Businesses hire consultants to identify and resolve issues that the company is incapable of handling internally. Consulting firms develop expertise focusing on particular business types. To expand your consulting practice, expand your consulting capabilities. Here are seven must have methods to multiply your business consulting capabilities.1. Identify Multiple Business MarketsLook at a variety of business markets such as technology, manufacturing, or hospitality. Examine many business categories. For example, there are businesses associated with technology such as telecommunications, medical, automotive, and aerospace just to name a few.2. Develop Multiple Business ModelsBusinesses associated with each category have problems and issues unique to the particular business. Identify problems and issues commonly encountered by each business.3. Select Growing MarketsWhich business markets are growing, stagnating or shrinking? Obviously, you will want to select businesses in markets that are growing.4. Research Potential Client Base in Each MarketAnalyze the types of clients found in each market and match them to your areas of expertise. If your consulting strengths are in technology, focus on businesses with a technology slant such as aerospace, medical, or automotive.5. Cultivate Prospects Consistent with Your NicheOnce you identify the industries associated with your potential client base, cultivate relationships within those businesses.6. Develop Best of Breed MethodologiesYour consulting methods and practices separate you from your competitors. Develop ‘best of breed’ methods and practices.7. Plan for the Long TermYou want to keep your clients for the long term. As industries mature, new problems and issues emerge. Continually update your solutions capabilities.
Borrowers purchasing or refinancing an automotive service property (repair, gas station, oil change, etc) will face limited options compared to just 3-6 months ago. As the residential subprime mess continues to seep into all markets, innovative and creative options have either gone into “hibernation” or have been tighten to the point that only the strongest qualify.In terms of what is still readily available for automotive borrowers – think SBA 504, SBA 7a (there are fixed rate options available and you can use this to refinance), and 30 year fixed.SBA 504Created only for purchases, borrower can still expect 85% financing on both straight purchases and or construction/rehab loans. The main benefit to this program include the high leverage and that the rate can be fixed for as long as 5, 7, 10 and a few lenders offer 25 year fixed rates. Also rates are normally very competitive. For example, currently (April 2008) borrowers can expect a blended rate in the high 6’s.Despite what many borrowers believe the SBA process has been greatly improved and borrowers can realistically expect their loan to close in 45 – 60 days, on par with all commercial mortgages.SBA 7aWhile the 504 program is geared generally for loans in the $2,000,000 – $7,000,000 range, the SBA 7a program is geared for smaller loans with a little more “hair”. Borrowers can use projections rather than just historically financials to qualify. Debt coverage ratios can be as low as 1.1 and 90% financing is available on both purchases and refinances for most automotive properties.The most common objections to the 7a programs are 1. The program normally comes with a floating rate and 2. The SBA guarantee fee of 2.75% of the loan amount is too expensive. However it’s critical that the borrower realize that the terms of the loan are negotiable. There are 2 national banks that we work with for example, that structure this loan as a 5 year fixed and the banks pay for the guarantee fee in order to win over deals for most borrowers.30 Year FixedThis creative loan was widely available for automotive borrowers/properties just 5 months ago, but has become restricted. Refinances are now capped at 70% loan to value and cash out refinances are capped at 65% Borrower credit scores need to be at least 680 and financials need to reflect a 1.25 minimum. In addition properties older than 10 years will have a tough time getting closed.Despite the challenges, the 30 year fixed option is a strong program and worthwhile for the borrower to investigate if they like the idea of having long term fixed rate financing.
Automotive Batteries in a mechanical workshop.The common automotive battery posses a number of safety risks that perhaps are not well known or at times not well managed.Let’s go through some of the issues with automotive batteries to see how there associated risks can be managed.The common automotive battery is what is classed as a lead acid battery, meaning that it has plates of lead inside as well as a mixture of sulphuric acid and distilled water.Each time the battery is discharged through either starting the vehicle, using the headlights or radio etc it will need to be recharged.As a battery is charging it gives off a small amount of hydrogen gas and this is potentially dangerous as hydrogen gas is extremely volatile or explosiveWhen this happens in a motor vehicle it is not such a problem as the battery is nearly always in an air flow of some type which disperses the gas thus eliminating the problem.When batteries are charged inside a building and specifically a workshop there can be a lack of ventilation removing this from the area thus causing the potential for an explosion if the gas was to be ignited.What can be done to reduce this risk?Ensure that the battery charging area is well ventilated to the outside air.If this is not possible due to the location within the building install an exhaust fan or another type of ventilation system to remove any build up of gas in the area.The battery charging area should be located away from a general traffic area with correct signage indicating that it is a restricted area.There should be a 1st aid kit including an eye wash module in close proximity and that all staff are trained in there use.Ensure that there is the correct type of fire extinguisher (s) mounted just outside of the area with correct signage and that all staff are trained in their use.Ensure that your battery charging equipment is in good working order and that it has been tested and tagged for electrical compliance, usually every 6 months.Ensure that your staff are correctly trained in how to use the battery charging and load testing equipment.When not in use keep the battery charger leads and clips, clipped onto the bench or work area to reduce the risk of being caught or being tripped over.Remove where possible the small water filler caps on top of the battery so that the water level and the specific gravity can be checked (using a hydrometer), with the caps removed this also eliminates any pressure build up within the battery due to the gas production while charging.The area needs to kept clean and tidy at all times with o storage of metal objects within the area, this eliminates the risk of a metal object falling across a batteries terminals and causing a spark and in some cases an explosion.Always keep you battery charging area free from other chemicals, oils, greases and any other flammable material, including oily work shop rags.Always wash dirty batteries before charging as some acid residue and scum can cause voltage leakage.Always wash hands after handling batteries as some residual acid may contact the skin causing irritation or discomfort.Always keep a pair of gloves and safety glasses in the area for use by any staff member.Always keep terminal cleaning equipment in the charging area (wire brush & specific terminal cleaners).If you ever carry out battery terminal repairs using the carbon arch method use extreme caution. To find out more about this send a question to the email, address at the bottom of this article.When moving or lifting batteries always use correct posture and manual handling methods: E.G. use trolleys to move around, use two people to lift the bigger batteries, use benches that are at the correct height so there is no excessive bending or reaching up.If your battery charging area is somewhat hidden away out of clear site you can set up a warning light on top of the area to signal that there is a battery on charge. This can reduce the incidents of staff leaving work for the day and leaving a battery charging over night, as this is not recommended. The warning light is generally a 12 volt low power draw light (LED is best) connected to the battery that is being charged.Have clear signage on the outside of the battery charging area indicating what the battery area is and a set of clear guidelines or instructions on what and what not to do in this area..Any old batteries should be discarded as soon as practical using your local battery re cycling company to collect them from your premises.27/06/2011