securing and backing up our data, but we’re not the experts.”

Although that type of IT-security concern reflects challenges associated with technology that enables greater internal collaboration, manufacturers testing the waters for external-collaboration capabilities are moving ahead cautiously because of intellectual property (IP) risks. Richard Iler, president, and general manager of Lanpher Wilson Corp., in Reston, Va., says that’s particularly the case among first- and second-tier suppliers in the automotive industry. “There is a huge concern about IP rights and whether or not my customers are going to turn around and shop my new product to a competitor who will then produce it at a lower cost,” Iler notes.

He believes that situation has played out too frequently with suppliers to the Big 3 automotive manufacturers. Although the Ford, Daimler Chrysler, and General Motors executives deny that they operate that way, Iler wonders if the message is permeating down into those corporations’ purchasing departments where the pressure to reduce costs is intense.

Risk Management Approach

IP and IT security concerns should form discomforting question marks for manufacturing executives extending fundamental processes to customers and suppliers. “The downside is that it’s not completely secure today,” says Ulysses Knotts, CEO of CommerceQuest, a Tampa, Fla.-based provider of business process management software and services. Although security and reliability-related technical standards are emerging in the area of electronic business-to-business transactions and communication, Knots says those standards are not quite there yet. “It’s not reliable regarding providing assurances that the transaction was actually completed,” he notes.

Forging an effective risk-management approach to collaborative manufacturing begins with a solid grasp of information systems – and, especially, the processes the technology supports. “Everybody has talked about collaboration with external partners,” Iler says, “but I haven’t seen very many people do it.” Although the technology to collaborate on product development and the quoting process now exists, the process of collaborating in those areas needs improvement. Internally, suppliers and manufacturers must coordinate product-development and quote among many different functions, including engineering, purchasing, manufacturing, and finance, before the organization can effectively and consistently communicate with external partners.

Collaborative security standards also need solidifying, but that’s not a sufficient reason for manufacturers to pass on sharpening their collaborative capabilities. Although the sophistication of IT infrastructure varies significantly among manufacturers—from, say, the rusting mainframes at an automotive manufacturer to the latest compliance and document management applications at a pharmaceuticals maker—IT security risks boil down to a good news/bad news proposition.

Risks vs. Benefits

The good news is that both the risks and benefits of greater collaboration with customers and trading partners come at a much lower cost than they did two to three years ago. “If companies used the old style of application integration [hard coding], they would spend one-third to 50 percent more to do it in two different places,” Knotts reports. The bad news is that the new, more flexible technology that enables collaboration is not airtight. A balance must be struck. Managing IT security risks means weighing the benefits of how much information is available in front of the firewall. Knotts says many manufacturers veer toward a hybrid approach, where they collaborate with trading partners (via supply chain management or PLM processes), but in a limited fashion. They’ll electronically send certain information, procurement needs for example, to external partners while restricting online access to other information, such as new-product design.

The mother of all IP risks, IP experts assert, is not having a comprehensive IP strategy in place. In their book, Edison in the Boardroom: How Leading Companies Realize Value From Their Intellectual Assets, co-authors Julie L. Davis and Suzanne S. Harrison provide a definitive guide to managing corporate intellectual assets. Davis and Harrison group best practices in IP management into five levels of increasing sophistication. The first and most important practice is taking inventory of the organization’s IP assets. If executives don’t know what they have, the assets cannot be protected. Other best practices at the lowest level of IP management that Davis and Harrison define include: obtaining IP while ensuring design freedom, maintaining patents, respecting IP rights of other trading partners and companies, and being willing to enforce IP rules. The second level also contains best practices ideally suited for manufacturers pursuing greater collaboration: relate patent portfolio to business use, establish an IP committee, establish a screening process and criteria, set guidelines for patent filing and renewal, and regularly review the portfolio to prune.

More sophisticated IP management leads to benefits beyond risk management. Pruning unnecessary patents, which cost $20,000 annually to maintain over their 20-year lifetime, can lead to significant cost savings. In a similar way, risk management practices around collaborative manufacturing should never be divorced from the benefits of extending the function or enterprise. Lane says his company’s investment in collaborative technology reduced the processes involved in placing purchase orders, generating work orders and generating invoices by 50 percent. Failing to achieve those types of collaborative benefits can spark more severe insomnia than the restlessness brought on by lax risk management practices.

Bolstering Toyota’s Vision in the 21st Century

Toyota is still one of the top automakers in the world. It has toppled General Motors as the world’s largest automaker. Having displaced Ford as No. 2 in 2003, Toyota has continued to grow while GM’s market share has been falling. Towards the end of 2005, Toyota announced its intention to produce 9.06 million cars in 2006. General Motors prefers not to predict its output publicly, but industry consultant CSM Worldwide estimates it to be 8.92 million vehicles. In 1963, when Yoshio Ishizaka joined Toyota, the company sold 24,380 cars outside of Japan. In 2005, they sold 4.95 million. We have been witness to amazing growth over the span of over 40 years with Toyota’s overseas operations.

Figures are fascinating, of course, but much has been said already about the Toyota Production System. So, when Yoshio Ishizaka spoke at length about Toyota’s achievements and ambitions at the Cambridge-MIT Institute Distinguished Lecture Series, we caught up with him as he stepped down from the podium and into the future.

TWSM Framework

But first, let’s look at the framework on which the future is built. In the Toyota Way in Sales and Marketing (TWSM), Ishizaka talks about the vision and the mission. The vision, he says, “is to become the most successful and respected car company in each market around the world by offering customers the best purchasing and ownership experience.” He then sets two missions for every employee to materialize the vision, “to create lifetime customers by adopting a customer-first strategy, and to become the sales and marketing radar for all of Toyota.”

To help implement The Toyota Way, Ishizaka established the Global Knowledge Center within the University of Toyota, a training division of Toyota Motor Sales USA, in July 2002. He chose the name carefully to avoid the connotations of academy or school, and he set it up outside of Japan, he says, because “I believe the success stories in overseas markets should not be pushed and controlled from Japan.”

Much of what Ishizaka says about Toyota involves the visual, but when it comes to the future of mobility, we move from visual to visionary. April 2002 saw the creation of Toyota Global Vision 2010, which identifies four areas of innovation that are set to have a dramatic effect on the company and its products. The first, ‘true to the earth’, involves Toyota becoming “a leader and driving force in the reduction, reuse, and recycling of resources by implementing the most advanced environmental technologies.”

Toyota Prius produclion lineCorporate Responsibility

‘True to the earth’ recognizes that vehicle ownership is forecast to proliferate, prompting concerns about traffic accidents, global warming, and air pollution. “Our responsibility as an automobile manufacturer will grow accordingly,” says Ishizaka. “The main challenge is how to achieve sustainable development.” Toyota’s approach to the challenge of what Ishizaka calls ‘sustainable mobility’ can be summed up in two words; ‘zeronize’ and ‘maximize.’ The first word may be unfamiliar, even to scholars of English, but is an efficient way of describing the quest for “zero negative impacts on our environment and society.” Maximize, on the other hand, refers to the search for “maximum positive impact on personal enrichment through comfort, fun, and excitement.” Opposite ends of the spectrum, you might justifiably think, and this puzzle is not lost on Ishizaka. “The main task is to build environmentally-friendly vehicles that are of high quality, deliver optimal performance and that please the customer,” he says. Aware that the increase in automobile ownership throughout the world will roughly double consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel by the year 2050, with an inevitable increase in CO2 emissions, he acknowledges that “as the central player in the transportation industry, car manufacturers will take on a very important role.”

Hybrid vehicles may be the current flavor of the month, and many would say ‘a good thing, too’, but fuel-efficient vehicles are only part of the solution. Ishizaka recognizes that the industry has focused too narrowly on “tank-to-wheel” efficiency when the real focus should be on “well-to-tank” efficiency. The tank-to-wheel efficiency of a typical gasoline-powered car is only 16 percent, he points out, meaning that 84 percent of its energy potential is wasted in things like heat and friction, but on the other hand, “we also need to remember that carbon dioxide arises from oil refineries as well as from automobiles.”

Full-Scale Research

Manufacturing the vehicles is another issue. Toyota’s research shows that the production of fuel-cell vehicles consumes more energy than conventional vehicles, so there needs to be a “structural change in the automobile industry and in the fuel and materials industries.”

But hybrid technology, Ishizaka believes, is crucial to the development of the ultimate ‘eco-car.’ The Toyota Prius, of course, was the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, (launched in Japan in 1997, and then on the world market two years later), although it must be said, not the only one now. Beyond that, Ishizaka believes in providing an ideal car for the future society: “we must consider and aim for the following; no CO2 from well to wheel; personalized mobility (one car per person, in much the same way people, own mobile phones today); intelligent mobility, a car society that has eliminated accidents and traffic jams through IT and ITS (intelligent transport systems), and finally, bridging the mobility divide (a car society where the physically challenged can drive cars, and all people on every single continent can enjoy the convenience of mobility).”

Which brings us (at last, you may think) to the image of the ‘i-swing’ car on the cover of this magazine. “The i-swing is a new personal mobility vehicle that allows drivers to express their individuality,” says Ishizaka. Well, maybe so, but whether you swing or not, in Massachusetts, in January, I think I’d rather be in a 4X4.

Creating Quality Culture in Business

It is said that the quality of an organization won’t supersede the quality of the minds of the people in it. Very true. Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort declares John Ruskin.

Quality orientation is a mandate that every organization is working towards. The core of success rests in how well each member is motivated for them to be inspired in delivering quality work. The manager pays a crucial role in fostering a quality culture in the organization. While the top management or the quality departments might design the most perfect plan for ensuring quality in the organization, it is really the manager who can hold the key to how well this design is implemented.

Here are some tips on how each manager can motivate and inspire a quality culture in his work-group:

  • Start the quality focus at the hiring stage itself. Emphasize quality to the recruiter and the candidate at the time of hire. Ask candidates for specific examples of when they have demonstrated adherence to high-quality standards
  • Set quality standards for the group so that every associate has a common reference point. Ask the team to help develop the quality standards. Specify gradations in quality standards from minimum acceptable quality to superlative quality.
  • Adopt quality standards endorsed by external professional associations. Pursue certifications supported by accredited bodies.
  • Keeping employees motivated is a part of maintaining quality cultureEducate the team about the implications and effects of substandard quality. Quantifying the costs of substandard quality is a powerful way to communicate the importance of quality consciousness. Also, make education about quality a big part of the induction process.
  • Create a training manual for the department that outlines quality standards for each task. Make the manual a compulsory reading as part of the induction phase. Revisit the manual every year as refresher courses; use mini-quizzes to reinforce the shared knowledge.
  • Convene team meetings that involve every team member. Ask every person to share his or her to-do lists and commitments. A public commitment will act as a pressure point for compliance. A shared understanding of the complexities of each associates task is a desirable by-product of the team meetings. It enables the team to appreciate and respect each other’s quest for quality compliance.
  • Convene a quality meeting every quarter to discuss the group’s success in meeting its quality standards. Do a quick informal check-in with the work group’s customers on the quality of work delivered and use the results to spark discussion during the meetings. Start a quality case-study portfolio to document each task-force improvements; it can serve as a valuable reference.
  • Match new recruits with senior associates; focus these relationships on helping new associates learn and meet quality standards.
  • Empower the associates to reject substandard work. Verbalize support for them in their insistence on quality
  • Tie a quality incentive to the compensation
  • Create monthly or quarterly awards for quality based on predetermined quality standards. Ask team members to nominate the fellow-associate they think has contributed the most towards upholding quality.
  • Require associates to seek feedback about the quality of their work from at least three internal customers.

What to Do When Business Partnerships Go Bad– And Why Outsourcing Can Be Your Saving Grace

Let’s put a scenario here:

A romantic couple, Arthur and Maxine, who have been together for more than 20 years, have called it quits. Worse than personal, the effect of separation redounded to their business, Wow Trailers, which sells concession trailers nationwide. Business and pleasure never really go well, does it? Not only does it apply to romantic relationships, but to long-standing friendships as well. There is a saying that there are no permanent friends (or lovers); only permanent interests. In this case, business could go on even without personal attachment. There is a famous saying that businesses last longer than relationships, and that’s where the problem starts when you mix the two.

Husband and wife business teamAccording to a survey back in 2007, around 3 million companies are owned and managed by married couples. The figures could have more than doubled since then.

A consulting firm calls such business/marital partners “co-preneurs.” Some suggestions it offers co-preneurs are the following:

1. Avoid competition
2. Schedule business discussions
3. Don’t be afraid to disagree
4. Accept that disagreements are normal
5. Take time away from each other
6. Don’t sacrifice everything for business.

There are telltale signs of trouble as soon as personal interests and relationship clash against business. Here are some of the first signs of trouble:

1. Poor communication
2. Poor collaboration
3. Not wanting to hear the other’s input

The case of Wow Trailers is a classic story of man and wife no longer working effectively together however hard they try. Losing trust in one another could be a main source of the problems. For example, Maxine never informed her partner about her decision to consult a third-party company for business evaluation. Common business decisions such as where to locate their office, or how many people to hire or fire, and who should be responsible for this and that function have become a big source of conflicts between them.

Keeping it professional under a business partnershipA consultant says that as long as a business is doing great, money keeps coming in, and results meet expectations, then everything is rosy. The minute something goes wrong, sales targets not reached, customers not coming back, then that is the time employees start doubting their future in the company. They lose their confidence in management and eventually this affects the entire organization’s attitude. It then becomes the source of mistrust between romantic and business partners questioning each other. Someone is not doing his or her fair share of responsibility.

However, if a business potential is out there and it is inevitable for partners not to get into it, they should ensure there is constant communication, cooperation, and consent in every decision they make. They should have a written and signed-off agreement to avoid the blame game when something goes wrong. It may seem simple but in fact the biggest challenge for them.

Likewise, there should also be an exit plan that is mutually favorable to both of them. A consultant says that a big mistake that rocky business relationships go through is when partners do not have an exit plan.

Such an exit agreement should include terms on how one partner may get out of a deal, how to sell or transfer ownership or position, or in what ways the other partner can legally buy out the other.

One major issue that the partners should look into is how they are perceived by the staff, employees, and their clients.

In the case of Arthur and Maxine, their loss of trust in each other greatly affected their professional performance and as a result, eroded the employees’ morale. It can be difficult to separate business and relationship, and it is even more challenging to leave employees out of the quarrel. Almost always, employees get caught in the middle, and it is difficult to shield them away from it.

Outsourcing your ledgers to CFO services to do accountingThat is why, having a third-party accounting firm or CFO services do your financials is crucial, especially if you choose to mix your relationship and business. If you do this, at least you do not get to put yourself in a dilemma when these unexpected turnarounds happen.

What then should one look out for in a business partner? It is best to put emotions out of the picture because adding this to your decision-making process can confuse you on what you think is best for your business. Avoid partnering with people whom you simply want to partner with because you like their company. You must be specific with the skills you need, and the personalities that you put on the team. A lot of restaurant businesses fail because of friends coming together to put up an enterprise, then they realize along the way that many members are not fit for the role.

Get someone who has something new to bring to the table. That someone should have a specific unique skill or core expertise. It could be in technology. It could be in sales and marketing. It could be in financial management. Or it could also be in strategies. Whatever that is, there should be an incremental value to that contribution someone in the team to continue the partnership.

As for accounting, it is best not to mix personal relationship and business. When you put money into the picture, the relational dynamics change. You can either hire an accountant or outsource this part of your business, so you get to future-proof your financials.

The Right Truck Differential Ratio for Towing & Fuel Economy

When towing a trailer and the truck seems lacking power, mainly uphill, lowering the axle gear ratio may help. If the truck’s burning too much fuel, increasing the axle gear ratio could improve fuel mileage per gallon. Naturally, there are some adverse effects when changing a trucks axle ratio.

If the axle gear ratio is lowered, the truck will burn more fuel. If the axle gear ratio is increased, the truck will lose power, which may be especially noticeable uphill.

Basics of the Trucks Powertrain and Gear Ratios

The trucks gear ratio begins with the engine and ends at the wheels. Changing the trucks axle gear ratio is about making the wheels spin faster or slower as it pertains to the revolutions per minute (RPM) of the engine.

A slower turning engine equates to better fuel economy. A faster turning engine will create more horsepower for towing and climbing hills. There are generally two other factors that affect wheel speed between the wheels and the engine, the trucks transmission, and axle(s).

Engine RPM
  • The trucks engines RPM is based on how many times the engine’s crankshaft turns in a given minute. At a consistent highway speed say at 65 mph, the engines RPM can differ from one truck to the next depending on many factors like transmission type, axle ratio, and tire size.
Transmissions Affect on Engine Speed
  • In lower transmission gears, the engine creates more RPM and more horsepower, which is vital for accelerating when taking off. In straight drive, the output of the automatic transmission is turning at the exact same speed as the engine. In a manual transmission, the same rule applies in gear before overdrive.
  • In overdrive, the output of the transmission is actually turning at a faster speed than the engine. Overdrive is great for fuel mileage, but generally not suitable for towing a heavy trailer, especially uphill.
Axle Gear Ratio Affects on Engine Speed and Wheel Speed
  • Changing the trucks gear axle ratio affects the engine RPM at a given speed and the wheel speed. As an example, if the objective were to save fuel, the axle ratio would be changed to a higher gear ratio. If the trucks gear ratio is 4.10 and were changed to a higher ratio like 3.55, the engine would turn approximately 15% slower, everything else being equal.

Replacing the Axles Ring and Pinion to Change Axle Gear Ratios

Of course, one way to get a different axle gear ratio is to replace the rear axle, but that could get pricey. The most common method is to change the axles ring and pinion. The ring and pinion are what creates the ratio in the axle’s differential.

4.11 and 3.08 pinion gear sizesIn the illustrated photo, the ring and pinion on the left are for a 4.11 ratio axle, the one on the right is for a 3.08 ratio axle. The two pinion gearheads are a different size, and the 4.11 pinion has 11 gear splines whereas the 3.08 has 13 splines. The ring will also have a different amount of splines and must be matched with the pinion.

The important thing is that the ring and pinion must be compatible with the axle. The truck dealer, axle specialist or off road truck shops should be able to tell what gear ratio ring and pinions are available. When looking for a replacement ring and pinion, bring all the numbers off the metal tag on the axle for easier identification.

4X4 Axle Gear Ratios

When changing axle gears ratios in a 4X4, the front and rear axle ratios must be the same ratio when operating in four-wheel drive. If the front and rear axles are different ratios, severe damage to the transfer case and other truck components will occur.

If changing the ring and pinion is too costly, changing the tire size to help with fuel economy or towing could be a cheaper alternative. If saving fuel is the primary focus, using overdrive as much as possible will help to save fuel. If towing, using the trucks lower gears is another alternative.