Why Road Frontage on Commercial Property is So Valuable

How many feet of road frontage does the property have?

This question is among the most important when assessing the value of commercially zoned property in a city or county. For some, the reason as to why this question is so important may seem rather obvious. However, there are multiple reasons why investors, developers, builders and business owners want to have large amounts of road frontage on their commercial properties.

For business owners, it is best for them to have their stores located conveniently to their customers. If they are on a main highway or road, they will have great visibility to the traffic going by. This can quite possibly bring customers into their stores that they normally would not see through their normal marketing. Also, a customer new to the location can find the store much more easily when in the line of sight. Visibility on major road frontage is a huge advantage for the business owners and their stores.

Another reason why business owners like to have their stores along major road frontage is because of the ease in which customers can enter and exit the property. If they are forced to drive through large parking lots, wind behind other major stores, and park on a land locked parcel, there is a possibility that the customer would go to a more easily accessible competitor.

Now, this may be pushing it a little, because a business should be able to bring customers in on its own through effective marketing and good business practices. However, it is definitely more pleasant to access a place of business that is right by the road, rather than search your way through parking lots, other businesses, and who knows what else. The easier the access, the more enjoyable the experience is for the customer.

The two main reasons for business owners to have their stores on major road frontage are visibility and ease of access. Let's look at why investors, developers, and builders all want the properties they are involved with to have the greatest amount of road frontage possible.

These three people, investors, developers and builders, are the foundation for commercial real estate. They have the money; they have the vision, and they, ultimately, are responsible for building our communities.

More often than not, these people will choose properties to invest in that have the most amount of road frontage, or create the roads so that the office complexes, retail centers, and strip malls have the visibility and ease of access that business owners look for in a profitable commercial property.

The underlying advantage for these investors to develop and build properties with major road frontage is the fact that these commercial properties, known as out parcels, are far more valuable than the land locked in parcels behind them! The difference between these property values ​​can be quite drastic.

For example, recently I was assessing a 56 acre raw tract of land in Rome, GA. It had over 2,000 feet of road frontage on a major highway! The front of the property was zoned commercial, while the back was zoned multifamily. After speaking with the broker and looking at comps (comparable sales), it was clear that the out parcels would be valued at approximately $ 600,000 an acre developed. (They could be worth more if we were able to get national brand stores on the property). However, those in parcels, without the road frontage, would only be valued at $ 225,000 per acre. This is a $ 375,000 decrease in value simply because those in parcels are a few hundred feet away from the actual highway.

This news greatly cut into my overall profit margin.

Not all cases are this extreme. However, it is always true that an out parcel will be more valuable than an in parcel. That is why investors, developers, and builders all want property with major road frontage. It is simply more valuable!

Business owners and investors alike will gladly choose a property with major road frontage over a land locked parcel, or a parcel with little to no road frontage. Use this important fact when you assess properties and the value that they hold.

Crowd-Funding May Not Be the Best Way to Finance Your Business

It began with the passage on April 5, 2012, of the JOBS Act, officially known as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. No, not the concept of crowd-funding. That’s been around for several years, thanks largely to Kickstarter. I’m talking about the federal government’s involvement in crowdfunding. Without the hyphen, incidentally, is the other popular way to spell the process whereby people with ideas – or causes – attempt to convince people with money-to-spare to contribute to their particular idea or cause.

The JOBS Act added a new dimension to crowd-funding – a group of people called investors. Prior to April, crowd-funding was loosely based on a system best be described as “donation-and-reward.” In return for you donating a small dollar amount to my idea or cause, if I reached my stated funding goal, and if what I said I’d create with that money became a reality, I’d send you a sample of my product… or a T-shirt promoting my cause. Simple enough, right? Donation and reward.

That JOBS Act, however, allows people with significant amounts of money to now “invest” in small and start-up companies. And, because the rules for “investing” fall under the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the JOBS Act has given the SEC until Jan. 1, 2013, to draft and implement rules and regulations for those who want to invest in companies defined by that Act.

There’s a significant difference between investors as defined in the JOBS Act and “donors” under the original crowd-funding concept. Investors loan money with the intent of getting it back, either with interest or in the form of stock in the company in which they invest.

Under the original “donation-and-reward” program, if the person seeking a certain amount of money reached his or her stated goal, each person who donated to that goal basically kissed his or her donation good-bye. If the project to which they contributed became successful, each donor got a “reward,” whatever they’d been promised when they made their donations.

Crowd-funding under the JOBS Act isn’t going to be the answer for every type of business. The most money – the smart money – is will likely fund high-tech businesses or those that best satisfy a major consumer need or want. And that funding is virtually certain to go first to companies that have a well polished, written business plan.

Yes, a written business plan, the curse of so many owners of small and start-up businesses. With JOBS Act crowd-funding, a well written business plan will be a must. No one smart enough to have amassed enough money to invest in a business will be foolish enough to invest in a company that lacks a well written business plan. Those investors will want to see financial projection – sales, profit margins, manufacturing and labor costs – at least three years of those projections, along with other pertinent information.

Is the effort to attract such investors worth it? At this point no one knows for sure because the SEC regs are barely in the drafting stage and likely won’t be implemented until early 2013. Meanwhile, crowd-funding using the time-honored, hassle-free “donation-and-reward” system continues to thrive.

Factory Accident Risks and Injuries

Factory environments usually include a very large space filled with heavy machinery, specialized equipment, and a large factory worker base. Factory areas can often be crowded, with many activities being performed at once, so following safety protocols and operational procedures is crucial to a smoothly run, accident-free workplace. The high frequency of workers interacting with machines means that, if proper precautions are not taken, disastrous accidents may result.

Safety Hazards

Factory workers are put at risk of injury whenever safety procedures are not followed. The following potential hazards may lead to serious accidents when not dealt with appropriately:

  • Intentionally “cutting corners” on regulations to cut factory costs
  • Accidentally overlooking a safety violation
  • Operating machinery without using proper safety equipment and safeguards
  • Not regularly maintaining heavy machinery and equipment
  • Improperly storing equipment or chemicals
  • Using defective machinery

Potential Factory Accidents and Injuries

When the above safety hazards are not addressed, workers are put at risk of being involved in an accident. Running an unsafe factory leaves open the possibility of accident and injury occurring, which may include:

  • Heavy machinery malfunction
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials
  • Falling objects or overturned equipment
  • Explosions
  • Emergency exit blockage

Most factory workers understand that there is a certain level of risk in their daily work, but like all workers they are entitled to a safe work environment that meets safety regulations. Factory companies are obligated to meet safety standards to keep workers free from harm. If you are a factory worker and have been injured in a factory accident, your employer or the property owner may be liable and you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and related damages.

Learn More

For more information on factory accidents and injury liability, please visit the website of experienced factory accident injury lawyers at the Charles D. Hankey Law Office, P.C. today.

Double Wide Mobile Homes vs Single Wide Mobile Homes

Over the past decade or so, manufactured homes (still commonly referred to as mobile homes) have become a great option for new homebuyers. Unlike the old shoddy mobile homes in trailer parks that people think of, manufactured homes now come as two-story homes or even town homes and include features like cathedral ceilings and fireplaces.

The basic configuration for manufactured homes, however, is still single wide or double wide. Single wide or single-section mobile homes are made of one main unit. The average single side manufactured home usually has about 1,100 square feet of living space while double wides average about 1,700 square feet. Needless to say, there are also larger manufactured homes, but single- and double-wides are still the most common sizes.

Manufactured homes do have their problems. According to Consumer Reports, single-section homes have more problems with floors, roofs, windows, and doors while multi-section home problems tend to be related to the joining of the sections.

In part the problems relate to the fact that the home is built in a factory and then transported to another location via flatbed truck. The motion involved can have a negative effect on the joints and connectors. However, manufacturers of quality homes do their best to correct any problems that may occur during transport.

Nowadays it may even be impossible to tell the difference between a mobile home and an on-site home unless you have seen it being built. The most common difference is that manufactured homes tend to have a lower roof slope because the home has to be moved under highway bridges.

On the other hand, the materials now used tend to be comparable to the quality of site-built homes and, other than roof slope, generally resemble “regular” homes. Indeed, if a manufactured home were not located in a “trailer park”, most people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

Nowadays more double-wides are sold than single-wides. In great part this is because the typical home buyer want more space, not less, and double-wides offer that at a price that is still far less expensive than a traditional home of the same size. Not only that, but zoning in many areas actually means that double-wide manufactured homes are the smallest size allowed.

As a homeowner, you should also know that double-wide manufactured homes tend to hold…or even increase…their value as compared to single-wide homes.

Smart Ways To Business Growth And Expansion

Aim for growth and expansion is what most businesses do especially in a highly competitive business scene. If a business does not work toward those two objectives, it's basically setting itself up for an early demise for the goal of the competition is to disable the slow and weak. Business growth and expansion can be achieved through following time-tested success principles and these principles create focus for all the efforts aimed at growth, and at the same time, they uphold good standards for every activity executed toward the goal.

If you're preparing your enterprise for growth and expansion, it's essential to know what success principles to uphold. To help you with this, listed below are four principles big corporations attest as keys to their success.

First, know that innovation is a must. This indicates that your business understands the needs of your customers and works toward effectively meeting their needs. Innovation is creating something new and great from something that's already good in order to deliver better value to end users.

Therefore, your business should always study your customers' journey so you can innovate appropriately. Timing is also very crucial. You can not be early or late when it comes to growth and expansion. Pre-empting things can spoil their potential, and at the same time a lot of good opportunities are only available for a limited period of time.

You need to be able to take action at the most ideal moment, which is why you need to study provisions carefully, perhaps even seek assistance from advisers or consultant, and be aware of the different financing solutions your business can utilise. Successful people always say that inspired efforts do not deplete energy; rather, they are invigorating. Also, inspiration will enable your organisation to turn setbacks into victorious comebacks.

Stay inspired as you're working to grow and expand your business because a joyful process never fails to yield the most ideal outcomes. Understand that sacrifices are inevitable but fruitful. There are always sacrifices to be made when you're aiming for bigger and better things. For your business, this can mean longer hours of work and denying some physical comforts and pleasures for a certain period of time, or scrimping on certain things so resources can be directed toward more important aspects of operations. In all Trade shows All, these principles will allow directive you to manage your business more Effectively so you can focus on your business Growth and expansion.

Roofing Contractors – Understanding What a Roofing Contractor Does and Tips on Selecting One

What is a roofing contractor? Well a roofing contractor is someone who agrees to complete a undertaking such as a residential or commercial flat roof. In exchange for completing the undertaking, the contractor would receive compensation. This is where the term contractor was coined, somebody completing a contract in substitute for money.

At times if the roofing contractor can not finish the assignment, he can hire subcontractors to help with completing the assignment. This is more common with sizable sites such as churches, shopping centers, warehouses and other really large buildings. Subcontractors may likewise be used when work is completed on residential homes. Examples would include chimney mending, debris disposal and all-metal flashing.

The ideal roofing contractor is someone who exercises hard a couple subcontractors. By utilizing less subcontractors, it is more promising that the roofing company is much more knowledgeable and may complete an array of roofing related repairs and installation. Some other great bonus of utilizing less subcontractors is that the undertaking would probably cost less. These savings are normally passed along on to the client.

Roofing is a really specialized skill. Few general contractors get engaged with roofing because it necessitates a squad of roofers who are comfy working on a roof and are able to function in the all-powerful sun. This is why roofs are usually completed autonomous from the reminder of the house.

A roof is an integral part of whatever building structure, be it a theater, bungalow, warehouse or office tower. This makes it more crucial for a property owner or property managing director to obtain the copesetic contractor. Keeping up and mending roofs are important to keeping up a sound roof structure.

The roof is unclothed to the elements all the time, rich summertime sunshine on one extreme and frozen winter snow on the other extreme. This variability in temperature and atmospheric condition can wreak mayhem on a roof and is the then paramount to make sure the roof is adequately upheld. If a modest blemish or worn down condition is perceived by a property owner, then a roofing contractor should be called out to make sure that the roof can be renovated so that the whole roof does not have to be replaced in the near future.

When choosing a roofing contractor, one has to be very deliberate in arriving at the selection.

The greatest way to acquire a roofing contractor is to employ one for a insignificant repair or for roof maintenance. By engaging a contractor for a small job you can see how good that contractor really is. If you like the work the contractor did, then by all means higher that contractor in the future when you have a massive repair or a complete re-roofing of your roof.

Another frequent option is to get an estimation from a contractor. Estimates are ordinarily free or cost a small fee. After obtaining an estimated you can then get an idea on how practiced, professional and experienced a particular roofing contractor is.

Obviously, you can ask friends or neighbors who have recently had work finished on the roof and find out if they would recommend that roofing company. At times these recommendations are not always the advisable direction to select a roofing contractor because your friend or neighbor may not really realize how well or exemplify a condition their original roof was in. They may have not asked the fitting questions and since could have had what they comprehended to be a right job but cost them a little more.

Another great place to check for roofing contractor's qualifications is the National Roofing Contractors Association . Did you know that roofs today also come with Energy Star Information .

One fundamental factor that I must stress is to find out if a reasonably contractor utilizes subcontractors. Again by employing subcontractors, this make the undertaking much more expensive than it really requires it to be.

I trust that this informative essay has aided you in preparing an informed conclusion when taking a roofing contractor.

Southwest Airlines Operations – A Strategic Perspective

Background:

Southwest Airlines is the largest airline measured by number of passengers carried each year within the United States. It is also known as a ‘discount airline’ compared with its large rivals in the industry. Rollin King and Herb Kelleher founded Southwest Airlines on June 18, 1971. Its first flights were from Love Field in Dallas to Houston and San Antonio, short hops with no-frills service and a simple fare structure. The airline began with one simple strategy: “If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline.” This approach has been the key to Southwest’s success. Currently, Southwest serves about 60 cities (in 31 states) with 71 million total passengers carried (in 2004) and with a total operating revenue of $6.5 billion. Southwest is traded publicly under the symbol “LUV” on NYSE.

Facts:

* The first major airline to fly a single type of aircraft (Boeing 737s)

* The first major airline to offer ticketless travel system wide including a frequent flier program based on number of trips and not number of miles flown.

* The first airline to offer a profit-sharing program to its Employees (instituted in 1973).

* The first major airline to develop a Web site and offer online booking. In 2001, about 40 percent ($2.1 billion) of its passenger revenue was generated through online bookings at [http://www.southwest.com]. Southwest’s cost per booking via the Internet is about $1, compared to a cost per booking through travel agents of $6 to $8.

Key competitive advantages:

* Low Operational costs / High Operational Efficiency

* Award winning customer service

* Human Resource practices / Work culture

Operations Analysis – Competitive Dimensions:

Southwest clearly has a distinct advantage compared to other airlines in the industry by executing an effective and efficient operations strategy that forms an important pillar of its overall corporate strategy. Given below are some competitive dimensions that will be studied in this paper.

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

2. Customer Service

3. Employee/Labor Relations

4. Technology

1. Operational Costs and Efficiency

After all, the airline industry overall is in shambles. But, how does Southwest Airlines stay profitable? Southwest Airlines has the lowest costs and strongest balance sheet in its industry, according to its chairman Kelleher. The two biggest operating costs for any airline are – labor costs (approx 40%) followed by fuel costs (approx 18%). Some other ways that Southwest is able to keep their operational costs low is – flying point-to-point routes, choosing secondary (smaller) airports, carrying consistent aircraft, maintaining high aircraft utilization, encouraging e-ticketing etc.

Labor Costs

The labor costs for Southwest typically accounts for about 37% of its operating costs. Perhaps the most critical element of the successful low-fare airline business model is achieving significantly higher labor productivity. According to a recent HBS Case Study, southwest airlines is the “most heavily unionized” US airline (about 81% of its employees belong to an union) and its salary rates are considered to be at or above average compared to the US airline industry. The low-fare carrier labor advantage is in much more flexible work rules that allow cross-utilization of virtually all employees (except where disallowed by licensing and safety standards). Such cross-utilization and a long-standing culture of cooperation among labor groups translate into lower unit labor costs. At Southwest in 4th quarter 2000, total labor expense per available seat mile (ASM) was more than 25% below that of United and American, and 58% less than US Airways.

Carriers like Southwest have a tremendous cost advantage over network airlines simply because their workforce generates more output per employee. In a study in 2001, the productivity of Southwest employees was over 45% higher than at American and United, despite the substantially longer flight lengths and larger average aircraft size of these network carriers. Therefore by its relentless pursuit for lowest labor costs, Southwest is able to positively impact its bottom line revenues.

Fuel Costs

Fuel costs is the second-largest expense for airlines after labor and accounts for about 18 percent of the carrier’s operating costs. Airlines that want to prevent huge swings in operating expenses and bottom line profitability choose to hedge fuel prices. If airlines can control the cost of fuel, they can more accurately estimate budgets and forecast earnings. With growing competition and air travel becoming a commodity business, being competitive on price was key to any airline’s survival and success. It became hard to pass higher fuel costs on to passengers by raising ticket prices due to the highly competitive nature of the industry.

Southwest has been able to successfully implement its fuel hedging strategy to save on fuel expenses in a big way and has the largest hedging position among other carriers. In the second quarter of 2005, Southwest’s unit costs fell by 3.5% despite a 25% increase in jet fuel costs. During Fiscal year 2003, Southwest had much lower fuel expense (0.012 per ASM) compared to the other airlines with the exception of JetBlue as illustrated in exhibit 1 below. In 2005, 85 per cent of the airline’s fuel needs has been hedged at $26 per barrel. World oil prices in August 2005 reached $68 per barrel. In the second quarter of 2005 alone, Southwest achieved fuel savings of $196 million. The state of the industry also suggests that airlines that are hedged have a competitive advantage over the non-hedging airlines. Southwest announced in 2003 that it would add performance-enhancing Blended Winglets to its current and future fleet of Boeing 737-700’s. The visually distinctive Winglets will improve performance by extending the airplane’s range, saving fuel, lowering engine maintenance costs, and reducing takeoff noise.

Point-to-Point Service

Southwest operates its flight point-to-point service to maximize its operational efficiency and stay cost-effective. Most of its flights are short hauls averaging about 590 miles. It uses the strategy to keep its flights in the air more often and therefore achieve better capacity utilization.

Secondary Airports

Southwest flies to secondary/smaller airports in an effort to reduce travel delays and therefore provide excellent service to its customers. It has led the industry in on-time performance. Southwest has also been able to trim down its airport operations costs relatively better than its rival airlines.

Consistent aircraft

At the heart of Southwest’s success is its single aircraft strategy: Its fleet consists exclusively of Boeing 737 jets. Having common fleet significantly simplifies scheduling, operations and flight maintenance. The training costs for pilots, ground crew and mechanics are lower, because there’s only a single aircraft to learn. Purchasing, provisioning, and other operations are also vastly simplified, thereby lowering costs. Consistent aircraft also enables Southwest to utilize its pilot crew more efficiently.

E-Ticketing

The idea of ticketless travel was a major advantage to Southwest because it could lower its distribution costs. Southwest became electronic or ticketless back in the mid-1990s, and today they are about 90-95% ticketless. Customers who use credit cards are eligible for online transactions, and today Southwest.com bookings account for about 65% of total revenue. The CEO Gary Kelly thinks that this idea would grow further and that he wouldn’t be surprised if e-ticketing accounted for 75% of Southwest’s revenues by end of 2005. In the past, when there was a 10% travel agency commission paid, it used to cost about $8 a booking. But currently, Southwest is paying between 50 cents and $1 per booking for electronic transactions that translate to huge cost savings.

2. Employee and Labor Relations

Southwest has been highly regarded for its innovative management style. It maintains a relentless focus on high-performance relationships and its people-management practices have been the key to its unparalleled success in the airline industry.

Mission Statement

To Our Employees

“We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.”

The Southwest mission statement shows that the company has a strong commitment to its employees. The company affords the same respect to its employees that is provided to its customers. The Southwest mission statement is unique in that it recognizes the importance of its employees within the broader business strategy, which emphasizes superb customer service and operational efficiency. The employees reciprocate the respect, loyalty and trust that Southwest demonstrates. Southwest employees are known for their loyalty, dedication, attitude and innovation. The employees are the distinguishing factor between Southwest and the rest of the airline industry.

Hiring

Southwest hiring policy is unique not only within the airline industry, but also more broadly, and revolves around finding people with the right attitude that will thrive in the Southwest culture. Extensive procedures are employed to hire for positive attitude and dedication. Those who do not posses those qualities are weeded out. Colleen Barrett, a non-operational officer at Southwest, states that

“Hiring is critical, because you cannot institutionalize behavior. Instead, you must identify those people who already practice the behaviors you are looking for. Then you can allow Employees to be themselves and make decisions about Customer service based on common sense and their natural inclinations.” 1

Recruiting and interviewing at Southwest is a two-step process. The first step is a group interview, conducted by employees, where communication skills of potential candidates are evaluated. The next steps in this process are one on one interview, where the candidates’ attitudes and orientation toward serving others are evaluated. These hiring criteria apply to all job functions since all Employees at Southwest play a customer service role. A critical part of Southwest operational strategy is that every job at Southwest is a customer service position, whether it directly applies to the customer or whether it is internal.

The table below shows that even though Southwest is the most heavily unionized airline, at approximately 80%, that contract negotiations between the unions and Southwest are much shorter in duration than of the other major carriers. This shows the quality of relationship that Southwest has with its employees and with the unions that represent them.

Culture

Southwest was created as a different kind of company and from its beginnings a unique culture was nurtured. In 1990 Colleen Barrett formed the Southwest Culture Committee. This is unique within the industry and among all large companies. The committee also has a mission statement:

“This group’s goal is to help create the Southwest spirit and culture where needed; to enrich it and make it better where it already exists; and to liven it up in places where it might be “floundering”. In short, this group’s goal is to do “whatever it takes” to create, enhance, and enrich the special Southwest spirit and culture that has made this such a wonderful Company/Family.”

It is this unique approach to company values that has created a culture that differentiates itself from others. Southwest’s culture is the reason why it is successful.

3. Customer Service

The Mission of Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

Approach

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest, has been quoted as saying that “We’re in the Customer service business; we just happen to provide airline transportation”.2 Award winning customer service is a distinguishing characteristic of Southwest and it is referred to internally as “Positively Outrageous Service”. It means that from the top to bottom everyone does whatever he or she can to satisfy the customer. This includes Herb Kelleher, who has been known for helping out baggage handlers on Thanksgiving. It is through emphasizing the customer and employee that Southwest is able to differentiate itself from others in the airline industry. On a more technical level, each employee or group within Southwest has his or her own customer. This means that every employee ‘serves’ in one way or another despite not being directly involved with the passenger. The mechanic’s customer is the pilot and the caterer’s is the flight attendant.

Results

It can be said that the “Positively Outrageous Service” that is unique to Southwest “is not the result of a department, or a program, or a mandate from management. It is not secondary to the product; it is the product.” This approach creates the conditions where Employees are more likely to treat customers in ways that distinguish the company from others. There are numerous accounts of passengers who have received exceptional treatment from Southwest employees.

The question that needs to be answered is how Southwest’s customer service is different and why? Is it common for customers of other airlines to rave about their special service? The answer is that it is not. While Southwest does not have a monopoly on people who are kind and who are willing to go above and beyond to satisfy a customer, such behavior is nurtured at Southwest to a much greater extent.

It can then be concluded that the customer service that is inherent to Southwest is a part of its culture. This culture is supported through employee encouragement to do the extra to satisfy the customer. This approach inspires people who would ordinarily only on occasion go out of their way to help someone, to become consistent performers that offer exceptional service all the time. Southwest employees are what differentiate its customer service from the other airlines.

4. Technology

Southwest utilizes technology in many ways to fulfill its business objectives and maintain its efficient operations. According to its CEO, technology equals productivity. Launched in 1996, ticketless travel was first introduced by Southwest. On May 1st 2000, Southwest Airlines introduces “SWABIZ,” a portal that assists company travel managers in booking and tracking trips made through its web site [http://www.southwest.com]. There are many new technology initiatives being undertaken currently and some are in the pipeline.

Bar codes in Boarding Passes

Southwest Airlines has invested $12 million during the past three years to standardize corporate and terminal operations on about 10,000 Dell OptiPlex desktop and Latitude notebook computers according to its company executives. Southwest wanted to replace its well known, brightly colored plastic boarding passes with an electronic system with bar-code paper boarding passes. So it installed about 350 touch screen ticket readers powered by Dell OptiPlex desktops. The bar code gives Southwest more information to automatically reconcile the number of boarding passes with the number of passengers that actually board the plane.

Although the technology will help Southwest Airlines remain efficient by consolidating passenger information for the company’s 3,000 daily flights, there were concerns it could lengthen the time to get travelers on board. However it was found that scanning each bar code on the boarding passes didn’t increase or shorten boarding schedules, but it did take minutes from administrative processes, such as looking up customer records. The new paper bar code system is giving Southwest ticket agents the ability to match a customer record within having to scroll through and log into multiple software screens. The process is much more automated. Once the bar code on the boarding pass is scanned at the terminal gate it checks off the person from the passenger list in real time.

The old process was manual that involved finding the information, scrolling through several software screens from reservations to check-in to boarding. The bar code hardware to scan the boarding passes has been deployed. The company is in the process of replacing customer service back-office equipment at airports including at its headquarters in Dallas.

Software Upgrades

Software applications, such as those used by clerks to check in passengers, are being replaced. Southwest Airlines’ internally written “Airport Application Suite” is expected to rollout next year as the company transitions from green screens to Window-based user interface. Similar to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Southwest Airlines believes in developing in-house the software that runs its operations. The company uses very little off-the-shelf software. There are between 75 and 100 projects in the works each year supported by approximately 900 IT employees.

RFID

Radio frequency identification technology, a favorable alternative to bar-coding for luggage identification, is also on Southwest’s radar. It plans to test RFID technology sometime in 2006. Even though, Southwest is playing a little catch-up with other airlines such as Air Tran, Alaska and Champion Airlines, in many cases they are able leapfrog to more sophisticated applications easily having waited longer.

Challenges:

Southwest has emerged very successful, despite the most troubled times in the airline market. However, it faces new challenges in the face of increasing competition from other low fare airlines such as JetBlue, ATA airlines, America West.

Reserved Seating

Due to increasing security guidelines since September 2001, Southwest would need to prepare for assigned (reserved) seating to track its in-flight passengers. This change will involve large technology investments and may impact its gate operations negatively since the current way of unassigned seating has helped in quick gate turnarounds.

Passenger Demand

The keep-it-simple philosophy has served Southwest well. But as its own business grows and grows more complex, with plans to purchase dozens of new aircraft and an expected upsurge in passenger traffic to about 80 million boarding’s a year, the simplicity strategy that has been reflected in the airline’s IT philosophy is evolving. The CIO Tom Nealon says that “It’s time to adapt our business processes for efficiency. As our airline scales for us to provide the same kind of high-touch customer service, we have to automate a lot of things we’ve been able to do without technology previously. The challenge is doing that without conceding the customer touch.” Southwest is also aggressively pursuing customer relationship management (CRM) techniques and has applications to get insight into customer’s wants and dislikes. According to an interview with its CEO Gary Keller, Southwest has its focus on improving in two areas – customer’s airport experience and in-flight experience.

In-Flight Entertainment

In an overall effort to improve customer’s in-flight experience, in-flight entertainment is something that Southwest is currently evaluating and which JetBlue has been very successful at already because of its introduction in its long-haul flights. In comparison, Southwest has 415 airplanes to consider and that represents an investment decision at a whole new dimension. Additionally, Southwest has to consider how things may fit into their environment. At this point, 60% of its service is still very short haul. Southwest needs to be mindful of the fact that a certain approach that has been successful for its competitor may not be necessarily work to its advantage.

Summary:

Southwest has long been regarded as a benchmark in its industry for operational excellence. Southwest Airlines is a fine example of a company that is committed to its core competencies – efficient operations to drive its low cost structure, outstanding delivery of customer service and innovative HR management practices. We hope this paper provided a good insight into Southwest operations, as part of its overall strategy, to achieve success and gain competitive advantage.

References:

1. [http://www.southwest.com] (Southwest airlines official web site)

2. “Southwest keeps it simple” – Air Transport World, April 2005, Pg 36

3. “Around the World on $48 (or So): How High Can Discount Airlines Fly?“ Strategy Management – Knowledge@ Wharton Newsletter Oct 5, 2005

4. TechWeb – [http://www.techweb.com/wire/ebiz/173601227]

5. “Southwest’s Strategy for Success: Consolidate!” – Oracle Magazine (Sept/Oct 2004 edition) http://www.oracle.com/technology/oramag/oracle/04-sep/o54swest.html

6. “Southwest Airlines: High Tech, Low Costs” – Eweek.com, April 2005

7. “Jet Fuel Hedging Strategies: Options Available for Airlines and a Survey of Industry Practices” – Kellogg School of Management Research Paper, Spring 2004

8. Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently, Terry R. Bacon and David G. Pugh, 2003

9. Time Magazine, Oct 28th 2002 issue, Vol. 160 Issue 18, p. 45

10. “Wings Of Change”,Information Week, March 28, 2005,

11. Labor Contract Negotiations in the Airline Industry, Monthly Labor Review, July 2003, page 24

Legal Protection for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Nigeria

For healthy and continuous in flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to Nigeria, the country has over the years put in place friendly legal framework for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) protection.

In this Foreign Investors 'Guidelines for Doing Business in Nigeria Series, we shall be examining the legal mechanisms put in place for the purpose of encouraging an increasing FDIs inflow and including foreign investors' confidence in the country.

We shall be discussing foreign investors' protections ranging from certainty of arbitral proceedings and other dispute resolution mechanisms in the country.

The fact with modern economic systems is that no country can be an island economically; Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) protection is very essential to the successful attainment of foreign investors' business objective (s) and economic development of any economy.

There are steps that host countries can lawfully take in the exercise of their sovereignty and power can lead to depriving foreign investors of reaping the fruits of their investments.

Host government actions that can affect foreign investment adversely including nationalization; The act of a government taking control of a private enterprise and converting it to state or public ownership.

Expropriation; The act of a government taking possession of or otherwise meddling with privately held assets or property for the use and benefit of the public, or in the public interest.

The legislative and administrative acts of the government as government action can also have adverse effects on foreign investors' businesses in Nigeria.

This is the indirect or creeping form of expropriation. The only difference is that, it mode of operation shifted attention from the physical and actual taking-over of an investor's assets to the legislative and administrative acts of the government.

While not depriving a foreign investor of the ownership of an asset in this type of government control, it is capable of significantly reducing the value of properties and investments of the foreign owner.

Foreign investors do not like investing in country's with risk such as arbitrary revocation of a license; Permit or a concession after the investor has made the requisite investments.

The advancement and expansion of international business relations and the importance of foreign direct investment to the economic development of Nigeria has made the country to put in place some foreign business protection laws for the purpose of encouraging foreign investors.

Nigeria has performed very in providing protections to potential foreign investors.

Investment Treaties

In spite of the provisions of Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution, investment treaties entered by the country are binding on, and enforceable against Nigeria upon ratification under the principle of 'pacta sunt servanda'.

Also, by a general application of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which provides that a treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in agreement with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty.

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs): Nigeria entered into its first bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with Germany in 1979 which came into force in 1986.

According to finding from my investigation Nigeria has entered into 28 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between 1986 and November, 2015.

Of the total number, 13 are currently in force, 14 are signed and 1 repealed. The Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) currently in force are the ones entered into Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.

The 14 BITs which have been signed by Nigeria but are yet to enter into operation were signed as far as back as 1996.

In addition to the usual investment protection standards, these BITs provide that a contracting state shall not be damaged by irrational or unfair means the maintenance, management, disposal of investment in its territory of nationals or companies of the other Contracting Party.

And the same recompense for losses suffered due to a safety event made to a domestic investor shall be allowed to the investor from the other contracting state.

These BITs also provide for the right of subrogation allowing foreign investors to obtain sufficient investment insurance and for these investment insurance providers to seek remedy on their behalf from Nigeria.

The BITs that are currently in force have also made satisfactory requirements for the standard investment protection. These include fair and equitable treatment, umbrella clauses, most favored nation status, national treatment, obligations against arbitrary and discriminatory measures and security.

Multi-lateral Investment Treaties (MITs): Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty is one of the famous MITs Nigeria have entered. The ECOWAS treaty was signed on 28th May 1975; It came in into force on the 20th June, 1975.

The treaty currently has 15 signatories who are member states of ECOWAS.

Article 2 of the Treaty gives 'Community Enterprise' status to businesses whose equity capital is owned by two or more member states, and citizens or institutions of the Community.

Article 16 of the Treaty provides that Community Enterprise shall be accorded favorable treatment with regards to incentives and advantages, and shall not be nationalized or expropriated by the government of any member state except for valid reasons of public interest, and subject to the payment of prompt And adequate compensation.

Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) investment treaty is another MIT Nigeria has entered into in relation with providing favorable conditions for foreign investments in the country.

OIC is a treaty with an Agreement on Promotion, Protection and Guarantee of Investments among Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which came into force in September, 1986.

Chapter 2 of the Treaty mandates all member states of the Organization of Islamic Countries to provide adequate security and protection to the invested capital of an investor who is a national of another contracting member state.

The terms of protection specifically include the enjoyment of equal treatment, involving not to adopt measures that may directly or indirectly affect the ownership of the investor's capital or investment and not to expropriate any investment except it is in the public interest and on prompt payment of adequate Compensation.

Host states are further obliged to guarantee free repatriation of any capital and returns due to an investor.

Conventions to which Nigeria is a Signatory:

The country is signatory to a number of Conventions which have been entered into the purposes of protecting foreign direct investment.

The most significant convention in this regard is the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as an arbitral institution under the World Bank Group is a fully integrated, self-contained arbitration institution that provides standard arbitration clauses, arbitration procedures rules, arrangements for venues, financial arrangements and administrative support including The appointment of arbitrators to parties.

Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID) primarily provides for the settlement of investment disputes between investors and sovereign host states.

It has also taken the necessary legislative measures to make the Convention's resolution effective in Nigeria by enacting it as a domestic legislature in the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (Enforcement of Awards) Decree No. 49 of 1967.

Another significant investment protection convention Nigeria has entered into the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

New York Convention was adopted by the United Nations in June 1958 and it mandates domestic courts in signatory countries to give effect to arbitration agreements, and to also recognize and enforce valid arbitral awards given in other signatory states.

The New York Convention in other words is particularly significant for the enforcement of arbitral awards resulting from non-ICSID investment arbitration proceedings.

In an attempt to bring into awareness the legal guidelines to undertaking business in Nigeria to intended foreign investors, we shall specifically be reviewing domestic legislation and investment treaties which collectively make up the legal framework for foreign investment protection in the country.

The Domestic Legal Framework:

The notable investment legislation in Nigeria is the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act, CAP N117 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria ("NIPC Act").

The NIPC Act provides the fundamental and feasible legal framework for the protection of foreign investors in the country. Part 5 of the NIPC Act provides that foreigners may invest and participate in any enterprise in Nigeria.

They are assured unrestricted transfer of funds attributable to the investment such as profits, dividends, payments in respect of loan servicing, and the remittance of proceeds obtained from the sale or liquidation of assets or any interest in the venture through an approved dealer in freely convertible Currency.

Section 25 of the NIPC Act clearly provides that no enterprise shall be expropriated or nationalized without prompt payment of compensation; The same section also provides a protection clause to an investor to claim "creeping" expropriation by establishing that the acts complained of indirectly results to expropriation or have expropriatory tendency.

Lastly, the NIPC Act provides that disputes between a foreign investor and any government in Nigeria arising from an investment shall be submitted to arbitration within the framework of any investment treaty entered into between the Government of Nigeria and any state of which the foreign investor is a National.

It further provides that where there is a discrepancy between the Nigerian government and the foreign investor on the mode of dispute settlement, the dispute will be submitted to ICSID for arbitration.

Foreign investor is thus at liberty in Nigeria to institute arbitration proceedings against a government even after bringing a claim or claim against the government in a court or domestic arbitration.

Another domestic legislation that provides protection to foreign investors is the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions Act) CAP F34.

Section 15 of this Act provides that any person may invest in any business venture with foreign currency or capital imported into Nigeria through an authorized dealer who will issue a Certificate of Capital Importation to the foreign investor.

Sub-section (4) of the same section in addition guarantees unconditional transfer of funds in freely convertible currency of any such monies arising from an investment made in Nigeria with foreign currency, including dividends and profits, payments in respect of loan servicing, and remittances Of the proceeds of sale or liquidation of assets.

A similar provision on repatriation is also found in Section 18 of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Act, CAPN107 ("NEPZA Act").

Section 18 of the NEPZA Act provides that foreign investors who invest in outbound businesses within an export zone shall be eligible to remit profits and dividends earned in the zone and repatriate foreign capital investment at any time with capital of the investments.

Other foreign investors' protection laws are the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The act gives foreign investors the opportunity to determine the mode of settling disputes that may arrise out of their investments without resort to litigation in domestic (Nigeria) courts.

With the anticipation that such settlement will unfailingly and efficiently protect and enforce the rights of foreign investors and their investments provides a framework for domestic arbitration it also makes provisions for international commercial arbitration which is more preferred by foreign investors.

Section 56 (2) (d) defines 'international arbitration' to include any arbitration that the parties have expressly agreed in the arbitration agreement to treat as international arbitration. The Act provides that every arbitration award is capable of enforcement under the New York Convention.

Nigeria's entries into these investment treaties and its enactment of the Conventions into domestic legislation have made the protection mechanism part of Nigeria's legal framework for protection of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) friendly and convenient to actual and potential foreign investors.

New Manufactured Home Foundation Essentials – 2 Must Have Upgrades

When purchasing and installing a new Manufactured Home, there are two upgrades that are recommended. They are installing a Vapor Barrier and Earthquake Bracing. Each is explained here:

Mobile Home Vapor Barrier

A Vapor Barrier for a Mobile or Manufactured home is a sheet of thick, rubbery plastic that goes directly over the dirt under a Mobile or Manufactured home. The foundation piers then rest on top of this barrier.

You really need to make sure a home you buy or have installed has this protection. Mobile and Manufactured homes need dry ventilation underneath. This barrier will prevent any moisture from damaging the home – especially rotting of the floors, but also helping with fungus, mold, and termites.

Making sure that a vapor barrier is installed before you buy a Mobile or Manufactured home is absolutely necessary. And the additional cost is very minimal considering the amount of protection you gain.

If you are buying a mobile or manufactured home that is already on a space, but with no vapor barrier, then you can hire a contractor to install a vapor barrier under the home. They will just have to cut pieces that will go around the pier-and-post foundation and all piping in place. This is not ideal, but way better than no barrier at all.

Mobile Home Earthquake Bracing

Earthquake bracing is recommended in California, and elsewhere earthquakes are common. Mobile Homes and Manufactured Homes are especially susceptible to damage in a earthquake due to their foundation system (most of the time they are installed on a pier-and-post system).

Earthquake bracing is a simple upgrade that can increase the value of your home by at least the cost of installation of the bracing. This cost is running from $2000 to $4500 in California right now. The actual brace is like a shock absorber in a car, but installed at an angle from the steel I-beam on the bottom of the home, and anchored to the ground. This brace will keep the home from shifting off the pier-and-post foundation.

Insurance companies may insist on having earthquake bracing installed if you want to purchase earthquake insurance on your Mobile Home or Manufactured Home.

Earthquake bracing can also help a Mobile Home not come off the foundation in high winds, although it is not designed to do this and should not be relied on for this.

Pictures and further explanation on both of these upgrades, as well as a whole bunch of free information, tips, advice, and recommendations can be found at: http://www.free-mobile-home-info.com

Benefits Of Future Technology

In this write up, the readers will get information on future technology and learn to what extent modern technology has been developed to assist the growth of human civilization.

Technology of the Future would be more sophisticated and user friendly. The rapid technological advancement will make technology more convenient and usable. New technology should be used for the benefit of the society. Now, it is better to say to what extent science and technology have been acceptable to the present generation. In comparison to conventional devices and equipment, future technology news states that ultramodern devices are more workable and powerful in their functionality. According to scientists and researchers, modern technology can make modification and upgrading of common things for their proper usage applying modern methods. The world will be more glamorous and attractive with newer technology and without any trace of carbon footprint.

If you check future technology news, you will find that there are newly launched products and technical accessories which have multifunctional features. For instance, recently Kevin Cheng invented Solar Planter which protects the natural green resources of nature. Plants will be highly protected using the Solar Planter which artificially creates solar energy to preserve green plants in a perfect way. The device is also equipped with powerful exhaust fans to clean out stagnant air from within the Solar Planter. Air will be circulated well inside the planter for the safe keeping of trees and plants. The Solar Planter is also energy efficient and environment friendly. According to future technology news nature will be completely protected from pollution using these new technologies as it will not produce any lethal or hazardous chemical solvents or gasoline products into the air.

In the sphere of the telecommunication, future and modern technology is very powerful and has contributed extensively for the betterment of the communication system. The invention of the humanoid robot is a burning example. Future technology news say that this robotic structure will be sent to out of the planet to strengthen the communication system. Experiments are still going on the upgrade of this robot.

Concept Cloud Blackberry is a sophisticated mobile phone which is both eco friendly and pollution free. This mobile is activated by liquid fuel which doesn’t disturb the peace of nature. Future technology will bring a lot more inventions and accessories to upgrade human lifestyles. The scientists believe that modern science is very effective to make the world green. Future technology must be more user friendly and should not hamper the natural growth of the human race. It must not disturb nature or the society.

Science is a boon and man needs to utilize this for the overall development of the world. Future technology these days not concentrated only on the benefit of humans. Scientists are trying to create technology that will be beneficial to the earth as well.

Conclusion: To get updated information on latest technology, you can check future technology news on the Internet. There are new discoveries and upgrades available every day.