Lost Business



How often does a business lose customers and their business transactions because of miscommunication?

A recent incident indicated that the answer may be more than one thinks. 

The transaction request was rather simple. The response was completely different from the request. A second communication was forwarded to a different individual….same organization. The response was positive.

Communication or miscommunication can lead to lost sales. Time and time again companies fail to communicate effectively….airlines are often a good example.  

If a business wants customers for a lifetime….than communicating is an important step in creating that Life Time Value.


Wm. K Walthers/Milwaukee

From jsonline:  https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/2018/07/05/stacey-walthers-naffah-president-walthers-milwaukee-model-train-company/752238002/

Walthers manufactures several lines of model trains and accessories. The firm is also a distributor and direct seller of model trains and related products from more than 200 manufacturers. 

The company has been family-owned since it started in 1932.

86 years is a long time to be in business….certainly for a specialized business such as Wm. K Walters.

The challenge for the next generation leaders is to not only maintain the business….but to grow the market for its products. “I also have high hopes we will crack this nut of figuring out how to get more people involved into this category and make it relevant, and dare I say, cool again.”

Good leadership and business practices will help Walthers reach the 100 yr. mark.



Muskegon Lake

From The Grand Rapids Business Journal:  https://www.grbj.com/articles/91100-muskegon-leaders-realize-greatest-asset

Moving Muskegon into the future has always been a slow….long-term process. The Grand Rapids Business Journal article does a nice job outlining the transformations taking place and what the future holds for the southern part of Muskegon Lake. Of course, Muskegon needs to leverage its best assets, Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.

As stated in the article….industry has been moved off the lake and newer, environmental friendly development is taking place….the largest on the former Saapi paper mill site.

While Muskegon won’t be another Traverse City, it can be a good place on Lake Michigan….especially in relation to Grand Rapids. 

Other things do have to take place….revitalize Muskegon and Muskegon Heights by the elimination of substandard housing and funding of public education.

While the next ten years will be better….it has taken a great deal of time.

From years ago: Great Lakes ore carriers parked on Muskegon Lake during a steel strike – 




The Fresh Market

The Fresh Market recently announced 15 store closures:   http://www.businessinsider.com/fresh-market-closing-stores-list-2018-7

There are several reasons for these closures as stated in the article.

A recent Saturday visit to the Cary Fresh Market perhaps indicated reasons for a further decline:

  • out of stock on many items
  • poor product merchandising
  • general atmosphere of not ready for business 

The primary reasons appear to be overexpansion to other parts of the US rather than staying with its Southeast market and efficient distribution. 

Another issue would seem to be ineffective management (and limited working capital). The Fresh Market positions as a high-end retailer….though reviews are average at best. If a busisess is high end…..service and quality also must be high-end.

If Wegmans finally enters the RDU market….that may foretell the future of the local Fresh Markets*.

*Companies must be distinct….otherwise they become extinct.


More Than Expected

Most business meet expectations….however few over-deliver.

Recently we took some friends to a casual restaurant. They we were celebrating a significant anniversary. The manager became aware of this. At the end of the dinner….their meal was complimentary. In this case….the business* over-delivered on a special occasion. 

In our business….we sought to over-deliver….perhaps customers were not immediately aware of this….yet when it came time for another purchase….hopefully it gave us first consideration. In one unique situation….we disassembled a sleeper sofa and reassembled it inside the customer’s home to complete the delivery….more than expected.

  • Note:  the manager of this restaurant was excellent at MBWA on a busy evening.

Advertising 2018


Advertising is quite different in a 2018 world than it was 40 years ago.

Our advertising strategy (different from the marketing strategy*) was:

  • Newspaper – 60% display & classified
  • Radio – 20% 
  • Direct mail – 10%
  • Television – 5%
  • Word of mouth – 5%…. the least measurable

While some home furnishings stores use newspaper inserts….it is not cost-effective for smaller businesses. The primary reason for a different strategy is the:

  • Decline of newspapers 
  • Proliferation of radio and TV/cable channels
  • Internet

A 2018 media lineup might consider:

  • Effective direct mail – Life time customer value
  • Superior Internet presence – Dynamic and current 
  • Word of mouth – Community involvement 

*  Marketing Strategy:  Moderate price….good quality….selective brands….superior service….customer recognition….name identity.


First Impression

When consulting with businesses, one of my first observations was how they dealt with details. 

Though perhaps minor….none-the-less they gave a good indication on how the business presented themselves to their customers. Two observations:

  • Doors and entrance ways
  • Bathroom cleanliness

If these first impression details are not addressed….what other details may also be lacking?