I’m a Freak about the Numbers

In our latest podcast episode, we talk about managing your financials, which KPIs to track, and how to keep the sales team from going rogue.

Good morning! .

Here are today’s highlights:

  • Patagonia and Kinesis offer counter-intuitive lessons in public relations..

  • Is your business ready for a government shutdown?

  • Does it make sense to have employees return to the office just to spend all day on Zoom?

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

I’m a Freak About the Numbers: This week, on episode 78, Jay Goltz, Diana Lee, and Dana White talk about how they manage their financials—what reports they get, what KPIs they track, and how they make sure the sales team isn’t going rogue. We also learn of a new wrinkle in Dana’s growth plan. She’s concluded that—along with rolling out franchises and installing hair salons on military bases from Texas to Germany to Okinawa—she also needs to create her own software platform to manage her salons. “Cha-ching,” responds Jay. Plus: Diana explains how the new digital marketing privacy rules hamstring small businesses—and what they can do about it.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia, talks about what’s wrong with the company: “‘You could really argue that the world would be better off without us in it,’ says Gellert, who took the reins at Patagonia one year ago. ‘We take more from the planet then we give back.’”

  • “We don't have enough diversity throughout the company generally, and in our leadership and senior decision-making roles.”

  • “We have issues around microplastics and microfibers. Our business is wholly reliant on the oil and gas industry. We use petroleum-based products, and even though we have transitioned overwhelmingly to recycled content, we still ship products around the world and so we've got a carbon footprint.”

  • “And we make things that people may love, but they don't necessarily need. Those are all things we're really uncomfortable with.” READ MORE

Shawn Busse, CEO of Kinesis, offers a lesson in winning PR without even trying: “Ever wonder how a small business can get meaningful PR? Do something interesting that helps people. Last year we were faced with a pretty impossible situation: parents were expected to become teachers while also holding down full time jobs. For me, this was a chance to get creative. Like repurposing our unused office as a school for our employees' children. As luck would have it, a small little newspaper in New York decided to profile this decision. We didn't issue a press release or hire a PR firm. Instead, the Times found us and thought it was a story worth telling.” READ MORE

DISASTER PREP

Is your business ready for a government shutdown that could come as soon as Friday? “Many small firms that do business — indirectly or directly — with the federal government could see cash flow dry up, at least temporarily. That’s because a shutdown puts a stop to most payments due under federal contracts. So if you’re doing work directly for the federal government or you’re a subcontractor in a federally funded project, any invoices you have coming due would remain open until political differences get resolved. Other small businesses that provide services such as research, consulting, delivery, transportation, technology, landscaping, and construction work to a government-owned facility or agency could also have to wait.”

  • “If you’re waiting for a passport, an OSHA safety inspection, a decision on a federal court case, regulatory clearance on a product, or a patent approval, or if you need help from the Internal Revenue Service, you could be twiddling your thumbs for a while.”

  • “A government shutdown would halt many of the activities currently undertaken by the Small Business Administration which means the thousands of small business loans and grants still being processed for disaster aid, COVID assistance, working capital, and longer-term financing ...”

  • “If you need tax assistance, a regulatory approval, advice on a project or a loan from the SBA, reach out to those government agencies now before they close.”

  • “Double check your cash. The longest government shutdown on record was 35 days in 2018-2019. Before that it was 21 days in 1995-1996. This one, if it happens, could be shorter. Maybe not.” READ MORE

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HUMAN RESOURCES

Employees are returning to the office only to spend most of their time on Zoom anyway: “As many office workers head back to the office — even as the delta variant spreads across the United States — employees are facing a bizarre new reality: They’re still spending most of their time isolated and glued to their computers for Zoom meetings, email and Slack.”

  • “‘There’s this weird tension,’ said Brian Kropp, chief of HR research for research firm Gartner. ‘We want everyone back in the office, but we still want everyone to do work by video.’”

  • “Beyond the ‘weird’ experience of it all, Wagner says the biggest issue is when two people at the office in earshot are on the same Zoom call. If both people have their microphones on, the ambient sound creates an echo on the call.” READ MORE

More job candidates are volunteering their vaccination status: “As employers make vaccine rules for workers and some limit hiring to the vaccinated, people are starting to volunteer their vaccination status on job applications, in résumés and on their LinkedIn profiles. David Morgan, chief executive of Snorkel-Mart, an online snorkeling gear wholesaler and retailer, started requiring full vaccination for the company’s 20-plus employees in the spring. He says he favors candidates who are candid about their vaccine status on their résumés because it prevents surprises late in the hiring process.”

  • “‘It saves us a lot of time and hassle to just clear it out in the résumé phase,’ he said. ‘Candidates must be aware of the fact that the vaccination status holds the same importance as your personal profile nowadays, if not more.’”

  • “In an August survey of 1,250 hiring managers, nearly 70 percent said they were more likely to hire somebody who indicates on their résumé that they have had the shot, according to ResumeBuilder.com, which commissioned the poll.”

  • “A third of hiring managers surveyed said they were automatically eliminating résumés that don’t spell out vaccine status.” READ MORE

Maybe this helps explain people not wanting to go back to their old jobs: “It was a hot morning in Baton Rouge, La., the day that Peter Naughton woke up on the floor. Sore, disoriented, he’d already grasped what his mother was now telling him: He’d had another seizure. But he also grasped a larger truth: He needed to pull it together and somehow go to work. A cashier and self-checkout host at the nearby Walmart, Mr. Naughton dreaded depleting his limited paid time off in the midst of a pandemic. His mother, for her part, insisted that her epileptic son, then 44, stay home and rest. The hours after a seizure were difficult enough. Toss in the stress of Covid-19 and a customer base that largely — and often angrily — rejected mask use, and a day at work seemed anything but recuperative.”

  • “In the end, Mr. Naughton’s growing headache and general fogginess were intense enough that he conceded to his mother’s wishes.”

  • “He dialed once, twice, three times. No answer. Given the penalty for missing work without giving notice — and the fear of risking his job during uncertain times — he saw what he had to do. Reeling, he made the trip to the store and clocked in.”

  • “‘Every day is frightening,’ Mr. Naughton said recently, now nearly two years into his employment at Walmart.” READ MORE

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Retailers have had enough of the bad behavior: “Chris Sirianni typed four words in capital letters, hit print and taped the message to the front door of his restaurant. The printout said simply: ‘BE KIND OR LEAVE.’ ... Restaurants and others in the hospitality business have long espoused ‘the customer is always right’ and ‘all are welcome.’ Now, many are rethinking that philosophy thanks to a surge in toxic customers and poor behavior. In the case of Mr. Sirianni’s restaurant, he chose kindness with an ultimatum, a directive gaining favor elsewhere. Others are choosing a more conciliatory approach, acknowledging inadequate staffing levels and asking for patience, but unapologetic about masking requirements and other public-health measures.”

  • “Nearly all hotels, restaurants and other customer-facing businesses are talking with each other to ask what works, what doesn’t and attempting to find some way to improve the situation.”

  • “‘We’ve always been people-pleasers in the hospitality industry,’ says Farouk Rajab, general manager of the Providence Marriott Downtown Hotel in Rhode Island. ‘The customer was always right. Well, they’re not.’” READ MORE

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Plant-based menu items are becoming fast-food staples: “Carl's Jr. has the Beyond Famous Star burger made with Beyond Meat. Burger King offers its Impossible Whopper, made with the infamous ‘bleeding’ Impossible Foods' beef-like patty. Del Taco has the Beyond Avocado Taco, and now a host of other vegan and vegetarian options. Even cheap-beef juggernaut McDonald's is in the plant-burger game with its recently released Beyond Meat-based, all-vegan McPlant burger, kicking off in the United Kingdom. And these are just to name a few.”

  • “The survey house Piplsay surveyed 30,700 people and found that of the 71 percent of respondents who said they'd heard of plant-based meat substitutes at fast-food restaurants, 54 percent had tried it, the vast majority (72 percent) of whom identified as meat-eaters.” READ MORE

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THE COVID ECONOMY

Power outages in China are shutting down factories and further snarling supply chains: “The outages have rippled across most of eastern China, where the bulk of the population lives and works. Some building managers have turned off elevators. Some municipal pumping stations have shut down, prompting one town to urge residents to store extra water for the next several months, though it later withdrew the advice. There are several reasons electricity is suddenly in short supply in much of China. More regions of the world are reopening after pandemic-induced lockdowns, greatly increasing demand for China’s electricity-hungry export factories.”

  • “Export demand for aluminum, one of the most energy-intensive products, has been strong. Demand has also been robust for steel and cement, central to China’s vast construction programs.”

  • “​​In the city of Dongguan, a major manufacturing hub near Hong Kong, a shoe factory that employs 300 workers rented a generator last week for $10,000 a month to ensure that work could continue.”

  • “Between the rental costs and the diesel fuel for powering it, electricity is now twice as expensive as when the factory was simply tapping the grid.” READ MORE

Oil prices have hit a three-year high: “Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, topped $80 a barrel on Tuesday for the first time in nearly three years amid growing signs of an energy crunch. Oil prices have leapt by about a quarter over the last month as fears of a looming tight market have overcome concerns about the Delta variant slowing the global economic recovery. Soaring prices for natural gas are also influencing the oil market, analysts say, as some industrial users of gas switch to oil and other fuels.” READ MORE

 STARTUPS

A Chicago startup has raised $1.5 million in fresh funding to build its search engine for romance novels: “The startup, which lets readers search for romance novels by subject and plot line, rather than only by author or title, has rebranded to Verve Romance. It has also launched several new features, including an ability to purchase products and a social component that lets users interact with other readers. Verve's expansion comes as it raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding from a handful of well-known local investors, including former 1871 CEO Howard Tullman, tastytrade co-CEO Kristi Ross, former Ancestry.com CEO Margo Georgiadis, former Fieldglass CEO Jai Shekhawat and others.” READ MORE

If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren