Food For Africa, And Profit For All

Hadera, Israel operates a desalinization plant that yields daily about 25 million gallons of fresh water. It is being expanded to manage about 35 million gallons/ day.   A series of these could be built offshore from the western African coastal nations. Using an aqueduct network (California already transports a large body of water daily this way), with solar pumps, we could transport millions of gallons daily to water these coastal nations, rendering their water and food supplies entirely weatherproof.  This could cause a new agricultural revolution on the coastal nations of Africa, with enough food to be flown out by C-130 cargo aircraft to any location in need of supplies.  This would effectively end the food crises that often arise in Africa.  Not only would Africa never import another grain of rice, they could become significant exporters of goods to the global commodities markets. I recognize that it is plausible that this plan may also require a “soil transplant run” or two by supertankers, running between the Amazon forests and the West Coast of Africa to fetch the greenery needed to replenish the African topsoil.  But this is to my mind “doable.”

Desal plants are not cheap, and neither are aqueducts.  But mass funerals are more expensive than both.  We in the West have both the money and the present technology to end the African famine problem.

So why is this not happening?

Defeating Chicago’s “Impossible Dream:”  How Nations Can Run A 0% Inflation Rate in A Growing Economy

Traditionally, gold-bugs chant a theme often rejected as superfluous and redundant. But there is a better way to accomplish what they intend.  We could collateralize national economies — that is, their money supplies — using equity securities. The well-diversified portfolio, with 20% in gold and silver (and platinum and palladium?) and BHP Billiton (the new iron man), and 80% in best of breed purchases of choice stocks (and REIT’s? mutual funds?) applied as collateral at the national level would yield about a 10% return each year.  This would give nations the ability to declare a formal “annual collateralization” precisely matching the rate of inflation.  This would neutralize the rate of inflation, even while the money supply was expanding — and fully collateralized.

This is the fascinating fact about currency, which loses value over time — its complement, equity securities, habitually move hard the other direction — appreciation of value.  Since the rate of appreciation of securities outruns the depreciating value of cash — adjusted for inflation (LOL) — it only makes sense to equalize the one against the other — with change to spare. The influx of additional money into the markets for nations choosing to do this would, of course, buoy up the markets a bit.

And remember, this proposition does not need to be “All or Nothing,” but can (and probably should) be managed by matter of degree.  A nation, could, for instance, collateralize its currency at 10% or 20% using superior stock selections, and then weigh the results.  If the currency grows too strong, rendering exports a bit pricey, one could simply move ahead more slowly with the collateralizing project — the Fed does this with interest rates — and then extend a bit of credit to preferred customers in the meantime to buffer the change in exchange rates.

Remember, “the lack of money is the root of all evil” — Wall Street

Big Cash for Inc. World: How Corporations Can Obtain Improved Marketshare

As I have walked and traveled across the U.S., I have noticed a good deal of the topographical layout of corporate distribution.  That is to say, I have made mental notes of where you find the corporate presence, and where you do not.  Here are some strategies I have developed for corporations and mid-sized businesses that could greatly improve their bottom line.

1.  The college and high school campuses are nearly completely untapped markets.  Food courts exists at some of the larger college campuses, and some have a starbucks, a panda express, etc.   Almost none have a Walmart, a large grocer (Winn-Dixie, Martin’s, Food Lion, Etc).  The high schools have none of these.  It seems to me that with superintendent permission and whatever other rubber stamping might be necessary, that high schools and smaller colleges are a gold mine waiting to happen.

Second, when building new locations, corporations should consider the clustering model of opening new stores.  By this method, you buy less acreage to keep the overhead down, and build upward — say three stories or more.  You rent out the upper stories to other businesses (they get a brightly lit logo high in the air visible for many miles from the nearby freeways), and your company pays down its overhead with the rent money.  Theoretically, if you have enough companies renting, they could pay for everything, leaving you with a net zero overhead, and profit margins galore.  Make the space you buy in real estate return fourfold on the money you pay per square foot.

I have noticed (as you have) that many stores open with other small stores inside — say a Walmart might have a subway inside.  But almost no one seems to have to have approached Lowe’s or Home Depot with this idea, even though their foot traffic is quite substantial.  Another “Craig” insight:  Small electronics might be a nice adjunct to some of the very fancy gadgeted-up appliances they now sell in or near the washing machinces and steam-dryers section. Ace Hardware and its competitors might also be interested in having an adjunct store or two.  WalMart should have its own food-court at the center of it all, if you ask me.  People could take time out from shopping to eat lunch, and then get back in the ring, after munching Panera Bread goodies.

Beaches.  They exist in many states on both coasts and in the south.  Thousands of people tan themselves (nearly year-round in FL) every day and no one brings a Schwan’s-like truck around to service their needs. A fleet of such vehicles could probably yield fantastic returns.  Pizza, ice cream and Ice-cold energy drinks would sell like, well, hot pizza slices at the beach.

Home Delivery.  Dominos Pizza has capitalized fantastically on this market, while most have left it untouched.  New technology in online security has now made online purchasing 100% secure, though many remain unaware of this since they do not read Popular Science.  As more customers become aware of this innovation, they will be buying online more often.  This will make home delivery markets come alive and turn green. My advice?  Get in early.  A credit-card enabled website is one phone call to Bank of America away from your new online market power.  Your new fleet of delivery vehicles is probably easily obtainable from Hetrz-Avis or some other “well-maintained vehicle” rental company.  Buy 2 to 3 years out, and your fleet has already done most of the significant depreciating it will do in new car value.

Virtual Shopping Online.  Some Real Estate companies already use this to enable walk-throughs of houses at a distance for customers.  Create a video-taped walk-through, and then digitize it, and place it on your website, so shoppers can shop 24-7, can handle any product they want (with a one paragraph descriptor appearing), and then to any aisle they want to continue buying. Then enable either delivery to the home for these products, or arrange (using order pickers) for them to come pick up their goodies at a specified time and place — nearby store location of their choice.

Temporary Markets. Every year county fairs run a predictable circuit through the U.S. and other countries.  These feature large numbers of foot traffic spenders.  They show up expecting to pay top dollar for everything that they buy, and they expect to buy plenty.  In order to take advantage of this market, companies need to prepare a kind of “prefabricated,” but classy, booth that can display and sell their products — with fast set-up and break-down times.   And just as important, they should work to get their name-recognition numbers up.  Their logo should be on everything they hand out, and the stores should be listed on the literature they get into the hands of customers.  Always give away something for free — a sample, a small device, something tasty or profitable.

Other important temporary markets with really high numbers include business conventions, rock concerts, sporting events, cultural events (e.g. Oktoberfest, jazz festivals, holiday outings, farmer’s markets).  I would not hestitate to set up the booths at these events either.  These overlooked markets could bring home the cash.

The Full-Service Vending Machine.  Some companies have — or could have — a full array of products placed in vending machines with a snarky logo on the front or side, set in locations of high foot traffic.  International airports provide such a location in addition to those named above.  And do not forget the shopping mall.  These machines should only process debit or credit cards (no loose change to collect), leaving only visits needed to replenish the line of goods on the recurrent services “things to do” list.

Build Out Your Menu.  Stores or restaurants with food sales should work on a regular basis to increase their offerings listed on menus.  The new flavors can be gathered froma variety of sources.  Top ten (or fifty) lists on the internet provide excellent guides as to what you should add.  Consider typing in “top 50 gourmet  ______’s” and using the items from this list you do not have on your menu as a starting point.  For new flavors of items look at extensive ones already in existence.  For instance, Baskin Robbins should take a look at the list of flavors used by Jelly Belly, and consider this or that new combination of such flavors for their delicious ice cream offerings.

The Earnings Power of Traffic Jams and The Up-ramp Shopping Mall.  Often times cars sit in the midst of traffic idling. CNN has estimated that in the US alone, cars burn about 2.9 billion gallons per year in idle mode on domestic asphalt.  Some of this time is spent infuriatingly in hot or rather cold, and always boring (time-wasting), transportation drudgery.  The profitable solution?  Have several corporations combine their disposable income to pay for a second tier of freeway, say, 5 miles long, that sits twice as wide as the freeway below, and is easily accessed from the lower tier.  What’s at the top — 5 miles of asphalt relief, where those tired of time wasting can log on (at say Starbucks) and drink a cold Frappucino, shop at WalMart, buy some onion rings at Wendy’s, and, well — shop til they drop, or get some real work done waiting for (and helping) traffic to dissipate.  After the 3-hour working-sipping break, they go down the other side of the ramp, merging back onto a free-flowing highway for a zip straight home.

Benefits?  Corporations could find millions of commuters in the Southern California area alone waiting to rush their stores AND get off the miserable, stalled freeway system.  How many such up-ramp malls could be serviced in SoCal alone? Mebbe 20? I dunno.  What I do know is this: these “desperate to evacuate the freeways” drivers exist in LA, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, Mexico City, etc — and the sales tax alone generated for nearby cities, states, and nations should have profit-loving mouths watering.  The profits for the corporate bottom line are inestimable, given the number of large cities with traffic jam glory.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad advice 101:  Always turn liabilities — like traffic jams — into assets, like extra-large (that’s a Trenta folks) earnings numbers.  Remember the three E’s of Wallstreet.

The Power of “Inventory Complementarity” and Inside Sales. Why not let your inventory arrangement sell millions of products for you?  Arrange the inventory of your store so that all items on one side of the aisle match all those just across from it, so that customers who buy the one, look to buy the other as well.  Turn every one sale into two.  Create a simple pairing tactic, like matching colored dots on a tag to show “at a glance” which ones go with the others by store recommendation.  Announce the new schedule to your customers by making it so that every 10th complementary (matching dot) purchases yields the eleventh for free.  This will keep them studying the paired-dots to learn your new system.  It pays to learn.  Chocolate can sell wine or coffee.  Wine can sell baked goods (e.g. French bread or cheese).  Amazon already uses this method indicating something like “the customers who bought these also bought the following books ….” = “these GO WITH those” = complementarity.  In this AMZN is brilliant. Stores can do the same.

Need More Profits? Stay Tuned for Next Post’s Tactic, “Capture the Paycheck,” and “The Clustering Model” tactic for powerful entry into emerging markets. And remember, they’re ALL emerging markets.

Play Capture the Paycheck.  If your retail outlet can afford to spend a little money to invest in two services — an in-house mailbox rental service (like the US Postal Service) and an in-house bank (or better, a credit union, for customers) then you could rent a mailbox to your customers quite cheaply (cheap mailboxes are in surprisingly high demand nationwide) and give them a place to have their paychecks sent, and then cashed in the indoor credit union next door.  This captures THEIR PAYCHECK INSIDE YOUR STORE and CONVERTS IT TO CASH.  Cash spends.  It buys a whole lot of your goodies.  Otherwise, they have direct deposit sent to their account INSIDE YOUR STORE.  Either way, your store wins when you capture and convert the paycheck inside your store.

Do not let that paycheck outside your store.  This means that you offer incentivizing discounts — just for credit union or indoor postal customers — on the goodies in your store.  Give them an additional discount upon a supersized purchase.  Let the power-shopping begin.

How to Win With Emerging Market Entry Tactics.  The clustering model indicates that one of the best ways to enter an emerging market is to do it with “best of breed” corporate friends, that is, with partners who open a store together with you.  These would be high brand-name recognition stores that do not compete with yours.  If you take the lead, then you purchase a good deal of real estate at the edge of a fairly large city, where real estate prices are still reasonable, but the location is close enough to a central location to yet be profitable, and you “over-purchase the territory” where you wish to set up shop, and then sell a lot to the companies of your choice by invitation to create, in effect, a handpicked shopping mall.  Buy low.  Sell high.  Because your real estate lot sits on the cusp of a population growth area with the right purchasing demographics, as the consumer population expands, you real estate value soars.

Another way of clustering to win upon entering emerging markets so as best to insure your success, you might want to build more than one floor or level into the building out of which you conduct business.  You can then lease out space on the upper levels to other stores, and then use the rental money to pay down your overhead, and drop your falling prices even more, while increasing your profit margins and cash flow simultaneously.  But this tactic is only for geniuses. Remember our genius quote, “talent hits a target that no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”  When you think about emerging markets, think strategy.  Think about advertising nearby for your new store at very busy international airports, bus stops, hotels, and perhaps even within other stores by mutual agreement for advertisement swapping.

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