EP 16: The Impact of Inflation on Your Amazon Business with Cyndi Thomason

Narrator: (00:01)
Welcome to the Process, to e Eco Profit Podcast, where we know top line sales just isn’t enough to have the business of your dreams learn to run a profitable business online that doesn’t run you.

Robyn: (00:17)
Welcome To the Process to Econ Profits podcast. Today we’re gonna be talking about the impact of inflation on your Amazon business. Amazon recently announced a 5% fuel surcharge that, is impacting third party sellers. that adds an additional 5% only to the FBA fee. So it’s not an additional 5% of your total sales, but it’s a 5% of just the FBA fee. Today we’re gonna be talking about that and all of the other ways that inflation might be impacting your business and some things that you can do to make sure that you’re staying financially healthy during this time period. So, Cindy, did you wanna talk a little bit more about, like, it, you know, how inflation is, impacting sellers and what you’re seeing on, on books as you’re processing them now?

Cindy: (00:57)
Yes. It’s, I mean, everybody’s feeling it. It’s, you know, easy to experience it at the grocery store, at the gas pumps, but it’s also happening with our, with our clients in their business. We’re seeing, shipping costs go up. We’re seeing, fees go up. We’re seeing advertising costs go up. it’s, it’s just a, a general trend that everything is increasing in cost. Even labor costs are going up at this point. So, it’s just really critical to pay attention to the fundamental things that you can do and, and make sure you’re, you’re focusing on the things that you do have control over. And, these are always good practices. But for right now, they’re, they’re critical practices because if you’re not paying attention to, your profitability and managing profitability, the, the margins are just being eroded away in so many different, with so many different opportunities that, it’s just critical to be paying attention right now.

Robyn: (02:01)
And, you know, the, the inflation, the, the good thing, not the anything about inflation is good, but, the, you know, the good thing is that everybody is, is impacted equally on this. So it, it’s affecting all, all of your competitors in similar ways, but there are ways that you can manage your finances, finances a little bit better, or kind of look at your expenses, maybe reevaluate, you know, relationship better, relationships that you have to try to minimize that effect and make sure that you’re managing your cash flow. what is, what, what would you would say is like the first thing that you would recommend that sellers do to, you know, as they’re looking at man those costs have risen a lot, and I need to make sure that I stay profitable long term. What are some of the first things that you would recommend?

Cindy: (02:48)
Well, first of all, look at your inventory. So, so many of us have, so many sellers have built out like a catalog of, of products, but they don’t really understand which ones are profitable, which variations are providing the most,  profits have the best margins. And so really getting clear about what, what products are profitable are the most profitable, and concentrating on those. you know, if, if you’re tying up your cash in, buying product that is not turning over or that you’re having to spend a lot of money on to, to generate, advertising, to move that product, there’s better ways to use your cash. Put, determine where you’re getting the best margins, understand your supply chain. that’s another critical part. Right now, maybe the thing that gets us the best margin we can’t get reliably. So we have to keep that as a factor as well. And those items that, take a longer time to get, we have to order more, you know, quick, quicker than we would normally, You know, normally we would have a, a 60 day lead time, well, maybe we’ve got 120 day lead time. So really paying attention to those things that are fundamental to, the flow of, of your products and the, the flow of money with your products, are critical right now.

Robyn: (04:19)
And, you know, it can be hard to let go of a product, especially if you’ve launched it from the beginning. You don’t wanna let go. What if prices go down? if, if you’re kind of in that spot, I would kind of urge you to go look at you what your prices were before inflation, and how much margin was there before, because the likelihood of those, those margins going back to exactly the place that they were in the immediate future are pretty small. So, you know, while you do wanna consider, you know, I could lose my ranking position and then it could be profitable again. You know, one of the things to consider is maybe this was a move that you’ve needed to make for six months or for a year, that there are a couple of products that maybe just aren’t yielding what they are.

Robyn: (04:54)
And if you took the cash that you have and really funneled it into the products that are working that have good margin, then you’d be able to generate more cash. And that might alleviate some of the stress that you have on kind of getting some of those Christmas orders. I know now is kind of the time to be doing that. So you might wanna look at, you know, before you place those Christmas orders, if you, if you haven’t already, then what is it, you know, that is really going to give me the best, best bang for my buck? Am I better saving some of this cash I would’ve set for product C with a low margin to, increase the ad budget temporarily for product A? That is kind of my hero product that has the best margin that I can get consistently and focus on that.

Robyn: (05:36)
And then that might bank for a better overall profitability. So, one of the things that we, you can also look at is on, on the advertising side is, profitability. if you look at tacos, your a total advertising cost to sale by product, you can, that can help you identify a little bit more of like what your advertising costs are for different, different skews within your product mix to make sure that, you’re, you’re looking at that ad cost because sometimes the ad costs have gone up significantly and some, some, areas because supply chain has gone crazy. people haven’t been able to restock. So the ad costs have, you know, maybe stayed the same or lowered.

Cindy: (06:13)
Yeah. And you know, it’s the time to really focus in on, on the best performing things. I know at the time when Covid hit, people were expanding variations. There, there was so many, so much opportunity to add to, the products that you were selling. But now is just the opposite. Now is the time you want to contract and get, get more focused on a few items because having your cash tied up in the thing that maybe you’re gonna sell a handful of as opposed to the thing that you sell hundreds of is, is just not the place you want to, to tie your inventory up. So focusing on that, that really understanding what the bread and butter is and focusing on that is a lot better than, than trying to really widen out and touch every possible variation that you might offer.

Robyn: (07:04)
And, you know, if you’ve noticed there’s not been the year over year growth that you normally experience, that’s not just you, either, that’s across a lot of brands. I’m on a call where they have big brands like, you know, Avery and you know, like large big companies that have, and, and you know, like that, that size, not specifically that company. but there’s lots of, of, of larger companies on that call, and a lot of them said that their eCommerce channels overall, not just Amazon have underperformed this year. and you can see that even in like the, the of the publicly traded companies that are posting their earnings, a lot of them had missed targets. and so you can see that, you know, while we got this big, like artificial bump from the pandemic, now things are starting to normalize. So, you know, if you can imagine kind of that there was a bump, but there was also like a straight line path to where we are now, you’re starting to see that, you know, we’re, we’re kind of going back to the original growth place that we were before.

Robyn: (08:04)
if you hadn’t taken, if you had taken that bump, so, you’re still gonna, you, you still wanna work towards year over year gains, but expecting the same year over year gains that you got in 20 20, 20 21 is probably not realistic for 2022.

Cindy: (08:19)
Yeah, I mean, those were just unusual years by every standard. And so, I think it’s better to count that as a blip. I do think it moved our, the eCommerce industry forward faster, but I don’t think it, is thankfully we’re not gonna stay stuck in this, lockdown type situation. So we’re gonna go back to something that’s considered a little more normal what for away the businesses are, are operating.

Robyn: (08:46)
And, you know, it’s not just the changes in the pandemic that are causing issues. You know, the war in Ukraine is also causing gas prices to go up, which, I think, think is, you know, are I, I’m seeing with my sellers as tr changing, like some ways that people are paying or the cost for supply chains, luckily for,  shipment costs are coming down. but Cindy, what are you seeing when it comes to like what sellers are doing to kind of understand how the supply chain impacts their bottom line?

Cindy: (09:15)
The stockout issue is, is something that everybody’s trying to avoid. And so, really paying attention to what those lead times are looking at where you’re sourcing. We’ve got some clients that are looking to source more locally, because I mean, it takes a while to get all of that in place and to get everything worked out, but ultimately it’s, it’s, it’s driven some changes in their business that are gonna be positive long term to have somewhat local to, to the client, producers, manufacturing things. And so of course that that changes everything from, the cost, of the product. You know, the assumption was that it was gonna cost more to have it made in the US and it turns out it didn’t. it’s also, the cost of shipping is not as expensive for them. And the thing that really is, a positive benefit is they have a tighter relationship with this supplier.

Cindy: (10:13)
Their minimum order quantity went down so they can order more frequently a smaller amount and not have as much money tied up in inventory. And of course, it’s not traveling 60 days by boat to get here. So there’s a lot of benefits for, the clients that are able to find that type of, change in their supplier. if, if you’re gonna stay with the supplier that you have, you just have to recognize that these issues exist and, and give yourself as much runway as possible. If you’re cutting down on the skews that you’re, gonna be ordering, then use that money to go towards, buying more of something that’s, that’s, possibly taking longer to get here, so that you have a little bit more of that inventory starting to build up. And, you’re, if by ordering more, you’re able to have, not have to order as frequently.

Cindy: (11:08)
the one thing that I have seen a couple of times in the national press is that, to help offset inflation, you should borrow money to, to boost your business. And I’m like, who in their right mind is putting this stuff out there? And that’s really concerning for me. I think, I think there’s a lot to be done internal to your business before you get, go out there and take loans. Business that are experiencing, a margin reduction, if you add on top of that paying out interest, it really compounds your problem. So going out and borrowing money now is not the time I, I don’t think it’s the time to do it. Now, you may be stuck and you may have to do something like that. but, but don’t do that and, and put them and think that that’s the answer to your problem. It may get you over a hump, but you need to have some other issues that you’re paying attention to so that, that’s not a crutch that you’re gonna be dependent on because interest rates are just, compared to what we’ve had recently are just so much higher now.

Robyn: (12:18)
And doing things like, you know, looking at your supply chain can make a bigger difference than borrowing money. And when you borrow money, sometimes you just add to the total cost to your products, in the total cost of your, your, your operation. And so it can put you further in the hole. you know, just to kind of backtrack on the supply chain thing too. If you’re, if you can have something made in the US or Mexico that shortens your lead time, which makes it so that you can free up a lot of cash, but then if you can get it made in the us then you also have the ability, you know, you have to check, there’s specific spec specific requirements to say something is made in the USA but having that made in the USA can increase conversions. And so sometimes if the costs are equal or very close to the same, the ability to restock faster plus that be ability to be able to stay is made in the us especially if not a lot of your products are, that can be a benefit.

Robyn: (13:06)
Now, of course, there’s some products that are just not feasible to make in the us. We just don’t have the, the factories that can make it at a reasonable price. But, you know, it is something to look at overall. and then, you know, I think one of the other areas that you and I talked about that’s really important for them is, looking at price competitiveness. what, what are you seeing, because, you know, there’s things that we’ve definitely been advising our clients on in this area too. but I’m curious to see what, what you’ve been experiencing on, on, on managing the books of a lot of different sellers.

Cindy: (13:39)
Well, pricing is always, you know, it’s a lot of art. but there’s some science to it too. I, I think one thing that I, I encourage people to think about is they don’t need to, to determine that they have to be the cheapest on every item that they can think strategically about pricing. And with everything going up for your inputs into your business, you have to pay a lot of attention to then what your pricing is going to be. So really understanding your margin so you can figure out where you’re willing to give up some sales because you’re gonna increase your prices, and then where you might make that up because you’re going to, keep your prices the same or go down. So pricing is something you need to really think about strategically, and, and really also understand not just the gross margin, but the margin after you’ve paying for your advertising and for your promotion.

Cindy: (14:40)
I have seen a, a repeat, a repeated,  emphasis lately on people wanting to put more money into advertising to achieve that, year over year growth percentage. you know, that’s, it’s what you put in your pocket at the end of the day, and if all of it’s being spent to move your products into advertise, then then you’re really short, short circuiting what it takes to operate your business and for the profitability. So get really clear and understand, what your promotions cost you, what you know, whether there’s some kind of discount programs or advertising. Just get really clear that and understand what that costs you in terms of margin on each product. And do you, do you need to be as complex with those programs going forward? As I said earlier, focusing on and narrowing down into the things that are really your bread and butter, This is the time to do that.

Cindy: (15:45)
The same is true with the promotions. it takes a lot of effort to and for in your team to be managing a lot of different types of promotions and advertising campaigns, et cetera. And then if you’ve got products that are not actually coming in and you’re stocking out, but you’re promoting, you know, you’re, you’re putting money into something that’s not ultimately gonna yield you any reward. So at the same time as you’re focusing on the products that you’re gonna sell, also think about simplifying your promotions. you know, the moving parts do add up in terms of labor cost and, and customer confusion. So getting simple and getting that dialed in before you expand and get more complicated is a good strategy right now.

Robyn: (16:36)
Well, and you know, one of the other things that, you know, I think you said a lot of really important things there. And when you’re, you talked about like not necessarily focusing on being the cheapest and not just driving ads. you know, one thing that we talk about with clients that have, you know, that are more on the private label side, Well, we have a lot of more like traditional brands in our portfolio, but with the private label brands, anything that you can do to make yourself an actual brand instead of just a product can help you be able to have more price elasticity and be able to have it so you’re not competing directly on price. If you look on Amazon, there are products that are selling for 75 to a hundred percent more then they’re competitors and still being the dominant product.

Robyn: (17:15)
and that’s because they demonstrate kind of this level of, you know, people feel like it’s safer, people feel like it’s more established, all of those things, or people feel like it’s a better luxury item because it’s priced at an appropriate price for what they were thinking. So it isn’t always about being the lowest. And you know what you’re, if you’re working with an agency or a freelancer that’s running your ads, just like Cindy said, they should be asking you what your inventory levels are, if you’re expecting any stockouts, because they should be pulling back on those advertisements. we don’t wanna be doing a ranking campaign, for your products if you’re gonna stockout or if there’s a potential that, you know, if this campaign goes well, we’re gonna stock out. It would be better for us to keep like a low level campaign to, you know, manage the stock levels, and maybe like pull back on some of the coupons or pull back on some of the ads in order to make sure that there isn’t a stockout.

Robyn: (18:05)
and we’re not giving away any additional margin. you know, I think that all of those things, and like you said, it does take a lot more manpower to run those promotions. And let’s be honest, most of us, were not doing the complicated math that it takes to figure out, okay, I sold 52 units at a coupon of seven 50 and I hold 72 units at a coupon of $10. Are you really going back and seeing how much that impacted your margin? and so it’s easy to kind of let things go sideways be, and you don’t realize it’s a problem until you run out of cash in the account. but by then you’re, you have a lot fewer options.

Cindy: (18:44)
And I know, you know, all of this seems really, there’s so many things that, entrepreneurs are focusing on and, you know, doing this kind of math and digging down into these details to understand, you know, which products are profitable, that can feel really overwhelming. And the same, same for, advertising, what advertising is really performing for what products. And so I think one strategy is to really concentrate on the top 20% of your sales, you know, to figure out where of my revenue, what’s the top 20% coming in, what am I selling? And really dig into that to determine how profitable that is. And then the other place to look is the bottom 20%, because most likely that bottom 20% you can just quit, quit worrying with, you know, and, but do the math to be sure and look at what’s going on with that bottom 20%.

Cindy: (19:42)
And if you can cut out having to replace that bottom 20% because it’s not giving you, enough margin to tie your cash up with, or you’re not selling at enough volume that it’s, it’s gonna move through quickly, then just that’s money. You don’t have to spend that you can reprogram into something that’s gonna flip and turn over more quickly and yield a better result. So don’t feel, don’t feel paralyzed because there’s so much to do. Just take a little bite of, the top 20% and then when you figure that out, do the bottom 20% and then, and then watch that and really see what happens over the next month or two. And then, then you might wanna take another 20% bite out of it, but you don’t have to do it all. And the strategies that we’re talking about today, for the most part or short term, you know, inflation is hitting now. And while it would be nice to have a long runway to, to build up our brand and that kind of thing, most of us, if we’re not there today, the impact of inflation is gonna be felt today and tomorrow. So, those are good long term strategies, but for the short term, you’ve gotta be looking at what you can do right now to, to help alleviate some of the stress that you’ve got on your margins.

Robyn: (21:03)
You know, like, let, let’s just, there’s somebody listening who’ll be like, Well, that would be great, but I have a licensing deal and I’ve got four containers I’ve gotta do, I don’t, I don’t even know where to start on this. Like, and they’re feeling like they know that they should be doing this, but they’re not quite sure how to do the numbers. Maybe they’re more of like a marketing and creative person. And so this is just really overwhelming. What would you recommend that they do if they, they’ve gone, you know, they sat down in front of their spreadsheet and then they find themselves on Facebook or doing something else to avoid doing this. what are, you know, what are some, what are some of the resources that they should be looking at to see about how to break out this, this information?

Cindy: (21:45)
Well, I mean, hi, hire somebody to help you. I mean, if, even if it’s,  a college kid that’s out of school for the summer, this is not, this is not rocket science type stuff. And in my book, and we can put this in the show notes too. we have a product profitability spreadsheet that the ma the, the system is already set up there. You just have to go plug your numbers in. So we can make that available to people if, if they’re not sure where to start and they’re looking at a blank Excel sheet and go, I don’t know, , then this is, this asks you the questions, I’ll step by step. So, so that would be a place, and if you’re not feeling really proficient with, Excel, a lot of the, the, the programming part is already done.

Cindy: (22:34)
But if numbers in general scare you, then, then go talk to somebody in your community college and say, Hey, did you have a, a kid that was really good in your, in your economics program or in your business admin program? I’d like to hire them to do a project for me or look on, you know, five up work. Those kinds of, resources are out there where you can find somebody that can actually,  come in and do the number crunching for you. You know, I have to say books keep does that for our clients, so I’m not gonna let that pass by either. No,

Robyn: (23:09)
You should save cuz people might not know. Yeah, ,

Cindy: (23:11)
Yeah, Yeah. That is something that we do for our clients is we really help them get a handle on, on product profitability and also planning their cash flow so that it comes through, so, so that they can really feel more proactive about what cash is coming and what timeframe, et cetera.

Robyn: (23:28)
You know, and at the risk of it, this sounding like a shameless plug of your, your firm. That’s one of the things that I like about having my books done by you is that when I start, like, because every business owner has moments where you’re like, oh, no, things aren’t wearing them to be, you know, I have somebody that can help me run the numbers to identify what actions need to be taken. Or sometimes it’s just, you know, I’m just overly anxious that month, and maybe like the numbers do look good. And so it kind of helps me, significantly in the way that we manage our business being able to have a partner. So if it’s not books, keep finding somebody else, that can help you with that. And then know another resource is the score chapters your local score chapter. they, a score is, basically where people who have a lot of experience, maybe a former CFO or former controller, might be available as a mentor for you that can help you kind of go through these numbers. They, I, I don’t know if they would run through the numbers with you, you’d have to talk to the individual chapter and the individual mentor. but they, at least they probably the, the chapter would have resources for you as well.

Cindy: (24:30)
Yeah. And they, they can, they can be more of a hand holding, partner with you as you’re going through and, and data analysis. Once you’ve got your numbers, what do they tell you? And, what kind of options do you have for taking next steps based on what the data presents?

Robyn: (24:46)
And all of that makes a big difference. and so, you know, and I think we, we talk a lot about cost of goods and I think that that is a much more mathematically challenging. but you know, I also have seen, you know, cause we used to audit a lot of books of sellers is sometimes the Op X is really, it’s not the cost of goods, it’s really the Op X that’s killing the business. So it’s, you know, too much payroll or, you know, 400 subscriptions they’re not using, all of those things. Like, can you talk a little bit about some things if people are feeling that pinch that they can do, kind of when we, you know, we talked in previous episodes about gross margin being above the line. What are some things below the line that they can be doing?

Cindy: (25:26)
Well, OPEX is the place where businesses just bleed money out and, and very often don’t see a return on their investment. So it is a place to, to pay close attention to. you, you know, we talked about, maybe offering a lot of promotions that that can, or having a home, lot of variations in your skews that that can add complexity to your, to your business. And what that does is that drives up payroll cost. So if there are ways that you can reduce your, complexity, then things can, are more manageable for your team and maybe you need less team members to keep up with things. So payroll cost is a huge one to pay attention to. you mentioned subscriptions. every client, when we first get them and start going through a, a subscription, type of review, we find many subscriptions that can be canceled.

Cindy: (26:26)
it’s something that, that you used once it looked great, but then ultimately there was some other tool that you really relied on. And so, but that, monthly cost just kept being added in. So, going through and, and just looking at your dues and subscriptions and determining, all right, am I really gonna use this? And if I am, maybe once next year at Christmas, then just cut it and then pay for it next Christmas when you need it. there’s, going through and just pulling out, if you’re using QuickBooks, it’s a, a pretty simple report to go in and look at your detailed p and l and tell it, you want to organize it by, name of, vendor. So then all of your expenses, say for your insurance show up together, all of the expenses for your, payroll show up together so you, you can see them all clumped together and get a really good handle on, are these things that I really need?

Cindy: (27:30)
and if, if not, cut them, if there’s something you only need sporadically or, or maybe you’re not using it to the full extent of what you would, have imagined, maybe there’s a lower level option that you can cut or, or reduce, so that you’re not paying for the full service. You, you’re paying for a lesser level of the service. So the first thing is to go through what can you just, you know, mark out cut it, and then go through and actually do that. I mean, it’s not enough just to mark it on your printout from QuickBooks. You have to actually call and, and disconnect or go into the application and terminate. But then what can you do to reduce, is there some, level of service that, you’ve been paying for where you could cut that back a little bit and by reducing it, cut your cost. So those are the exercises. I will say when we first start working with clients and we do that exercise on average, we’re able to cut down, $1,800 a month out of people’s, monthly expenses. So, that’s a pretty good payday, you know, 1800 a month,

Robyn: (28:32)
That’s a lot of money. And, you know, we actually do it like once a quarter. So, if your books are kept up and they’re well up to date, then it’s pretty easy to go, you know, go through the categories and see them if your books are a mess, and like, look, I’ve been there before I found Cindy, there’s a couple of other resources I wanna share with you. One is, Ask Trim or True Bill, both of those services, you kind of connect your bank account and it will identify the reoccurring, expenses and you can start trimming from there. The other option that you can, the other thing that you wanna look at is sometimes people will say like, Oh, I, I got in when this software was $99, but now it’s $150. So if I cancel it, I’ll have to go back at the 150.

Robyn: (29:15)
I want you to take an honest look of when was the last time you used it and then look at, okay, so if I didn’t, you know, it’s, it’s predictable that I won’t, you know, we’re heading into the busy season. So if I haven’t, if I haven’t made the any done anything on this yet, the likelihood of me getting to it before Q4 is pretty small. I probably won’t need it till January and do the math. If I save this 500, the 6, 6, 600, $600 between here and there, then that gives me a whole year that I would, you know, I could use the service for a year after that and still be spending less overall. And it would’ve given you more money when you really needed it during Q4 to kind of advertise and get a better lift for your program or for your products.

Robyn: (29:56)
So, you know, think about, think about that as well. and, and if you take the time to do the math, sometimes, especially for like a $20 increase for a hundred dollars a month subscription, it’s really better to cancel and restart even if it’s at the higher fee. so think about that, in, in the way that you’re looking. but I think one of the other things we talked about payroll is, try, you know, trying to make sure that your employees stay is one of the things that you said was, you know, that you see, and I, you know, I’ve seen the same thing. We actually try to work very hard to make sure that our employees feel happy. And that’s because, you know, as you’ve told me and we’ve talked about many times, training employees is very expensive.

Cindy: (30:36)
Yeah. Training and, and even hiring the pro, the time spent in, in identifying, recruiting, hiring is an expensive proposition. So, understanding what it is that you can do to, to keep your employees, involved and engaged in the business and feeling like they’re, they’re contributing, not, not, it’s not just a job, but they feel like they’re actually contributing. That’s a, that’s a huge thing. People wanna feel connected to some kind of purpose. And so, you may think of this as, well, my hobby that’s now turned into a side hustle that’s now, you know, starting to be a business. But as you’re employing and bringing in people into your business, you need to also realize that, part of our jobs as entrepreneurs is to, to give other people jobs. And so, and to, to, to make sure that they are feeling productive and engaged and, you know, just a little attention to what it is you’re trying to accomplish and how you can, involve your employees in that same mission goes a long way because it helps them connect to something bigger than just the actual production work that they may be doing at the moment.

Robyn: (31:52)
One of the masterminds that I’m in, right now, we were talking specifically about employee retention and you know, one of the things that came up was, you know, I don’t have, you know, this other business owner said, I don’t have, I don’t have 16 layers in my organization so people don’t feel like they can move up. If you’re a small organization, you can still make people feel like there’s a lot of places for them to grow simply by asking them, what are your goals? How much money do you wanna be making? What do you wanna be doing? How many hours, you know, if we were to kind of promote you within this company, which direction so that they feel that they have a vested place and they’re helping you build something that will also help build themselves. and then sometimes if you see a, a, a, an employee that’s disconnected, it can be as simple as making sure that they feel like maybe they feel like they’re not being heard or maybe they feel like, like they’re not valued.

Robyn: (32:40)
and so that’s important and, you know, if you feel like maybe somebody might be, you know, might be on their way out or you just wanna provide more redundancy so that if somebody was to get sick with Covid or somebody wanted to take a long vacation, that you’d be okay now when things are a little bit slower before, you know, pick things, pick up for your internal teams is a good time to start cross-training people so that if you lose somebody, maybe you can take that employee’s savings and, and put it towards cost of goods, and then hire after the busy season. So, of course not, that won’t always work. Sometimes if it’s a warehouse help, you need the warehouse help, you know, So, it kind of depends on the, the, the team member, but having cross training could also just buy you a couple weeks so that you can make sure that that shipment gets, that the, that your reorder gets placed on time or that your ads are running correctly so that it gives you a little more flexibility for when you hire as well,

Cindy: (33:35)
Right? And, and employees aren’t just sitting lining up out the doors, wait, you know, trying to come in for positions now. So it’s not as simple as just hiring immediately. But I will tell you that if you can, can identify the things that help your team members feel engaged in their work, the biggest source of referrals are happy employees who refer their friends, you know, And, and that’s how you get more employees, like those good ones that you have. And, that’s, that’s a great strategy. So investing in your team, really pays off in terms of when you grow or if someone leaves, you’ve got, other team members that are willing to say, Hey, this is a great place to work and here’s some friends that that I think you should talk to.

Robyn: (34:22)
And all those, you know, we’ve actually gotten some, some of our best team members have come from referrals. So, you know, it came from somebody recruiting. They’re saying what, having loved working here so much, they wanted their sister to come work here, or they, you know, they found their old supervisor and they had brought their supervisor from their last team who had a lot of experience with Amazon to our team. So, you know, it can make a big difference in your overall bottom line to do that too, cuz if you can, especially in our industry, there’s not a lot of people that have experience. So if you can bring somebody in that already has experience, you’re gonna save a ton of money and training. So, you know, something to think about there as well. I know we’re, we try to keep things a little bit on the shorter side and we’re getting close to that time period. There’s a lots to talk about in this topic. but is there anything other final notes you kind of wanted to share before we got signed off for today?

Cindy: (35:15)
Well, just don’t be immobilized. I mean, you’re sitting around thinking, well, this too shall pass. yes, something will change about our inflation. I don’t know whether it’s gonna get worse or whether it’s gonna get better. but you, you don’t want to wait to determine that you want to be in charge of your business and actually out there, understanding what cost drivers are in your business and what you can do to control ’em. So if, if you’ve felt like, well, things have been great so far, I’ll just weather this storm. It could be a long storm, so I suggest, you know, get off your, don’t quit sitting on your hands. Get, get started and really understand those things that you do have control over and, and we’ve given some, real actionable things that people can do. and my suggest is start and do something. Don’t, don’t just sit and think this is, this too shall pass.

Robyn: (36:08)
Well, I think that’s wonderful advice and there’s a lot that you can do today. So without, we’re gonna sign off and send you to our five minute fix.

Cindy: (36:15)
This is Cindy Thomason with your five minute fix. I’m recording this towards the end of June and 2022, and for the first time in a very long time, the IRS is issuing some new, regulations about mileage recording rates, and they’re changing a midyear. So you need to be, thinking about, what your odometer says around the end of, June, because the mileage rate is going to go up the 1st of July. So what you, what you’re gonna have to report to your tax account and at the end of the year is what your mileage is for the first half of the, the year, because that’s gonna apply at one rate and then what your mileage is for the second half of the year from July 1st to, the end of December. So because of inflation and the high price of gas, the IRS has taken this unusual step to make this change in the middle of the year. So, be sure that you’re prepared to get the most reimbursement that you can by having good mileage data and recording that mileage.  odometer reading at the, end of June 30 will set you up to be able to, to get the most in, your reimbursement dollars or, or your what you can claim on your taxes.

Narrator: (37:34)
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