Friday, 20 February 2009

The Economic Vibe

You can't turn on the news or pick up a newspaper at the moment without been told another economic statistic which indicates the current state of the economy. Business reporters love to quote repossession rates, the rise and fall in average house prices, unemployment figures and even the amount of new mortgage applications this month compared to last.

Using financial indicators are basically a way to quantify what I describe as the economic vibe. You know, the economic vibe, that's the feeling you get about the state of the economy through conversations with others or your own finances that the economy is doing well or not.

If you and your friends are buying new cars, going on exotic holidays or dabbling in the stock market the vibe is good. If your friends can't sell their cars, are driving to Blackpool for their holidays and lost their shirts in the stock market your economic vibe is bad. All you need to do is turn on the news to hear the latest unemployment figures and your vibe is confirmed.

As a handyman service we have our own non-financial indicators which confirm our vibes about how things are going. We look at the amount of bookings that came in this week versus last, the increase or decrease in the average length of jobs, the percentage of time billed out versus dead time. Lately I've noticed that significantly less people asked us to hang LCD screens for them in February than did in January. This may just be because there were so many good deals to be had on LCD screens in the January sales that everyone who was going to buy a LCD TV did so last month. But it could also indicate that there is less disposable income out there for luxury goods like new 55" Flat Screens. Truthfully, it must be a bit of both, but the vibe I get is not a good one.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Extreme Pidgeon Proofing

A few weeks back I posted a blog entry on a job that required us to abseil from the 3rd floor balcony of a customers house. The job was to fit pigeon spikes to the horizontal pipes that feed into each floor of the property.

The customer, as with most of her neighbours had built a conservatory onto the back of her property that covered most of the garden. This caused two problems, the first was that pipes provided the perfect place for pigeons to perch out of the wind over night, this meant that every time one of the pigeons relieved itself it relieved itself onto the glass conservatory roof. The second was that because the conservatory covered most of the back yard we could not use a ladder to gain access to the pipes or to clean the conservatory roof.

The only way to clean the roof and gain access to the pipes was from above, so we bounced the problem around the office and came up with a plan.A few months back a friend got me interested in the sport of climbing and after a few trips to the Castle indoor climbing centre in north London I was hooked. I kitted myself out with all the necessary harness, belay devices, etc so felt confident the best way to tackle the problem was to set up a rig from the third floor balcony and abseil one of my handymen (Manfred) down to the pipes.

After waiting for all the materials to arrive in our office and favourable weather the job eventually went ahead last week Friday and was a huge success. We set up an extremely safe rig and abseiled Manfred down all 3 floors several times. We even landed up washing the conservatory roof with a pressure washer which we suspend from a rope.

Another job well done which virtually no other handyman service would take on.