Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Either the economy is back or we're doomed, so pay attention small businesses.
We keep hearing about the bad economy, the joblessness, the struggles of small business owners, etc etc.
But as we gear up for the November elections, I want to share some observations and experiences.
• Joblessness? Have you seen the way the majority of people show up to apply for a job? Holy cow! Maybe I'm old, but in my day, you put on clean slacks, a pressed or starched shirt, and maybe even a tie, and polished/shined shoes before going to inquire or apply for a job--and that was even for something as simple as a grocery sacker job.
I was in a retail store the other day that had "help wanted" signs on the door and saw two different job-seekers waiting to speak with a manager. I chatted with both of them, mainly out of curiosity. They were guys, one a senior in college the other in his mid-twenties. Both were wearing faded jeans, t-shirts, dirty tennis shoes. . . but both had high-dollar smart phones, of which both were fiddling with.
No surprise that the manager came out, took one look then told the two that the position had been filled. Neither applicant had a resume in hand, neither said "sir" or even stood up straight when the manager was addressing them.
I wonder how often this scenario presents itself each hour of each day?
• My wife just got off the phone, slamming it in frustration, with a carpet cleaning service. We had made an appointment to have a specific individual with this franchise come out and clean the only carpet we have in the downstairs area of our house.
Most of these franchises try to charge us--belay that, rip us off--by claiming this area encompasses two or even three rooms. It does not and a tape-measure proves it. I've escorted more than one of these salesmen to the door who cannot read a tape measure. The carpeted area downstairs covers part of our living room and part of the dining area immediately adjacent to the living room. Essentially, the area is only slightly larger than the area in our master bedroom--which, thankfully, is now tiled.
Yet these small franchises continue to insist that such an area is two or even three rooms. Bull Stink.
But what's really rich is when I see these same idiots at our local chamber of commerce meetings and breakfasts and they're moaning and wringing their hands about this horrible economy and how bad business is and how nobody needs their carpet cleaned.
• I've been trying to get bids to have a fence company come out. What I want are bids to remove a section of old fence, haul it off, and then set steel posts in concrete. That's all. I'll do the rest.
For some reason, this is a problem with both large and small fence contractors alike. The idea that I'll haul out my table saw, mitre saw, air compressor tools, etc., and finish out the fence exactly the way I want it befuddles them.
That is, it befuddles them whenever I can get them to even come out to give me an estimate.
We get these doorhangers all the time from fence companies. We get coupons in the mail from fence companies. We get homemade flyers taped to our front door and garage door from fence companies. But when we call them, they rarely show up. Those that do hem-haw around and insist on finishing out the fence themselves even in spite of how clear I made it that we'll finish out the fence.
To date, two different fence companies have given me estimates which have the same costs whether they finish the fence or I do. That's more Bull Stink.
What these geniuses forget is that I can go down to my local rental place and rent an auger and cement mixer and do the job myself. Problem is, my back is acting up again and I really don't want to subject it to all of that. I will if I have to.
I do have another option, however. We have an area of town where the illegals and immigrants hang out looking for work each day. I have zero compunction about hiring and paying them to do what I need done.
• We hired a tree service to cut down a half-dozen trees on the property and to trim up the others. We took bids, chose our company and gave them the job. We're talking four-figures here.
The job was done as sloppy and half-ass as anything we've ever seen. Repeated calls to the company garnered us zero satisfaction and our check had already been cashed. I filed the obligatory negative Better Business Bureau reports, which also have done zilch, and found every internet survey/feedback site I could find and wrote an honest assessment of the experience.
Yet. . . the principle of this tree company is an alum of my old college and I read in the last month's ex-student association publication how this guy commented about "business being so bad that he may go out of business."
News flash, pal. It ain't business that's bad--it's you that's bad.
And these are but just a few examples of poor small business experiences the wife and I have had. I won't even go into the experience our consulting group is having with vendors and contractors except to say that is much of the same.
Have we simply accepted, over the past four years, that mediocrity is acceptable and that is WE can't make it in business, then it's Bush's fault and therefore the responsibility of the Ozero administration to now take care of us?
Have our job-seekers decided that for some reason, they are so awesome and indispensable with their whopping no years of experience and incomplete college education that retailers and restaurants can't live without them, and therefore no reason to even shave or shower before casually strolling in and literally demanding a job?
What the hell is going on here?
Small business IS the backbone of America, but from what I'm experiencing, it is rather indicative of why this country is broke.
The people I hear who aren't constantly griping about the economy aren't doing so because they're too busy working their butts off. They're getting up early and staying late, they're answering their phones and returning messages to their customers and clients. They're giving their customers one-hundred percent satisfaction and they're doing it for a fair price.
When they need help or have a position open up, they're looking for like-minded applicants--not people with surly attitudes and pants dragging the floor.
So, I don't know. Judging from experience, we either have fantastic news and that being that the economy is back to one-hundred percent, or we have some not so good news, and that is, we're doomed.
Either way, the one thing for certain is that we simply cannot continue on in the status quo.
Posted by An Ordinary American at 1:04 PM