Friday, January 16, 2009

As California Goes, so Goes the Rest of the Country - How Does Your Copier, 30 Day Funnel Look?


I am a big Hank Moody fan.

Californication, is a punch in the face - if you know what I mean. Hank captures truisms about life in southern Cali - albeit exaggerated. A transplant for NYC, a writer of some notoriety, semi-eternally struggling with writer's block, we follow Hanks antics as he criss-crosses the landscape.

Hank is flawed.

He mistakenly assaults young women with his mouth, usually fighting off a bevy of drop dead gorgeous, California Girls. Driving around L.A. in a dirty, beat up, cyclopsian Porsche.

His greatest misstep is an intimate encounter with a hottie, who unbeknown to him, is the 16 year old daughter of his ex-girlfriend's current fiancee - yeah...its confusing, its California.

His life, his work, his character - damaged but not perverted  - his baggage may be significant, but he keeps going, keeps moving.  Laughing, smirking and drinking his way along.

When I lived in Michigan, I thought that the people in California where a nuts - I was right. Of course all the "nuts" out here are originally from "back east". "Back east" meaning anyplace east of the state line.


Like it or not, California creates trends and the rest of the country follows - socially, politically and economically.

Its the economic direction which should interest those not in the Golden State - the state of Regan and Nixon; of Boxer and Pelosi.

Today, I saw fear in the eyes of a prospect -

Across the desk, she sits. Piles of papers in front of, behind and all around us - like alot of people, she doesn't have To Do lists, she own To Do Piles.

We are discussing her current print environment. A hodge-podge of single function, mult-function laser and ink jet, HP devices - printing, faxing, copying and scanning functions are performed daily and at times, in great volume.

She has been approached by the Canon rep for years. He telling her that "one of my machines can replace all those expensive HP's - it's cheaper to print on my copier than their laser-based printer..."

She is suspicious, so we add up the numbers - the numbers only. I am concerned that if the volumes approach a higher level, say 20, 000 images a month or above, the copier guy may indeed be correct - of course, he quoted a machine well above what is needed - along with a monthly lease payment of nearly $500.00 - 60 month (3-hole punch, and 11x17 - neither of which my prospect has used in over 10 years).

After our elementary calculations, we both realize that my recommendation prices out significantly lower than the Canon - mine for TWO devices over 36 months with a CPC, all inclusive, SA.

And yet, no "close" -

She goes on to tell me the state of California is thinking about paying her with an official I.O.U.

Her business is a medical testing lab and she bills Medi-Cal(the state) for a majority of her work; before she asks, I tell her I can not except an IOU from her.

So she needed to hold off on getting 2 new machines, but will strongly consider a MPS engagement, if she can save money.

The MPS is a no-brainer.

Her monthly supplies expenses are not that much, under one thousand a month, and our program may reduce that figure by 20% - offering up a $2,400 yearly saving - it will help, but won't save any job.

The conversation leads to how she came to this country 40 years ago. How her husband and she built this "small" business, put kids through college, provided good jobs for hundreds of families over the years and how "...this recession looks nothing like the 70s - it is worse..." - she is scared.

Like any good entrepreneur she is planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

What is more intriguing, is how representative this micro-scenario is of the larger business segment - hardware sales had been flat and are now dropping.

Cost savings, and reductions are the mantra, once again, of business - especially the SMB market.

Who is Immune? No one.

We have been through some of this before; the layoffs, the economic plunge, international challenges, global society on the brink of annihilation - of course I am referring to the "'70s"( could the summer of 2009 see a re-birth of Disco and Dance Fever?).

It's the state and local government budgets that are red flags to me. Of course, out here in California, the state budget never gets approved until 6 months after the year is over; because politicians like to be...political. But this time, the budget isn't being passed because there is no money - no taxes because most business has been taxed out of the state.

Property tax revenue has dropped because so many homes have gone to foreclosure - it dose not matter that those folks shouldn't have been approved in the first place - revenue is off, so the state is thinking about issuing IOU's - for STATE INCOME TAX REFUNDS.


Our state budget, last years budget, has still not be approved and is facing lots of challenges - but - fear not. The wisdom of our elected officials are tackling much more important issues - digital billboards.

The base is shrinking and they want to raise taxes. The money supply is dropping, leasing is now swinging in the other direction, and people are scared.

Our economy is flawed, our business model is flawed, we are flawed - and always have been.

But like Hank Moody, we who don't beat ourselves up for our shortcomings and can live in our own skin, keep going. 


Even if our biggest customer needs to write us IOUs and when we only have one headlight.

Originally, January 16, 2009
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