Signs of Poor Taxi Service

find it easier to travel on a daily basis now. The lines between traditional taxi services and ride sharing services have blurred. This assimilation has increased expectation for ride sharing services to operate more like a professional cab service.

For a smooth and non-stressful ride, it is recommended to watch out for these red flags before a service is hired.

Unusually high fares
Cut throat competition has forced transport sector to drive innovation and continue reducing fares. This has been true for taxi services too. Unless there is a shortage of drivers due to high demand or premium services being offered, there is no incentive to pay extra.

Questionable maintenance
Good taxi services walk the extra mile. They often partner up with local bodies to have their cars certifiably inspected for faults. This translates into a safe and relaxed environment for its customers and repeats business. Any taxi service failing to ensure such maintenance regularly will naturally lose credibility.

Resistance towards technology adoption
Without a shred of doubt, technology has become one of the most integral parts of our lives. Without it, our complex ecosystem will collapse. A good taxi service tries to stay ahead of the curve and employs latest technologies. While this does increase their cost in the short term, it brings more revenue in the longer term. As a rule of thumb a good taxi company will employ at a bare minimum: –

– GPS tracking

– online bookings

– dedicated platform for drivers and customers

– email confirmation

Inflexible payment solutions
In an ever digitalizing economy, less people are carrying cash with them for daily settlements. While a bad taxi service turns blind eye to this, good taxi services see opportunity to retain and expand existing customer base. As such, they offer customers the convenience of paying via not only credit cards but cash and even wallet systems.

Non-existent or poor customer service
A substandard taxi company does not feel obligated to ensure customer satisfaction. Instead, it operates on a basic, no-frills business model. An important pillar of customer satisfaction is during service or after sale service. This is done to ensure that customers have an option to provide feedback or complaint about the service. The underlying idea is to empower users to speak directly to a company representative; to share positive feedback or raise concern.

A taxi service operating without customer service could potentially turn out to be the single biggest red flag. It goes on to display the concerned company has for its users.

Unprofessional drivers
Demonstrating professionalism for a driver is myriad of, rather subjective, intangibles. Being a professional driver is not simply about driving fluidly but also ensuring customer accompanied does not feel uncomfortable in any way. A good taxi company should, therefore, have a system of metrics in place to rate the performance of its drivers.

The list is not exhaustive in any form. Indeed, many of the indicators might be trivial to one person but a deal breaker for other. At the end of the day, the service that focuses its energies on customer convenience and facilitation is likely to triumph over others. If you need the best taxi service then make sure that they don’t have bad signs.

Ballet Shoes and Pointe Shoes and More Flexibility

Summer Intensives offer a chance for increased flexibility. After your first morning class, you are partially warmed up for the rest of the day. That is, unless you are resting in between classes in highly air conditioned environments. I recommend not to do that. A cool but not cold place, perhaps shady outdoors somewhere, is better.

Also, allow your ballet shoes and pointe shoes to dry as much as possible in between classes, they will last longer, and will not lose that exactly right fit so soon. Having two pairs of each helps, if you can do that.

Intensive training in ballet means intensive use of the flexor muscles. Battment tendu, grande battment and developpe en avant mean heavy use of the iliopsoas (hip flexor) muscles. Without constant stretching, this tension will compromise your turnout, as the tension at the side of the hips will counter the thigh’s ability to rotate outwards. It will also lessen the flexibilty of the low back and front of the hip, in doing an arabesque.

A standing lunge done in between exercises will relieve the tension building up in the hip flexors and postural muscles. Finding exactly the right balance between strength and stretch is what creates power in your work.

One of the best ways to stretch for a good arabesque is at the corner of the studio where you can hold on to one barre, while placing yourself in your ideal arabesque position with your working leg on the barre of the other wall behind you. If there is a lower barre, use it so as to get an upright back position. Do a demi plie repeatedly, holding the position well-placed.

If there is no corner with barres, get a fellow student to hold your hands to keep you upright, and place your leg on the barre behind you to do your demi plies.

A wonderful stretch regimen for dancers is yoga. My favorite is “Ali McGraw – Yoga Mind & Body”. It is a few years old but still available. It is not for beginners, but dancers will love it. The positions are easy for most dancers, and give fantastic relief to muscle tension. Done in the evening it will leave you stretched and ready to sleep.

A more active stretching routine is the “Classical Stretch” series. On a lighter class schedule day, or on a no-class day, the “Athletes’ Intense Stretch” will get rid of the muscle tension while still allowing muscle recovery.

If you are recovering from injury, both of the above may be helpful, but please consult with your doctor, teacher or trainer as to whether you are ready to do these routines.

Losing electrolytes and dehydration can cause muscle tension and cramps. Real sea salt on your foods, calcium/magnesium supplements and “All 12” cell salts are a great help. Celery is one of the saltiest foods you can eat, organic, multiple mineral salts, and it is a hydrating food too – a perfect snack in between classes.

Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.

Entrepreneurial Mind Frame

Entrepreneurs make up only about 15% of the working population in the US. Far fewer actually succeed than those who attempt to become self employed business people and venture out on their own. So what makes people decide to take the entrepreneurial path, when so few actually make it a reality?

Is the American dream a possibility for anyone, or, does it take more than most to become a successful entrepreneur?
The success of an entrepreneur does depend on their mindset. A large percentage of business owners will quit in their first five years in business. What is needed is the fortitude and belief that goes with attaining success.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers. The difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur though, is that the entrepreneur takes actions based on their dreams. They persist through the hardships and never give up! Many entrepreneurs start with an idea. Their success is determined by their belief that they can create something greater than simple monetary success. Often, it is about creating something which will benefit the world.

James Dyson, for example, came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner. Despite multiple set backs, over 5000 prototypes and not being able to get any manufacturers or distributors to accept his idea, he persevered. It was over a decade after his initial idea when his concept came to fruition. Even then, it was after a lot of difficulties and hardship due to the vacuum replacement bag industry, which was worth £100 million in the UK.

In Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’, he suggests that the biggest companies in the world are so because of their “why?” – their reasons for building a business in the first place. In all cases, it wasn’t just to make money, or make technology better, or some whimsical ideology.

The Wright Brothers, for example, became known as the pioneers of the first manned flight. But their competition was much better funded and well connected – Samuel Pierpont Langley had worked at Harvard, had a number of powerful connections, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. The War Department funded his project with a $50k grant, a seemingly massive advantage to the unconnected Wright Brothers who had no money or influence. However, their passion and devotion to change the world with this new technology drove them to attain the first flight in history in 1903.

Desire for material things and monetary wealth can only carry someone so far. Unless you have a goal or passion which is bigger than that, you may lose the momentum and fail to maintain your enthusiasm for any length of time.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one which taps into your purpose. Without a purpose driven goal or aim, it can’t take long before disillusionment kicks in. With a mindset which takes into account a larger purpose, entrepreneurs can build huge businesses because they ‘saw’ a vision of what they wanted to create. If the purpose is greater than the obstacles which lie in the path of attaining it, no amount of setbacks will stop you from achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you set out to do something and something gets in the way and stops you, your initial reason, (your “why?”), may not have been strong enough to endure all the battles along the way.

Entrepreneurial mind frame (or mindset) therefore, must be aligned with both your vision, your values and your purpose. If your values are not in alignment with your purpose and vision, you’ll come up against road blocks which will stop you from achieving your goal.

Helpful Tips For Calendar Printing

As the end of the year approaches, we get more inquiries about how to print a calendar. Calendars are a popular marketing tool, so many businesses will print a calendar for the holiday season, for a few good reasons.

Branded calendars make an excellent marketing tool and often a business will print these and hand out to clients as end-of-the-year thank you gifts, and it works because;

Everybody uses calendars
The sooner someone gets something for free, the sooner they will use it.
Make a great tool for brand awareness as it keeps your brand in front of your client all the time.

While you might think to go the DIY route, having your product manufactured by the professionals will result in a high-quality end result that will do your business proud and actually work out cheaper per piece. Keep these pointers in mind:

1.) The design should uniform and in-line with your brand

You want the calendar to serve as more than just a tool to track dates but also to be something that will show off your business and brand in the best light possible.

Choose typography, images, colour and layout that communicates and connects in a visual way with your business. For instance, if your business is a top echelon interior designer, you are not going to choose gaudy colours and cartoon images and fat childlike typography. You would choose muted, elegant colours, clean and elegant fonts and high-resolution images that showcase some of your work.

2.) A template design might do the trick

Finding a template online that is exactly what you are looking for, or at least, goes a good long way towards your envisioned design, is super easy. Using a template also eliminates printing challenges such as incorrect alignment and bleed and trim lines. Even if you give the final design work to a professional, playing around with a few templates will get your creative uses going.

3.) Images – size matters

Because of their size, this is especially important for poster calendars but also follows for other calendar formats as well. Low-quality images will often appear blurry or pixelated when printed. Professional printing services are capable of creating photo-quality prints, but you might not be able to make the most of it when you use low-quality images. When possible try to use only high-quality, uncompressed image file formats or vector images as recommended by your printing service.

Often calendars, such as wall mounted calendars, will require large images and it is crucial to use high-resolution images to avoid ending up with images that are pixelated, blurry and simply looks ‘yuck’. Using good quality uncompressed images file formats or vector images will do the trick. Whether your calendars are large or small tented calendars, the image quality will convey the subliminal message that your business is a quality business as well.

Also, keep in mind that most monitors use an RGB colour model while most printers use CMYK. This is automatically accounted for when you print. However, if your monitor isn’t calibrated properly, the colours you see on your screen might not match what finally comes out on print. Another reason to let the professionals do what they do best.

4.) What will the use be?

Consider where in the sales funnel the potential recipients are. Are they in the middle of the funnel and you are only trying to catch attention? Don’t waste money on expensive high gloss wall calendars but rather consider card calendars of even magnetic options.

In contrast, poster calendars and wall calendars would be practical for more targeted distribution at the bottom of the funnel. At this point, you’re fairly certain your customer is closer to a sale, or has already gone through with a purchase and may be close to buying again.

On the other hand, if you know your customers are at the exit-end of the buying funnel, they have purchased before and you want to keep their loyalty, then top-of-mind-awareness is key. Consider high gloss, superior quality calendars of large proportions that client would not mind hanging in their office because of the visual appeal.