Master Bath Renovation

When we moved into our house in fall of 2015, we knew the bathrooms were quite “dated.” We did not know the vanity in the master bathroom had extensive water damage, mold (!!!) and the new floor the previous owner installed was done so poorly it buckled shortly after we moved in.

What started as a plan to just replace the rusted drawer slides soon turned into an entire project.

That’s rust on the back wall and both drawers didn’t slide because the particle board had swelled and molded. I thought we might just be able to buy new drawer boxes in the right size but now where in town sold them and the priced online were much more than we wanted to pay since we would someday completely replace the vanity. After a brief try with an IKEA drawer that seemed like it should have fit (it did not) we just bought some wood boards from the local lumber yard and using the Miter Saw I got for Christmas made our own.

Making the drawer boxes ended up being slightly more challenging than we thought it would be. We measured several times, cut once and built the boxes. We added the plywood to the bottom and added the new drawer slides. One drawer fit perfectly, the other one just didn’t. After a few trials and errors and stripped screws, we took the whole thing apart and made some additional adjustments. Only then did it work!

 

At the same time, we were building the drawer boxes, I tested a stain we’ve used several times before with good luck on the drawer fronts.

I knew we would need to stain the vertical surfaces as well and tried the spray version of the Minwax Polyshade.

It worked but the overspray was going to be too much to use in the bathroom and I needed to find an alternative for the vertical surfaces. That’s when I tested the Minwax Gel.

I didn’t exactly follow the directions. Instead of staining it, letting it sit and wiping it off, I let the gel cure onto the wood instead of wiping it off. The wood grain does still show which is also what I wanted!

The next step was to stain the jetted tub apron. Since the floor was already bubbled and coming up, I took up the parts around where I would be staining. We knew the original linoleum was underneath, but we did not know the previous owner didn’t even clean the floor before putting the floating floor down. It was so gross and covered in sequins. I tried to ignore that part.

Even with keeping the gel stain on and letting it cure, we still had to use two coats.

The next step was to paint the trim and the window trim white. For this we used the Sherwin Williams snap dry white semi-gloss because it dries in an hour (or less). Of note, you might think the blue tape is as good as FrogTape but it is not. Spend a little more on the FrogTape, it is worth it, I promise.  There are a few techniques that are really important for painting a window you don’t want to paint shut (as the previous owner did to every other window in our house). First, cover the lock with FrogTape very carefully. Second, paint a little at a time. Third, after you add a coat, let it dry enough to open and slide the window. Repeat many times opening and closing as you paint. Then once you’ve added the last coat, open and close the window several more times. You may also want to get an alcohol-soaked cotton swab and clean the tracks.

With the new light fixture, drawer pulls and faucets installed the bathroom looks amazing. A far cry from the mistreated builder oak we moved into.

While we could have easily completed this project in a weekend, it ultimately took us about 15 days from start to finish. I can’t wait to get the mirror frame up, the floor done and the new shower glass installed.

Here are the side by side comparisons.

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Keep Business Quality High

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

When you think about your business, what’s the most important thing to you? Do you tend to think about the look, the turnover, or how much you enjoy it? If you answered yes to any of those areas, then you’re no the only one. However, it is important for you to focus on quality as well. No matter what your business does or who you’re targeting, it’s vital that you’re doing things to the best possible standard. Even if you’re focusing on a relatively low price point and fast moving consumer goods, quality is key. Quality ensures that you get the attention of customers and keeps them coming back. There are five things you can check today to make sure you’re not skimping on quality! 

  1. Do Everything To The Best Of Your Abilities
    If you want to have a quality business, you need to put quality in. If you’re only putting in a little bit of effort, then it will show. Before you can ask any other employee to perform at their top level, you must be doing the same thing yourself.  Nothing beats hard work.

  2. Don’t Cut Corners
    One thing that you should avoid doing is cutting corners. There is no short route to success. There is no short route to quality. It takes as long as it takes, and the quality needs to be good if you want it to stay that way. Never cut corners in the areas that startupgrind.com talks about, such as accounting, legal and human resources.

  3. Cut Costs Carefully
    When it comes to finding quality, you won’t always have to spend a lot of money to get this. It is okay to still be frugal. But you will want to ensure that if you are cutting costs, that you do it in a way that won’t affect the quality of your output.
  4. Invest In Quality
    Of course, if you want a quality business, you should also ensure that you invest in quality too. Make sure that you go to manufacturers, like prototekmanufacturing.com, training providers, marketers, and other services that are going to provide quality. Again, their input will affect the quality of your product or service, so make sure that you invest.

  5. Test, Test, Test
    And don’t forget to test. If you’re not sure if something is as good as you want it to be, get it out into the market to test. From working with market research companies to actually asking your audience, you’ll get the information you need. It’s also a good way to make sure that you’re not getting too precious about the product or service either. Because you can often focus too much on making something perfect. So testing can confirm that it’s great as it is or let you know that you need to up the quality a little.

 

Benefits of Trade Show Participation

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

In a world where most businesses are spending good portions of the marketing budget on online marketing and working with online influencers, trade shows still remain popular. All over the world, there are crowded trade shows filled with both new startups and experienced companies selling themselves to the crowd and making important connections.  

To Get Noticed
There are millions of businesses out there. If you are new, or small, it can be hard to be seen and easy to get overlooked. Trade show displays give you a great chance to get noticed among a crowd. Use your display, and yourself, to stand out. 

A Chance to Chat
Exhibiting at a trade show gives you a chance to speak with people and present yourself face to face. You don’t get this with print advertisements or even social media promotions. Use your displays to get noticed and then spend time speaking with as many people as possible. Take the time to give people information about your company and why they need you. Make sure you engage with your audience one on one. Be receptive to their feedback as well! You never know when someone will give you a suggestion that changes your business for the better!

To See the Competition Up Close
Most businesses today have a lot of competition. You can go into their stores and look at their websites, but you never get a chance to see behind the scenes. Trade shows give you this opportunity. You’ll see their pitches and hear what they are saying to people. Take the time to visit other booths and get as much information as you can.

To See What Works
Speaking to people at trade shows also gives you a great way to get some essential feedback. Ask people what they think, ask what you could do for them and what they’d like to see from your company. You’ll also get a feel for what works. Watch how people react to your pitches and materials to find out what they like, what excites them and what leaves them cold.

To Develop Your Brand
Having a strong brand is more important than ever. Celebrities and even sports personalities use social media to create a brand. A trade show lets you get your brand out there into the real world. Give out branded business cards, freebies and bags to get your branding out there as much as possible.

To Reach a New, Targeted Audience
There are a lot of ways to reach a wide audience. But, this audience is often made up of many different demographics. Many of which won’t be interested in your company or what you’ve got to offer. You’re wasting your time trying to reach people you’ve got little chance of converting into customers and clients. Trade shows usually have a theme. Fashion shows, food shows, tech shows or just shows for small local businesses. The people attending know what they are looking for and what they want to see. It’s a great chance to spend your time reaching an audience that is already interested in what you’ve got to offer.

Create Liquidity For Your Business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

There’s nothing more soul crushing than hating your job. Most of us spend more waking hours at work than we do at home, and if it isn’t a good fit it can cause stress and anxiety. We spend more time with our work colleagues than with our friends, family and loved ones. So if the workplace is a hotbed of malicious gossip and endless shop talk, you might feel alienated and as though you’re unable to be yourself.  If you’re experiencing these feelings before you throw in the towel consider talking to your supervisor or Human Resources director. 

If you’ve already been considering working for yourself and have created businesses either as a side hustle, a home business or as a full-time career, then you might consider trying to make it full time. In order to stay afloat, entrepreneurs need to make sure that their businesses stay agile, coping with day to day issues as they arise while anticipating tomorrow’s challenges. And that can only come when you have strong liquidity.

What is liquidity and why does it matter to my business?
Liquidity is cash and cash is liquidity. Every business, even small businesses existing solely in the digital realm, have overheads. If these overhead costs are not met, your business cannot function and will become mired in a swamp of debt as you struggle to meet your obligations to your customers and your creditors. In order to keep your business moving forward, you need to maintain a healthy cash flow. But this is often easier said than done. Sometimes customers and clients don’t pay their bills on time but the lights need to stay on and employees need to be paid. Sometimes businesses have slow months. But if you’re taking steps to create liquidity for your business, you stand a much greater chance of staying one step ahead of the competition. Here are some ways in which you can create liquidity.

Grow your own capital
Lots of entrepreneurs invest their own capital in their business, and so long as you are mindful of your limitations, it can be an easy way to ensure easy cash flow. Just remember that your own capital is a finite resource. As such, it behooves you to take steps to grow your own capital. This could be done through savings or investment. Given the anemic rate of interest offered by most banks (usually around 0.06 percent), it’s usually a good idea to compare against credit unions and online savings accounts. These can provide a more favorable interest rate as they have fewer overheads than a traditional bank. But even a great savings account, while low risk, is unlikely to grow your capital meaningfully. You should also consider investing to stand the best chance of growing your capital. Seasoned investors know that a diverse portfolio consisting of stocks, forex and (if you are brave) cryptocurrencies may be the best way to grow. If you have limited free time, you might want to consider using algo trading platforms which do the work for you. If you have a healthy pot of your own capital to dip into in times of crisis, you stand a great chance of maintaining liquidity.

Throw a sale that’s too good to miss
Sure, profit margins are important, but it could be better to make lots of low margin sales than no sales, check your numbers. A sale is a great way to generate interest in your brand and attract a high volume of custom. Be sure to incorporate some customer retention strategies so that they’ll keep coming back, even when your stock reverts to its usual pricing.

Get a bridging loan
The financial services industry understands that all businesses experience issues with liquidity from time to time and have developed a range of products to help them with temporary cash flow problems that enable them to keep their heads above water. Bridging loans can be useful in keeping your business afloat while you await your next big payment. Be aware, however, that bridging loans often come at high rates of interest, so they’re only effective as a short-term solution.

Scourge your business of unproductive assets
Everything you spend your money on in business should be there to help you make money. Everything from your stock to your employees is there to help you facilitate profits. Thus, if you have assets that are unproductive (i.e. unprofitable) you need to jettison them before they continue to drain your liquidity.

Authentic Customer Engagement

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

As a business, engaging your customers should be an absolute priority for you. You need to ask yourself not how you can sell to people, but how you can solve their problems. Customers come to you because you have a solution to their problem. If you are treating them right and putting them first, engaging them correctly, you are going to have loyal and repeat customers instead of just clicks in your online traffic. One-off marketing campaigns have always been the best thing to do for many years, but since the dawning of the internet and the digital age, customers need more than a few pretty posters to keep them interested.

Social media has become one of the biggest tools for marketing and engaging with customers. It allows a business to contact the people who are buying from them and it allows for conversations to be held in a public way, showing other people that problems can be easily solved. Customers head to social media first when they have a suggestion or an issue, and while there are plenty of ways to contact your customers when they sign up to your services, such as what you can find here, social media is always the first point of contact for new customers. The goal should be driving your customers into a deeper client/customer relationship with you, and helping your customers is the first way that you can get there.

Engagement marketing starts with what you say rather than your products. Anyone can buy a product, but if you’re not starting a dialogue with your customers or building a relationship, then you’re not going to have repeat business. Customers engage with content first, because it’s useful. The content tells them about you and what you’ve got to offer and the value of what you do.

When you’re engaging with your customers, you create a conversation with them. You get a chance to roll up your sleeves and show them what you can do. It also gives them a chance to learn about what developments that you have on the table for later and it gives your customers the opportunity to feedback about that. Of course, you won’t be able to take the advice and feedback of every customer out there, but there can be some excellent ideas on the table that you can keep in mind for other products.

Customers can be inspired by your business goals and objectives and make them feel like cheerleaders when they support you. This is a part of the entire engagement experience and means that you can offer more to them. Once you have customer engagement, you need to keep the conversation going. You should try to stay responsive to their needs and offer more to stay relevant. Customer engagement can mean everything to your business.