May 18 2012

Bucket List Item: Drive a Police Car

Check this one off, thanks to Ford Canada

by: Ryan Durrell

Not even lousy weather could take the warm and fuzzies off of an opportunity to climb behind the wheel of not one, but two different Police Interceptors (that’s fancy police jargon for cars, I think) on a closed course and driving them like I stole them.

Thanks to Ford Canada, I had just that chance on a cold, grey day in April.

A Police Interceptor is so much more than just a regular car with stripes and the word “Police” written on it. It’s beefed up, reinforced, and reconfigured. It’s heavy duty. Impractical for the average civilian, but just what the long arm of the law needs when fighting crime and taxiing perps to the slammer...or whatever else it is that the police do.

I listened with keen interest when one of the cars’ developers walked us around the Taurus-based Interceptor. Many of the changes on the sedan were ported over to the SUV, Ford Explorer-based Interceptor.

Let me digress for a moment here. I can’t help but find it funny that, just like the Ford police cars currently being phased out (the Crown Victoria), the new police car is built off a car old people seem to adore. I think Ford has done a stellar job restyling the new Taurus to be more youthful, but retirees seem to love big cars, and the Taurus is a really big car. Anywaaaay, back to the story...

In addition to fitting the cars with heavy duty brakes, transmission, and other tweaks to handle the extreme duty and always-on life of a police service vehicle, some more subtle changes are made. There are no carpets — to help make cleaning easier. The seats are sculpted — to make sitting in them with a utility belts comfortable. The trunk has a lockable box for evidence and can be fitted with a roll-out tray to hold the plethora of electronic devices the modern cruiser uses to “bust” dirtbags, and whatnot.

The best part? Police Interceptors are built to intercept bad guys — and sometimes that means driving really, really fast. I know what you might be thinking — that because the Explorer is roughly the size of a living room, and the Taurus is the automotive equivalent of a 4:30pm dinner reservation at Ruby Tuesdays for sexagenarians, that these police versions can’t maneuver around a tight course. But Ford was so confident they could, they were going to give pack of civilians a chance to find out themselves.

But first, Ford allowed us to climb aboard and play with the lights and sirens.

“BWOOOP-BWOOOP!” “WEEEOOO-WEEEOOO!” Eat your hear out 3 year olds!!! I played that siren like a freakin’ rockstar until my ears bled.

Once I swabbed the blood out of my ears, I climbed aboard the Ford Taurus and Explorer-based Interceptors for a couple “hot laps” (which means “going hard”, or “givin’ ‘er” — ever notice that automotive talk often sounds really filthy?) around the track. I even got to do so with a real auto journalist, Mike Schlee (see his detailed write-up here).

So how was the drive? I’ll spare you the incoherent automotive blithering I subject my wife to and just tell you that the Ford Police Interceptors are serious performance machines, and they are immanently capable of driving at the limit. The drives were pedal-to-the-floor, steering-wheel-wrenching, break-pad-mashing, FUN!

Check. That. Box.

Then, I went back to work and typed numbers and formulas into totally different boxes for the rest of the day.

Thanks for getting me out of the office, Ford Canada. And a special thank you to Ford’s Rose Pao for the ride in the luxurious new 2013 Lincoln MKS — heated steering wheel for the win!

May 14 2012

How Much Are You Really Making?

by: Ryan Durrell

As the husband of a successful mom and entrepreneur, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I've seen first hand how tirelessly Alexandria (also known as Clippo) worked to build her business.  Which is why I'm so happy I was able to help out early on to vet her business ideas to find one that paid her a decent wage for her blood, sweat, and tears.

I know, many people work for little or no pay. In some cases it’s a hobby, like blogging. In some cases it’s a volunteer position. Sometimes you do a job, not because it makes you money, but because of the money it saves you. Special cases aside, when you sit down to start a home business, you should have the potential to make money and enter into the business with an idea of how much that might be.

It can be tempting to think that your wage doesn’t matter; that if more money is coming in than going out, that’s all that matters. Don’t sell yourself short. You’re worth more than minimum wage! Your time is valuable. Hours lost to a business puts strain on family, relationships, and your mental health.

So, before you set off with a business idea, it’s important to answer the question: “How much am I really making?”

The concept is simple: factor in all the costs you have to incur and the money you’ll make, then divide it by the hours you’ll be spending, and you’ll get a rough estimate of how much you’re making per hour.

In essence, this is a simple business case.

Don’t try for perfection. This should start off as a simple exercise and grow as you go along.  I’ll show you what I mean with a couple examples.

When Alexandria reached the end of her maternity leave and decided not to return to work, she wanted to contribute to the family budget. She started looking at crafty ideas as a possible solution. We put those ideas to the test.

One of the first was custom underwear. Here is what I remember of that business idea:

The Plan:

Buy affordable underwear, add appliqués, sell.

The Costs:

Underwear: $3
Appliqués: $1
Total Cost: $4

The Price:

$10

The Time:

2 per hour, or 0.5 hours

The Wage:

[ The Price ($10) - The Costs ($4) ] / The Time (0.5) = $12

 

This is about as simple as it gets. Sure, $12 an hour is not going to set the world on fire, but many people work for less. Now, without getting technical, start factoring in more elements of running the business: Time spent sourcing materials, buying a sewing machine, creating a website to sell them on, promotional costs, packaging and shipping. Without even adding them into the analysis, you can see how $12 an hour is going to get whittled down to nothing in a hurry.

One of Alexandria’s later ideas had real merit. Hair clips. For some of you, this business might sound familiar.

The Plan:

Buy hair clips from a local beauty supply store and ribbon from the local craft store, line the clips with the ribbon, sell.

The Costs:

Hair Clip: $0.06
Hot Glue: $0.04
Ribbon: $0.20
Total Cost: $0.30

The Price:

$2

The Time:

20 per hour, or 0.05 hours

The Wage:

[ The Price ($2) - The Cost ($0.30) ] / The Time (0.05) = $34

 

$34 an hour? Now you’re talking! These economics further improved as we found wholesale supply sources and improved production techniques.

When you press on with your business, you'll find that almost every part of your business has a time or expense element. Each new piece of your business can be added to your analysis.

For many home businesses a major activity is shipping. Shipping services, like UPS, can be an excellent way to improve your wage by lowering the time it takes to complete a sale. Home pickups and shipping label printing saves precious time that you can't usually charge back to the customer. Standing in line at the post office is usually unpaid time that draws down your hourly wage.

Click here to download a spreadsheet (in Microsoft Excel format) to help you start your business case.

If your plan doesn’t make sense when looked at this way, don’t lose heart, another idea will be right around the corner that’s going to work out.

Check out our Mompreneurs: Making it Happen section full of tips, tricks and advice from experienced entrepreneurs to help you take your business to the next level. You can even sign up for a 20% discount on all UPS shipping services to help you grow your business.

And you won’t want to miss reading about our inspiring YMC UPS Mompreneurs Contest winners. They may even motivate you to start a business of your own!

 

Advertisement

Advertisement

YMC Recently Spilled!

mommy2sassykids says...

  I've let my kids know that it's ok to be sad and angry that the person is gone. That it's okay to cry and miss that person... About: Using Pop Culture To Find Teachable Moments About Loss Join the conversation...