Indoor Furniture, Outdoor Furniture – What’s the Difference?

In the world of furniture manufacturing, there are companies that specialize in indoor furniture, outdoor furniture and between the two there is a limited amount of crossover. Outdoor furniture is built differently than the indoor variety, and while you can always use outdoor furniture inside, the opposite is not always the case. If you are debating moving some furniture for outside for a party or a much longer period of time, know what should and shouldn’t be used, and what can be made over to better handle the elements.

Be a material girl:

You don’t have to be Madonna to figure out that some materials are better suited for the outdoors than others, depending on type of furniture. Outdoor materials need to be sturdy enough to withstand variant temperatures, a certain amount of moisture from rain, dew, etc. and humidity.

Common sense dictates that there are certain materials that should never be taken outside, unless you’re absolutely sure that the weather will be perfect. For instance, carpeting is a disaster when it gets wet. It takes forever to dry, and can mold, and it also gets really stiff when it’s cold. That’s why rugs not meant for the outside should stay inside. Likewise, materials like suede, fleece, and dry-only materials should also not be taken outside. Companies manufacture cushion and deep seating fabrics that mimic the feel of more luxurious materials, but are fully waterproof.

Then there are certain pieces that can go outdoors for limited periods of time before you have to worry. Wicker, for instance, though technically considered patio furniture, is not that strong and holds up much better in sunrooms and away from prolonged exposure to sun and rain. Then there are things like thin pottery, ceramic and plastic pieces that are waterproof but not suitable as furniture, outdoor or in. They aren’t strong enough to withstand extreme temperature changes or strong, inclement weather. Untreated metal is also okay to get wet for short periods, but for much longer than that and you risk it rusting.

Then there are those materials intended for use as outdoor furniture. Outdoor materials are especially hearty but still look visually pleasing. Examples of tables, chairs, planters, and more can be seen made out of the following: treated wood and hardwoods, galvanized metal, powder-coated metal (aluminum, wrought iron, zinc hardware), stone and cement (as tables, benches and umbrella stands), marbles, clay and reinforced ceramics (as planter pots), poly resin plastics and waterproof nylon (used in canopies and as cushion covers).

This list only begins to scratch the surface of the multitude of materials that make up our lives. In all, use your best judgment about whether something can go outdoors. Take into account weather patterns. If it’s really nice out, you can be more lenient about what you take outside as furniture. Outdoor conditions can change rapidly, though, so keep an eye out.

Treating Wood

The best thing you can repurpose for use as indoor furniture/outdoor furniture is wood. It’s no more difficult than adding some varnish and it might save you from unnecessarily buying all new furniture. To begin with, take a look at the wood you’re working with. Stay away from old wood that’s in bad condition, as it will deteriorate at an even more rapid pace once taken outside. Next, check what species of wood you have. Some of the naturally stronger woods, like teak, pine, cedar and cypress, are great for the outside. These woods are already strong and durable on their own and require little extra protection. More delicate woods will require extra sealant and even then they probably won’t last as long outside as hardwoods.

To begin the weatherproofing process, you will need to cover wood with a fade-proof, UV-resistant finish. Sand away any lacquer that may already exist on your furniture. Whatever finish is on there is most likely intended for inside, and while it will give furniture a high gloss shine, it’s not the right kind of varnish that will protect it from moisture and the outdoor elements. After the surface is smooth, even and clean you can apply a sealant, usually an oil-based varnish, unless you’re working with a wood that produces its own oils, like teak and cedar furniture. Outdoor atmospheric elements will dry out wood more quickly than furniture that’s kept indoors, so it’s important to protect the surface and heartwood against cracking, rotting and warping. Once that’s complete, you’re good to go. From then on, simply oil and clean your wood furniture once to twice a year to keep it healthy.

What Is A Blog Or What Does Blog Stand For

What is a blog or what does blog stand for are two questions that many internet users still often ask. Well, in short, a blog is basically an online journal whereby a blogger or a contributor to a blog, can digitally note their own thoughts, ideas, opinions and practically anything else that bloggers want people to read about.

Blogs are often called weblogs because after all they are a particular type of website, usually maintained and updated by an individual with regular entries of events, descriptions of situations, personal commentaries or other material such as graphic images or video. Entries are, more often than not, displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Blogs are fluid, interactive platforms for bloggers to get their message across to readers, as opposed to a more static website platform.

There are many resources available on the internet to provide you with blogging tips and information. For instance should you create your blog via a blogging platform such as blogger.com or buy your own domain and set up your blog via a platform such as WordPress. One important aspect of setting up your own blog is that it enables the blogger to create a bond with their readers and to be able to interact with them. It is a great way to make your own thoughts known to others, to pass on valuable information to interested readers, or to create a web presence for your business. The options are numerous.

To achieve this it is advisable for the blogger to include an “About Us” type page, where the blog owner can outline who they are and to disclose the purpose of the blog to their readers.

It goes without saying therefore that, in the main, the blogger needs to know the subject well enough to write regular blog posts. I say “in the main” because the flexibility of a blog will allow the blogger to write a post inviting their readers to comment on a subject that is not so well known by the blogger.

This approach will further enhance the bloggers bond with the readers and will provide more, fresh unique content to their blog.

As mentioned above, blog posts need to be made on a regular basis, but not too regular if the quality of the blog posts are of a poor quality. For instance it is better to post just one really informative, quality blog post every 2 or 3 days rather than several flimsy posts on a daily basis. In short it is the quality of the post rather than the quantity. Posting poor quality posts too often will drive your readers away.

Very often forgotten by bloggers is the need to include tags in their blog posts. Tags let you target your posts into different categories, which can then be searched by readers. For each of your posts you should be looking to have two or three tags. Make use of tags correctly. For example, ensure you use the same words for similar posts but don’t give posts too many tags, as this tends to clog up categories.

Don’t have too many widgets and/or images on your blog to the extent that it slows down the loading of your blog. Readers will exit very quickly if the blog takes too long to load.

Always remember as well that blogs and blog posting should be enjoyable. It is not like writing articles for article directories. A blog post should be written more like your own experiences rather than a regurgitation of a load of researched facts. For instance, one of my passions is football. If I was posting a blog post on a football match then I would write it based on my own experiences of attending a football match rather than spout a load of facts about what a football match is – rules, the time a match lasts for etc.

The flexibility of a blog enables the blogger to get their message across and to take on board any responses or feedback from their readers. It doesn’t take that long to set up a blog – again there are many tips and guidelines available on the internet.

On a more administrative level, if you do set up your own blog, don’t forget to include a “Contact Us” and a “Privacy Policy” page as a bare minimum.

Try blogging, you will find it to be both enjoyable and rewarding.

Services Marketing

Services marketing has incurred an explosive amount of scholarly research in the last 20 years, however since 1986 there has been no debate concerning the notion that services are distinct from products, and thus deserve a special approach, a set of concepts and a body of knowledge (Brown, Fisk, & Bitner, 1994). This essay will explain the distinguishing features of services marketing, giving examples where possible. It will begin by defining services marketing and giving some background knowledge on its divergence from product marketing. It will then examine the four characteristics of services, and then finish with an explanation of the extra P’s found in the services marketing mix.

In the last century there has been a large shift in marketing thought; evolving from a goods-dominated view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were the focus, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes, and relationships are central (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Vargo and Lusch define services as the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills) through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself. Four idiosyncratic features of services will now be given, highlighting why services marketing is different from basic product marketing.

Arguably the most distinguishing feature about services is their intangibility. Services are defined in (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006) as “deeds, processes, and performances”. None of these are physical objects in which a customer can take ownership of, even though during a service physical evidence will be apparent in the form of things like medicine the doctors prescribes to you, the photo taken of you riding the rollercoaster, or the food on your plate in a restaurant. This invisibility creates a number of issues for marketers. Firstly there is no stock, making it hard to manage supply and demand. Secondly services cannot be shown or displayed to customers, making it hard for marketers to advertise the quality of the service. And finally, because services don’t physically exist, there is difficulty in patenting them, making it easy for other firms to copy your service.

Another notable aspect about products is that on average they stay the same. If you buy a Ford Focus here in Australia, and then go and buy the same model in America, chances are they will both be exactly the same. Services are different in that they are heterogeneous, meaning they differ with each use. For example a wildlife tour will never be the same twice, not only because of the random and unpredictable nature of the animals, but the guide may be in a different mood, the weather will have changed, and there will be different customers each time. These factors make it harder to consistently give quality service, which is important to marketers because customers will have a particular set of expectations in mind, based primarily on what was promoted in the service and previous experiences in the particular industry.

Another distinguishable feature about services is the fact that it’s both produced and consumed at the same time, as opposed to products where customers do not see how the product is manufactured. A good metaphor for this is being at the theatre. Consumers can be compared to an audience, where they watch actors (employees) perform on stage (physical location like a business store) amongst props (physical objects like chairs, tables, pot plants etc). The actors are ‘live’ and performing (producing) at the same time as the audience are watching (consuming). This brings us to the concept of interactive marketing. In a service, operational staff carries out much of the marketing function (Klassen, Russel, & Chrisman, 1998), and marketers are left to the advertising and promotion.

The final distinction that differentiates services from products is their perishability. While some products perish very quickly (like water balloons), services simply cannot be stored, saved, resold or returned at all. Marketers main concern would be the procedure for when things do not go as planned. Customers cannot simply return the service and ask for another one; it is up to the service provider to offer the customer some kind of compensation. If passengers are forced to wait a long time for their flight, employees could provide free coffee and refreshments while they wait, in an attempt to make up for their failing service.

With product marketing the marketing mix includes the four P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Services use the same elements plus three more to help account for their unique nature.

Firstly there is people, which comprise of everyone that influences the buyer’s perceptions, including the buyer themselves. Customers have an active role in the production, and thus can influence the outcome of their own service or the service of others. For example a large family with screaming children interrupting a young couples romantic dinner at a restaurant.

Every person is important to the marketer, no matter how small their role may be. Consider an IT professional who installs computers in people’s homes. During that installation the buyer may form an opinion of the service provider as a whole based purely on that IT professionals performance. Sometimes a person is the sole service provider, for example a dentist or lawyer, making their performance and appearance critical to gaining a high perceived quality of service.

The sixth ‘P’ is physical evidence, which is the environment in which the service is delivered and where the firm and customer interact (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). It also includes any physical objects that assist in the delivery of the service. (Lehtinen & Lehtinen, 1991) define it as the environment and its instruments. With some services customers may find it hard to judge the quality of the service, especially with credence service’s like financial advisors or legal advice. It is crucial that marketing managers address consumer fears regarding risk that results before, during, and after consumption of credence services (Keh & Sun, 2008). Since the customer does not have the knowledge or experience to judge the actual service, they instead turn their attention to other things, including the physical evidence of service quality. This would usually come in the form of a professional looking workspace, however would change with each service provider. For example in a doctors surgery cleanliness would be expected.

Finally there is the service process, including the procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the service is delivered (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). When purchasing a service, customers often have a set of expectations of the process of the service, and when these are not met, the perceived quality of service drops. For example in white water rafting a customer might be dissatisfied if, when they arrived, they were told they had to carry the raft to the top of the river first. The process is important because people participate in it, unlike products, where the process is behind doors.

Services represent at least 70% of the nation’s total GDP for at least 5 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, making it a hot topic for not only marketers, but anyone competing in the business world. Services are distinguished from products by four characteristics; intangibility, they are heterogeneous, there is simultaneous production and consumption, and their perishability. Services marketing differs from product marketing from the fact that three extra P’s are added to the original marketing mix; people, physical evidence and process.

The Importance of Employment Tests

It is a known fact that the success of an employer and a company as a whole depends largely on the quality and reliability of its employees. This is the reason why employers must invest time and even money in the recruitment and interview process. Doing so would ensure that only the best possible candidate will be considered for a particular job.

When it comes to screening of potential employees, no other tool does it better than employment tests. These tests can measure what is called the KSA – knowledge, skills and abilities of the job candidates. Employment tests in this context are generally written or automated tests, but also include interviews, personality tests, skill tests, psychological tests, performance tests, medical examinations, agility tests, and so on.

A hiring process that is poorly designed is much like a recruitment process based on flipping a coin. Employers are well-aware that the impact of inefficient recruitment decisions can have costly and detrimental outcomes, which may include expensive training costs, decrease in overall productivity, increase in employee replacement, and increase in legal exposure.

Benefits of Efficient Assessments Incorporating assessment tests ensure that your company is making better hiring decisions. It can determine whether or not an employee can meet your criterion for maintaining high productivity. Consequently, pre-employment tests can reduce expensive and time-consuming recruitment steps by straightforwardly narrowing down the choices that will include only candidates who are best fit for the job. Because job fitting is greatly improved, this scenario can also increase the chances of retaining your employees for far longer periods of time. Furthermore, a well-developed pre-employment testing program can present a professional and positive image for your company, and will decrease the risk of hiring complaints.

Although pre-employment tests are basically a tool that protects employers, it can be just as important for them as for the applicant. It would be a shameful waste of time, effort, and even money to prepare for the responsibilities and challenges of a new job, yet find out later on that one is not capable of performing the tasks on hand and is bound for failure.

The benefits of pre-employment testing are endless. However, employers must know that these tests have certain limitations. For one, written tests must only measure skills that are important for the job description that a candidate is applying for. For this, employers must carefully design their pre-employment testing program. Pre-employment tests not properly designed may create an impression of being discriminatory, and this is something employers must avoid at all times.

Designing testing tools take time and experience. If these two are something your company does not have, you can easily find pre-employment testing software packages on the market. These pre-employment tests have been designed by professionals with expertise and experience in the field of recruitment, and thus can efficiently evaluate the general knowledge, office skills, personality, and so on, of a potential job candidate. There are various types of pre-employment test to choose from, and there will surely be one that best fits your needs as an employer.

Clearly, organizations that have a carefully well-developed testing program that best meets their exact needs will have competitive advantage. Employment tests allow employers to make the best hiring decisions and will consequently improve business revenue, productivity, and overall business outcomes.