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How Will Current Politics Affect Facility Management?

BY JUSTIN FEIT –

Changes are underway with the new administration – how will they impact you?

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President Trump’s agenda places several programs that have helped FMs in danger of being eliminated. Their survival depends heavily on the ability or willingness to push some key parts of his agenda through Congress.

After the unprecedented electoral victory of Donald Trump, the political climate in the U.S. has been in a state of flux. As the president fills in cabinet and department positions, enacts his agenda and navigates the tumultuous waters of the current political climate, the commercial building industry awaits Washington’s concrete actions and their wide-ranging impacts.

With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the White House, budget cuts, tax cuts and deregulation are likely on the way. While some of these actions might help businesses, these actions will also have consequences for the buildings industry in the coming weeks, months and years. How will the current political situation affect you?

Information Sharing for Energy Efficiency

Michigan State University had a plan to boost its energy efficiency across the board but was in need of more information and strategies to enact changes across its portfolio of academic buildings, science facilities, parking ramps and athletic facilities. The Department of Energy’s voluntary energy program, the Better Buildings Challenge, provided these vital resources, even though it did not offer any financial incentives.

“We have saved close to $10 million over the past few years by installing energy-efficient measures across campus. We have reduced the energy footprint by 13% in the 20 million square feet included in the program,” says Lynda Boomer, Director of Planning Design and Construction at MSU.

Learning from similar universities that had undergone comparable projects, MSU found success in its energy-saving initiative. The information sharing partnership of the Better Buildings Challenge helped MSU enact HVAC upgrades, chiller replacements and insulation improvements for optimal efficiency.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, partners commit to improve the energy use of their building portfolios by at least 20% within 10 years and lead the way in a network for peer-to-peer collaboration,” says Maria Vargas, Director of the Better Buildings Challenge. “By showing how energy efficiency has been successfully adopted – and the barriers addressed and overcome – these partners are examples for others across a myriad of building types and locations.”

Since joining the initiative, MSU has been able to achieve considerable savings in its facilities, and the program has been successful across the board in reducing energy usage in buildings.

“MSU became aware of the Better Buildings Challenge and Alliance through involvement in the International Institute for Safe Laboratories (I2SL). We had just completed the energy transition plan and were already on the path to reducing energy use on campus and becoming more efficient, so it was a good fit to join the Better Buildings Challenge,” says Boomer. “While they did not provide any financial aid, the program gave MSU an opportunity to network with other universities and suppliers that could provide ideas and opportunities for energy saving projects.”

In practice, the Better Buildings Challenge has been successful in helping participants reach that 20% goal. “Partners have saved 240 trillion BTUs in energy consumption, $1.9 billion in cost savings, 15 million tons in avoided carbon emissions, $8.6 billion in funds extended by financial allies partnering with DOE and 4 billion gallons in water savings,” says Vargas.

Initiatives that the voluntary Better Buildings Challenge has started include the Financing Navigator to help people find financing options, greater focus and research on data center energy use, water efficiency pledges that save both water and energy, and the SWAP, a reality TV-inspired web series in which property managers from two organizations look for savings opportunities in each other’s buildings.

The voluntary nature of the project allows organizations to earn recognition and share energy information with other participants, which can provide the spark for worthwhile changes. However, the future of the Better Buildings Challenge is in jeopardy due to a recent executive order and the future federal budget.

The Trump Trajectory

President Trump has targeted several Obama-era policies that directly relate to the buildings industry through executive actions and legislative proposals. One needs to look no further than the Better Buildings Challenge, which former President Obama introduced in his 2011 State of the Union address as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In his 2013 Climate Action Plan, Obama’s agenda included expanding the Better Buildings Challenge.

However, the Trump administration has taken aim at Obama’s Climate Action Plan with the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, identifying goals of striking down energy-related regulations that executive departments have mandated in the past. This executive order could threaten the future of the Better Buildings Challenge, although it is not yet clear how or to what extent.

Executive orders have some historical precedent of being more symbolic, guiding the vision and overall policy of a presidency. Whether or not this particular executive order will on its own largely impact Obama’s Climate Action Plan is unclear at this point. But what an executive order may or may not be able to accomplish can be done so through legislation.

The budget proposal Trump will expand and hopes to usher through Congress provides more concrete plans for cuts within several departments that house energy efficiency programs. While this budget proposal will undoubtedly undergo major changes to placate the many factions of the House, the original budget presented provides insight into the trajectory this administration would like to follow as far as federal funding goes.

Two of the most important departments to look at with the budget proposal are the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, both of which would face cuts in 2018.

The DOE’s proposed cuts seem small compared to other departments with 6% or $1.7 billion in cuts having been proposed to its 2017 allocation. However, under this prospective budget, the National Nuclear Security Administration would receive a $1.4 billion boost, meaning cuts to other programs in the department – ones that might impact building operators – compound under this budget.
One of the hardest-hit agencies under the proposed budget cuts is the EPA; the agency’s overall budget would shrink by 31% or $2.6 billion. Stating a desire to cut back on regulations that hinder businesses, the president set his sights on cutting one particular program in the EPA: ENERGY STAR.

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Technology Backlash: Good Old-fashioned Business Success Comes with the Personal Touch

slider-image-JoanneHello? Is anybody there? 

One of the biggest problems sales people face with social media and technology is the lack of real, meaningful contact and communication.  Sure, it’s quick and easy. But when it comes to closing deals, does it really produce the results you need?
Joanne S. Black, author of the new book Pick Up the Damn Phone! , How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal, is on a mission to help people learn the importance of personal contact.  Her manifesto is simple – to make a real connection and achieve true, meaningful communication, you have to make a personal and even in-person contact. Her goal is to get people to tweet less and talk more to the customers and contacts who really matter.

“It’s easy to get sucked into technology,” she says. “But the personal touch is the best deal maker there is.  Relationships matter more than anything else. The digital world—as great as it is—threatens personal connections. Humans need personal contact with others. Email, texting, social networking—these certainly have a place in business today, but none of them replaces the power of a personal connection.”

Based on years of research and experience, her book describes what she sees are the critical elements for success, particularly in business, where the creation of the powerful personal trust with executives and clients is necessary to produce immediate and long-term mutual economic benefits. Here they are:

  1. Stop Typing. Stop Texting. Get Personal Right Now. Pick up the phone and call. Go down the hall, take a walk, get in your car, take a train, get on a plane, hop on a bus, take the metro, and GO AND SEE THE RIGHT PERSON OR PEOPLE RIGHT NOW.  Make arrangements to see the people you work with face-to face. Go and meet your prospects and clients in-person. Thrash your competition. They are still tapping away on the keyboard. Even in our technology-driven world, nothing replaces a handshake and in-person interaction for both building and maintaining business relationships. Face-to-face meetings aren’t luxuries.
  1. Our Smart Phones Are Not So Smart Everyone looks down at their phones–bumping into people on the street, at networking events, on muni, at restaurants, in bed, at home. Our addiction to technology is bleeding into our personal lives. There’s no conversation. Kids are ignored. When you used to go into a public place, you assumed everyone was in that place with you. Now everyone is somewhere else. No one is talking. No one is connecting.
  1. Are You Spammed? Salespeople think that technology can do their job. They are under the mistaken beliefs, that if they do some research, identify specific trigger events and mutual connections that they can now spam away. It’s like digital snake oil. Executives don’t have “Meet with Salesperson” on the top of their list. They will always take a meeting with a personal introduction from someone they know and trust.
  1. We’re Smarter Than Our Buyers The digital buyer, Buyer 2.0 learns all about us with a click of the mouse. Salespeople are armed with the same tools. Even though buyers may know a lot about us, we know just as much or more about them. Clients don’t usually recognize exactly what they need. We do. Because so much information can be found online, the standard is now higher for sales to add value. Information isn’t knowledge. Knowledge comes from wisdom and experience. Just being tech savvy doesn’t mean you’re smarter than your buyer.
  1. Message to Marketing:  Keep Your Hands Off My Clients It’s up to salespeople to nurture their own relationships—not just with marketing automation, but with one-on-one conversations. Marketing should not be qualifying leads. That’s our job. Not only is generating leads our responsibility, it’s a task you don’t want marketing (or anyone else) doing for you. These are your clients, and you must continue to cultivate these relationships. These are the people who can send you the best, hottest referrals. So marketing–keep your hands off my clients.
  1. Bring In Your Team! Don’t be a lone ranger. If you are the manager, bring your technology experts with you. If you are the technology expert, bring your manager with you! Knock people’s socks off by giving them access to the right people that matter to the solution of their problem.. Show clients that you trust your teammates and that they can trust you. When we share data, strategies, best practices and even people, you make the best impression and win loyalty that lasts for a long time.
  1. There’s No Such Thing as a “Warm” Call.  If you don’t have a referral introduction, your lead is freezing cold—even though you mistakenly think you’ve been able to avoid sounding like a pesky telemarketer. Walk straight into meetings with your ideal prospects—without cold calling or trying to figure out how to bypass the gatekeeper. If you’ve been introduced by a trusted source, these gatekeepers will welcome your call. The secret isn’t duping them (trust me, they’re onto you). Make referral selling your primary sales driver and convert more than 50% of prospects to clients.
  1. Shine the Light! Prove that Live and in Person is the Best! Social networking isn’t the next big thing. You are! It’s not technology, but rather the person using the technology, that sets people apart. Social selling is a great way to expedite the first few important steps in prospecting; researching potential clients and identifying referral sources. Beyond that, it’s not social intelligence we need; it’s relationship intelligence that seals the deal.

It’s people, not technology, that seal the deal. It’s the real thing.

About the Author

Joanne Black is an expert on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is the author of the book No More Cold Calling, and a popular speaker who teaches people how to build their referral networks so they can quickly attract more business, decrease operating costs, and ace out the competition every time. Her clients include Autodesk, KPMG, Bank of Marin, California State Automobile Association, Colliers International, Sage Software, and many other companies. She is a member of the National Speakers Association.

She has a Bachelors Degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a Certificate in Training and Human Resource Development, with Honors, from the University of California Extension.  Joanne lives in San Francisco, California.

 

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What’s The Right Credit Card For My Business?

gty_credit_card_choice_kb_130405_wgA number of credit card providers have been really aiming at including small businesses in their product line. For new, small businesses this can work wonders as it is a lot easier to get a credit card than a loan from a bank.

Of course, there are dozens of choices available and this can often make it quite hard to choose a specific card. The best way to evaluate the sort of card that’s best for your business is to take a look at its spending habits. Different businesses have different spending habits, depending on the sort of business they have.

Balance

Consider if you plan on paying the balance over each month, or whether you will pay it off with time and want to pay the minimum payment. If you do decide to carry the balance then you will need to take a look at the annual percentage rate, as this can end up being quite costly for business if it goes wrong.

For those that wish to carry their balance and also have good credit, take a look to see if you can get a 0% credit card, as this will mean you pay nothing back for a set period. Fixed rates can be very attractive when interest rates are rising; however this is not the case currently.

For businesses that pay all of their balance each month, they should look for cards with rewards or longer periods of grace. These businesses can benefit greatly from paying back and the rewards for being disciplined are good. However, make sure you are disciplined as the costs for not being so are also high.

Charge Cards

A good alternative to the credit card is the charge card. This card differs as it allows businesses to have a short line of credit. The card will always be paid back in the full amount at the end of the month and there are harsh penalties. However, if you do pay back in full your business will receive a number of benefits for doing so. Charge cards often also charge an annual fee and there is a similar process to the credit card application online, when applying for one.

Though, if you do need flexibility, then a credit card is a better option – just be aware of the interest charges and when you need to pay the balance.

Rewards

We’ve mentioned rewards on a number of occasions and both credit card and charge card companies issue these. These often come in the shape of air miles, cash back and discounts at retailers, hotels or for services. Access to airport lounges and hotel upgrades are also part and parcel of these benefits and perks. The main thing here is to pay attention to the fine print if you choose a card with these perks, as the costs of not meeting the criteria are high.

So, in conclusion, the best way to choose a card is to look at your businesses situation and all the financial products out there and then take your ability to pay into account. By then choosing a card around your ability to pay, you can be sure that you will avoid steep charges and gain all the benefits you can.

Cormac Reynolds writes financial articles for a variety of businesses and blogs and has done so for many years.

 

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