Sources and Networking for Writers, Investigators and Sales People

“Where do you get your ideas for articles? How do you develop and retain dependable sources? How do you sell more? Increase business? Obtain information?”

These are common questions I have received over the years as a “Jack of All Trades” being an investigative reporter, insurance salesman, business executive, trade organization president, writer, detective and corporate facilities manager. The simple answer is to be a good networker.

Personal Connections

After making any connection, I always tried to build on it. Sometimes it takes creativity and thoughtfulness, but those are wonderful traits for life anyway. At HEB Food/Drugs, my division had thousands of employees (Partners), service providers, vendors and other resources to keep our stores, offices, warehouses, manufacturing plants and other real estate safe, lawful and in welcoming conditions.

H-E-B calls employees ‘Partners’

Early on, I would use Rolodex files (labeled: “Sources,” “Engineers,” “Partners,” “Designers,” Electricians,” and others) for individual information on people in each category.

For example, when I visited Austin, Houston, Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley, the Coastal Bend and other regions of Texas, the file for that area would include more than just names, phone numbers, and emails. It was critical to have personal notes to connect and care with individuals I may come in contact with. Examples might be:

Birthplace, Birthday, Anniversaries, Spouse, Children, Other Family, Connections, Hobbies, Interests, Education, and Accomplishments.

Others items to note might include Affiliations, Career and Work History, Goals, Prides, and other interests.

“Is Bobby, Jr. still playing baseball this year? How’s Nancy doing in track? Here’s an autograph of Tim Duncan for your brother. I know he’s big on Spurs basketball,” were some ways to build rapport.

The key was to capture the bits and pieces of hot, vital information
about people I met. These appear as phrases such as “Texas State alum,” “loves to fish,” “never eats lunch,” and so on.

Many times I kept a pocket recorder to help remember for when I jotted it down in the hotel room or plane ride later. As technology developed, I kept computer files and spreadsheets instead of manual Rolodexes.

Note: Even today, I do not include confidential information and confidential names on a computer or internet file. My reputation and ability to gather data and news depends on sources trusting me.

Resources You Can Count On

It’s all a lot of work, but worth every minute of it. What does all this
have to do with resolving an emergency, mitigating a problem, gathering resources, or closing the sale? Just about everything when it’s
used at the moment it’s needed.

Who can you depend on for help when your dealing with a hurricane, a sales proposal or news article?

I don’t subscribe to the saying “Networking is a numbers game.” The success doesn’t come from how many people you can meet. What you actually need is to have a list of people and resources you can count on.

One of my greatest mentors was a senior vice president of Facility Alliance at H-E-B, Ralph G. Mehringer. I watched and learned. When he met someone for the first time–a food server, janitor, visitor, new partner, whoever— Ralph was consistent about making them feel like the most important person in the room.

When I lived in an apartment above the Majestic Theater in downtown San Antonio, a neighbor, Walter Stovell, known as the “Godfather of Houston Street,” totally made eye contact with others–and he kept it. He smiled. He listened.

Majestic Theater

During conversations, Walter made comments and asked questions that showed he was hearing and listening. One day the current and two ex-mayors of the Alamo City walked by and Walter amazed me with his abilities to engage each one opportunities to express themselves without interruption.

What If You Need a Large List to Increase Sales or Potential Sales?

A sales person may mention to someone for whom has been a good customer, “I was just going through my checks, and I realized I spent over $2000 with you last year. I guess we’re really getting to depend on each other more than I knew.”

A typical question I receive is “where do you get your articles and story ideas?” They are all over, if you network properly.


You can expand networking by simply trading networks with someone else.
How big is your network? If you answered infinite, you’re
right. You’re only limited by the number of people on earth. Your network is potentially the size
of all your contacts, plus all your relatives’ contacts, your
friends’ contacts, your business associates’ contacts, and so on.

Suppose you want to introduce a new service you offer. Are you going to limit the list to the names you’ve been able to scrape together? Of course not. You’ll ask me for my list, and if I like the offer I might even ask a few other people for their lists. Instead of a few hundred names, you now have a few thousand.

Always treat anyone’s contacts with the utmost respect. Like tightrope walking, this is a system based on trust. A fall from grace, like a fall from the high wire, can be very hard to recover from.

3 Tips on Selling

🔹 Be Knowledgeable. If you want people to listen to you, you need to be an expert about the product you’re selling, about the market it exists in, and about the way it addresses the needs of your customer.

🔹Establish Rapport. Your primary responsibility is to establish a connection between the needs of the customer and the solutions that your product/service provides. It’s about them, not you. If you’re not paying attention to the customers’ needs, how could you ever accomplish that? Listen to what they’re saying. Ask questions to gain deeper understanding. Seek to build and demonstrate empathy.

🔹Build Relationships. Many people will go to online reviews to learn about your product or service. It’s amazing how much stronger leads are that come from customer referrals. Cultivating customer relationships will give you more leads, and when you listen to compliments and complaints about your offering, it will help you improve for future customers.

One final thought is to use the forever faith 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your network likely provides 80 percent of the value. What have you done for them lately?

Jack Dennis

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HEB FOOD DRUGS

Building Costs for LA and San Francisco Hospitals Most Expensive in US

Los Angeles and San Francisco were the most expensive U.S. cities for the construction of general hospitals in the fourth quarter of 2021, a recent Statista report revealed.

Top 12 Cities Include Los Angeles Costs at Over $772 Per Square Foot, San Francisco is $707+

Building costs vary based on such factors as site conditions, climatic conditions and market conditions.

Below are the dozen most expensive cities in the U.S. for the construction of general hospitals and the average cost per square foot. A tie at No. 6 results in a numerical listing of 11:

1. Los Angeles: $772.5 per square foot

2. San Francisco: $707.5 per square foot

3. New York: $700 per square foot

4. Honolulu: $637.5 per square foot

5. Washington, D.C.: $632.5 per square foot

6. Chicago: $550 per square foot (tie)

6. Boston: $550 per square foot (tie)

7. Portland: $542.5 per square foot

8. Seattle: $540 per square foot

9. Denver: $520 per square foot

10. Phoenix: $502.5 per square foot

11. Las Vegas: $437.5 per square foot

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A Bias For Action: Procrastination is a Personal Pitfall

Read This Now, Not Later

For a number of years I taught a class called “A Bias For Action” to literally thousands of employees in classrooms, meetings and one-on-one.

It was important to make certain we had “shared expectations” and “working definitions” immediately. Hard as it might be to admit it, we sometimes put off the tough stuff in our lives and especially our job.

Some leaders would avoid confronting a direct report who isn’t performing within the new work environment. Others had a tendency to postpone projects that would test their self-confidence, abilities, comfort zone or patience. But procrastination is a leadership pitfall. Causing stress and anxiety, it sticks with you like glue until you’ve addressed it. So tackle the tough stuff first, and you’ll immediately eliminate undue stress, build your abilities, raise your comfort level, and boost self-confidence, too.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

Procrastination is the enemy. 

According to “Psychology Today,” 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. They avoid challenging tasks or addressing big issues, even seeking out opportunities for distraction.

So, what’s the big deal? Procrastination is negative and always has consequences — some direct, some indirect. These negative implications can be tangible, like a missed deadline, and intangible, such as irritability from losing sleep over an issue. It’s an enemy that affects you, your team and your company’s potential to succeed.

Addressing challenges is often easier than you think. 

Taking the first step is the hardest part, but things often go smoother after that. The classic example is when you’ve needed to address a performance issue with a direct report and been a bit worried over doing so. Then when you go to talk about it, the person is surprisingly receptive, rather than reactive, and your anxiety melts away. You think, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” You’ve freed up your emotional and mental currency, the problem is addressed, and now you’re able to get back to and really focus on your main job.

Dealing with “it” leads to greater productivity.

Some people claim that they work better under pressure and actually use that clichéd excuse to avoid a project, problem or person. But this mindset’s repercussions can prevent and destroy productivity.

For example, maybe you’ve put off fixing some software bug because it would test your patience and take too much time. Yet the crippled system slows the daily performance of your direct reports — and then stops altogether when it crashes one day. Everyone (most notably you) now suffers big consequences. You must do (in panic mode) what you previously put off, plus repair and pay for more serious damage that’s now been done. No doubt, fixing the problem in the first place could have lessened or prevented the blow, yet one common reason people procrastinate “dealing with it” is simply because they don’t know how or where to start.

Begin by putting some ideas down on paper and then build a specific, deadline-oriented plan for tackling that tough stuff…and there will be A LOT during this time. Doing so will help you create the accountability and steps necessary for your goal achievement. And it will also help prevent further procrastination, so you can drive, rather than dodge, that critical, ever-productive change.

 6 Strategies ASAP To Keep Procrastination At Bay:

🔹Start on the day before day one. Your strategy to avoid workplace procrastination should start before your employee’s first day. Start with clear and accurate job description matched up to accurately qualified candidates, then analyze the next steps of your hiring process.

By recruiting and hiring employees that possess the right skills for the jobs at hand, you’ll get off to a good foundation in your quest to avoid procrastination pitfalls. Incorporate checkpoints in your interview questions, reference check process and in your interview testing process to look for signs that your potential new-hire has a procrastination track record.

Clarify goals and expectations. Now that you’ve done your best to hire the right employee for the right role, it’s quintessential that you set them up for success with a strong start. By communicating company-wide (as well as departmental) goals clearly and defining the expectations of the specific role, you’ll alleviate gray areas that could lead to workplace procrastination.

Make communication a two-way street. As business owners try to avoid workplace procrastination and correct it when it occurs, opening the communication lines with employees can be the greatest way to drill down on the causes. Create multiple communication vehicles to help employees communicate with management regarding issues that could lead to and improve upon workplace procrastination. This communication strategy can consist of surveys, anonymous comments boxes and push notifications via mobile app or intranet tools.

Train, train and retrain. Bake procrastination avoidance strategies into your training program for all employees. Be sure to train managers on ways to spot, address and avoid workplace procrastination issues among their teams.

Work on your company culture. A team of motivated, engaged employees feels connected to the company mission at a deeper level and less prone to procrastination. Company culture can be the edge your business operations needs to keep procrastination and all its repercussions at bay. Creating a strong culture may consist of employee recognition programs, career development opportunities as well as work life balance considerations.

🔹Trust but verify. It’s important to place trust in your team and trust your hunches regarding your business, but the importance of measurement can’t be discounted. By setting up systems to measure deadlines, productivity and detect dips before they have detrimental impacts, you will gain real visibility into your business operations. Using this data, you can avoid workplace procrastination as well as be able to quantifiably reward the positive efforts of your team.

Letting procrastination run rampant in your workplace can cost your business customers, impact your bottom line and create a negative culture. If you make smart hiring decisions, set your team up for success and measurement performance, however, you’ll be able to avoid the complications that workplace procrastination can bring.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Amusement Park and Thrill Rides Gone Wrong

In September 2021, the High Roller on the Las Vegas Strip suddenly stopped working, stranding about 150 people on the attraction for 90 minutes.

“The High Roller Observation Wheel was stopped during its rotation on Friday night, due to a network connectivity issue involving one of the cabins,” Caesars said in a statement. “Approximately 150 passengers were aboard the wheel at the time. Engineers resolved the network issue within approximately 90 minutes, the wheel’s rotation resumed, and all passengers safely disembarked and received refunds.”

The High Roller raises riders 550 feet in the air and is the largest observation wheel in North America. The wheel takes 30 minutes to complete one revolution and features 28 cabins. 

Although terrified, there were no reported injuries. Las Vegas injuries from amusement type rides exceed 90 per year, but the national numbers are staggering.

In an average year over 9,000 people are injured on amusement park rides in the United States. Theses are statistics from the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

This data represents only injuries serious enough to require treatment in an emergency room. The total number of injuries that occur are even more.

CPSC reported that in 2017, emergency rooms saw 43,405 injuries associated with amusement attractions and rides, for both mobile, like traveling carnivals, and fixed-site parks, such as Six Flags, Sea World or Disneyland.

Click to see Hilarious Amusement Park Rollercoaster Reactions.

When the injuries from inflatable amusement park rides are included, the number of injuries increases by over 3,800. When both moon bounces and inflatable slide injuries are added, it increases by 3,300 and still doesn’t include the number of people injured on public water slides.

Kids often crowd into bounce houses, and jumping up and down can send other children flying into the air too.

The latest numbers indicate about 30 U.S. children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions from bounce house accidents. Most involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, and many children get hurt when they collide with other bouncing kids.

Wind blows inflatable off the ground.

Half of all people hurt on amusement park rides are children. Over 16 percent of reported injuries occur to children between the ages of 10 and 14. Children account for three-quarters of accidents involving a rider falling or being ejected from a ride during its operation.

During a span of three years over 50 people were killed riding amusement park rides. These deaths most often occurred on roller coasters. The second most deaths occurred on whirling rides.

Types of Injuries Experienced

Bumper car rides and others that move people around at a high rate of speed cause many accidents.

Roller coasters also cause many accidents. People often experience a stroke from trauma that occurs to ligaments in their neck. Traumatic brain injuries can happen from high levels of stress put on the brain by excessive speed. Detached objects hitting a person’s head also causes injury.

People experience varies types of cuts, torn ligaments as well as broken bones. Some individuals drown on waters slides and a number of other water rides.

The Cause of Accidents

Many accidents are determined to have resulted from mechanical failures caused by improper maintenance and more.

Rides are sometimes operated incorrectly.

In some cases, a passenger does not follow safety instructions. Accidents happen when a rider stands up at the wrong time, removes safety restraints too soon and more. Some accidents occur because a ride is designed to create a thrill by spinning fast or traveling at excessive speeds.

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Rust, Paint, Garden, Grease & Other Great Tips

WiFi Signal Booster

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Depending on how old you are, you may remember using “rabbit ears” to get a better television signal. Sometimes the rabbit ears weren’t enough on their own, and you’d have to add some aluminum foil to the ends to boost the signal. The days of using foil to get a better TV picture may be over, but it’s not as obsolete as you might think. Today, you can use aluminum foil to boost the signal from your wireless router.

Adding aluminum foil to a Wi-Fi reflector can help the signal bounce around your home, reaching those otherwise spotty areas.

Greasy Easy Clean-Up

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Hopefully you’re aware that you shouldn’t pour grease down your kitchen drain — hot or otherwise. So, how are you supposed to get rid of your used cooking grease and oil? Pouring it into the garbage can seems like a terrible — and potentially messy — idea.

Luckily foil is here to save the day. Line the inside of a bowl with aluminum foil, and pour the hot grease into it. Once it cools and solidifies, ball up the soiled foil and toss it into your trash can.

Remove Rust, Really

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Tired of looking at rusty metal? If it’s chrome, there’s a quick fix. Just tear off a piece of foil, soak it in some water, and use it to start scrubbing the rusted chrome. The rust will disappear in no time!

No AA? No Problem

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The batteries have died and the only replacements you have in the house are AAA. What to do?

You can convert those AAA into AA by placing a bit of foil at the positive ends before inserting the batteries into your equipment.

Banana Trick

Bananas are such a delicious, easy-to-eat snack. Unfortunately, they also go bad really quickly. After a few days of lying out on your kitchen counter, your bananas will start to brown.

If you need to keep your bananas fresher longer, turn to aluminum foil.

Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil around the stem of your bananas. By breaking off part of the banana’s contact with the air, you can slow the decaying process that plagues these fruits. A little piece of aluminum foil can lead to longer days of ripe, yellow, ready-to-eat fruit.

Good Crust

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Getting the perfect pie crust can be a little tricky. You can account for flakiness and flavor with the recipe, but when it comes to just how golden brown your crust will get, you have to throw yourself at the mercy of the oven. Or will you?

Try out a little-known baking hack using, you guessed it, aluminum foil. Cover your crust in aluminum foil before popping the pie into the oven. This should help ensure that your crust doesn’t burn!

Messy Ice Cream Cone Prevention

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Use aluminum foil to keep an ice cream cone from spilling everywhere. Simply wrap some alluminum foil around the very bottom of the cone, that way any melting or spilled ice cream drips into the foil instead of the floor… or

Funneling

Wrap foil around paper cone.

Need a makeshift funnel? No worries. Grab your trusty roll of aluminum foil and fashion a funnel out of that. It’s surprisingly easy.

Foot Foil Relief

Wrap a foot in aluminum for one hour to see what happens. There are several benefits to wrapping your feet in foil. It can alleviate aching joints, it soothes pain caused by burns and it is a great solution against fatigue. Another fun trick is keeping your foil in the freezer before you use it on your body to not only help with fatigue but swelling as well.

Home Made Stylus

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Need a stylus in a pinch? Before you fork over $10 to $30 for one, try making your own. It’s quick and easy. Just wrap the tip of your favorite pen in foil, use a bit of tape to secure it, and voilá!

Garden Protection

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If you’re looking for a way to keep insects out of your vegetables, mix some aluminum foil strips in with your mulch. Seriously. Also, you get the bonus benefit of the foil reflecting light back into your plants.

Door Knob Paint Protectors

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When painting doors, be sure to wrap your doorknobs in aluminum foil. When painting a door, or even surrounding walls, paint drips are inevitable. By wrapping your knobs in foil, you can keep them clean and paint free

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Locked Inside a Freezer, But What Happened Was Priceless

I Love Lucy

In the early 1960s, I recall watching Lucille Ball getting locked in a freezer on her legendary comedy program “I Love Lucy.” Somehow that episode stuck with me into adulthood. As Director of Facilities Management at HEB Food/Drugs in Texas for over 25 years, I had heard of people being locked in freezers, but was thankful it never occurred in our stores, warehouses or manufacturing plants.

We made sure all walk in freezers had interior opening mechanisms and checked/maintained them frequently to prevent a catastrophe. When I served as President of the Professional Retail Maintenance Association, we emphasized the importance of prevention in design, procurement, training and maintenance.

Although they are rare, instances of workers sustaining an injury or losing their lives as a result of being locked in a freezer do occur. These types of accidents are extremely dangerous, especially if the trapped employee is unable to call for help or must wait until the next day for aid.

Obviously, victims are primarily at-risk of suffering from exposure to cold. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops significantly below the normal level of 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. There are three basic levels of hypothermia:

  • Mild hypothermia, which occurs when the core body temperature lowers to between 93.2 degrees and 96.8 degrees fahrenheit;
  • Moderate hypothermia, which begins to take place when the core body temperature drops to between 73.4 degrees and 89.6 degrees fahrenheit; and
  • Severe or profound hypothermia, which takes place when the core body temperature drops to between 53.6 degrees and 68 degrees fahrenheit.

A person suffering from hypothermia will usually begin to feel lethargic and fatigued well before reaching the severe hypothermia stage. Victims may become confused and disoriented and may also exhibit slowed breathing or speech as well as a loss of feeling in the hands and feet. Once a person’s core temperature has reached severe hypothermia levels, he or she is at a high risk of cardiac arrest and death.

Workers could also suffer from breathing in carbon dioxide, which is emitted by dry ice and can be fatal. Exposure to refrigerants, which function as cooling agents and include chemicals, such as chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloride can also be dangerous. These types of chemicals are toxic in large quantities and can also lead to oxygen deficiency, especially when in a small place.

Even workers who are not trapped for a significant amount of time can sustain injuries. For instance, brief exposure can cause frostbite, which occurs when a person’s skin and underlying tissues are frozen. Generally, the lower the temperature in the freezer, the more quickly frostbite is likely to occur.

Locks on exterior are a definite no-no.

Frostbite is also more likely to affect the extremities, such as the feet and hands, which can be especially dangerous for victims who are also suffering from hypothermia and so have lost feeling in those areas. Frostbite usually takes the form of reddened skin with gray or white patches, numbness, and blisters.

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12 Lessons From the Best in their Business

The Secret to How Ritz-Carlton, H-E-B, Disney, ClubCorp and Goettl Soar

JackNotes: Summaries of Wisdom

Fortunately, I worked for a remarkable Texas business, H-E-B Food Drugs, from 1980 to 2010 and retired early as an executive over their facilities management organization.

H-E-B invests a great deal in training their employees (known as “Partners”) including customer service all the way. I made certain to retain and use this learning in my personal growth but loved to share it within my department.

Personal significant learning events included Six Sigma Certification, Executive Reinvention by Tracy Goss, Disney University, Project Management, Executive Finance from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and so much more.

Working with Clubline at Fair Oaks Ranch Golf & Country Club near San Antonio, I’ve been able to practice what I preach adapting their “Warm Welcomes, Magic Moments, and Fond Farewells” creed.

Like H-E-B, one of the best in their business is Ritz-Carlton. Service is EVERYTHING to them.  It is what defines the chain in their very competitive niche.  This is not to say that other firms that offer similar products do not have as a goal top-level customer service.  They do.  But few execute this as well as the Ritz-Carlton.

Three Steps of Service

It starts with their Three Steps of Service.  These are:

  1. A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name.  As you walk about you are surprised by the number of times you are actually referred to by your name.  Super simple idea that is sales or marketing 101.  It is, however, very hard to execute on this.  The Ritz-Carlton does this very well.  Find a way to incorporate this into the approach of your staff to your clients.  No one ever heard a better word spoken than their own name.
  2. Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.  Your needs are anticipated in advance through questions, and the answers and preferences are recorded for future use.  Don’t like a high floor?  You will probably never be assigned one again.  But this is the easy CRM type stuff.  The difference is a rooms attendant seeing that champagne is in a container with mostly melted ice and immediately returning with ice to refill… anticipation of the need, with no management intervention.
  3. Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.  As you leave you are graciously thanked by everyone in the lobby area for your stay, and sent on with wishes to see you back as a guest soon. But with them it doesn’t just come from one individual, this comes from at least two other reception staff, from the two executives that are in the lobby awaiting arriving guests, from the many other staff, out the door to the bellman and valet driver, you are experiencing the delivery of an entirely different level of service.

Ladies and Gentlemen

How do the management drill this level of engagement down so that it is authentically delivered without prompting by the entire team?  What gives the staff, the Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen as they are referred to, the OK to boldly step out with imaginative service in ways that seem held at bay with other companies despite their best intentions?

I am sure there are many more points but this list of 12 ‘Service Values‘ give clues.  Read this list and where it says ‘Ritz-Carlton’ change that name for your company or personal brand.

Change also the word ‘guest’ to client or customer, as for most readers that is probably more relevant anyway.

The list of 12 starts with a declaration of the corporate mindset that you, the employee, are proud TO BE Ritz-Carlton.  The brand, the experience, IS YOU.  

This is reinforced by the following:

  1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life
  2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
  3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
  4. understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
  5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
  6. own and immediately resolve guest problems.
  7. create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
  8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
  9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
  10. I am proud of my professional appearancelanguage and behavior.
  11. protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
  12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.
Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

These are reviewed continually.  It is not enough, as most companies do, to have an orientation meeting or two, give the employee the manual, and think the job is done.    Daily focus is paid to one of these service values.  It is as if the life of the company depends on it.  Guess what? It does!

Without this the Ritz-Carlton is just another luxury brand chain, H-E-B is just another grocery and gas store and Goettl Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing would only be defining themselves by the facilities, the amenities, the products and services they sell. 

Clogged Drains & Help With Bathroom Faucets

Tips, Hacks, Tricks and Tidbits by Dodie Dennis

Herd it Through the Grapevine #4

Pour Salt Down Your Sink Drain To Fix Clogs

Salt is one of the most commonly found minerals on earth. And while most people associate it with cooking, it actually has tons of uses all around the house.

One of the more helpful alternatives uses for salt is to help fix clogged drains. Here’s what you need to do:

First, clear as much of the blockage as you can by hand. Then take 1/2 a cup of salt and 1/2 a cup of baking soda and pour it into the drain. Then take vinegar and pour it down the hole.

It will bubble up fast, then by the time the bubbles stop, the clog should be gone. Salt can also be used for things like putting out a dangerous grease fire. You can also use it as an abrasive to help clean a very dirty pot or pan. There are literally ended uses for salt around the house, that’s why it pays to always keep extra in your pantry.

Use WD40 In Your Bathroom Faucets

For most people., they deal with hard water which over time can make cause things to become harder to do. For example, your shower or bath faucets, as hard water build-up, turning the hot water knob can become increasingly more difficult. Or the same can happen with the shower/bath diverter spout (that little thing you pull that will make the water come out of the faucet or showerhead).

Instead of taking apart your faucet or paying a plumber to come to fix it, you can use WD40. Just take a can of WD40 (preferably one with a long flexible hose) and spray it inside of your faucet. The WD40 will loosen up the hard water and make the diverter work as smoothly as day one. The same goes for a hard to turn shower knob, a spritz of WD40 and it will work like brand new.

Over 100 Ways to Conserve Water

When it comes to conserving water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Conserve water with ideas from our 100+ water-saving tips.

INDOOR TIPS

KITCHEN

  • #1 When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • #2 Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. Now, Energy Star dishwashers save even more water and energy.
  • #3 If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
  • #4 Designate one glass for your drinking water each day, or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  • #5 Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  • #6 Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
  • #7 Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  • #8 Don’t use running water to thaw food. For water efficiency and food safety, defrost food in the refrigerator.
  • #9 Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.
  • #10 Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
  • #11 Reuse leftover water from cooked or steamed foods to start a nutritious soup, it’s one more way to get eight glasses of water a day.
  • #12 Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients.
  • #13 Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary.
  • #14 If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
  • #15 Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.
  • #16 When shopping for a new dishwasher, use the Consortium for Energy Efficiency website to compare water use between models.

LAUNDRY ROOM

  • #17 When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
  • #18 Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain their color.
  • #19 When shopping for a new washing machine, compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Some can save up to 20 gallons of water per load.
  • #20 Have a plumber re-route your greywater to trees and plants rather than the sewer line. Check with your city and county for codes.
  • #21 When buying a washer, check the Consortium for Energy Efficiency website to compare water use between models.

BATHROOM

  • #22 If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a WaterSense® labeled model.
  • #23 Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  • #24 Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. You’ll save up to 1,000 gallons per month.
  • #25 Toilet leaks can be silent! Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
  • #26 Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
  • #27 When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
  • #28 Upgrade older toilets with water-saving WaterSense® labeled models.
  • #29 If your toilet flapper doesn’t close properly after flushing, replace it.
  • #30 Use a WaterSense® labeled showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.
  • #31 Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  • #32 If your toilet was installed before 1992, purchasing a WaterSense® labeled toilet can reduce the amount of water used for each flush.
  • #33 Consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
  • #34 Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor and save up to 300 gallons a month.
  • #35 Turn off the water while washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons a month.
  • #36 When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
  • #37 Take 5-minute showers instead of baths. A full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
  • #38 Install water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.
  • #39 Drop tissues in the trash instead of flushing them and save water every time.
  • #40 Look for WaterSense® labeled toilets, sink faucets, urinals and showerheads.
  • #41 One drip every second adds up to five gallons per day! Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks.
  • #42 While you wait for hot water, collect the running water and use it to water plants.

GENERAL INDOOR

  • #43 Teach children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.
  • #44 See how your water use stacks up to others by calculating your daily water use.
  • #45 When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it most.
  • #46 Encourage your school system and local government to develop and promote water conservation among children and adults.
  • #47 Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
  • #48 Learn how to use your water meter to check for leaks.
  • #49 Reward kids for the water-saving tips they follow.
  • #50 Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
  • #51 Grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and you can save 140 gallons a week.
  • #52. We’re more likely to notice leaky faucets indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses.
  • #53. See a leak you can’t fix? Tell a parent, teacher, employer, or property manager, or call a handyman.
  • #54 At home or while staying in a hotel, reuse your towels.
  • #55 Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.

OUTDOOR TIPS

XERISCAPE LANDSCAPING

  • #56 Use porous material for walkways and patios to prevent wasteful runoff and keep water in your yard.
  • #63 Group with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while underwatering others.
  • #64 Plant shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region.
  • #65 Plant in the spring and fall, when the watering requirements are lower.
  • #66 Avoid planting grass in areas that are hard to water, such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
  • #67 Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
  • #68 Start a compost pile. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.
  • #69 Use a layer of organic mulch on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water.
  • #70 Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants helps them retain moisture, saving water, time and money.
  • #71 Use 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
  • #72 Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low-water-use plant and save up to 550 gallons each year.
  • #73 Collect water from your roof by installing gutters and downspouts. Direct the runoff to plants and trees.
  • #74 For automatic water savings, direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems to water-loving plants in your landscape.

LAWN CARE

  • #86 Read the Landscape Watering by the Numbers guidebook to help you determine how long and how much to water.
  • #87 Use a trowel, shovel, or soil probe to examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water.
  • #88 Set a kitchen timer or alarm on your phone when using the hose as a reminder to turn it off. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons per minute.
  • #89 Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.
  • #90 Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler and winds are lighter.
  • #91 Timing is everything when it comes to irrigation. Learn how to set your controller properly.
  • #92 Look for WaterSense® labeled irrigation controllers.
  • #93 Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case of malfunctions or rain.
  • #94 Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
  • #95 If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
  • #96 Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
  • #97 Signs of overwatering: Leaves turn lighter shades of green or yellow, young shoots wilt, and sometimes algae or fungi grow.
  • #98 Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
  • #99 Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops and mist often evaporate before hitting the ground.
  • #100 Use a rain barrel to harvest rainwater from gutters for watering gardens and landscapes.
  • #101 For hanging baskets, planters and pots, put ice cubes on top of the soil to give your plants a cool drink of water without overflow.

GENERAL OUTDOOR

  • #102 Winterize outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.
  • #103 For more immediate hot water and energy savings, insulate hot water pipes.
  • #104 Wash your pets outdoors, in an area of your lawn that needs water.
  • #105 When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your non-edible plants.
  • #106 When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
  • #107 Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks and driveways, and save water every time.
  • #108 Set water softeners for a minimum number of refills to save both water and chemicals, plus energy, too.

Power Outage Tips

Tis the season for more storms and power outages. When the big snow and ice storm of February 2021 hit, we were prepared. For 20 years I was over Facilities Management at H-E-B Food-Drugs stores, offices and their properties throughout Texas and Mexico. Here are some quick tips I learned along the way that can help families stay safe.

Before an outage, create an easily accessible emergency kit with these items:

  • flashlights
  • one gallon of water per person
  • hand-crank radio
  • tool box
  • batteries
  • blankets
  • cash
  • first-aid supplies
  • manual can opener
  • nonperishable food items like granola bars, jerky and trail mix

Install appliance thermometers in your refrigerator and freezer. Doing this will help you tell if your food gets warmer than 40 degrees F—the danger zone for food-borne illness.

Keep the fridge and freezer full to keep everything cold longer. Tuck extra bags and bottles of water into the fridge and freezer to maximize the cold. If you anticipate an outage or receive notice of a planned one, think ahead and set your refrigerator temperature to the coldest setting.



During an outage

It’s a good idea to report your outage first. Then, turn off all appliances and lights that were on when service was disrupted, leaving a lamp on so you’ll know when power is restored.

Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed. Unopened, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours without power, and a freezer will keep food cold for about 48 hours without power.

Turn off the circuit breakers to major appliances. When power is restored, this prevents overloads.



Avoid burning candles as this creates a fire hazard. Stick to flashlights. Even headlamps work, especially for the kids!

Once power is restored, avoid overloading your circuits by turning appliances back on in 15-minute intervals.

We encourage you to be prepared before an outage happens. Create your emergency kit and practice what to do during an outage with your family. Be prepared and stay safe.

Clever Tip 5: How to Make Your Own Mini Dehumidifier

Are you troubled with humidity in your bathroom, a closet, cellar or attic? Do you live near the coast or other humid area?

Evidence shows there are health risks (and even problems with clothing stored) associated with high humidity areas in homes.

Here is how to save some money with your own homemade dehumidifier:

1. Place charcoal briquettes in a large, clean, lidded can.

2. Punch a few holes in the lid.

That’s it. Place it (or as many as you need) in humid areas and replace the charcoal briquettes every few months.

Clever Tip #2: Power Out? Refrigerator is Good for 4 Hours, Unless…

When the power goes out, your refrigerator and freezer will only stay cold for so long. According to the American Red Cross, an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for four hours. After this, temperatures will begin to rise to unsafe levels.

A full, unopened freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours; a half-full freezer will stay frozen for 24 hours.

During an outage, it’s helpful to have a food thermometer on hand. You can use it to see which foods are safe to eat by checking the temperature of the refrigerator. Throw out any food that has been exposed to 40-degree temperatures for two hours or more.

You can extend the cooling life of your refrigerator by preparing beforehand. Keep one or two gallons of water in the freezer; not only will this make your freezer more efficient when the power is on, but when it goes off, you can transfer these frozen jugs to the refrigerator to keep food cold longer.

If you have a large cooler, you can cool foods even more efficiently by transferring them to the cooler. Use ice or your frozen water jugs to keep the food cold.