Commercial Real Estate Purchasing Requires Considering Many Factors

Today’s world economy is changing. More and more people are turning to the internet for their goods and services. As our ability to transport goods across international borders increases exponentially, the world is truly becoming as small as a tiny computer monitor screen. Faced with the prospect of competing with online vendors, what can today’s business do to offer a clear and attractive alternative? The key is, and always will be, the customer experience.

As the old adage goes-real estate is all about location, location, and location. That is no longer true than when you are shopping for commercial real estate. Firstly, the location must serve your basic business needs. Does the location offer you all of the space your business may need for today, and can it expand to meet tomorrow’s needs? Is the location safe for your workers, and is the area an attractive destination to potential customers?

Perhaps most importantly, your business must be accessible to these customers. The closer your business is to the customers that you seek, the more readily you can compete with online businesses. Nothing beats the experience of being able to take a short walk to a store and see, feel, and test the goods and services you might need.

A well thought out and researched piece of commercial property is more than a tract of land and a solid piece of construction. It can serve as a piece of advertising as well. The location of your commercial real estate can be in an area with a high level of traffic. With a sign on the building, you can essentially create a free, ongoing billboard advertising your business. Since your business model may depend on local business, this kind of free advertising can be invaluable as time goes by.

You may also look for commercial real estate in areas with little driving traffic but a high level of foot traffic. Areas with high foot traffic are great for retailers looking to attract new customers who may be out for a day of window shopping.

Likewise, buying property next to existing businesses with similar customers may be a great way to work with your neighbors to create a one stop shopping experience. Today’s customer who notices your sign can be the start of tomorrow’s word of mouth.

Aside from the location, the actual structure is the most important aspect of a commercial real estate purchase. Aside from space considerations, you must consider what elements are available to you within the property.

If your business is dependent on a high level of internet activity, you should seek out property with stable, high speed internet available to each of the spaces. If your business is retail oriented, you will need large floor plans, preferably with a certain level of window space available for passing shoppers. Restaurants, bars and certain service oriented businesses will need kitchens, bars, or special pluming needs.

While today’s economy is victim to many up and downs, particularly in the real estate market, those in the market for a commercial space may be able to find a bargain. This is especially true if you are able to find a ‘fixer-upper’ property that can be retrofitted for today’s business needs. As real estate prices once more rise, these commercial properties could become a source of new revenue for the future.

No matter what kind of space you may need for your business, trained and helpful real estate agents will be able to aid you in your search for a new commercial real estate property.

Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs For the Future

Back in the days before the industrial revolution, everything was done by hand. Although the invention of machines dated all the way back to the wheel, it was only during the industrial revolution that machines became automated. Today, our world revolves around machines and nowhere is our mechanical advances seen more clearly than with heavy equipment. Whether its in mining or construction, it seems like we can move the world with our modern machines.

Operating these machines has become a very specialized skill and something that evolved from flipping a few leavers to becoming a full operator. Modern machines like cranes, bulldozers and dumb trucks are sophisticated pieces of equipment that requires skilled people to operate them.

Heavy equipment operator jobs are currently in high demand and in short supply. With billions of dollars of construction work on the horizon in the USA, we are set for some major shortages of operators.

The fact that there are more and more machines required to speed up building work and improve productivity, now is the time to get into this occupation.

Becoming an operator can not just give you a stable job, but it can potentially be a very lucrative career. With the demand being so high, salaries are set to rise and if you advance yourself and become more skilled in operating different heavy machines you can secure yourself a bright future – and always be certain of a job.

What is particularly good about being qualified as a heavy equipment operator is the fact that you can work across several different industries. Although the majority of job opportunities is in the construction industry, there is a lot of work in mining, shipyards and disaster relief.

Regardless of your preference and your skill level, you can find a job in this exciting industry.

Getting qualified usually involves a full year of training. Many trade schools and technical colleges offer 1 year programs and upon completion you will receive a certificate as well as a heavy vehicle drivers license. Not all qualifications are equal though and its important that you look into the school or college very closely. Prospective employers value certain qualifications more than others.

Its always a good idea to find someone who is already in the profession and ask around. Some construction companies eve have training programs where they will train you while you are in employment with them. This will allow you to earn while you learn and graduate with experience.

Visit my blogto read more on finding heavy equipment operator jobs.

Can An Auto Detailing Company Make Sales On Cyber Monday – Yes Indeed

Just because you operate a mobile auto services business doesn’t mean you can’t make money online. You’d be surprised. Take Cyber Monday for instance, that Monday after Thanksgiving where online sales are always the greatest. People are shopping for gifts, and what a perfect gift an auto detailing coupon or gift certificate might make for someone. Think about that. If you hand out flyers to your customers, why not put a small advertisement on the back of the flyer reminding people that they can order a gift certificate online, and if they order on Cyber Monday you will give them a discount.

Best of all, you get the money today, but you generally won’t have to do the work until after the first of the year. Interestingly enough, often after the first of the year fewer people get auto detailing services because they’ve run out of money, the weather isn’t so hot, and they have to wait until they have some more spendable cash. Other times they’ve overrun their credit card balances, and they can’t afford expensive auto services at that point. May as well keep your detailing business busy in January and February when the business slows down and all those gift certificates and coupon come in.

It might even pay to announce these gift certificates and coupons on your social media websites or social network page. Tell your friends to tell their families and give discounts for customers that buy gift certificates for others. After all, if someone likes your services so much, that they are willing to buy detailing services as a gift for someone else, they are probably inline as one of your top referral clients. There’s nothing like voting with their dollar for who they believe has the best services, do you see that point?

Now then, when someone orders a gift certificate online, you should send it out right away to the person who purchased it. This way they can get it to whoever they want. You should use card stock paper, a nice envelope, but unsealed. This will allow them to see what the gift certificate looks like before they put it into the envelope and send it or give it to the final recipient. I recommend using calligraphy type font, and it might even make sense to go down to one of the office stores and get special paper, or special certificates for this purpose.

I always recommend printing your logo on the certificate, and a phone number at the bottom, along with your website. Sometimes a recipient of a gift certificate will give it to yet a fourth-party. What do you care, you’ve already got the money. This is a good way that an auto detailing company can make money on Cyber Monday. So, please consider all this and think on it.

Which Is the Most Difficult Drug to Detox From?

The hardest drugs to detox from depend on your perspective. If by “difficult” you’re referring to the severity of dangerous medical symptoms that occur during withdrawal, then the obvious answer is alcohol and benzodiazepine. Both of these drugs could kill you during detox. But if you’re referring to the severity of emotional, mental and spiritual symptoms that affect a person during drug detox, then most addicts will agree that opiates are the most difficult; especially opiates like Methadone that are designed to help wean an addict from other opiates like heroin.

The Most Difficult Drugs to Withdraw/Detox From: Medical Reasons

The following substances prove especially challenging for many addicts to withdraw from considering the serious medical risks of doing so: Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines and Alcohol. The withdrawal process has been known to cause life-threatening complications in some people. This includes pulmonary and cardiovascular distress, respiratory depression, grand mal seizures, delirium tremens, hallucinations, coma and death.

Fortunately, death is rare but nevertheless the fact that it is possible creates a deterrent to treatment for some addicts. In most cases the risks of withdrawing from these substances can be mitigated by attending detox in a professional medical setting where healthcare practitioners and addiction experts can observe the detox process and respond immediately in case of any complications.

The Most Difficult Drugs to Withdraw/Detox From: Emotional Reasons

Thousands of years before the birth of Christ, the first annals of history were recorded by the ancient Sumerians. Translations of stone etchings show that these early peoples farmed and used opium extensively. In fact, their word for the plant can be translated to “Joy;” an apt description considering the widespread abuse of opium for the next several thousand years. By nearly all accounts, the euphoric high obtained by using opium is the highest feeling of joy most addicts have ever felt. But herein lays the problem.

When a person uses an opiate like heroin or Oxycontin to get high, they rapidly build up a tolerance not only to the drug, but also to euphoria. This means that it becomes more and more difficult to obtain the same euphoric effect with the same amount of opiates, so in nearly all cases users continually increase their dosages – some to the point of overdose and death. But in general the central nervous system becomes more and more desensitized to stimulus that would normally cause feeling of joy or euphoria. In fact, the opposite often occurs, resulting in a state known as Dysphoria; the opposite of euphoria.

Dysphoria is a severe problem for people who are detoxing/withdrawing from opiates because after the stop using the drug they often find it difficult or impossible to find joy or happiness in anything. This causes severe bouts of depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and unexplained misery, terrible sadness and overwhelming inadequacy and loneliness; even in the presence of others. These emotional and spiritual symptoms drive many people in the early stages of recovery to return to drug use in order to self-medicate their general state of dysphoria.

Opiates Used to Treat Addiction to Other Opiates

Many addicts report and anecdotal evidence suggests that withdrawing and detoxing from opiates that are used to treat addiction to other opiates is a severe and extremely challenging process. The reasons for this are not understood, but it’s possible that because most opiate treatment drugs like methadone block the release of dopamine, addicts do not obtain a euphoric effect, even though they are spared the normal symptoms of withdrawal (essentially because methadone maintenance merely prolongs the addictive process.)

Support forums on group sharing often results in addicts advising each other NOT to go on an opiate maintenance program and to tough out the initial stages of a more “pure” withdrawal instead. Therefore, it could be argued that detoxing from opiate maintenance drugs is the most difficult type of detox to undergo.

The Kindling Effect

Regardless of the substance, the Kindling Effect can make detox and withdrawal an absolute nightmare; especially if the addict in question has relapsed repeatedly in their lifetime. The concept of Kindling is that with each progressive relapse and subsequent withdrawal, the brain and central nervous system become more highly sensitized (or highly desensitized) to drug abuse and the feelings it creates. As a result withdrawal symptoms are much more severe and potentially dangerous for these individuals than for others.

Ultimately, the most challenging detox is the one you’re about to go through. Taking that first step is extraordinarily difficult regardless of what drug you use and how long and hard you’ve been using it. But the reality of the situation is that left unabated the consequences of continued active addiction are in every instance more severe and potentially life-changing that the actual process of withdrawal and detox, which usually takes 10 days or less for most people.

If you or someone you love is fighting addiction, the most valuable weapon you can give them is action. Do it now; get help, get a free consultation, and take the first step before it’s too late to move forward at all.

Go on a Shopping Expedition With Gold Coast Car Rentals

It would be practically impossible to think of a holiday, without indulging in a little retail therapy, and if you have to come a shopper’s paradise like Gold Coast, there is no way you can leave without at least a few bags. With cars for rental, Gold Coast becomes easy enough to traverse.

Now, when you come to the Gold Coast, you really need to think about and plan your shopping trips, because there is simply too much for you to choose from. Perhaps, the first thing you should do when you get into town is get yourself Gold Coast car rentals. This way, not only will you be able to get to all the places you want to visit, but also get your purchases back to your hotel.

As mentioned before, the choices on the Gold Coast are extensive and these range from high-end shopping to local markets. It is up to you where you want to shop and what you want to shop for. The local markets include those held at Surfers Paradise, Burleigh Heads, Broadbeach and Coolangatta. Other popular markets include Tamborine Mountain, Robina Town Centre, Canungra Country Market, Paradise Point Art and Craft Market.

With cars for hire, Gold Coast shopping can be much more fun, because you can shuttle from branded shopping to street side, with ease. Perhaps one of the first places you should head to is the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, which is home to some of the best retailers in the country. You can find almost anything and everything you need, under this roof and at reasonable rates as well. If at any point of time, you feel hungry or thirsty, there are several restaurants, bars and cafes.

The Oasis Shopping Centre is another place, worth visiting, because here you will find over 100 stores, which deal in specialty products. You will be able to find gifts to take back home, latest trends and fashion, including clothes and accessories as well as a supermarket. The best thing about this place is that you will also find a range of services, such as a bank, a post office and salon.

If you want a slightly more stylish shopping experience, then Harbour Town is the place for you. This is where you will find all the big brands, including, end of season lines of renowned designers. The shopping center also boasts of the country’s premier purpose built outlet shopping experience.

Three Tips to Run a Car Wash Business

The car wash business is considered as a safe business, as it provides regular profits. It is not a sector that millionaires would like to dabble in. However, it does offer people, who look for reliable investment options and are willing to work hard, an opportunity to do something worthwhile.

As with any other business, the car wash business too has its own tricks of the trade. It is definitely a sure-fire profit making sector. However, that does not mean that you just have to start a company and profits will follow automatically. No business ever guarantees that.

The following are some tips on how to run a car wash business professionally and profitably:

Tip 1: Invest wisely in cleaning machines

Cleaning machines have to be the first priority of the investor. There is no use or purpose of spending extravagantly to buy the so-called best machines. On the other hand, it would be disastrous to buy the cheapest machines. You need to do a bit of home work before making the purchasing decision.

The problem with auto detailing is that it requires the use of multiple cleaning machines. An automobile consists of different types of surfaces, with each having varying levels of hardness. The exterior body and engine parts are hard and sturdy, windshield glasses are obviously, and fabric seat upholstery and carpets are soft.

A single machine cannot be used to clean all these types of surfaces. As a result, a car wash business essentially requires different types of machines that are pressure washers for cleaning the hard surfaces and carpet cleaners to clean the soft surfaces. Steam cleaners, too, do a good job of cleaning the hard surfaces.

Tip 2: Focus on quick delivery

One of the secrets of success of an auto detailing business is the quick delivery of the vehicles. In this busy world, owners want the vehicles as quickly as possible. The average delivery time in this business now can be within several hours. So, how can you ensure that the cleaning is done quickly?

Employing the right mobile car wash machines would help. You should use carpet cleaners equipped with low flow technology and pressure washers having a low flow rate. Using steam cleaners with dry vapor output is another good option.

In short, make sure that all the car detailing machines transfer less quantity of water on to the vehicle surfaces. While doing this, you have to ensure that there is no compromise on speed or efficiency of the mobile car wash machine.

Tip 3: Use green chemicals

A good cleaning agent improves the cleaning power and speed of most car detailing machines. However, synthetic detergents do more harm than good. These products improve the efficiency of car wash equipment, but leave more toxic residues on the vehicle surfaces than the dirt they help to remove.

This is the reason why most reputable suppliers recommend using green chemicals along with their car wash equipment. These products are derived from plants and vegetables, and do not contain a single toxic substance.

Cheap Car Insurance and Car Safety – Drink-Driving

The dangers of drink-driving, sometimes referred to as dui or dwi, have become much more obvious in recent times, as well as being socially unacceptable, have become a major concern for motorists and safety campaigners and taken much more seriously by lawmakers and law enforcers.

The seriousness with which courts regard any form of drink-driving is reflected in the severity of potential sentences and the consequences that any form of drink-driving may have on the motorist, passengers and anyone potentially involved in any accident.

The practical side of being caught and convicted to any type of drink driving can result in any or all of the following consequences. There is certainly a likelihood or possibility of being sent to jail. This may be a relatively short time and act, or be meant to act, as a real deterrent to doing it again in the future.

This is normally the case if there is no one else involved and has been no real damage done to any third party. The jail sentence will normally reflect an intent to send a message to the person involved. If the drink-driving has resulted in an accident or damages of a serious nature either to an individual or their property or loss of life, then the jail term may be significantly longer.

If the driver involved has already been convicted of a drink-driving offence in the past, then the courts will take an even harsher view and significantly increase, or the likelihood is they will significantly increase the jail term involved. The motorist involved will almost certainly lose the use of their licence for a significant period of time, quite often up to several years. This has a major impact on their lives, and the lives of their family and people who may be dependent on them having a car.

There is likely to be a significant fine as well, the amount will be dependent on the age of the driver as well as any damage that the driver may have caused. This fine will not be covered under the motorists car insurance policy and will need to be paid by them themselves out of their own pocket. In addition, when they do eventually get their licence back their insurance rates will rocket and they will have to pay a substantial loading on their car insurance policy for a long time afterwards.

In addition to the possibility of being sent to prison, there is also a significant chance that the driver will be sent on some type of alcohol safety awareness program. A court may decide to send the driver to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and can potentially order a number of psychiatric tests if they feel that the mental state the driver is sufficiently unstable to warrant it.

Drink-driving levels are something that are a bit of an anachronism in that they are set by lawmakers as being a top threshold at which it is deemed safe to drive having drunk a small amount of alcohol. In truth the only safe amount of alcohol is no alcohol. Many people accidentally drink slightly more than they should do and often are not aware that they are over what is a relatively low limit when they decide to drive a car. It is a much safer approach to this issue either not drink at all if you’re driving, or if you do decide to drink either get someone else to drive you or to use a taxi or a minicab.

Also bear in mind that if you are involved in an accident of any sort, whether it is your fault or not if you have an excess level of alcohol in your bloodstream, then the police and authorities will prosecute and can convict you irrespective of who was at fault or to blame for any accident.

Wildlife Control – How to Choose the Right Company for Your Needs

Whether your home is brand new or decades old, you want it to be your place of rest. That means you don’t want to have to worry about whether or not you have intruders such as bats, raccoons, snakes or more running rampant in your home. If you do, then it’s time to reach out to a skilled wildlife control company. Yet, there are many characteristics to look for when trying to figure out which company you would like to chooses. Explore them below.

When you need to get rid of a bunch of animals, insects or pests on your property, you want to know that when you call a wildlife control company for help, they have the experience you need. That’s because there are many pests that need to be removed in a certain way that is different from another pest. And if the company tries to use the same method for all pests, then there’s a risk that the pests could come back repeatedly. A skilled professional is the way to go.

In addition, it’s also important that the company handle the task with speed. Having critters run around your home longer than what’s absolutely necessary, is no fun. So when you reach out to a pro, you need them to come in, remove the pests and be on their way. All this is to be expected from an experienced company that is used to dealing with such tasks.

Once you don’t see the critters any longer you may think that wildlife control company’s work is done. However, a good company will offer to maintain your home to make sure other critters do not get in. Because even though critters may be removed, it’s important to make sure the animals don’t find their way back in again. So when searching for the right company, be sure to ask about whether or not they will maintain things around your home for you.

Furthermore, what many people may not think about is whether or not the company is insured. This is something to think about since a worker could get hurt on your property. You don’t want to be held responsible, so it’s important to make sure the wildlife control company is fully insured before you decide to hire them.

Whether your pest is big or small, you want them off your property. To ensure you get the best possible company to handle the job, be sure to do your research and only work with a reputable company.

The Easiest Way to Write, Publish And Be Selling Your First Kindle eBook in 30 Days or Less

Who else would love to write their first eBook this month? Are you a coach, consultant, teacher or trainer who would love to see your first book published, downloaded and discussed around the globe?

The truth is, most online entrepreneurs crave the attention, the affection and the publicity that publishing a book will bring, but don’t have the stamina and persistence to get to the finish line.

After all… writers block is probably the biggest enemy for “REAL” writers who want to self publish, how much harder is it for online entrepreneurs and marketers who want to publish purely for publicity purposes, right?

I’m going to give you a really simple “secret” strategy that will help you overcome this obstacle, and if you follow my directions, you’ll have your first book ready to be uploaded within 30 days. (works in just about any niche you have PASSION or genuine authority or expertise)

The secret is simple.

Codify and collate questions from your community, into content.

For example, the Tumblr platform has baked this into their platform incredibly well, and as a result, some of the most popular Tumblr’s are now very books to boot.

How so?

The “Ask Me Anything” and “Submit” feature allows other readers from around the web to submit questions, thoughts, opinions or stories… and due to the viral nature of social media, and built in beauty of blogging around a topic that people share passion and a sense of purpose… you can get an AVALANCHE of submissions in YOUR niche, very quickly.

Next –

You simply take the best questions, content and submissions, and codify it into a structure that works as a book. It really IS that easy, and if you have a popular blog or Tumblr now with lots of existing readers, you can literally do this in a weekend. (especially if you are in an emotive niche where people like to share)

A great example of this?

There are a bunch, but one of my favorites is the “Clients from Hell” blog. Not only have they created a world famous blog around a pretty common shared experience by service professionals (difficult clients) they’ve turned the blog into a brand, a business and a blooming bank account to boot! (with a whole store set up around T-shirts, Mugs, and other branded goods that creative professionals buy by the busload)

Their book… and blog is ALL user generated content. Anonymous people submitting their horror stories working with clients, or short blurbs about difficult customers. It’s very entertaining, a lot of fun, and one of the most popular books (and brands) in the industry.

I’ve seen this done by psychics, mediums, personal development coaches, online entrepreneurs, designers, credit repair counselors, spiritual teachers and just about every other type of “publisher” you can imagine.

The good news? you can do the very same thing with WordPress, or any other blog platform that accepts submissions, and the truth is… you can do the same thing with Twitter, Facebook, and social media that allows you to accept content from your community.

It’s creative – and cool, and pretty darn easy to establish yourself as a bonafide writer, publisher, expert and authority site in just about any niche you choose… including the one that MAY make you rich!

The Life Cycle of Acquisition-Based Companies

A few years ago, I was discussing this phenomenon with the CEO of one of our clients. His company had grown almost entirely through acquisition, and for several years the company had experienced revenue growth rates exceeding 20%. However, the company had plateaued with respect to earnings, and looking at their overall performance it became clear to him (and to the Wall Street analysts that watched his company) that a great deal of money had been left on the table. Working with that CEO, I developed a model called the ACL Life Cycle. Understanding and using the ACL Life Cycle has proven enormously beneficial to clients depending on an M&A strategy for continued growth.

The ACL Life Cycle

The ACL Life Cycle describes the maturation process of companies who grow substantially through acquisitions and mergers. Using the ACL model, we can clearly identify the company’s current position. Knowing that position, and then looking forward at the company’s financial objectives through the lens of their business strategies, the specific actions that are needed become clear. Those actions can then be formed into an executable plan with associated performance measures, and managed through completion to bring the overall enterprise to heightened levels of financial performance. It is important for acquisition-oriented executives to understand the major phases and characteristics of the ACL Life Cycle.

Businesses who have survived one or more acquisitions and/or mergers are usually left with some degree of disintegration among their processes and systems. A company’s success in reaching the financial objectives of the merger or acquisition is directly correlated with the degree to which that disintegration has been replaced by a set of business processes and information systems that are common enough to generate enterprise-wide leverage. Implicit in that commonality is enterprise-level direction and guidance, manifested in company-wide business strategies and performance measures that align all of the combined business units. These businesses move, in this post-acquisition or post-merger environment, from an acquisition-based operating model to one characterized by shared services and a general commonization, to a stage where the enterprise “whole” really is able to become something greater than the sum of its business unit “parts”. It is more than the typical cost-reduction synergy anticipated in most of these transactions; it is a new platform for innovation, and an even higher level of innovation-based leverage.

Companies who experience substantive growth as a result of business acquisitions typically follow the ACL life cycle. ACL in this context stands for: Acquisition, Commonization, and Leverage. Many companies never leave the first stage of this maturity scale, and still more remain at the second stage. The most successful companies are usually those who recognize the importance of moving through all three stages, and consistently implement a structured process for doing so.
All companies experience pressures that push them toward decentralized operations, including idiosyncrasies of specific market niches served, the uniquenesses of isolated business processes, unusual needs of specific customer populations, and Uncategorized organizational entropy. At the same time, most of the companies that are successful in achieving the financial performance objectives established for the newly merged enterprise manage to overcome those challenges, electing to pursue the advantages of leverage, including:

  • broad synergistic brand recognition, enabling cross-selling, bundling of products and services, and improving revenue
  • interchangeability of business process resources, enabling the company to reduce its asset base
  • commonality and scalability in equipment / skills / facilities, facilitating innovation and growth into additional markets
  • higher utilization of business assets, reducing unit cost
  • lower levels of redundancy, resulting in reduced operating costs

These companies also typically find that maintaining compliance with financial reporting standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are enhanced as a result of strengthened internal controls.
Some companies make a deliberate decision to remain “holding companies”, which simply buy and sell diverse businesses that have only marginal relationships with one another. These conglomerates prefer to manage the portfolio through buying and selling components, and allowing the leadership teams at the individual companies to manage ongoing operations from strategy through execution. A few of them have been quite successful, and this article is sometimes not as directly applicable to those at a corporate level. It works very well, however, for their major divisions. Companies that benefit most from understanding the three stages of the ACL Life Cycle are those companies who have decided to focus on a single core industry – Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Chemicals and Polymers, Textiles, Electronics, Telecommunications, Consumer Products, Medical Equipment producers, Healthcare providers, and Financial Services providers are all good candidates. 

The Acquisition Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Acquisition Stageof their life cycles are usually focused on revenue growth, and capturing market share. They are characterized by high levels of autonomy in management, in the reporting of site-level data to the corporate parent, and in the design of their business processes and systems. Companies who remain in this stage for long periods of time following acquisitions usually act as holding companies, with the corporation allowing individual divisions or sites to operate almost as independent companies with their own P&L, strategic plans, and market-facing branding. Often, companies in the Acquisition stage lack a common vision of the future of the overall business, and tend to operate at cross-purposes among the operating units. They sometimes even compete against one another for the same customers. They share little operating information, making it nearly impossible to coordinate and deploy “best practices”, effectively distribute work load, utilize general market intelligence, and grasp other elements that could provide corporate-wide leverage of the businesses’ assets and resources. A few industry-specific examples here should help to illustrate the situation:

Manufacturing companies in the acquisition stage are usually characterized by redundancies in raw materials, equipment, staffing, and other business resources. Because manufacturing companies are relatively material-intense, a great deal of cost can be tied up in raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods. Since acquisition stage companies have so little visibility between business units, there is little opportunity for them to reallocate these assets in order to use them effectively. As a result, the most costly resources remain the most underutilized. In addition, acquisition-stage companies have not centralized the management of even commodity-level business processes, such as finance, human resources, and information technology. This lack of centralization leaves additional inefficiencies in place around accounting staff, employee benefits provider subscriptions, business software applications, data centers, and computing equipment. 

Telecommunications companies in the acquisition stage also have unrealized opportunities for greater leverage from their business assets, but these more often take the form of redundancies in network equipment, network coverage, retail outlets, partner agreements related to the sale of their products, and interconnection agreements with other carriers. In addition, acquisition stage telecom companies often have a substantial amount of unrealized leverage in the lack of integration among the data bases and information of their various divisions that could enable shared service operations for commodity-type processes such as billing and cross-selling of products and services. Like manufacturing companies, telecom companies in the acquisition stage also typically have unexploited opportunities around the consolidation of data centers and related equipment and staffing.

Healthcare providers in the acquisition stage usually find opportunities in different areas of their businesses, because of the differing cost structure of their operations. The bulk of their costs and their opportunities while in the acquisition stage of maturity in the ACL Life Cycle are related to employee salaries & benefits, and to medical supplies and drugs. It is less common for these businesses to be able to effectively share inventories and equipment, since the nature of their business is rooted in community health care that requires local service provision. The opportunities that do exist, which are typically not exploited well in acquisition stage health care companies, are related to centralizing commodity type business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems, and leveraging required service and supply procurement across the enterprise. 

Financial Services providers, such as banks, brokerages, credit unions, financial planning companies and tax & audit services exhibit yet another cost profile, with the largest elements typically including personnel and occupancy costs. In these businesses, like health care provision, being where the customers are is critical. The companies’ ability to understand the changing demographics and match up their branches as well as their skills to the targeted customer base is often a differentiator between the companies that succeed and those that fail. Financial services providers who are still in the acquisition stage of maturity in the ACL Life Cycle often do not have the commonality in fundamental business processes and systems to readily reconfigure their operations to meet the changing needs of their marketplace. Their acquisitions or mergers have enabled them to grow horizontally, typically into adjacent markets. However, lacking an adequate foundation of commonality in processes and systems, there is substantial money left on the proverbial table as a result of ineffective resource deployment, and delays in the reporting of operational performance data that would enable the company to be more responsive. These companies also fail, in their acquisition stage, to take advantage of their larger purchasing power to gain leverage around purchased services spanning items as diverse as employee health care and branch-level office supplies.   

The Commonization Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Commonization Stage of their life cycles have usually awakened to the value of focusing on Return on Net Assets (RONA) and Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). In order to begin to capture improvements in these areas, companies in the Commonization Stage often turn to shared service models of operations for selected business processes and systems. Strategies and performance measures begin to crystallize around common themes that span multiple operating units or divisions. Among the areas of focus for a shared service model in this stage are Finance (A/R, A/P, General Ledger, and Financial Reporting), Human Resources (Payroll, Benefits, and Employment Records), and Information Technology (Computer Hardware, Network Administration, and selected Software Applications Management). Some companies in the Commonization Stage also move Procurement and other aspects of Materials Management to a shared service model, enabling the corporation to more effectively leverage its broadest possible purchasing power.

Manufacturing companies in the commonization stage of maturity typically have shared services in place for commodity types of business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems management. As they advance through the commonization phase, some of them also begin to pull together a common platform for procurement, encompassing at least their most costly and common raw materials. A few in this stage reach a point where their data center
operations are completely centralized, and may even be outsourced to a third party like CSC. Toward the end of the commonization phase, centralization of work deployment and capacity utilization as well as process quality emerge as companies begin to deploy common processes and systems in customer requirements management, enterprise requirements planning, manufacturing execution systems, and distribution management systems. 

Telecommunications companies in the commonization stage of maturity also typically have shared services in place for commodity types of business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems management. As they advance in maturity through this stage, telecoms also become aware of the available leverage in centralizing the management of some of their most valuable assets. However, unlike the manufacturer’s raw material focus, for telecommunications operations those elements are things like spectrum licenses, network equipment, connection agreements, partner agreements, distribution centers, and retail outlets. Centralizing the management of those assets to identify overlaps and redundancies enables telecoms to emerge from the commonization stage with much more effectively leveraged business assets, providing broader market coverage with a lower total asset base and generating much higher earnings on that consolidated foundation.

Healthcare companies in the commonization phase of maturity find substantial benefit in the commonization and centralization of their commodity type processes and systems.  This is primarily because of the impact on cash flow and earnings when the employee base is reduced through shared services, and employee benefits and supplies are both leveraged in terms of the broader purchasing power of the company following a business acquisition of significant size. However, there is also an especially rich opportunity available to healthcare companies in the commonization stage that stems form the leverage available related to insurance coverage – not for the employees directly, but covering the potential liability of the company itself. This category of cost is typically about the third largest slice of the pie, and significant reductions there can translate quickly to a meaningful earnings impact. 

 Financial services providers in the commonization stage of the ACL Life Cycle, like healthcare providers, often find substantial benefit in the commonization and centralization of their commodity type processes and systems. With roughly half of their cost of operations wrapped up in employee salaries and benefits, there is an opportunity for meaningful impact on cash flow and earnings when the employee base is reduced through shared services, and employee benefits and supplies are both leveraged in terms of the broader purchasing power of the company following a business acquisition or merger. The next significant area for financial service providers in the commonization stage is the capability for rapid reconfiguration of the business based on enterprise-wide visibility of operational data and market intelligence.

The Leverage Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Leverage Stage of their life cycles are usually embarked on a fierce drive toward adding real value. They are relentless in their efforts to fully utilize the assets of the entire corporation, driving out redundancy and its associated costs. They are then able to pivot on the fulcrum of those more agile processes and systems to implement innovations that foster organic growth resulting in greater market share, greater revenue, and improved earnings for their shareholders. Leverage Stage companies also establish a structured and repetitive process of assimilating new businesses, gathering and incorporating market intelligence into company-wide strategies, and innovating on the basis of these new combinations to capture additional market segments. These companies are characterized by coordination and centralization of major business functions such as the planning and allocation of R&D, production work, inventories, raw material purchases, personnel, and factories & equipment. They centrally manage a broad spectrum of common business processes and systems, including customer requirements management, product data management, enterprise requirements planning, manufacturing execution systems, and logistics management. They are constantly changing, evaluating and configuring business assets to meet future market needs, acquiring and developing new businesses, and shedding assets that no longer fit their evolving model.

Manufacturing companies in the leverage stage of maturity typically have shared services in place for most of the critical business processes of their company, having reached beyond the commodity level processes and into those which deliver the most value to their customers. Examples include sales & marketing, order entry & customer service, capacity planning and management, production scheduling and shop floor control, and distribution requirements planning. As they move through the leverage stage of the ACL Life Cycle, some of these companies leverage the commonality of their processes and systems to produce innovative new products and services, identify additional market opportunities, and develop industry-changing relationships that reach through their supply chains. 

Telecommunications companies in the leverage stage of maturity also have shared services in place for most of the critical business processes of their company, including the seamless provisioning (often called “flow-through provisioning” by industry insiders) of all telephonic services to customers stemming from a single telephone conversation responding to an individual inquiry about a service. This type of capability is only enabled when all of the information from what have historically been disparate data bases is available in an intelligent form through excellent systems integration, based on exceptional levels of commonality and strength in enterprise-wide business processes.

Healthcare companies in the leverage stage of maturity have typically discovered and implemented leverage-based improvements in their major cost structure elements as a result of enterprise-wide information visibility flowing from systems integration and centralized management of critical business processes. Health care companies generally also have uniquely challenging business conditions related to three other areas where leverage level operations can be a powerful tool. 

The first of these areas is employee safety. Most health care organizations are spending a substantial amount of money in this regard, with training and documentation of company polices and safety-related practices requiring an increasing amount of company attention. The integration of systems and commonization of processes in a leverage stage health care company offers opportunities to more quickly incorporate internal best practices, externally imposed business requirements, and feedback about lessons learned across the entire health care organization regardless of geographic dispersion. Commonization and centralized management here can result in substantially lower cost, and more importantly, substantially higher and more uniform levels of employee safety. 

The second area is bad debt. The integration of customer data, and effectively interfacing a common set of enterprise-wide processes and systems with outside service providers such health maintenance organizations and insurance carriers, substantially reduces the amount of bad debt in leverage level health care companies. 

The third area, and perhaps the area of richest opportunity, is the area of patient medical information. This area is tricky because of legislation related to patient privacy and guidelines recently established for the maintenance and communication of patient medic
al information. However, one of the fundamental challenges faced by health care providers is the absence of available medical history, particularly when a patient is admitted to an emergency room or urgent care facility. Particularly when a patient is unable to respond to questions directly due to an incapacitation illness or injury, time can literally mean life or death. Making all necessary information available to the physicians and other health care professionals involved as quickly as possible is extremely important. When critical business processes and information systems for the management of this information are brought to an effective level of commonality, the rapid dissemination of the needed information can be greatly improved, while patients’ expectations around the privacy of their information are still met. 

Financial services companies in the leverage stage of maturity, like health care companies in some ways, must balance the needs of differing local customer geographies against the advantages of centralized management in critical business processes and systems. There is real value in allowing some latitude to local branch officers and customer-facing staff such as loan officers to accommodate the unique circumstances involved in specific cases. However, these companies often find that a significant advantage of the leverage provided by enterprise-wide commonization of processes and systems is the ability to see the nuances of differing markets at a corporate level, and recognize broader trends among those different markets more quickly and clearly than they could before. This improved visibility, in turn, enables management to reconfigure their service offerings, redeploy resources such as sales dollars, and organize sales campaigns for those specific markets more quickly than they could previously.  

The best of these companies, regardless of what industry they occupy, utilize their common platform of processes, systems, and information to understand the needs of their customers in unique ways, and fluidly translate those needs into the features of their products and services. A few, at the very top of the game, come to understand the customers’ needs even before the customer recognizes them, and when necessary they reconfigure their entire business to meet those needs, gaining unassailable competitive advantage. The enterprise-wide leverage they achieved as a result of carefully and skillfully handling the post-merger or post-acquisition integration of processes, systems, and data provided the platform from which innovation launched them to new levels of performance. Examples could as easily be provided for companies in pharmaceuticals, retail operations, or the food & beverage industry. The lessons learned and the techniques vary a little, but the principles are the same.