Archive for December, 2013

Mold on shower ceilings

Mold on shower ceilingsAnother maintenance project for do-it-yourself people and consumers is painting the shower ceiling whenever it becomes tired looking or worse like ours. Mold on shower ceilings. The picture that we’ve taken and included in this post is the picture that shows how bad our shower ceiling was after about two years, since the last time that we painted the shower ceiling. Before we talk about removing the mold, we want to emphasize that if you leave the bathroom door open and let the shower dry after each use, there will be far less mold to contend with.

This is a small maintenance job that anyone can perform.

Mold on shower ceilings – steps to Follow

The steps needed to repaint the shower ceiling are as follows:

Remove the light

Sand your ceiling to make sure that it is smooth and all mold is removed. If the mold is really bad you may want to wash the ceiling with a combination of water and vinegar.

Lightly brush the ceiling to remove any dust that might remain.

Paint your ceiling with semigloss or glossy paint. The paint should be able to deal with high moisture situations.

If you use regular Low sheen or flat paint that paint will not resist the moisture that routinely it is exposed to whenever someone takes a shower.

This is just a simple thing that one can do to keep your house looking great and will cost virtually nothing other than the cost of paint.

Allow the paint to dry at least 24 hours before the shower is used. You want the paint to really harden so that moisture cannot penetrate. Even if the instructions say that the paint will be dry in less time, wait for at least 24 hours.


One caution, if you’re using a step ladder in your shower always protect the feet of the ladder, so that it does not scratch the bottom of your shower. You can use a couple of old towels placed on the bottom of the shower. If there’s some concern about the stepladder slipping, you may want to have someone hold it for you.

We always use latex paint, since there is  less smell and it is easy to clean up. If you use oil based paint, make sure there is lots of ventilation to clear the air. It can become over powering if there is no ventilation. Open a window, use a fan etc to move the air from inside the shower where you are working.

Bathroom Fan

In our particular situation, there is no fan to draw the moisture out of the bathroom. It is not expelled outside when people are taking hot showers. There probably should be a fan. The builder should have put a fan in the bathroom however it was not done. There are fans in all the other bathrooms, even the one which is just a two piece.

If you happen to be a new homeowner, who’s having a home built, this is one of the things to look for. Make sure that there are exhaust fans installed in all bathrooms.

Invest in Green Energy

Would you invest in something that purports to be green energy? What if the cost is higher than the regular price for current technology? How much of your own money are you willing to spend to support the green energy approach? This is the question that many people are asking themselves and many are saying, no, I will only purchase an item or invest in something as long as it is a short term good deal and makes sense in the short term for them. They may be giving up savings in the long term and als not contributing to Green Energy

Green Energy – The Simple Light Bulb

Many customers would rather spend sixty cents on an incandescent light bulb vs. a fluorescent light bulb which may cost several dollars. LED’s are even more expensive and the initial cost is a huge deterrent to going green. Never mind the fact that from a pure economic perspective the LED bulb because of it’s long life and low electrical usage is far superior than the incandescent bulb. Somehow we have to get over the initial cost shock for things that are green energy.

Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars and all electric cars have the same problem. The sticker price shock is too much for many car buyers when you can purchase the same non hybrid car for much less. This increase in price for these cars makes the economic argument to go green much more difficult to deal with when you have to pay several thousand dollars more for the same car.

Would You Invest in a Green Energy Company?

It turns out that a company who is investing in green energy technology is much more difficult to get off the ground. A software company that starts up in a garage just needs a couple of computers and some smart guys who have a great idea and understand how to program the software.

Green energy technology companies on the other hand are working on technology that costs a lot of money just to get started and develop. In some cases you need millions of dollars to demonstrate how you can save or reduce energy consumption. Venture capital firms are very careful not to sink a great deal of money into these companies, because you can quickly lose a great deal on a technology that does not produce the savings that they are looking for.

Long Term Energy Trends

There definitely is a long term trend to create devices that use less electricity, that generate electricity for consumers and reduce the overall consumption. The same applies to the use of fuel whether it is gasoline, propane or natural gas.

Every time a consumer purchases something that consumes energy, we believe that they should do the quick math to evaluate how long it will take to pay for the item based on savings that they should derive from using this device. If it pays for itself in less time than the expected life of the item then you are ahead of the game. Light bulbs clearly fall into this category as well as high efficiency furnaces and water heaters.

Make an informed decision every time you purchase something. Ensure that you are saving yourself money over the long term when you take into account the purchase cost and the operating cost of several alternatives. That’s our view of investing in green energy in 2013.

Electric Car Operating Costs

Electric Car Operating CostsYou have probably heard all kinds of figures quoted and bandied around about the new electric cars. The Volt is one of these cars that is now out on the market. We were wondering what it really does cost to drive one of these cars. How do they compare to the traditional gasoline cars. We have always been able to depend on EPA fuel standards to tell us how cars compared in using gasoline. But what about electric vehicles. There are three kinds of vehicles now. The standard gasoline or diesel driven vehicle. There are the hybrids that have both gasoline and electric driven power trains. Then there are the pure electric cars that need to b charged every night.

Electric Car Operating Costs

Miles Per Gallon Equivalent

The Volt is supposed to get 99 miles per gallon equivalent, while the Nissan Leaf gets 93 MPGe. These figures come from recognized government agencies who look at this kind of thing and provide a way for us consumers to compare one type of car with another that has a totally different power source.

Combined Efficiency Numbers

When a car like the Volt is running on electricity it is supposed to be able to get 99MPGe, however it can only do this for an estimated 35 miles on a full charge. After that the gasoline engine takes over and provides power to the batteries which takes the cost up and the MPGe down to approximately 37 MPG. Depending on the mix of driving you do on average this combined number will vary a great deal. Again the government people suggest on average a driver should expect 60MPGe. This number will vary greatly depending on your driving habits.

How Does the Consumer Really Know What the Efficiency Is

For me it all comes down to dollars. We can figure out what the cost per mile is for a regular car simply by taking the total cost to fill up a tank full of gas and dividing that by how far we can drive on that tank of gas. Some people will go further than others based on their own driving habits. Consumers can figure their own personal numbers out on their own.

The same applies to hybrid and pure electric vehicles. Monitor your electrical usage and the associated cost. Next divide the cost by the number of miles you can drive or have driven and you will have a valid comparison of the cost per mile.

Fortunately the experts have done this for us and we do not have to track all of these numbers. It appears that a Nissan Leaf would cost about $561 a year if driven 15,000 miles. A  Nissan Versa which is a similar sized car power by gasoline is going to cost approximately $1444 per year if it is also driven 15000 miles. This is a savings of almost $900 per year! The Chevrolet Volt is calculated to cost about $600 a year and the Cheverolet Cruze about $1600 a year or a savings of about a $1000 a year.

Should Consumers Purchase an Electric Vehicle

The other factors that need to be considered are the original cost to purchase these vehicles after government subsidies are include must also be compared. The electric and hybrid car costs more than the traditional gasoline powered cars due to the economies of scale. There are hundreds of thousands of them being manufactured every year. It will be several years before you break even on the cost of the car with the decreased operating costs.

The other two important factors to consider is how well they hold their value when it comes time to trade or sell them and what the long term maintenance costs will be when you take into account the batteries which must be replaced at some point. The jury is still out on these numbers.


Building Manager Training

Property ManagementWhat training does your building manager need? How much past experience does your property manager have? Does he have experience with the systems that you use? For example, maybe you’re using a new computer system to keep track of all work activities. As well as reporting of expenses. You may want to train him on these items. There may also be training required on specialist pieces of equipment.

In addition a building manager is interfacing with your customers all of the time. They represent the owner of the building in all things. Items such as customer relationship management. If you are getting lots of complaints from tenants, you may want to find out what the fundamental issues are. Consequently you may want to initiate some sort of training to deal with it. The building manager really represents you to your customers. As a result as a property owner, it makes sense to hire the best!

Building Manager Training – What is Needed

Every buildings needs are different. High rise vs. townhouse condo. Residential vs. commercial buildings.  All have different kinds of equipment that are used to maintain the property outside. As well as to maintain the indoor common elements of property. This could be as simple as making sure that they’ve read all of the instruction booklets and maintenance booklets. Have they developed and adhere to a maintenance program.

Local by laws as well as State or provincial laws change from time to time. It could be as simple as making sure that they read all of the notices. Or for a particularly complex piece of legislation, there may be a one-day seminar training session.

Accounting software updates occur all of the time.

Building Manager Training – CRM Systems

CRM systems or customer relationship management systems are also upgraded on a regular basis. Anytime there is a change property managers who enter information into the CRM system should be re-trained. It could be as short as a one hour seminar. Or you may need a more in-depth session for more complex updates and changes.

Equipment training is also valuable to ensure that the equipment is handled properly. Focus on safety  for the operator as well as individuals that may be in close contact with the equipment.

Communication skills on the job are extremely important in dealing with prospective clients, clients and owners. Can your property manager use better communication skills in terms of verbal and written activities? There are one-day training seminars available.

There are always special needs of the job that require training from time to time. Hence you have a choice of either letting the property manager or the person operating equipment etc. experiment. Also you can train them properly so that they will operate it in a safe manner. In addition avoid accidents that could damage the property. Train the operator.

For more information about building management and property management services, click here.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Floors Installation CostNo one wants to refinish hardwood flooring by themselves. It is a lot of work if you do it yourself and there’s usually dust that just permeates the entire house. This makes for a big cleaning job after the job of installing or refinishing a hardwood floor is completed. Also most people do not have the time to do the job quickly due to work situations and other commitments. As a result a couple days worth of work can stretch into weeks or longer.

At some point it needs to be done if you want your home to look fantastic and be presentable. There is a proper way to refinish hardwood floors that can save you or at least reduce the amount of work that needs to be done. Here’s our suggested step-by-step approach.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Steps

Remove all furniture, window coverings etc from the room

Seal doors and vents to try and reduce the amount of dust that will travel throughout the house. If you have a furnace, central air furnace or central air-conditioning turn this off so that dust is not sucked from the room and blown throughout the rest of the house.

Open windows in the room that the floor is being refinished

Start sanding only in the direction of the grain. If you sand across the grain, there will be scratch marks all over your floor that will be amplified when you apply the stain and/or verathane at the end of the job.

Use a sander that comes with a vacuum to trap as much dust as you possibly can. The vacuum should either exit outside the house through the window or terminate in a bag which you need to empty often.

Use an inline sander, never an orbital sander to avoid leaving marks across the grain

Vacuum up all saw dust once you’re finished sanding to get as much dust as possible out of the room.

Wipe up all dust with a tack cloth to remove all dust and avoid leaving marks on your refinished hardwood floor.

Apply several coats of finish. Sand in between each coat. Use your tack cloth to capture all dust that is left by from sanding the floor. Once these steps are completed, you should have a really great looking floor that adds value to your home

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Summary

The last point that we wanted to offer readers is to suggest that if you are unsure about something, speak to experts at the hardware store where you purchase you materials. They will often offer classes to help people learn how to refinish floors and other home renovation projects. These can be quite helpful and are usually free to people who sign up.

Important Car Maintenance

Tire StoresLooking after a car is actually pretty easy if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for car maintenance and are a little bit observant as well as you approach your car and while you are driving your car. Consumers can avoid major expense if they follow some of these important car maintenance tips and checks. If you can do some of this work yourself you will save money. Today’s cars are better than they were even 10 years ago and aside from oil changes, brake jobs and muffler replacement they do not need a lot of maintenance if you look after them. The trick is to react quickly to any unusual noise or change in the operation of your car and have it looked after before it becomes a major problem.

Observe Your Car

Before you even get into your car take a quick look at the tires to make sure that the tires are fully and properly inflated. A low pressure tire will cause your car to be unstable at high speeds, will heat the tire up and could cause it to blow while you are driving. Also a low pressure tire will lower your gas mileage as well.

Observe the tire tread to make sure it is wearing evenly. Signs of uneven tire wear indicate that your tires are not properly balanced or that your car needs a front end alignment. Premature tire wear usually means a new set of tires earlier than normally expected which is very expensive.

Last check for any fluids under the engine. You may see water from the air conditioner and that is about all. If you see engine oil, brake fluid or antifreeze, have your car checked immediately.

Before you move the car always make sure that there are no obstacles to hit behind it before you back out of the driveway or the parking spot that you are in.

Listen While Driving

Get to know your car’s sounds when everything is working perfectly. Unusual sounds may mean something is going on that you need to address. For example squealing brakes can mean new brake pads are needed. Vibration in the steering wheel and loud road noise might mean a front end alignment is needed.

A screeching sound each time you accelerate can mean a lot of things including loose belts, low fluid in the transmission and so on. Take it in to get it checked before permanent damage is done to the car.

When you first drive off in the morning, turn off the radio. Just listen to the car for a few minutes as you drive off. This is the time to learn if there are any issues you need to be aware of. Loud tapping noise from the engine can mean anything. Including a cold engine, to low oil in the engine, to the wrong gasoline being used in your car. The engine is an expensive component. You need to get this checked before something catastrophic occurs.

Important Car Maintenance

These are the basics of what you need to focus on for important car maintenance. If you are comfortable checking fluid levels, the following should be checked at least once a month or more often depending on how much you drive:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Windshield fluid

Make sure these are all at the proper level as instructed by your car’s manual and you should be good.

Text Message System

Text Message SystemA text message system operated by the telco is the most common text message system that most people are familiar with. For a fixed monthly price you can usually find text message system services that are unlimited. In other words you can send as many text messages every month as you want perfect smoke price.

Increasingly there are Online text message systems that are being offered by online Internet companies. These companies include Skype, WhatsApp and iMessage are three examples. Skype and WhatsApp will operate across any platform. Including android and Apple smart phones. For example iMessage will only operate on Apple system and they are free to all Apple smart phone users. Hence the bottom line is that you must have a smart phone to be able to run these particular applications.

Text Message System – Manage from Your Desktop

Some text message systems can be Managed from your desk top. Skype for example can be used on your desktop as well as your smartphone providing significant flexibility and capability.

Set up tracking and reports if you need to keep track of the messages that are sent by text to your customers acquaintances or friends. There are applications available to run text message campaigns for marketing and sales activities. As well as sending alerts to customers. Also to general populations who carry smart phones and phones that are capable of receiving text messages.

Text Message System – Use Your Smart Phone

Another neat feature about using Apple iPhones and iPads when sending text messages is that if you have an iPhone and iPad linked on the same account. Copies of your text messages will be on both devices.

This is particularly useful if you use a combination of an iPhone while on the road and an iPad in the office or in your hotel room at night. Having the flexibility of these text messages on both systems provide you with a great deal more information and control. The convenience alone is worth having both of these devices. At times you may want to use the larger iPad. When you are at a meeting, going for a coffee, etc, you may want to only carry the iPhone. With either device you will always have the confidence of knowing that you are on top of your text messages at all times.

These apps are being upgraded all of the time. Recently, they have enabled voice recordings, pictures and videos to be attached to these message systems. They are no longer just text messages system, they have evolved into something much more powerful.

For more information about text messaging, click here.


Will UPS and FedEx follow Amazon with Drone delivery

Amazon recently announced that it will be using small drones that can fly within 15 miles of their distribution sites to deliver small packages to its customers by 2015. They are developing the technology, the processes, and working on developing many of the rules and regulations that will be required to allow them to deliver packages to customers using drones.

These drones are small flying vertical lift helicopters, that can lift up to three or 4 pounds and deliver it to a customers doorstep. Something that might have been considered science fiction a few years ago is close to reality if they are successful. Even if the are late you can be sure it is going to happen sometime in the near future.

Drone Delivery

The delivery service will be a premium service to be sure. Probably expensive, but it can be a fast service. Order in the morning and receive your order in the afternoon by drone! There is a lot to work out. GPS coordinates better be correct, otherwise these packages will end up in the wrong locations.

What Will USP and Fedex Do?

Amazon has made this announcement. You can be sure that major companies such as UPS and Fedex will be looking into the same technology to augment their delivery operations. It will be interesting to understand if the economics of this new delivery mechanism will support a mature drone delivery approach. Regulations, processes and the business model must all be developed. This will be done in the next couple of years to make drone delivery a success.

We will be watching this energy saving trend as it matures in the future!

There Can Also be a Sinister Side to this Technology

As long as the good guys have the technology and use it for good things, we are all ok. But what if the bad guys gain access to the technology. They can use this same technology to deliver everything from drugs to cigarettes. There are many items that could be delivered across the border by drone and even into jails if needed. Fly a drone in under cover of darkness. Deposit an item in the corner of the exercise yard and fly out. Next day during the exercise period the person the package was intended for picks it up and hides it for later use.

There are so many potential uses for this kind of technology it is actually kind of scary! What do you think about this particular technology and it its potential?

New toilet installed

New toilet installedIn our last post, titled new toilet installation, we talked about some of the reasons why we were installing a new toilet and some of the tricks regarding installing a new toilet, that we learned from a plumber at one of the local hardware stores. This post will cover what we learned while installing our new one piece watersense certified toilet.

Everything went really well and the plumber suggestions certainly helped. The most awkward part of installing this particular toilet in our down stairs vanity room was a lack of space. A two-piece toilet would certainly have been much easier to install. The space between the toilet and the wall was no wider than 6 inches and it was difficult to get behind the toilet to connect up the water hose. A person who is thin can definitely do this much easier. I am slightly over weight and found it very difficult to reach around to the water connection.

Follow the New toilet installed  Instructions

We follow the steps outlined in the instruction booklet closely. We placed a towel under the toilet and tipped it upwards so that the base was exposed. Then we attached the wax ring to the toilet. Finally we then dropped the toilet down slowly onto the bolts that were in the ring on the floor. Once the toilet was in place we then tightened the bolts. The most important thing is to make sure that the bolts are not tightened too tight. Otherwise you can crack the toilet. At that point you have no choice, but to purchase a new toilet or install the old one. Both scenarios are not desirable so be careful.

We also looked at comparing the amount of water savings that we would receive as a result of installing this toilet. We looked at the number of flushes per day. Which we felt averaged about 12 for two people. We then calculated the amount of water saved between our old toilet and the new toilet. We multiplied that number by the cost of the water for our city and multiply that times number of days per year to find out what the total cost savings would be.

Once we had that number it was an easy calculation to divide the cost of the toilet by the cost savings to figure out how quickly we would be paying back this toilet per year. It turned out that our toilet would be paid for within two years based on the water savings alone, and my wife is happy with the brand-new toilet that looks modern and very nice. It has an elongated bowl and is higher which apparently is the new trend.


Electric Cars – Consumer Ratings

Electric Cars Consumer ratings for electric cars are at their very early stages since they have really not been on the market that long and consumers have a skewed view of electric cars in general for two reasons. First the pure electric cars take a long time to charge and they do not go that far on a full battery charge to begin with. Secondly they are still very expensive compared to their counterparts in the gasoline side and the price of these cars eat up any money you might save on the consumption side.

However we expect that hybrid and all electric cars are here to stay and it is just a matter of time until the manufacturers figure out some of the kinks in these cars charging and longevity issues. Once they become mass produced, the price of electric cars will also come down a great deal as well. The range problem is a bit more difficult. If you place a larger battery in the car, the price goes up, but it also still takes a relatively long time to recharge the car’s battery.

Most Families Have Two Cars

A case can be made for a family with two cars to have one all electric car and the other a hybrid or a regular gasoline car. The gasoline car would be used for long trips, while the all electric car would be used for all of the short city trips which they are more than adequate for in terms of distance that can be supported by the batteries. Short trips around the city are notoriously bad for gas mileage with all of the stops and starts. A gasoline car that gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway would be lucky to get 20 miles to the gallon in the city. This is a perfect situation for the all electric car and provides a maximum savings opportunity.

What are the Factors to Consider re Electric Cars

When it comes to rating cars, the consumer will consider the following items as part of their comparison of any car really. These factors are centered around practical issues which are important to their lifestyle and their personal economics.

  • Driving range on a charge,
  • Passenger carrying capacity,
  • Price, and
  • Availability

More Details

Driving range on a charge –  this has to be one of the most important factors. Will it take you where you want to go on a daily basis  without needing a recharge. It must last until the end of the day when you make it home. If it will not, what is the backup plan. Hybrids have gasoline engines to take over when the batteries run low. However all electrics must be recharged before they go further when the battery runs down.

Passenger carrying capacity – how many people will it carry and will you be able to handle the groceries, the kids and all of the sports equipment that many families have to deal with. This is a very personal life style item and one to be considered carefully.

Price – right now most hybrids and electric vehicles are carrying a hefty price tag. This is partly due to development cost recovery and partly due to the cost of the battery. These prices are sometimes subsidized by local governments in an effort to help this fledgling industry move along. However in most cases you are still going to pay a premiums for these cars. Will you save enough to provide you with a short of enough payback to cover the extra cost?

Availability – finally availability is improving. However they are not available in all markets. That means that mechanics etc are also not trained and available to support these cars. Check this issue out carefully before you make a purchase. You may even want to inquire how many mechanics they have trained. “How long they have been working on these types of cars before you make your purchase.

New toilet installation

New toilet installationWe are about to install a new toilet in our home to replace existing one that we have. My wife’s motivation is to replace existing toilet because it doesn’t look great, it is not modern, and doesn’t fit with her our decor. My motivation to replace his toilet is to reduce the amount of water usage that it currently uses every time we flush. Our old toilet will use up to 12 L of water every time which is about 3 gallons of water. The new toilets use between four and 6 L of water each time they are flushed depending on whether you have a dual flush toilet or a single flush toilet, either way it is a significant savings in the amount of water that you’re using.

The new toilets are also higher than the existing ones so you sit up higher. In addition you have slow close seats so that when you put the seat down you could just let it go. The seat and lid will slowly close rather than slamming down onto the toilet .

New Toilet Installation

In addition there are number of new features that cause the toilet to flush with much more force making it need less cleaning.

Hints and tips

We spoke to a plumber at one of our local hardware stores and he gave us a number of suggestions and hints or tricks about installing a toilet which will make the job easier. Plumbers will know this because they do this every day while the homeowner will not be aware of some of these tricks and will take the much more time or maybe even more parts.

Here are the tricks that we picked up from our conversation with the plumber at our local hardware store. I hope these help you and save you some money if you decide to do the installation of the toilet yourself.

  • You may have to use two wax rings if there are tiles on your floor and the flange is not flush with the floor.
  • You may have to purchase a flexible water pipe connection if the existing one is too short.
  • Sand the bottom of the toilet before installing it to make a smooth finish so it sits level on the floor.
  • The bolts that hold the toilet in place are difficult to install. Use some of the old wax to hold the whole bolts in the proper place in the flange and then place the new toilet on top.
  • Insert the wax ring into the toilet and not on to the flange to avoid crushing the wax ring and enabling leaks.

Property Manager Online

Many customers can now have access to online reports from their property manager online reports to view their online statements, progress on various projects and overall status of a property or a unit. This is a huge time saving tool. If managed properly can actually improve customer service to tenants. In addition reduce the overall cost of managing the building. But not all property managers are providing online information for their tenants. Or their owners of the properties that are being managed. Their focus is on property management. Also avoiding added investment in costs that are not deemed to be beneficial from a return on investment perspective. However the more competitive property managers are considering this latest technology innovation. It is up to you as owners and tenants to place some pressure on these property managers to improve their online services

Property Manager Online – Up To date Reports

Superintendents can also update reports online to provide a status to their owners. As well as to the tenants to show them when various repairs will be made and what projects are ongoing. For large companies this is particularly useful information. Especially when tenants call to find out about the status of their project. They can logon to the online site and review the latest status about issues they may be concerned about. The same applies to owners and other interested parties that have access to the system. There would be many less phone calls as a result.

This saves everyone a great deal of time. Reports are automatic and people only need to discuss details if there are questions on any updates. This is customer relationship management for property managers and owners. CRM in short for PM. Large apartment buildings with many units and property managers managing many dispersed buildings will find they can save a lot of time by being online and reporting information quickly and easily.

Using Smart Phones Online

Use smart phones to do updates and trigger reports. As long as you have a data connection or Wi-Fi connection, smartphones and tablets can be used to create updates as well as view results online. This is particularly important. You can immediate answers on site or during a phone call based on a report you can pull up on a smart phone.

We are writing this report using a smart phone for this post about online property management. In fact we are using an iPhone, using the dictation Siri feature to dictate the text of this post. It is an awesome feature. Use Siri to update reports and results of repairs or projects.  There is no need to type, just dictate your status update!

The Way of the Future

This is the way of the future for this industry and others. If you are not already using online reports, with access by tablets and smartphones it’s time to get on the bandwagon. Significant savings can be achieved as well as significant improvements in communication between owners property managers and tenants. Although there may be an initial up front cost to get started and you may also want some customization, there will be a net savings overall with better customer relations thrown in which can be invaluable.

There may be some resistance to using these new tools by the property manager or the onsite superintendent. Once they learn that it can actually save them time and communicate more easily,  they will be willing to quickly adopt online property management techniques. We also find that the larger companies are more likely to embrace these new technologies as compared to small rental companies. They simply do not have the resources to devote to developing, implementing and managing online property management systems. If you are a renter, this might be something to consider when it comes to renting a property.

Hardwood Flooring Installed

Hardwood Flooring InstalledWe just had hardwood flooring installed. So we thought we would write a post about the best ways to look after your hardwood floor. Keep it looking pristine for many years.

Now how do you take care of it and keep it that way without having to do a lot of work. You have invested a lot of money in your new floor. It will also cause your home to increase in value as well a great deal. If you maintain the floor, it will only continue to enhance your home’s value especially when it comes time to sell it.

Hardwood Flooring Installed

Protect your hardwood floors by taking care of your hardwood floors and also following a few simple rules which we’ve listed below:

Do not wear shoes inside your home, They track in dirt and grit which can scratch your floors and overtime leave a dull finish. This is probably one of the most important tips to remember.

Vacuum often to remove dust and also grit that makes it onto your floors from your clothes, from shoes, dust that is blown in from outside and even dust blowing in through the windows. Keeping your floors very clean will enhance the floors and keep them looking great for years.

Wipe up spills immediately before the liquid can ruin the finish on your floor and also fall between the cracks causing the wood to swell.

Place coasters under furniture feet to avoid pressure points from the feet of the furniture that leave indentations in your floor that cannot be easily removed.

Close blinds to decrease bleaching by the sun. It is truly amazing just how much the sun can bleach the floor leaving a two tone floor, one area where the furniture was and the other area where the furniture was not sitting.

Do not drag furniture across floors to avoid scratching the floor and leaving marks. Lift the furniture and carry it across the floor.

Wash the floors with a damp mop to remove in dirt and grit that may have stuck to the floor. Never allow any liquid to stay on the floor especially when you are mopping the floor with a mop. It should be only damp and not wet. Never use any abrasive material or any soap that could damage the finish on the floor.

Improve & Maintain Your Homes Value

Hardwood floors will last a lot longer if you take some simple precautions. They do not take a great deal of work. Your home will also be worth much more when it comes time to sell it. The hardwood floors should be in good to great condition. Prospective buyers are interested in gleaming and shiny floors that they do not have to have refinished. They want to avoid the work, the expense and the challenge of having floors refinished while trying to move in to their new homes.


Text Message Campaigns cont’d

Text Message CampaignsOur last post discussed managing expectations, setting goals and objectives when you run a text message campaign. The important thing here is to set expectations and be able to measure them to enable your team to know if they are being successful or not. Most good text messaging companies will ask you to focus on this aspect. If their customers are successful, then they consider their products and services successful as well. In fact before you even call a company to discuss Text Message Campaigns, you may want to discuss with your team the objectives and goals of the campaign so that you can maximize your time and discussion results with the company that you interview to run your text message campaign.

Operators and customers also need to measure results since this is the only way you can really know if your program is successful or not. You may measure sales, queries, responses and overall customer contacts.  Depending on your business, you may measure an entire different set of key results. The most important thing is to figure this out ahead of time. Make sure that the items you want to measure can be measured. Check with the customer to make sure the they are satisfied with these measurements.

Also you will want to know what the value is that will indicate success of the text message campaign. This is critical for both the supplier of Text Message Campaigns as well as the company that you are working for. Both parties need to show success!

Tracking Text Message Campaigns

If it cannot be tracked automatically, then you need to find another method to track results. Senior management ultimately want to know the impact on the bottom line i.e. profit and revenue! If you cannot show how this text message campaign is contributing to the bottom line, then your program is in trouble.

Tracking codes are normally used to track customer queries and response rate. However this is only a small part of the results you are really looking for. If you are getting a large response rate, but not converting to sales, then your in bound team may need to be tweaked to increase conversions. Focus on results and fixing problems as needed. Ensure that the investment you are making in text message campaigns are a success.

Accounting for  Text Message Campaigns

Accounting can prepare reports to demonstrate the success or failure of the plan. Report results and keep management informed regarding progress, especially the impact on the bottom line. If you are the project manager for the Text Message Campaigns, always review these reports daily. Prepare summary reports for senior management to demonstrate the success or in some cases the lack of success for your Text Message Campaigns.

For more about text messaging and how to use it, click here.

Tips For Safe Driving These Holidays

Tips For Safe Driving These HolidaysAre you planning on taking that long drive to your parents’ (or grandparents’) house for the Christmas holidays? Or that trip south to warm temperatures with the family? Or that trip to that ski resort with your friends!

You may have had all the reservations ready. The packing is done. The family is  just waiting for that day to arrive. Many people assume that since the car is working fine, that it does not need to be checked over. Make sure the oil is changed, tire pressure checked and all of the other fluids looked at. A quick walk around the car to check all of the lights are working properly is a good idea. Confirm that the spare tire actually has air in it would be a great idea.

Car Checklist for Your Trip

Here is a complete list of tips about what you should look at when it comes to your car being ready for your holiday trip:

  • Tire tread is sufficient for the conditions you will be encountering
  • Tire pressure is set at optimum
  • Tires are balanced
  • check all fluid levels
    • check oil level
    • verify power steering level
    • check brake fluid level
    • check antifreeze level
    • confirm windshield washer fluid level

Tips For Safe Driving These Holidays

Many organizations and groups who do advocate for better and safer driving despite winter road conditions are reminding the thousands and even millions of drivers in the nation to actually make sure that their vehicles are ready to take that trek. After all, the sudden drop in temperature could really do change the condition of your vehicle without you even noticing it. And yes, your vehicle could act up in the middle of your trip without even knowing that you are going to have problems.

Taking Trips with your Car

According to one expert in the auto field, the American Automobile Association (or the AAA), they do estimate that there are more than thirty-eight million Americans who will be taking that holiday trip. They would approximately take around fifty or more miles from their home. And most of these travelers would be taking their vehicles on their trips. These may seem like relatively short trips, however this is just the time when something can go awry and giving your car a quick check before you leave can save you a lot of difficulty.

To make sure that you are safe and sound and would arrive at your destination still in one piece, one thing that you should check is your tires. Make sure that they are just right for the winter travel. There are different types of tires and these have been made not just to catch your attention but for safety and for various types of weather and road conditions. If snow will be involved make sure your tires are up to the snow conditions.

Before you take your vehicle for that trip to your holiday destination, check the air pressures of the tires. Make sure that they are not over inflated and also not under inflated. If you drive a vehicle with such tires, chances are that they might not work out just right and could also lead to a blown tire. Plus, your expenses on gas could also go to escalating heights.


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