Jim’s in Australia




Here’s a CoolGem. Check out Jim’s Group.

Jim’s Group is one of the world’s largest franchises and one of Australia’s most famous and most trusted brands. From Antennas and Bookkeeping to Dog Wash, from Fencing and Mowing to Cleaning, there’s a local Jim’s franchise in Australia, New Zealand, UK and Canada.

Jim Penman started this concept in Australia. Now there are over 2600 franchisees. I picked this up from Tom Peters. Also at jims.net, you can download Jim Penman’s book(free) that tells his story.


Lesson Learned: There are great ideas everywhere. Use every resource you can find to grow your business.


Keep It Clean

Last week we visited a rather high-end ladies apparel store in our mall. The mall is pretty nice for our town….however there are three what I would call AAA malls in our area. I would call our mall AA.

Upon entering the store ( a division of Limited Brands)….I was struck how absolutely dirty the carpet was. Now I know I look for things like this….yet how can a business expect to attract and retain customers when their appearance takes away from the product they are trying to sell?  What really set the dirty carpet apart was that adjoining this store was another division that carried pricey cosmetics….luxurious marble floor….expensive fixtures….elaborate displays. And no sales associate to be found!!

There is no guarantee that companies should exist if they can’t apply basic management principals. McDonald’s in its early years had it right. Reasonable prices….clean stores….fast service. If this store was in a AAA mall….they would not survive. The least they should do is clean the carpet.









I do like coffee (see my post on Starbucks). In every locale….there are cool businesses that just do things right. While being in business is always a challenge….the fundamentals are very simple. Great products or service…outstanding customer care….and always a quest for excellence. And doing all of this day in and day out. Alterra coffee in Milwaukee seems to do just that. I came across Alttera many years ago on Midwest Airlines. Midwest Airlines has positioned itself as an alternative to the big carriers. Their strategy has been to provide The Best Care in the Air. With the current dynamics in the airline industry, let’s trust that Midwest Airlines can continue to provide that care and sustain profitability.

Lesson Learned: Find a niche….be the best at what you do.





A New Idea


Orientspiration is a relatively new start up. And I have a connection with it because it is my son and daughter-in-law’s new entrepreneurial endeavor.

What is unique is that Orientspiration has developed several marketing channels to reach customers and grow the business. There is the physical location in an area that connects to their demographics. There is a strong Internet presence. There is a graphic arts and fine art element that expands on the talent within the business. And embedded within the business is the marketing of special and unique teas imported form China. The drinking of tea has increased dramatically in the past few years and is expected to continue to rise. So a prime objective has been to position the business as valued tea resource and tea expert. (image:Blossom Tea)

Lesson Learned: Great products….strive for excellent customer service/care…..Become an expert in fine teas.




I’m always on the lookout for cool….neat….great businesses. Every part of the country has them. Often in reading the business sections of local papers….these businesses will be highlighted.  Two that will start the CoolGems thread are a restaurant from where I grew up and a recent reference on Tom Peters blog (04.17.08).

US31 Bar-B-Q: Restaurants can be very long term business successes. US31 Bar-B-Q is located in the downtown area….perhaps 10 booths and the same counter stools. The reason for their success is a quality product….beef, pork, or ham on a bun with an unique sauce….that’s it! US31 is clean….fast….reasonable and best of all tasty. 

Bread Loaf Construction:Tom Peters is one source I check everyday. I have been at his seminar….read his books….am about the same age….and believe in his business perspective. So when he references a neat business….it’s always a good idea to check them out. The best businesses in general also have excellent web sites.  Bread Loaf Construction is one of them….and a cool name also! 




Wal*Mart: Getting it Right

I think there is much to learn from Wal*Mart as there is from any successful business. However, Sam Walton would not have been proud of our Wal*Mart. We visited the garden center which is very busy this time of year. Only two associates in the center….both unloading plants….no one to assist customers. Merchandise stacked in piles….with no pricing. Plants in dire shape….and in particular expensive plants. Merchandise from past seasons in poor condition. Simply not enough help to staff this department. And to top it off….one cash register open. Sam Walton spent a great deal of his time visiting the early Wal*Mart stores….he practiced MBWA (Management By Walking Around).

I wonder if the store manager or district manager practice MBWA….Sam sure would have and made things right. Meijer’s in the Midwest were an originator of the super center concept….while a fraction of the size of Wal*Mart….they can compete well with Wal*Mart.






I really like coffee….yet Starbucks is not my best favorite. I came across Peet’s coffee several years ago in Berkely, CA. Why Peet’s?….because of a great experience going into the Peet’s store on Solano Ave ….seeing the brewers….and the people milling around….and the bold taste of Peet’s Coffee. So now Starbucks is reinventing itself. 

Starbucks is doing everything it can to differentiate itself from anyone else that is attempting to be in the coffee business be it MacDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts or anyone else that is making a run for Starbucks customers.

 Lesson Learned: Differentiate your business. It’s the product quality and the experience that really make the difference. That’s why I like Peet’s!

P.S. The founders of Starbucks were originally trained by Alfred Peet. (See Time Magazine-04.07.08.)