Over the past several years I have written articles regarding product and service pricing and have made recommendations to my clients regarding the pricing of their products and services. These suggestions were based on my belief and experience that most businesses can pass on at least a 2 to 3 percentage price increase in their respective products and services to their customers each year and should do so annually at the same point in time, say January 1st.
Few customers if any will even notice that small an increase. If you are not doing this type of systematic pricing increase, your bottom-line profitability is going to suffer because the costs associated with running your business are increasing. If you don’t increase your pricing, you are simply absorbing the increases in your expenses (wages, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, advertising, and, the list goes on).
One example I like to use to demonstrate this point is to take any year-end income statement for your business and add 3.0% to your revenue figure; see what that does to your gross profit margin and your net profit margin. Most business owners I ask to do that exercise will come back and tell me they are amazed, and they all wish they would have done something like that sooner.
What prompted me to write this article about increasing pricing for products and services is the present inflationary market we are experiencing. With the last published inflation rate of 9.1% (a 40 plus year high), if you are not increasing your product and service pricing right now by at least 9.1% your bottom line will be greatly affected in a negative way for 2022. I would almost guarantee you that you are experiencing increases in almost every expense item, like the ones I mentioned earlier.
Avoid the Wait
Further, if you wait until next year to increase your pricing, we could be operating in a much different business environment, perhaps a recession, and then it will be very difficult to pass product and service pricing on to your customers.
I recently heard of one business that decided to do a 25.0% increase in its service fee and add a 5.0% monthly fuel surcharge to its pricing, and it experienced had no questions or complaints.
I know and understand passing a double-digit price increase on to your customers might not be possible in every situation due to differences in competitive environments. But I would guess you could pass the inflationary rate of 9.1% on to your customers as a fair increase.
Lastly, I also know and understand that by increasing your product and service pricing you might feel like you are adding to the inflationary spiral. However, if you don’t increase your pricing as stated above, you will be simply absorbing the increases yourself in the goods and services that you have to pay. A simple saying, I have stated over the years might apply here: “Do you want to pay your mortgage payment, or do you want to pay someone else’s”?
Silver Fox Advisors is proud of our members and would like for you to get to know them better.
Rich Hall has been a valued member of Silver Fox Advisors since 2020. He currently serves as a Board member, Chair of the Membership Committee, and Facilitator of two CEO Roundtables (The Woodlands area and in partnership with Houston’s Better Business Bureau).
As the founder of Rich Hall Group, he works with small business owners and leaders to help them achieve their vision of success for themselves and their company. He has extensive experience with family-owned businesses looking to grow, transition to the next generation, or prepare for a successful exit.
In addition to his advisory and coaching services, Rich is the proud father of 3 boys, Jeremy, Mark, and Daniel, and husband to his beautiful wife, Jamie. They’re active members of The Woodlands Methodist Church, and parents to pandemic puppies, Bucky and Riley.
Silver Fox Advisors is proud of our members and would like for you to get to know them better.
Dr. Ken Wells is one of our newest members. He is a seasoned executive with extensive corporate health experience spanning clinical medicine, health benefits, public health, and pharmacy. He is an Army reservist, flight surgeon, and pilot.
Ken serves as Vice-Chair of our CEO Roundtable Committee and an active participant in several of our programs including our recent Lunch & Learn on April 7th when we returned to an in-person gathering at the Houston Racquet Club. Ken joined a panel of other Silver Fox Advisors and updated those in attendance with information about “Hot Topics Facing Business Today.”
If you would like to learn more about Ken or join Silver Fox Advisors, visit our website.
As the Russia/Ukraine war escalates, oil and gas are really back in the spotlight. The rise in our gasoline prices largely driven by national policy to reduce the use of fossil fuels is now being exacerbated by the ramifications of this Russia/Ukraine conflict on worldwide oil prices. I had mentioned this in my recent blog …
In my coaching activities, I have found that there is one common issue present in virtually all of these folks that leads to what I refer to as the 3 Ps:
Lower Peace of mind
What is this roadblock?
CONTROL – it seems that most want too much control over many aspects of their business and other affairs. Often referred to as micromanagers
Almost always, they see others performing certain tasks and their first thought is that they could do it better, faster etc.
This leads to micromanaging, a desire to control too many things. This results in
Poor time management – spending time on trivial matters
Resistance and resentment from workers who want to do it their way – that are doing their best.
The Need for Control
Unfortunately, this need for control usually carries over to other parts of their life.
They want to be the writer and director of the play that is going on in their daily lives.
But because they cannot control so many things, they lose focus and momentum. Then people resist and the results almost NEVER turn out exactly the way THEY think it should or the way THEY would do it.
Since things are not meeting their expectation, this, in turn, leads to toxic emotions like frustration, which can lead to anger and resentment.
And people DO NOT like to be controlled. Like a dog resisting when you pull their leash. And since people are one of any firm’s most important assets, you need to set the stage for them to succeed and not control them.
Breaking this habit of control is the single biggest breakthrough I have witnessed in business owners that I have coached.
After I point out this issue and the negative consequences outlined above, they are ready to get out of that rut.
They are ready to work ON the business, not IN all the details.
Like right NOW.
They reaffirm what they already know – they should use their time on the highest and best use instead of the minutia that comes from micromanaging – in ALL of their affairs.
But habits are hard to break, so I recommend a process that they repeat over and over until they form a new better habit of “LETTING GO”.
That process is:
I ask that they commit to me and another person, to give up fighting to control people and things
They come to realize that while they engage in that fight, they never or rarely win.
I have them realize the value of peace of mind that comes from accepting people places and things for what they are. In most cases you cannot FIX people and have a minor influenced on other things/situations
They are to carry a copy of the serenity prayer with them and when they become agitated with people or circumstances, they PAUSE and read/think about, the serenity prayer.
A good but simple example is traffic.
Instead of tensing up and/or shouting, pause and read/think about the serenity prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference
I have seen this work with many people, myself included.
Their state of calm and peace of mind is immediately apparent and rewarding to them, their coworkers, their family, and friends.
Of course, vastly improved results naturally follow from such freedom. .
Do everyone a HUGE favor, let go of the reins and let the world go around.
Note – This article was written by Howard Rambin, of the MoodyRambin Company. He is a Silver Fox Advisor and is available for consultation, advising, and mentoring.
Most non-profit organizations’ fundraising struggled in 2020 and 2021 as the Covid 19 economic shutdown forced in-person donor and financial supporter functions to be greatly limited in size and scope or even canceled. Some organizations moved to computer-generated fund-raising events but these events were not as successful in raising money as the more face-to-face get-togethers had been. In addition, many businesses struggled financially just to get their employees paid and their doors open, thus having monies for support to charitable organizations and causes was and is simply just not there.
Further, in Houston, Texas the oil bust of 2020 caused many large companies that operate in the energy sector to limit or completely do away with charitable contributions.
Even prior to these 2020 events there had been a “Trust Crisis” developing regarding non-profit organizations. Ben Gose, a contributor to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, addressed this topic in an article he wrote that was published in the Chronicle’s January 7, 2020 newsletter. This article is very enlightening and worth reading.
With all this being said, there were also several very emotional political causes being promoted in this time frame, and many corporations began making contributions to certain groups and causes to show their stakeholders and customers that they are good corporate citizens and are providing support to these groups and causes.
On the Foundation giving side of fundraising, the story was somewhat different in that the stock market provided many Foundations that support non-profit and charitable organizations, increases in their corpora, thus enabling them to have the funds available to make contributions; however, these Foundations are getting more requests than ever before.
Further, Foundations have refined their requirements and giving criteria such that the request process has gotten more detailed and lengthier with committees and/or staff having to evaluate requests more thoroughly and provide the Board with very specific recommendations. Most Foundations today require at a minimum that organizations seeking funding have audited financial statements, which is an added cost burden on these charitable and non-profit organizations. Most Foundations will also check with Guide Star/Candid(1) to see if the organization has filed all the necessary organizational documents, like financial statements and 990 Tax Returns with Guide Star/Candid.
NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Richard Hendee/Horizon Associates, Inc. has been working with and assisting non-profit organizations for years. Further, Mr. Hendee has started several non-profits and has sat on numerous non-profit organization boards. He never agrees to serve on any non-profit board if that organization doesn’t have Director and Officers (D & O) Insurance coverage. In today’s litigious environment legal action of some kind is, unfortunately, a given. Even if the organization did everything right and by the book, if a suit is brought against the organization, typically the Directors and Officers are included in the suit, and the expense of hiring an attorney to defend being right can get really costly, an expense most individuals do not want to risk their personal assets for. Having D & O insurance coverage is a must for any non-profit.
Here are some other key recommendations:
Run the organization just like any for-profit business would be run. Eventhough the organization has been given non-profit status by the IRS for federal income tax purposes, it is still a business.
Develop a well-thought-out (not wordy) Mission and Vision Statement that clearly states the organization’s purpose and future direction.
Create an organizational chart that includes position titles and functional areas of responsibility.
Identify areas that need specific levels of expertise, like legal, accounting and human resources, and contract with outside service providers to assure all the details are done correctly from the start, like the Bylaws.
Set-up the organization with the Secretary of State in the State the organization is located in and make sure updates are filed periodically.
Prepare a thorough detailed Business Plan which includes what the organization does, for whom is does it, how it will do it, who are the management team and board members and what are their levels of experience, who are the competitors, how the organization will be marketing what it does, what the organization’s strategic plan is, and the key: how the organization will be funded and what happens if there are shortfalls in the funding.
Develop criterial governance policies like code of ethics, conflict of interest statement, whistleblower policy, directors’ roles and responsibilities, gift giving policy, investment policy, internal controls, and record retention policy.
Schedule monthly and annual Board Meeting dates and times and hold these meetings using a formal Roberts Rules of Order(2) process. Agendas need to be created prior to the meetings and sent out ahead of time with any related agenda item documents in order that directors may have an opportunity to review documents prior to the meeting. Further, meeting minutes should be taken at these meetings and approved at the next Board Meeting.
Create working Committees like Fundraising/Development, Audit, Finance, Nominating, Executive (if needed). Make sure these Committees meet regularly, take minutes, have specific assignments, and periodically report to the Board.
Create a Community Advisory Board made up of key visible community leaders, key business executives, and community group leaders who all can be called upon for fundraising assistance, opening doors that may need to be opened and/or providing invaluable information and support about the communities the organization may be servicing. Try to stay away from putting political officials on Advisory Boards.
Assure that the organization is properly protected by carrying General Liability Insurance, Hazard Insurance if the organization has a lot of fixed assets, Workers Comp. if the organization has employees, and event riders to these policies for fundraising events like Galas, Hunting Trips, Golf Outings, Trade Show Events, etc.
Create budgets and fundraising goals and regularly review and measure actual results.
If the organization has real estate, apply with all taxing authorities for a reduced property tax schedule.
Hold annual board retreats to develop annual plans and a five-year strategic plan. These plans should be evaluated and adjustments made periodically especially if a major event occurs.
Develop a robust communication plan to keep your sponsors, supporters, stakeholders, community groups, and volunteers updated on the organization, events, and developments.
Establish a volunteer group that can be available to help with projects, events, manpower shortage, and the like. These volunteers need to be informed and made to feel they are a part of the organization and a valuable resource.
Participate in local Better Business Bureau (BBB) non-profit evaluations. Often individual gift-givers check with the BBB to see if the organization has any complaints filed with the BBB.
Prepare collateral materials (3) that communicate your messages and what you want others to know about your organization. You want to make sure that your message is in your words to avoid any miscommunication or key details being left out in any communication chain.
Develop an annual giving campaign that is geared around some important date related to your organization, like the founding date. You could always use the end of the year date, as some contributors do tax-saving contributions at that time of the year.
Horizon Associates, Inc., founder by Silver Fox Advisor, Dick Hendee, has developed this non-profit organization position paper to provide non-profit organizations some guidance and assistance as individuals set up a non-profit organization and to provide existing non-profits some directional changes or planning ideas if needed Horizon Associates, Inc. does not guarantee using any of this material will result in your organization being able to achieve any specific results.
(1) GuideStar/Candid is an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. nonprofit companies. In 2016, its database provided information on 2.5 million organizations. In February 2019, GuideStar merged with Foundation Center to become Candid.
(2) Robert’s Rules of Order is the basic handbook of operation for most clubs, organizations and other groups. So, it’s important that everyone know these basic rules! Organizations using parliamentary procedure usually follow a fixed order of business.
(3) Collateral material is any media material used to promote a company’s products or services. This includes everything from print materials like posters and flyers to digital content like catalogs and e-magazines. Anything you can use to communicate your company’s brand message is considered marketing collateral.
Welcome to 2022. Yes, we have entered a new year. Like many of you, I have reviewed my accomplishments and plotted a course for this new trip around the sun.
As for me, I have chosen a noble task.
I want to help 10,000 business leaders and company owners become Better Bosses. Let’s start with WHY.
For a long time, there has been a saying among HR professionals. “People join companies but quit bosses.”
Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.
The individuals who get promoted into management jobs and/or start businesses rely on chance and circumstance for ways to figure out how to lead a team. Experience tells me that most fail in some way or another.
I think it’s time we seriously focus on making our bosses be accountable for better behavior.
First, let’s be real. In western commerce and so-called ‘big business’, we have this strange tradition of promoting the brightest bulb on the string to be a supervisor when a spot comes open. The logic goes something like this.
“Sally is our best producer. She would be the best one to lead this team.”
WRONG! Instead, we usually end up ruining the best producer and frustrating the team because Sally doesn’t do well leading people. (No knock on Sally. It could be a Bill or a George here too.)
In the case of the entrepreneur, this person has an idea for a product or service. So they start a company. The idea takes off. Pretty soon the owner knows they need a bigger team to keep things going. Hiring begins and the fun starts.
Like the promoted high-performer, most small business founders seldom know how to manage people.
In both cases, you can hope for a collection of positive experiences with prior bosses to model good habits, but guess what? Those folks had their own journey arriving where they were. So did you really get a good lesson?
Nature or Nurture?
Then there is another thought. In the halls of most business schools, you can find a raging debate among academicians about whether leadership is born or bred, nature vs nurture.
I’m not going to rehash the whole debate here. Instead, I will say this. I have met and worked with clients who clearly have more natural talent to be a leader. They have a sixth sense of reading people and making decisions. They are comfortable at the podium speaking to a team or a whole organization.
These individuals do shine in positions of leadership, running companies. And, like professional athletes, they get better with coaching to help them refine the natural-born skills they seem to have.
I wanted to play sports in school. But growing quickly to six feet tall before any notion of hand-eye coordination kicked in limited my future in athletics. Obviously, I was NOT a natural-born athlete. The few things I’ve tried since then, like golf or tennis, have required hard work.
On the other hand, I have worked with clients who did not start with “natural” leadership ability. Instead, they embraced the need to be a leader. They worked hard to learn concepts, principles, and values they could use to become better leaders and, hence, better bosses.
Therefore, my observation is simply this. Some people may be born to be leaders and get better with training. Others can learn to be better leaders with the right coaching, hard work, and commitment.
Back to Human Resources
I knew a global HR professional who boldly led a charge to redesign his company’s entire HR role. His premiss said, “If we trained better managers, our people problems would go away.”
While the company didn’t accept the theory outright, they did permit him to test it with a large global project he was assigned to support. The results were never empirically proven, but the overall success was positive based on exit reviews and employee feedback.
The idea is solid. Better bosses can make a difference in the way work teams view the company. More importantly, it impacts the quality and quantity of work contributed by employees.
Add to the above factors the rapidly changing world of work today in the face of COVID lockdowns, remote working, and workforce change.
Studies are beginning to emerge wherein labor pools are voicing one common theme. People are tired of toxic cultures created by bad bosses. Here are a few of these studies:
Management teams who have historically ignored employee feedback are being systemically voted out of office. No, I don’t mean literally, because there is no such vote. But symbolically, they are receiving a “no confidence” vote from people walking off the job. The “Great Resignation” it is being called.
In essence, the modern workforce is saying “Enough!”
Should You Be Surprised?
If you are in a management position, now is the time to take action. There is always time to review what you do with your team. You can make a change.
Want to be a better boss? Here are a few tips to help get the journey started.
First, disconnect from the tradition and legacy of your company’s “less than” culture. Take a serious inventory of the standards enforced by tradition. Does the culture rely on command and control leadership styles?
More specifically, does the culture rely on any aspect of interaction that serves to diminish an employee’s status? Is it customary to always talk down to the people below you by job grade?
When an employee brings bad news, are they subjected to ridicule and admonishment?
Break that chain. Treat people with respect. No one deserves to be subjected to harsh emotional lashings for trying to do their job.
Next, decide on an intentional change in the way you look at your responsibilities.
Shift your thinking. Can you do more to represent your team? Are there better ways to show your support for them?
Then, upgrade your communication ability. Are you the best communicator you can be?
Step outside your own box for a moment and get a read on the way your messaging lands. Ask for some 360 feedback about your communication style and effectiveness.
Just because you say it, doesn’t mean people get it.
Make your communication a true two-way exchange. State your issues, then ask for feedback on the spot. You can start with a simple ask from your people, “Please tell me what I said, in your own words.”
Also, don’t rehearse tragedies.
This is aline I picked up from the hit TV show “Blue Bloods.” It means don’t dwell on the bad stuff going on. If something fails, make a one-time review of why, learn from it, then move on. Don’t keep dredging up the negativity.
With this also, never use a team or individual fail to justify a ‘public execution.’ Good people fundamentally know if they made an error. You as the boss, don’t have to keep reminding them of it.
Finally, learn how to read the room.
Pay attention to what is going on around you. If people seem on edge about a problem that is in front of them, you have to handle the problem first. Then you can announce a new piece of guidance or instruction. You can’t teach a sailor to tie a knot when the ship is sinking.
The New Year
Turning the page on the calendar is a great way to reset your own focus. Please take a moment to think about how you manage and lead your team.
Can you be a Better Boss? We all can do something to up our leadership game. Why not join me in making 2022 the year of the Better Boss?
For immediate release – Houston, TX – December 2. 2021
The Silver Fox Advisors held its annual Business and Board meeting to elect new officers and announce its slate of committee chairs for 2022.
The new Board Chairman is Donnie Roberts of the Woodlands. Previously, Mr. Roberts served as President. Joining him is Doug Thorpe, elected as the new President. Mr. Thorpe of Richmond, Tx formerly served as the organization’s Vice President and Chairman of the Marketing Committee. He will retain that committee seat.
Joseph Tung, an attorney with Grable Martin Fulton PLLC is the Vice President. Mr. Tung served as the Chairman of the Education Committee and will retain that role too. The Education Committee organizes and hosts special events, workshops, panel presentations, and the Lunch & Learn programs, bringing keynote speakers.
David Neuberger will remain as Treasurer while Jim Griffing serves as Secretary.
Other committee chairs appointed at this meeting are:
Rich Hall of Spring. Mr. Hall chairs the Membership Committee. His Vice-Chair will be Ibrahim Saleh. This committee manages the selection and on-boarding of new members wishing to join the Silver Fox Advisors.
Herb Kalman will Chair the Outreach Committee. This committee is responsible for the organization’s efforts to coordinate with other area business entities like the BBB, United Way, and Rice University Business Competition.
Lane Sloan is the new Chair for the Business Engagement Committee, the team that oversees the CEO Roundtable programming as well as other program and service offerings. His Vice-Chair will be Dr. Ken Wells.
Don Baird will be the Vice-Chair of Marketing with Mr. Thorpe. The Education Committee Vice-Chair is Henry Florsheim.
Mr. Jim Iden of Houston will fill the member-at-large seat on the Board.
The Silver Fox Advisors is Houston’s premier organization of proven business leaders serving the needs of small business owners, CEOs, and entrepreneurs in the Greater Houston area. We help leaders establish, grow, and prosper their businesses by sharing our collective wisdom through robust service offerings. Visit us on the web at SilverFox.org.
On Tuesday, October 12, the Houston Better Business Bureau hosted its awards gala, honoring recipients of the 2021 Awards of Excellence.
Annually the BBB sponsors the contest to highlight the great work being done by the small business community in the Greater Houston area.
Judging for this contest is done by members of Silver Fox Advisors. Our advisors spend hundreds of man-hours reviewing the packages submitted by business owners, selecting winners in each of the various categories.
In the cover photo, are Silver Fox Advisor members (from L to R), Donnie Roberts, President, George Connally, Herb Kalman, Mark Miller (judging chairman), and Rich Hall. Not picked is Joseph Tung who co-chaired the judging team with Mark.
Congratualtions to all the winners. You can see more details on BBB’s website.