Blow Up

Reinvent – Change – Blowup

A software company in Durham has had to change its directions several times according to a recent story in the N&O. How many companies are willing to do that?

In a recent post: ….Simon Sinek describes how Apple scrapped the Lisa computer to focus its efforts on the graphical user interface developed by Xerox. Sinek’s post further describes how Kodak was unwilling to move into digital photography. Both Xerox and Kodak suppressed great ideals.

Businesses/organizations have to be willing to “blow up”( or change directions) a business model if another/better model comes along.

Great ideas can’t be suppressed.

Long Term Relationship

A Proven Path

Over the past few weeks a seven part series in the N&O * explained doing business in China. In part six, the author writes –  “In China a relationship built over time is what counts”.

Several years ago, the 1:1 marketing concepts began to evolve….primarily that each customer is different and that business should develop customers for a lifetime (longterm).

In our retail business in the 70’s, we began that idea. Today if we had continued in the business….the longterm relationships would have sustained the business (we stated in 1961 and 2011 would have been 50 years).

Many businesses don’t understand…that relationship built over time is what counts. Too often….it’s the Wal-Mart concept….there is always another customer that walks through the front door.

* From the N&O –

Customer No Service

Lost Sale

I needed a quart of oil. An Advance Auto retail store is nearby. I brought the item to the sales counter….no one to check me out.

Now, the store wasn’t busy….there were several people milling around in back. One associate came out…looked at me and went on. After several minutes I put the oil container back and walked out. No purchase by me. A lost sale. Now a $3.99 purchase isn’t going to mean much to Advance Auto that day. What is does mean that Auto Zone or O’Reilly’s will get the next sale.

I wonder if the employees care, the store manager cares or Advance Auto cares. Or is it just the company culture that doesn’t care about Customer No Service?


Still Worthwhile

This is catalog/mail order season. I continue to receive….and enjoy catalogs. Lands End….LLBean….Ikea are regulars. Others have to be requested.

The story of catalogs is often the story of unique businesses. Here is a recent list of late:

Most of these companies have modest locations….yet they have developed successful mail order/internet businesses. Its easy to buy a book from Amazon….but nothing beats a print specialty catalog….especially for these unusal products.

* I do have a family member in this business.

Greenwich Associates

Greenwich Associates is the premier strategic consulting and research source for providers and users of financial services worldwide. Founded in 1972, Greenwich provides institutional financial services firms and those who participate in its research with systematic and tailored management information — market intelligence — that helps them meet their business needs.

After selling our family business, I stated consulting work in several areas….one with Greenwich Reasearch Associates. Greenwich did excellent work. Essentially Greenwich meet with Fortune 100 companies to evaluate their baking relationships. Although some banks got good marks….others not so. Most large companies had relationships with several banks.

I recall returning from NY on an Air Wisconsin flight (on a DH-7 turboprop) with the financial group from Kellogg’s. They weren’t impressed with their NY banks (in 1983). I wonder how it is in 2011.

My work with Greenwich was interesting….they were a first-glass organization. They continue to perform market studies….have expanded….and operate on world-wide basis.


Pests at Starbucks

There are several Starbucks in Cary….one nearby which is convenient to meet friends. This Starbucks is on a main road and is in a good location.

The problem is that Starbucks has become complacent….since it’s in a good spot….coffee is fine….yet Starbucks has done little to improve the store. In fact, pests (flies) have become a major problem.

Starbucks is a $10B company. The Starbucks philosophy was that one could linger and enjoy the coffee….use the Internet….meet people. Not at this Starbucks. I wonder if the CEO, Howard Schultz would be impressed. Or even the District Manager….if they even paid a visit.

Our next coffee stops will be at Caribou Coffee….it’s only a few blocks away….and no pests!

Another Pet Store?

Chew Hound Pet Supply

Another pet supply store….how many do we need? Just like our last post on Pizza….there is always room for someone who develops a better business model.

Chow Hound has seven locations in Western Michigan. While there are some big box retailers like PetSmart….there is still a place for local pet stores. Ironically, that’s not the case for office supply stores. Office Max…Office Depot….Staples have almost eliminated the locally owned office supply business.

The Chow Hound seems to be a good business model especially the fact that they have no debt.

There is always room for well-manged companies that have a solid business model and know their market.