Originally created 02/29/04

Business briefs



LOCATION: Augusta Exchange and Augusta West shopping centers

PRODUCT/SERVICE: Movie theater

OWNER: Regal Entertainment Group of Englewood, Colo.

LOCAL EMPLOYEES: 100 (approximate)

2003 SALES: $2.4 billion (corporate)

HISTORY: Tennessee businessman Michael Campbell, using money from the sale of his Premiere Cinemas chain, started Regal Cinemas in 1989. The company went public in 1993 and was sold to two investment firms in 1998, the year before Regal built Augusta's largest movie house, the Regal 20 cinema in the Augusta Exchange.

Billionaire Phillip Anschutz, who began buying up bankrupt theater chains in 2000, merged Regal with the Edwards and United Artists theater chains to create Regal Entertainment group, which operates 5,700 screens in 530 theaters nationwide.


Consulting woes

Consultants have had a tough time as companies have scaled back on expenses.

If you're a consultant, you just need to hone your pitch and make your service more valuable, said Elaine Biech, president of ebb associates Inc., a Norfolk, Va.-based organizational development firm. She offers some tips:

  • Hard facts and figures are your friends; clients want to see how your idea works with solid evidence.
  • Personalize your message; know the prospective client's specific problems and goals
  • Listen to stressed executives express their frustrations and hindrances. As you listen, you develop a bond that may play into later contracts
  • Double follow-ups: A handwritten thank you note is a rarity in business these days. Send the second follow-up later, with or without a deal, and send a small gift such as a notepad with your company logo.

    Business insurance

    Business owners must be prepared to minimize any disruptions to their business, including their own death.

    The Service Corps of Retired Executives, a nonprofit volunteer business-counseling organization, recommends businesses have insurance in place to cover the costs of transferring the company's ownership in the event its owner dies. Such policies can take care of debts, taxes and administrative costs.

    For more tips on insurance, buy-sell agreements and trusts, call the Augusta SCORE office at 793-9998 or the Aiken SCORE office at (803) 641-1111.


    Direct sales

    In the 1880s, book salesman David McConnell gave small bottles of perfume to New York housewives who listened to his sales pitch.

    The perfume turned out to be more popular than the books. So in 1886, he created the California Perfume Company, which eventually became the world's largest direct-selling cosmetic company now known as Avon.


    Tax guides

    Every new tax-filing season seems to come with a host of fresh changes in the tax code.

    Likewise, publishers roll out a bevy of books at tax time to help filers cope with the changes. Here is a sampling of some of the new editions:

  • How to Pay Zero Taxes, 21st edition By Jeff A. Schnepper; McGraw-Hill, 2004 ($16.95); a comprehensive guide to tax breaks allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • J. K. Lasser's Your Income Taxes 2004 By John Wiley & Sons, 2004 ($16.95); covers tax rules and deductions, with planning reminders and filing tips.
  • J.K. Lasser's New Tax Law Simplified By John Wiley & Sons, 2004 ($16.95); details tax code changes for individuals and businesses.
  • The Ernst and Young Tax Guide 2004 By John Wiley & Sons, 2004 ($18.95); loaded with information on tax filing, retirement planning and education saving account contributions.
  • Cheap Canada

    Canada is the least costly place to conduct business among major industrialized nations, a new study found.

    Even with the 20 percent appreciation of the Canadian dollar against its U.S. counterpart last year, Canada came in first in KPMG's ranking of 11 industrialized nations from North America and Europe as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

    Australia ranked second. The United States placed seventh. Japan and Germany were the most expensive countries to do business in of the 11 nations surveyed.


    Payday lending

    The payday loan business gets a bad rap from consumer groups and politicians, but the industry is a necessity for many people. Are you one of them? Tell us your story at 823-3227.


    Contact Business Editor Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.


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