Boston Brick & Stone - January 2019

THE MASONRY MONTHLY

2005 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103 | 626-296-7700 | www.bostonbrick.com | January 2019

3 Business Initiatives To Propel You Toward Your Best Year Ever

It’s the time of year when business owners and their leadership teams sit down to draft up their plans and goals for the coming year. Some businesses use this exercise as a chance to nail down their trajectory, while others engage in the process simply because they feel they have to. If you fall in the latter camp, you could stand to devote a little more time and energy to determine how the coming year will look. After all, it’s hard to guide your teams forward when you don’t have a destination in mind. As a business owner, it’s up to you to set the tone for how the next 12 months will look for your organization. While every company’s goals will be unique, there are a few universal aims that will affect nearly every business in 2019. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three New Year’s resolutions that you should consider adopting. Resolve to Retain Employees According to benefits-consulting company Hodges-Mace, millennial employee turnover costs the American economy upward of $30 billion per year. The number is so big because recruiting, hiring, and training new team members is an expensive and time-intensive process. Holding onto your talent matters regardless of the economic climate, but it’s especially crucial when the job market is strong. When good people walk out your doors during a talent shortage, you’ll struggle to replace them with candidates of equal caliber. Don’t assume that your staff ’s eyes will never wander. According to Fortune magazine, 86 percent of currently employed workers are actively looking for better opportunities. To help keep valued staff in place, you need to provide them with competitive pay, appealing benefits, and a sense of career and personal development. Focus on creating programs that reward tenure and make employees feel acknowledged and appreciated. Otherwise, you can expect to spend large chunks of the year rehiring for roles that have been left vacant. Resolve to Differentiate Yourself In today’s marketplace, it’s almost impossible for your company to offer something your customers can’t get anywhere else. Every product in the world is just a few clicks away, so articulating what makes your company different is a matter of defining your values. If you haven’t already formulated a unique selling proposition (USP), the time to start is now.

A USP provides customers with a brief, compelling snapshot of what makes your business different than your competitors. “Think of a USP as your secret sauce — the special ingredient your business uses to prevent becoming a ‘me too’ company,” says Brad Sugars, founder of ActionCoach. “It's something that's truly unique. It grabs people's attention. It can't be easily copied. And it offers a clear- cut, marketable benefit to your customer.” Understanding and communicating your USP will increase your chances of attracting new customers this year. Resolve to Look for Weaknesses This one is especially important for businesses that are doing well. If you’re struggling, you already know to look for problem areas and attack them before they cause too much damage. But if you can analyze those weaknesses while you’re growing, you could stop a downturn before it starts. Too many business owners use growth as validation that they’re doing everything correctly. The truth is that no business — not Amazon, not Google, nobody — is firing on all cylinders all of the time. Taking the time to assess where you’re weak when you’re feeling strong is what separates the companies that rise and fall with the market from those that excel no matter the economic climate. Here’s a word of caution: When looking for weaknesses, don’t let them overwhelm you or turn you into a pessimist. If your company is doing well, you can fix inefficiencies without making them life-or-death issues. That’s the advantage of proactively solving these problems rather than waiting for them to metastasize. And These Are Just the Start There are countless resolutions that will help spur your business to greater heights in 2019. While these are excellent starting points, they’re by no means a black-and-white guide to the best resolutions. You know better than anyone else what will help your business this year, but you have to take the time to think about it and express it throughout your company if you want maximum results.

-Dave Laverdiere

www.bostonbrick.com |

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Satisfied With Last Year’s Performance? Are You Sure You Should Be?

Calculate Customer Churn — And Learn How to Reduce It in 2019

You’re looking over last year’s numbers, feeling pretty satisfied about the results for 2018. Production increased and you have a lot to feel proud of overall. But what about those customers or subscribers who said goodbye to you in 2018? If you haven’t yet calculated your end-of-year churn, you should feel a little less comfortable. Looking at that churn rate is key to your business’s success. Most business owners say that if they could change one thing about their business, it would be their customer churn rate. Retention is key to success because it almost always costs less to retain a client than it does to attract a new one. Increasing client retention and reducing churn in the coming year can only happen if you know what your churn rate was last year.

measurement that makes the most sense for your business.

Why is this number so important? Think about it this way: Beyond representing how many customers flew the coop in 2018, churn represents an exponential loss of profit. Each year those lost clients don’t do business with you, you lose a year’s worth of potential revenue. By tracking customer churn throughout the year — ideally quarterly — in addition to end-of-year churn, you’ll begin to notice trends that you can address. Does the highest churn always happen in the third quarter? Did you sell more subscriptions in 2018 but lose more longtime customers in the course of chasing those leads? Noticing how these threads lead back to your losses is the first step in decreasing your churn rate. Of course, it’s impossible to calculate your customer churn if you haven’t been tracking and measuring it throughout the year. If you haven’t, you now have the opportunity to do so for the coming year. Add monitoring these numbers to your resolutions for 2019.

Calculating Churn

It’s not rocket science! One of the most straightforward ways to express yearly churn is to calculate it as a percentage of customers lost: Divide the number of customers you started with in 2018 by the number of customers you lost in 2018. Churn can also be measured by the value of recurring business lost or as a percentage of recurring value lost. Choose the

Rock-Solid Review

CHIMNEY

•Inspection •Restoration and repair •Construction •Sweeping

FIREPLACE

•Inspection, restoration, or repair of an existing structure •Installation or reconstruction of new structures

“Mark Peters went the whole nine yards and then some in completing

HARDSCAPE

•Backyard patios •Outdoor kitchens and barbecues •Outdoor steps, walkways, and paths •Retaining walls •Outdoor fireplaces •Driveways

the waterproofing of two existing brick planters and removing 160 square feet of used bricks in the backyard to comply with instructions from my arborist. He taped out an area of herringbone bricks to be removed and be completely aesthetic and feng shui with the design of the yard. The folks doing the work were competent and very nice.” – M. N.

HISTORICAL RESTORATION Our previous restoration work includes the following:

•Restoration of the main lobby chimney system of the El Tovar Hotel on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim •Repair and restoration of chimneys in 56 original historic cabins on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim •Historical chimney restoration for the lodge in Bryce Canyon National Park •Faithful restoration of the chimneys on the Nottingham and Arden properties in Beverly Hills

BRICK RESTORATION AND CONSTRUCTION DRIVEWAY CONSTRUCTION

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3 of the World’s Greatest Winter Sport Destinations Who’s Ready for Some Powder?

The sound of the first carve through fresh powder is the anthem of all winter sports enthusiasts. Here are three of the world’s best places to experience that powder you’ve been craving all year.

of British Columbia, you’ll understand why they hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics. The location’s beauty is only part of your stimulating experience, because every curve of fresh powder makes your pupils dilate. Once you’re done flying down the hill where Bode Miller took the bronze, head over to the winter wonderland of the old Olympic Village for a cozy night in a picturesque town.

Breckenridge, Colorado

John Denver’s anthem “Rocky Mountain High” is about the freedom he felt here. Where there are great mountains, there’s even better snow. The ski resort boasts five peaks, 187 trails, 34 lifts, four terrain parks, and a renowned cross-country trail. After a day on the slopes, head into the town of Breckenridge for dining and activities that ditch the glitz and glamour of Vail or Aspen and take you straight to the heart of fun.

St. Anton, Austria

If you want a great location for next year’s Christmas card photo, there’s no better place than the Tyrolean Alps. Nestled in a valley between perfectly molded mountains, the Austrian landscape provides a beautiful backdrop for your winter excursions. The densely wooded areas and the bright reflection of the snow frame the vibrant town that’s just waiting to be explored. When you’re ready for world-class runs, hop in one of the 11 gondolas and zip down the hills that hosted the 2001 Alpine World Ski Championships.

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

A destination that looks like a cross between a Nordic paradise and Olympic-level runs, Whistler is filled with true magic, winter activities, and a town that captivates the senses. When you see the mountains

MEME CORNER

Peanut Butter and Berry French Toast

Ingredients

• 8 slices brioche, 1/2-inch thick • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter • 2 large eggs • 1/8 cup heavy cream • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

• 2 cups cornflakes • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter • 2 cups mixed berries • Powdered sugar, to sprinkle • Maple syrup, for serving

Directions

1. On a large baking sheet lined with wax paper, place 4 slices of brioche and spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on each. Cover with remaining slices, creating sandwiches. 2. In a pie plate, beat eggs with cream and vanilla. In another, coarsely crush the cornflakes. 3. Lightly soak sandwiches in the egg mixture, then dredge in cornflakes, pressing to adhere. Return to baking sheet. 4. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Once melted and up to temperature, add sandwiches, cooking on one side until golden and crisp, about 2–3 minutes. 5. Return sandwiches to baking sheet, add remaining butter, and repeat on other side. 6. Top sandwiches with berries, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve with maple syrup.

Inspired by Delish

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2005 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103 | 626-296-7700 | www.bostonbrick.com

page 1 INSIDE

3 Resolutions Every Business Should Make in 2019

page 2

Why Acknowledging Customer Churn Is Key to Success in 2019

page 2

Rock-Solid Review

page 3

The Best Skiing Destinations in the World

page 3

Peanut Butter and Berry French Toast

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Why Start the New Year in Winter?

Why January?

The Origin of New Year’s Day

The month of January kicks off by welcoming the new year — there are countdowns, fireworks, and of course, the ball drop in a freezing-cold Times Square. But why? Why do we start our calendars when much of the U.S. is in the dead of winter? Why January? The short answer is Julius Caesar and Roman politics. The calendar had long been a political tool in Rome. Depending on who was in power, Roman pontifices would add or subtract entire weeks from the year, manually adjusting the term limits of elected officials. As you could imagine, this caused a lot of chaos, because months frequently slipped out of time with the changing seasons. After becoming emperor, Julius Caesar brought about some much-needed reforms. Inspired by the Egyptian solar calendar, Caesar fixed the Roman year at 365 days and instituted the leap year to keep months aligned with the solstices. He moved the new year from the spring to the day that elected officials traditionally began their year-long terms, Jan. 1.

beginnings? Under Caesar and subsequent rulers, the Roman Empire expanded its reach, carrying its calendar with it. While much of Europe adopted Caesar’s calendar, New Year’s Day remained a hot-button issue for centuries. Thanks in part to the spread of Christianity and to the colder conditions in Northern Europe, there was a lot of resistance to the January start date. Religious leaders saw it as a pagan holiday, and much of Europe chose to restart the calendar on March 25, during the Feast of Annunciation. Much of Catholic Europe officially recognized Jan. 1 as the start of the new year after Pope Gregory reformed the solar calendar again, correcting certain mathematical errors made in Caesar’s day. There were still holdouts, however. In fact, England and its American colonies continued to celebrate New Year’s Day in March until 1752. So there you have it — we were very close to having our fireworks celebrations in lovely spring weather. Ultimately, the ubiquity of the Gregorian calendar won out, as the demands of our increasingly interconnected world made a shared calendar a necessity. So if you struggle to start your New Year's resolutions this winter, blame Julius Caesar.

This choice carried spiritual significance, since January was named for Janus, god of doors and gates. What better month to celebrate new

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