Archive for September, 2010

Increase your bottom line during jobless recovery

(Glendale, CA)-There is no question that businesses are struggling these days.   As they learn to do more with less, there is a looming risk that money will be left on the table if smart business ideas aren’t identified and utilized in daily operations.

Effective revenue management, account receivables, debt collection and insurance subrogation play a pivotal role in profitability. 

According to Chris Tidball, Vice President of Business Development for Sequoia Financial Services, “an unintended consequence of doing more with less, downsizing and off shoring is a deterioration of bottom line results”.

Tidball continues, “By better leveraging available resources companies can have the best of both worlds.  They can make more money with fewer resources, more profitably and with a lower probability of leakage by following three simple rules”.

  1. Do it Better– Businesses, large and small, typically have a core competency where they excel while struggling in many other areas. Consider hospitals that excel at providing medical care but struggle with revenue cycle management.  
  2. Do it Faster– Time is money and the quicker balances are collected, the more effective and streamlined the organization will become, ensuring a competitive edge.   Outsourcing processes such as debt collection or receivables to a business partner with that competency sheds layers of bureaucracy and countless overhead.
  3. Do it More Accurately – Cheaper isn’t better; accuracy is.   A common misperception is that hiring low wage staff, either domestically or off shore, can increase results.  The reality is that you get what you pay for.  Accuracy is achieved by having the right business person doing the right job.   Asking an entry level clerk to collect a late payment, insured co-pay or an unpaid judgment virtually ensures that the debt will remain outstanding. 

There is no question that businesses can make money, but they must have an adaptable change management philosophy, coupled with processes and workflows enabling them to weather difficult economic times.    To effectively do this, they should focus on core competencies while leveraging business partners to shoulder the load of adding money to the bottom line.   Those that heed this advice are assured of a competitive edge in the marketplace while those who go it alone will continue to struggle.  

Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb and provides businesses with innovative solutions to improve their bottom line.  To learn more or inquire about a free consultation, please contact Chris Tidball (818) 409-6016 or email chris@christidball.com.

 

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September 29, 2010 at 6:40 am Leave a comment

Let them eat cake

With another $30 billion on the books for small businesses and community banks, where are the takers?  This latest attempt to create jobs contains a mix of tax cuts and credits by making billions of dollars available for community banks to loan to small businesses.  After all, small businesses that drive hiring in our nation haven’t been adding positions because credit has been tight, right? 

Yet again, Washington is demonstrating how out of touch they have become with Main Street.  Banks and businesses are balking at the latest attempt to grow the economy for multiple reasons, not the least of which is fear of even more federal regulatory oversight.  

William Chase, CEO of Triumph Bank in Memphis summed it up best, “We have taken a strategic decision not to have our primary regulator, the government, also be a partner in our bank”.

Banks echoing this sentiment aren’t alone as ninety-one percent of small business owners surveyed in August by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said all their credit needs were met.

According to the Obama administration this new legislation will provide incentives and create jobs for 4 million small businesses.  Does this include businesses scrambling to get below the 50 employee threshold for mandatory employee healthcare?   How about the business owners deemed “the evil rich” because they opt to do their business income on their personal tax returns?  

Like prior attempts to fix the economy, it appears that we have yet another taxpayer funded bust on our hands, again underscoring that the people making the laws have no clue how to run a business.  

The single biggest issue facing our nation is lack of jobs, a problem being exacerbated by a government that seeks to expand their control.   The result is a scaling back of domestic operations by businesses small and large, such as Bank of America that just today announced a 5% reduction in workforce.  

These problems will not go away until the government recognizes that their answers aren’t the solution, and in reality have served to perpetuate the problems.   The response to government action has been predictable, resulting in even more Americans being kicked to the curb.  

The solutions are simple, yet Congress doesn’t want to act in a way that would benefit someone other than themselves.   By allowing tax cuts to expire at the end of 2010, Congress is in effect saying to Americans, “We are going to punish the people for not supporting us and acknowledging that we are better than you and know what is best.  We don’t care if unemployment goes to 12 or 15%, so let them eat cake”. 

It is the elitist attitude that is driving the economy right now.  Taking liberties with not only our homes, jobs and families, but the future of our children is what has Americans so upset.  It is a well known fact that government rarely solves problems and generally exacerbates them.   Until the attitude of Washington is put in check, jobs will continue to be lost by businesses who would rather do more with less, close up shop or move overseas; whatever it takes to avoid having to deal with government in its current state.  

Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one – Thomas Paine

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Christopher Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He uses his twenty years of business experience and knowhow to help others find new sources of revenue, with no new money required.   Learn more at www.christidball.com or email chris@christidball.com


September 27, 2010 at 8:16 am Leave a comment

Why can’t you give my dad a job?

It’s nice to hear a little common sense amidst the economic incompetence that continues to bring down our economy.   In an interview today, Warren Buffet told CNBC that we are still in a recession, to the contrary to the politically expedient rhetoric of the administration and mainstream media.

While our economy may not meet the textbook definition of recession any longer, Buffet said that his own common sense tells him that the recession will linger quite a while.   Outside the beltway, where people work for a living, it is evident that the economy is in shambles, largely as the result of mandates, rules, regulations, taxes and bureaucracy from Washington.  

Buffet is not alone, as fellow business genius Jack Welch has weighed in saying, “Barack Obama’s administration has an “anti-business” bias which manifests itself through intimidation, trade, taxes and regulation.” 

Unfortunately, it is the American people that will continue to pay the price for the sins of  Washington.   Joblessness will continue to deteriorate; significantly if tax rates go up at the end of 2010.   Businesses, hamstrung by an unconstitutional healthcare mandate and confiscatory financial reform, will continue to outsource and offshore more and more positions, causing an increase in government dependency that will perpetuate the problem until the economy completely crashes.

Individually, those looking for jobs need to understand the problem and confront them with solutions that work, such as accepting contract rather than traditional employment terms.    Collectively, we need to work together to identify leaders who understand that the free market is the only solution to undo the mess created by government.  

While the economy has rapidly declined over the past eighteen months, it is important to recognize that the damage has been more than seventy years in the making.   From the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act and the War on Poverty to the Community Reinvestment Act and healthcare reform, idealism has undermined the true spirit of the American experiment.   While this utopian idealism may have wonderful intentions, succcess can only come when our nation is measured on results, as good intentions often have horrible unintended consequences.

To truly recover, we must return to the values of rugged individualism and self reliance that made our nation great.  For those who hit hard times, we must exorcise the demons of government dependency and complacency; replacing them with charity and compassion.

Once businesses regain confidence in a smaller, more nimble government, the hiring will begin.  Once taxes are cut, the jobs will return.  But one thing is abundantly clear; the surest way to prolong the recession is to continue down a path paved with good intentions put forth by those with no business sense that have never had to meet a payroll. 

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Christopher Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He uses is decades of business success to help others find new streams of revenue with no new money required.  To learn more visit www.christidball.com or email chris@christidball.com.

September 24, 2010 at 8:24 am Leave a comment

The check is in the mail

Great news; the recession is officially over!  So sayeth the shepard; so sayeth the flock.   In fact, the recession was over in June, 2009.   So sayeth the shepard; so sayeth the flock.   We have returned to full employment, inflation is in check, the budget is balanced proving yet again that the stimulus, cash for clunkers, healthcare and financial reform all worked! So sayeth the shepard; so sayeth the flock. 

But alas, even Steven Spielberg couldn’t write a better science fiction account of today’s economy where unemployment continues to rise, nearly one in five Americans is underemployed, housing values and 401k’s are rapidly becoming worthless and yes, the woeful economic conditions continue. 

Let’s examine exactly what the politically expedient election year rhetoric from Washington means.   Generally speaking, a recession refers to widespread decline in GDP lasting for two consecutive quarters.   The last negative quarter of negative GDP ended in June, 2009.   So this must mean that the recession is officially over!  So sayeth the shepard; so sayeth the flock.  

But is it really over?  Has the pain subsided for millions of Americans who have been kicked to the curb?  Are the policies that have supposedly fixed the economy really working?  Or is this merely election year rhetoric designed to stem the inevitable bloodletting during the midterms?

What seems to be conveniently overlooked amidst the media’s jubilant celebration of economic recovery is that the National Bureau of Economic Research also said that while the last recession was over, a fresh one is possible.   Remember, all it takes is two consecutive quarters of negative growth which is a certainty as healthcare and financial reform take their toll on business and industry.  

Aside from the textbook definition of recession, let’s ask real questions about the state of economic affairs in America.  Is consumer confidence up?  What are the results of the Purchasing Managers Index?  Are house values increasing?  Are savings accounts rising?  Are investments producing results?  The overwhelming response to just about every economic indicator is negative and in fact points to things getting worse before they improve. 

From a small business perspective things aren’t improving.   From a jobs perspective they aren’t improving either.   Until there are significant and meaningful changes in Washington, the administration can call it whatever they choose but for the millions of struggling Americans, our nation is still in a recession.  

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Christopher Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules for Coming Out On Top When Your Life has Been Turned Upside Down.   He provides businesses and individuals with innovative solutions to finding new revenue streams.  Learn more at www.christidball.com or email chris@christidball.com.

September 22, 2010 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

Operation: Fundamental Transformation

Let me begin with a big shoutout to www.bessed.com for naming the Finding Millions Blog one of the Top 5 sites in the nation for information.    But just what does all the information on the blog mean to new readers who are curious about the wide variety of commentary?

The goal of Finding Millions was to help Americans who have been kicked to the curb get back on their feet and find new revenue streams.   It’s been a tough slog for millions beset by the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression and further complicated by an economically challenged government that doesn’t understand why their actions are making things worse. 

The reason that Kicked to the Curb is a must read for those struggling in today’s economy is because it is a “been there, done that” testimonial to what does and does not work.   It is said that every generation is dealt challenges to make them stronger.   These are the times in which we find ourselves today; times in which conventional wisdom must be replaced with innovation and creativity that will ultimately lead to a brighter future. 

At times, such as the article specifically cited by Bessed, politics and business are inter-related and it is for this reason that a jobs blog morphs into a political commentary to highlight steps that can be taken by Washington to get America back on track.  

The overwhelming body of evidence on the state of the economy suggests that steps taken by Congress, from the stimulus to healthcare to financial reform, have caused a further deterioration in both consumer confidence and unemployment.   People aren’t buying goods and services because they don’t know if they will have a job tomorrow.   Businesses aren’t hiring people because they don’t know if they’ll be out of business tomorrow.   Congress sits back and passes more rules, regulations, mandates and taxes which simply causes the problems to get worse.  

There are certainly fixes, many of which aren’t even being discussed.   The small business jobs bill may sound good on paper, but basically leaves those taking advantage of it behold to even more government mandates.   Perhaps it is time that Congress get out of the way and let the market correct itself. 

As we are witnessing in other nations, from Cuba to Russia, government is stepping aside.   Fidel Castro recently said that the Cuban model of socialism no longer works for the island nation.   Even he recognizes that success with big government is not possible because eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend.  

Russia has announced that more than 100,000 government bureaucrats will be laid off by 2013; a step in the right direction.   The only people who don’t seem to understand the damage that they are inflicting upon the American people and psyche are those inside the beltway seemingly oblivious to our reality as we struggle along in survival mode. 

Incomes are down, net worth is down, real estate values are down.  It seems that he only things up are unemployment, foreclosure and government spending.   There is something wrong with this picture that needs fixed with clear and concise solutions.   Those with a solid background in business and an understanding of economics are the ones who hold the key to getting Americans back to work.   Perhaps now is the time to stop playing partisan games, stop the demagoguery of success, class warfare and race baiting and get work finding leaders with proven solutions.  It’s actually not that hard, it’s just that many with solutions have no interest in playing the games that have become politics du jour. 

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Christopher Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He provides businesses and individuals with innovative solutions to finding new revenue streams; often with no new money required.  Learn more at www.christidball.com or e-mail chris@christidball.com

September 21, 2010 at 8:33 am Leave a comment

The Subrogation Cash Cow

The recession is wreaking havoc in all sectors of the economy. Hit particularly hard has been the insurance sector, where companies continue to search for ways to scale back. As a result of these cuts, frontline adjusters and subrogation collectors are receiving more claims per day than ever, which is having an unintended consequence on bottom lines as the push for disposition undermines quality.

Exacerbating this challenge are the ongoing mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, and consolidation that have dramatically changed the face of business in America. While this permits companies to tout the economic upside to shareholders, there are many economic downsides for those who do not properly meet the challenges presented by this dynamic. Nowhere is this more evident than in subrogation, where increased demands can decrease results. Equally as challenged are claim departments across all lines of insurance, where claims are often closed with missed subrogation opportunities.

Having spent more than 20 years running claim and recovery operations for multiple “Top 10” property and casualty (P&C) carriers, I am quite familiar with these challenges; in particular the closure of more than 15 percent of all files industry-wide with missed subrogation opportunity.

As staffing is reduced and the pool of knowledge scaled back, claim outcomes continue to deteriorate. Regardless of carrier — or even industry for that matter — it seems that time, staff, and money are enough to hamstring any organization. However, there is a solution that leverages the strengths of your greatest assets: your people, with business partners who have particular expertise in areas where carriers often struggle.

According to the 2008 Auto Benchmarking study conducted by the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP), 78 percent of subrogation claims are insured, with 22 percent uninsured. Of the latter, as many as 82 percent are closed with no recovery at all, the study concluded. This is in addition to the 15 percent of claims closed by adjusters where subrogation was completely overlooked.

The good news is that many of these “missed” opportunities can be recouped with a structured workflow analysis and subsequent process improvements. By directing the attention of your internal staff to the most collectible types of claims, it is possible to not only increase recoveries but also to increase productivity by focusing on claims that have a higher recovery probability with less complexity.

By outsourcing difficult claims, you will immediately gain a competitive edge in the marketplace, as your net back to the bottom line will increase. Net back is a simple concept of placing an emphasis on the actual money returned to your bottom line instead of the fees or costs associated (either internally or externally) with collecting the money.

Comparative Negligence

Beyond maximizing returns on complex subrogation scenarios are those that involve comparative negligence, a straightforward concept with which many carriers struggle.

According to benchmarking studies, standard carriers make a subrogation recovery on approximately 28 percent of collision payments. That figure is 22 percent for non-standard carriers. In result from multiple Six Sigma projects conducted for a variety of carriers, the overall pool of potential comparative negligence derived from quality reviews on statistically valid samplings has been roughly 37 percent. The recovery gap is the variant opportunity for improvement that carriers can expect when staff fully understand and effectively apply the concepts associated with comparative negligence.

Aside from straight forward situations such as intersection or parking lot accidents, there are myriad opportunities where comparative fault would apply in virtually any product line. Concepts such as assumption or risk or last clear chance, phrases often not heard since our adjuster boot camps, need to once again become part of the daily claim vernacular.

While conducting investigations, adjusters must consider all of the duties owed and duties breached while thinking outside of the box for ways to more accurately recreate what happened when the claim occurred.

This can become a challenge for organizations where staffing has been whittled down, with experienced adjusters having been let go, and processes such as First Notice of Loss (FNOL) sent overseas. When accuracy of information and data collection become problematic, it will have a direct and quantifiable impact on a carrier’s bottom line. Adjusters are often measured in terms of the volume of production versus the quality of their work, and critical items often slip through the cracks. A missed witness statement here and a missed police report there can add up to billions of dollars lost as an industry.

By focusing on two critical areas — maximizing recoveries on the tough collections and developing an acute understanding of comparative negligence — carriers can battle their way out of the red ink. These opportunities are ubiquitous throughout the claim arena, and the carriers that leverage expertise in them will gain an instant competitive advantage in the marketplace.

A renewed focus on execution associated with effective and accurate investigations and outcomes will drive overall subrogation recognition, a key component to improving profitability. Recognizing subrogation as an area of opportunity and then focusing on continuous process improvement by leveraging expertise in the industry is what will define the most successful carriers in coming years.

Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb and provides businesses with innovative solutions to increase their bottom line revenue and subrogation returns.  He can be reached at chris@christidball.com.  To learn more visit www.christidball.com

September 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Secrets to Getting Hired When Nobody Is Hiring

JACKSONVILLE, FL–(Marketwire – September 14, 2010) –  It seems that the “jobless recovery” and the “summer of recovery” have resulted in millions of frustrated jobseekers asking the question, “how can I get a job if nobody is hiring?”

According to Chris Tidball, career coach and author of Kicked to the Curb (www.christidball.com) it’s time to throw away the conventional wisdom and think outside the box. 

Tidball still believes that there are great opportunities, saying, “Job seekers must get creative. They need to realize that looking at classifieds or enduring endless cattle calls isn’t likely to succeed. They also need to recognize that they are up against a tsunami of new mandates ranging from healthcare to financial reform that have employers leery of expanding their workforce.” 

Tidball said his analysis isn’t meant to scare people, but rather, to motivate them.

“I have developed 20 rules that are designed to help people get back to work,” he said. “Instead of just looking for work, consider your household as a business, and look for revenue opportunities, such as odd jobs, freelance work, part time positions, starting a new business, or any combination of those things. Worry less about jobs and think more about revenue.”

Some of his rules are:

  • Network, network, network — This is the single biggest thing that you can do day in and day out. Remember, it’s not what you know it’s who you know.
  • Be courageous — Fear paralyzes and can be the single biggest inhibitor to taking steps towards recovery. Remember, things WILL get better.
  • Perseverance — You are now selling yourself and like any sale, success is a game of numbers!

“Be courageous,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to do something you haven’t tried before. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. Getting kicked to the curb can be the lowest point of one’s life; it can also be the turning point from which great success is achieved.”

About Chris Tidball

Chris Tidball is a career coach, business consultant and motivational speaker. He is a former executive of a Fortune 500 company who reinvented himself in his post-corporate life. The author of Kicked to the Curb (www.christidball.com), he provides individuals and businesses with new and innovative ways to improve their bottom line. 

To interview Chris Tidball or request a review copy of Kicked to the Curb contact:
Susan Paige, Publicist 
(904) 742-7868 or email susan@innovationinc.net

September 15, 2010 at 8:51 am Leave a comment

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Chris Tidball is a claims and revenue management consultant and author of the "20 Essential Rules" series of self and organizational improvement books. You can ask him a question at chris@christidball.com

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