Categories
affluence air travel airlines Automation Business culture Competition Customer service Hospitality Marketing marketing to the affluent Sales service Small Business SMS Technology The Slight Edge

A bus of a different color

Post-Katrina School Bus
Creative Commons License photo credit: laffy4k

When I say “bus travel”, I’m guessing that many / some / most of you think of things on this list (and maybe some others):

  • Greyhound (et al)
  • Tour buses full of senior citizens
  • A noisy school bus full of kids
  • people of lesser means
  • panhandlers
  • bus terminals
  • when will it arrive?

Here are a few things that I’ll bet you don’t think of when it comes to bus travel:

  • Comfort
  • Productivity
  • Care-free
  • Customer service
  • Wireless
  • Convenience
  • Safety

Red Arrow Motorcoach in Canada thinks a little differently about bus travel. For starters, they don’t even use the word “bus”. Like most companies of their type, they call it “motorcoach service”.

Because they know that you don’t want to sit around their bus terminal waiting an extra 30 to 300 minutes for your friend, family or colleague, they offer visual location tracking of their bus on their website, PLUS they will email and/or text you when the motorcoach is between 5 and 20 minutes (your choice) of reaching its destination.

Think about that benefit. It isn’t for the customer. It’s for someone who hasn’t even bought a ticket: the person meeting the customer at their station.

Not your grandpa’s bus

The customer isn’t ignored, however. Red Arrow’s website includes online reservations and a virtual tour of their coaches, which include a complimentary galley with drinks and snacks.

Their motorcoaches have a choice of plush or leather seats and they are careful to point out that they offer 30% more legroom than on a typical airliner.

For travelers with laptops, their coaches include pulldown tables, electrical plugs and wireless internet. Compare that to an airliner, which is often too cramped to use a laptop unless you’re in first class.

Their on-board magazine points out that you never have to turn off your cell phone and that the positive amenities of air travel (such as they are) are met on their motorcoaches as well.

Things the website missed

  • What’s the environment like at their drop-off/pickup points? Is it well-lit?
  • Does the place look safe if I step off the bus at 10pm or if I have to wait an extra hour due to weather or other delays?Do they have 24 hour security personnel on-site? Cameras? Yes, I know it’s Canada, but bear with me anyway.
  • Which stations have a nearby car rental?  (they do have car rental partners)
  • Do the stations offer wireless?
  • How does the station differ from typical bus stations?

You get the idea.

And the point of all this?

Cracks in the plumbing

What do people automatically think when your type of business is mentioned? Looking for an example? Think “plumbers”.

What are you doing to counteract and/or take advantage of that image? What sets you apart – and not just a little.

What are you doing that will completely change your prospective customer’s perception of your business?

What should you be doing that you just haven’t gotten around to?

Categories
affluence attitude Competition Creativity E-myth Entrepreneurs goals Ideas Improvement Leadership Personal development Small Business strategic planning The Slight Edge

Warren Buffett to Josh: Read, read, read

Notturno
Creative Commons License photo credit: gualtiero

Today’s guest post is from Josh Whitford from over in Fargo, dere (hey, we’re both way up north here so I can say that dere).

Josh did a really smart and simple thing to get in touch with – and get advice from – Warren Buffett.

While it’s great to get advice from Mr. Buffett, the key thing here is not so much the specific task Josh was assigned but that he sought out the wisdom in the first place. Constant improvement is not a luxury, it’s a requirement.

Asking questions of those who know more than you (and/or know the success you want) is definitely a good strategy (ever hear of “Think and Grow Rich”?)

Speaking of, I’m on a quest to increase my reading to at a least a book a week this year. While it has impacted some other things negatively (at least from their perspective), I see positive results in my work, this blog (sometimes negative results – like far fewer posts), and life in general. Highly recommended.

And yes, I should be blogging about those weekly book adventures, shouldn’t I?

Categories
affluence attitude coaching Employees Entrepreneurs Leadership Montana Motivation Personal development planning Small Business startups

The new economics of entrepreneurship

Rink of Fire
Creative Commons License photo credit: C.P.Storm

Today’s guest post from Guy Kawasaki talks briefly about the current state of the economy and more importantly about the economics of starting your own business these days.

Guy’s post offers more reasons why I keep pestering local folks to start their own business – *especially* if they are currently laid off.

Categories
affluence Apple Marketing marketing to the affluent Marketing to women Retail Small Business Technology

Does that romantic iPod Touch make you swoon?

candles
Creative Commons License photo credit: Claudia Snell

In a recent email, Apple Corp positions the iPod Touch as just the right personal, possibly romantic touch on Valentine’s Day. 

While they apparently never heard of “never buy a lady something that plugs in” as a holiday gift, they’re trying to span the chasm between romance and something that plugs into a computer. 

On the other hand, an iPod Touch that just happens to have your special someone’s favorite romantic music, videos and a movie or 2 on it…very easily fills the bill.

What are you doing to inject a little romance into your product line?

Is a clean car romantic?

Maybe not, but taking care of your spouse’s car by buying them something as seemingly boring as a car wash gift card is one way to take better care of them (work with me here, will ya?<g>).

If you run a retail store, restaurant, cafe or what not – how can what you do be positioned as a way to care for a spouse or special someone? 

You have 9 days.

Categories
affluence Competition Creativity Marketing marketing to the affluent Marketing to women Positioning Retail Sales Small Business

Did management learn anything after 246 years?

Poor management can crush something as big and strong as Wal-Mart.

Today’s guest post comes from NY Times contributor Judith Flanders, who writes about the failure of the current owners of Waterford Wedgwood to continue the legacy of Wedgwood’s founder, Josiah Wedgwood.

While brief, it contains several nuggets I’d categorize as “instructional”.

Packaging and perception are important in any economy, in any time.

Categories
affluence Competition Corporate America customer retention Customer service Management Marketing marketing to the affluent podcast Positioning Pricing quality Retail service Small Business Strategy Wal-Mart

Stampedes and shootings: Just another Black Friday

It’s hard to imagine why big national retailers continue to play the fools game, thinking that by discounting their prices 40-50% or more they’ll increase their profit.

Perhaps they think they’ll make it up on volume.

When you cut prices, the first thing that you give up is a piece (or all) of your profit.

Retailers who spent the weekend falling all over themselves catering to an upscale clientele don’t have this problem, especially if they’ve cultivated and groomed the relationship with that clientele all year long.

They didn’t have to go to the home of an employee and explain how a young employee was trampled to death, simply by having the misfortune of being the guy who unlocked the front door to his employer’s store.

When price is the only way you have to differentiate yourself from your competition, you deserve any pain you feel on your financial statement at the end of the quarter.

Is that the only competitive edge that you can find? If so, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Is there a Wal-Mart in Pamplona?

Another “competitive edge” – one that contributed directly to last weekend’s trampling death and injuries at a Long Island WalMart – is the special sale that starts at 0-dark-thirty in the morning and offers limited items at the special pricing. 2010 update about stampede.

Our store is better because we can get our people to the store before yours. Woooo, impressive.

If your competitors’ move their start time to an hour before yours, when does it end? Do you start a Cold War over who can open their doors first? In an ultra-competitive environment, is that really how you want your clientele to choose who their vendor is?

Do you really have to stir up a frenzy over one (or 10, whatever) $299 plasma screen TV to get people into your store? Is that the only edge you have?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve told you to read Cialdini and will again. We’ve discussed scarcity and will again. However, we’ve also discussed common sense. Hopefully, we don’t have to discuss making sure your staff and clients leave the store alive.

Is it really worth having 300-400 people stampede over your staff and each other as if their survival depends on it? This isn’t the first time it has happened. Human behavior is not a surprise in these circumstances.

Yeah, sure. You can blame a small percentage of morons for this ridiculous behavior, but it isn’t just the customers in that store who were in the wrong. But… big retail, in their typical lazy way – they continue to confuse the customer with the sale as the most valuable part of their business.

All this focus on creating temporary insanity among your prospects for one transaction on one day illustrates the lousy, if not non-existent, relationship that most large US retailers have with the buying public.

That’s where the problems really lie. When you commoditize your marketplace by competing solely on price, you’re one of two things: Wal-Mart or crazy.

Wal-Mart can afford to do these things. Their entire business – and the systems that drive it – is built around that premise. They have the logistics, automation, buying power and mammoth size to make it happen.

If you aren’t Wal-Mart or crazy, you have to do something different and better. I don’t mean to suggest that you can just double your prices, do nothing else and expect all to go right with the world.

You can’t.

Remember, Business is Personal. Build the relationship. Deliver the value. When nothing else matters, they’ll shop on price.

Make other things matter.

[audio:https://www.rescuemarketing.com/podcast/StampedesAndShootingsBlackFriday.mp3]