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Archive for June 2016

Do These Five Things And See What Happens Next

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A Few Bright Ideas

A Few Bright Ideas

Today I am going to challenge business owners to break from the routine and see if a few actions can invigorate your business.   When was the last time you tried a new idea?  If you can’t remember then maybe things are getting stale at your company and a small shake up will make a big difference.  None of these suggestions are very difficult so the cost-benefit upside is large.

  1. Call your five best customers and thank them for their business, ask them if there is anything they would like you to do to make things better, then ask them if they can get back to you with a possible new customer they could refer. They get an opportunity to feel appreciated and it might open dialogue on an improvement that will retain or increase business and you might get a referral. The effect will also give them a sense of being a business partner with you and not view you only as a vendor or service provider.
  2. Take a troubled or low producing employee to lunch and give them a chance to open up with some non-threatening, open-ended questions about work. If there is not much revealed move on and ask about family or hobbies.  At a minimum they will feel a little more appreciated and will probably sense you care and that might be the start for communication to work on the problem.
  3. Take yourself to lunch. Clear your head;  go to a quiet place, a city park or wherever you can feel relaxed and then jot down 3 things that you would do to change your company if you could.  Think big and then take the ideas back and see if your employees or management team can figure out a way to make it happen even if scaled back.  A small percentage improvement is better than nothing and you had a nice lunch.
  4. Assemble your employees and ask them to submit one idea to save costs without hurting the customer experience, quality, sales or employee well-being. Offer rewards for the best three ideas based on their input.   Perhaps the value would be $100 for first place $50 for second place and $25 for third place.  The kicker would be to throw a party for everyone once the ideas were successfully implemented.  The extravagance could be dependent on the success of the savings.  Try a pizza lunch for modest success and a catered buffet for a big win.
  5. Survey employees about their one pet peeve at the company and do your best to eliminate the issue that comes up most frequently. I am thinking about something like moving to business casual all the time or even jeans all the time (with appropriate limits).  Maybe it is something like buying a coffee maker for the office.

I hope you take the challenge and try to make a difference.  You don’t have much to lose and a lot to win. Have a fun week!

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Ten Things I Would Change If I Ran Starbucks

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Coffee

Coffee

I don’t have an obsession with Starbucks and probably average 2 visits per month for a coffee. I like their coffee and their stores.  From my casual observation, I think these suggestions would make sense but might not be practical or possible.

  1. Make all stores going forward and possibly retrofit existing ones for a second floor that had a more private area of tables for use by people for meetings or as an office away from home during the day. In the evening, use it for acoustic music and to tie in better with their expansion into alcohol sales. Music and coffee houses go together.
  2. Reduce the clutter in the floor space and add more tables. Display as much merchandise on the wall shelves as possible and leave it at that.
  3. Brew decaf coffee at night! That is the only time I want it and after lunch they do not brew any. It makes sense to them but not to me.
  4. Have a TV that would provide updates for news, weather radar, stock quotes and sports so we would not have to rely on our Smart phones. The content could be customized with the Starbucks customer in mind.
  5. Have a splash of local flavor at each store. I understand the need for uniformity and brand consistency but I have been to stores all over the country and they look too much alike. I can’t tell if I am in Akron, Ohio or Zephyrhills, Florida. (There nearest Store to Zephyrhills is about 20 miles away)
  6. Get a store in Zephyrhills, Florida to make my story better!
  7. Be a little less hip/edgy. Or at least offer a more welcoming environment to older folks who love to drink good coffee and hangout. I am no geezer and I feel this would help. Why not offer a small discount for those over 65 in the slower traffic hours like mid morning and mid afternoon? Maybe play music from the 60’s folk era to help. They were probably at coffee houses drinking coffee and listening to folk music in the 60’s and it might be a nice ambience for them.
  8. Give up on the cool sounding sizes like venti, grande and just have small, medium and large. This is a personal thing with me as I can never get it straight.
  9. Offer wrapped coffee stirs in plastic or paper. I don’t think it is sanitary to have the loose wooden ones in a container on the shelf.
  10. Devise a better sleeve that keeps your hand cooler and that does not fall off. If we can put a man on the moon….They actually have a suggestion box on their website; maybe I should submit these gems and win free wooden coffee stirs for a year!

Have a great week.

Good Plan, Poor Execution

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Communication is difficult

Communication is difficult

I had another poor customer service experience and I thought I would share it with you so that you may learn something from it.  These business lessons seem to happen too frequently in my opinion.  I wonder if I have bad luck; or is this a common experience for today’s consumer?

This is the story.  I took notice of an advertisement that a large publicly traded grocery store was introducing this spring about ordering online from the deli.  After seeing it for a week or more, I suggested to my wife that we try it out on a Saturday night.  She agreed and we ordered a spinach wrap with turkey and an Italian sub on whole wheat.  We customized our selections and placed the order for pick up in 30 minutes at our nearest store location.

I thought to myself, that it was a good thing Al Gore invented the internet so I could take advantage of this magic from my couch.  I chose pickles, black olives, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, green peppers, banana peppers, salt, pepper, oregano, oil and vinegar.  I was delighted with my selections and could not wait to dive in and try this flavorful sandwich.

When we arrived to dash in and dash out with our food, we were puzzled that our food was not waiting for us in the special place designed for our order.  After awhile, a manager came by and asked us if he could help us and we explained that we were waiting for our order we place that was supposed to be ready at 8:10 PM.  It was now 8:15 and there was no sign of our food.  He checked the printer and there was our order, being ignored by the folks behind the counter.  He took the order and got someone to work on it for us.  We got our food 17 minutes later and he did not charge us to compensate for the error.  I would have preferred that we had the time back that we wasted.

The advertising worked but the execution at the store level failed miserably.  It is obvious that there was a communication breakdown in the roll out of the new advertising campaign.  Was it the fault of the management team to explain the new program or was it the deli employees fault in understanding the new plan and how they were to respond to the orders coming in from Al Gore’s internet?

My suggestion is to make sure you have a good communication plan for new processes and procedures.  Remember that communication has to be understood in the same way by the sender and the receiver for it to be successful.  Have your “receivers” repeat back to you what the new process or procedure is, in their own words, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.  Is it that hard to do?  How many people work in the deli 15 or 20?  It is not an impossible task.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

June 12, 2016 at 8:01 am

Television Commercials Can Be Missed

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No Commercials Can Cause Problems

No Commercials Can Cause Problems

I have enjoyed my MLB.TV subscription for several years now. I enjoy it even more this year knowing the price for the season was reduced by $20 to only $109 for every out of market game I care to watch (subject to some restrictions).

I have one problem with the product and it is an odd problem to have. During the commercial breaks between innings or for a pitching change, the screen displays a message that a commercial break is in progress and nothing else but dead silence. For some reason, I find that unsettling and wish they would play something to break the dead silence. I would welcome a commercial and frankly don’t understand why they don’t sell that time and distribute the proceeds to whomever should receive it.

I know that this sounds odd but you should try turning down the sound during the commercial breaks and see how you like it. It gives me little to no choice but to hold a conversation with the person sitting next to me. I sometimes take the opportunity to spend quality time with Jimmy Sad Eyes. This is usually by having him chase a ball or a stuffed animal around the house while I chase after him. I guess it gives me a chance to burn a few calories which is not such a bad thing.

I did notice in late April that they now have “Presented By Amazon” written on the screen below the commercial break in progress notification so maybe they are moving towards having commercials.  I would especially appreciate them lowering the price another $20 per year by using the commercial revenue as a subsidy as a tip of the cap to their loyal viewers. I have plenty of ideas for what to do with the money. I could use a Florida room off of my kitchen for example.

Thank you for reading about my peculiar problem, have a great week.

 

Written by pacelinebiz

June 5, 2016 at 8:01 am