Terms & Conditions

Don’t Confuse the Customer

I am always puzzled by the Terms & Conditions of sales….particularily restaurant offers:

  • Valid only at participating locations
  • Hurry expires 6/30/11
  • One coupon per person per visit
  • Not to be combined with other offers
  • Buy two and receive the third of equal or lesser value

Who wrote the offer – the marketing group or the legal department?

If a business wants customers why impose confusing terms and conditions….make a simple and good offer.

Satisfy the customer….give value and quality. That’s what customers really want.

The Fuller Brush Man

Door-to-Door Sales

Remember the Fuller Brush Man. He made his rounds through the neighborhood selling all kinds of cleaning supplies. He was more than likely like the gentlemen in the illustration.

After WW II, there was a pent-up demand for all types of products….no Wal-Mart, Kmart or Meijer’s….so many products and services were sold door-to-door. Most people let the Fuller man into their homes to demonstrate his wares. They probably bought something every time he visited….and he always left a sample.

Most of all Fuller products were good products….we still have two Fuller brushes (40+ years old).

Recently, a door-to-door sales person came to the front door(we are off a main street and get hit often). This wasn’t The Fuller Brush man! This fellow was rather casually dressed….selling meat products from a pickup truck.

I would be surprised if he sold any of his products today….not The Fuller Brush man of yesteryear.



Chicken Feathers

Great Lakes Die Cast

A nice aricle about a company in Muskegon….Great Lakes Die Cast. The focus of  the story is two-fold:

1) They are working with a Virginia company to use chicken feathers (they contain a material similiar to plastic) to make structural parts.

2) They also realize that to grow in today’s economy they have to create new products and acquire new customers (my soap box).

Good for Great Lakes Die Cast…yet when connecting to their web site….it is not up to par. For example, the page with customers has 15 different company logos….but no links to that customer (these are simply photos).

Another example: The contact  page….only an email form….no real people….names….phone numbers.

It’s not that Great Lakes Die Cast needs a full time webmaster….they do need help and there are folks in Muskegon that could do this.

When a business/organization wants new customers….make sure they know you well….after all this is the Internet world.



Max DePree

Define Reality

Herman Miller is a world-class company located in Zealand, MI….they are in the office  systems business and considered the innovating leader in that industry. I did some consulting with Herman-Miller in the early 80’s. Also, during this period….Max De Pree was advocating his leadership principles….Herman Miller as a company was doing very well. De Pree’s ideas were just starting to gain attention.

Herman Miller at that time was quite different from the normal Michigan manufacturer….I knew it was doing unique things….just didn’t know why.


One of Max De Pree’s quotes:

“A leaders first responsibility is to define reality.”

I recently met with a new leader of an organization and….defined reality for this group which has a tenuous future. This organization and the larger group to which it belongs continues to pattern itself in the past. That’s the reality.

In situations like this….by first listening and planting a seed….the outcome depends on whether they are willing to take the next steps.



More Infirmation – Always Better

Selling New York is on HGTV and features several real estate companies that sell New York city real estate. Of course….NY real estate is not ordinary real estate….prices are in the millions and commissions in tens of thousands.

A recent episode was on a broker who was selling in an area that she was unfamiliar with. The focus on this segment was that before she brought her client to this area she had to learn as much as she could….in other words become an expect not just on the property but on the whole Tribecca neighborhood.

The take-a-ways were really three:

1) Selling….especially at the Selling New York level is about relationships.

2) The more information a broker has….the better the opportunity for closing the sale.

3) Learning never stops….being the expert is very valuable.


A Different Game

Premium Bedding

I’m intrigued by the latest full page…full color ad in the News & Observer by Home Comfort.

The ad featured Tempur-Cloud bedding sets. The prices range from $1,799 to $3,999 (Queen Set). That’s a lot of money!

Bedding was one of our specialties in the home furnishings business. We had three lines….Restonic….Serta….Richards. As we postioned our business in the mid-range of home furnishings….our price points also were in the moderate range. We always wanted to sell the better quality as we knew that was the best value….for comfort and durability. A good bedding set could easily last 15 years or more if cared for.

What surprises me is that the price points are so high….even for ultra premium bedding. $4,000 + for a matrees set? I suppose if someone spends that much they have to be more comfortable. I also believe a wise consumer can spend much less and also be just as comfortable.

Food Trucks

Mobile-Dining Evolution

I seem to have a fascination with food trucks (see 06.03.2011 post). What is really fascinating is the evolution of this restaurant-dining phenomenon from the food cart/canteen era to specifically designed trucks that can easily cost $100,000. These trucks provide the owners with the ability to prepare different/unique food….and as an incubator for new businesses.

A recent article in the News&Observer spoke about a company located in Brooklyn, NY…..Shanghai Stainless Products and Design. What makes Shanghai Stainless stand out is that they are stainless steel specialists and their trucks are thoroughly designed.

The focus of the Shanghai story….as in any solid business ….is improving and innovating an existing concept….in this case mobile dining. 




Getting Better

I read a recent article on entrepreneurial skills in the military. While the headline on the cover was somewhat misleading….the gist of the article was that many bright/entrepreneurial officers were leaving the army….with the result that entrepreneurial leadership would be lacking in the future.

The article for the most part was accurate in that it was difficult to keep every excellent officer….others will learn how to navigate the system and become future leaders. Like any business/organization there are great leaders and some that should have never got that position.

What I read into The Atlantic story was that great businesses/organizations (and military) depend on getting the most talented and dedicated people and giving them the opportunity to be great.

It’s all about people….generating new ideas.



What the future may be like

Corning is a $6.6 B company established in 1851 as Corning Glass Works. Remember CorningWare…Pyrex? Corning is organized into five major business segments. It no longer makes CorningWare.

One of the segments is display technologies. The video portrays what the future may be like with new technological advances….it’s fascinating!

While many businesses do not operate at the Corning level….my theory is to scale new ideas to what a business does. There will always be newer….better….different ways to develop/deliver new products/services.

Corning doesn’t make Pyrex glassware….Kodak has stopped making roll film.

The world changes….business has to change.



Note: Corning had a capacitor plant in Raleigh. I visited that plant in 1967. 

Change – Transformation


Lowe’s is the major home improvement retailer in our area. A recent story (see link) told of Lowe’s need to change. Now change (and transformation) is a word that is often used in the business/organizational world….and used for many things. So what is change?

In Lowe’s case….over a period of 65 years….from a small retailer in western North Carolina to a major home improvement retailer nationwide.

I’ve noticed subtle changes in our local Lowes’ in the past year and a half….more encountering with the customers being most apparent.

The current CEO reinforces the change/transformation of being a home improvement retailer to a home improvement company. While to many this may be simple a word change….it also seems to be a fundamental change in how Lowe’s positions itself in the marketplace.

Strong businesses/organizations set the foundation in place….as Lowe’s is doing for the future.