Parking meters that call your mobile… Luxury market grows… Agents handle more investment property… We’re failing to innovate… Aussie-bound Asian tourists on the rise… The proper email sign-off… Quote of the day


This is your parking meter calling… feed me

This is just the thing for time-poor entrepreneurs with more important things on their mind that how much change they put in the parking meter.

According to ohgizmo, a company called Photo Violation Technologies is testing a hi-tech parking meter in Canadian cities that will call your mobile to let you know when it is close to running out of time.

Even better, instead of having to madly rush to feed the meter before it runs out, you’ll be able to make a wireless payment using your phone. And to top it all off, the Photo Violation meters are solar-powered and can even be setup as Wi-Fi hotspots. Now that’s one smart parking meter.


Luxury market growth

Good news for art dealers, stock brokers and luxury car sellers. The number of wealthy people in Australia grew by 15,000 or 10.3% in 2006, according to research by consultancy group Capgemini and investment firm Merrill Lynch.

To be wealthy, according to the researchers, you need more than $US1 million ($1.2 million) in addition to the family home. There are 160,000 Australians in this fortunate position.

Globally the wealth of the world’s high net worth individuals increased 11.4% to $US37.2 trillion in 2006, led by China and India according to the report.

The ranks of the wealthy are also surging in the United States. This has also encouraged a rise in charitable giving in the US to $US285 billion, according to figures published in The Australian Financial Review.


Investors hand property management to agents

More investment property owners rely on agents now, compared with five years ago, according to 2006 census data.

In 2006, 50.5% of all rented dwellings were managed by real estate agents, compared with 43.8% in 2001. There were 1,043,198 properties under real estate agency management.


Australians failing to innovate

A strong economy has discouraged innovation in Australian business according to a global survey by Boston Consulting Group.

Less than half of Australian companies rank innovation as a top three priority, and most (77%) admit slow execution is a major weakness in their innovation efforts. By contrast two thirds of companies in the rest of the world say innovation in a top three priority.

Companies ranked as the most innovative included Google, Apple, Nokia, 3M, Sony, Virgin Group and Toyota.


Asian tourism forecast to grow

Between 2006 and 2016, tourism is expected to increase its contribution to the Australian economy by $14 billion to more than $100 billion. The strength of demand from Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern tourists is expected to fuel the rise, according to the Federal Government’s Tourism Forecasting Committee.


Business etiquette: What your sign-off is really saying

Do you think hard about how you sign off work-related emails, or does everyone get “Cheers” or “Regards”. put the sign off options to two communications consultants for the low-down on what you are really saying.

Suzanne Bates, president and CEO of Bates Communications and author of Speak Like a CEO: Secrets For Commanding Attention and Getting Results, and Cherie Kerr, founder of ExecuProv and author of The Bliss or “Diss” Connection? Email Etiquette For The Business Professional, pair up to give expert insight into the world of e-mail correspondence.

The big tips are:

  • Avoid writing in caps. It reads like you are SHOUTING.
  • Don’t use emoticons. Fun, but not appropriate for business correspondence. Use words instead.
  • Don’t swear. It hits harder on the computer screen.
    If you are using trendy words like “Cheers”, stay current so you don’t appear behind the times.

What you’re really saying when you sign off

Bates: It’s OK if you’re actually thanking people. But keep in mind it’s casual; you should know them if you’re using this sign-off.
Kerr: This is one of the safest and most courteous of the salutations. It keeps it pleasant, but professional.

Bates: This isn’t for business, except for fashion, art or real Italians.
Kerr: “Ciao” should only be used for close buddies or work pals. It’s not appropriate for business purposes.

Bates: Tried and true for a formal business close, and you’ll never offend anyone.
Kerr: A bit too formal for e-mail. This salutation can put people off. People really expect this in a letter, not an e-mail.

Kind regards
Bates: This is a great all-purpose business salutation. It may be best for people you have corresponded with in the past.
Kerr: This is one I use quite often. I like some kind of warmth, but also keep it business-like. I tend to use ‘Kindest regards’.

Bates: It’s less friendly than “Kind regards,” and can be a bit perfunctory, but it generally works well.
Kerr: This salutation is a little short and a little distant, but at least it’s a closing message.

Bates: “Best” is colloquial, but fine for someone you know. “Best wishes” or “Best regards” would be better for business.
Kerr: This is another acceptable sign-off, especially if you’re using it with someone you know really well.

Bates: Only use this sign-off for friends and business colleagues you might meet for coffee.
Kerr: You can use this with someone you know well, but if you’re trying to make a business impression, this is not a great way to say goodbye when you’re first doing business with someone. Save it for after having established a bond.

Bates: Never use this salutation for your boss.
Kerr: Use it for a good work buddy at clock-out time on Friday.

Talk soon
Bates: Very nice for a friend, but you better mean it.
Kerr: It’s a nice way to sign-off. It lets the other person know there will be phone or face time soon, and that’s important and appreciated in this wacky age of e-mail. People need to talk more.

Bates: Not appropriate for business correspondence; it sounds like you’re 14 years old.
Kerr: Only use this salutation in friendly business relationships.

Bates: It’s a little old-fashioned, but not offensive.
Kerr: This is safe and pleasant and gives people a “feel good” close at the end of your e-mail.

Yours truly
Bates: Excellent for formal business.
Kerr: Too formal for e-mail.

The salutation: No salutation at all – just an electronic signature
Bates: There is a school of thought that an e-mail is not a letter; I don’t subscribe to that. I think most people come to the end of a note and expect a closing. It could come across as abrupt without one. It may also subtly say, “I’m in a hurry,” “I don’t know how to sign- off,” or “I’m not someone who cares about niceties.”
Kerr: Always use a salutation, but don’t be redundant. Change it up. That makes people think you care by taking the time to “converse” with them by e-mail.

SmartCompany Quote of the Day

“There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”
Philip Knight, founder, Nike


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