All those years of extra effort goes right into the crapper.
It’s all about instant gratification, right? To quote the Ramones “We want the world, and we want it now.” Businesses and employees alike are under the constant pressure to please now. Right now. More and more, what you did last year, last month, last week and even yesterday is forgotten. As a business, we have invested thousands of hours and many years working on the little things that we hope will build a foundation of loyalty with our customers. But with the barrage of alluring messages from competitors, our years of effort depreciate pretty fast. Without constant reinforcement, reminders and exceptional service our customers memory becomes fuzzy and fades to black quicker than ever. You may have the best butcher in town but one disappointment raises an eyebrow. The second casts serious doubts and anything after that you have lost that customer no matter how long you have served the family.Employees seem to have an even shorter leash. For years you have given 100%, sparked innovation and ideas, helped with the evolution of your store and made substantial contributions to sales and profits. But due to the increasing pressure on financials, those years of efforts are m...read more
More about the little things. During our nightly debriefing of how our respective days went, my wife is always sticking ideas out there that she thinks would be good blog topics. So she’s telling me about how she was getting gas (not the fart kind this time) and there was a girl gas station attendant emptying trash. Linda asked her how her day was going, and the girl seemed surprised that someone would care enough to ask how she was doing. She said she was good and sincerely thanked her for asking. They exchanged a few words and the girl said something along the lines of “Well, you know, I’m just a gas station attendant…” As if it had been hammered in by her boss or her boyfriend or someone that she was doing a lowly job which merited no respect, not even by herself.I don’t know about you, but I have been to gas stations where trash is overflowing, windshield squeegee water is filthy, paper towels are out and the bathroom is so disgusting that I hold it until I can find a nearby McDonalds. Oh, how I wished that they just had a gas station attendant. Self- esteem and pride are built by you, the boss. Anyone who feels that they are just an unimportant piece of your organization reflects nega...read more
When we make mistakes, we personally suffer the consequences.
This morning I was at a breakfast and the guest speaker was Captain Brien Dixon, Commanding Office of Naval Base Point Loma (San Diego). It’s a huge responsibility, and he oversees Naval stations throughout the Western United States. (Yes, there are Naval bases in states where there is no ocean). He talked about plans and projects that look not just at the next decade, but at the next 100 years! He is incredibly smart, practical and inspires patriotism. He’s commanded four different submarines all over the world, has a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and is a great family man. Besides all the interesting projects our country is working on (Drone ships that look and appear to be battleships, but are really catamarans), threats to our country (China), and preservation and restoration of beaches from erosion, there was one thing that really stood out to me. He talked about the mistakes others have made, and how we are supposed to learn from them, but in truth that really doesn’t happen. Maybe the smartest people on the planet, of which I am not one of, learn from and study the mistakes of others, but the vast majority of us only learn from our own mistakes. When we...read more
I think I can speak for the group of us when I say that we all love being in a state of calmness. There’s no emergencies going on. We’re relaxed, focused and content. Calm is organized, aware and productive. It’s not distracted or interrupted. Calm comes after a good night’s sleep and isn’t easily distracted. Winners remain calm under pressure, even when the pressure is intense. We all want to remain calm, and want others around us to do the same.I have learned, however, that staying calm is not a piece of advice that can be easily given. Telling someone to “Just stay calm” or “Calm down” usually has the opposite effect. Something along the lines of “Don’t you tell me to calm down! I am calm! YOU calm down!!!!” Calm doesn’t have exclamation points. Ever. So next time you find someone on your team or your family in an obvious non-calm state, the way to get them to calm the F down is by how you behave in the situation. Leaders stay chill under pressure, and the team follows.
It’s good to help, right? People need our help and it makes us feel good to help them. They say, “Thank you, how can I repay your kindness?” We of course defer and say, “No, no, it was my pleasure to help you.” But deep in the blackboard of our mind a mark is tallied, and they now owe us a debt because of our help. When I first heard this analogy last week, I had to step back and really think about it. I always have wanted to help. It feels really good. But does it make the helped feel good? Do they now feel the obligation of owing me one? Something really to ponder. In fact, think of help in terms of The Help. To be referred to as “The Help” immediately conjures up images of a maid, a butler, a driver – some kind of subservient role. No one wants to be referred to as The Help. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen really nails the subject Helping, Fixing or Serving?I have long had the need to be a fixer. Need advice? I’ll give a solution. Don’t need advice, but just want to talk? I’ll give a solution. Something not working right? I’ll give a solution. I ta...read more
I was talking with a friend yesterday who is in the wine business. Actually, I was tasting some of the wines he sells. And it was before noon. Somebody has to do the hard work. Anyway, I asked him what trends he sees in his business as a wine broker. He talked about the pressures on restaurants and retailers to lower food and beverage cost to make up for the increase in minimum wage here in San Diego. He lamented how it’s tougher and tougher with added pressure to get high quality wines to diners at an affordable price. He went on to tell me of people in the industry he has worked with over the last 25 years and really supported. Company parties at their restaurants, consistently patronizing their business, sponsoring many individuals in their wine education.He had many mutually beneficial long-term business relationships. He mentioned that today, as time has gone on, many of the people forget those past relationships. Memories fade, management changes and some people just seem to have forgotten how they have achieved a level of success with his help. It made me think long and hard about remembering to acknowledge the key figures that got you to your level of outstanding success. Mentors, manage...read more
Sous-chef[ soo-shef; French soo-shef ] the second in command in a kitchen; the person ranking next after the head chef.
We all have sous-chefs in our stores.
The executive chef gets all the credit. They are the big names – Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Chang. They are the creative face of the brand, the ones ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the restaurant. But it’s the sous-chef who deserves the credit for the prosperity of the restaurant – or deli. They put in the long hours, place the food orders and direct, inspect and insure that what is going on the plate and into your mouth is delicious and consistent every time. It’s like the executive chef is the car – be it an old Nissan pickup or a new Ferrari – and the sous chef is the driver.We don’t give our sous-chefs enough credit. We need to thank, honor and reward them more, for they are the ones doing the work. In your stores, you as the owner are the executive chef. You are ultimately responsible (and on the hook) for successes and failures. When you have outstanding profits, you reap the rewards. When business is tough and profits are down, you absorb them personally. We all have so...read more
So what’s your nickname? I’ve know Reds over the years that obviously get their name from being a ginger. We’ve talked about Lazy Susan. My dad gave himself the nickname Ace because he was good at most things (but tennis wasn’t one of them). There’s been endless supplies of Shortys, Shiftys, Leftys, Stinkys and Smokys. They got their nicknames from a physical trait or behavior. There’s the obvious ones – Fred is Fredrick, Sam is Samuel, Matt is Matthew. Junior was anyone named after his father. It’s like saying the whole name became just too much work. And there are some that are a real stretch. How did Henry become Hank, John become Jack or Richard become Dick? And seriously, how did Dick become either a part of the male anatomy or a really mean and unpleasant person? No wonder there are no little kids nicknamed Dick anymore and the ones named Richard strictly stick to Rich or Rick. No one wants their kid to be a Dick.Foods you sell and love can differentiate themselves from their generic name by cementing a nickname that no competitor can copy. Seaside Market in Cardiff, CA has sold a million pounds of their marinated tri tip called Cardiff Crack, a nickname made up by a customer because they thought it was so add...read more
Some people get paid ridiculous amounts of money. Actors, Musicians and Sports stars who sign big contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars with mind boggling deals amaze me. Mike Trout signs a contract for $400 million. Manny Machado for $300 million. Bryce Harper $330 million. Their teams, the Angels and Padres are having terrible seasons, well below .500. The Phillies might make the wild-card playoff. Maybe. So it’s natural to think these owners shelling out the big bucks are insane. Who would pay that much for one player? But they’re not. These owners are very successful businessmen who, I believe, look to monetize their investment. But how? They haven’t turned into winners, at least not yet. These high-profile deals result in a lot of residual profits we don’t see. Merchandise sales, team publicity, legitimacy in the marketplace all figure in to the return on investment. Grocers who remodel stores, add new locations, reinvent their websites and hire top talent are making those investments to monetize them over the long run. It’s easy to say that investing in a cutting-edge website or replacing aging meat cases is just too expensive. Yes, it is expensive. But the cost of not investing ultimately is higher. L...read more
It’s been said many times, including in this blog ad nauseum, that it’s that little things that add up to the larger success. The small kindnesses and details really are more important than one big, sweeping gesture. But it’s also the little things – done repeatedly and with no clear path of correction – that add up to bug the crap out of you and eventually change shopping habits. Example: I was in a store in Seattle recently (Whole Foods) and their bakery and pastry case looked great. They had well decorated, delicious looking cakes. Then I got to the cake with fresh strawberries and while they were red and beautiful, they had the stem on them. Now this has been a pet peeve of mine for many years. To eat that strawberry, which is usually glazed too and has icing on the bottom side, you have to pick it up by the green top and either eat it whole, or cut the top off and put it back on the cake. It’s a huge pain in the ass. Why, oh why, I wonder every time I see strawberries on a cake, can’t the decorator cut the stem completely off and put the strawberry on the cake cut side down. It’s a beautiful presentation and still glazable. And I’ve seen it in lots of bakeries. It’s like the world’s first cake decorator kept the stems on...read more