It is no surprise to me that Lowe’s is closing 34 stores across Canada. This morning Lowe’s reported Third Quarter sales and earning results in which it announced it will be closing 34 stores. You can get into the financial symptoms of why the decision is being made, but I’m going to jump to the fundamental source of why those stores have done poorly and what could have been done better.
The financial statements are a result of decisions and plans that were created and implemented from years ago when the Lowe’s acquired RONA. Combined, Lowe’s now had 539 stores. That’s almost three times more than Home Depot’s 182 Canadian stores. In a news release dated May 20, 2016, Lowe’s highlighted previously stated commitments as part of its acquisition of RONA, including:
From my perspective a a business consultant with expertise in locating operations, commercial realtor, residential property manager and homeowner, I have much more to share about Lowe’s than I’m going to publish in this post. Overall, I’m grateful for Lowe’s and RONA and would shop there more often if the stores were better located or if the online ordering process was better. However, I can share the generalities of what I’ve seen of Lowe’s and examples from others experiences:
Of course, significantly impacting the situation is the prolonged devastation to the Albertan economy from the collapse of oil prices. Reflecting this is Lowe’s higher per capita closure of stores in Alberta compared to other provinces. Further impacting the situation is the economic circumstances in other provinces. Had Lowe’s considered the cyclical nature of the Albertan oil-based economy and looked at the situation with the Tar Sands projects and price of oil, they would have acted more quickly. The question in my mind is who was responsible for looking at such significant considerations and why didn’t they hire someone like me to help with the research and analysis?
When Wal-Mart bought out the Woolco Stores, I worked with Bank of Montreal to analyse the impact it would have on the remaining Canadian retailers from their sales and operations to their financial performance. In a matter of weeks I had dissection and analyzed the impact on every major retailer across Canada and translated that into the impact on their financial performance. How I did this is for another much more detailed post.
In short, I analyzed every single retail outlet of every major retail chain which included: 1) consumer threshold, 2) product-mix overlap, 3) local pricing sensitivity, 4) psychological and geographical traffic boundaries, 5) traffic flows and much more. Then I cross indexed the information and translated it into the financial performance. Finally I conglomerated the data by retail chain to product financial projections for each one. The report went up to the Bank of Montreal Board of Directors and the information was then used to dictate risk appetite and credit exposure among the major retailers.
As part of my analysis, I drew two powerful conclusions, one of which was contrary to what Bank Executives were expecting at the time. If it were not for that analysis, the bank would have made different decisions, created different lending policies, which would have significantly affected Canadian retailers and their employees.
Contact me to have someone on your side who can help with every aspect of what needs to be done. But, most importantly, who can get you the right information, with proper analysis and solutions so you can make the best decisions for your business success!
The saying ‘What goes around comes around’ showed itself to be true at Starbucks. Last week, I dropped into my regular Starbucks location for lunch and work on a file. As I’m sitting down, my attention is drawn to a young south Asian man. He seems drunk as he lowers his pants and lifts his shirt while repeating ‘stomach empty, hungry’.
It appeared that the Starbucks customers were getting disturbed and didn’t know how to deal with this man approaching them. I mentioned it to Starbucks staff who seemed to be taken aback and also weren’t sure how to handle the situation. To manage the situation before it escalated, I approached the man and asked, “How you doing?”.
The young man’s reply was the same line ‘stomach empty, hungry’. I straight out asked him, if he had been drinking, to which his reply was the same as before. I pulled out some money, looked at him in the eye and said ‘take this and buy yourself lunch across the parking lot. Make sure you take care of yourself.’ He was very grateful and kept thanking me. I repeated, ‘Just take care of yourself. Go. Go take care of yourself’. I had to repeat it a couple of times.
As he was leaving, I realized that I had seen that man around the neighbourhood before. In fact, a few years ago, I had given him some money to help me with some handy work on a property.
I had forgotten about the whole incident. Then, yesterday, I found myself at the same Starbucks. As I’m ordering my sandwich, the supervisor, Bonny comes over. Calling me by my first name she says, “I want to thank you for what you did last week. The manager was here and we saw the whole thing.”. At first I didn’t realize what she was talking about.
Then she reminded me about the incident. I wasn’t expecting her to say, “You handled that situation really well for us. Richard (the manager), didn’t think you should have to buy him lunch, so he wanted me to give you a free lunch and drink”. I may not be getting every word exact, but it is basically what she said and she went on to explain how it made a big difference to the other customers.
It left me speechless. Not only hadn’t I realized that anyone really noticed, but that it would affect anyone beyond the hungry young man. All I could say was “thank you, but you don’t have to pay for my lunch”. Bonny wouldn’t have it any other way and insisted that the lunch was on Starbucks.
That’s when I realized the extend to which Starbucks is wanting to build a community, an environment of support, in which customers can come and feel that Italian ‘piazza’ atmosphere. A place where you can feel free to talk about anything and build relationships with others that may rely on Starbucks for their morning jolt, snack, temporary office station, meeting point or just to get out of the home or office.
Over the last day, I’ve thought about all the friends and business acquaintances I’ve met at Starbucks. Some I’ve done business with, others I’ve exchanged wisdom. They’ve included aspiring authors, film producers, e-commerce entrepreneurs, students, teachers, crypto-currency traders, business owners, and many more that don’t come to mind right now.
It is up to you and I to build our community or communities and we need to be engaged and pro-active to make it happen.
One of the lessons I’ve learned in life is that you can give a glass of water to two different people and the impact can be totally different between the two. Give a man in a river a glass of water and he wouldn’t appreciate it. However, give a man in the desert a glass of water and he will remember it for life. It may have saved his life.
The glass of water is an analogy for needs that those around us may have. That young man in the Starbucks had a need for lunch because he was hungry. To him it was the most important thing, something he needed to go on. To everyone else, perhaps it would have been unneeded calories.
For the Starbucks staff, my gesture was needed because they may not have been equipped to handle the situation without escalation and potentially bad publicity. For that they were greatly appreciated.
And for me… my glass of water was being recognized by name and acknowledged for making a difference to others. You see, I needed that this week, perhaps as much as that young man needed his lunch. We all have a tough time when we question the things we do and the value we add to others. Sometimes, getting acknowledge is our glass of water in the desert. Remember that today, look around you, and ask yourself who needs a glass of water!
That is the main reason why I’m sharing this with you. Another reason is that as important as this sort of thing is, the main street media will not likely mention it. At a time when our attention is being diverted to political mud-slinging, scandals, shootings and other discouraging activities, we need to see more of these unspoken acts.
I thank Bonny, Richard and the wonderful staff at the Kennedy Commons Starbucks (in Agincourt) for their service, support and importantly their glass of water in the desert.
#CBC #GLOBALNEWS #GLOBALNEWSTO #CITYTV #AM640 #CP24 #TORONTOSUN
Once in a while a client comes along who is struggling with making a choice between big city life and country living. Let me start by saying that not every big city is the same and just because one may suit you, it doesn’t mean others will. The same can be said for small towns. In other words, it is a matter of suitability to your personal preferences and lifestyle.
If you are faced with deciding between big city life or small town living, I encourage you to consider a couple of things. Firstly, it takes a while to get to know a big city, such as Toronto and to establish a routine. As a student of urban planning and real estate broker, I can tell you that Toronto has more options to offer for all types of lifestyles than any other city I have visited inside or outside Canada. If you want a laid back lifestyle without crowds, Toronto can provide that. There are some very low density neighbourhoods with lots of green space where a large portion of the pockets have lived there for 30 years or more.
In regards, to Ottawa (Canada’s Capital), It is a city that some people can live in comfortably, but it is certainly not a city I would find interesting, to put it politely. The city is full of politicians, bureaucrats, academics and consultants. Though I do really appreciate the Rideau Canal, especially during winter skating season.
Niagara-on-the-lake provides a very good laid back lifestyle while being accessible to several large cities and the best of both worlds.
I myself, was born in a smaller town in Southern Italy, which is as grass-roots and community-centric as you can get. In fact, to this day it is mostly an agrarian community with a tourism component because it is on the mediterranean ocean. In fact, when I go back to vacation and I have for as much as 2 months at a time, I have enjoyed it immensely. However, I could not stay any longer because of what I was not able to have while there. The high-speed internet, access to social networks of world experts in every field, free medical care, cheap and readily accessible public transportation, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the small community feel and that is why I vacation in non-urban communities. Fortunately, I have been able to find the small community lifestyle within Toronto by making specific life-choices, such as which neighbourhood to live in, which activities to pursue and groups to join.
Here is more to add to the list of what you’re giving up when you choose small town living:
– world class doctors able to give you the best treatment and possibly save your life in different medical situations
– the highest paying jobs
– the largest pool of jobs
– the largest selection of restaurants representing every culture of the world
– sizeable ethnic communities representing every group in the world
– public transit
– huge selection of community centres and resource centres
– thousands of street and inside festivals
– world scale concerts, performances, trade and consumer shows
– police force equipped to help you in any situation
– large selection of educational institutions (and courses) Toronto has more of these than any other city in Canada and possibly the U.S. (when you consider all the private schools, which explains the tremendous number of foreign students); University of Toronto, York University (where the world renowned Schulich School of Business is based), Ryerson University, Seneca College, Centennial College, George Brown College, and the list just keeps going.
– large selection of shops and the latest in fashion, gadgets and more
– being able to find something to eat within 5 minutes
– huge competition among grocery chains and independent grocers offering great pricing and quality of product
– quick emergency services response
– being able to find something to do 24 hours a day
These are things that are important to many people, but not to all people. In fact, there are lots of people that move out of the large cities. Many of my clients are corporate executives looking to retire and they’re buying country homes in preparation for a move down the road. There are three communities that they seem to be attracted to post-Toronto. However, these people have already made their money, raised their children and used the ‘big city’ for what they needed. Now they are kicking back, doing their fishing, gardening, travelling. Yet, they seem to come back to the city when it is time for health care.
Those that have experienced home invasions, break-ins or robberies know all too well the tremendous emotional and financial impact it can have on your life. Though you can get insurance for the value of your belongings, you can’t replace their sentimental value. Even more significant is the impact it can have on your sense of personal security and privacy. The thought of a criminal going through your personal belongings, knowing they were going trough your bedroom, diaries, and who knows what else can leave you feeling extremely vulnerable.
In most cases, a homeowner can prevent burglary with some common sense measures. Some of these measures are so simple, yet surprisingly, most people don’t bother. Hence, the increasing degree of home burglaries.
It has always been known that most criminals do not want to be seen breaking and entering into a home. However, in recent years, burglars have become more brazen with daytime break-ins. Often they’ll call a home or knock on the door and if there is no answer, they’ll assume no one is home. That’s when they’ll break-in. Even then, they don’t want to be seen by nosy neighbours.
Homes that have enclosed veranda’s, tall hedges and other ornaments that block view of the doors and windows from neighbours are preferred targets for burglars. So, trim down or better yet remove shrubbery, trees and other items blocking your windows and doors.
Bright LED lights around the outside of your home are a strong deterrent for burglars. Even better are LED lights with motion sensors, because then it catches your attention and the attention of neighbours when a light comes on unexpectedly. Use several lights in a tiered field approach. For example, near the home the LEDs stay on and then at certain access points or perimeters of the property used LED lights with motion sensors. That way the burglars know everything is well lit and in case they still try to approach they’re surprised by the unexpected extra LEDs turning on.
Sometimes burglars will stake out your home for days, recording your patterns and those of neighbours before breaking in. In that situation, the lights and visibility will not work. Then you have to go to the second stage of defense with hardware. Heavy duty metal doors or Doors reinforced with metal are much more difficult to break into than most popular doors. By the time a burglar breaks through one of these doors, the whole neighbourhood would have heard the commotion. They’re more expensive but when you’re facing the possibility of an armed intruder or burglar, you’ll wish you had installed them. Just remember that you also have to get the reinforced door frame, otherwise the door won’t hold.
The quickest and easiest way to increase your security is by upgrading your entry door locks and bolts. In the past lock companies focused on avoiding being picked open, now with burglars simply kicking doors open, they seem to be focused more on the mechanical engineering. Look for things liked thicker and longer bolts that lock into the frame, larger and longer screws that secure the both receptacle into the frame, expanded metal plates for the frame and wrap-around and extended metal braces for the door itself.
Then there are the traditional deadbolts which are well-used in cities like New York and which seemed to have been more used in Toronto’s days past. However, they are effective, especially when used with reinforced frames and doors. These will make it harder to kick in the door without having to replace the whole door.
Over the last few years the design of security cameras has significantly improved with increased sharpness, night vision and even internet access. You can get them in wired or wireless format. The price has dropped significantly over the last 3 years and you can now get a complete 4 camera with internet connectivity for as little as $300 Canadian. Some of these cameras allow you to identify zones on your property which if movement is detected it’ll set off the alarm, email, text you or all three. You can then check out the cameras’ live feed through your mobile app or even search past video footage.
These security cameras may not stop every break-in, but it will deter some of them and even help police in catching the burglars and perhaps recovering your property. It also helps with your insurance claim and may even help lower your insurance premiums.
The sooner you start implementing these measures, the sooner you’ll have greater home security and piece of mind. Stay safe in your home sweet home and sleep well at night.
#homesecurity #homesafety #antitheft #theftdeterrent
It is well-known that in the long-run it has been proven over hundreds of years that it is more lucrative to own your home than it is to rent it. This is especially the case in Canada given our capital gains exemption on principal residences. However, though this is usually the case an the case in the long-run, it isn’t always the case at specific points in time.
It is more lucrative to rent, rather than own your home when the market is in a bubble and it is about to go through a correction. That is something that hasn’t happened in Toronto for decades.
The belief and desire that home ownership is the best thing to do drove millions of Americans to purchase homes they could not afford leading up to the 2007-2008 liquidity crisis and housing crash in the United States. This blind desire to own a home, fueled by the media and misunderstanding of the economics of home ownership, contributed to the skyrocketing of real estate prices. What made it worse was the government’s willingness to help families buy homes when it made more financial sense for those families to rent. Yet, the calculation of whether one should buy or rent is very straight forward.
The cost of renting your home usually includes:
The cost of owning our home usually includes:
When you add up the costs if you were to rent or own a specific home there are years when it is cheaper to rent and years when it is cheaper to own. Theoretically, the cost of renting should be equal to the cost of owning a home (less the principal repayment component of the mortgage payments). Leading up to the devastating collapse of the United States real estate market the comparison clearly showed a significant premium in owning a home. In other words, it was about 25% cheaper to rent than to own. So, home prices were over-inflated and out of equilibrium. It was only a matter of time before the market adjusted itself.
In Canada, the situation includes two additional significant factors; 1) the heavy immigration rate driving increasing demand and 2) the capital gains tax exemption on primary residences. These two items work to drive demand and produce a higher financial return on home ownership. With increasing demand comes increasing prices for rent… and for home prices.
Very simply, the more people that need a place to rent, the more a rental unit will rent for. The more a rental unit rents for, the greater the value of the unit and the property it is located at. Though in Canada, the price of housing increased at a greater pace than rent, due to rent control. After a few years of rising housing prices, the pressure was put on by tenants to offer more rent to secure under-priced rental units.
In Toronto, the housing market continues to be in a state of disequilibrium as demand outpaces supply, which is kept tight by regulations and policies of all levels of government and the development and tax costs forced on developers by those governments.
Though a young professional might be tempted to rent a lower-cost unit in Toronto (if they can find one), the reality is that if they don’t buy their own place, their chances of home ownership might be worse in the future and certainly their accumulation of wealth will be significantly hampered.
To take advantage of the housing market returns, many millenials are renting in Toronto to live and buying in smaller communities where prices are low and they can get a rental income as the property appreciates in value. They can then use the equity in that property to buy their Toronto home down the road.
Hoarding is a dangerous behaviour which can lead to fires, insect and rodent infestation, disease and other serious health, safety and legal consequences. Recognizing a hoarder will help prevent a situation which can be costly, if not disastrous for … Continue Reading
Welcome to Flaire Condos at The Contemporary Urban Village at The Shops At Don Mills. This one bedroom unit on the 10th floor has one of the best views in the building. The South West Facing view captures the core of Toronto’s cityscape w… Continue Reading