Archive for June, 2009

Other ideas for motivating employees?

An earlier entry today talks about how Home Depot tries to motivate employees in the face of cutbacks.

CEO Frank Blake details some of the financial incentives in place for rank-and-file employees and supervisors.

I’m wondering what other ideas are out there — ones that other companies are using or ones they should be?

Continue reading Other ideas for motivating employees? »

What are you seeing in the market?

This is supposed to be a key time for home sales.

Many people get into the real-estate market over the summer, trying to get situated before school starts.

But the market still seems very soft.

Prices for existing homes continue to fall across the country, although the rate of decline in Atlanta is slower than the national average, according to a widely watched measure.

AJC reporter Michelle Shaw writes that the S&P Case-Shiller index, released today, showed the average price of metro Atlanta homes dropped 0.42 percent in April, compared with March. Year-over-year, the average price of a metro Atlanta home dropped by 15 percent.

But those numbers look backward. Are you in the market now? What are you seeing?

Continue reading What are you seeing in the market? »

Is a pension still in your future?

Some of metro Atlanta’s largest companies are freezing traditional pension plans for their employees.

Are you concerned about your pension?

AJC business writer Russell Grantham would like to interview you for a story he is writing on pensions. Please call him at 404-526-5396 or e-mail him at

You can also comment here.

Continue reading Is a pension still in your future? »

Motivating employees after cuts

It’s not easy to lay off workers and then keep the survivors motivated.

It’s also not easy to decide whether you freeze wages — allowing more employees to keep their jobs — or raise pay after making deeper cuts in the work force.

To try to get a handle on these gut-wrenching issues, which many managers are tackling today, I talked with the CEO of Georgia’s largest company.

How does Frank Blake decide what to do at Home Depot, which has 300,000 employees?

Blake, who became chairman and CEO after Bob Nardelli left two-and-a-half years ago, has had to refocus and reorganize the world’s largest home-improvement retailer. With a housing debacle biting into revenue, he’s also eliminated 10,000 jobs, while trying to improve customer service and employee morale.

“You can’t expect great customer service if you don’t take care of your associates (employees),” Blake, 59, said. “It’s all about how you treat people.”

Nardelli was not known for his soft …

Continue reading Motivating employees after cuts »

Power Breakfast: Garage collapse, venture capital, Atlanta shelter, union drive and burgers

We all need good news to start our days off right.

So when the collapse of a Midtown garage turns up no injuries so far, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight that story this morning.

In a related story, Atlanta-based Hardin Construction was back in the hot seat with the caving of the garage, just days after being fined for the December collapse of a bridge at the Atlanta Botanical Garden that killed one person and injured 18.

Also in the AJC:

In other media:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Garage collapse, venture capital, Atlanta shelter, union drive and burgers »

Justice served?

Bernard Madoff received a 150 year prison sentence today for his multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Last week, a judge issued a preliminary forfeiture order valued at $171 billion, stripping Madoff of his personal property, including real estate, investments, and $80 million in assets his wife claimed. The order left Ruth Madoff with $2.5 million, according to the Associated Press.

Was justice served?

Continue reading Justice served? »

Your turn on Atlanta’s property-tax increase

What do you think?

The Atlanta City Council raised property taxes today to close a $56 million budget gap and end furloughs of city employees, AJC staffer Eric Sturgis reports.

For the average city homeowner, the increase amounts to $250 on a $240,000 home, officials said.

Is this the right move or should city officials have cut spending?

The City Council’s 8-7 vote in favor of the property-tax increase broke down like this:

Yes: Carla Smith, Ivory Lee Young, Natalyn Mosby Archibong, Anne Fauver, Felicia Moore, C.T. Martin, Joyce Sheperd, Ceasar Mitchell.

No: Kwanza Hall, Cleta Winslow, Howard Shook, Clair Muller, Jim Maddox, Mary Norwood, H. Lamar Willis.

Continue reading Your turn on Atlanta’s property-tax increase »

Which makes more sense: Focus or Diversification?

The latest bank failures in Georgia, which perpetuates our claim to having the most of any state, brings up an important strategic issue: Should a business focus on what it does best or diversify?

In case you missed it over the weekend, regulators shut down two small suburban banks, Neighborhood Community Bank of Newnan and Community Bank of West Georgia in Villa Rica. AJC reporter Paul Donsky wrote that they represent the 13th and 14th failures in the Peach State over the past year.

Many of our banks got in trouble for betting heavily on the real-estate boom of a few years ago. But, as the cliche goes, if you live by the sword, you can die by the sword.

At the other end of the business strategy continuum, is diversification. Unlike investing your portfolio, where diversification is strongly recommended, building a business often requires focusing your resources on what you do well. Spreading them out can defuse your efforts and hobble your mission, sales and profitability.

So …

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Power Breakfast: Madoff, Atlanta property taxes, gas prices

It’s decision day on two big stories.

Bernard Madoff, who bilked tens of billions of dollars from investors in a Ponzi scheme, is scheduled to be sentenced.

And the Atlanta City Council is slated to vote on whether to raise property taxes to end furloughs on city employees, including police officers and firefighters.

Also in the AJC:

In other media:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Madoff, Atlanta property taxes, gas prices »

Which businesses are changing to cope with economy?

With consumers pinching dollars — and sometimes pennies — high-end restaurants are changing their menus to offer cheaper options.

One of them, Neo at the Mansion on Peachtree, has traded in pricey Italian food for cheaper farm fare, writes AJC reporter Jennifer Brett. “Arrivederci, gnocchi di fontina. Howdy, succotash,” Brett says.

Other fine dining establishments also are offering deals. For example, Brett writes, Park 75 at the Four Seasons hotel is offering $25 to-go-meals on Friday nights and Dogwood is serving a $25 three-course meal.

UGA economist Jeff Humphreys predicts the bargains are here to stay for awhile, given the economy.

Do you know examples of other businesses — besides restaurants — that are changing what they offer in these tough times?

Continue reading Which businesses are changing to cope with economy? »