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Posts by Carl Hughes

The vital few and trivial many Posted on 01 Sep 2008 in the Business & Current Issue & Customer service & Guest column & Marketing & Propane Retail Operations categories.

In the early 1900s, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto developed a mathematical formula to describe the uneven distribution of income and wealth in Switzerland. Read more»

Motivate with incentives Posted on 01 Aug 2008 in the Business & Current Issue & Customer service & Guest column & Marketing & Propane Retail Operations categories.

Of all the useful managerial tools available to retail propane distributors, none may be more underutilized than a well-designed, performance-incentive compensation plan. Read more»

Investments without return Posted on 01 Jul 2008 in the Business & Current Issue & Customer service & Propane Retail Operations & Supply and Pricing categories.

Residential real-estate experts have known for years that dollars invested into existing homes for improvements do not return the same value when the homes are sold. Read more»

Assessing your debt needs Posted on 01 Jun 2008 in the Business categories.

Higher wholesale propane costs press need for working capital Read more»

Add value through accounts receivable management plan Posted on 01 May 2008 in the Business & Guest column categories.

A quality program incorporates quality customers and clear expectations Read more»

Financing growth the right way Posted on 01 Apr 2008 in the Business & Guest column categories.

Historically, a number of consistently profitable operators in the retail propane industry have chosen to finance growth through their company's annual earnings. This is an overly simplistic and, frankly, shortsighted view of how to finance growth. Read more»

Connect with Washington Posted on 01 Mar 2008 in the Customer service & Government & Guest column & Propane Retail Operations categories.

As owners and operators of mostly small-to-medium-size businesses, we tend to focus first on matters that are specific to our marketing footprint. Because our customer base is local, we have an immediate vested interest in local affairs. For our own self-interest, we become actively engaged in organizations like local fire protection or city, county and township government agencies. Read more»

Capital needs often overlooked Posted on 01 Feb 2008 in the Business & Guest column categories.

Last month we addressed the financial fundamentals of a retail propane startup. The objective is to grow sales and gross margin to the scale that the business achieves profitability and then begins earning a sufficient return on equity capital deployed. What is typically overlooked in the business planning of a start-from-scratch operation is the significant ongoing growth capital required to build a retail business. Read more»

Know the financial basics Posted on 01 Jan 2008 in the Business & Guest column categories.

In this second column of a series, we address the financial fundamentals of a startup retail propane operation. This two-dimensional visual is useful in talking about the important financial components of your startup operation. Read more»

Why most propane startups fail Posted on 01 Dec 2007 in the Business & Guest column categories.

This is the first of a two-part series on retail propane startups. I chose this topic because the launching of a new retail propane plant is and always has been a fundamental part of the retail propane industry. In a way, it is the classic American capitalistic story – that of entrepreneurs risking capital and energy to create a new business. Read more»