Monday, February 22, 2010


Hopefully, we would never put a sign up in our stores barring anyone from entering. but because of the level of service, or lack thereof, a lot of establishments do just that. They are saying "Keep Out" or "you're not appreciated here" or "I have a list of things to do a mile long so don't bother me with useless questions today."

It's sad to say that those people just don't get it. And probably never will. But due to their inability to keep a well maintained store they are silently delivering a message of Keep Out!

Today I had a lot on my list of things to do. It was payroll Monday. Got that done first thing this morning. Then I have paperwork to complete totalling last week's sales. There's still some shipment to get put out. There were plan-o-gram revisions that needed to be done. There are sections that have to be moved which involved about moving three other sections before I could get to the main one. Then there are the customers that come in and interrupt the flow by asking so many questions. Plus, I was training someone on the new register system we have. The landscaping company for the shopping center was doing some maintenance in the common areas of the parking lot. This was stirring up a lot of dead grass and leaves which the customers kept tracking into the store. This meant they were getting the rugs and the floor dirty (after I had swept twice this morning). Then the phone calls started. Customers, other stores, vendors, telemarketers . . . . it went on like this all day today. I should have just put the KEEP OUT sign on the door and left for the day.

But I didn't. I answered questions while training. I sincerely thanked my customers for their loyalty. I swept the rugs multiple times today (and should have once more at closing). I answered each phone call. I got most of the sections moved. I took out trash. I served the customers. In all of this, I had the "Welcome" mat out instead of the "KEEP OUT" sign posted.

As busy as you may get with all of the activities of the day, do you still have your welcome mat out?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Usual?

I went to one of my favorite lunch spots recently. This place has the best chicken salad sandwich on the planet as far as I'm concerned. I have been going there off and on for the last 22+ years. . . almost half my life (so far!).

While I was eating, several regulars came in. How did I know they were regulars? The lady behind the counter taking orders immediately called them by name. I have no idea if that was because they were neighbors or because they also frequented this restaurant regularly. Either way, she asked them if they wanted their usual. Everyone of them said yes. She proceeded to write down their orders on a pad and repeated it back to them for accuracy. She got them all correct. Bonus for her!

After observing this, I immediately thought of the tv show "Cheers" and whenever Norm walked in, everyone shouted his name and his beer was waiting for him at his usual seat.

Most of us can see the good in this. Right? What I observed was great customer service. How many of us can call our customers by name and have their products waiting for them at the counter? Sure we have a few who get their usual products and are easy to remember because they get the same product(s) every time they come in.

What I didn't observe was any type of cross selling or up selling. This is a little mom-and-pop type of sandwich shop. Quick service sandwiches and not much else. But they do have a selection of fresh fruit, desserts, chips and a few other side items. To some of these customers, they were only being offered a small portion. It's like going to a buffet and only getting the roast beef at the carving station. You're missing out on the vegetables, desserts, other meats, etc.

If we are not offering everything at our buffet (our stores) then our customers may only believe they have a limited menu from which to choose. Cross-selling, suggested selling, sampling, . . . . these are just a few tools we can use to get people away from "the usual."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Guest Experience vs. Customer Service

Guest Experience vs. Customer Service. How do you make your "customers" feel like invited guests?

I can't do this justice. Read this blog to see what he has to say about it. He's a better writer than I am anyway.

Click here to read his post.

Hopefully it will get you thinking about creating an experience for your guests!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Knowing when to stop talking

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was well known in the science world for his work in physics, specifically in the work of relativity. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

So, I am sure most of you are asking why I would be writing a blog about Albert Einstein. He has been given credit for the following quote:

“If A equals success, then the formula is: A=X+Y+Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.”

Most of us have a problem with Z. The pattern is to open our mouth and speak. We have it in the wrong order and we're usually missing a step.

1) Think first - A business executive was visiting Memphis giving a presentation to FedEx employees. He sent out a "Tweet" lamenting about the conditions of the part of the city around the Memphis airport. "True confession: but I'm in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say "I would die if I had to live here!" I am sure he had no intention of that word getting out so quickly and eventually making it back to FedEx management. Well, you guessed it, it did. And it ruffled the feathers of most of the folks attending his presentation. Needless to say, it didn't go over well.

2) Open your mouth - Speak clearly. Slang words, rushed communication or certain catch phrases/cliches don't always come across the same to every listener. It's probably a great idea to be educated about your product or service before you offer any opinion or information. We're not in control of how someone else interprets our words.

3) Speak last - Often we need to use our ears when we speak. If we engage our ears more to listen to what has already been said and what needs to be said, we might say the right thing more often than not. How many times have we said the first thing that comes to mind when presented with a situation that requires a response? Too many. Instead, when asked a question, ask yourself another question. Do I have all the information I need to answer this question?

In the social media world (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, blogging, email, etc.) our words are exposed to potentially millions of viewers. Whether in these forums or on-on-one communication we should watch our worlds carefully.

Learn when to stop talking.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How much time do you have?

"Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think." The Last Lecture by Dr. Randy Pausch

I finished reading "The Last Lecture" recently. It is a wonderful book about achieving childhood dreams, being in zero gravity and finding out hidden truths about everyday heroes.

Dr. Pausch plays down the fact that this lecture was something spectacular. He even admitted that if he hadn't been dying of (pancreatic) cancer, his lecture or the ensuing book might not have had such broad exposure. But three points he made in this "lecture" to his children really stood out -- show gratitude, tell the truth, no job is beneath you.

1) Show Gratitude - Look your customer in the eye and say thank you! No matter the setting, a well-timed, sincere thank you can turn someones ordinary day into extraordinary. When someone renews their membership, tell them you appreciate their dedication and loyalty.

2) Tell the truth - Why is this one so hard to do? Even if it means you look bad in the situation, think how much worse it will be if you lie and the truth eventually comes out? Many years ago a friend of mine (former friend that is) made up this elaborate story about how she had just moved to town and was trying to rent an apartment. All she had was the check her grandparents gave her and no bank would cash it since she didn't have an account. I co-signed the check for her and was soon out the $500 for the check. She had stolen it and had skipped town once she got the cash in her hands. Lesson learned by me.

Think of how we treat customers when we are out of a product. If we told the truth instead of creating some elaborate story we could gain the trust and confidence of that customer. It takes less money to keep our customers than it does to attract new ones. Honesty, integrity, truth, quality . . . these are all words for which everyone and every business wants to be recognized.

3) No job is beneath you - I had an employee once who would NOT clean the bathroom even though they were contributing to the problem. I never understood that one. I asked if they cleaned their own bathroom at home and they said "Yes!" This was part of the big picture. If I were to have a list of all the jobs that needed to be done in a store it would appear intimidating to some. Taking out the trash is an integral part. Trash collecting and dumping is not the cleanest or sweetest smelling job around. At one of my stores, it involves a trip to the dumpster which is shared by a Chinese restaurant. Frequently, they miss. Some things don't always make in the bucket. Are you so proud that you believe there is a job you just can't do?

Early on, Walt Disney realized that trash cans should be placed no further than 25 feet apart. Any further and the guest might leave their trash on the table, sidewalk or drop it on the ground without giving it a second thought. Every cast member is responsible for the cleanliness of all areas. You will even see management, supervisors, and other workers picking up trash who have other job descriptions. There is no job beneath any employee and it shows.

So, are you making good use of your time? Are you grateful? Do you have integrity? Is there any job beneath you?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What will they think of next?

What will they think of next?

It was time for a haircut. I usually go to the same person at the same place and get the same haircut. I was at a different store recently and didn't have the number to see if my favorite hairdresser was available. One of my sales associates suggested I Google it. I told him I had already shut my computer down. He said I should send them a text message. I tried it and I got the number I needed in a text message back.

Who thought of this? How cool is this?

New paradigms are being developed every day.

With the advent of e-readers like Amazon's Kindle, are we seeing the end of libraries?

When was the last time you looked up a number in a phone book?

What will they think of next?

Pay Attention

Details, shmetails. Nitpicking. Demanding. Overcritical. Hypercritical. Choose whatever word you want to describe it. Paying attention to even the smallest detail can result in huge rewards. You don't do the details to showcase them in the end. The details, nitpicking and criticism early on in a process usually produce the final product that is worthy of the effort.

Where does the term nitpicking come from? Nitpicking is the process of removing the eggs of head lice (nits) from individual hairs. Years ago, the only options to remove lice were either to shave the hair totally off or to pick them off one by one, examining each individual hair. This is a painstaking, laborious process. But before modern chemicals were found to treat lice, most people only had these choices.

Out of this practice came the term nitpicking which has a negative connotation. The practice is described as meticulous, fastidious, and painstaking. Some people see it as a pastime that only looks for mistakes and inconsistencies. Well, DUH?!?! If we are not paying attention to the details in the work we do (i.e. nitpicking), we are putting out an inferior product or service. Unless you shop at a second-hand store or a scratch and dent outlet, don't you expect a certain level of quality in the goods and services you receive?

If you've never wondered "Where's Waldo?" you can click on the picture above. A new window should appear so you can search the details of the picture to find Waldo. It's a tedious process!

Walt Disney was the master in paying attention to the details. In the Magic Kingdom alone there are seven themed lands; Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toontown Fair and Tomorrowland. As you move from one land to another, everything transforms to fit the "land" around you. Music playing in the background, they type of pavement under your feet, the costumes of the cast members, the signage, the color of the lighting and the food that is offered are just a few areas where every detail has been addressed.

Pay attention to the details of your job. Let your manager know if you are not able to focus on the details because something is in the way. Do you need to pay more attention to the details? Is there an area at which you excel? Is there an area you are passionate about? Giving the proper focus, time and dedication to the details will bring big rewards!