July 28, 2005

Alternative to Airport Taxi and Long Term Parking

Here’s a new one for you. Provide an alternative to long term airport parking and/or taxi rides to and from the airport.

I’m sure there are plenty of places in your town that are a $50+ one way taxi ride to the airport (from people’s houses… etc.) That’s $100+ that is spent on a taxi ride if they are using it to get to the airport and get back to their house from the airport at the end of their trip.

Long term parking can get quite expensive as well. I know here at the Portland airport, it’s $8 a day (it may have gone up to $10 recently). So, if you’re staying some place more than a week, it’s going to cost you more than $50.

This is where you can come in. Offer your driving services, but not as a taxi. You’d offer to meet them at their house right before they leave for the airport. You park your car at their house and ride along with them to the airport. They drive right up to the departing area at the airport, they climb out and you drive their car back to their house for them. Then you climb back into your car and drive home. When they’re scheduled to fly back into the airport, you go back to their house, park your car, drive their car to the airport and meet them at the arrival curb. When you get back to their house, you climb back into your car and drive home. Mission complete. You are now $60 richer, or whatever.

Now, you’d have to look at the numbers on this. Every city is different and it depends on where you live in relation to the customer and the airport… etc. There are a lot of variables here. But for many people, your services would save people money and be much more convenient for them than either a taxi or long term parking. I know in my case, I could charge $60 and make about $12-$15 an hour if my clients were in Beaverton for example (worse case scenario in my town because it’s the furthest location in the metro area from me and the airport, simultaneously.) That price would include everything to and from airport, roundtrip.

I don’t have any illusions. This isn’t an idea that’s going to make you rich, but it’s actually a perfect part time job for perhaps a retired person who has a lot of time on his/her hands or anyone else that needs just a part time job that has flexible hours. If you had just two jobs a day, that would be about $1200 a month working 5 days a week (under the pricing I just quoted… yours would be different and even different per job, depending on their location and your location relating to the airport.)

You could advertise on google adwords for the keyword, “airport shuttle” coupled with the name of your city. (You don’t want to pay for clickthroughs if they aren’t in your city.) Other keywords would be “airport taxi” or just “taxi”… etc.

Some details you’d have to work out.. auto insurance and bonding. Make sure you are covered for driving other people’s cars. You’d have to be bonded, I’m sure. You won’t have to have a taxi license or chauffeur’s license, though, since you won’t be driving anyone. They’d be driving you when they were in the car. You’d be driving while alone. :-) So, if your city is like Portland, and they’ve created a legal monopoly in the taxi business and don’t allow any new taxi licenses, you can stick a finger in the air (pick a finger, any finger) towards their general direction. (Portland has had like 312 taxis authorized to operate in the city limits for over 20 years. No other companies can even apply to provide taxi service here. Oh, did I mention that Portland is the least business friendly city on planet earth and are absolute leftist guerillas, when it comes to taxes and red tape… in my humble opinion. If I didn’t… there you have it!)

Some other alternatives to this idea are to store their vehicle for them if you have a secure location close to the airport. That would keep you from spending precious drive time back to their house if they lived far away. But then there would be other issues regarding how you get to and from everywhere before having their vehicle… etc. There are many variations to this that one can customize to their own situation. You’re an entrepreneur, right? Run with it.

July 7, 2005

Really Cheap Inkjet Printing

I’ve moaned and groaned about inkjet ink costs before. But I’ve finally found a printing solution that doesn’t require me to spend my daughter’s college fund on ink.

I have a specific reason for trying to find a cheaper alternative for in home printing. Not only to print my collectible company’s catalog, but also to offer printing services for my Sticky123 business. I’ve just completed my printing set up. So, I’ll soon be updating the Sticky123 site to offer custom full color printing onto individual 3″ x 3″ Post-It notes, for as little as 9 cents per sticky, complete.

There’s another reason (and a bigger reason) for my wanting to find a cheaper printing method, but I can’t quite share that idea with you yet. I’ve alluded to it before, but I will say that this idea is going to revolutionize the delivery of online information to the offline audience. :-)

Anyway, I want to show you what I did to bring down my printing costs. I purchased a Canon i9900, large format inkjet printer. It can print borderless images on 13″ x 19″ paper. It’s perfect for my 11″ x 17″ catalog that I print for Great American Collectibles. Even thought it uses 8 cartridges, each is still about $12 a cartridge which can really add up. If you calculate the cost per gallon of ink, it’s about $3000 per gallon. That’s just absolutely incredible if you think about it. That’s not half as bad as some inkjet printers. Some can be as high as $8000 a gallon. Yowza!!!! It’s so bad, Congress should be doing hearings and locking people up for this travesty.

But I digress.

I found a bulk ink system that is built for some Epson and Canon printers, from Media Street. They sell a system called “Niagara III Continuous Ink Flow System.” Using this system, you never have to remove the ink cartridges and the ink costs are as low as $200 per gallon. You do the comparison. OEM cartridges are $3000 per gallon. Niagara III is $200 a gallon. Talk about a savings!!!!

Although I’m glad I bought this bulk ink system, I do have to say that it was a harrowing experience to install it. I got ink all over my hands and I said cuss words that I haven’t said since I was in the military. Very, very, frustrating. However, with that said, after all the kinks have been worked out, I’ve been using the printer now for a few days. (Hundreds of prints later!) I’m extremely happy with it. The colors are just as vibrant as they were with the OEM inks and not one ink delivery problem with the tubes… etc.

Here are some pictures of the system after I’ve installed it. Notice the 8 tubes going into the printer from where the bulk ink bottles are located at the right of the printer as you look at in the picture (below.) They thread underneath the lid (lid is slightly ajar to accommodate the tubes.)

Below is a close-up of the bulk ink bottle tray where the ink bottles reside.

Below is the ink bottle container with the lid up so you can see inside. These are essentially 4 ounce bottles. But you can buy each ink color in 32 ounce bottles.

Before using this system, the catalog you see being printed in the first picture used to cost me about .60 cents per catalog for a 2 sided, full color print on a 11" x 17" sheet of paper. Now my ink costs are about 4 cents, give or take a fraction of a cent.

Now think about what you can do in the print world with full color printing at that price. :-)