HOME REMODELING NOW IMPORTANT INDICATOR
It used to be that the best, and almost only, indicator of housing taste trends was seen in the characteristics of new homes. Now, remodeling has become an increasingly important measure, and no wonder.
Homeowners spend $180 billion annually on remodeling, almost as much as on new construction. The average house has increased from 1,580 square feet in 1985 to 1,700 feet today with 15 percent adding bedrooms, 20 percent baths, and 24 percent other rooms.
PAMPER YOUR PEOPLE; DON'T BUST YOUR BUDGET
Small employers are still finding ways to pamper their staffs without too much strain on benefits budgets. For instance, the Society for Human Resource Management reports 64 percent of small companies offer flex time (versus 58 percent of all companies) and 41 percent let workers telecommute (compared to 37 percent of all firms).
The survey also found one of 10 small companies gives extra pay for weekend travel, and six percent allow pets to be brought to the workplace.
AVERTISING A BARGAIN? JUDGE SAYS: BE PREPARED
If you advertise a bargain without having the actual product on the shelf, then you'd better be prepared to hand out rain checks. So says Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm as she pushes a lawsuit against Circuit City. "Luring customers to a store using bargain advertising for a product that's not in stock simply isn't playing fair," she said.
WHO WAS THAT SHOPPER?
Mystery Shoppers—they're anonymous and wary of being detected as they painstakingly shop at thousands of retail outlets to measure service quality or lack thereof.
Corporate America shells out between $400 million and $600 million a year for the more than 25,000 persons hired to monitor a wide range of retail practices from how a manufacturer's display appears in a store to the time it takes to serve a customer.
According to San Diego-based TrendSource, which has a network of 2,000 mystery shoppers, large clients such as Taco Bell spend $2 million or more for 9,000 shopper visits a year.
INTEREST-PAID CHECKING FOR BUSINESS
The repeal of a law exempting banks from paying interest on business checking accounts could provide an average of $3,000 annually to a typical five-year old business.
According to the House-approved repeal, which has moved on to the Senate, there would be a two-year phase-in before the end of the Depression-era bank law.
PAPERLESS OFFICE BECOMES REALITY
Perhaps the most relentless cost-cutter of all time, GE has declared no mas for paper machines like desktop printers, fax machines and copiers.
Dumping the equipment by the truckload, the 300,000-employee firm has gone paperless, requiring data to be stored in laptops and smart phones instead of hard copies. A total savings of $18 million a year, or $60 per employee, is expected.