Competition Customer service Employees Management Marketing Montana Retail Starbucks

Business owners can’t get a hit unless they swing the bat.

A few weeks ago, I decided to celebrate winning a Glazer-Kennedy (GKIC) contest by having a contest of my own.

To enter, you needed to send me the best testimonial you have. It could be about you, about me, or anyone else.

The best testimonial would do what we talk about here when discussing what makes a great testimonial. It might address a sales objection, such as price, unfamiliarity with the vendor/product, common reasons not to buy, etc. It would mention a specific vendor, or product. It would be specific about results.

Joel’s testimonial did all those things.

Competition Corporate America Employees Entrepreneurs Marketing Starbucks Strategy Wal-Mart

Competing with Walmart – this guy gets it.

Last week, a story in the Flathead Beacon (a weekly print/internet paper that carries my business column) discussed a Whitefish MT store called Main Street Art and Crafts Supplies.

Main Street offers arts and crafts, but takes things to the next level, by offering classes in cake decorating, stained glass, etc.

One quote leaped out from the Beacon story, telling me that owner Rick Latta gets it:

â??I canâ??t compete with Wal-Mart prices, but Wal-Mart doesnâ??t walk customers through projects, give them ideas, teach them tricks or have a studio with tools where people can come and work and ask questions,â? he said.

This is where you make a difference by hiring the right people (experienced in those crafts), paying them a little more so they don’t have to work at Wal-Mart, and more importantly, doing what Wal-Mart simply won’t do.

It doesn’t matter if your small business competes with Borders, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City or Starbucks: They won’t do the little things like Rick is doing. Will you?

Those stores will focus on price, above all else. You have to change the rules of the game, as Rick has.

Employees Management

3 minute warning: Big reasons employers have to pay attention to the little things

In football, the 2 minute warning seems to work fairly well to wake up teams from Denver/Dallas and kick them in to high gear. How many times did Staubach, Aikman and Elway cause more scoreboard damage in 2 minutes than in perhaps the rest of the game? Plenty.

One thing you couldn’t do in that 2 minute period was make mistakes. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry was quoted in last month’s GKIC newsletter as saying something along the lines of “the Cowboys always knew we could always come back from one mistake, but two mistakes tended to beat us”. 2 minutes isn’t very long if you use that time to make mistakes.

At my favorite coffee shop, the 3 minute warning is what gets you.

Competition Corporate America Employees Management Marketing

San Diego recruited for performance AND character. So should your business.

CNN is reporting a deal between Federal prosecutors and Michael Vick’s legal team regarding the dog fighting related charges filed against him, which include the use of cruel methods of execution of his dogs. Vick’s troubles are another in a seemingly endless list of athletes whose millions, homes, cars, companions and business interests aren’t enough to entertain them.

Ever wonder when or if professional sports (much less college sports) will figure out that the hiring and subsequent glorification of drugs, thugs and “gangstas” is not only stupid, but bad for business?

Corporate America Customer service Employees Management

This old man, he’s got Dish.

Well, he sorta has Dish. He has a bill every month anyhow.

Dish Networks is simply amazing.

I haven’t done business with them in years. Their customer service 8 years ago was mildly annoying but nothing unusual for a public “utility” of that nature. We expect them to be bad, or at least, barely better than AT&T.

This story about an older guy and his account with Dish Networks are a great example of what not to do, how not to do something as ugly as that, and perhaps most importantly, why “it’s our policy” is a great way to create horrific referrals and PR that you won’t be proud of.

The money is bad enough, but the way this call was handled – even if the description isn’t 100% accurate – is astoundingly ugly – even for a big, dumb corporation.

How much is it worth to have your company used as a bad example of customer service? Is it worth the $150 they got?

Training your staff to handle things like this is one of the most valuable things you’ll do for the long term health of your business. If nothing else, training them to be at least marginally human, vs robots that say “It’s our policy” over and over again will get you higher up the food chain past AT&T.

You can, and should, do better.

Competition Corporate America Customer service Employees Management The Slight Edge

If you pay your people minimum wage, you are an idiot.

Earlier today, I got an urgent email warning me about the recent minimum wage hike.

The Fair Labor Standards Act increased the federal minimum wage in three steps:

  • July 24, 2007, $5.85 per hour
  • July 24, 2008, $6.55 per hour
  • July 24, 2009, $7.25 per hour

If you have employees in your store making minimum wage, you MUST increase their pay rate immediately! If you have already paid them for time worked after July 24 you must calculate the difference between their old rate and the new rate and give them a paycheck to make up the difference!

Heads up – You should only have to do this if you are an idiot.