May 9, 2016

How to Better Manage Businesses with Multiple Locations

Just a few of Business News Daily's top 2016 business trend predictions include continued small business growth, an increased desire for human connections within business, same-day delivery and cross-border selling, and on-demand delivery and logistics services. With all these predictions come multiple business locations as enterprises expand to serve more customers locally, nationally and globally. Challenges businesses with multiple locations face include guaranteeing compliance across marketing messages and customer communications, maintaining brand consistency in advertising, and delivering accurate analytics to benefit the entire company.

For business headquarters, managing multiple moving parts to benefit the entire company requires technological tools to streamline efforts and make them more efficient. Here are ways to save a business with multiple locations time and money.

Prioritize Security

To protect businesses against physical theft and keep an eye on what employees are doing in multiple locations, HD security cameras act as owners' eyes while they're not there and help protect locations from internal and external fraud committed by employees, shoplifters and burglars. They can also give a bird's-eye view of how employees are working at any time, which helps give owners insight into the way operations are conducted.

Data security protection from hackers, natural disasters, equipment damage and theft is also vital. A centralized backup system like Mozy that encrypts data and makes it accessible to team members with user-granted permission saves money on IT costs while protecting precious digital assets. A digital financial software tool with password protection, such as Intuit Quickbooks, keeps company financial data stored safely.

Execute Consistently

For distributed marketing networks with corporate headquarters and local franchises or independent sales representatives, it's important to empower all markets to optimize communications with their customers while still using compliant language and corporate-approved materials that fit with the brand. Research firm Gleanster reported that the best performers in the distributed marketing space used messaging that was relevant and timely to each local community. To allow all markets to customize branded materials, upload them to a centralized cloud-based marketing resource management system such as Siebel that allows them to be downloaded and amended based on immediate local needs.

This is also the place to upload guidelines on compliant language, so workers in every area can learn brand standards and more efficiently create materials that fall in line with legal regulations and are likely to be approved by corporate. Systems such as these also allow for inventory tracking to ensure stock never runs out, as well as vendor communication and budget monitoring. Integrating campaigns with an analytics tool, even a free one such as Google Analytics, allows all locations to gauge factors that contributed to success and identify techniques that should be improved or eliminated.

Keep Teams Connected

Inc. magazine cites a lack of spontaneous communication and a lack of team cohesiveness as two of the most significant challenges businesses with multiple locations face. Because employees want to feel like an integral part of overall business goals, fostering a team mentality across the organization helps workers in various locations still feel like they're working toward meaningful objectives.

Video conferencing tools such as Skype allow team members to meet "face to face" even when they're in different states or countries. Project management tools like Trello allow for transparency in project progress, including for those working remotely. An internal social network like Yammer allows team members to offer ideas for collaboration and learn more about each other no matter where they are. Hosting annual team summits in a central location allows team members to bond in person and reinforces company-wide goals, while a broadcast service such as Livestream allows businesses to broadcast events live to any device for those who can't physically make it.

Look for opportunities in every area of a business to use technological tools to streamline efforts while unifying your team. Employees who have clear expectations and experience consistency and organization in a business with multiple locations will work more efficiently and improve overall efforts.

May 2, 2016

Hacking my Earthwise lawn mower battery

I bought an Earthwise 24-volt lawn mower last year to keep my lawn in check. It worked pretty good, but the battery didn't last the summer. It just stopped charging. I of course got lazy and didn't contact Earthwise to get a replacement. When I pulled it out of the garage this year and noticed that I couldn't mow longer than ten minutes I remembered... Oh yeah, I was going to call them about this...

Well, the one year warranty expired so that left me with one choice... buy a new battery. I decided to look online for replacements and found one at Home Depot for almost $150!


$150 is a little more than I was willing to spend, so I started looking around and I found a blog post talking about how the internal components of the battery are just two basic universal batteries!

It turns out the post was right. You can open up the battery housing by unscrewing the screws around the under ledge of the housing.

When you pull off the top you have two super cheap generic 20 Ah Chinese batteries.

For replacements, the post recommends two Universal Power Group UB12220 22 Ah batteries which fit perfectly in the battery housing. On top of that they are only $40 each with free shipping! You just have to make sure you hook up the wiring the same way that the old batteries were hooked up.

After putting it back together, I found that it was already fully charged and my mower started working like a champ again!

So there you go, pay Home Depot $150, or hack your battery yourself and only pay $80. What would you choose?

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