Choice Home Warranty Continuing to Improve Customer Experience

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Our team at Choice Home Warranty has been working hard to provide better coverage and service to our customers over the last few years.  Whether it is building out a new call center, increasing the size and training of our team, our goal is to do everything in our power to create not only peace of mind for our customers, but an excellent experience as well.

Come February 10, we are moving forward with our next innovation with the customer in mind.  We are creating a new system for our technicians to come out and diagnose and fix any issues at your home faster than ever.

The new system is what we call CADS  It stands for Choice Automated Dispatch Service.  The best way to describe the new system is something similar to the ride share programs out there right now like Uber or Lyft.  As soon as a client contacts our customer services representative and the claim is entered, a notification will be sent out to all of the qualified technicians within a radius of your home.  The first technician to accept the job, will then make immediate plans to come to your home to diagnose and hopefully fix the issue at hand and back to that piece of mind.  We will continue to innovate, and this is our next step to improving the experience of our loyal customers.

Where to Turn in a Bizarre Market?

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Unless you have had your head in the sand in 2016, you have seen that global markets have had the worst start to a year in history.  As of this writing, the S&P 500 is down over 11% in less than twelve trading days.  On the surface, that is absolutely insane.  The United States created a whopping 292,000 jobs in the month of December, but somehow this is shrugged off, and the market tanks every day.  Just last night, Netflix, who I’ve written about here before, reported their earnings, and blew away the expectations of analysts.  However, their stock is trading down more than 6% today.

It isn’t just the United States that is going through severe market turmoil as the world wide markets are down over 12% this month alone.  Its a scary time for anyone, especially those who live through the Great Recession during 2008-2009.  There is no question that this sharp downturn can be mostly attributed to the collapse of the oil market.  In July 2008, a barrel of oil was being traded for as high as $145, and today it is nearing $25 a barrel.  I tend to unfortunately, pay quite a bit of attention to markets, and what is eye opening to me is what we hear from ‘experts’ as to how the price of oil affects the consumer.  In 2008, the high price of oil was destroying the everyday consumer because of the price of gas and utilities.  Airlines were adding massive fuel surcharges, and shipping companies such as UPS and FedEx were implementing the same charges.

Now the price of oil has come down, but its come down so far that it is creating a massive disturbance for all markets.  The Middle East is attempting to flood the market with so much oil that they force many of the competitors right out of the market.  Thus far they haven’t been successful, but it appears if the price goes down much lower, oil companies will literally be failing left and right.  Its quite unfortunate when a situation like we are seeing with oil has the potential to push our country into a recession, when we have the lowest unemployment rate in decades at 5%.

While technology has made the world a smaller place, in cases like this it may make it a bit too small.  The global financial markets are now down 12% because the price of oil is ‘too low’ and China is only growing at 6.8% a year?  It appears that they days of looking at and investing in growing businesses, may be behind us.  Markets are moving because of rumors on Twitter, and not because of earnings.  I sincerely hope this is simply a phase that we are going through here in the first month of 2016.  I’ve seen so many people scared off from investments due to what took place in 2008 & 2009, and market swings of 11% in less than three weeks is especially scary for young people looking at their 401K.

We live in the best country in the world, and our businesses will continue to innovate, and lead the way on a global scale.  I just hope this volatility begins to settle to not spook individuals from investing in our great companies.

What Does the Chipotle Disaster Mean For the Future of Fast Food?

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I think we have all seen the news over the past few months of hundreds of people getting sick from eating at Chipotle in nine states across the country.  Its a sad, and scary situation which many people are understandably staying away from the restaurant in the near term.  The one time Wall St. darling has now lost over 35% of its market value over the last six months since the crisis began.  People can die from E. coli, luckily that hasn’t happened yet in this case, but food borne illnesses are a massive deterrent from getting people in the door to your restaurant, so where does Chipotle go from here?

Chipotle was a first mover and was founded on the idea of a place where you could go to find quality, fresh, and locally sourced food.  We have all heard the horrific stories about the ‘pink slime‘ being served at McDonalds and then people eating yoga mats at Subway.  Chipotle was looked at as an alternative to those two options.  A place where someone could go for food that was fresh, from free range animals.  The public loved this opportunity and the franchise took off.  You couldn’t drive by a Chipotle around lunch and not see the line going out the door.

The last thing we want to do is make light of a situation where people are getting sick, that shouldn’t take place.  However, I’m not convinced that we can have it both ways.  Chipotle’s food is not ‘building’ their food in a giant factory as so many other fast food chains are, and therefore they are opening themselves up to a much larger chance of contamination from their multitude of suppliers.  The whole situation reminds me of the old Joni Mitchell song that was later covered by the Counting Crows titled “Big Yellow Taxi”.  In the song there is the lyric about reducing pesticides, ‘Give me the spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.’

Chipotle has mostly stayed mum on the situation, which is a mistake.  They have built a mammoth brand on the simple premise of providing consumers with fresh locally sourced food.  Now is the time to take advantage of that.  They could double down on that marketing message.  They could go as far as lining the walls of each location showing where each ingredient came from.  The bottom line is that they should take ownership of what took place, and pledge to provide increased training to each and every one of their food suppliers.  They should vow to continue to provide the freshest food possible, but also make it much safer.

Personally, I hope Chipotle weathers the storm that is out there right now.  It would be a shame if restaurants that are trying to bring cleaner and healthier food to the market are shunned due to this bacteria outbreak.  It would set a terrible precedent for our commercial food consumption in this country.  Whether you like the restaurant or not, Chipotle was a pioneer in offering this type of food in a semi fast food environment, and I sincerely hope they clean up their processes and continue to offer good food at a low price and win back the trust of the public.

P.S.

Stop reaching over the ‘sneeze guard’ to point out what you want on your burrito, and that means you too President Obama!

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The Future of Netflix Looks Bright

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It was an outstanding holiday season, as I was able to spend a good amount of time with family and friends, and basically decompress and catch up with everyone.  That said, it seems that just about every person I spoke with wanted to talk about a television show that I hadn’t even heard of.  On December 18, Netflix released a ten episode show entitled ‘Making a Murderer‘.  I have to admit, I have only watched two and a half of the episodes thus far, but it has been remarkable how much buzz this show has created across all forms of media.

The premise is a documentary about a man in eastern Wisconsin who was sent to prison for 18 years for a sexual assault that he didn’t commit and was eventually DNA evidence ended up clearing his name and he was released from prison.  Without getting into too many of the details, it looked like the police were covering up essential details, and from there something nearly unthinkable happens.  I find the show fascinating, but there are only so many hours in the day, so it could be a couple of weeks until I finish the series.

This brings up an interesting situation, as I really didn’t want to talk about the show with anyone I encountered over the holidays, nor did I want to read any of the countless articles I came across as I wanted to experience the entire series before discussing it.  Of course I wanted to talk about it, but at the same time, I didn’t want the outcome to be spoiled for me.  This is where the business model of Netflix comes in.  Starting in 1997, Netflix was an innovative idea.  You could rent DVDs and send them back whenever you wanted with no late fees.  As we all know, DVDs have gone to the wayside, especially with the fall of Blockbuster video.  We now have on demand through your television provider, or through a device such as an AppleTV.  Netflix went through some rocky times, but began to take the majority of their service online, while they do offer DVDs, the digital aspect is a much bigger component of their revenue.  While the streaming service offered is great for children’s programming, they were no longer able to offer movies that were fresh from the theater.

Therefore, they started creating their own programming that is only available through the Netflix service, trying to make that $7.99 more valuable to the consumer.  While they have been successful with shows such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and plenty of others, the idea of releasing an entire season at once has always been interesting/confusing to me.  I greatly enjoyed the first two seasons of House of Cards, but again, people like to talk about and read about shows they have watched, and never felt I could do so because I hadn’t completed the season.  I was enthralled with Breaking Bad on A&Eand would read about it online each week of the last two seasons as every episode was critiqued.  Its difficult to do that when all the episodes are released at once.  I’ve always thought it was a bit silly and not maximizing their effectiveness, but in the case of Making a Murderer, the decision and the timing was absolutely perfect.

  • The last two weeks of the year is when people have the most free time
  • Especially a documentary is something you feel like you need to watch as quickly as possible
  • The show would never have received the type of buzz and acclaim it has had if it were released one week at a time

Obviously Netflix knows far more about how to run their business than I do, which can be made abundantly clear with the below chart of subscriptions over the past few years.

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We all know that people are ‘cutting the cord‘ left and right, and the future of television is with these types of offerings, and Netflix appears to be leading the way.  As a perfect example, in 2015, the S&P 500 was essentially flat, but Netflix stock rose by over 136%, which shows that investors also know that Netflix is on to a good thing.  I can’t wait to get through the Making a Murderer series, and kudos to Netflix to evolving with market needs and becoming a true success story.