Reinventing Downtown

MEL RedevelopedDTMusk

Business in Muskegon has always been challenging. The largest undertaking has been the complete redevelopment of the downtown area.

From MLive: http://www.mlive.com/opinion/muskegon/index.ssf/2014/09/editorial_mlives_downtown_musk.html#incart_river

From the photo….most of the buildings on Western Ave were torn down….only the 7-story building (upper left center) and the 2-story in front of that building remain. To the right of the circle is the Fruenthal  Theater ….a Muskegon icon. The photo is taken from the hotel across the street. Whether retail returns to downtown….remains to be seen….If any retail does open it would most likely be specialty type stores.

Things in Muskegon don’t happen overnight….think in terms of decades. My best guess is a combination of professional offices….cultural venues and specialty retail will be the future mix.

Evolution is a good word for the rebuilding of Muskegon.



and that brings us to the art of listening to those small things people say. That makes the difference in business.

The key phrase is listening….that makes a difference in business.

The most important aspect of our business was listening to the customer….though we had to restrain ourselves from overselling and perhaps talking too much and losing the sale.

Consulting was the same….listening to the client. Often what we thought was the problem and actually what the problem was were two different things.

What Tom Peters is addressing is managers listening to others….managers don’t know everything.

When assigned to Ballistic Systems Division at Norton AFB….the junior officers were assigned 24 hr Staff Duty on the weekends. The Staff Sargent really ran the show….I listened to him….and probably said….”Sargent: Tell me what to do and don’t get me in trouble.” 




As a small business on the north side of town….we had to be proactive in promoting our brand.

Fortunately our newspaper sales representative was an unusually creative person….who was eager to help us draw traffic to our store.

Our Oktoberfest Saturday event was one of our best promotions…The Little German Band….Gretchen our German hostess with authentic German food. The event was well attended. We had fun….our customers experienced something out of the ordinary.

I can’t recall the sales for the day….the real benefit was that we were willing to try something different and make the buying/selling experience enjoyable.

Of the many unique promotions…..Oktoberfest was one that stands out. It also was a good example of differentiating us from the competition.


Heads Up Display – Auto


Heads Up Display is innovative technology that projects instrument data on aircraft windscreens….so a pilot doesn’t have to scan the instruments – head down.

Now that technology is available for an automobile using the GPS function of a smartphone. The smartphone is placed in the dashboard and projects driving information on an autos windshield….especially good for poor driving conditions.

Really clever technology using existing current devices.


Customer (No) Service

Avoid Contact

Back Camera


Here’s a new(?) way to provide customer (no) service….use email and/or the internet to avoid any personal contact. Two examples:

  • Many business web sites now have a contact page with only a form to send to the company….no names, departments, phone numbers. So the initial business relationship actually becomes one-sided. Who knows who will reply or when there will be a response.
  • Many businesses also have a customer contact response page….certainly fine for describing a problem, yet if the business doesn’t respond….no communication….no customer service.

Instead of the internet being a tool to provide better customer service….companies are using it to increase their customer no service strategy. Not a good way to do business.



Customer Unfriendly


I am always perplexed by businesses seeking business….yet putting stipulations on that strategy. Examples:

  • A local garden center: $50 off landscape consultation – Limit 24 consultations (what if a customer was #25). 25% Off – Not to be combined with other offers. Some exclusions apply.
  • A high-end retailer in California: “We will gladly replace any items delivered in a broken bottle. Evidence of the broken item must be provided as either a copy of the shipping receipt or an image of the broken object with the box. Replacements are not offered for any other reason, including items received as gifts.”

Of course, there are a very few people who might take advantage of a business….yet most people want to be want to be dealt with fairly and honestly.

My experience indicates this is the best way to conduct business:“Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L.Bean that is not completely satisfactory.”

Marketing 101 – NO Stipulations