Eight Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life and Boost Your Income in 2017 and All the Years to Come

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The start of a new year offers a fine opportunity to revitalize your fast lube business for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Here are eight easy steps you can take now to simplify your life, lower expenses and pump up your net income in 2017 and all the years to come:

Slash Your Costs for Keeping in Touch

As for keeping yourself reachable, you’ve never had it so good. With your cell phone, broadband internet access and regular telephone service, you are never far from anyone you want to reach (or anyone who wants to reach you).

Unfortunately, you’re probably paying a lot more than you realize for all of that techno-communication. Contact your primary provider to see what bundled plans are available in your area. You may be surprised at how much you can save by giving all of your communications business to one company. In addition to saving you money, dealing with one supplier will greatly simplify your bill-paying procedures.

If you are already dealing with only one communications company, give them a call and ask for an analysis of your account. Companies are constantly coming up with new bundling plans, and one of them might save you a bundle. But don’t expect them to come looking for you; you will have to ask.

Give Your Accountant a Cut in Pay

Sure, you hate all of that paperwork and record keeping that has become part of your life. Don’t we all? Nevertheless, if you find yourself scrambling to find receipts and other records for your accountant at tax time every year, you are probably costing yourself some real money.

Chances are your business records are well organized, but that may not be true for your personal tax records. Certified public accountant Tom Normoyle said even the simplest of systems, one file for income and one for deductible expenses, can be a money saver.

“When clients present me with a shoe box full of unsorted papers, I have to charge them for the hours it takes to make sense of them,” Normoyle said. “A simple filing system that separates records of different types is one sure way to reduce my fee.”

Save Money Even While You’re Paying Bills

No one enjoys paying bills. That’s why we sometimes postpone that unwelcome job to the point of risking late payment fees and blemishes on our credit reports. Paying bills may never be fun, but new technology has made the task quicker, easier and less costly. If you’re still writing checks and sticking stamps on envelopes, here’s something you need to know:

Virtually all banks are online these days, and most offer free online bill paying. Once you sign up and choose a password, you log on to the bank’s website where you enter the payee’s name and address, phone number and the amount to be paid. The bank takes over from there, either by mailing a check to the payee or by making an electronic transfer of the money.

You need to enter the name and address of a payee only once. Each entry is saved, so the next time you need to make a payment, you need only to click on the payee’s name and enter the amount. The system will enter the rest of the needed information.

You save precious time, the cost of postage — now nearly half a buck for every check you mail — buying checks and trips to the post office. What are you waiting for?

Slay the Credit Card Monster

Life as we know it today would not be possible without credit. However, credit has its dark side, as well. Credit cards can be compared to drugs; they offer short-term pleasure in exchange for long-term pain.

Saying “charge it” is quick and easy, but that habit, uncontrolled, can lead you and your business down the road to financial oblivion. Once you become hooked on credit cards, it can be painfully difficult (and sometimes, impossible) to free yourself.

Independent studies continue to show that the more credit cards you carry around, the more likely you are to dig yourself into a bottomless financial pit. Equally important, if your wallet heavy with plastic is lost or stolen, the risks of identity theft skyrocket.

If your wallet or purse is bulging with plastic, now is the time to relieve yourself of that hazardous burden. Perhaps you have one of those reward cards for personal use and a separate card for business. That’s all you need. Dump the rest, and your wallet will be bulging with the money you’ve saved instead of all those plastic rectangles.

Caution: Avoid cancelling several credit cards all at once; that could affect your all-important credit score. Instead, cancel them over a period of months, and be sure to keep the two cards you have had the longest. The credit scoring companies like to see a long history of good credit performance.

Dig Yourself Out From Under All That Paper

With all the paper you are required to slog through for business purposes, you don’t need to add to the burden by hanging on to reams of paper because of the worry that you might need it someday. Most of it will never see the light of day.

If that sounds like you, organizing guru Maria Gracia suggested these guidelines to help end the nightmare of out-of-control paper.

• Open mail over the wastebasket

• Use the 4 Ds

1. Do it

2. Delay it — file it in an action file or archive file

3. Delegate it

4. Dump it

Open your mail right over the wastebasket. Immediately get rid of mail you don’t need, such as catalogs or advertising offers of no interest. Then, use the 4-D system on what is left.

Get Rid of Insurance You Don’t Need

The cost of insurance is a major burden for small business owners these days. That’s why it’s important to cut through the smog generated by the insurance industry. In addition to business liability insurance, there are only five types you must have: life, health, disability (as long as you are working), homeowner’s and auto. For most people, the rest are a waste of money.

Life insurance on your kids is a classic example of insurance you do not need (unless you’re raising a future Shirley Temple).

Never agree to credit life insurance or to car rental insurance. Your own auto policy or credit card will probably cover that base.

Once you’ve pared things down to those five types, look into consolidating some of the remaining policies with one company. That’s often a money saver.

Go the Extra Mile

Never forget that a complaint from a customer can easily be turned into a valuable asset. Some years ago, a major retail marketing study revealed customers whose complaints were satisfactorily resolved became better customers of the company than they were before the incident that triggered the complaint.

Some of the most successful companies in the world have been built on a foundation that revolves around the principle that customer complaints provide a valuable opportunity to build the business.

When L.L. Bean, founder of one of the world’s most successful catalog order firms, was starting out, he suffered what could have been a disastrous setback. Shortly after he began shipping his first waterproof, hand-made boots, complaints that the boots leaked started coming in from customers. Determined to fulfill his promise of customer satisfaction, Bean returned the full purchase price to every customer. Then, he set out to correct the flaw in the boot’s design. That was the beginning of the customer loyalty that helped to make L.L. Bean what it is today.

Sometimes, satisfying a customer complaint calls for measures that you may feel are unreasonable. When that happens, think of the cost in time and money as an investment in your future.

Once you’ve sold yourself and your employees on why your business is the best choice for customers who require the utmost in professional workmanship and dependability, it’s essential to focus your marketing efforts on ways to promote this image to both customers and prospects. In short, make customer satisfaction the hallmark of your business.

Adopt a Marketing Mentality

If customer satisfaction is the mashed potatoes, marketing is the gravy.

But keep in mind marketing is a complex challenge, all the more so in a business operating in a specialized niche such as fast lube. If you are to achieve optimum success in marketing, you must be willing to spend time studying, reading and analyzing your market and your competition.

Keeping your business healthy and profitable requires an ongoing marketing program. There is no other way. While they are essential to optimum performance, quality, competitive prices and dependability alone will not do it.

Marketing embraces all facets of your operation. To be an effective marketer, you must nurture and promote your business image, sell yourself as well as your service and concentrate on making your business the best choice for demanding customers.

While any time is a good time to adopt business-building strategies such as these, the fresh start of a new year presents an especially opportune time to strengthen your management skills.  

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