A BETTER WAY TO PAY PART-TIMERS

Before you hire more full-time workers, consider hiring part-time employees at “peak time” wages.  It’s an alternative that can save you money and actually increase productivity.  The key to this strategy is to determine exactly when you need more employees.  Then pay part-timers a premium to work just during those hours.

For example, your shipping department may appear understaffed, but when you look into the situation, you discover that there’s a flood of outgoing orders on Friday.  Instead of hiring more full-time shippers at $14.00 an hour, hire part-timers at higher wages – perhaps $16.00 an hour – but just to work on Friday.  The premium peak time wage will attract better workers than you could get for $14.00 an hour and you won’t have to pay for many of the benefits that full time employees get.

There are other advantages to peak time pay.  Some companies that use it have been able to reduce the number of full-time employees because many workers decide to switch to part-time at peak time wages.  In addition, you’ll be able to develop a pool of part-time workers who you can call on when you need them.  And part-timers who usually job hop won’t do so because peak time wages are attractively high.  You might lower certain overhead costs, too.

For peak time pay to work, it’s essential to make a detailed analysis of when peak workload periods actually occur.


INVESTMENT INTEREST EXPENSE DEDUCTION

Investment interest expense deduction.  Investment interest expense, such as margin interest, is deductible, but is limited to the amount of taxable investment income that one has.  Interest income and dividend income is investment income, but not tax favored capital gains.  Unused investment interest expense can be carried forward to future years.  Tax strategy:  To get a deduction now for unused investment interest expense you can elect to treat a portion of tax favored capital gains and dividends as income taxed at ordinary rates,  then the unused investment interest is deductible against it.


QUALIFIED TUITION PLANS – 529 PLANS

Section 529 college saving plans offer income tax, gift tax, estate tax, and asset protection benefits.  But, in spite of all the hype and publicity (which they do deserve), 529s aren’t for everyone.

If you’re on either end of the wealth spectrum, there may be better options, which are often lost in the marketing barrage for 529 plans.  While 529s may be great for most people saving for college, it depends on your specific situation…

You’re on the low end of the income/wealth spectrum.  You might be better off keeping the money in your name.  You might need the money for yourself.  From an emotional perspective, you may not want to have your child see 529 money that he/she will assume is for college only to see you pull it out to meet a family emergency.  Also:  Your tax bracket may not be so high that the tax advantages of a 529 account are that significant.

You’re on the high end of the income/wealth spectrum.  You might benefit your family more if, as part of an overall financial, asset protection, and estate planning strategy, you establish trusts for your children and grandchildren to which you can gift interests in family businesses or investments at a discount, fractionalize ownership of family entities by these gifts, remove future appreciation from your estate, and achieve other goals.  You can, at these levels, always pay for tuition costs directly gift tax free over and above the annual gifts you can make to the trusts (currently $14,000/year)

Lesson:  529 plans, like most estate and financial techniques, are a wise choice for some people, but not for everyone.  Use discretion to be sure you’re taking the steps that are right for you.


SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME SALES OBJECTIONS

Learn to listen.  The only way you can overcome a prospect’s objections is to listen carefully so you really understand the prospect’s concerns.  Don’t try to anticipate an objection until you actually hear it.

Discover the real problem.  You might hear a number of objections, but your prospect might be reluctant to bring up the real problem, such as a clash he’s having with his boss.  If you’ve answered a series of objections and still haven’t made the sale, it’s time to ask the prospect if there’s a problem that’s keeping him from giving you an order.

Verify the problem.  If a prospect says your price is too high, ask him if he will give you an order at a lower price.   If his answer is “yes”, you’re on your way to closing the sale.  Any other response means that price is not the real problem and you’ll have to probe further.

Always ask questions.  Don’t try to overcome an objection unless you’re certain you understand it.  If, for example, you’re selling office equipment, a cost objection could mean your selling price, or the cost of set-up, or the cost of user training.  You’ll never know unless you ask.

Double-check your answers.  To be sure you’ve answered an objection, ask the prospect, “Does that solve the problem ?”

Focus on benefits.  For example, if a prospect objects to the cost of your product, point out the high value of the product in relation to its cost.