Small Business

Forbes Best – 2016

small_business-taxes

From Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/best-small-companies/. Forbes has selected 25 best small businesses for 2016. Most of them are unfamiliar….though respectable in size (sales revenue).

The only one I have encountered is Afterburner Seminars in Atlanta, GA,

While these companies are highly regarded by the Forbes editors….they also differentiate themselves and have  unique market positions.

A key point: “These companies had the opportunity to grow much faster, but their leaders decided to focus on being great rather than just big.”

Coffee

Different Package

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I like great coffee….Peet’s of course my favorite.

My supply of Peet’s dwindled over the holidays….so I was anxiously waiting for my regular order of Peet’s to arrive.

The order finally arrived….the coffee in yellow packaging….something different. Along with the coffee was a letter:

“Due to successful sales and sell through….of our dark brown packaging…..your Peet’s Coffee order has been packaged in yellow packaging. We can assure you the product you received is the same….We apologize for the temporary inconvenience. You can expect your next order of Peet’s coffee to return to the package you are accustomed to.”

Signed: The Peet’s Coffee Team

Peet’s Coffee is excellent whether in dark brown or yellow packaging….after all it’s Peet’s!

Peak

The S Curve

Peak

Businesses/organizations often reach peaks in performance and then slide down that peak to mediocrity.

The S curve concept:

Businesses reach a stabilizing point and than either stay at that point or slide down the curve. organizations have to recognize that point and start the curve trajectory upward to continue growing.

In our business we were always moving the curve upward….whether simply rearranging displays….buildng a new addition….taking on new lines or adding another addition.

Not only did we have to move upward for our customers we had to do it for ourselves….The peak always kept moving forward.

Complex

Auto Manufacturing

Auto plant

The development of an automobile is a very complex process….Car and Driver magazine (Jan. 2016) had an article on How They’re (automobiles) Are Made.

In most cases it’s a six-year process:

  • Research – market and competitive assessment
  • Design – interior/exterior, engineering reviews
  • Engineering – advanced technologies, cost analysis
  • Manufacture – design assembly, collaborate with suppliers
  • Launch – define pricing, create marketing materials

An automotive career was not my choice….though I did have a small glimpse of it doing a project for Ford Motor at their Saline, MI parts plant….interviewing Federal-Mogel in Van Wert, Ohio and knowing a few folks at Sealed Power Corp in Muskegon.

The automobile industry has changed dramatically and for some companies interesting times ahead in future automobile development.

 

Aluminium

Lorin Industries

Lorin Industries

Lorin Industries is a family owned business located In a nondescript industrial area in Muskegon.

Many years ago, I spoke with the founder Herb Kersman on a NorthWest flight from Detroit.

Lorin’s original name was Coil Anodizers as they finished aluminium for different products. Over the years they have developed a number of diversified aluminium product lines.

Businesses like Lorin provide the foundation for a local economy….they may not be glamorous….but they do make products the are necessary and useful and contribute to a solid local economy and have longevity in the community.

http://www.lorin.com/

Problem Response

Electrolux

Prompt response

From WRAL: http://www.wral.com/defective-refrigerator-replaced-after-multiple-attempts-to-fix/15217760/

How companies respond to problems relates to the culture of the company….leadership….and respect for the customer. In the case of Electrolux/Frigidaire, there seems to be a disregard for all of these things.

Three key points from the WRAL story: 

  • “The unit was not repairable”
  • Electrolux was unresponsive
  • Lowes, the retailer, did the right thing – they replaced the refrigerator with an “upgraded model”

There must be someone at Electrolux/Frigidaire that has the ultimate responsibility for customer care….unfortunately the company didn’t exercise good business practices to solve the problem.

 

Business Books

Anything New?

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From Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-20-most-popular-business-books-of-2015-2015-12

In the past….I’ve read 10-15 books a year. The number of business books is overwhelming….it is necessary to be selective in the ones you do read.

My book reading has tapered off….the only two on my list are the one in the photo and Richard Branson’s –

The Virgin Way

The challenge is to invest the time in the books that will be the most beneficial. It might be interesting to review some of the books I’ve read in the past….yet for the most part…..they are only a few that have stood the test of time.

$75 Pillow

Marketing Strategy

Casper Pillow

Good sleep is essential….a good pillow and good bedding.

Casper….the innovative mattress-in-a-box company is selling a $75 pillow. $75 seems like a lot to this reviewer/tester: http://www.businessinsider.com/casper-pillow-review-2015-12

The $75 price is a premium price for a pillow….as the reviewer points out….there are several lower price options.

The Casper marketing strategy is the real selling point….try the pillow for 100 days….if it does the job….keep it….if not return it. The 100 day trial period gives the customer plenty of time and Casper is betting that most will keep their pillow.

Be The Best

It’s Not Easy

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There simply exists no demonstrable method of marketing that is guaranteed to work, although we do know demonstrably terrible ones, such as poor websites, lousy customer relations (which usually means lousy management above) and proprietors who are out-of-touch with the real world and thus not in a position to understand what consumers really want. – Steve Heimoff.

Steve is in the wine industry in California….what he says applies to any business/organization.

Business is not easy….certainly there are some companies that are above and beyond….Apple being the best example. Yet there were times when Apple’s future was doubtful.

Business is being the best at what you do…..it’s not easy-it’s hard work.

George Whalin: “Be the best. It’s the only market that’s not crowded.”

Appreciating Asset

The Customer

asset

The well-served customer … is an appreciating asset. Every small act on her or his behalf ups the odds of repeat business, add-on business, and priceless word-of-mouth referral.” – Tom Peters

“On top of all Volkswagen’s moral lapses, its biggest mistake may have been lying to the wrong people” (not to the regulating agencies….but its customers). – Jamie Kitman

Sometimes businesses forget the customer….the only reason a business exists. VW forgot the customer. Our local Kroger’s forgets the customer.

We depended very much on each customer that walked through our front door….it was the repeat business that made us successful and at the end of the day paid the bills.