The Tax Man Cometh

In Texas, on May 1st, county appraisal districts will be sending out 2014 property tax key_art_the_taxman_comethappraisals. In recent years, Texas small business owners have been hit hard and this year business owners, especially along the IH-35 corridor, will be hit even harder. Aggressive growth along the IH-35 corridor brings with it aggressive property tax appraisals, but self storage owners don’t have to take it laying down.

You can file a protest, but a misstep could end up costing you thousands of dollars and you may want to consider hiring an agent experienced in property tax protests. Tangible personal property that is used to produce income must be reported each year on a rendition – form 50-144. Filing a rendition puts you in a better position to exercise your right of appeal. If you choose to protest your tax assessment, it must be filed by May 31 or no later than 30 days after the appraisal district mailed a notice of appraised value to you. If you miss the filing deadline you forfeit your right to protest the assessed value of your property.

There are typically four types of property value protests:

  1. Excessive value – you believe your property is valued too high.
  2. Unequal appraisal – you believe your property has been assessed a higher value than properties of similar use and value.
  3. Failure to grant exceptions – you have the right to exceptions for such things as motor vehicles used for your business.
  4. Failure to provide notice – the appraisal district failed to provide notice of tax increase.

It is up to you to have what you need to prove your case to the ARB. You cannot go to a hearing and just say the appraisal district is wrong – you have to present evidence that proves the appraised value is incorrect.

When preparing a case, there are three different approaches you can take. Knowing and choosing the right approach is critical.

  1. The sales comparison approach.
  2. The cost approach.
  3. The income approach.

A case must be built that is persuasive, not emotional. Don’t pay more than you should. Seek consultation if you think your property has been valued too high.

Monty Rainey has 20+ years in self storage management and is the owner of RPM Storage Management, LLC of New Braunfels, TX. www.rpmstoragemanagement.com

Posted in Business, Self Storage, Taxes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CUSTOMER RENT INCREASES

There are many theories about customer rate increases.  Self storage owners and business graph with arrow and coins showing profits and gainsoperators are often second guessing themselves about when to give rent increases and how much of an increase is the right amount. Many times to correct answer is market specific, but I have found there are a few tried and true rules that work well in most situations.

I am always my most aggressive when it comes to customer rent increases in February and March, really for two reasons:

1.       In a typical market that sees typical market rate fluctuations, it is not uncommon for your lowest rates of the year to be found in these months. This makes it easier to adjust customer rates to match current rates without running as much risk of hitting the customer “too hard”. For example;

A.      In the peak months, current rate a space may be $99 and customer rate at $74. Getting them up to current rate is a 32% increase – much too big a pill for most customers to swallow so you have to either give them a smaller increase or run the risk of a lost customer.

B.      In the slower months like January and February, chances are you have reduced your current rate. In this example, say your current rate is $84 – now you’re only looking at a $10 rent increase to get this customer up to your current rate. You’re still getting a 13.5% increase, the customer is now at current rate and you run a much lower risk of losing the customer.

2.       The other reason why I am more aggressive in February and March is because the peak season is right around the corner. In the event the customer does move out, you know that unit won’t sit vacant for very long as opposed to a move out in October that may sit vacant all winter.

Another thing I want to mention is, unless a space type is at 100% occupancy, I rarely raise a customer to 100% of current rate. For example, if current rate is $89, customer is paying $79 I will only raise them to $87 or $84. This gives your manager the ability to let the customer know, even with the rent increase, they are still paying below the current rate.

As I mentioned, there are many theories regarding customer rate increases, and I’ve heard other theories that I like, but this method has always worked very well for me. Now is one of the best times to give rate increases.

Monty Rainey has 20+ years in self storage management and is the owner of RPM Storage Management, LLC of New Braunfels, TX.

Posted in Rent Increases, Revenue Management, Self Storage, Strategy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: THE NOTICER RETURNS

Usually I read anything new by Andy Andrews as soon as it comes out, but my work indexschedule has been brutal of late so I’m just now getting this new one. THE NOTICER RETURNS is a follow up of sorts to Andy’s extraordinary book, The Noticer where he first introduced the character known simply as Jones. Here Jones reappears into the lives of several south Alabama residents to help them find a different perspective.

Where The Noticer was all about having a different perspective, The Noticer Returns is about perspective and a whole lot more. Here Andy delves into some sage wisdom on many other aspects of life, primarily parenting. I’ll come back to that in a moment. Not everything here however, has to do with parenting, but rather with life in general and working our way through the difficulties. As always with Andy’s work, the reader will come away with a handful of nuggets that will leave you thinking, “Why didn’t I think about that before?” For example, we’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, when in reality, it is the small stuff that really has major impact on our lives. Those tiny, seemingly inconsequential, decisions that have a huge impact over time. Life is filled with these “small stuff” decisions like choosing to eat a piece of pie instead of an apple. Maybe you choose to watch some mindless TV show rather than read a book that might hold valuable information for you, or perhaps our most critical “small stuff” decision, doing something other than studying the Bible.

There’s one line in the book I simply have to mention and it goes like this: If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re doing something wrong. Why? Because most people are not obtaining results that are considered extraordinary. How true is that! Think about that the next time you find yourself “doing what everyone else is doing”.

Towards the end of the book Andy talks about how our reputation is determined by our thinking. It is excellent how Andy explains this; our reputation is determined by the kind of results we produce, our results are determined by the actions we take, our actions are determined by the decisions we make, our decisions are determined by what we think. The only thing I would add is that our thinking is determined by our vocabulary. We think in terms of words and if we have a limited vocabulary, we obviously have limited thinking, limited choices, limited actions, limited results and a limited reputation. If you want to change how you think, you need to expand your vocabulary.

As I mentioned already, an underlying premise of the book is about how to be a better parent. I’m not going to go into the multitude of lessons contained on that subject. For that, you just need to read this wonderful new release by Andy Andrews. You can thank me later.

Posted in Book Reviews, Choices, Growth, self improvement | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A&E Sponsor List

I barely even watch television, but when I do, it’s either football, something educational orBoycott A&E Sponsors Duck Dynasty. It’s nice being able to watch a family that is proud of its faith and not ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. With the explosive popularity of the show I’d say a lot of other Americans may feel the same way. That’s why the recent of actions of A&E really have ruffled my feathers. I look around and really have to wonder what has happened to America and just how much longer God will allow us to survive as a nation when we are so embroiled in apostasy.

We have a total lack of integrity in our leadership from the top down. Washington is wrought with scandal. No one seems to be held accountable, unless of course you are a Christian conservative, then you are fair game for the media and all of the pathetic special interest groups to demand you be tarred and feathered.

It’s really time we stand up as a nation and say, “Enough is enough”. Phil Robertson has every right to express his opinion. A&E arranged the recent interview with GQ magazine, they know Phil Robertson is a man of conviction, they know how he feels about certain issues, but the lure of the almighty dollar would not stop them from arranging an interview where they knew he would not give “politically correct” answers.

I know a lot of people are lighting up the phone lines to A&E to complain about their action, but that will only go so far. If you really want to put the pressure on A&E, you have to hit them where it hurts – their sponsors. I’ve done some digging and found this list. The list appears to have been originated by a Miss Brittney Pounders of www.clashdaily.com . I will add more sponsors to the list as I find them. I hope you will take the time to let these sponsors know how you feel about their continued support of A&E.

Make a difference!

Sensodyne: 1-866-844-2797

T-Mobile: Twitter @TMobile / 1-877-453-1304

Samsung: (PR department) samsungpr@edelman.com / Twitter  @samsungtweets / 1-800-726-7864

Motorola: Twitter @motorola / 1-800-734-5870 / 1-847-523-5000

Walgreens: Twitter @walgreens / 1-800-925-4733

 IHOP:  1-866-444-5144 / Twitter @IHOP / 1-818-240-6055

Macy’s: (PR Department) anne.keating@bloomingdales.com, 212-705-2434  / @Macys / 1-212-494-3000

Nokia: Twitter @Nokia / 1-888-665-4228

Microsoft: Twitter @microsoft / 1-800-642-7676

Verizon: Twitter @verizonwireless / 1-800- 837-4966

Bass Pro Shops: Twitter @Bass_Pro-Shops / 1-800-494-1300 or  1-800-227-7776

Progressive Insurance: 1-440-461-5000  / Michele_L_Moore@progressive.com

You can also contact A&E directly at  feedbackaetv@aenetworks.com.

Read more at http://clashdaily.com/2013/12/ae-list-advertisers-hit-network-hurts-wallet/#3OlwXFDOBJE1IIFl.99

12/21 update – I just learned Cracker Barrel Restaurants is the first of the show sponsors to cut ties with A&E. Read more here http://conservativeoutfitters.com/blogs/news

Posted in 1st Amendment, Duck Dynasty, Free Speech, Phil Roberetson | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Are You Thinking?

“If your reputation is stinking,

you must change your thinking” ~ Jim Rohn

I was recently reading Andy Andrews’ newest book – The Noticer Returns – and he talked about how we must change from within. He went through the progression of how what we think ultimately determines our reputation. The progression goes like this:

Your thinking determines the choices we make.

Our choices determine the action we take.

The action we take determines our results.

Our results determine our reputation .

In other words, Andy has built upon Jim Rohn’s quote. In the end, what this ultimately means is – if your reputation is suffering you must change your thinking. This pertains to any aspect of life whether personal, business or spiritual. If your reputation in any of these areas is suffering it is because you are not achieving the results that are expected. If you’re not getting the proper results it is because you are not taking the right action. If you’re not taking the right action it is because you are not making the right choices and if you’re not making the right choices it is because you are not thinking correctly, so ultimately, to change your reputation, you must change your thinking.

Andy’s break down of the topic is excellent, but it falls short of complete. There has to be imagesCA6RLR3Aone more step. How do you change or expand your thinking? You are what you think, so if we need to change what we think, how do we go about that? In a word – VOCABULARY.

If you are what you think, then what is thinking? Thinking is limited to our vocabulary in that we think in terms of words and we can only think in terms of the words we are familiar with, so if we need to change our thinking, we must expand our vocabulary. Let me explain: you have two people, person A and person B. Person A has an expansive vocabulary. Just to pick some numbers out of the air, person A has a vocabulary of 5,000 words. Person B has a very limited vocabulary of only 300 words and 10% of those words are what we call “colorful metaphors”. Person B is going to be very limited in their thinking and therefore is going to have very limited choices to make, take a very limited set of actions, produce very limited results and will have a less than great reputation. Person A on the other hand, with their expansive vocabulary, will have an expansive thought process which produces better choices, better actions, better results and will enjoy a much better reputation.

Jim Rohn wrote the quote above in the form of a poem and you probably understand that. But what if I told you he wrote an antithetical distich? To understand what I meant you would have to have in your vocabulary the words “antithetical” and “distich”. A distich is a two line poem. Antithetical means one line is negative – your reputation is stinking, and the second line is positive – change your thinking. This is a theological term used to describe many of the two-line poems of the Book of Proverbs.

Let’s look at three examples of limited thinking. Person B has a teenage son who is struggling with American History. He doesn’t understand what it means when he reads that we have a “bicameral” congress. If person B does not possess this word in their vocabulary, they will never be able to explain it to the child. The best answer they can possibly give is “look it up”. How is that going to reflect your reputation as a parent?

In business, suppose you are told something on the budget is based on an accrual. If you don’t understand the full meaning of “accrual”, how is that going affect your performance in meeting budget? It could reflect it in a very big way and possibly in a very negative way. That’s not going to give you the reputation you want in business.

Spiritually, you will never understand the saving work of Christ on the cross if you don’t understand the Doctrine of Propitiation. If it’s not a part of your vocabulary, how can ever possibly understand the full extent of what He did? Simply put – you can’t! Your thinking must change and before that can happen, you must add ‘propitiation’ and it’s full meaning to your personal vocabulary before your thinking can ever fully encapsulate the meaning and put the word to work in your thinking. Once you have it firmly in your vocabulary, you can change your thinking on the work of salvation.

It is true – we are what we think, so who we are is limited by our thinking and our thinking is limited by our personal vocabulary. This applies not only to what we now have in our lives, but it also applies to any new undertaking. Every topic imaginable has its own unique vocabulary, so if you want to learn something new, you will have to expand your vocabulary. Say your present thinking tells you need a new hobby and you decide to take up woodworking. For your first project, you decide to build a small cabinet with one drawer. If you don’t already know the words, you’re going to have to learn and understand the difference between a dado joint and a miter joint. If you travel to England and decide to take in a cricket match, you will need to know the difference between a stodger and dibbly-dobbly.

Since we’re talking about reputations here, let’s look at another example. Among slick talking used car salesmen, women have a reputation of not knowing much about automobiles. Suppose a woman is primarily concerned with a smooth ride and ease of handling. Because she is unfamiliar with the terms, a slick talking salesman may convince her she wants MacPherson struts when what she really wants is a double-wishbone suspension. For her to change her reputation with Mr. Slick-talker, which is caused by her results, which are caused by her action, which is caused by her choices, which is caused by her thinking, she needs to first expand her vocabulary! If she tells the salesman she wants a smooth ride and ease of handling, if she has a limited vocabulary he will sell her whatever he has that he needs to get rid of. On the other hand, if he tells him she wants a smooth ride with ease of handling and is really interested in a double-wishbone front suspension. Instantly, her reputation with the salesman has improved because of her vocabulary.

If your reputation is stinking you must change your thinking. To change your thinking, improve your vocabulary. You are what you think and your thinking is limited to the words you possess in your personal vocabulary.

Posted in Growth, self image, self improvement, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Veterans Day

“In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast.” ~ Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Next Monday is Veteran’s Day. It is a Holiday I both revere and despise. I’d like to explainVeteran's%20Day%20Parade it from a veteran’s point of view.

Over the years I‘ve grown accustomed to receiving accolades on Veteran’s Day from friends and family and I’ve learned to accept those accolades with the graciousness in which they are intended by those well-meaning friends and family while simultaneously hiding the tinge of pain felt for those countless brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice on battlefields throughout the world. Why should I receive those accolades when their sacrifice was far greater than mine? I know these feelings are the result of my own short-comings in superimposing my own views on Veteran’s Day, so I thought what better way to come face to face with my own demons than to write about what it truly means to be a veteran.

Many people think being a veteran means someone was willing to fulfill an obligation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being a veteran means you had the honor of serving. Just as in business and in our personal and spiritual lives, serving others should always be viewed as an honor rather than an obligation. Serving also often means sacrificing. Those two words – serving and sacrificing – are really the essence of being a veteran.

At some point in life, usually later rather than sooner, we discovery that time is the greatest commodity of life. The veteran made the decision to sacrifice the time of their youthful years when they could have been comfortably building their families and pursuing their careers as an engineer, an accountant or business owner. Instead they sacrificed those years in service to country and defending the freedom of others. The fact that you are able to express your thanks to them this Veteran’ Day simply means they were fortunate enough to make it home so they could then resume their lives and dreams.

50522e91ae5452fc26893639b3b0b20aTo many people it seems that the service and sacrifice would never be worth the price, but the veteran will tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing in life can ever replace the brotherhood that develops among soldiers and sailors in a war zone. Nothing in life can replace the inner-confidence garnered when one has faced the fire of life. Nothing in life can ever replace the responsibility of knowing the lives of your brothers in arms are dependent on you having their back. These are the rare life experiences, truly known by so few that can never be taken from the veteran and their true value as a human being are immeasurable.

So this Veteran’s Day I encourage you to express your appreciation to the veterans in your life, but know the truth – what they gained from their experience as a veteran far outweighs the service and sacrifice they made. It was an honor to serve.

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Slow & Steady Wins the Race

Slow and steady wins the race. ~ Aesop’s Fables

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASports have always played a big part in my life. I grew up playing a variety of sports, was actually pretty good a couple of them, and still today love the competitive side of all types of sports. I admire those individuals who dedicate their lives to becoming their best at their chosen sport, whether it be throwing a football, swinging a bat, hitting a three-pointer with a defender in your face, winning a unanimous twelve round decision or even a ninety pound gymnast sticking her landing. I often use sports as a metaphor to write about whatever self-development subject is on my mind. But I rarely get to write anything about my favorite sport – professional bull riding.

I grew up competing in local rodeos and have long loved bull riding, but twenty years ago a group of bull riders met in a hotel room and laid the plans to form the PBR and took this sport I so love to the next level. It is the ultimate challenge – man against beast. Perhaps the main reason I have developed such a deep admiration for the sport is that by the time I was seventeen, I was much too big to ever again try to strap myself onto the back of a bull. You just don’t see 200+ pound bull riders or bull riders over 6’ tall. The centrifugal force is simply too great for a person of my stature. The beast is going to win every time. These diminutive men are often less than 150 lbs, but they are some kind of tough.

Bushwacker

Bushwacker

It’s not uncommon to watch PBR riders strapping themselves down onto a 2,000 pound bull sporting a broken foot or broken ribs, or even a jaw wired shut. It’s not like other sports where players are under contract. If these guys don’t ride, they don’t make money to support their families. Then there are the bulls. In the old days, we used to gather up some old ranchers range bulls to practice on. Some of them bucked hard, some of them didn’t. Today, the sport has evolved and the bull business is big business. These behemoths are bred to buck. In my humble opinion, a bull on the circuit now called Bushwacker is the greatest athlete alive today. He is simply explosive.

Silvano+Alves+6th

Silvano Alves

But enough about why I love the sport – let me get to the point of Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare and how slow and steady wins the race. In a few days, Las Vegas will be witness the 20th PBR Championship. This year, there are two riders in contention, JB Mauney and Silvano Alves. Alves currently holds about a 1,000 point lead is likely to win his 3rd consecutive championship. He is the only rider to ever even win back-to-back championships. The two riders couldn’t be more different in their riding styles.

JB

JB Mauney

JB Mauney is a fan favorite. He is flashy. He has conquered the best of the best. The last two bulls to win Bull of the Year honors are the aforementioned Bushwacker and another bull called Asteroid. Mauney is the only rider to ever ride either of them. Bushwacker had 42 consecutive buck-offs when Mauney conquered him earlier this year for a 94.25 score. Mauney is known for throwing caution to the wind and riding the unridable. On the other hand, although I know he has, I don’t recall ever seeing Alves with a 90 point score. If Mauney is the hare, Alves is the tortoise. It’s exciting to watch Mauney ride, but watching Alves is kind of boring. He may not be flashy and he may not put up huge scores, but he holds on and has the highest riding percentage of them all.

The two remind me of another sport back in 1967 when the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers met on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field – what became known as the Ice Bowl. The Cowboys were flashy. Everyone loved watching them because you never knew when Dandy Don Meredith might connect with Bob Hayes for a 90 yard bomb or Mel Renfro might pick off a Bart Starr pass. The Packers on the other hand, under the strict tutelage of Vince Lombardi, were boring. They were methodical. They were slow and steady. And they won.

So what’s the message here? Aesop explained it 2 millennia ago – slow and steady wins the race. The lesson applies to every aspect of life and business. Flashy may draw the crowds, but methodically attacking life and business one step at a time will win the championship. Think of the husband who wines and dines his wife on the weekends, buys her lavish gifts and takes her to exotic places, but threats her like a second class citizen behind closed doors. Or think of the businesses that rule the headlines with their incredible accomplishments only to fall by the wayside because they looked for shortcuts and were not consistent. Think Enron. Being flashy might make you a fan favorite, but slow and steady wins the race.

I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks as the PBR Championship play out, and who knows, Mauney, who is a perennial second place finisher, may just have his day, but my money is on slow and steady.

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