Posts

Do You Have Seasonal Allergies or Is It Just a Cold?

I’m the pill popper in our office. Don’t worry, it’s not like I’m on all sorts of medications. I take vitamins and supplements to stave off Seasonal Allergies and Cold Season.

What’s the difference between an allergy and cold symptoms?

Allergies Diagram

The differences and similarities between allergies and a common cold.

Seasonal Allergies

Fall allergy triggers typically include different weed pollens. Damp leaves that start to get moldy also trigger mold allergies. That’s why my so many folks rake their yard each fall. Except those of us in California desert where we don’t have leaves that fall or much yard for that matter.

When your body encounters these triggers, your immune system treats pollen or mold as the invader which produces antibodies to defend your body. This is what causes our stuffy nose and/or headache, sneezing, itchy eyes, and coughing.

What’s more, as we get older our immune system gets weaker. In fact, a weaker immune response can also reduce allergic reactions. According to Dr. Richard Lockey at the University of South Florida, since more folks are now healthier later in life, he’s seen plenty of 80-year-olds still “having symptoms or developing new allergies.” That’s typically why so many of us say “I never had allergies growing up”.

Want to practice good allergy “hygiene” to keep sniffles at bay this time of year?

For starters, use a HEPA air filter in your bedroom. Keep one in the bedroom and clean the filter once a week. It filters out mold, pollen, and other allergy triggers.

  • Keep windows and doors closed during higher-pollen times. You can check pollen counts through Weather.com’s Allergy Tracker or Pollen.com.
  • If you are outside all day, jump in a shower and change clothes when you return home.
  • Try to avoid going outside on dry, windy days, especially when the pollen count is high and it’s blowing all over the place.
  • Try to exercise later in the day, pollen counts are highest in the morning.

A Neti Pot can also cut down on seasonal allergies, if you’ve never heard of one, check them out here. It’s an old Hindu device used to wash the sinuses and works great but be sure to follow the directions and use only distilled water and the proper salt additive designed for its use.

Seasonal Allergies

This image shows the four most common seasonal allergies.

Colds

The drop in temperature this time of year is the perfect temp for viruses to attack. There are about 200 different viruses that cause colds, however, the majority of us get sick from just the one called rhinovirus (aka, the common cold). No, it has nothing to do with Rhinos.

According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the chilly air weakens your body’s defenses. So, the lower the outdoor temps, the weaker our bodies’ response is to a virus. Which means we are less able to resist the rhinovirus.

My mother was a health nut in the 70’s before it was the in thing. She’d tell me that the only two supplements to help with a cold are zinc and vitamin C. You need to pound them when you first feel a cold starting.

Here’s why: Supposedly, Zinc strengthens the body’s “T-cells,” which fight off invading bacteria and viruses in the body. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, can reduce symptoms of a common cold within hours if the dose is high (I take 1,000 mg daily but 5000 mg of a powder for rapid absorption per day for 2 – 3 days when I feel a cold coming on or a tickle in my throat). This is meants to help combat inflammation and regulate blood flow. Of course, you can get vitamin C through proper diet like citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, etc), green, red, & yellow peppers, and broccoli, but not in the amount you need to fight off a cold.

When my son had a sore throat last winter he was miserable. I tried to get him to take 3,000 mg of Vitamin C but that’s a tough one for a teenager. His cough got so bad he couldn’t sleep and I was so desperate that I tried several different cough remedies and formulas. This one was the only thing that helped him sleep through the night.

Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, which is needed to carry oxygen via red blood cells through your bod. This is the central element in the hemoglobin molecule.

Studies found in the Cochrane Library, one of the most prestigious database systems, evaluated many trials involving vitamin C and the common cold. They found taking higher doses of vitamin C cut the duration and severity of common cold symptoms.

Other Tips

Other tips can include:

  • Getting exercise
  • Washing your hands more frequently
  • Avoid sharing of drinks or utensils
  • Don’t eat food or touch your eyes or mouth after touching things in public areas (door knobs, doors, countertops, items when shopping, money, etc).

Zinc is also a known supplement that helps reduce the duration of the cold virus.

Obviously, If a cold turns into the flu or you don’t start feeling better 3 – 5 days out, please seek out your doctor. Antibiotics won’t help knock out a cold virus. If there’s something else going on, your doctor would know best.

Boosting your immune system now can cut down on symptoms and complications should you get sick or suffer from seasonal allergies.

How To Ensure You Profit From Your ATM

Ensure You Profit From Your ATM

So you have an ATM, but do you even know if you’re making any real profit? Some ATM operators consider the additional money spent in their location as profit but you may want to know the actual profit from the machine.

Do not become a business owner that buys an ATM and never calculates whether or not profits are being made. That’s no way to run a business. It’s a good idea to figure out how much you make a month and year so that you know the value of your investment.

When you don’t feel like you’re making as much profit as possible then you may want to consider ways to get more people to withdraw cash from your ATM. There are a few things you can do to encourage more customers to use your ATM.

How Much was the ATM?

Using the cost of the machine and how much profit you make from it monthly you can quickly see your ROI (your return on investment). Most business owners simply pay cash or use a credit card to finance the ATM (they aren’t that expensive anymore) so calculating ROI is fairly straight forward. While you can take advantage of depreciation and amortization as a piece of business equipment, you should also calculate how long it actually takes to recoup your investment.  We’ve seen busy ATM’s have an ROI of less than 1 month, while slower machines can take 6 – 12 months, which is still a fantastic ROI.

When you figure out how long it is going to take to pay off what you paid for the machine (your ROI) you’ll get a better understanding of when you will make a real profit. It should not take longer than a year to pay off what you invested to get the machine. Most business owners are able to pay off or recoup the investment in the ATM within a year.

Big factors include how much business you generate and the location of your machine. Make sure that your ATM is in a place people can easily find it. Consider putting your machine near the front of your store so people will be more likely to come in and use it if they need quick cash and don’t forget to load the ATM everyday.

How Much Does It Cost to Operate an ATM?

The factors that add to the operational cost of an ATM include communication (phone, internet or wireless device), a little electricity, and paper for the receipts.  All this added together is probably less than $0.85 per day.

Are you Keeping Track of the Money Going In and Out of Your ATM?

Most retail business ATM operators load cash daily similar to a cash register. So you should balance daily if you can. Otherwise, you can use the trial cassette close functions and online balance functions to track or count the money in the machine daily if possible. Whenever you or someone else loads the machine make your you have procedures in place to keep track of the funds. If you trust someone to load the ATM for you, be sure they keep a ledger or journal and make sure funds balance. This helps keep track of the money to ensure that you are not losing or missing any cash. Some people are tempted to think you’ll never miss a $20 bill here or there, so the last thing you want to realize is that someone you trust has been stealing a $20 here or there for a few months. Twenty dollars here and there might go unnoticed but it could add up.

You should be able to trust your employees but caution is always good to practice. Use the printer balance functions and put the receipts in envelopes and balance to the online system whenever you load or do your closeouts.

Are You Advertising that You Have an ATM?

A few signs, one for inside the store and a couple to put outside can make a big difference. Make your ATM very easy to find once people get inside. Post a big sign outside that reads “ATM Inside” so that people will know if they need cash all they have to do is walk into your store. Place another sign in close proximity to your store that notifies people there is an ATM within walking distance. A small investment into signs can go a long way and help you generate a lot of more profits on a weekly basis.

Another way to generate more ATM usage is to offer specials or coupons on the ATM receipt.  Most of the late model ATM machines make it easy to offer your customers extra value for using the ATM. If you have coupons in other publications, advertise those. You can also make deals with neighboring stores to advertise their store on your ATM if they advertise your store. You can also offer a coupon good for a special during their next visit.  There are lots of other ways to make your ATM more profitable. Want more tips on how to profit from your ATM, give us a call.

Advertisements Vs. ATM Fees

Advertisements Vs. ATM Fees

ATM fees are just one of those touchy subjects that can make even the meekest of personalities take a turn and show a wild side. That could be mainly because ATM fees vary so widely from one ATM owner to the next and from one financial institution to the next. This can make it virtually impossible sometimes to get a reasonable grip on what’s fair to outrageous to pay. Of course, for the customer, fees are about paying the lowest amount as possible. But for the ATM owner, fees are an integral part of doing business, so while there is a desire to be reasonable, they must also stay competitive in the market just to stay on level with other ATM institutions.

Creative Advertising

While assessing ATM fees are certainly an important part of doing business, they’re not always welcomed or embraced by customers. There can be a lot of complaining about the rates, and even requests for refunds from customers who may decide to challenge the fee amounts based on several criteria. At any rate, the ATM owner has to become creative at ways to keep his customers happy enough to continue doing business with his establishment. And, at the same time, the owner must try to develop a workable solution that will keep a crucial and much-needed revenue stream coming into his financial business.

ATM advertising is a possible solution that owners can implement that may help to solve some of the customers concerns. It’s an on-screen video message where the customer agrees to watch a pre-recorded advertising message in return for reduced or an elimination of ATM surcharges. The customer is given this option when they begin making their transaction, so there are no worries that the commercial will just simply “play” for them, without their permission. Infringement on a customer’s time in that way can be annoying, so ATM owners want to be sure be aware of that possibility and offer the customers options.

With this type of marketing and advertising, both the customer and the ATM owner are appeased on different levels; the advertiser for agreeing to play the advertising video compensates the ATM owner, and the customer (possibly) pays a significantly reduced bank fee in exchange for watching the advertiser’s sales pitch. The sales pitch usually won’t take any longer to view than it would to make an ATM transaction, so there is no lengthy, inordinate amount of time spent watching video commercials while standing at the ATM machine. Usually, the ads will be anywhere from 10-30 seconds, just enough time to capture the customer’s attention and make a lasting sales impression.

The ATM owner and the advertiser will work out and negotiate the terms of the advertising contract. They will determine how long, how frequently and what style of commercial is best suited for the machines. Varying factors can determine ad costs, which is why negotiation is crucial. Since this type of advertising is vastly different from print or even television advertising, it’s important to look at the overall marketing package in terms of quality, relevance and style and not just length. For instance, in some cases, the advertiser will need to negotiate the rate based on the length of the commercial, whether it’s 10 seconds or 60 seconds, especially if it’s for a well-known product or brand.

Coupons and More Savings

Another feature that gets the customers attention is the tear-off coupon that’s at the bottom of their banking receipt. These receipts are good for other services or products that are with local businesses in the area, encouraging customers to keep their business with local establishments. This also incentivizes the business owners to place ads with the ATM machines, especially if they’re trying to target a certain demographic or entice the foot traffic that surrounds the area where the ATM is located.

What makes these types of transactions so worthwhile is because the advertisements are targeted specifically to ATM-style audiences, so it’s something (a product or a service) that would interest the customer. The customer does however have the option to “opt-out” of the feature and choose to not watch the videos. If the customer does go this route, they usually will have to agree to pay the ATM fees.