Overcome the ‘Deadly Law’ of Inflation with Decimals

Don’t believe it when you hear on the news that we have low or no inflation. In their great wisdom, the monetary powers have conveniently eliminated food and fuel from the inflation calculation. Regardless, even if you exclude food and fuel, a relatively low inflation rate takes its toll on all financial matters over time. This is why an old mentor of mine referred to this dynamic as “the deadly law.” It can sneak up on you if you don’t know how to combat it.

Dr. Joe Webb writes about this regularly and is one of the few industry advisors/consultants (he does not like to be called an economist) who gets this in spades. A dollar today is not what a dollar was a few years ago, and unless you adjust for inflation, you are kidding yourself about the numbers.

Why Should You Care?

I am willing to bet that your staff members are noticing their wages don’t go as far as they did a few years—or even just months—ago. They want and need pay increases just to stay even with inflation. How do you do that when sales are not increasing and your other costs are rising?

It’s simple. OK, it’s not that simple, but you can make it simpler if you discipline yourself to adjusting your pricing…in small percentages each time and with decimals. If you are not adjusting your pricing for inflation at least annually or semi-annually, you should be. This is where decimals and fractions can help a lot.

Too often, I see owners thinking in “round numbers.” Even if they make a price increase, they tend to do it in whole percentages (2 percent, 3 percent, etc.). But, a few decimals over time can equate to big money when applied to all of a company’s business.

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

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