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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Remodeling Your Small Business

Even successful businesses can't overlook the benefits of a remodeling job. Consumer preferences are constantly in flux, but one constant is that they want to work with businesses that have kept up with the times. In most cases, that means businesses need to look their best and be finely tuned machines if they want to impress their consumer base.

But there are also financial incentives to a business remodel. In some cases, this renovation could improve workplace efficiency and productivity. It could also help lower operating costs for the organization. The process of remodeling can be as expensive or as cheap as you choose to make it, but even on a small budget there are some aspects you'll want to be sure to address.

Small businesses may not have the spending latitude of larger organizations, but by being resourceful they can get much greater value out of a remodel. Here are some tips to get you started.

Upgrade the Checkout Area
The checkout area tends to have the greatest impact on customers, in part because it's the most heavily trafficked. This is also where the bulk of customer-employee exchange takes place, so if you're going to invest in a total makeover of one part of your business, the checkout area is the place. Consider upgrading cash registers if you're using an old one, and invest in clean, attractive surfaces like new counter-tops. Minimize clutter and add a few decorative pieces to bring some personality to this part of the business.

You can justify these expenses by reminding yourself of the cheaper operating costs you'll gain as a result. If you can swing it financially, this type of upgrade always makes sense.

Invest In Energy Efficiency
Improved fixtures and equipment will look good, and they'll also help you save. Invest in energy-efficient products that are both seen and invisible; even if customers can't see the upgrades, they can help lower your utilities bills and reduce your business overhead. These might include Energy STAR certified appliances, eco-friendly toilets and faucets, conservative lighting fixtures and energy-efficient electrical ballasts, which better regulate the amount of electricity going into lights to cut down on wasted energy.

Promote Cleanliness and Thorough Repairs
If you can't afford to do a major overhaul of your small business, the best thing you can to do bolster the impact of more minor remodeling is to keep your premises clean and functional. Dust and dirt can make brand-new finishes look old quickly, and lagging repair work such as burned-out lights, broken blinds, chipped glass displays and other unsightly marks can paint the picture of a business in disrepair. If your business is well-cared for, customers will be more forgiving of your humble confines.

Decorate To Overcome Structural Deficiencies
A remodeling of your business' layout isn't always feasible. The same is true for other large-scale remodels, such as bringing in new display cases and swapping out furniture. If you're limited in funds, don't worry about making the big changes. Instead focus on making smaller, lower-cost renovations that affect the larger scope of your business.

The first thing to do is invest in a fresh coat of paint on the walls. This will brighten the colors in your business and imbue the space with a sense of newness. Polish all wood or stone surfaces and hang pictures, mirrors, artwork and other wall decor to add style at a nominal cost. Other decorative features should be included where appropriate, as these will attract the eyes of customers and serve as distractions from the less beautiful aspects of your property.

Remodeling a small business can be a lot of work especially when you're trying to prioritize your projects but it's a job that usually pays off in the end. Whether you're saving money, impressing customers or accomplishing both at once, remodeling work will make your business more viable going forward. And when you're trying to topple the corporate giants working in your industry, that's an opportunity you can't afford to ignore.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tips for a Tidy Office

The surroundings in your workplace can sometimes put a damper on your workday. Bland cubicle spaces, white walls, barren desks and unattractive workplace clutter are often blindly accepted as the conditions that come with the territory. Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, unappealing, uninspiring surroundings can actually have a negative impact on your work performance.

Job satisfaction is important to productivity, and the surroundings in your office can play a big part in that. While you don't want to sink a ton of money into upgrading your workspace, there are some simple changes that can help you enjoy yourself more at work – even if you aren't conscious of those benefits. Read on for some quick tips to help you revitalize your office.

Opt For an Eye-Appealing Color Palette
A gray cubicle doesn't do much to inspire productivity. At the same time, a rainbow-colored work space can be distracting. You want to fill your office with colors without overdoing it and creating unnecessary clutter. Commit to putting together a color palette of no more than three colors, and make sure those colors work well together.

Choose the Correct Light Fixtures
Many offices are equipped with fluorescent light bulbs that can be a little uninspiring, or harsh lighting that causes eye strain. If you have control over your lighting fixtures, try to choose lighting that will create a warmer environment. You can also complement existing lighting by incorporating a desk lamp or accent lighting elsewhere in your office. A desk lamp can also provide extra illumination in your workspace, easing the strain on your eyes and making work less stressful.

Simplify Your Desktop
Clutter can be frustrating. Don't let notes, letters, pens and other junk proliferate on your desk space. Condense all of your professional belongings and use organizers to store essential items in an orderly fashion. An open desk space will make it easier to think without distraction and work comfortably, and you'll also have an easier time locating items if you have a solid organizational system.

Tame Unruly Cords
With all the various office items you might have at your disposal – computers, routers, printers, phones, faxes and so on – the mass of cords and cables needed to keep these devices running can create a mess of wires.  If you've tripped or snagged your chair on any of these cords, you understand how much of an inconvenience they can be. The best way to eliminate this hazard is to use cable raceways to contain them. This raceway will keep cords out of sight and make your workspace seem more organized.

In just a few simple steps, you can bring your office much closer to becoming an efficient space that encourages productivity. Consider the time spent redecorating as an investment in your job and career. When you spend a lot of time at your desk, you want it to be a place that’s comfortable, with lighting that doesn’t create much eye strain. You’ll find that the right environment can increase your ability to focus on the task at hand.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Things to Remember When Remodeling Your Bathroom

Let me say this: too long has your bathroom gone neglected.

I, too, once neglected my bathroom, faux-cleaning it once a month by dousing every surface with Comet and running an ever-dirtier rag around the toilet and sink. That was until the U.S. housing market crash. See, in 2007, I was trying to sell my house, thirty-minutes outside L.A., to relocate to an apartment downtown. Then the housing bubble burst and I was stuck. In the following years, I did everything possible to make that house the most sell-able, enticing piece of property in the greater state of California.

Along the way, I remodeled the bathroom.

A bathroom says a lot about a guy. From the type of aftershave in the cupboard to the amount of water marks on the mirror, a bathroom shows how much a guy values cleanliness and hygiene. Your lady-friend? You had better believe she's going to pay attention to how well you maintain the bathroom. And a bathroom says a lot about a house, too. When home buyers inspect a house, they pay most attention to the places that will make them feel comfortable: the kitchen, the bedroom the bathroom. Getting your bathroom into shape will have good results when it comes to impressing lady-friends and potential buyers. Here's how to get started.
  1. Make Some Decisions:
    There are basically three degrees of renovation when it comes to remodeling your bathroom: a little, a little more, and a whole lot. Surface changes or "a little" involve cosmetic changes like retailing the floor and painting the walls. A little more renovation might include changing the layout. A whole lot of renovation might be necessary if there is structural damage to the bathroom caused by water leakage and moisture. Spend some time assessing the state of your bathroom and decide how much you can budget for renovations. In some cases, you're going to need professional help.
  2. Get Ready to Gut:Maybe you can re-carpet the living room without worrying too much about tearing electrical wiring or breaking a water main, but the bathroom is a different story. It's important to know the layout of the plumbing before you make any changes. This is also a great time to check your circuit breakers to make any necessary replacements and to create a map of the bathroom electrical wiring.
  3. Gut Responsibly:Do you really need any more encouragement than this? Well, don't go crazy. If this is the only bathroom in the house, it's important to recognize that the renovation is going to take longer than a day. In the meantime, you're going to still use the bathroom. So schedule your work in advance and plan the days when you might not have running water.
  4. Moisturize:
    Your primary concern with any kind of renovation to a bathroom should be moisture. Unlike any other room in the house, the bathroom is exposed to fairly constant moisture steam, run-off, shower and bathwater and the floors, walls and ceilings should be remodeled with this in mind. You'll want to evaluate how well the bathroom has held up to the moisture so far inspecting for cracks in the tub, rot in wall studs and you'll want to use moisture-resistant materials like green board drywall when you rebuild.
Every bathroom project will be a little different. The best damn advice I have is to take things slow. Think hard about how you want your bathroom to turn out what you want your bathroom to say about you. The traditionalist guy? The modern? Or the guy who starts renovation projects and never finishes them? But, hey, you're not that guy. Don't be that guy.

Be the guy who has a killer bathroom.

Maire lives in the Indianapolis area and writes home interior design, remodeling and everything that comes with it including acquiring proper permits to checking your circuit breakers. She also loves dark chocolate and Scottish Terriers.