Travel Trailer Covers – Buying the Right One

With all of the excitement of purchasing a new camper, the thought of protecting it when not in use may be overlooked. Since your camper may be such a large investment, you should do everything you can protect it. Travel trailer covers are probably the least expensive way to protect you camper. From the damaging UV rays from the sun, dirt and dust, heavy rain fall and freezing winter weather (for some of us), having your camper covered with a quality RV cover is one way you can ensure your camper is protected and extended its life.

When you’re shopping for RV trailer covers, it is important to know the right size to buy to make sure you have a good fit. Just because your owner’s manual says that it is a 29 foot camper doesn’t mean that it actually is! You will want to measure the camper for yourself. When you go to measure your camper you are going to measure from end to end. Start at the furthest point of the camper at the rear of your camper. Be sure to include the ladder, bumper or spare tire. Measure to the front of the camper but do not include the propane tanks or hitching. If you have a roof air, be sure to add an addition one foot to the final measurement. Now that you have your measurements, you are ready to start your search for travel trailer covers.

One important feature to consider is your climate. If you climate is damp, it is especially important to consider travel trailer covers that “breath”. Tyvek Travel Trailer Covers are made with Polypropylene sides to ensure maximum breathability and it virtually eliminates mold and mildew. Its two layer Tyvek top panel resists water and allows trapped moisture to evaporate from within. UV protection is also very important in all climates.

Other features to consider are the travel trailer covers straps and buckle attachments to prevent billowing on windy days, reinforced corners to resist tears and heavy duty zipper “doors” for easy access to your travel trailer while it is covered. Many brands of travel trailer covers are being designed with many zippers to allow access to your camper no matter where the entrance door is located.

Since travel trailer covers will be exposed to the elements, they will weaken over time. You will want to find a cover that has a good warranty. These covers are going to protect your investment so you will want to make sure that it is of good quality and will last for many seasons. It is important to know how long the warranty is and what the warranty covers.

When you have decided on the brand and type of travel trailer covers that you are going to purchase, you will have to choose the cover size. If you are sure that you have measured correctly, now you will need to locate the size that is closest to your measurement. RV covers are made to fit a size range like 24’1″ to 26″. Find the range that is closest to you measurement. It is better for it to be a little bigger than it is for it to be a little too small. If it is too small, you will have to stretch the material to fit with can cause unnecessary strain to the cover. Besides, most of the better made travel trailer covers allow you to tighten up the corners and edges to make for a better fit.

You have made a wise choice in considering protecting your camper with a cover. Whether you are storing your camper indoors or outdoors, travel trailer covers will keep you camper cleaner and in better condition which will extend the life of your camper as well as keeping the resale value higher if you should choose to sell or trade in your travel trailer.

Wind Anemometers – How to Measure Wind Speed Accurately

For a science that is constantly in the lives of everyday folk, wind speed measurement certainly manages to keep out of the public eye. The measuring of wind speed happens to be an important part of a number of everyday technologies. Of course there is meteorology, the measuring of weather phenomena, that wholly depends on the gauging of wind speed; but a surprising number of other everyday specialties depend on wind speed measurements too, chief among them being aviation and marine and navigation, stability management in skyscrapers, environmental sciences and disaster management. Wind measurement is done with a device known as a wind anemometer; though it might be argued that that is a redundancy since anemometer comes from the Greek Anemos = wind.

Any device that measures wind speed is bound to sense the pressure of it too. For this reason, many anemometer designs are successful when used as pressure meters too in addition. A version of anemometer is known to have existed since around 1450. The modern wind anemometer though, has been around for more than a century and a half now; the first successful design was one that used a structure with four arms fanned out, each one with a cup attached that caught the wind and spun the structure. The inventor, Dr. John Robinson, held the impression when he made his invention that any cup anemometer would share the characteristic that it would spin at a third of the speed of the wind blowing past it, no matter what size it was built to be. Researchers took his word at its face for quite a while before it was discovered that the size of design used always affected the results. Researchers who had used the inventor’s figures for their calculations for years had to start over from scratch.

Cup anemometers, these simple devices, are remarkably accurate machines today nevertheless; the best examples can approach a 99% accuracy level, and still be no more expensive than about $1000. But the cup anemometer is still a mechanical technology that is prone to maintenance lubrication issues, friction, mechanical damage and ice formation. There are competing technologies that attempt to eliminate the problems seen in the mechanical design. One of the most popular wind anemometer technologies in use today is the ultrasonic kind. The principle of the ultrasonic design is this: the speed of sound depends on the speed and the direction of the air that it passes through. A headwind slows sound down, and a tail wind speeds it up. An ultrasonic wind anemometer fires high-frequency sound pulses back and forth between two receivers. If the pulse takes more time travelling in one direction than the other, that is a sign that the slower trip had a headwind working against it. The time differential helps calculate the wind speed. You’ll find these in use on tall buildings, on weather buoys and at weather stations.

Another wind anemometer design that is particularly ingenious is the constant-temperature anemometer. A thin wire held between two electrodes is heated up electrically to hold a constant temperature. A sensor measures the amount of current needed to hold the temperature at ambient temperature levels. Any loss of temperature that is faster than would be explained by the ambient temperature levels would have to come from wind speed. This is a particularly accurate method of measurement of wind turbulence. However, like the laser measurement method below, this can be a quite inexpensive device to buy and maintain.

Ultrasonic and constant temperature anemometers may be accurate enough for most purposes; but laser Doppler anemometers offer extremely tight accuracy. A laser anemometer uses two laser beams; one that travels through a sealed and clean pathway, and one that travels through exposed air. The beam that travels through the exposed air encounters dust particles that are borne along at the speed of the wind at the point. The laser bounces off those dust particles, and measures by Doppler shift the speed at which the particle has been traveling. The Doppler shift is compared to what is measured for the beam traveling through the sealed tube and a relative measurement is made.

It would appear from these descriptions that anemometers always need to be large and permanent installations; as it happens though, small and inexpensive handheld versions with digital displays exist for use by field researchers and trainer pilots. The most striking feature of these is the way they recognizably use nothing other than the same mechanics and structures of the professional devices, only miniaturized for handheld use.

Direct Marketing Essentials – Simple Ways to Calculate and Measure Your Marketing

The mathematics of direct marketing primarily rests on three key elements:

  • Sales
  • Marketing Costs
  • Contribution Costs (e.g. Overheads)

Now there is no clear-cut balance for these elements as any direct marketing activity needs to be tailored and fine tuned according to each business. This is why I will never state off-the-cuff a direct marketing response rate for any business or industry type as there are significant variables involved such as the product itself, the demand for it, market preference and the nature of the offer.

Another point to highlight is that the mathematics used is underpinned by the belief that the future will be similar to the past. Hence if any variable within the equation changes significantly (e.g. magazine circulation significantly declines), then you have to expect a different response rate.

So to dive straight into it, I’ve listed below a few essential calculations which every small business should use:

Calculating the Allowable Using Your DM Budget

This equation lets you calculate the amount of money you need in order to make one sale. This is really important to know!

Revenue Selling Price: $1000

Minus Costs Production: $500

Overheads: $150

Postage & Handling: $50

The Breakeven allowance is $300 (the money you are allowed to spend to acquire a customer).

NOTE: If your business requires 10% profit, then your allowable would effectively be reduced to $200.

Using the Allowable to calculate your DM budget

So using our allowable recruitment spend per customer x target No. of Sales = $200 x 100

Marketing Budget = $20,000

What happens if you don’t make the sales required?

It is essential to test the market first using a small quantity before rolling out the entire campaign. Typically your allowable is based on what resources are required to acquire a customer already, plus I would expect some form of marketing research carried out in order to understand the size of your potential market. It is also important to include contingencies within your marketing activities if you don’t make the required sales. I always save 10% of my budget if something goes wrong. Or better still, if a potential list I’m targeting returns a huge ROI, then I have a bit left over to chase the money and market these top prospects again.

Measuring Costs, Responses and Sales

Here are a few very simple, yet essential equations to help measure costs, response and sales:

Cost per Unit:

Total cost / Total Quantity = Unit Cost

e.g. $20,000 / 4,000 = $5

Response Rate:

(Total Responses / Total Mailed) x 100% = % Response

e.g. (200 / 1,000) x 100% = 20%

This equation is exactly the same as measuring the Conversion Rate which would be Converted Leads / Total Leads Contacted

Cost per Sale:

Total Cost / Total Sales = Cost per Sale

e.g. 20,000 / 500 = $40

Example: Let’s say you were a travel insurance broker wanting to advertise in the local newspaper to sell premium travel insurance for $500 per person. I’ve listed some assumed sales and marketing costs to acquire a customer:

Advertising Cost: $7,800

Newspaper Circulation: 150,000

Promotional Cost: $5 per lead (e.g. Call centre costs)

Revenue per sale: $500

Total Marketing Cost for 100 leads is therefore: $8,300

The Cost per Inquiry or Sale will vary depending on the response rate, which you won’t know until you advertise. But the main focus on advertising is to achieve a required level of profitability in order to justify the expense. I like to refer to it as measuring the Profit Index. (This is exactly the same as using your allowable to calculate the number of sales you require in order to justify any marketing spend).

Profit Index (%) = Total Marketing Cost / Total Revenue

Profit Index (%) = 8,300 / 10,500

In this instance the Travel Insurance company requires 20% profit from print advertising. If my profit Index falls below 20%, then the advertising is deemed unprofitable. I’m so harsh!

Hence, 21 travel insurance premiums need to be sold to meet a profit index of 21%.

In other words, the allowable DM Budget would be set at $8,300 for advertising in the Local Newspaper.

Using Spreadsheets to Negotiate Spend

If you’ve seen the spreadsheet then you’ll wonder why I’ve highlighted the following cost fields – Ad Cost and Promotional Costs. Promotional Costs are harder to change in the short term, but negotiating advertising costs can be extremely effective. You’d be amazed to discover that by saving 10% of advertising you drive down your Profit Index, which means your advertising dollar doesn’t have to work as hard to acquire customers or sales. In the example used, you would only have to sell 19 Travel Premiums in order to meet the minimum profitability requirements. It also does hurt asking for a trial advertising rate to test the viability of a product in a publication. Some account managers will assist if it means you become a regular advertiser.

There are a couple of examples which the above calculations can be applied to in order to gain some further perspective for your next lead generation campaign.

Lead Generation Conversion Programs

1. Generally the more time you have to qualify an enquiry, the more it costs to generate. For example, if your telesales representative took 15 minutes to convert a prospect, while others may take only 5 minutes, then this will drive your overall costs to acquire a customer, and must be factored into your overheads or marketing costs.

2. Lead generation lists (Prospect Lists) can also support repeat conversion contacts, but you’ll always get a reduced response rate with each effort. For example, if you mailed 1,000 prospects, it may generate 250 leads. The second time you mail the list (minus the 250 leads you generated the first time round), you might get another 100 leads. This means you have generated a total of 350 leads from the prospect list. But we wary that if you use the list too many times then it will get to the point of being unprofitable.

As a general rule of thumb, you should change a portion of the DM piece the next time you mail (e.g. The offer, or a larger discount), as customers may respond to varying aspects of your direct marketing campaign, which is why it is always important to test.

You may hear direct marketing consultants talking about list building, and how much of their time is dedicated to developing a database of qualified prospects and customers. These lists are in fact a key ingredient which differentiate direct marketing from traditional marketing.

But I will say that typically, a list of present customers will respond much better or at a higher rate to a new product compared to non-qualified, or “cold” prospects.

It is also important to point out that while companies always depreciate their expenses over time such as equipment, machinery and inventory, they almost never capitalise what could be their most important asset, their customer. Therefore, small business owners should view their customers as investments and be able to measure and monitor customer data, and capitalise on it for the future.

Just remember that the maths of direct marketing sets it apart from all other marketing disciplines!