Since sales and marketing really determine what happens in the United States

closing the sale

Successful Sale




Sale: The exchange of property or services for a determined amount of money .1

  1. Goals of sales
    1. What do you want the customer to do?
  2. What steps are involved in this process?
    1. Closing
  3. Types of closes
    1. Assumptive close
      1. Forced choice close
    2. Ben Franklin close
      1. Other types
    3. Who cares?
      1. Salesperson
    4. Why?
      1. Customer
    5. Why?

C Other people or organizations D. Government

  • Marketing
  1. Differential Advantage
    1. Customer Val ue
    2. Selectivity & Concentration
      1. 4 Ps
    3. Sales
      1. Sales Questions to be answered in the process of selling
        1. Who B. What
        2. When
          1. Where
        3. Why
        4. F. How
          1. Sales Dos & Don’ts


  1. “I don’t know but I’ll find out and get back to you .”
  2. KISS method D. ASSUME
    1. Questions

The American Heritage Dictionary  of the English Language,  1973.




Sale Defined: The exchange of property  or services for a determined  amount of money.

In every sales transaction we have a goal: A SALE. Sales is the process of reaching that  goal. To achieve this goal a salesperson has to go through various steps a process which results in a sale. The steps include but are not limited to: establishing rapport and trust, presenting the features and benefits of the product, finding out which benefits are most important to the customer,  and establishing  value  for these benefits.

Rapport is the “warm up” portion of the sales call. This is the time when the salesperson will ask you if you saw the football game last Sunday or if your hobbies include hunting and fishing. He is trying to establish some common ground on which he can relate to the customer. The salesperson is saying to the customer, “See, we are both alike. You have reason to believe what I say.” Ifyou are at the customer’s location (or home) one good thing to do is to look around and see what the customer displays. What picture is hanging on the wall? Which trophies or awards are displayed? From these items all people, including a salesperson can tell what is important to the customer as a person. He is telling you what he feels is his identity . If you genuinely know about, or are sincerely impressed with anything you see it is good to tell the customer so. The customer will realize that you are interested in HIM not just yourself. One final aspect of rapport is “likability”. A good professional salesperson always is likable. Ifyou ever encounter a good professional salesperson in most cases you will like him. It doesn’t matter what product he is selling ,you still like him. He is selling hi mself. This skill is difficult to teach but is important since the final buying decision is often based on emotional rather than objective criteria.

In order to establish trust for the salesperson sales organizations often use their size and their reputation. “Hi, Mr. Adams my name is Kevin Clark. I’m with XYZ Electrical Supply. We’re the largest electrical supply house on the East Coast.” The implication here is that if the company is so large they must be doing something right You as the customer have reason to trust what the salesperson says unless you think or know that the company grew very large by not telling the truth. To counteract the credibility problem salespeople often bring up their company ‘s reputation very early in a sales call. “By the way Mr. Adams, XYZ won the Associated Building Contractors award for customer excellence in 1994.” In this case the customer has even more reason to trust the salesperson if he knows who the Associated Building Contractors (ABC) are. Ifthe customer does not know who ABC is, often the salesperson will tell him, again trying to give the customer reason to trust him. Ifyou cannot establish trust then the customer has no reason to believe the rest of your presentation and you as a salesperson will

be wasting your time. What kind of sentence would you put together to establish trust for PACE Electric?

Feature and benefit selling is a well established sales method. Products have features which provide the customer benefits. “Mr. Adams XYZ’s huge buying power allows us to purchase every item at the best quantity discount from suppliers (feature). This means, Mr. Adams, that you will get the best price on everything we sell (benefit).  What are the features and benefits of

PACE Electric? As a salesperson one has to be sensitive to the customer’s feelings about what you say. Ifyou present a feature and benefit which provokes a question or a nod that may be the feature which is important to the customer. A salesperson must be aware of the customer’s changing attitude and focus on the aspects of his presentation which are important to the customer.

Once the salesperson knows which feature(s) of a product are important he then must establish that these features have a  value to the customer.  “Mr. Adams, if you could get the best price on all your electrical supplies what would that be worth to you?”  The salesperson doesn’t necessarily want to answer this question himself but rather let the customer answer and convince himself that the product is valuable to him. Ifthe customer does not do this readily the salesperson then has to jump into the discussion and point out why the product feature is important. “Think of how much money you could save if you got the best price on all your electrical  supplies Mr. Adams.”

Once value has been established the salesperson has to “close” the deal. This means the salesperson must ask for the order in some way otherwise no sale will take place unless the customer says “Can I please buy from you?”, which rarely happens. Closing has its own set of skills and is made easy if the salesperson follows the previously mentioned steps. Basically, what the salesperson needs to do is get some form of commitment from the customer.  This can

range from signing on the dotted line to a handshake. For a sales call to be considered  successful the salesperson must get a commitment to buy from the customer.



Closing the  Sale: Obtaining a commitment  to buy  from the customer.

Closing a sale has been raised to an art form in the U.S.. There are many  different ways to   close a sale. Once you as the salesperson have obtained a commitment for a sale it can be considered closed. In some situations the sale is not considered closed until the company has been paid and sales commissions are not paid until that time. Furthermore, if the situation arises that a refund must be given to a customer the sale can be “unclosed” and the salesperson’s commission taken away or “charged back” Sales organizations often have the problem of decided when a sale is a sale. For our discussion we will consider the initial close of a sale. This is the one which should “stick” most of the time unless your company is doing something unusual or wrong.



l . Assumptive Close: Assumes the customer wants the product. “When would you like us to deliver your fixtures Mr. Adams?” This close works best when the customer is already sold on your product. It can be considered inappropriate or “pushy” if the customer has not yet made up his mind.

  1. Forced Choice Close: This close is a variation of the assumptive close, however, gives the customer the illusion that he has a say in the buying process (Which he does!). “Would you like that 300 SL in red or gold, Adams?” The forced choice close assumes that the customer wants the item but gives him a choice about a relatively minor product feature.
  1. Ben Franklin Close: This close is fairly complex and requires some skill. On a blank sheet of paper the salesperson makes a column for advantages and disadvantages of buying a product. He then ask the customer why he would like to have the product if he were to buy it. The

salesperson then writes down all the positive reasons, given to him by the customer for buying. The salesperson can help the customer along by reminding him what he liked about the product if the customer is reluctant  it reluctant  to speak.  “Remember Mr. Adams, you said that you   liked

the Bose stereo system in the 300 SL. What else did you like?” After writing down the reasons for buying the product the salesperson then asks, “What are the reasons against buying the 300 SL, Mr. Adams?”, and then he SHUTS UP! The customer is then forced to remember why he might not want the product. Ifthe customer is normal and has an average memory he will be excited about why he should buy the product and have trouble remembering why not to buy it. If the customer does remember why he should not buy the product the salesperson has “isolated”

the objections to the sale and now knows which objections he needs to address in the remainder of his presentation. An additional trick to this process is for the sales person to quickly dismiss most of the objections before writing them down.  So once again the salesperson has a long list of advantages and a short list of disadvantages for the customer to buy the product.  At this point the sales person can say, “Mr. Adams, based on what you told me here today it looks to me like you really should own a 300 SL. Ifyou wait one minute I’ll see if we have one in stock.”. This close is useful  when selling a high ticket or complex  item  such as a service  upgrade.



Basic Principles  of Marketing:   1. Differential   Advantage: One’s differential  advantage  is that feature or features  of one’s product  which the customer  cannot (or believes  he  cannot) obtain anywhere else. 2. Customer Value: What is the value one’s customer is getting from the differential advantage. In electrical service work a customer value might be reduced downtime. THERE MUST BE SOME CUSTOMER  VALUE  (PERCEIVED  OR REAL) FOR A

PRODUCT  TO BE SUCCESSFUL.   3.  Selectivity and Concentration:   Once one has  determined  that the differential  advantage has a value to the customer  one must decide who,   our

of the broad array of players in the marketplace will have the most use for the product. Once this market segment has been determined it is important to concentrate marketing efforts on this segment.

Another useful analytical tool in marketing is analyzing one’s marketing strategy using the 4 P approach . The four Ps of marketing are Product , Price, Place, and Promotion (Sales is one  type of promotional  strategy .).

Product: This phase of analysis focuses on what your product is, i.e. developing a product that meets the needs of the marketplace (Market Approach) , or finding a market segment which has use for your existing product (Product Approach) . This phase encompasses R & D including market research, use of outside consultants, and development of a prototype for testing . (In PACE’s case for service work this would  be development  of a prototype  service agreement.)

Price: Pricing is a factor which can help determine the success or failure of a new venture. Clearly, one wants to cover costs and make a fair profit , however, other factors also influence price.  First, price can be associated with quality  of work.   For example, would you go to   a Dentist who charged $5.00 per filling? In addition, regardless of cost the marketplace often determines price. For example, if the going rate for electrical service work is $45.00/Hr. then PACE is limited to prices within a range of this number, i.e. PACE should not charge $20.00/Hr. even if PACE could make a profit at this figure since not only will this offering be seen as a poor quality product  but  PACE will  leave  “money on the table”.   Similarly, If PACE charges

$65.00/Hr. for service work PACE may give the perception of high quality to the marketplace but could also be underbid by competitors who have the same differential advantage as PACE.

Place: This phase of market analysis is used more frequently by companies with a physical product to sell, i.e. a copier, a car, or some sort of widget. Nonetheless it is useful to consider PLACE in performing a market analysis for PACE.  Since PACE is in a service business the electrical service product  is produced  as it is consumed  and therefore  cannot be inventoried  for sale at a future date. This fact gives rise to the concept of PLACE for electrical service work. To determine PLACE here one must ask the question, “Where is electrical service work actually sold?” “How is an electrical service contractor obtain?” Since perhaps the decision to use an electrical  service contractor  is made at the company’s   or homeowner’s  location  at the time the need  arises the idea of PACE stickers at a site makes  good sense.

Promotion: Once all the other questions have been answered one is ready to consider promotion of the product. This phase can include advertising, sales, telemarketing,  couponing,  etc..  In selecting a promotional vehicle one must keep in mind: I . How decisions to buy are made in the marketplace and 2. where the product is in its product life cycle (New or existing product). The information one learns about the marketplace during the first 3 phases of market analysis will determine the best promotional  vehicles to choose.   In other words there  is an appropriate time

for using  every promotional  vehicle  in the marketplace.



In sales and marketing  it is often very important to ask the question, “Who cares?”  when  making a statement of fact . Ifa PACE Electric service technician says to a customer, “We are going to put in a 200 amp service in your home.” Who cares? and Why should they care?

Customers typically care about the end result of a job. That is, they care if their refrigerator, air conditioner, and electric oven all work at the same time. The customer may not care that it takes a 200 Amp service to make this event happen. So when speaking to a customer about electrical work it is important to let him know what the end result of your labor will be. It is only necessary to go into the details of electrical work when something unusual or different needs to be done.  In this case it is important to explain to the customer why he should care about what you are saying.  The last statement goes back to feature and benefit selling.  The customer cares

about the 200 amp service (feature) only because it makes his appliances work properly (benefit). The customer should care because he will get the result he wants based upon your solution to his problem.   He may not care what you have done if his electrical  service does not   work!

Service technicians (salespeople) want to ask “Who cares?” when dealing with customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer can lead to repeat business for the service technician as well as for PACE Electric.  A satisfied customer could very likely call and say, “Mr. Service Manger , you did my service upgrade and now I want to put in a ceiling fan.  Could you send Ken Adams he did a good job  last  time.”                                Service technicians needs to care if the customer is happy with the solution to his electrical problem  since not only payment  for the work done then,  but   for

payment for future work is derived from a satisfied customer. In other words a customer has dollar value beyond just the one job we do for him in the present. A service technician also might care if a customer is satisfied because the service technician takes pride in his work and wants not only the money but the recognition that he has done a good job.

Other people care how a customer is treated and if he is satisfied. It is often said in sales that one satisfied customer may tell 1 or 2 others about the good work PACE Electric did for him but one dissatisfied customer will tell 10 or 20 other people about his bad experience with PACE. Think of yourself out for the evening talking with the guys about your experiences over a beer.            Do you normally say, “Boy I the salesman I talked to at DEF Motors was really helpful to me when I was out car shopping.” Or do you say more frequently, “That pushy bastard at XYZ Motors tried to make me buy a car.” How many of your friends would you send to XYZ Motors in the last case? How many acquaintances or barroom buddies would you send? If you are normal you will probably tell a lot more people how bad your experience with XYZ was than how good your experience with DEF was.

The government cares about customer satisfaction as well. This fact has lead to lemon laws for cars, waiting periods for certain types of sales (e.g. aluminum siding), and regulation of the telemarketing industry. If a dissatisfied customer is so inclined he can report you to the attorney general and you as a service technician and PACE electric will be asked to explain why the customer is unhappy.



There are six basic questions which arise in all sales transactions. They are: Who, What, When , Where, Why, and How. These questions must be answered by the salesperson during the course of a presentation and close in order for the sale to take place.  Consider a service upgrade  from 50 Amps to 200 Amps.

Who needs it? A homeowner  who wants to run several electrical appliances at once.

This question relates to the selectivity and concentration portion of marketing theory. Ifone homeowner needs something there are probably others with the same needs.

What does he need? A service upgrade.  This question relates to the product section  of marketing theory . Is a service upgrade to 200 Amps what the customer needs? Could he get by with 150 Amps. Does he need any other electrical work done in order to solve his problem. The service technician in this case serves as a product development specialist to present products  to the homeowner which will solve his electrical problems . Remember to keep in mind feature and benefit selling when presenting new ideas (products) to the  customer.

When does he need it? This is up to the customer but from a salesperson’s point of view  he needs it as soon as possible since the salesperson will generally not get paid until the sale is made. From the customer’s point of view he needs the service upgrade when he wants to run his air conditioner, electric oven, and washer-dryer at the same time. Ultimately the customer needs the work done at his convenience.

Where does he need it? First of all the customer will need a service upgrade at his home. He may need other work done at other locations (e.g. summer house, garage, tools shed). This question relates to the place portion of marketing theory. The customer may need electrical work done in the future at his home so it is a good idea to attach PACE Electric stickers to  his

electrical panels if you have worked on them. This is the place where a decision about future electrical work is likely to be made.

Why does he need it? He needs it to solve the problems created by his desire to run several appliances at one time. A customer may also need service work done because his house is old and needs new wiring or because the people who built his home did not plan for the customer’s future electrical needs. As a salesperson the service technician always wants to know why a customer wants something so that the service technician can propose innovative solutions to problems and possibly get more work.

How will the job be done?  The service technician will install new equipment,  efficiently,

neatly , correctly and professionally. There is nothing which annoys customers more than  calling a contractor and having to call back because some problem arose with the contractor’s work. A service professional will always consider how he does a job not only to solve the customer’s electrical problem but also with consideration to the customer’s needs (i.e. not having the electricity turned off during dinner, cleaning up around your work  site.)



ATTITUDE!!! Attitude is the most important aspect of sales. There are some basics which are part of any successful salesperson’s attitude. First, you, the service technician are a professional. You have quality service and skill to offer the customer. You are neat, clean and courteous to the customer.   You conduct yourself in a professional  manner. Second, you care about  your customer’s needs more than anything else except your own personal safety. You want to know how you can make this person happy he chose PACE electric and that PACE electric sent you on the job . Ifyou keep these  attitudes in mind you  can derive any sales techniques  you  care to  use

to further your  sales goals.

KEEP YOUR WORD!!! This means do what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Customers don’t mind delays as much when they are informed of them in advance.  Don’t tell your customer you will have the work done today then tell him later on that you can’t finish until tomorrow. Tell him up front how long the work will take. You may even want to leave yourself some extra time so that you will be prepared  if any unforeseen  circumstances  arise during  the

job . Ifyou do not know the answer to a customer’s question DON’T B.S.. Tell the customer you don’t know but will find out for him and get back to him, then do it! These behaviors tell the customer that you and PACE Electric are professional and care about him. Ifyou keep your word the credibility problem discussed in THE GOALS OF SALES will be solved.

KISS YOUR CUSTOMERS KISS stands for Keep It Super Simple. Don’t overload your customers with a lot of technical jargon which he will not understand. He is paying you to understand it and solve his problem. That is what he wants!

DON’T ASSUME If you are unsure of a customer’s wishes with respect to your work ask. To ASSUME makes and ASS of U and ME.  Get it?!

Some not so modest proposals for controlling healthcare costs: a comedic skit


Lytuem Advertising has been commissioned by the hospital Angels of Mercy to produce a business and marketing plan to increase revenue of the financially failing institution.  The following is a secret recording of Lytuem’s presentation to members of the hospital’s board of directors.

[Noise in a conference room, then a gavel sound]

Board Member 1:  As Chairman, I call to order this meeting of the Angels of Mercy Hospital Board of Directors.  I welcome my good friend, W.E. Lytuem, managing partner of Lytuem Advertising, and ask W.E. and his colleagues to share with us the results of his firm’s efforts to develop a business and marketing plan for dear old Angels of Mercy.

W.E.:  Thank you all for having us here.  We’ve come up with some exciting new concepts which we believe can help your finances.  As you know with the new healthcare law mandating equal treatment for all regardless of pre-existing conditions or ability to pay there will be some challenges ahead.  We will face them together.

Board Member 1:  Here, here, W.E.  We can’t go on like this.  Our docs are complaining they can’t cover their greens fees on Wednesday afternoons.

[murmurs of agreement]

W.E.:  Let’s get right to it.  One of the biggest money losers in your hospital is the Emergency Room.  All kinds of people have emergencies and show up there expecting to be taken care of.  They don’t care if they can pay.  All they think about is themselves and their problems, last year alone more than half the people you saw in your ER couldn’t pay the freight.

Board Member 1:  What’s the answer?


[sounds of shock and awe]

Board Member 1:  You mean not have an emergency room?

W.E. :  Exactly!  Close it.  Shut it down.

Board Member 1:  But what will we do with the people who come to us?

W.E.:  Are you familiar with the term TURF?

Board Member 1:  No.

W.E.:  It means to “To Get Rid Of”.  You need to TURF anyone that comes to your hospital for an emergency to someplace else.

Board Member 1:  But what’ll the people say?  What can we tell the public?

W.E.:  Tell them the US has the best healthcare system in the world and they should be able to find someplace else to go.  Saint Sebastian is twenty minutes away.  TURF ‘em there.  Remember it’s them or you.  How would your docs like to not be able to make those payments on their Mercedes?  The repo man doesn’t care if they’re sick or dying.  All he wants is the money.  SHOW ME THE MONEY!  That’s what he says.

Which brings me to my next point, you need to start collecting on all those artificial joints and pacemakers and that sort of thing.  Your receivables are in horrible shape.  Last year you wrote off millions.   You need to start collecting the money you’re owed.  Medicare doesn’t pay for these things for the patients totally.  If the patients can’t pay the difference, you need to start reposing your property.

Board Member 1:  What property?  You don’t mean repossessing our surgical implants?

W.E.:  Absolutely!

Board Member 2:  But aren’t people going to get upset?

W.E.:  Let ‘em.  We’re on firm legal ground here.  We’ll make the patients sign a contract stating that these devices are your property until they’re paid for.  If they want to walk or have regular heartbeats they’ll have to pay.  If they don’t pay we’ll take our property back.  In the words of my favorite Philadelphia politician from the ‘70’s when speaking to that pretend Arab sheik, “Money talks and BS walks!”  Remember it’s them or you.  Who do you want to come out on top?

Board Member 2:  But thirty percent of our income is from joint replacements and pacemakers. If we start repossessing parts, people won’t come to us.

W.E.:  Ah, we have an answer to that problem.  We’ll move Angels of Mercy into a new specialty area, and create a huge marketing campaign to promote the new practice.

Board Member 2:  That might work.  What’s your idea for a new specialty?

W.E.:  Death.

Board Member 2:  Death?

W.E. :  Sure everyone has to die of something.  There’s a huge market out there with the baby boomers aging, the potential is enormous.  We can get into the death business, funeral homes, embalming, cremation.  We can raffle off a free cremation!  In the death business no one complains…BECAUSE THEY’RE ALREADY DEAD!

Board Member 1:  Interesting…, a hospital with a specialty in death.

W.E.:  Exactly.  It’s in your name: “Angels of Mercy”.   What could be more merciful than death?  You’d have a differentia advantage in the marketplace.  You’d be a completely vertically integrated business.  You have your maternity where you bring new patients into the world.  People have a happy experience.  Everyone loves a baby.  It’s a joyous event. Psychographic research shows that people seek out happy memories when they’re upset.  So, having a death specialty associated with those happy memories will make death seem happy. You can even offer a rewards points card for procedures they’ll have done at the hospital during their lives.  Everyone likes a rewards program!  Then they can redeem the points for a funeral, cremation, or anything else from our post life product line.  The beauty of it is they’ll never use the points because they’ll be dead!

Board Member 1:  W.E. I think you’re on to something here.

Board Member 2:  So we TURF the non-paying emergency patients, repossess the prosthetics and pacemakers and start offering funerals.

W.E.:   Almost.  We won’t actually say that we specialize in “death”; rather, “post-life” services.   We won’t use the word “death”.  We don’t want people to get the wrong idea about our hospital, now do we?

Ekphrastic poem based on photo of my sister with a Roman fresco. “Two Women”

Ekphrastic Roman Fresco

Two Women


Two beauties
turn away from each other.
One living, one a frescoed image
from the past.
They reflect, as a mother and daughter might
a difference in temperament.
Veins of rosy marble
complement the daughter’s
living skin tones.
Her eyes are fixed on the photographer
face turned away, toward the light.
This daughter does not really smile.
Still she is winsome
perhaps wistfully wishing
for the love she could not feel—
The mural in the background
appears lifelike—
the way the pair’s enmity might
to the casual observer.
Sometimes it is difficult to tell
what is real
and what is illusion.

In Light of the Shootings in South Carolina

Song of the Powerless

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
greed that permeated
all their actions as they
tore down happiness
from her installation, carrying her
through streets filthy with avarice,
drooling over her body
like hungry animals,
all the while the oxymoronic outcry
of business ethics resounded
in cavernous corridors surrounded
by concrete and glass edifices,
built by the poor
who were media-deluded
into believing the dream,
while we waited
for Adam Smith or Ronald Reagan
to redistribute some scrap of wealth.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
Vietnam that killed
more than three million
leaving corpses
amidst fields of body parts,
the post traumatic aftermath,
vacancy in the empty eyes of veterans,
those unable to stay in school,
or escape a class-biased draft,
who walk the streets
like emissaries of Hades
crying tears of blood,
begging, and eating out of garbage cans
outside restaurants,
where we sit dining
on the entrails of Freedom,

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
ignorance and apathy
buying guns from the NRA
to protect themselves
from six-year olds playing War,
and the Black mobs
rioting for justice
when another unarmed person
is murdered by police
in a police state
where the rich rely on fear
to stab the bellies of the outraged
keeping them silent,
Jim Crow lives,
as we watch Camden, Chester, Ferguson,
and Baltimore
implode with violence.

I am with you Michael Brown!
I am with you Freddie Gray!
I am with you
where you sit
paralyzed in death!
I am with all the disenfranchised
as they lick clean broken plates
with upscale table scraps,
the never ending detritus of mistrust!
I cannot breathe.
I cannot breathe
with the smell of such nervous hypocrisy
in the air!
Save me!

Ed Krizek

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by…” first line of “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg

Short Story: “Fireflies”, First published 2010 in Literary House


It wasn’t until all the lights were out that Crewly heard the hum sounding faint but clear in the darkness. He threw off the bedclothes in frustration. Another thing to keep me up he thought. Underneath his stainless steel sink in the kitchen Crewly kept a flashlight. Tripping toward the cabinet he picked it up from the rusted metal below. He shined it into all the corners of the room. All he saw were cobwebs. But the hum was still there.

At last he found it. The hum came from outside his window where the trees just parted enough for him to see the road. He could hear the hum of cars and trucks as they drove by. Crewly looked through the break in the trees. He saw a car on the shoulder with its flashers blinking. The road was only half a mile through the woods. He decided to walk to the car and find out what the trouble was. Maybe he could help.

Crewly lived in a cabin in the woods some people might have called rustic. He didn’t care whether or not it was. He just liked his privacy away but not too far away from civilization. Crewly was not a mountain man or a back to nature nut. He still bought groceries in the supermarket in town. Planting and harvesting were not for him. He owned an acre of land around his home and rarely mowed the lawn which was mainly overgrown weeds. Occasionally wildflowers would grow in them. This pleased Crewly.

Since it is impolite to walk out of the house naked Crewly put on a pair of jeans, a T shirt and a light spring jacket. These were the last clean clothes he owned. He wondered why he was going out at this ungodly hour. Chances were the car’s diver would not be all that welcoming of a stranger. Nonetheless, Crewly stepped out his front door unshaven, hair uncombed on a quest to satisfy his curiosity if nothing else.

The path through the woods to the road was a bit overgrown. No one tended things around Crewly’s house. The word had gotten out that a strange man lived in the cabin. The neighborhood children and matrons spread the word. Generally, Crewly liked being alone. Except on this night he couldn’t sleep because of the road’s hum. Sometimes he was used to it and didn’t notice the noise. Other times the hum sounded like thunder to him.

Crewly walked into the woods carrying his flashlight which flickered on and off. The flashlight was old and its batteries rattled around inside it. Halfway to the road Crewly could make out the shape of a woman in the brief flash of the car’s lights. He couldn’t tell how young or old she was but she had on a skirt and carried a shoulder bag. She seemed to be looking off into the distance when Crewly finally got to her. He tapped her on the shoulder and she jumped.

“Sorry to scare you ma’am,” Crewly said.

“I saw you sitting here and thought you might want some help. Name’s Crewly.” Crewly stuck out his hand.

Recovering she turned to so she was facing Crewly and replied, “Joan. Joan Silvestri.” They shook hands. She was nearly as tall as he was. Her clothes were dirty with grease and she looked all played out.

“I can’t get this tire changed,” she said. “Do you know how to change a tire?”

“I can give it a try,” Crewly said. “Whether or not I can do it depends on your tools and how tightly your nuts are on.” Oh shit! he thought. What did I just say? He decided not to apologize hoping perhaps she would not catch the double meaning in his remark. Besides women don’t have nuts he thought.

Joan smiled and handed Crewly her tire iron and pointed to a scissor jack lying sideways next to her car. He handed her his jacket. “I’d be grateful if you could do it. I’ve come a long way and no one will stop and help me. You’re a Godsend.” She smiled again. Crewly say her face clearly in the flashing car lights. She was about his age with a kind face and brown hair. Her clothes were mature.

“Didn’t know anyone lived around here,” Joan said. “You can’t see any houses from the road.”

“No but you can hear them if you listened. I can hear the road. People on the road are moving so fast they can’t hear or see anything. It’s lucky for you I couldn’t sleep and came out to see what you were doing.”

“I’m very grateful,” said Joan and she smiled again. Crewly felt it the first time but this time his stomach nearly melted. She had such a kind warm smile. He smiled back trying to make the best of his tousled hair and stubbly face.

“I’ll have this done in a jiffy,” Crewly smiled at Joan again. Something was glowing inside of him. Something he hadn’t felt for years. But this woman was a stranger. He didn’t know her. Still, he felt an attraction. He busied himself changing her tire hoping his vulnerability didn’t show.

“Did you ever wonder about finding your way in the dark?” Joan said. “You did it with a flashlight. But how do the animals do it birds and things like that.”

What an odd question Crewly thought. “I guess they see better than we do,” he replied twisting off a lug.

“It’s not just that. Sometimes they know instinctually where to go. I read once that fireflies give off light in order to signal to their mates. So they can find each other in the dark.”
“I heard that too,” said Crewly as he took off the flat tire and smiled. “Maybe they got something there,” he said. Crewly put the new tire on without incident. After he finished tightening the lugs he stood up and said, “All done.”

Joan held out a twenty dollar bill.

“Oh no, I don’t want any money from you. I just wanted to help that’s all.”

“Well if you’re sure you won’t take it.”

“Oh yes very,” said Crewly.

Joan smiled at Crewly and a warm feeling came over him.

“Well, I guess that’s it,” he said.

“Guess it is,” she replied.

They shook hands again and Crewly turned to go back to his dark house with the hum of the road in it.

“Don’t forget your jacket,” Joan said handing it to him.

Crewly took the coat and put it on, looked Joan in the eyes and turned waving good-bye behind him. He heard her car door slam and she pulled away onto the road. He walked home with his flickering flashlight going on and off with almost every step. When he reached his front door, he fumbled in his jacket pocket for his key and felt something. He pulled it out and balancing his flashing so he could get a steady beam. It was a piece of paper. On it were written the words, “Thanks for your help. Call me if you want. Joan. Her number was written at the end.”

Crewly stared at the note for a while then found his keys. Once inside his house he placed the note carefully on his writing desk. Took off his clothes and went to sleep. He no longer heard the hum.


New Blog Address

The new address for my blog is: . I caved in and took the offer to buy my domain name for $18 which morphed into $26. But it’s easier to remember (at least for me) than the dot one.

Have been reading a lot about social networking. The material I have been reading is devoted to how to use social networking to market your business. I am interested in this but want to keep the blog more casual. I can discuss marketing seriously with anyone who wants to, but many people do not care about it. Let me know if you want to talk about marketing and sales. Post a comment.

This weekend is the Philadelphia Writers Conference. I am looking forward to hearing some great stuff there. Sara Sheppard is the opening speaker starting at 9:30 AM on Friday June 12. Stephen Fried the keynote speaker Saturday night.

Please sign up to follow my blog from the menu on


Healthcare in the Twenty First Century



The main problem facing healthcare management in the twenty-first century will be how to distribute services to an increasing number of patients[1] with limited funds.  Currently healthcare accounts for 17.9 %[2] of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has been increasing steadily over the years.  With the advent of the Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare more individuals will be eligible for services while costs are projected to increase.  This is not to say that these individuals should be barred from receiving treatment but rather to point out that with increasing use of the healthcare system from the approximately 48 million currently uninsured individuals[3] the result will be to add to healthcare expenditures that are already increasing 3.9% annually[4].


How then, will managers in the system choose to allocate resources?  It has already been shown that healthcare expenses increase dramatically in the last year of life.[5]   The high tech medicine that keeps people alive in the case of serious illness is expensive[6].  Although many more people now choose palliative care or hospice the decision to select this mode of treatment is currently left to the individual.  While there are rumors circulating concerning “death panels” on the internet neither the Affordable Care Act nor HHS have any plans to institute such a methodology[7].


What will happen is development of a two tiered system in which individuals who can pay above the standard rate for treatment will do so rather than go without treatment.  This two-tiered system exists in all countries where there is a public health option.[8]   This includes Canada, France, and The United Kingdom.  Although this situation may seem unfair it follows the dictates of market driven economics.  The lack of resources to pay for ever increasing costs will lead to development of a secondary healthcare market apart from the one most people will utilize.  This will be a windfall for investor owned hospitals like Humana.


While all this may seem a bit dismal consider what the situation could be without The Affordable Care Act.  Costs have been rising regardless of the new law.  As already stated there are millions uninsured currently.  Clearly some percentage of that group will need and seek treatment in a healthcare facility without any way to pay for the treatment.  Currently most healthcare institutions will provide some kind of treatment to the uninsured.  This uncompensated treatment is funded by increasing costs to patients with health insurance.


Managers in healthcare institutions will be forced to close services offered in order to make ends meet.  On quarter of hospital emergency rooms have been closed in the United States during the past 20 years.[9]   Other services where costs are high have an overload of patients.   Cerebral palsy has increased leaving middle income families no alternative but to seek large settlements to cover a lifetime of care.[10]


Various individuals including Albert Einstein have said, “You can judge a society by the way it treats its weakest members.”  With more money being concentrated in corporations and the wealthy market segment it is clear that there are fewer resources to go around and that the middle class is under increasing financial pressure.  51% of families lived in middle income households in 2010 compare with 61% in 1970[11].  Healthcare managers will be in the position of dispensing these scarce resources to an ever increasing number of individuals in the future.  As baby boomers age and as more people have some form of healthcare insurance it would seem appropriate that healthcare managers take courses in philosophy and ethics as well as management.


In 1974 Victor Fuchs wrote a book titled, Who Shall Live. In it he discusses the problems he foresaw for the healthcare system in a future that has now become our present.  Perhaps the question may not be as much “Who shall live?” as “What quality of life will we offer to our citizens?”   In 2005 133 million people in the US had chronic conditions and that number increases ever year as the population ages.[12]  Untreated these chronic conditions can lead to increased morbidity in the populations.


Decisions regarding which illnesses to treat and how to treat them are moving out of the province of medicine into the political arena.  Clearly this is happening because public funds are involved in paying for treatment.  Each person in the country, healthy or not, will have to ask him/herself whether they want to pay for healthcare for all.  Without insurance the cost of most treatment is out of reach for anyone other than the 1%ers.  An average hospital visit costs $9, 700[13].  While the average real disposable income of US families has increased over the years.[14]  The classic economic production issue of “guns or butter” can be thought of here as “illness or treatment”.  Because of the fact that insurance plays such a large role in healthcare and patients do not pay for services out of pocket there is less direct market pressure to force costs down.  A single payer system would control costs but perhaps diminish quality of life and/or quality of care for patients. A satisfactory solution has yet to be found.




Christensen, Jen, “Doctor Shortage, Increased Demand Could Crash Healthcare System” CNN, October 2, 2013,


“Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion”,  Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Last modified August 13, 2012,


Discover Medical, Last modified 2012,


Eichelberger, Erika, “Democrats Jump on ‘Death Panel’ Bandwagon”, Mother Jones, August 8, 2013,


Goodman, John, “Coming Soon to America: A Two Tiered, Canadian Style Health Care System”, Forbes, May 23, 2013,


“Healthcare to Reach One Fifth of GDP by 2021”, Kaiser Health News, June 13, 2012,


Hoover, Donald, R., Stephen Crystal, Rizie Kumar, Usha Sambamoorthi, and Joel C Cantor, “Medical Expenditures during the Last Year of Life: Findings from the 1992–1996 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey”, Health Services Research, 37, no 6, (2002): 1625-1642,


Morgan, John, “MSN Money: Is there Any Wonder Why the Middle Class is Vanishing?” Money News, October 21, 2013,


Pfunter, Anne, A,, Lauren M. Wier, M.P.H., and Claudia Steiner, M.D.,M.P.H, “Costs for Hospital Stays 2010”, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, January 2013,


Rabin, Roni Caryn,  “Fewer Emergency Rooms Available as Need Rises”, The New York Times, May 17, 2011,


“Real Disposable Income Per Capita”,  Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2013,



[1] Christensen, Jen, “Doctor Shortage, Increased Demand Could Crash Healthcare System” CNN, October 2, 2013,

[2] “Healthcare Costs to Reach One Fifth of GDP by 2021”, Kaiser Health News, June 13, 2012,

[3] Christensen, Jen, “Doctor Shortage, Increased Demand Could Crash Healthcare System” CNN, October 2, 2013

[4] “Healthcare to Reach One Fifth of GDP by 2021”, Kaiser Health News, June 13, 2012,

[5] Donald R Hoover, Stephen Crystal, Rizie Kumar, Usha Sambamoorthi, and Joel C Cantor, “Medical Expenditures during the Last Year of Life: Findings from the 1992–1996 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey”, Health Services Research, 37, no 6, (2002): 1625-1642,

[6] Donald R Hoover, Stephen Crystal, Rizie Kumar, Usha Sambamoorthi, and Joel C Cantor, “Medical Expenditures during the Last Year of Life: Findings from the 1992–1996 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey”, Health Services Research, 37, no 6, (2002): 1625-1642,

[7] Eichelberger, Erika, “Democrats Jump on ‘Death Panel’ Bandwagon”, Mother Jones, August 8, 2013,

[8] Goodman, John, “Coming Soon to America: A Two Tiered, Canadian Style Health Care System”, Forbes, May 23, 2013,

[9] Rabin, Roni Caryn, “Fewer Emergency Rooms Available as Need Rises”, The New York Times, May 17, 2011,

[10] Discover Medical, Last modified 2012,

[11] Morgan, John, “MSN Money: Is there Any Wonder Why the Middle Class is Vanishing?” Money News, October 21, 2013,

[12] “Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion”,  Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Last modified August 13, 2012,

[13] Pfunter, Anne, A,, Lauren M. Wier, M.P.H., and Claudia Steiner, M.D.,M.P.H, “Costs for Hospital Stays 2010”, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, January 2013,

[14] “Real Disposable Income Per Capita”,  Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2013,

Novel reviews

My novel, “Colors of the Mind” is about a young man who can see auras around people, and who is trying to find his path in life. During the story he encounters a corrupt building inspector, finds a spiritual guide, and falls in love. The book is engaging and moves quickly. It has received 3 five star reviews on Amazon.