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Archive for the '“Martin’s Muddled Mental Meanderings”' Category


WATER IS PRECIOUS

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

 

 Norman;

WATER IS PRECIOUS

 

 

Why do hookups cost so much in some places? I have talked with water district representatives in many parts of the country and have a few answers. It comes down to water availability. This is more than just a matter of if there is enough water in the reservoir. There have to be systems to get the water to the point of use, and other systems to carry the waste away. Many of these people point out that their districts covers a lot of ground. Some of the areas they serve are older parts of a city, while other areas may be new installations with new utilities serving the area. Some areas have small older mains that cannot sustain heavy flow or high pressure. Other areas are served by larger newer pipes. Some areas have low water demand, while others are straining to keep up with current usage.

 

A few have taken the time to explain to me that what they do is develop maps that outline zones that define the challenges there. So that an installation in an underdeveloped zone has hookups based on one fee while those in a more challenged zone will have higher hookup fees. Some maps have as many as five zones. Some districts are so strapped overall that they just have one fee, based on potential water usage, that applies to any commercial user, throughout their district. The one thing that all of these folks have been concerned with is water usage.

 

The one essential to life at all levels is water. Worldwide, 90% of all drinking water is from ground water. In the US, more than 50% of the population relies on ground water for its potable water. Water is used for drinking & cooking, for irrigation, for industrial and commercial processes, for washing, for making toilets flush, and many other applications. The preservation and protection of the water table are essential issues. It is much more economical and practical in the long run to prevent contamination than it would be to try and remove contaminants from the water after it is polluted. The demand on this valuable resource is depleting the water levels in some aquifers dramatically. Indiscriminate waste of water accelerates the depletion.

 

It takes a lot of people and equipment to make certain that when you turn the tap, something useful comes out of it. Most of us no longer go to the well to draw water as we did a hundred years ago. We expect it to be piped to our homes, ready to use, and completely safe. This involves a large complex system of pumps, treatment plants with labs to assure quality, and a distribution network that reaches every corner of every community. And the waste water requires even more in the way of a collection network, treatment plants with more labs to check the effluent, and complex regulations as to what can be discharged where and how and under what circumstances.

 

Metering water usage is no longer a matter of just generating revenue. Controls for showers, or other water uses will help to limit how much is used, and how often it is used. Those who were ever in the military recognize the saying, “Get in. Get done. Get out!” as applicable. Aside from the conservation of the amount of water used, it also reduces the amount that is put down the drain. Metering is only one step. But that is what it will take to make an impact, a lot of little steps that will add up to major water savings. No single thing is creating the demand, so each step that can reduce water usage is an important one.
The need to conserve water in no longer an issue for the ecological extremist, but one with which everyone must be concerned. Hurricane Katrina has demonstrated how fragile our cities are. And the outlying areas of the Gulf coast also suffered severe damage to their infrastructure as well. Now many areas of the country are facing severe water shortage because of drought. These catastrophic disasters, combined with the extra demand that a growing population in the Sunbelt and other areas, have stretched resources to the breaking point. There are some areas that have banned watering lawns, washing cars, or even offering a glass water at a restaurant. Water conservation is a serious issue for most of us, and the need is growing rapidly everywhere.

 

For example, the State of Florida, in the ten years from 1990 to 2000 increased population by 25%. This is state where almost all of the water is drawn from ground water. The added demand of the population growth is putting a severe strain on their water sources. And the growth continues, with Florida adding half a million people each year. Such growth cannot be sustained and the quality of life will suffer unless water management policies and practices reflect the need to conserve and protect the water sources. And this starts with the end users recognizing that water is valuable, and each individual must be aware of how precious it is.

 

Other states, which are already straining for water, such as Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Texas, and Oregon, are seeing 3% to 4% annual growth in population. Figures for growth and water usage could be cited for state after state. The point remains, where will the water come from to support and sustain this growth? 

 

Today we stand on the pinnacle of a precarious pyramid of technology. Some are barely aware how delicate and tenuous our situation may be. Others have no awareness at all, living as if there were no concerns, as if things will always be as they have been. They take for granted that when they flip the switch, the light will always come on. When they turn the tap, the water will flow. When they turn up the heat, the furnace will kick on. Any disruption to these services is considered a personal assault on their world and someone had better do something about it and do it NOW! But they do not wish to know how it all works. Or what it takes to make it all work. Just so it works.

 

Historians and archeologist have found the remains of civilizations all over the world that ceased to exist when all the local resources were exhausted, or when changing weather patterns caused drought. We have gone from a world population of three billion people to more than six billion people in less than fifty years. The amount of all resources on the planet is the same. Except that we now demand twice as much from those resources. Or even more, as the population today demands more of everything than ever before.

 

We are regaled with tales of the glories of Rome, the city that ruled the known world for nearly a thousand years. The city that led armies of conquest all over the Mediterranean world and left its stamp on the modern world in language, civics, architecture, and many other areas of life. But without the aqueducts, none of this could have happened. The water carried into the city on these magnificent structures made life in the city of Rome possible. Without that water, the city dried up – literally! It went from more than a million inhabitants to less than fifty thousand in only a few years. It took another thousand years for civilization to once again implement public water works.

 

If we continue to ignore the issue of water conservation, we too can dry up and blow away. Our quality of life has left us spoiled. We have developed certain expectations. We have had a century of unparalleled progress in services. The nation has been wired. The cities have made major investments in water systems. But they are constantly looking to find more resources to satisfy the demand of the citizens, reaching further and at greater expense to find the water our people need. But to continue and to maintain our quality of life requires that everyone do what they can to minimize usage and reduce waste. What have you done to help the situation? Remember, If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem!
For a better idea of how serious the problem is, try typing into your search engine “how to conserve water” and examine a few of the over two million pages that pop up!

Who did What, to Whom, and How and When?

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

 Norman; 

There is an old, somewhat raunchy, limerick which uses a variation of the above for the last line. It is a bit too politically incorrect to post up here, but the phrase does pertain to the laundry industry and many others as well. And life in general.

Along with that is the old admonition from our mothers. “You would not care so much about what people think of you, if you knew how seldom they do.” In other words, everyone is so wrapped up in their own woes that they really don’t care what you do, so long as isn’t to them!

We all get our heads down, plugging along with our own day-to-day trials, and seldom look up to see just what is going on around us. It’s not that we are being selfish, or uncaring, we just aren’t aware of anything outside our own immediate concerns. Maybe, once in awhile, it may help us keep our own problems in perspective, perhaps see some solutions we may not have considered, and even see some things coming, if we stand up and look around to see what is going on around us.

For example, you have seen me post information about recent increases in materials cost. They make gasoline increases look tame. Imagine if you will, if you suddenly went from $3.00 a gallon to $9.00 or $12.00 per gallon! That is what many raw materials have done. So being aware that manufacturers are going to have charge more for their machines and repair parts, allows you to plan on paying more for replacements in the future. And of course, it means you have to be prepared to put more dollars into your capital equipment fund to be prepared. Keeping your head down will mean you will not be prepared for the inevitable sticker shock down the road.

Everyone should be aware by now that the economy is not doing well. We can set around and wring our hands, and cry about it, or we can try to find ways to roll with the punches. How is it going to affect each business? Will your distributors be stable enough to survive and continue to service your needs? As noted above, they are under considerable pressure too. Coin laundry is a mature market, a very saturated one. So where do they put new higher priced machines? The manufacturers need to move machines to keep their plants open. How can they move more machines, at the higher cost that materials have forced upon them, in a saturated market? Directly or indirectly, all of these factors affect YOU!

Will people stay away from laundromats or use them more frequently when their own machines fall apart and they cannot afford to buy new ones? Or will Wash” N” Fold decline when they save a bit by doing the laundry themselves? There is no one answer to this, as each area will differ in how people will respond. But the possibilities and the options that the customer has must be considered. Once considered, are there any opportunities to grab more customers? These require a lot more thought than just thinking about mopping the floors.

You have to interact with the customers and the community at large. And you must LISTEN to what they have to say. Not just about what is directed at your business, but listen to what they are talking about in general. You may find some facet of local life that you can turn to your advantage. Some ridiculous ideas may turn into a way to be a part of their lives and so a part of your business. How about hosting reading club? Sounds dumb? What does it have to do with a laundry? Well, think about it, you have a few people (or hopefully more) setting around, staring at the walls. What if, and I know it is a big “what if”; they all were discussing some book they have read, while the jeans go through the washer? Maybe a little coffee/soda while they are there. And others see this neighborly interaction and want to be a part of the community too. Sure, that example is a big stretch, and not applicable everywhere, but that is where YOU come in. What else might you try? Do some brain storming, and don’t automatically discard what seems ridiculous at first. You never know where a strange idea can lead you.

What will rising gasoline costs do to the customer’s ability to drive to the laundromat ? Will they make fewer trips and do more on each trip or will they just choose the one closest? If you rely on the nearby locals, this may not be a consideration, but for many operators this may be more important than they know. What can you do to persuade the customer to drive an extra mile or two? Are there any incentives to draw them a little bit further? A monthly drawing for a $50 dollar gas card? Or discounts on multiple loads, the more you do, the less it will cost per load? Again, this will require some thought, and again, there is no one universal answer that addresses every operator. It is up to you to stand up, look around and see what is going on in your area.

Innovation and success come from bringing new ideas from the outside. Doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results is a not a productive approach. In some circles that is the definition of insanity. To get new ideas, you are going to have to look outside the areas where you are so focused and see what other things you can do. 

We all look forward to seeing what innovation YOU can bring to the forum!

YOU NEED A BIGGER HAMMER

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

 Norman; 

I saw a commercial on the telly recently, that showed a fellow on the phone with a doctor. The doctor was telling him where to make an incision for a surgical procedure, as if the fellow were about to do it himself. Ridiculous, isn’t it? That was the point of the commercial. I think they were offering professional portfolio management. But the idea is widely applicable. There are some things best left to the experts and trained professionals.

 

How often do we do this in everyday life? We don’t want to go to the expense of hiring an attorney to review a lease or purchase agreement. So we try to “do it yourself” and maybe pay the consequences later. Or we tear down a machine, which we do not understand, to try and fix it ourselves, and wind up with all kinds of added problems. The old ways of being the “Yankee fix-it, Do-It-Yourself person” really do die hard in a high tech world. Some things can be done this way, others need professional help. The trick is to know which one is which.

 

The argument is always. “They charge too much! All he did was twist the do-jigger and it worked, and then charged me $150.00!” Well, so the work was done, and it was simple. But how long would it have taken you to find the right do-jigger to twist? How many of the wrong do-jiggers did you twist before you found the right one? How long is the machine down while you try by trial and error to fix it? Keep in mind, you did not pay the person to twist the do-jigger. You paid the person because they knew which do-jigger to twist!

 

This is an important distinction that too many people forget. You do not pay the expert for what they do, you paying them for knowing WHAT to do. And along with their knowledge, today’s technicians need to invest a lot of money in special equipment to analyze and diagnose today’s machinery. It is hardly worth the expenditure of the average person’s resources, to purchase a gee-golly whizbang-O-meter for the occasional need. You need the person who uses one all the time, knows how to use it, and knows what to do with it.

 

Contract law has become so complex, it really does take an expert to evaluate and protect the client from hidden or obscurely phrased clauses that can hurt you in the future. After all, the one who had the document drawn up had their attorney write it with their interests in mind, not yours! So, if they are willing to pay an attorney to do this, how much sense does it make for you to try and outfox them yourself? Investing in your own attorney, who is looking out for YOUR interests is more than desirable, it is now a necessity!

 

This is not 1910, when things were simple: legally, medically, socially, economically, or mechanically/electrically. The rate of complexity is developing exponentially, and we are balanced on the tip of a more complex, more involved and intricately intertwined structure to our world than many are willing to recognize. We must rely on those who understand their part of it to tend to the parts at which we can only guess. Take something as simple as the timer in a washer. Once it was a simple bun type synchronous motor, driving a few simple gears that turned a drum, with cam risers that opened and closed a series of switches that in turn controlled the various functions as it rotated. All the cycle times were fixed, and things were simple. You start it, it does its thing, it quits. You could replace the motor, or clean the contacts on the switches. Some of these are still around, but that is changing rapidly.

 

Now we have machines with programmable solid state microprocessors that are adjustable, IF you know how to input the right information. And they control functions that earlier machines did not even come near to having. And they are subject to all kinds of failures that older, simpler machines would shrug off. Most are voltage sensitive. Power surges, brownouts and other gremlins from many other sources can really mess up some of these devices. So how do you fix one of these when they go bad? You don’t! You need a qualified technician.

 

Aren’t card systems wonderful? They allow all kinds of flexible and variable pricing. They eliminate having to collect from each machine. They eliminate coins being in each machine to tempt thieves. BUT unlike simple coin acceptors, which could generally be repaired with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, you need to be a qualified electrical wizard with a generous touch of computer nerd to work on them. Again, you need the qualified technician.

 

Our cars, our home appliances, and the DVD’s, CD’s, computers, printers, cell phones, I-this and that, and other equipment we work with daily are well beyond most people’s skill levels and yet we still try to be shade tree mechanics. We pay high dollars for our high tech equipment and then try to treat it like we did our 1965 Chevy Nova. We make jokes about getting the neighbor’s 10 year old to program our VCR. Yet many people, who cannot even set up their own radio alarm clock, insist on tearing into a new machine as if they knew what they were doing.

 

The title of this piece? The joke around here is if it doesn’t work, give it a Kentucky Tune Up. That is, give it a whack! And if that doesn’t work, get a bigger hammer. We are past the point where can fix something with a whack. Now you need brains and education to get it done, or you must be willing to pay the expert for what needs doing. Or do you just need a bigger hammer?

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Tell them Coinwash.com sent you...

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We are an insurance agency that works exclusively with laundromat owners.

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