Using apps to sell parts: Better Notes, More Margin

Using apps to sell parts: Better Notes, More Margin

I get lots of questions from friends and colleagues about the tech gadgets I own. They enthusiastically approach me to share their likes on the latest gadgets they have bought. More times than not, they walk away from these consultations a bit disappointed to learn that I usually do not have the latest model of any of the hot gadgets out there.

You see, I get my kicks from buying not the latest, but the one right-before-the-latest model. For me is not the iPhone 4S, but the 4. Not the TiVo Premiere, but the TiVo XL. Not the Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Dock, but the Bose Sound Dock for iPod. I usually just wait a bit and buy these once super-hot gadgets on the Web for far less than they once were priced. Where do I find these deals? I do lurk over at daily deal online sites like, and These guys have come up with a fun way to get amazing deals out there in a tight, 24-hour window. It seems like a lot of pressure to be able to hock your wares in just one day, but such is the power of e-commerce, that these vendors have turned things around and actually created a “you snooze — you lose” strategy online that drives actual buyers every day on their sites to transact business.

So, there I was, happy to own my not-so-new gadgets and along comes the newest iPad. I admit that I’ve succumbed to its allure like sailors plunge into the deep ocean, mesmerized by mermaids’ songs. Ahoy, me mateys!

It’s my first iPad and it shows — this thing seems to be attached to my hand. A decent trade-off of this up-to-date acquisition, is that it looks like I have all but abandoned my laptops behind in the office as the iPad can indeed replace them. So, at least moving forward, my all-too-classic business backpack — loaded with heavy computers, chargers, mice, extra batteries, laser pointers, USB drives and extension cords — is no longer racking airline miles along with me on my business trips. Yes, my dear readers, this is my first column written on an iPad, and let me tell you it was a breeze to write. It’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday, I just woke up, grabbed the iPad and keyed the darn thing away quickly. Actually, loved the virtual keyboard and having the words pop right at you keeps you concentrating on the writing. Before I knew it, I was up to 1,000 words!
So, come along and share with me the joy of new tech and let me show you some of the apps I have been using on my new iPad.

I have been a fan of the Action Method notebook for some time. They are part of a whole system of organizational tools by a company called Behance ( Their approach is fairly intuitive but complex and more in tune with delegating tasks to groups. I’m not that detailed about my organizational skills; however, their notebooks struck a chord with me a while back and I have been using them in the real world for a while. It’s really a simple idea: a notebook with a to-do list attached to the right margin of every page. The idea is that as you write notes at a meeting, class or presentation you can identify key items that need action and jog those on the right margin as a list of to-do to tackle. Like all organizational systems, if you adhere to their protocol you are in for a reward; in this case, you get your notes with a to-do list ready to go.

I was searching for a hi-tech notes apps for my new iPad and recognized the Action Method notes app immediately in the app store. This app really captures all that is good about this note-taking system. Now, on their app, the to-do list you walk away with is interactive and searchable. Furthermore, it is super easy to share with others and backup is a breeze. The icing on the cake is that the notes and to-do list are created in a beautiful, easy-to-read format that can be emailed to others with one click. The email recipients will receive a great follow-up tool after the meeting and you will get a pat on the back for having been the one that championed the note-taking task at the meeting.


As a teenager way back when, I started working with my family in their car dealer business. I had no idea what margin was. Sadly, some 30 years later, we all seem to forget at times that sticking to your guns is key in managing margin in all businesses. Nowadays, we all use sophisticated systems to ensure margin calculations and implementation in our companies, but, the basic understanding of margin calculation must remain forefront in all of our new employees.

Early in my career someone gave me this chart to calculate margin:
To get 10%: x 1.11
To get 25%: x 1.33
To get 30%: x 1.43

I regret I can’t remember who gave me this huge nugget of knowledge as it became a mantra of sorts in those early days to ensure I made money for my employers. In turn, I have shared this chart with countless others ever since. It’s a simply way to show newcomers how to calculate actual margin from cost and hopefully how not to give it away.

That’s exactly what iMargin does, but in hi-tech electronic format. Furthermore it can calculate it not only from cost, but from sell price, margin percentage or margin dollars. It’s like a simple calculator, but just for margin.

This summer, a customer asked if he could visit our warehouse with his teenage son who was working at their jobber store during the summer to learn more about the auto parts business. The conversation with father and son eventually got around to margin (the customer was showing his kid a valuable lesson on how to hammer a vendor — in this case, me!) and I turned on the iPad attached to my hand and showed the kid and the father the iMargin app. In the end, the father liked it more than the kid did and left the warehouse with the app already downloaded to his iPhone.

This app brings back one of the simple joys of managing your business — set the right price. It’s more of an educational tool than management tool, but I get the feeling most of us will probably get a nice kick out if. Download for just 99 cents and leave us a message on with your thoughts, won’t you please?

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