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Archives for Musings

NEW YEAR, NEW HOME

With the beginning of this New Year we have found ourselves, personally, in the process of moving to a new home. Downsizing and moving closer to our grandchildren.

This move has made me contemplate what exactly takes place in purchasing a new home: What are the determining factors?

I have realized that we make what could be a lifelong, or certainly a long term commitment based on a few minutes in a house. Of course we do our due diligence; we look at the neighborhood statistics, look at the style of the house, the square footage, the age.

But we do not move in and try it on for size.

We check the electrical; make sure there is not a Federal Pacific Breaker Box. We look at the electrical connections in the attic and we make sure that the closet fixture isn’t wired with a spliced electrical cord.

Then we do the same with the plumbing, at a distance.

We hire an inspector to inform us of the small and potentially large issues needing repair in the house that we may (or may not) purchase.

 We don’t walk around in the home for a week or so and then say, “Ok, it’s a fit, I think I’ll take this one.” We are not afforded that luxury. We must make this financially daunting life affecting decision basically on the fly.

 Not until you actually move in, or start moving items in, do you suddenly realize what factors are now REALLY going to be affecting your life. We concentrate on the monthly mortgage, the utility bills, and predictable formulas, however there are far more factors that are not visible upon first inspection.

 The sound of the street traffic, while you are in your back yard at midnight.

How many people walk their dogs in the neighborhood.

You can’t know in advance, exactly where the floor is going to squeak when you get up to raid the refrigerator at 3AM.

You can’t know whether your cat will like the new location of her litter box.

Will your dogs want to swim in the backyard pool?

Will you be able to back your car down that seemingly endless driveway?

To counteract these things you have to be forward thinking and proactive every day. The same way that we tell our employees to prepare for the service call at your home. If they are going to change out a breaker box, make note of the switch plate color and have some outlets and switches on hand in case the customer has a need to upgrade.

The point being, it is really the small things in life that really affect us the most. All we can do is be prepared for those intrinsic things that we don’t always know or see.

Happy New Year and to those of you moving this year: Happy New Home and check for a litter box closet.

Toni Terrill Skaff

President

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MUSINGS FROM OUR PRESIDENT

We have thought and discussed as a team, and felt it would be both informative and enjoyable to have a regular (or semi-regular) blog from our Owner and President, Toni Terrill Skaff.  The subject will be entirely up to her, and in her own voice.  So, without further ado, here is the first MUSING FROM OUR PRESIDENT:

Small business employs approximately 4.5 million people annually in the state of Texas. The majority of those small businesses consist of 100 employees or less. Ironically, being the small fish in the large pond, we are often the hardest hit with tax changes and insurance increases. 

As small businesses we have been given the responsibility of making sure that garnishments are made so that child support reaches children. We are responsible for reporting when individuals move from job to job and we must keep up with all the employment law and human resource requirements, often with one and two person offices.

When a law is created relating to financial payment and individuals are slow to follow through, the responsibility gets placed on the employer. Garnishments for child support, in many states garnishments for bad debts, become the responsibility of the employer. This is most taxing on the small business employer that does not generally house a large Human Resource Department to facilitate these requirements.

When we provide health insurance for our employees, we are not given any preferred rates or large group discounts, we pay what the individual would pay, and we are required to pay a majority percentage of the cost. Many small business owners cover the entire cost of the health insurance for each employee. Thinking about the cost of health care, this is daunting.

As Election Day comes around every four years, small business must steel themselves for new financial hits. More paperwork requirements and more laws to tie their hands. Our lobbyists are very small in number. Though we are simply trying to make a living, create a product and/or service for our customers, and create jobs for our employees, we seem to be the first on the line of attack when tax changes are made. There seems to be a hidden agenda against the small business man.

There is also an illusion that small business owners can work and vacation when they want. Much to the contrary; we take off the least amount of vacation and sick time. The majority of small business owners are in the trenches day after day working with their employees, not merely supervising and overseeing.

Personally, we started our business in order to raise our family in a closely knit environment; to have some control over how our children’s’days would be spent.

Many businesses are begun the same way for similar reasons. A vast majority of small businesses are family-owned and -operated.

The culture of a small business frequently is that of a family atmosphere. We provide personal support to employees if they have family issues, we provide financial support often by extending advances and loans.  We have helped many employees with car repairs, house purchases, weddings, quinceneras, and funerals. The small business employer is most often the first person that is approached for help during hard times.  That is not always for just financial support but emotional support as well.

Small businesses should be protected. They should have the respect of everyone especially the government. We hold within our four walls collectively the livelihood of over 4 million souls and their families. This is monumental: what affects us effects the entire country.

 

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