Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More Economic Theory

I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy reading and hearing what people think about our current economic situation. It's all part of my ongoing education.

Since most respondents to our current survey don't believe the U.S. Government should bail out the Big Three Carmakers, I thought you might be interested in this viewpoint from the Misess Economics Blog (can be found at http://blog.mises.org/blog) (I thought this was an Austrian economic think tank, but it's actually located in Auburn, AL., it merely works to "advance the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School" and honestly - I'm not really sure what that means..... But I still found the entire article interesting.

Best Explanation in One Sentence
November 25, 2008 3:08 PM by Jeffrey Tucker

From Llewellyn Rockwell in this piece: "If the money is used to prop up failing companies, that's particularly bad since it is an attempt to override market realities, an attempt that is about as successful as trying to repeal gravity by throwing things up in the air."

For me, reducing economic theory to a one-sentence anology is overly simplistic, yet sometimes quite effective. For a more in-depth analysis, go to the blog. One reader's response was interesting, he said, it's like giving heroin to a heroin addict and expecting him to change.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Travel - The driving decline continues

Our friends at AAA have forecast a small decline in the number of Americans traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This would be the first decline in Thanksgiving holiday travel since 2002 and the fourth consecutive holiday this year with a year-over-year decline.

Some 41 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from their homes for Thanksgiving weekend — a decrease of 600,000 travelers, or 1.4 percent, from last year’s total of 41.6 million travelers. (but really, who counts them once you're past the 40 million mark?)

More than 33.2 million Americans, or 81 percent of all holiday travelers, are expected to travel by automobile. That’s a 1.2-percent decrease from the 33.6 million people who drove a year ago. Even with the recent decline in gas prices, people are still reporting they're going to stay home.

Who will travel and where will they be?

  • Southeast: 8.8 million
  • West: 6.9 million
  • Midwest: 6.5
  • Great Lakes: 6.1 million - I think most of these 6.1 million people will be on I-71 along with me and my family.
  • Northeast: 4.8 million

Whether you're going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house, or staying home, best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. Safe travels wherever this week takes you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our New English Language

I have two teenage sons, so I have become quite proficient at how to spell now (the close of 2008, the dawn of 2009). You remember the old, "if you can read this, thank a teacher"? It's now, "f u cn red ths, thnk a tchr." Yes, it gets a little under my English graduate skin to even type that out but, if it saves money while texting, I'm all for it. I'm not lol.

Where I have to draw the line though, is when I see, read about, or hear adults making up new words. One of my least favorite is "incentivize" or "incent". Neither are real words. The word, incentive, is a noun meaning to "incite some type of change or behavior". Let's leave it alone, please. Find a real adjective to suit your subject matter.

But what got me going on this topic today was an article I saw recently in Ad Age magazine. The article presents a review of a recent discussion amongst ad agency personnel at a CMO Roundtable a the Association of National Advertisers annual conference in Orlando, FL. Apparently, they expressed concern that many of their clients are increasingly bypassing their usual media and creative agencies and instead, turning to media companies (perhaps like Babcox?) for creative marketing ideas. So far, the topic doesn't bother me too much. But then, this:

"If I were an agency, I would be really worried about being disintermediated," said Becky Saeger, CMO of Charles Schwab and new chairman of the ANA. "more and more, agencies are almost in the way sometimes."

Now, I know as a Publisher I should consider the content (which I find very interesting actually). But as a person with an English degree and a lifelong interest in language, the fake word, DISINTERMEDIATED, really ticks me off. For clarity's sake, say what you mean and mean what you say. Did she mean to use the word, disinter (to dig up) or maybe disintegrate (to separate into components) or disjoin (to disconnect) - which is probably close to what she meant. Or, perhaps she meant to say, "If I were an agency, I would be really worried about being FIRED."

Please - don't send me any e-mails with made up words... Or if you're going to make up a word, at least use a little creativity! Just because you add a prefix, a suffix, or an -ly at the end doesn't make it a word!

And don't think this is a rant against ad agencies - because it is not. We work with some excellent agencies that are very creative and bring a lot of great ideas to our clients. I like the idea of working with an agency and a client together. That triumvirate can generate a lot of new ideas and can move in directions that neither one individually may have considered.

Just........I'm able to handle the text-spell, just QUIT MAKING WORDS UP!

If you really feel the need to use new words, then check out the Chambers Dictionary online. I think I'll stick with Websters.
And don't even get me started on all the new names for people that seem to have come into being over the past decade or two. K?

thx. TTFN

Profile of Today's Technician

We recently conducted a survey of the readers of our TechGroup magazines, specifically skipping over the shop owner and going directly to the technician. Today, I'm going to outline the "lifestyle" of today's U.S. automotive technician. Check back later for an overview of their tools and equipment purchasing trends.

Our methodology: We mailed and collected the responses to our survey from mid-September to mid-October, 2008. Our objective was to gather informaton on the demographics and lifestyles of professional auto repair technicians. We have a professional research team on staff here, so it was not just me and couple of local auto techs sitting around shooting the breeze. We're serious about research..... (though I realize you may be wondering why there's a picture of Mickey Mouse in an article about research. more to come on MM.)
In order to keep this a quick read, I'm just going to list some of the highlights of our research:
  • Our respondents have been technicians for an average of 20.9 years, with 33% being in the business for 26 years or more.

  • The majority of our respondents have been working at their current location for over 5 years, with the average being 11 years.
  • 46% of these technicians began working in the business by the time they were 18 years old. The next largest category (10%) began at the age of 19. (Good reason for you to consider advertising to student technicians today - they start young and stay in the business for a looooooong time.)
  • 63% hold ASE certifications, with an average of 5 certifications each.
  • For those technicians paid hourly, 32% have an hourly rate of $16 or less, while 21% cite an hourly rate of $25 or more.
  • The average number of hours worked per week is 44.4
  • The average age of our technicians is 41.8 years old. 68% are married. When asked how many more years do you expect to remain an automotive technician, the average answer was 13.1 years.
  • 38% are HS graduates and 30% went to technical or a trade school.
  • Our technicians own or lease an average of 3.9 vehicles, with cars/light trucks/SUVs making up 88% of their vehicles. Others are motorcycles, RV, motor homes, snowmobiles, ATVs.
  • What do you think technicians like to do in their spare time? Well, according to the survey, their favorite passtime is fishing (46%), followed by boating (32%) and travel (28%). Surprisingly, just 22.5% enjoyed motorsports as a leisure activity (why do so many manufacturers spend so much money to support motorsports then?) Only 11% enjoy golf. (of course, perhaps a lot more of them golf, but only 11% enjoy golf.)
  • Internet use - 93% have access to the internet (70% have access both at home and at work).

Then we asked them some broader industry questions and asked if they agree or disagree.

Here are the areas where they strongly agree: The shop where they work is a decent place to work (that explains the length of time.); There is a shortage of trained technicians.; It is difficult to keep up.

They were more neutral about their opportunity to advance in the industry and some apparently feel the public doesn't respect their skills (something we all need to keep in mind as we work to promote our industry both within and outside of our business networks.)

Finally, 53% indicated they might change careers. Of those, 42% would remain in automotive, but not as a tech, 26% want to become a shop owner, and 32% would seek something outside the automotive field.

One final note: Happy Belated Birthday Mickey Mouse! Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of Mickey Mouse's appearance in Steamboat Willie. 80 years, several modifications, and solid marketing........ today Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognizable brands/images on the planet. Even though his primary target market is children, people of all ages, income levels, lifestyles, and education recognize the black mouse with white gloves (and MM is rarely if ever confused with Michael Jackson, who is a person (not a cartoon character) known to wear one white glove from time to time.) That is great branding - no matter how you analyze it.