The Pains of Doing Online Business in Africa

Take it or leave it, Africa is a great continent. It is my beloved continent with an estimated population of 1.216 billion people.

There are about 7 billion people with unique skills, talents, knowledge, and experience. God bless humanity.

So, if you think of the right market to sell your goods or services, come to Africa.

This is the optimistic part of this story. It is good to begin 2017 on a positive, optimistic level.

Now, let us come down to reality. The world has gone digital. But, Africa is still slow in moving from analogue to digital age.

Corruption, illiteracy, poverty, lack of social amenities, lack of trust, lack of knowledge on what it takes to run a business online, are some of the factors militating against Africa and Africans.

Internet penetration is 28.7 percent in my beloved continent. Compared to North America with 89 percent penetration level, this is a far cry.

This means North America with an estimated population of 579 million people is more digital than Africa. But, Africa has the market. In fairness, businesses are striving in the continent.

Lots of Africans know little or nothing about online business and think that people who do businesses online are either fraudsters or criminals.

This is not true. There are genuine and fake business owners everywhere, internet inclusive.

Trust has also made it impossible to do business online. With the world becoming a global family, business owners do not need to meet physically to transact business. There are no limitations in this digital age to running businesses.

Everything and anything could be sold online and money in local and foreign currencies transferred from one part of the world to the other.

But, my good friend in Lagos, Nigeria, who has masters degree from one of the oldest universities in our country know little or nothing about running an online business.

We were discussing yesterday and he told me bluntly that he knows next to nothing about online business.

So, he is comfortable moving his vehicle parts from one place to the other in search of customers.

This is the pains some of online business owners are going through in Africa with great potentials.

But, the pains of not getting enough customers from Africa for your business are a passing phase. Even as the Bible says, this will pass away.

Therefore, in 2017, I am positive that more and more business owners will overcome the pains of going from analogue to digital in Africa.

I get the feeling deep down that ten years down the line, the story will change for the better and internet penetration in Africa will rise.

Technology to Aid in the Better Management of Your Auto Repair Business

Over the years, the auto repair industry has gone through a series of changes. The industry is flourishing at a fast pace as the number of vehicles on the roads is increasing day by day. The industry has largely benefited from this. Auto repair has become a very wise investment option as it gives a good platform for the aspiring entrepreneurs. However, the latest technologies prevalent in the market must be made use of for running the business successfully. Auto repair software is one such technological tool which can be used by the companies to manage their business in a better and efficient manner.

The auto repair service management software is capable of carrying out all the essential auto shop functions. This includes Accounting Integration, Quality Management, CRM Integration, Custom User Interface, Custom Pricing Options, Category Specific Customization, Custom Search Field, Collaborative Inventory Management, Barcode Scanning, Customizable Functionality, Supplier Management, Purchase Orders, Replenishment Orders Reporting, Inventory Locator, Mobile Access, Stock Inquiries Transfer Management, Customizable Fields, Vendor Managed Inventory, Warehouse Management, invoice of operations, repair orders, tracking sales and vehicle services. This software is operational on platforms like open source, Linux/Unix, windows and Mac.

This system also provides a number of computerized jobs including preparing service schedules for standard repairs, insurance claims management, cost tracking, customized functionality and reporting, maintenance scheduling, receivable tracking, accounting integration, customer user interface, parts sales and parts pricing, contact management. The working of the software is done by the optimization of the applications. The software makes your work more convenient by helping in various other tasks like scheduling of customer appointments, tracking of repair work completed and making service history estimates and quotes. Moreover the usage of the software reduces inventory requirements and costs and computerize your warehouse and remove inventory problems. Furthermore, more orders can be delivered with a considerably less amount of laborers. The reporting options in the software also enhances the operations and disseminate the important data through multiple shop locations. The customer database and customer invoice history will be easier to access as the search options are very specific and encompass a lot of categories.

Though many softwares are available online, they are not spam free. So your systems must be well protected before installing them. Purchasing them will be the best option as they are available at reasonable rates. The usage of the auto repair management software will definitely synchronize your business and increase the business prospects.

What Is Business Car Leasing?

Business car leasing is a type of financing similar to renting a vehicle. You do not own the vehicle but use the vehicle as if you do, only pay for usage and taxed on your payments only. When a business leases a car they are referred to as the lessee and the financing company is the leaser. Both the lessee and leaser names are on the vehicle insurance. In addition, the leaser name is also on the vehicle title. This is why the lessee only pays taxes on the monthly lease payments rather than on the whole purchase price of the vehicle. It’s as if the lessee is renting the car and only paying taxes on the amount of time the vehicle is used. In contrast, when you purchase a vehicle using traditional financing you own the vehicle, pay for it in its entirety over the financing term and get taxed on the full vehicle purchase price.

One of the purposes of business car leasing is to allow a business to purchase a more expensive vehicle at a lower monthly payment. This is done by paying for usage over a specific term. For businesses another purpose of car leasing is to classify the vehicle payment as an expense so it can be tax deductible. The same is true for associated vehicle related expenses such as insurance, gas, maintenance and repairs.

At the completion of a car lease the lessee has a couple of options. They can either return or buyout the vehicle. If a lessee returns a vehicle the dealer will sell the vehicle used and will generally earn a profit on the sale. Meanwhile the buyout amount or residual value of the vehicle is pre-determined at the beginning of the lease. This amount can vary from one manufacturer to another but is generally around 50-60% of the total vehicle price.

One of the restrictive parts about vehicle leases is that lessee’s cannot simply sell the car to someone else. They must first buyout the vehicle from the leasing company prior to selling it. Buying a lease out early generally results in some penalties versus paying out a traditional vehicle finance. Alternatively, there are various sites which cater to lessees who wish to get rid of their car leases by swapping them or transferring to someone else. This usually allows businesses to avoid buying out a lease or waiting until the end of the term to return the vehicle.

Leasing like any other type of financing is based on an approval process tied closely to your credit score. With a higher credit score you generally qualify for leases and better rates. By contrast, a poor credit rating can result in your lease application being denied and perhaps the availability of only sub-prime rates. For businesses looking to get any type of financing and leasing most financial institutions require that you have been in business for at least two years so they can verify your earnings for those two years. This may vary from country to country and from one leasing company to another but it is something to keep in mind when looking for business lease financing. You can check your credit scores at one of the following credit bureaus.

www.transunion.ca (.com for US)

www.equifax.ca (.com for US).

4 Tips for Selecting A Truck Mount for Your Carpet Cleaning Business

If you are looking to start a new carpet cleaning business or if you are already in business but need to replace your current truck mount or upgrade from a portable to a truck mount there are a few things you should be aware of so that you make the best choice.

Tip 1 – Bigger does not necessarily mean better when it comes to truck mounts. Fuel economy is important not only when it comes to how much fuel your work vehicle consumes, but also when it comes to how much fuel your truck mount consumes. This is something that is easily overlooked because manufacturers give you claimed fuel economy figures that are based on fuel consumed per hour. Back when gas was less than $2.00 per gallon, fuel economy was still a concern, but now with gas prices above $3.50 per gallon, it is an even bigger concern. Fuel consumption can add up quickly when your hours accumulate over a period of time. When you are running a small business, every little bit of savings is important to increasing your bottom line. If you were to run a truck mount with a 1.4 gallon per hour combined gas and propane consumption rate for 4,000 hours with a fuel cost of $2.00 per gallon, you would have spent $11,200 on fuel. If you were to run that same machine for 4,000 hours at $3.50 per gallon, you would have spent $19,600 on fuel. Units that consume 1 gallon of fuel per hour are usually slide-in truck mounts. A slide-in unit that is not a heat exchanger and has a fuel-fired water heating system actually has more heat performance than a larger direct drive truck mount, consisting of a V8 engine, or a slide-in with a 65 HP gas engine. The direct drive units with the V8 engine and the slide-in heat exchange truck mounts with the 65 HP gas engine actually consume anywhere from 3 – 3.5 gallons per hour. Remember; these units actually have less sustained heat performance under commercial carpet cleaning conditions than a slide-in truck mount with a fuel-fired heating system. Now let’s calculate running the larger machines with less heat performance at 3.5 gallons per hour times $3.50 per gallon. That comes to $49,000 in fuel cost for the same 4,000 hours of time on your truck mount. That comes to a fuel cost difference of $29,400 over 4,000 hours of operating time on your unit. That is a significant savings that you can have by choosing a smaller slide-in truck mount with a fuel-fired heating system versus a large slide-in heat exchanger unit with a 65 HP engine or a direct drive unit with a V8 engine.

Tip 2 – Purchase price: A typical slide-in unit with a fuel-fired heating system will cost anywhere between $15,000 – $18,000. A slide-in truck mount with a 65 HP gas engine or a direct drive unit will run you somewhere between about $25,000 – $35,000. Remember that you will also have less heat performance on the larger units during commercial carpet cleaning conditions due to the accumulative hours. The reason why you will have less heat performance is that heat exchangers have less BTU’s to sustain long periods of cleaning time.

Tip 3 – Vacuum Performance Misconception: A lot of people believe that a larger vacuum blower with a larger carpet cleaning machine will get the carpets drier. However, there are physical limitations to how much air can actually go through the carpet cleaning wand once the wand is on the carpet and is semi-sealed with wet extraction. At this point only about 200 cubic feet per minute can go through the wand. There is an illusion of more power when the wand of a unit with a larger blower is lifted off the carpet. It has a louder sound of rushing air due to less resistance than when it is sealed on the carpet. The heat exchange machines or direct drive, use larger blowers to stress the engines more to produce more heat. You must make a heat exchanger load the engine to produce more heat.

Even though 200 cubic feet per minute is the maximum that can be used by the cleaning head, you need to have about 300 – 350 cubic feet per minute to keep negative pressure on the recovery tank and vacuum hoses. One of the reasons large heat exchange truck mount units consume so much fuel is that the blower requires more horsepower. The larger blower on these units is necessary to load the engine to make the heat for the heat exchanger. Some of the 65 HP slide-in truck mounts run 59 blowers which produce 850 cubic feet per minute. So 75% of the cubic feet per minute being produced by the blower is unusable and being released through the relief valve. A direct drive truck mount which utilizes the truck engine as the power plant, has an electric clutch similar to a clutch on an air conditioner that turns a shaft that operates the blower and pump. This clutch limitation is 20 HP. This is why you are unable to put large blowers on direct drive truck units. So you might have a truck with an engine that develops 350 HP but your truck mount can only use 20 HP of that 350 to operate. Still it is burning fuel based on a 350 HP engine running at 1800 rpm.

Tip 4 – Design Simplicity: This is one of the most important aspects to consider when you are looking at purchasing a truck mount. A truck mount is a mechanical machine and everything mechanical needs maintenance and repair. A heat exchange slide-in machine is an extremely complicated design with a lot of proprietary parts. It also has very complicated wiring. One of these types of truck mounts consists of a lot of safety switches, relays, solenoids, and thermal relief valves. A fuel-fired unit doesn’t require all of these components, because it uses a separate heating device, either propane, or kerosene-fired. You do have the inconvenience of having to purchase a second fuel for these heating devices. The simplicity and reliability of not having all of these extra parts on your machine outweighs the inconvenience of buying the second fuel. You also will have a better sustained temperature with a fuel-fired system. Plus the fuel-fired truck mount is simpler to repair and utilizes common parts that you can find local at auto parts stores, Home Depot, or Lowes. The engines on these units can also be serviced at a local lawn mower shop.

In closing the purchase of a truck mount is no small matter. You are investing a considerable sum of money into your carpet cleaning business. You want to be sure you get a unit that is reliable and easy to repair so that you experience the least amount of downtime possible. Also remember that you want a truck mount that is economical on fuel consumption since every dollar counts towards your bottom line when you are in business.