Towel Showdown

McArthur Towel and Sports

Towels are big business….especially sports team rally towels. McArthur Towels in Baraboo, WI markets these towels and other products for sports teams.

Good businesses can exist anywhere. They make good products….offer excellent customer service….and excute a strong marketing strategy.

Excellent local businesses are the foundation for a growing economy.

Of Note: Post #400


Make it Simple

Often we look at complicated solutions to problems….when we really should make the solution simple….less complicated and easily executed. I have worked with a non-profit that has been in decline for years. The simple solution is to reach more people. What makes it complicated is that few people in this organization have an understanding of what it would take.

The simple solution:

Seek/Develop new visionary leadership without the restraints of the past….and let them go.

Can this group do it? My best guess is that it will be extremely difficult for them to overcome the existing system.

HomeTown Pharmacy

Small Towns are OK

George and Barbara Keefe have sold their pharmacy in North Muskegon to HomeTown Pharmacy headquartered in New Era, MI. George bough the pharmacy in 1974 and it has been a fixture in small town North Muskegon. Keefe’s Pharmacy has kept up with the times….otherwise it would be long gone….even with bigger pharmacy chains close by.

The interesting parts of the story:

  • HomeTown Pharmacy is a collection of 32 pharmacies in Michigan….each retaining their own name.
  • HomeTown headquarters are in New Era, MI….a very small town.
  • HomeTown created a chain of pharmacies built around small town personalized service.
  • Businesses can compete with larger companies if they develop a niche in the marketplace.

Customer Care

Making it Right

Customer Care is making something right for the customer….it’s not rocket science. While we take care to do our homework on products we buy….sometimes there is a problem. It is how a problem is resolved that separates good businesses from the mediocre.

Two recent examples:

+ Our new Whirlpool refrigerator had eight service calls in the first two months. Something was wrong with this unit. We went back to Lowes and explained the problem (Whirlpool factory service was OK up to a point). No problem, Dave at Lowes said….we’ll order a new one. It was delivered yesterday. Good delivery team. Final words: If it’s not right, call us. So far….so good for Lowes.

+ We selected a nice Moen faucet for the kitchen. The spray faucet should fit firmly on the faucet arm….it seemed to be slipping on occasions. A visit to the Moen customer support web site. I needed a docking collar. There wasn’t one in stock….replenishment should be about a week. A few days latter….a FedEx package arrived with the part. Good response and care from Moen.

Doesn’t it make good business sense to take care of the customer? It’s the foundation of a great business. 

Not Enough

A Strong Guarantee

LL Bean and Lands End have strong guarantees….If the product is not right-return it.

Napa Style is the retail segment of Micheal Chiarello’s  food/wine enterprises located in Napa Ca. Napa, CA being the center of the California wine industry and subsequently projecting an upscale style image….thus Napa Style.

The Napa Style products reflect the image of Napa and are priced accordingly. Their guarantee statement:

“We stand behind our products’ quality and want to make things right if you are not satisfied with your purchase.”

The Lands End guarantee:

“If you’re not satisfied with any item, simply return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.” We mean every word of it. Whatever. Whenever. Always. But to make sure this is perfectly clear, we’ve decided to simplify it further. Guaranteed. Period.®

My Opinion: I like the lands End and LL Bean guarantees….the Napa Style guarantee is not strong enough.

Nice Report

Fresher Than Ever

WordPress sent a yearend report of the TrueNorth blog….the Blog Health Meter indicated the blog was fresher than ever….that’s good!

There were 5,200 views in 2010….166 new posts for a total of 385. Soon we will be at 400 posts.

Thanks for the Nice Report, WordPress.

First Class

Amway Flight Operations

Amway is a multi-billion dollar company….privately held. I did some consulting work with Amway in the early 80’s. They have also been controversial. The famous opening statement from a distributor….”I have a great business opportunity for you”.

I do remember Amway when it began by selling Nutrilite vitamins (in the 50s). Amway has its headquarters in west Michigan….and has been a good citizen in that part of the state. 

The story in Professional Pilot Magazine is about Amway’s flight operations. No matter what one thinks of Amway….they are successful. They operate a  first class flight operation with Gulfstream….Challenger…. Citation aircraft and a Sikorsky S-76 Helo. These planes are flying all the time….helping Amway to grow and enter new markets.

From its early days, aircraft have been an integral part of Amway. I suspect Amway’s flight operations are a vital component of their growth and business model.

It is always valuable to understand a first class operation.