Costco's (COST) strategy to sell a differentiated product range at heavily discounted prices, tapping of new markets and gradual expansion of E-commerce capabilities, bodes well.
Seven Ways to Double or Triple the Value You Get From the Next Meeting, Conference, or Trade Show You Attend
Take it from someone who keynotes at over 250 corporate events, conferences, trade shows, and meetings around the world: You can double (or even triple) the value of any event you attend by spending a few hours doing the simplest of things long before the event starts. I'm going to give you the top six things (plus a bonus thing) you should do before every event you attend, whether it's a 20-person breakfast or a 10,000 person multi-day trade show in another country. And these simple things? They work SO WELL, simply because no one ever bothers to do them! TIP ONE: RESEARCH! No one bothers to do research anymore. Spend twenty minutes a day for three days doing research long before the event starts, and you'll be the smartest person at the conference. It could be simple research: Who else is attending? Or even doing some homework on the keynote speaker. Google is your friend. Check out the facilities - Is it a big conference center? If so, then you know it's going to be a colossal elephant stampede of people trying to get there and back to their hotels each day, right? Research mass transit options. In NYC, for instance, there's a crosstown bus three blocks from the Javits Center that no one ever bothers to use. (The M42.) Instead, they pay $50 for a cab or surge pricing for an Uber, and waste an hour of their life waiting for it. Dunno about you, but I'd rather be back at my hotel in the gym, or at least showering for dinner before the rest of the show has even gotten into their expensive ride to their hotel. Want to know the best way to find out who else will be attending the conference? Why not ask the conference organizers? Sure, not all of them will comply, but if you email the right person with a good reason, you'd be truly amazed how many of them will share not only the list of those attending, but their contact info, as well! From there, it's easy to sort out to who it's worth reaching out, and to who it's not. In fact, sometimes they'll even include the speakers on that list, as well! Imagine getting to the keynote before it starts and introducing yourself to the speaker in-person, and she knows who you are? You're already ahead of the game! Which brings us to: TIP TWO: BE THE OPPOSITE OF THE CROWD! Ever watch a keynote speaker finish? The entire audience bum-rushes him or her, each trying to get twenty seconds to plead why they're important. Think the keynote is going to remember any of them? Nope. Not because they don't want to, but because it's impossible. Could you remember the sixty people you've just met in six minutes? Doubtful. Instead, find the speaker before he speaks. Don't launch into a soliloquy about why he should focus on you, but rather, have a business card ready (on which you've written "I'm the person you spoke to before you spoke,) and ask for theirs. Mention how you're looking forward to hearing their talk, and wish them good luck. When the speaker gets home and you reach out a week later, you're no longer one of the many who approached him after, but rather, the one memorable one who reached out before. Why doesn't everyone do this? I have no idea. I also couldn't care less. I do it, and it works for me. Those who do something different, get remembered, not simply recalled. (Tweet this!) TIP THREE: IT'S ALMOST ALWAYS WORTH SPENDING A LITTLE EXTRA! I can't tell you the amount of times $20 has saved my life. Have a dinner reservation for six of your top clients at the conference, or even a casual dinner for four people at a talk you want to impress? Visit the restaurant the day before, around the same time, introduce yourself to the maitre'd, and express that you really, really want things to go well. This isn't shameful, this isn't boastful. (Boastful would be doing this in front of your guests.) You're simply conducting a business transaction that guarantees the business transaction you care about the following night will go off without a hitch. Besides, being remembered as you walk in, being greeted by name with a smile by the Maitre'd, and being taken with your guests right to your table? it just looks awesome. It's memorable. TIP FOUR: VIRTUALLY WORK THE CONFERENCE BEFOREHAND, SO YOU CAN WORK THE ROOM WHEN YOU'RE THERE. Every single event space, whether a conference center, a hotel suite, or even a ballroom, has photos online, along with different types of seating arrangements. Go online and figure out which one will be used for your event, and plan accordingly where you'll sit, where you'll schmooze, where you'll stash your stuff. Nothing worse than being the guy at the dinner speech who's sitting in the back next to the kitchen. (Tip: If it's a dinner with specific seating arrangements, there's absolutely nothing wrong with asking to be seated somewhere else. Worst case? They say no. Do it nicely, though, and they rarely do. TIP FIVE: BE THE PERSON WHO ALWAYS HAS THE STUFF OTHER PEOPLE WANT. You know who the most popular person is on an airplane that's an hour from landing in a different country? The person who has more than one pen. At the transit station? The person who has a fully loaded transit card. At the hotel, or the taxi line? The person with a wallet full of ones for tipping. (Or even better, twos - You can still get two dollar bills at banks, and they make awesome tips and conversation starters.) Ask yourself what you always need most over the course of your event, and have a lot of them. You'll be the most popular person there, and the most popular person usually gets what he or she wants. By the way - Loading up on pens from Amazon costs almost nothing. Here's 60 Bic ballpoint pens for like, $5 bucks or something. Tip Six: (Easiest and most important) Be early to EVERYTHING, and take care of yourself. I'm continually amazed by the number of people who don't do the research above, and then blame something else for the reason they're a half hour late to their meeting at the conference. Gee, if only there was a company who has mapped out THE ENTIRE WORLD AND CAN SHOW YOU TO THE SECOND HOW LONG IT TAKES TO GET SOMEWHERE. It's not hard. Get decent sleep, take vitamins, try not to drink too much, and get to the hotel gym each day before the event. If you do nothing else here, do those few things. You'll be light years ahead of the competition, long before the event starts, and you'll stay ahead long after it's over. Bonus tip: Go to Costco or BJ's Wholesale Club before you leave, and buy several bags of M&Ms. Then read this article to learn what to do with them, and apply it to your own situation during your event. Peter Shankman is an entrepreneur, CEO, runner, skydiver, podcaster, Ironman Triathlete, and most importantly, a dad. He's a corporate speaker who keynotes over 200 events per year. He's also the founder of ShankMinds: Breakthrough, a private, online entrepreneur community with hundreds of members around the world. He's perhaps best known for founding Help a Reporter Out, the world's largest source repository in the world, which fundamentally changed how journalists source their stories. His customer service and social media clients have included American Express, NBC, NBCUniversal, E Entertainment, Sprint, the US Department of Defense, Royal Bank of Canada, Saudi Aramco, Snapple, Walt Disney World, and many others. Peter is the author of four books, including his most recent best seller, Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans. Peter also hosts the top-rated Faster Than Normal Podcast, helping people understand that ADD and ADHD is a gift, not a curse. He's based in NYC. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) is riding high on back to back better-than-expected earnings, shareholder friendly moves and expansion strategy.
By Jeff Yeager, Contributor Prepare for sticker shock and new-car-loan awe. The average new car transaction price was $34,428 in December 2015, according to Kelley Blue Book. Meanwhile, the average loan amount for a new vehicle in the third quarter of 2015 was $28,936, according to Experian Automotive. Visit GOBankingRates for the expert tips on saving money on your next big purchase and more >>> However, it doesn't mean you have to spend that much to buy a new car. Whether you're in the market for a new-new car, or looking for a previously owned set of wheels that's at least new to you, there's always a way to save money. Here are some of my top cheapskate car-buying tips. 1. Only Buy a Car You Can Pay for with Cash That's tough-love advice, but there's a good reason for it. You might need to settle for a lesser model, opt for used instead of new or postpone your purchase to continue saving until you have the cash to buy.That's because when you pay interest on something that actively loses value, you are losing money in two directions. Kelley Blue book used the following to illustrate the "typical" financing deal: Car sales price: $27,000. Out-the-door price: $30,000 Down payment/trade value: $5,000 If you finance $25,000 for four years at 6.9 percent APR, you'll pay $3,680 in interest over the life of the car loan. When you consider that the average depreciation rate for new cars is 20 percent the first year and 15 percent after that, this same vehicle will lose another $13,734 in value over the life of the loan. Combined, the purchaser will lose $17,414 in four years on the deal. Read: 3 Things You Should Never Tell a Car Salesman 2. If You Don't Buy With Cash, Get Preapproved For those who can't or won't follow the above advice, at least get preapproved for a car loan before heading to a dealer. This will allow you to compare dealer interest rates to other available auto loan rates. It will also aid in you being able to focus on the sales price during negotiations rather than the monthly payment. Furthermore, don't take out an auto loan for more than 48 months. The longer the term of the loan, the worse the borrower tends to perform on paying it back, according to a recent Fitch Ratings report about auto loans. Also, many personal finance gurus -- including yours truly -- advise that your monthly car payments shouldn't exceed 15 percent of your monthly take-home pay, and that assumes that you're not already overburdened with credit card and other consumer debt. Yep, more tough love advice. 3. Do Your Homework and Stay Flexible To paraphrase Elvis, "Only fools rush in... to a car dealership before doing their homework." Before heading to the dealer, research and know the car models that fit your needs. The less picky you are, the more options you will have in finding a bargain. Don't limit yourself to only one make and model. Doing so can steer you head-on into a bad deal, as it puts you at a negotiating disadvantage, particularly if the car you want is in short supply. Choose the right car for you. Think of your everyday needs, not occasional wants. Example: If you only haul large items a couple of times a year, it might be more practical to rent a pickup truck when needed rather than drive a gas guzzler every single day. Once you've zeroed in on makes and models that interest you, take the time find out what other people are paying for similar vehicles. Websites like Kelley Blue Book, NADA and TrueCar allow you to determine value based on what other shoppers have actually paid for similar vehicles. 4. Find Out the True Cost of Owning "How much does that car cost?" is a much different question than "How much will it cost me to own that car?" There's a lot more to the equation than just the purchase price and any financing cost. The free online "True Cost to Own" tool on the Edmunds.com is an excellent way to get a clear picture of the total cost, including hidden costs, for the specific make and model you're considering. Depreciation, insurance, fuel, taxes, fees, maintenance and repair are among the costs factored into the equation. 5. Rent Before You Buy A test drive at a dealership can be a lot like a first date: It's brief, exciting and leaves you wanting more. (Well, at least like some first dates). If you're buying a new car, it's likely to be one of the bigger purchases of your lifetime, so it's a smart idea to consider renting a comparable model for a week just to make sure you're truly in love before you buy one of your own. Plus, rental car rates are pretty reasonable these pays, particularly on a weekly basis. 6. Timing Is Key Typically, end-of-the year sales are usually the best possible time to buy a new car, as dealers try to meet year-end goals and unload last year's models. You'll also find that cold weather means fewer shoppers walking the car lots, so any winter month in colder climates means you reap the benefit of low demand, according to financial services company and auto lender USAA. It's wise to do your car shopping early during the week and at the end of the month. You also have a better chance of finding a salesperson who is anxious to get the last sales necessary to meet end-of-the-month quotas, according to car-buying website Autotrader.com. 7. Look for Older Dealer Inventory Dealers need to turn over their inventory as quickly as possible to stay in business, so if a car has been sitting on the lot for too long, you can bet it's "Let's Make a Deal" time. You can often spot these cars from afar by looking for odd paint colors or dirt/dust in places car washes often miss, like under spoilers. Once you think you've found one, look inside the driver's door jamb and read the manufacture date of the vehicle. If it's more than three or four months old (for domestic vehicles, or longer for imports), the dealer will probably be very motivated to sell it, according to RealCarTips.com, a car-buying advice website. Another option for finding slow-to-sell vehicles is to search dealer ads at Cars.com or Autotrader.com and filter results by listing date. 8. Car-Shop at Membership Warehouse Stores Believe it or not, you can buy a new car with a no hassle price through Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club. They've already negotiated prices in advance, so this is particularly useful if you don't enjoy negotiating. You can find your vehicle online and make an appointment with a nearby participating dealership, where you can buy your new car for the prearranged price. 9. Avoid Most Options Most options and upscale trim levels do not hold their value well when it comes time for resale, according to Autotrader. This is particularly true of tech options, which go out of date quickly and might require subscriptions. Chances are you won't really use most of those options anyway -- like wipers on the headlights. Also, avoid buying any non-factory options as well. Dealers like to tack add-ons to new vehicles as a quick way to pad their profits. Whether it's undercoating, fabric protectant, pinstriping or anything else -- even if you want it -- you can find it cheaper elsewhere. You can even buy an extended warranty elsewhere for less than the one the dealer is probably trying to sell you. 10. Stick with a Stick Particularly if you're in the market for a dependable used car, look for one with a manual transmission. Fewer Americans even know how to drive a stick anymore, so with a decreasing market among drivers, you're likely to score a sweet deal on a used manual vehicle. Plus, when compared to their automatic transmission counterparts, manual transmission cars have traditionally been lower in price, they get at least marginally better gas mileage and they generally require fewer and less costly brake and transmission repairs. In fact, for my book "The Cheapskate Next Door," I calculated that you could save as much as $30,000 during the course of your driving lifetime just by only owning manual transmission vehicles. 11. Opt for Smaller-Diameter Wheels Big wheels with tiny tire sidewalls are all the rage these days. However, they'll cost you a pretty penny more on your new car, and larger, heavier wheels will cause fuel economy to suffer as well, according to Car and Driver. When it's time to replace the tires, it's likely that your replacement tires will be pricier, too. So, size does matter, and in this case smaller is the way to go. 12. Buy at or Below Invoice Price Many car buyers assume that the invoice price is the dealer's cost for the vehicle, therefore you need to offer more than that for the vehicle. Not true. In some cases, dealerships are offered various additional incentives for selling certain vehicles that can still make it profitable for them to sell at or below invoice price, according to Autotrader. In fact, invoice price isn't even a true dealer cost number anymore, according to James Bragg in his book, "Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: How the Auto Industry "Redesigned" the Dealer Invoice Price When the Internet Arrived." So don't be put off by dealers who plead their case based on the invoice price. Also, always check for rebates that might be available from the manufacturer, since it's not the dealer's responsibility to notify you when you qualify for an incentive. 13. Try Negotiating by Email Even if you're the rare type of person who loves negotiating for a new car, it's often best in the modern world to do so electronically. The reason is because dealership internet departments often quote lower prices than a traditional car salesperson, according to Edmunds.com. Negotiating by email also allows you to shop and compare with several different dealerships at once, while avoiding the high-pressure sales tactics you often get when you're sitting face-to-face in the dealership. Once you negotiate a price that you're satisfied with, take the quote to any other dealer and see if they will match it. 14. Attitude Counts If you do negotiate face-to-face, be nice to the salesperson. Complement him or her on their knowledge of cars, work ethic, etc. It might be their job to be nice to you, but if you treat them well in return, they're more likely to help you get a good deal. If asked, tell the dealer you are buying today. This makes it easier for them to justify offering their best discounts and spend time with you. If you're not buying today and they offer you a good deal, they know you might just take it to a different dealership. If possible, try to negotiate directly with a manager rather than a salesperson, since managers have the authority to actually wheel and deal. 15. Tread Carefully With Your Trade-In Treat the new vehicle purchase price and your trade-in as two separate negotiations. This doesn't mean you should lie and not tell the salesperson about the trade. Instead, by kindly asking to discuss the trade-in separately, it can help you avoid getting overwhelmed with numbers and dealer sales tactics. If your existing car is in good condition and has any significant value, trading in your car at the dealership will only get you a nominal portion of its potential value, according to car-buying website CarsDirect.com. With the benefits of today's internet sales tools, it's worth the time and hassle to sell your well-maintained used vehicle yourself. 16. Don't Bluff, Really Walk Away If negotiations turn sour, don't just threaten to leave the dealership -- actually do it. Car salesperson hear this threat a lot and don't give it much credence until you're out the door. "My mother-in-law (a retired widow) had a specific cash limit she wasn't willing to budge from for the purchase of a new vehicle," said professional personal finance blogger Alan Turner. "The sales manager would not agree to the amount she was willing to pay, so we left the dealership. Sixty minutes later, the salesperson texted and suddenly the dealership was willing to drop the price by $1,000 and agree to her price and take her trade-in." "We used our walk-away power to get the deal she could afford," he said. "Your best weapon in getting the best deal on a car purchase are your feet." 17. Hold Your Smartphone While Negotiating Use your smartphone to verify market value and financing terms when you're negotiating. You're a lot less likely to hear false claims from the salesperson when they know Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book are instantly within your reach. "As a former car salesperson, our greatest fear was your smartphone," said Reddit user Salenth. "If we gave you a number and you had a smartphone in your hand with Autotrader or some other site pulled up, we were neutered." 18. Refuse to Pay Full Price for Options You Don't Want Most people buy cars directly off the lot, so it's unlikely that the vehicle you're looking at will have only those features you actually want. This can work to your advantage in getting some extras thrown in at a bargain price. For example, I was in the market for a small manual transmission pickup truck a few years ago, but the dealer only had automatic transmission trucks in stock. Of course, he tried to convince me of the merits of a more expensive automatic transmission truck. I countered with my arguments that a stick shift is actually a superior vehicle, even though I secretly knew that my wife wanted an automatic. In the end, he discounted the vehicle to closer to the cost for a manual transmission car, which made me somewhat happier and my wife much happier. 19. Ask the Dealer to Throw in Little Extras It doesn't hurt to ask for smaller things, like a set of floor mats or an extra key fob, once you've negotiated the price. Try asking right before signing the papers, by saying something like, "I forgot to look, but that SUV comes with three keys, right?" Then when you're told there are only two, mention that the dealer whose price quote you're using told you they'd include three keys since you have a tendency to lose things. 20. Read the Paperwork Before Signing It's not uncommon to find mistakes with the math. That was the case when my friend and colleague Adam Lucas went car shopping with his bride-to-be. "When Jennifer bought a new car in 2007, I read through the numbers and found that with all the fancy math they attempt, they actually miscalculated the out-the-door price $2,500 in our favor," he said. "We noticed the error, but signed the paperwork. The next day when we showed up with our cashier's check, the accountant had caught the error and changed the numbers on our signed paperwork (essentially forging it) and the sales manager tried to force us into paying the price it showed on their new paperwork." "Luckily, we had our copy of the paperwork that showed the original numbers and were able to get the dealership to honor the original purchase amount," he said. "Unfortunately, I've read countless incidents online where these errors weren't in the purchaser's favor." Related: How to Get the Best Auto Loan Rates When You Have No Credit This article, 20 Cheapskate Secrets to Buying a New Car, originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com. More from GOBankingRates: The Best and the Worst Time of the Year to Buy a New Car 1 in 3 Americans Has $0 Saved for Retirement 10 Best National Banks of 2016 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2016 10 Stocks That Haven't Dropped in 5 Years -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Warehouse clubs such as Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's Wholesale Club promise savings on everyday household items including paper goods, bulk food, electronics, and even prescription drugs. But there are also some truly off-the-wall items that can be found in warehouse clubs, often for a fraction of the price shoppers would normally pay. In Cheapism's continual research on Sam's and Costco, as well as BJ's, we've stumbled upon some surprising offerings. To learn how to live for less visit Cheapism.com. Raechel Conover worked on this story. Read more of her stories on here. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Trader Joe's has thrown its weight behind the growing cage-free egg movement, making it one of the few prominent grocery chains to do so. The company on Feb. 12 announced it would begin selling only cage-free eggs in all stores by 2025. Locations in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado could see the switch as early as 2020. The beloved supermarket introduced eggs laid by cage-free hens as an option more than a decade ago, and just over 60 percent of the eggs it currently offers are cage-free. The chain seeks to bump that number up as "the supply-side of the egg business evolves to keep pace with a growing cage-free preference," it said in an announcement on its website. The recent championing of cage-free eggs has largely been pushed forward by fast-food retailers. McDonald's, Starbucks, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy's and Shake Shack plan to go cage-free within the next decade. Other food makers -- Nestle and Mars, for instance -- have announced a future switch to cage-free eggs. A small number of major supermarkets have fully committed to cage-free eggs as well. BJ's Wholesale Club plans to remove cages from its supply chain by 2025. Costco bowed to pressure in December but has yet to set a date by which it will be cage-free. That grocers are responding to consumer activism signals the influence of the cage-free movement, even it means that stores will be eliminating choice. “People are against cages and overwhelmingly vote to ban them when given a choice,” David Coman-Hidy, executive director at the animal welfare nonprofit The Humane League, told The Huffington Post in December. “It’s time for supermarkets to reflect that.” Trader Joe's did not immediately respond to a request for comment. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Keurig Green Mountain Inc. (GMCR) has entered into an agreement with BJ's Wholesale Club to widen the homemade single-serve coffee options for Keurig users.
The private-equity owners of BJ's Wholesale Club have expressed interest in buying Hess' (HES -0.2%) ~1,300 gas stations, which they envision pairing with the wholesale clubs, WSJ reports. Some would-be suitors have expressed interest in parts of the gas station chain, but Hess is said to prefer a buyer for the whole; Hess also is laying the groundwork for a potential spinoff of the stations, which is considered more tax-friendly. Marathon Petroleum (MPC +0.1%), which owns 1,470 Great Lakes region gas stations through its Speedway subsidiary, indicated last week that it is interested in the Hess stations. Post your comment!
Costco (COST +0.6%), Nordstrom (JWN +0.2%), and BJ's Wholesale Club won't get pulled into the Thanksgiving Day shopping fray as they will maintain current policy to give workers the day off. The impact on sales from the decision is hard to gauge, but the retailers think they will reap a significant PR benefit by keeping to their Black Friday tradition. 1 comment!
Consistent with its portfolio expansion plans, Agree Realty disclosed the acquisition of Pa.-based BJ's Wholesale Club outlet for $10.6 million.
Heard during Costco's ([[COST]] +0.5%) earnings call: 1) E-commerce sales up over 20% in both the U.S. and Canada. 2) The company says its retail footprint expanded moderately, square footage up 4% Y/Y. 3) Costco doesn't expect a lot of inflation - except in food categories such as protein and nuts. 4) Execs think they have maintained their pricing advantage over BJ's Wholesale Club and Sam's Club, nothing the retailer will play offense not defense on pricing. (webcast)
Heard during Costco's (COST +0.5%) earnings call: 1) E-commerce sales up over 20% in both the U.S. and Canada. 2) The company says its retail footprint expanded moderately, square footage up 4% Y/Y. 3) Costco doesn't expect a lot of inflation - except in food categories such as protein and nuts. 4) Execs think they have maintained their pricing advantage over BJ's Wholesale Club and Sam's Club, nothing the retailer will play offense not defense on pricing. (webcast) Post your comment!
Shares of Costco (COST) are on watch after Sam's Club puts in a lackluster quarter on lower traffic, but raises some of its membership fees for the first time since 2006. Costco has been slightly above Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club on membership fees, but that hasn't stopped the retailer from beating its rivals on comparable-store sales growth.
Shares of Costco (COST) are on watch after Sam's Club puts in a lackluster quarter on lower traffic, but raises some of its membership fees for the first time since 2006. Costco has been slightly above Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club on membership fees, but that hasn't stopped the retailer from beating its rivals on comparable-store sales growth. 1 comment!