Secrets of Bonding146: Financial Statement Sniff Test

Here is a list of my business and accounting courses in college:




I was an Education Major (teaching), so I didn’t get anything on financial statements “FSs”. When I started as a surety bond underwriting trainee, I realized that I had no idea what a Balance Sheet was – but I learned.

If your first reaction when you look a FS is “Duh,” we will fix that right now. Keep reading! This will be a view from 30,000 feet. Big picture.

To be complete, every financial statement must include at the minimum:

1) Balance Sheet

2) Profit and Loss Statement

The Balance Sheet

This document is a one-day snap shot of the funds in the company (Assets) and who owns them (Liabilities). The assets and liabilities are equal “balance” because every dollar in the company is shown from two points of view: the Asset side and who owns it, the Liability side.

The Balance Sheet has three important parts we can review initially. Let’s identify them based on their functionality.

Current Assets: This line item is a subtotal found near the middle of the Asset column. It represents those assets readily convertible to cash within the coming fiscal year (such as Accounts Receivable).

Current Liabilities: Found near the middle of the Liabilities column, these are debts to be paid in the coming fiscal year (such as Accounts Payable).

Total Stockholders Equity, aka Net Worth: Usually the last subsection near the end of the Liabilities column. This is the company’s Net Worth that would remain if they shut down and liquidated everything.

The Profit and Loss Statement

This is a historical summary of all the money taken in (Sales aka Revenues) and money spent (Expenses) during the preceding period, usually one year. At the bottom of the column is the Net Profit, which is the money the company “made” for the year after paying all the related bills and taxes.

Now that you can pick out a couple of strategic numbers on any FS, what shall we do with them?

Calculate Working Capital

This is a primary measure of financial strength used by all analysts, including sureties, banks and other credit grantors. It is found by subtracting the Current Liabilities from the Current Assets. It is an indicator of expected cash flow in the coming year.

The Sniff Test

Here is a quick, simplified test to use when considering a particular bid or performance bond. The evaluation is made based on the expected contract (not bond) amount. This is an instant indication of the adequacy of the finances in regard to the upcoming project.

Part One – The Working Capital target amount is 15% of the contract amount. For example, if the contract amount is $1,000,000, sureties hope to see Working Capital of at least $150,000.

Part Two – The Net Worth target amount is 20% of the contract amount or about $200,000 in our example.

Certainly there is more to surety underwriting than this simple analysis. However, by using this method, you can get a quick idea of whether the financial statement easily supports the bond, or may be a stretch. If your analysis reveals negative numbers, which are shown in parenthesis on financial reports, that’s obviously a bad sign.

Also keep in mind, applicants that do not meet these criteria may still qualify for bonds based on other factors – and the reverse is also true. Surety underwriting takes many factors into consideration. In this article we are offering a very simplified version of the process although it is valid as a quick review. This procedure will enable you to make a fast financial evaluation, and relate it to the upcoming surety exposure.


This article doesn’t make you a bond underwriter, but now when you get a new FS instead of “Duh!” you can say “Let me analyze this!”

Running a quick analysis plus the Sniff Test will indicate the likelihood of obtaining surety support. You learned a lot in three minutes, but when you have a bond that fails the Sniff Test, that’s where our expertise and market access come in. Call us!

Source by Steven Golia

Modern Financial Management Theories & Small Businesses

The following are some examples of modern financial management theories formulated on principles considered as ‘a set of fundamental tenets that form the basis for financial theory and decision-making in finance’ (Emery et al.1991). An attempt would be made to relate the principles behind these concepts to small businesses’ financial management.

Agency Theory

Agency theory deals with the people who own a business enterprise and all others who have interests in it, for example managers, banks, creditors, family members, and employees. The agency theory postulates that the day to day running of a business enterprise is carried out by managers as agents who have been engaged by the owners of the business as principals who are also known as shareholders. The theory is on the notion of the principle of ‘two-sided transactions’ which holds that any financial transactions involve two parties, both acting in their own best interests, but with different expectations.

Problems usually identified with agency theory may include:

i. Information asymmetry- a situation in which agents have information on the financial circumstances and prospects of the enterprise that is not known to principals (Emery et al.1991). For example ‘The Business Roundtable’ emphasised that in planning communications with shareholders and investors, companies should consider never misleading or misinforming stockholders about the corporation’s operations or financial condition. In spite of this principle, there was lack of transparency from Enron’s management leading to its collapse;

ii. Moral hazard-a situation in which agents deliberately take advantage of information asymmetry to redistribute wealth to themselves in an unseen manner which is ultimately to the detriment of principals. A case in point is the failure of the Board of directors of Enron’s compensation committee to ask any question about the award of salaries, perks, annuities, life insurance and rewards to the executive members at a critical point in the life of Enron; with one executive on record to have received a share of ownership of a corporate jet as a reward and also a loan of $77m to the CEO even though the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US bans loans by companies to their executives; and

iii. Adverse selection-this concerns a situation in which agents misrepresent the skills or abilities they bring to an enterprise. As a result of that the principal’s wealth is not maximised (Emery et al.1991).

In response to the inherent risk posed by agents’ quest to make the most of their interests to the disadvantage of principals (i.e. all stakeholders), each stakeholder tries to increase the reward expected in return for participation in the enterprise. Creditors may increase the interest rates they get from the enterprise. Other responses are monitoring and bonding to improve principal’s access to reliable information and devising means to find a common ground for agents and principals respectively.

Emanating from the risks faced in agency theory, researchers on small business financial management contend that in many small enterprises the agency relationship between owners and managers may be absent because the owners are also managers; and that the predominantly nature of SMEs make the usual solutions to agency problems such as monitoring and bonding costly thereby increasing the cost of transactions between various stakeholders (Emery et al.1991).

Nevertheless, the theory provides useful knowledge into many matters in SMEs financial management and shows considerable avenues as to how SMEs financial management should be practiced and perceived. It also enables academic and practitioners to pursue strategies that could help sustain the growth of SMEs.

Signaling Theory

Signaling theory rests on the transfer and interpretation of information at hand about a business enterprise to the capital market, and the impounding of the resulting perceptions into the terms on which finance is made available to the enterprise. In other words, flows of funds between an enterprise and the capital market are dependent on the flow of information between them. (Emery et al, 1991). For example management’s decision to make an acquisition or divest; repurchase outstanding shares; as well as decisions by outsiders like for example an institutional investor deciding to withhold a certain amount of equity or debt finance. The emerging evidence on the relevance of signaling theory to small enterprise financial management is mixed. Until recently, there has been no substantial and reliable empirical evidence that signaling theory accurately represents particular situations in SME financial management, or that it adds insights that are not provided by modern theory (Emery et al.1991).

Keasey et al(1992) writes that of the ability of small enterprises to signal their value to potential investors, only the signal of the disclosure of an earnings forecast were found to be positively and significantly related to enterprise value amongst the following: percentage of equity retained by owners, the net proceeds raised by an equity issue, the choice of financial advisor to an issue (presuming that a more reputable …

Top 10 Party Rental List

Party Rental Top 10 – What to rent for your event…

When it comes to deciding what rental items are the perfect solution for your event, take a few minutes to consider what is popular at other peoples parties. This list is based on real experience supplying party rental items to events over a nearly 30 year period. Check out this list to help you know what you need for your next gathering!

  1. Tables
  2. Chairs
  3. Bounce houses
  4. Carnival Games
  5. Sound System
  6. Tents – Canopies
  7. Concession Machines
  8. Inflatable Slide
  9. Mechanical Bulls
  10. Decor Items

Those are the popular party rental items- but here are some more comprehensive lists of things we see getting rented:

Party and Event Support Rentals

– Tents

– Tables

– Chairs

– Linens

– Temporary Heaters

– Temporary Lighting

– Temporary Floors

– Fencing

– Generators, Power Services

– Sound Systems

– Digital Jukeboxes

– Balloons

– Decor

– Promotional Items

– Promotional Inflatables

– Inflatable Arches

– Dance Floors

– Stages

Party Entertainment Rentals

– Game Rentals

– Inflatable Rentals

– Video Game Rentals

– Carnival Games

– Picnic Games

– Arcade Games

– Table Games

– Interactive Games

– Carnival Rides

– Water Slides

– Dunk Tanks

– Jump Houses

– Inflatable Slides

– Hi Strikers

– Mechanical Bulls

– Ferris Wheels

– Spin Rides

– Mobile DJ’s and Emcees

– Clowns

– Face Painters

– Kids Games

– Arts and Craft Activities

– And more!

Planning a party? Top 10 Things to consider:

  1. Do you have a theme?
  2. How Many people are coming?
  3. What will be going on at the party?
  4. Where is the party to be held?
  5. What kind of food options will be provided (by whom)?
  6. What kind of budget do you have?
  7. How long is the party or event?
  8. Is there enough parking?
  9. Are there enough bathrooms?
  10. What about entertainment?

Party Rental companies come in all shapes and sizes- here are are some ways to make sure you are picking a quality provider:

  1. Call a provider and talk to them about your event, a reputable provider will be able to provide you with a quote either over the phone, or in many cases for larger rental orders via email, fax, or in some kind of typed format.
  2. Check that your provider is licensed to do business. Ask if they are, and check with your states corporation division to determine if the provider is in fact a legitimate business. There are many people who simply offer party rentals part time or as a second income- if your event is important to you, you will want to make sure you are contracting a professional, full time, event or party rental company.
  3. Ask to see a certificate of insurance for the company. Many of the smaller part time businesses, and some of the large rental companies out there do not carry insurance. You need to verify that you are doing business with a legitimate provider, who has insurance to protect you, them, and your guests from any unplanned accidents or occurrences.
  4. Get an invoice + service agreement. Sign it, date it, and return the agreement to the company. Without a signed agreement, chances are you do not have a contract. Be sure to read your invoice and agreement carefully- if you do not check to verify all the items you have on your party rental order are on the invoice, then do not be surprised when something does not make it to your event…
  5. Check Date, Time, Contact and Event location information on the agreement/invoice. Any information likle this can cause huge issues if it is incorrect. The day of the event, you want the right information on the invoice as that is what the party rental company will use to get to your location. A wrong address, combined with a wrong phone number can create a nightmare…

No matter what you rent for your party, the list above is important to follow.

Source by Maynard P. Kensington

Why Can’t I Get Full Retail Replacement Value For My Dinnerware?

Selling replacement dinnerware has many factors involved in setting a piece or pattern’s “retail value.” Just as a car dealership is generally able to get a much higher resale price for a used vehicle than an individual could, selling replacement china has the same economic principles.

A used car’s value is based on overall condition, mileage, reliability, brand name and consumer demand. The better the condition (nothing is broken and there are no major repairs in its history which is true for the car OR the china in this example), the lower the mileage (how often was the car driven/china used – general wear & tear), the more reliable the vehicle (how durable is the china), the brand or maker (manufacturer) AND its model (pattern) and how many people are actually looking to purchase that particular car (china pattern and/or particular piece) ALL go into determining its overall resale retail value.

If you were to sell your car, chances are VERY good that you will get A LOT less than a car dealership would get – the dealership has invested tons of money into building a client list and advertising. They will have more “traffic” – that is, a dealership has more potential buyers than any one individual.

A car dealership has also established itself as an EXPERT. People know that when they buy from a reputable dealer, the will get the EXACT car that is promised in the EXACT shape that it is advertised to be in. If there are issues, the consumer KNOWS that they can go back to the dealer to handle any issues that may have been overlooked. All car dealerships must adhere to some type of limited warranty, lemon laws and the like. Also, a consumer knows that they have not only purchased a car from the dealership, but along with that they now have a relationship with that dealership – a place that they can return to again and again for on-going maintenance. These two points are generally the reasons why most people will pay premium prices to a dealer when purchasing a used car.

A consumer that purchases a vehicle from an unknown individual generally has little or no recourse if the car was either intentionally OR unintentionally misrepresented. Usually the only protection a consumer would have is to bring a civil lawsuit against the seller.

In the China Replacement resale market, these same points hold true – people are willing to pay more to a company that stands behind their inventory, offers no-hassle return policies and has a standardized condition grading system.

China Replacement Firms that sell “full price, first quality” dinnerware have inspected the dinnerware and have certified EACH AND EVERY piece to be in as close to BRAND NEW condition as is physically possible based on the age, scarcity and durability of that particular piece.

These firms also know what each manufacturer’s “seconds marks” (defects, flaws, irregularities) look like and will NEVER sell any “second” quality piece at “first” quality pricing.

Oh Goody, my set or item is selling for TONS of money on eBay and/or Replacements, Ltd!!!!

MAYBE, but possibly not – you cannot ascertain the actual selling price of something from the asking price!!!

MOST replacement dinnerware does NOT sell (on eBay or elsewhere) for more than what the leading China Replacement Retail Establishments are asking. That said China Replacement Firms will price their items based on the number of clients they have for a particular pattern, how many total pieces they have currently on hand for each particular piece type and THEIR realized consumer demand for EACH piece.

The eBay marketplace however, fluctuates madly; generally valuing items on the overall consumer demand and the item’s perceived “collectability”.

As an example, a pattern that was only produced for one year may bring MUCH higher prices on eBay than a China Replacement Firm would charge as they may have none or only a handful of registered clients – they may not even have much, if any pieces, in stock of that particular pattern.

Additionally, pieces that are in stock with high retail prices ARE NOT NECESSARILY “flying off the shelves.” It is highly probable that some higher priced serving pieces (as well as place setting pieces) have been in their inventory for YEARS – with only a handful (if that even) of actual completed SALES.

When researching what “your set is worth.” It is important to understand the difference between what current eBay prices are ASKING and what the pieces have ACTUALLY sold for. MANY, MANY auctions and Store Listings end with NO buyers. MANY Store listings end up selling for a “Best Offer” which can sometimes be CONSIDERABLY less than the seller’s original asking price.

As in the general retail market, the Dinnerware resale market has plummeted as …

Challenges of Local Government Institutions in Bangladesh

1. Ideas and practices of local government:

Most people consider public representatives as local guardians who work with them, and with whom they can share all sorts of personal, social, religious and political thoughts and beliefs. With the increase in power and volume of activities of the government, the responsibility and duty of the local government has also been increased by several times. Around the world most challenges people face are local. So, the best way to solve them is through local initiatives and local leadership by awakening and mobilizing people. Authorities closest to the citizen or rather citizens themselves by getting directly involved can greatly contribute in solving public problems. This is how the local government takes its shape. Local government brings decision-making closer to the people. A strong local government system can ensure good governance through transparency, accountability, effective participation and equal opportunities for all. Most importantly, this system can ensure development at the grassroots level. Strong local government institutions strengthen democracy, ensure good governance, and at the same time quicken the pace of political and socioeconomic development of the country.

1.1. New view of local government:

Local government is based on community governance, and focused on citizen-centered local governance. It is the primary agent for the citizens and leader and gatekeeper for shared rule, is responsive and accountable to local voters. It is purchaser of local services, and facilitator of network mechanisms of local governance, coordinator of government providers and entities beyond government, mediator of conflicts, and developer of social capital. It is externally focused and competitive; ardent practitioner of alternative service delivery framework; open, quick, and flexible, innovative. It is risk taker within limits, autonomous in taxing, spending, regulatory, and administrative decisions. It has managerial flexibility and accountability for results. It is participatory; and works to strengthen citizen voice and exit options through direct democracy provisions, citizens’ charters, and performance budgeting. It is focused on earning trust, creating space for civic dialogue, serving the citizens, and improving social outcomes. It is fiscally prudent; works better and costs less, inclusive and participatory. It overcomes market and government failures. Local government is connected in a globalized and localized world

1.2. Citizen-centered local governance:

Reforming the institutions of local governance requires agreement on basic principles. Three basic principles are advanced to initiate such a discussion:

* Responsive governance: This principle aims for governments to do the right things-that is, to deliver services consistent with citizen preferences.

* Responsible governance: The government should also do it right-that is, manage its fiscal resources prudently. It should earn the trust of residents by working better and costing less and by managing fiscal and social risks for the community. It should strive to improve the quality and quantity of and access to public services. To do so, it needs to benchmark its performance with the best-performing local government.

* Accountable governance: A local government should be accountable to its electorate. It should adhere to appropriate safeguards to ensure that it serves the public interest with integrity. Legal and institutional reforms may be needed to enable local governments to deal with accountability between elections-reforms such as a citizen’s charter and a provision for recall of public officials.

The distinguishing features of citizen-centered governance are the following:

* Citizen empowerment through a rights-based approach (direct democracy provisions, citizens’ charter);

* Bottom-up accountability for results;

* Evaluation of government performance as the facilitator of a network of providers by citizens as governors, taxpayers, and consumers of public services.

1.3. Local government as an institution to advance self-interest: The public choice approach:

The approach has conceptualized four models of local government:

* A local government that assumes it knows best and acts to maximize the welfare of its residents conforms to the benevolent despot model.

* A local government that provides services consistent with local residents’ willingness to pay conforms to the fiscal exchange model.

* A local government that focuses on public service provision to advance social objectives conforms to the fiscal transfer model.

* A local government that is captured by self-interested bureaucrats and politicians conforms to the leviathan model, which is consistent with the public choice perspectives.

1.4. Local government as an independent facilitator of creating public value: new public management (NPM) perspectives:

Two interrelated criteria have emerged from the NPM literature in recent years determining, first, what local governments should do and, second, how they should do it better. In discussing the first criterion, the literature assumes that citizens are the principals but have multiple roles as governors (owner-authorizers, voters, taxpayers, community members); activist-producers (providers of services, co-producers, self-helpers obliging others to act); and consumers (clients and beneficiaries). In this context, significant emphasis is placed on the government as an agent of the people to serve public interest and create public value. This …

Why Do Businesses Need Custom Mobile Application Development?

All customers use mobile apps. In fact all customers prefer a mobile app over a website these days. It’s simply too convenient to have anywhere anytime access to the facilities we use so often. For example, banking apps, shopping apps and apps for paying domestic bills etc. Are so popular these days that we wonder how we got things done without them! Well, more and more businesses today ensure that their customers have easy access to their business.

Businesses of today, in fact, depend on mobility solutions and custom mobile application development to cater to their unique requirements. Custom apps create extraordinary value to businesses especially if they are developed by targeting the right customer base and are tailored to perform as per business requirements.

Here’s how custom mobile application development could be beneficial for your business:

Improves efficiency

Custom mobile applications are built with the business requirements in mind and at the same time cater to the needs of your customers. Since the focus is on your business, they are developed to improve the efficiency of your business. Statistics show that by implementing mobile solutions, businesses saw a significant 46% increase in their operational efficiency. Conducting business become easy for you and you can better manage your customers too.

Increase in productivity

This is in a way linked to the first point. Once business efficiency is improved, it positively impacts the productivity too. It is a known fact that the productivity sees a 41% rise after implementing mobility solutions. Inefficient tasks are effectively automated and hence the efficiency and in turn productivity increases. So, think of all your business processes and customer facing processes that could be mobilized and automated. It’s the right way to go.


Custom mobile applications are developed with the security of your specific data in mind. These apps are created after thoroughly studying your business data and security requirements and ensure that the highest level of security in implemented in our mobile apps. Different levels of access can be configured for clients, employees, managers and other individuals who will use this app.

Solves a problem

Mobile apps offer a great deal of mobility to your business. For example sales professionals could update their daily records from anywhere and anytime, field support engineers could update their cases immediately without having to wait until they get back to office. Mainly, custom mobile application act as a solution to some kind of a pressing problem and help you run your business smoothly.

Customer communication and satisfaction

Many times customers find it difficult to easily approach a business. Mobile apps provide them with a perfect way to communicate with your business. Efficient interactions with your business and prompt replies via mobile apps improve the overall customer satisfaction.

Mobile apps give you an edge over the competition. You can customize the app to fulfil a specific purpose or play a specific role in your business so that you get maximum returns on your investment.

Source by Ronak B

Engine Computer – Unleash the Full Potential of Your Vehicle With the Help of an Auto Computer

Admit it or not, the performance of your car is one of the greatest contributors that will determine how you “love” your car. Changing the performance of your car can cost a lot of money, but with the help of an engine computer, you will be able to tune the performance of your car without having a hard time. With the help of an auto computer, you will be able to increase gas mileage and provide you with great driving experience.

Aside from the feel and cost-efficiency, you will also be able to increase the maximum horsepower of your car with the help of an auto computer. This will allow you to easily increase the power of your car, and will help you enhance air intake, exhaust, and spark plugs for further enhancement of its performance. All you have to do is to have an engine computer installed and connected to the electrical system of your car.

When you buy your vehicle, you will be given all the information that you need to know about it such as recommended mileage, fuel efficiency, and “maximum” horsepower. The truth is that you will only be provided with the stock performance, and there is more to your vehicle that what the manufacturer says. All you have to do is to have the right engine computer and you will be able to unleash the real power of your vehicle.

With proper remapping of the electronic control, you will be able to experience better fuel efficiency, stability, horsepower, and torque. All you have to do is to look for a compatible auto computer, and have it programmed by a technician according to your needs. This will give you all the power that you need from your vehicle and you won’t have to spend a fortune just to have a “super car” that can provide you with the performance that you want to have.

Though there are a lot of advantages that you can get from having an engine computer installed in your vehicle, you still need to make sure that you will be installing it properly. Improper installation of an auto computer could burnout your engine and would cost more money. This is the reason why it would be better if you are going to consult a professional who can help you choose the best engine computer and have it programmed for you. This will give you the all the features that you want to have in your computer.

Source by James J. Cronin

How to Use DISH Network’s SAT Auto-Tune Feature

Who benefits from this feature? DISH Network customers that come across a snowy, blue, or black screen. These issues often occur because of the wrong TV channel, especially on TV2, and the use of SAT Auto-Tune helps prevent this issue from occurring.

This preventative feature is available on newer DISH Network remote controls which allow customers to return to watching television with a single button from the remote control. This corrects the TV channel used for satellite viewing. When the SAT button is pressed, the remote sends that channel to the TV. In order to use this feature, first program the remote to operate the TV, then program in the correct channel for the TV, and finally enable (for 5.3 and 6.3 remote controls.)

Setting SAT Auto-Tune Channel

Note: These steps can also be used to change the channel used for SAT Auto-Tune.

  1. Program the remote control to operate the TV.
  2. Press and hold TV until all four mode buttons are lit.
  3. Press STAR (), then enter the channel used for viewing satellite TV. For example, if the TV needs to be on channel 60, enter 60.
  4. Press POUND (#). The TV button flashes times to indicate programming was successful.


  1. Press and hold SAT for three seconds until all four mode buttons are lit.
  2. Press STAR (), then press Volume UP.
  3. Press POUND (#). The SAT button flashes three times to indicate it was enabled.


  1. Press and hold SAT for three seconds until all four mode buttons are lit.
  2. Press STAR (), then press VOLUME DOWN.
  3. Press POUND (#), The SAT button flashes three times to indicate it was disabled.

Compatible Remote Controls:

3.4 IR




6.3IR/UHF Pro

6.4IR/UHF Pro

20.0 IR

21.0 IR/UHF Pro


Default is Disabled on the 5.3 and 6.3 remote controls.

Default is Enabled on the 3.4, 4.4, 5.4, 6.4, 20.0 and 21.0 remote controls.

In order to function correctly, the correct channel for the installation must be programmed into the remote using the steps under Setting SAT Auto-Tune Channel.

This feature can only send a channel to the TV, not an input. Because of this, SAT Auto-Tune is most useful for TV2. If used for TV1, channel 3 or 4 should be programmed using the steps under Setting SAT Auto-Tune Channel.

The TV Channel programmed for SAT Auto-Tune is also the channel that will be sent to the TV if the RECOVER button is used. The steps in Setting SAT Auto-Tune Channel can also be used in VCR mode to program the channel sent to a VCR during the Recover process.

*Earlier versions of the 5.3 and 6.3 remotes (part numbers 142301, 143037, and 143129) are not supported.


  1. Press and hold TV until all four mode buttons are lit.
  2. Press STAR (), then enter 00
  3. Press POUND (#). The TV button flashes three times to indicate programming was removed.

Source by Steven J Keipert

Dead Car Battery FAQS

You should think of your car battery as the heart of your vehicle. It is its power unit. You would think the engine would be a better metaphor, but your car battery is what essentially gives your vehicle power. Just like you wouldn’t want your body to go without a beating heart, you wouldn’t want your vehicle to go without power. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting stuck somewhere because of a dead or defective battery. The best method for maintaining a functional and reliable unit is to have your vehicle serviced professionally at least twice per year.

If you are concerned about your “power unit”, or simply wish to learn more about them, continue reading for some frequently asked questions about dead batteries, as well as, their answers.

How Do I Know if My Car Battery is Dying?

There are several signs that indicate it’s time to service or replace your car battery. These signs include but are not limited to: slow engine crank, weak engine power, dashboard lights illuminated (even if it seems unrelated), check engine light turns on, low fluid, dim lights (interior and exterior), sluggish car start, bloated casing, smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, and more.

Why Did My Battery Die?

The most common cause for a dead battery is drainage. If you leave your headlights or interior lights on all night by accident, you may wake up to find that your car power is dead. A simple jump-start will fix this issues in as little as a five minutes. Other circumstances that can cause power drainage include not closing the visor or glove box all the way, leaving a stereo on, leaving a door ajar, and leaving the dome light on. After several hours, it will drain entirely, even sooner if it’s old or close to replacement.

As for other reasons why your car battery might have died, things like parasitic draw, defective cells, low fluid, and more can all play a role. It is best to have yours inspected by a trained mechanic for accurate and professional assistance.

How Long Do Car Batteries Last?

The typical lifespan for a standard lead-acid car unit is between 3 to 5 years. For those who drive often or long distances, change out your batteries closer to the 3 year mark. This is recommended for older vehicles as well. Keep in mind that although this is the standard lifespan, there are several factors that can shorten the life of your car battery.

How Can I Tell the Age of My Battery?

The age of your automotive battery is easy to locate. The manufacturer date is always stamped on a label, which is usually on its side. The information on the label will provide the date it was sent by the manufacturer. The first two characters of the label represent different pieces of information. The letter represents the month it was made, while the number represents the year (i.e. JAN=A, FEB=B, 9=1999, 1=2001, etc.).

Source by Sarahbeth Kluzinski

Sergey Petrov – Russian Billionaire, Automotive Oligarch and Prisoner of the KGB

I recently had the opportunity to interview Sergey Petrov, Deputy of the State Duma, and member of the “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” (A Just Russia) political party, member of the Russian Budget and Taxes State Duma Committee and the founder of the ROLF Group, the first diversified automotive business in Russia.

Sergey Petrov is an exception to the rule: a Russian billionaire who built his business from nothing as opposed to benefiting from the privatisations in the early 1990’s. An independent straight talker, with a remarkable personal history; he reflects the changes and turbulent times of post and pre Soviet – Russia.

He is a pragmatic and passionate about his country and a vociferous critic of the status quo in Russian politics; and of Russia’s leaders.

Graduating from school in 1971 he entered the Higher Military Aviation School in Orenburg, southern Russia. In 1975 he was commissioned and qualified as a pilot in the elite Soviet Strategic Air Force. Flying Tupolev Tu-16 BADGER aircraft, a twin- engine, strategic nuclear bomber, he often challenged NATO skies.

“I remember these days, flying the big planes and making the (NATO) fighters accompany us” recalled Sergey.

Retraining on fighter aircraft he became an Instructor, won the Soviet TOP GUN at Fighter School, Orenburg and looked set for a meteoric military career as he made Major at 26, a decade earlier than most of his peers. And, like a meteor, his career in the military crashed.

He recalled “It was in 1982 when I finished my military career as I fought against the KGB and the Communist Party.”

Whilst it became possible to challenge authority in the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s the earlier era of Brezhnev and Andropov (1964 to 1985) were a different case entirely. Soviet justice was swift and severe. Andropov, the former KGB leader who led the Soviet Union between 1982 and 1985, was a hard liner whom played a key role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution in 1956; the ring leaders were arrested and executed.

In 1982, if you were not part of the ‘system’, it was an intimidating environment.

“The KGB had been watching us and decided to bring us into custody. Not only me, but 12 colleagues as well, living in different cities as we had now scattered across the Soviet Union”.

Sergey Petrov had started his protest against the ruling Communist Party at the age of 21 and had tried to influence his colleagues and students highlighting the injustice of the system.

“I had many targets and goals. I had to teach the students to fly the aircraft, to hit the targets and to indoctrinate them with Soviet propaganda. No one asked me to fight against the Soviet system. It was not in my job description. It was why they decided to kick me out.”

By 1982 his war of ‘propaganda’ had been noticed and he was dismissed from the Soviet Army and expelled from The Communist Party of the Soviet Union for anti-Soviet propaganda and participation in secret democratic organizations.

Unable to find work in Orenburg, Petrov along with his wife and baby, made their way to Moscow. Petrov’s anti- Soviet activities precluded him from working for any elite organisations like the military, security or diplomatic corps.

Between 1982 and 1989 he worked for the Mosinzhstroy, the Moscow construction company and studied at the Soviet Trade Institute. He graduated in 1987.

“When the market economy became a reality I decided to stop working for nothing and to open my own company. But first, as I had nothing I decided to acquire experience. I got a job in a joint venture with Rosek for a small period of time, maybe a year and a half and gained experience”.

In 1991, as the Soviet Union fell apart, Petrov joined thousands of Russians at the barricades around Bely Dom, the Russian White House, resisting the attempted coup d’├ętat by Soviet hardliners loyal to the crumbling regime.

“On the day of the Coup I spent the night in the crowd outside the White House. It was my dream. I was dedicated to the democratic process, democratic rules and future”.

The coup attempt failed and led to the annulment of the 1922 union treaty that established the Soviet Union, led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the beginning of radical Russian economic reforms. The new reality for its citizens was a fight for survival in the new Russia.

“We were in an awful environment in the 1990’s but we had hope. Every year it was getting better and better.”

Sergey Petrov’s first foray into his own business was with a car rental business.

“I decided to set up my own company “Rolf”. The Company was registered on the 5th August 1991 but we had already been working in …

Shake Up Or Ship Out!

For years Hollywood has been plagued with atrocities that continue to dismantle and disrupt the flow of harmony in a town that is driven by greed and egomaniacs rather than the balance of the dance between creativity and business acumen. In the golden days of Tinseltown – the industry was structured with a family orientation that permeated throughout the ranks of companies, studios, agencies and mini-majors alike, generating a camaraderie that regardless of being a competitor – the Universal goal remained in tact – “keep the movie industry machine flourishing.”

With the incubation of cutthroat mentalities and not-enough for everyone kind of fear, the Hollywood ship has taken a turn that has driven it into turbulent waters and the irony is that it is self-imposed – merely due to its lack of self-awareness. Inflated budgets to inflate people’s pockets has become a norm even if it means that there may not be a future because just relying on the common belief – “audiences will always want movies and entertainment to keep their heads above water in their own lives” – no longer remains a significant enough argument to literally cut its own nose off to spite its face. Investors are running for the hills…PERIOD. Fear is rampant. And decisions are slower than ever before as most grapple onto sure things that are no longer sure things anymore. Calculated risk is now a sink or sink slower mantra that currently is obvious to all who are in the know about the current state of the industry and leaks are increasing while the battles continue with their own inner demons controlling Hollywood entirely.

ISSUE #1: Egomaniacal studio execs, producers, directors, writers, you name it – who are absorbed by THE IT’S ALL ABOUT ME SYNDROME – clearly are more concerned about the house they own in the hills, is my Bentley the biggest and the brightest, do I have the hottest model or actress on the market is driving this industry into the ground. When the evidence is on the wall – “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s goin’ on in the hood.” Regardless, this industry needs an attitude adjustment…and FAST! OR their soon to be foreclosed house, ex-girlfriend and repossessed Bentley will not be the only things left in the wake of destruction by this type of behavior.

ISSUE #2: Quality projects have seem to fall by the way side only to lose out or be neglected by an industry once created to make solid, soulful and smart business decisions based on overall assessment. Time and time again we hear about projects getting greenlit because so and so went to college with so and so and they owe them for bailing them out of jail their freshman year. Or even one story I have personal first hand knowledge about – a friend from a south american country was given carte blanche into Hollywood, via the red carpet treatment, simply because he saved a group of top execs and agents from certain punishment after being pulled over and arrested by local police with an exuberant amount of drugs and high-priced call girls in tow. Their private yacht that they rented to rage it up, undoubtedly financed by unknowing investors of the studio, began to sink and he hopped into action to save everyone’s ass.

Only in Hollywood would they create a Hollywood blacklist for projects that should be made, but are not happening. A list where everyone enjoys a script or package, but because the harbor is just too crammed with vessels not worth sailing the seven seas with is overloaded by an already flooded market with drivel. Independent movies have literally become fossils of a dead age where breakthrough films, actors, below the line talent reached pinnacles they would usually never have access to. Over the decades, time and time again, fresh voices, cutting edge talent, off the charts skills have risen to the top simply because there was an opening to it and marquee names were irrelevant – it was about the product.

What good does a broken down Aston Martin do for anyone other than auction it off for spare parts? Most would take it and cut their losses which is exactly what they will be counting…their losses. Rather than their gains and successes from unique cars, well-built and running in top form even if it’s from a lesser known manufacturer that the audience could give a shit about either company – their focus is on the product itself and the benefits. Just ask the the professionals who name cache is relentlessly plummeting as their projects continue bomb worse than Hiroshima on a good day.

Is it just me or is this just the tip of the iceberg for what has become an industry …

Looking For A Debt Settlement With An Auto Title Loan

Debt settlement may seem like a solution to getting rid of your credit card, medical, or payday loan bills, but using this option for an auto title loan may make your circumstances worse. However, depending on your negotiating skills, bank balance, and willingness to pay, you may have a chance to settle with your auto title loan lender for as little as 25%-$75 of what you owe.

Debt settlement can work in two different ways: utilizing a debt settlement company or trying to settle the debt yourself. If you go through a debt settlement firm, you will give them all information regarding what you owe and to whom. You will make payment to the settlement company and in return they will put that money into a savings account. Once the balance in the account has reached a certain amount, the company will call your creditors to make an offer on settling your debt. It may be a flat fee or a percentage of what you owe. Once determined, the debt settlement company will pay your creditor.

If you choose to attempt debt settlement on your own, you can call your creditors and negotiate a settlement price. Keep in mind; you will have to be ready to give them a lump sum should they agree on a settlement amount. In most cases, the collector you are negotiating with is automatically given permission to reduce the amount you owe by as much as 75%.

Settling a debt with an auto title loan lender directly is going to be a bit different, though. First of all, the lender is not going to consider negotiating with you until you have defaulted on your loan. They will make every attempt to get you to pay before they are willing to take a lesser amount than what you owe. Loan amounts on auto title loans range from $1,000-$5,000 which means the lender is going to want to get their money back.

One of the biggest differences between settling on a credit card or medical bill versus a car title loan is that the lender holds the title to your vehicle and has the option to repossess the car, sell it at an auction, and recoup part or all of their money. This puts them in a good position to negotiate. They know you don’t want to give up your car and therefore will have more bargaining power. One benefit for you, the debtor, is that most title lenders don’t report to credit bureaus so in the case that you settle, it most likely won’t affect your credit score.

Whether or not your car has been repossessed and you want to attempt to negotiate a debt settlement with the auto title loan lender, start out by reviewing your loan documents to find out how much you owe. Next, find out how much your car is worth by looking it up online at Kelly Blue Book or another reputable automotive vehicle valuation company. If your car is worth less than you owe, the lender may be more open to negotiating a settlement since it is more profitable for them than trying to sell at an auction.

Decide on how much you can afford or are willing to pay should the lender accept your offer. Most lenders expect debtors to offer at least 20% at which time they can counter offer for more. Start low so you will have a better chance of settling for less. Once determined, send a letter to the lender with your account information, how much you owe, the current value of your vehicle and how much you are willing to pay. You will also want to explain why you can’t repay the full amount of the loan.

If at first the lender doesn’t accept your offer, be persistent. Keep negotiating until you and the lender reach an amount that you can afford. Get the settlement in writing and make sure you pay the negotiated amount! If you default on your settlement you most likely will not have another chance to make good on your loan!

Source by Laura J Solomon

Writing Auto Estimates is Like Going to Walmart – Auto Estimator Training For Beginners

The Estimating Guide

Once we have all of the information needed from the vehicle we can take the estimate into the estimating office or area where we can complete and total the auto estimate. The estimating guide will provide a list of the parts with diagrams, the price of the parts, the flat rate labor to replace the parts (judgment time is not-included in the estimating guides, we’ll discuss judgment time later) and the refinish flat rate to paint the parts if needed.

Parts and Abbreviations

It is very important to know the nomenclature of the parts and the abbreviations of the parts. You must also realize that parts may be called different things. A door outer repair panel may be how the guide describes what we know in body shop jargon, door skin. However, it is going to make it difficult to find the right parts if you do not have a clue what they are called. A couple of abbreviations that I am going to mention are R&I,which stands for remove and install. This is when you remove a part and put the same part back on. For example, there may not be any damage to a door, but it may have to be removed to gain access to the damaged area. Therefore, you will not have to remove the trim panel, glass, door handle, etc. This will be less flat rate than to replace the door.. If you replace the door that is called R&R, which stands for remove and replace. Now you will have to transfer all of the hardware from the old door to the new door, which is going to take more time. Many times on front bumper covers and other assemblies they have an O/H, which stands for overhaul. This basically gives you time to take the assembly completely apart and to put it back together.


Look at your P-Pages and to learn all of the abbreviations. This is something that will help you. You don’t just want you to memorize what they stand for, but you want to understand what does each abbreviation includes or does not include in the tasks.

Think About Walmart When Writing Estimates

What is included and what is not included in each operation? This is something that you need to ask yourself every time you add a line to your estimate. This is where most mistakes are made when writing an estimate, which results in dollars lost for the shop. There are tons of non-included operations that go unclaimed on most estimates. Many times the estimator claims they do not put it on the estimate because the insurance company will not pay for it. There is some truth behind this story, but it is usually because they did not write it on the estimate correctly. You must itemize each procedure if you plan to get paid for it. It is like going to Walmart. Have you ever went to Walmart and gathered a bunch of items in your cart, then went to check out; then they give you the amount, which almost gives you a heart attack? Well, lets take this one step further, what if they gave you receipt with just the total amount on it? You would probably claim that they made a mistake. However, when you get the itemized receipt, you look it over and realize all of the prices are correct. It just added up to more than you thought it would. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but it happens to me all of the time. Insurance adjusters are the same way. If it is not crystal clear what you are charging for, they want to claim that it is not right and they do not want to pay that amount…I sure wish I could do that at the store! However, if you have every item listed separate and not bulged together, they can see that your charges are legitimate. So to determine what non included operations you can add to your estimate look in your p-pages. This will list everything that is included and everything that is not included. I recommend that you take some time and study the p-pages and know them by heart.

by Donnie Smith

Source by Donnie A Smith

Electric Motors: More Efficient Than Combustion Engines

Electric motors are being claimed to be a workable and desirable replacement of combustion engines due to certain inherent advantages. All brands have launched a frantic race to launch electric motors and are making efforts to make the most significant technical advances in this sector.

There are often doubts about the suitability of using an electric motor over combustion engine. It is currently a topic of debate due to a sharp increase in oil prices. It is therefore important to know the fundamental advantages of using an electric motor over the current combustion engines.

1. The electric motors are much more interesting in terms of design, because they are compact and can be placed almost anywhere in the vehicle.

2. From the point of view of mechanical performance, it is much more convincing than the diesel or gasoline model. The principle is simple: a power source (battery) is connected to an electric motor via a controller and a converter which is used to enable supply of AC to the motor, thereby requiring less number of mechanical components and causing less wear and tear of those that are still required.

3. An electric motor also has the advantage of not having a significant friction loss, as is the case with a thermal combustion engine. In contrast, the energy is directly converted into motion almost in its entirety, leading to an immediate and constant acceleration.

4. Electric motors require less maintenance and do not need coolants or engine oil.

5. Virtually, they make no noise while in operation and produce negligible heat.

6. Vibrations are imperceptible as the engine does not suffer during operation.

7. An electric motor requires no gears except some mechanism to distinguish forward and backward movement, which may well be the reverse polarity of the motor itself.

8. The absence of a tank filled with fuel to power the engine through a pipe, gearbox and cooling apparatus induces the possibility of decentralizing the movement generation and placing multiple motors instead of one “central motor” coupled to a transmission. You only need some software to synchronize the different motors.

9. When it stops, it does not need any clutch to exert torque. It is also easy to recover braking energy (or a part of it) to recharge the batteries, because a motor and a generator are essentially the same.

10. Talking of fuel efficiency, an electric motor has an efficiency of around 90% which is the percentage of energy consumed in motion when the battery is usable, while a diesel engine, due to the thermodynamic limitations, has efficiency below 40%.

Moreover, this latest technology is environment friendly and cheaper than the existing combustion fuel driven engines.

The main issue with motors of this kind is not themselves as such, but their power sources – current battery technology being the weak point within the larger systems. Of course batteries are improving all the time, along with the means of charging them.

Given the growing ecological awareness of modern societies, people these days are more than happy to sacrifice few benefits of the combustion engines over electric ones. In fact it is prudent to make these sacrifices if we wish to have a cleaner and greener planet.

Source by John Humpfries

Does a Driving Record Affect a Person’s Ability to Rent a Car?

People who do not rent cars often from rental car companies are not always aware of how their driving record will affect their ability to rent a car, or if it will matter at all. When renting a car, it is a good idea to check with the rental car company to inquire about any disclosures or specific rules they may have about your ability to rent a car and your driving record. Some rental car companies will check with the Motor Vehicle Department to ask for a copy of your driving record. In order for them to do this, you often must submit a written form of permission for them to gain access to this information.

Rental car companies each have their own regulations and requirements that must be met in order for a person to rent a car. Some rental car companies will check a person’s driving record the first time a person rents a car from them. After the first time, if the car is returned in good condition and there were no collisions or fender benders in which the car renter was responsible, the driving record is generally not checked again by the same company unless a significant amount of time has passed before the next time the person rents a car from the company.

If you have a less than stable and perfect driving record, it is possible that you may be charged a higher fee for renting a car. Some car rental companies specialize in renting cars to drivers who have had accidents and speeding tickets in the past. Drinking and driving offenses are not always overlooked by car rental companies; and depending on the offense and how long it has been since it occurred, this could prevent you from being able to rent a car, even if you do have a valid driver’s license.

You may also face the possibility of not being given the option for insurance on the rental car and will be required to pay for the rental car insurance if your record of driving has been an unstable one. Speeding tickets, drinking and driving, collisions, reckless driving tickets, and fender benders all put a negative smear on your driving record. While these tickets and offenses may not necessarily prevent you from being able to rent a car, it can make it more expensive to do so.

Taking a driving class will help to put positive marks on your driving record and this can make all future car rentals and auto insurance prices more affordable for you. Researching several different auto rental companies and making price comparisons for high risk drivers can help you to find the best deals. You may simply need to put down a larger deposit than someone who has a good driving record. These deposits are refundable if there are no accidents while you rented the vehicle and if you return the vehicle in the same condition that it was rented.

Source by William C Crenshaw

The Davinci Kalani Crib in Espresso – A Mother’s Perspective

Purchasing the Davinci Kalani crib in Espresso for your nursery will give the room a timeless quality. The espresso polished wood gives your baby’s room a modern look and the sleigh rails create an old fashioned, understated elegance. Uncover the finer points of this popular crib and what safety feature this crib has over its competitors.

What special design feature is childproof?

One of the stand out features of this crib is the static side which means the front of the crib doesn’t drop down. No moving parts in this crib, equals no squashed fingers. A 4-level mattress system is used and can be lowered as your baby grows. This spring system technology is a better design than some slat systems, as it has a 4 height setting adjustment, allowing even the smallest adult to customise in a matter of minutes.

Like a lot of other cribs with polished finishes scratches can occur, care needs to be taken when assembling. In addition, a teething rail is recommended for the toddler stages. Rest assured, this crib is non toxic and formaldehyde-free. Assembled in the United States, it is JPMA approved and exceeds all US safety standards.

The major difference between this crib and the Emily Da Vinci is the exclusion of the gap between the top and middle rails. The solid ridged sides provide protection from little legs and arms getting stuck. This small difference in design eliminates the risk of limb entanglement and I believe make this a stand out model in terms of safety. Parents can sleep easy knowing they will not wake to the distressed cries of their child in the middle of the night.

The day bed and full bed configuration option that this crib offers, meets the needs of your baby’s nursery, graduating to the toddler stage and beyond. Now that is value for money!

Where are the best deals?

The Davinci Kalani Crib in Espresso not only looks great but is a perfect, chocolate rich brown. An exact match to any other espresso pieces of furniture you already own. It also has the safety features that are essential for peace of mind. If value for money is what you are looking for, check out some of the deals on offer.

Source by Jacqualine Williams

Porsche History 101

You will be glad you did. Porsche is a classic car brand which has a rich history since the company was started in the late 1800’s. The cars got its names after the founder Ferdinand Porsche. He was born in 1875 and was from Austria. Ferdinand Porsche not only created the first Porsche cars, but also created the Volkswagen beetle.

In 1937, he was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science by none other than Hitler himself. The award was a very rare, and that just goes to show how talented he actually was. In 1901, Ferdinand Porsche made the very first gas/battery hybrid car. Part of his biggest achievements is the fact that their cars are some of the fastest in the world.

It was no different even when the first Porsche cars were still around. Now these were not really cars such as the ones we have today, they were buggies. They were basically horseless carriages with tires like a bicycle: tall and skinny. Ferdinand Porsche’s hybrid car broke many speed records of the time and even won the Exelberg Rally in 1901. Ferdinand Porsche was the actual driver of the car during that rally.

The speed records were not set very high at the time for a motorized vehicle. The hybrid Porsche had a max speed of just 35 miles per hour: it may not sound like a lot, but the only other way to get around at the time was a horse and a horse can’t sustain 35 miles per hour for very long if at all. Now also consider that this is a horseless buggy and that suspensions and a soft ride were probably not a part of the equation. If you were to turn too fast on a curve and being that the buggy sat up so high, you could easily tip it over: so 35 miles per hour would be quite fast for an old Porsche classic car such as the hybrid buggy.

Mr. Porsche first worked for the Austro-Diamler company. He was their chief designer and helped make some good cars, but still not under his own name. He later quit Austro-Diamler because they did not agree with the direction towards which cars headed. It was not until 1931 that Ferdinand Porsche founded his own firm. It was titled and still is today, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG.

In 1934, Hitler wanted to make it so that every German had a car or tractor. Porsche was to build 3 prototypes from designs he had already made. The car he made for Hitler was the Volkswagen beetle which we know today. Some people today refer to a Porsche as being a supped up Volkswagen. Today, Porsche owns a large stake in the Volkswagen company, and if you look at the headlights on the beetle and the turbo 911, they look very similar. Volkswagen means “the people’s car”, and the very first one was the Volkswagen beetle.

The very first car to carry the Porsche name was the model 356. This first Porsche car was made in an old saw mill and they built 49 cars all by hand. This Porsche classic car is definitely worth a lot today. It was not until 1953 that the famous Porsche emblem or badge was placed on the cars. The 356 was made for 17 years and in 1965, the last classic Porsche 356 model left the production line.

One of the most famous models of Porsche was introduced by “Butzi” Porsche on September 12, 1963. It was just a prototype at the time, but it would become a classic long running car. The prototype was called the 901 or what we call the 911 today.

It was not until August 1964 that the first 901 could be sold to a customer. The 901 number had to be changed because of a patent on 3 numbers with a zero in the middle, so it was changed to 911. The 911 turbo is an amazing car today: one of the fastest around, but just look at its history. It would be hard to find a classic Porsche car nowadays. You can find classic Porsche cars if you search carefully enough, but the price people would want for them is not for those with a small budget. If you were to find a classic Porsche 356, one of the first ones, they are pretty much priceless. If the owner knew what they had, then it would be very hard and very expensive to get the owner to sell the car in question.

Source by Manuel Merz