roi en-US Home Improvements That Pay Off <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/home-improvements-that-pay-off" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Woman painting a wall" title="Woman painting a wall" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As a homeowner, I'm often mulling over various improvement projects. A key consideration for many people who want to spruce up their homes, but think they may be moving in the foreseeable future, is what the payback is on particular upgrades. For instance, if there's something that's going to make your home look nicer and add back most of the value you put into the job, why not do it? Conversely, if there's very little residual value from your project, perhaps it should go lower on the list. (See also: <a href="">Five Tips to Sell Any Home Fast</a>)</p> <p>To help sort out the various options (and perhaps give you some new ideas), the most comprehensive resource I've seen is the <a href="">Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value Report</a>. The report compares the average cost for 35 popular updates and then estimates how much of that upfront cost those projects retain at resale. While the methodology to arrive at these calculations may be tough to validate in today's volatile housing market, I believe the estimates to at least be directionally correct and helpful in sorting options.</p> <h2>The Best-ROI Home Improvement Projects</h2> <p>The study lists the following as among the best projects from a return-on-investment standpoint.</p> <h3>Steel Entry Door Replacement</h3> <p>The study reveals that you can actually have a positive ROI on this one, with 102% recouped on a $1,200 door. While it may not sound like the sexiest home improvement project, first impressions are lasting, right? The front door is the first thing people see upon entering your house, and most builder-grade doors aren't as nice as newer models you can upgrade to now.</p> <h3>Wooden Deck</h3> <p>With an average installation price of $11,000, the study estimates that at resale, you can achieve a 73% payback. Not too shabby considering you'll get a lot of use out of a deck anyway.</p> <h3>Minor Kitchen Remodel</h3> <p>This is the one I always hear about (from my wife!). We actually ended up upgrading our kitchen and beat the $22,000 price tag by installing our own cabinets. This is another project that ranks high on the list with a 73% recoup ratio.</p> <h3>Windows and Siding</h3> <p>Replacing the windows or siding yields returns over 70% as well.</p> <h2>Poor-ROI Projects</h2> <p>Projects that didn't rank very high on the list and lost about half their value at resale included following additions and changes to the home:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Garage</a> addition</li> <li>Bathroom addition</li> <li>Sunroom addition</li> <li>Backup power generator</li> <li>Roofing replacement</li> </ul> <p>Since we're staying in our home for the long-term, we don't rank the recoup value as high as some people might, but it's always in the back of my mind. After all, even if we don't plan on moving, maybe I can use this list to help talk my wife out of the next big project she has in mind!</p> <p><em>What has your experience been with home improvement upgrades? Do you feel these recoup rates are accurate?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Home Improvements That Pay Off" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darwins Money</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Home Real Estate and Housing home improvement home selling roi Thu, 28 Jul 2011 10:36:11 +0000 Darwins Money 640439 at Is Your Marketing Campaigns Working? <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="" target="_blank"></a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/is-your-marketing-campaigns-working" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Is Your Marketing Campaigns Working?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><p>Sales and marketing costs are among the largest expenses in running a business, yet they can be the hardest ones to evaluate.</p> <p>How do you know if the time and money you are spending on marketing and sales is improving your bottom line? The truth is that ROI (return on investment) for marketing and sales spending is notoriously difficult to calculate. But it <em>is </em>possible to determine if your overall approach is working, and you can analyze your costs over time to get a picture of whether or not your efforts are effective. You can also track separate campaigns and see which ones result in a boost in sales.</p> <p>To start with, let&rsquo;s define these two terms.</p> <ul> <li><b><i>Marketing</i></b> is any activity that creates a prospective customer (a prospect).</li> <li><b><i>Sales</i></b> is an activity which turns a prospect into a buyer &mdash; a customer.</li> </ul> <h3>Analyzing the Effects of Your Marketing and Sales Spending</h3> <p>It is important to keep track of these two activities separately so that you know how much you are spending on each category. That&rsquo;s the first step: set up your accounting systems so that you can easily see how much you spend for marketing, and how much for sales activities. If you run separate marketing campaigns, it&rsquo;s wise to track the expenses of each one separately as well.</p> <p>The second step is your sales reporting. It&rsquo;s critical to be able to track your sales on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and compare them to last week, last month, and the same week and month last year. You will also want to compare them to your sales goals to see how you are doing. Otherwise, you won&rsquo;t know if your numbers are going up or down. Those comparisons are critical.</p> <p>Enter all these numbers into your trusty Excel to prepare a line chart of your expenses (marketing and sales separately) and sales revenue over time. Do you see a trend? When you ran that special campaign 6 months ago, was there a corresponding boost in sales revenue&nbsp;(it could be a bit down the line, say 30-60 days)? This will allow you to see any trends or patterns in sales revenue that is affected by your sales and/or marketing strategy.</p> <p>Of course, increasing your sales is not the actual goal of your marketing efforts &mdash; increasing profits is the goal. So, it&rsquo;s important to make sure that the sales you are gaining are profitable sales. To do this, add a line to your graph for gross profit, and you will get the picture very quickly.</p> <h3>What about the Value of Your Time?</h3> <p>For many of us, especially those of us in service businesses, our marketing and sales efforts are more personal &mdash; they are mostly made up of our time doing networking, communicating via social media, talking to potential clients, etc. There&rsquo;s no &ldquo;cost&rdquo; for this reflected in our accounting systems &mdash; but it is a real cost, and it&rsquo;s important to know if your efforts are effective.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s a suggestion that has worked for many of my colleagues and clients. For 90 days, commit to recording your time and tracking how many hours you spend on each marketing and sales related activity.</p> <p>Then, graph the number of hours that you spend each week for each category that you are active in. Don&rsquo;t just lump it all together &mdash; break out networking, social media, etc. separately so you can see what is working and what is not.</p> <p>On the same graph, record weekly billings, weekly new client proposals, or whatever metric is most meaningful to you, and compare that trend with you are spending your time. This is a great way to see if you are getting the most out of your efforts and will let you know where to spend more time and where to spend less.</p> <h3>It takes Money to Make Money</h3> <p>Marketing and sales efforts are a critical part of the success of any business, and they&rsquo;re often one of your biggest costs. The trick is to spend time and money on the activities that really make a difference to the bottom line. Over time, these graphs can be invaluable in making sure you do just that.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">JoAnne Berg</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Small Business Resource Center marketing tools measuring marketing measuring sales metrics roi sales tools small business Wed, 15 Jun 2011 21:23:43 +0000 JoAnne Berg 571065 at The Audacity to Waste Money for Better Finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-audacity-to-waste-money-for-better-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="starbucks frappuccino" title="starbucks frappuccino" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I always thought it would be great if a screen door would work with the double french doors in my kitchen. That way, air could come in without the bugs having access to my house. Recently, I saw a retractable screen door at a friend's house. It would be the perfect solution I thought, until he told me it costs $700 to get it installed.</p> <p>$700?! That's practically a decade's worth of air conditioning. I might as well just turn on the A/C any time I'm hot. But then a few days later, though the temperature was high in the kitchen, I opted to just bear with the heat since it was actually cool outside. The retractable unit obviously popped into my mind again. Since I was never going to turn on A/C anyway, is comparing it to the cost of running air conditioning just plain wrong?</p> <p>This got me to think: Is there anything else that seems to be a waste of money at first glance but might not be so bad for certain types of people? Here are a few examples.</p> <h3>What's Worth the Waste</h3> <p>Financial advisers want 1 percent every year, and I've read loads and loads of articles about financial scumbags. Expensive, right? I get it. But for those people who can't keep themselves from themselves when the markets are at extremes, isn't that 1 percent a very smart price to pay? Buying a cup of Starbucks coffee every day may cost thousands of dollars a year, but isn't it better than feeling miserable all day?</p> <p>I mean, some people end up buying a big ticket item every few months just because they aren't happy! And if you feel at peace, what's to say that you won't end up finding the motivation to start a side business that will make you that Starbucks fund many times over? Same with houses, cars, dresses and whatever else you fancy. If it motivates you, makes you happy, and you can afford to pay for it, what's so wrong about buying it? After all, money is meant to be spent, not hoarded.</p> <h3>What I Mean</h3> <p>Look. Most of us can probably use more of the &quot;don't ever spend on anything&quot; articles because we aren't saving enough. But in specific types of situations, what seems like a big waste of money is actually worth it. Think of it as an investment. Investment for your peace of mind, investment for your business, and maybe an investment for your happiness. Not every waste is actually a waste. Know yourself, and may your decision take you onto a smoother path to financial freedom.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Audacity to Waste Money for Better Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">David Ning</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Personal Finance articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Investment Lifestyle Retirement cost finances frugal living money management personal finance roi spending Wed, 11 Aug 2010 13:00:10 +0000 David Ning 202563 at