Looking back now, it’s incredible how many lessons I learned from working at Sears when I was in high school. While the beleaguered retailer seems not to be able to do anything correctly today, in those days they were the big daddy rabbit of the bunch and seemed untouchable. One of the lessons they shared with us is that the customer gets the best parking spots, period.
Months ago I was listening to a prospective client of mine who owns a restaurant complain bitterly. You see, someone else was opening another restaurant that had the same type of food just a few blocks away. And this, in a small town where there aren’t a lot of customers already. “Why would they do this? They’ll never succeed.”
Well, they are succeeding admirably.
How badly do you want to hang up? You’re talking to “that customer” and they want to tell you their life story and talk and talk but meanwhile you just want to get stuff done. How is it that they can’t tell how much you just want to hang up on them?
Now the other side. You want to share all the details of your situation with the people who sold you that whatchamacallit and you paid good money for it so they should just listen. But it’s really clear that they want to hang up on you. You’ll never shop there again. And you won’t tell your friends to go there.
I left a message with a business the other day. I planned to spend about $2,000 or so there and I know they’re busy. So I left a message. You know, after dialing my way through their phone tree while on my cell phone. I hate phone trees.
That evening, it occurred to me that they hadn’t called back. I called and left a message the following morning. You know, after dialing my way through their phone tree while on my cell phone. I still hate phone trees, especially with a small business.
If you have any doubt that people are doing a good percentage of their shopping on the interwebs, all you have to do is visit the local ghost town that was a shopping mall to reinforce this thought. Unless there’s some compelling reason to go to a physical location, web-based shopping is the wave of today. But I just had the most remarkable web-based shopping experience of my life. So far.
I love what I call strange musical instruments. From Stumpf fiddles to washboards to Cajons, the stranger the better. In fact my favorite music video is of a guy who has a truly strange instrument and plays it with great skill. Enjoy.
There I was wandering the aisles of a local store looking around aimlessly and getting more frustrated by the moment. I was new to the area and also new to this store and, despite wandering the aisles lost for some time I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. Nor could I find someone to point me in the right direction. So I left.
And wrote a nasty review on Yelp.
For those who don’t know I live in such a small community that, if you sneeze on one side of the giant lake that is in the heart of this community, you’ll likely hear “bless you” from the other side of the lake. Not that the community is physically small - it’s just that there aren’t a whole lot of people here. And everybody knows everybody else.
Every toddler in the world is very good at pushing the limits. They try their darnedest to see how far they can go before punishment comes down on them. Like a fat guy with at the bungee jump, they’re testing the limits. It’s a game of push and shove. And you always wanted a Crayon painting on your armoire, right?
Believe it or not those lessons apply in business too. Well, you probably should’t be coloring the armoire with crayons or anything but it’s good to know how far you can push the limits. But, even more importantly, it’s good for your team to know how far they can push the limits.
There are a lot of businesses that I work with who are vehemently opposed to creating a presence on Yelp and TripAdvisor. The argument these businesses have is that they know that people write bad reviews. And some people even write spiteful or inaccurate reviews. All of this is true. Surprisingly a lousy review be good for your business? Honestly.
For any business proprietor who owns their presence on review sites it can be a tense few moments after you get a notification that you have a new review until you read it. And, when you get a negative review, the first thing you want to do is figure out who wrote it and determine the quickest way of insulting their family for several generations back. Understandable.
Think about the “best” customer of your business. Someone who patronizes your operation more than anyone else. What is the experience of having that customer? Could it be time to fire that customer? Does this sound crazy?
In more than one business that I’ve owned I’ve ultimately fired what some might describe as the best customer. This is usually an individual who does buy a lot of products or services from the operation. But, sometimes, this individual or organization isn’t really doing the business any favors and there are even examples where their departure can improve the business.
Scientists tell us that our sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers we have. Think of a smell that instantly transports you back to your childhood - a moment you haven’t thought of for decades. This can work for - or against - your business as well.
Recently a friend and I spent time distributing posters for a local event to all the businesses in a business district. We went in and out of all sorts of stores, restaurants, shops and more. I have a horrible sense of smell and my schnoz can detect few odors. But sometimes something breaks through and I delight in the smell - almost any smell - since there are so few that reach my brain. My wife loves Disneyland’s attraction Flying over California because, she alleges, there are times when you can smell oranges or pine trees.