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The Only Constant In Life Is Change

by DW Green — March 16, 2010

Everything, everywhere is in a constant flux of change. I like this quote from Bruce Barton, author, advertising executive and politician, “When you are through changing, you are through.”Way back in 1970, I read Future Shock, a great book by Alvin Toffler. Future Shock was about change, and the affect that the accelerated rate of technological and social change had on society. From an historic perspective the speed of change from the beginning of the industrial revolution in the 18th century to the “super-industrial society” of the 1970’s was mind-boggling and it has only intensified thousands-fold since then.The supermarket business too has gone through radical changes and its rapid transformation continues. Remember only you can control your reaction to changes in your business. Everyone filters information through his or her personal background, wants, needs, fears, hopes, prejudices and beliefs. The result is often the development of urban “myths” about change. Let’s explore some of those myths—and the reality of business.Myth: This will go away.
Reality: Change is here to stay.
Myth: It will help if I get upset with this.
...
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Price Perception

by DW Green — March 11, 2010

Establishing a positive-price perception is critical in today’s economy. Duh! But the key is perception. You should only sacrifice gross dollars when the price point can significantly impact perception.You don’t have to have the lowest prices on everything. You don’t have to be priced the same as your competitors. You must have your customers leave your store feeling like they received a value for their total shopping experience. This goes beyond shelf prices and integrates operations and retail execution.When consumers do not perceive any differentiating attributes of a product or service, price becomes a factor. This becomes very evident when various competitors carry identical products. This is why you must find ways to differentiate your store(s) in other ways.How do you identify your most price-sensitive items? Which items are most sensitive to your customers? Using some type of movement data is sometimes a good way to measure the sensitivity of an item or category. It is generally believed that the fastest selling items are usually the most price sensitive.However, item velocity can be influenced or even manipulated by lower price points as a result of using promotional dollars from the manufacturer. Price sensitivity can also be a seasonal consideration. Some items, at peak times of year, can be very sensitive to the consumer. Items unique to the holidays or influenced by changing seasons take on different levels of significance for consumers. It’s important to...
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Service Companies Sell A Promise

by DW Green — March 1, 2010

Offering exceptional customer service is indeed a powerful way to differentiate your store in the marketplace. How do you distinguish yourself as a leader in service excellence?Most retail businesses in America believe they offer good customer service, but in reality the opposite is probably more accurate. Why? With the daily demands of performing repetitive tasks in a highly productive environment, employees are often oblivious to customers and their needs. Customer service is typically given lip service by managers, who view training and developing employees to provide an exceptional customer experience as a low priority in a cost-controlling, low-margin industry. Ironically, it is just such an investment in employee training and development that can increase sales exponentially. While operational efficiencies are essential to superior corporate performance, they should not hinder the company’s ability to gain a customer service advantage.For a retailer to gain a customer service advantage over its competitors, a serious investment of resources to train employees is critical. It is also imperative to have in place vehicles that foster communication between the customer and store, including regular interaction between top management and customers. Why is this important? Because customer service is one thing, but exceptional customer service is another thing entirely. It’s not enough that every customer is acknowledged by every employee they meet on every shopping visit t...
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Meeting Albatross

by DW Green — February 24, 2010

In the early years of my business we held very few meetings. With a small staff we were able to communicate easily and informally. But as the staff grew in size, so did the quantity of meetings, eventually leading to a meeting albatross. We found ourselves spending almost as much time in meetings than in producing our work. Something had to be done, so, well, we called a meeting! A meeting on meetings! It turned out to be a very productive meeting.To help us get our arms around the too many meeting syndrome, Ryan Joy, V.P. of Creative Services, was charged with researching the nature of meetings. His findings were enlightening to a meeting weary organization. As a result of his research we decided to define the types of meetings we held and develop meeting criteria for those assigned to lead meetings. Understanding the unique nature of meetings with their differing goals and objectives has helped us improve the quality, the efficiency, and even the quantity of meetings we schedule. Still much work needs to be done to refine and improve our meeting process but we’re living in a much better place.Here is a portion of Ryan’s findings; Three Kinds of Meetings by Seth Godin, bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. Keep in mind these are general classifications and vary by author. We selected the Mr. Godin’s model and customized the meeting type...
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Strategic Positioning

by DW Green — February 16, 2010

Wikipedia defines positioning in this way: “…Positioning is something (perception) that happens in the minds of the target market. It is the aggregate perception the market has of a particular company, product or service in relation to their perceptions of the competitors in the same category. It will happen whether or not a company’s management is proactive, reactive or passive about the on-going process of evolving a position. But a company can positively influence the perceptions through enlightened strategic actions.”

Overview

Right about now, you may be thinking, “Our stores are strategically positioned; what can this guy tell us that we don’t already know?” But it’s all in how you define strategic positioning.Strategic positioning means different things to different people. We define strategic positioning as the creation of a unique and valuable position, supported by a system of activities distinct from those of your competitors. The key words here are “unique,” “activities,” and “distinct.”Anyone can claim they’ve positioned their store. But is it really a unique position, or just a knock-off of your competitor’s? What is your unique position? Your competitor’s? And is your strategic position supported by every activity the supermarket carries out, from pricing to signage, produc...
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How To Create Effective Ads

by DW Green — February 6, 2010

The primary goal of effective advertising is to attract an audience and motivate them to action. The goal is to drive customer traffic. The goal is to differentiate your store and your ad from your competitors and to always support your stores strategic position. Effective ads do all of these things. The result is advertising that not only achieves the short-term goals of increased sales and customer count, but advertising that becomes the building blocks of tomorrow’s success and prosperity as well. Advertising store attributes often pays off in profitability even when it doesn’t immediately increase sales. It reinforces a stores differential status from competitors and reinforces many past and present experiences with satisfied customers. Indeed, image is often the only basis of comparison between similar but different alternatives.

Create Ads that people will read and respond to

The reality is most folks don’t read supermarket ads — maybe two out of 10. And of the folks who do read ads, they normally read the ads of the store where they regularly shop. So why do most supermarkets insist on putting their name and logo on the top of their ads? If the reader does not like the store, they will not read the ad, regardless of the benefit the ad is offering. The supermarket industry routinely violates this basic principle of effective advertising. Look through an issue of USA Today or The Wall Street Journal and c...
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DW Green Company, a River Company

by DW Green — January 18, 2010

The generational longevity of a company.The manager of a living company understands that keeping the company alive means handing it over to a successor in at least the same health that it was in when he or she took charge. To do that, a manager must let people grow in a community that is held together by clearly stated values. The manager must place commitment to people before assets, respect for innovation before devotion to policy, the messiness of learning before orderly procedures, and the perpetuation of the community before all other concerns.Living companies are willing to scuttle assets in order to survive. To them, assets—and profits—are like oxygen: necessary for life but not the purpose of life. These companies know that assets are just means to earning a living. A company run according to a different model scuttles people to save its plant and equipment, which it considers the essence of its being. If such a company were in the car rental business, for example, it would see itself as existing to rent cars. The company’s fleet would be considered its primary asset, and its purpose would be to make profits for shareholders. If such companies find themselves in trouble, they get rid of people. I believe that employees are a company’s primary asset and that a company’s purpose is survival which means developing and nurturing their employees potential.Managers must decide how to position the human element in their companies. T...
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Customer Service The Last Great Frontier

by DW Green — January 11, 2010

With Wal Marts, COSTCO, Trader Joes and Limited Assortment formats, the tougher the price competition in a market, the more important quality of service is to sustainable success. Why? Because without differentiated quality, without a superior total experience to offer customers, a company has few, if any, non-pricing options when key competitors cut their prices.Achieving increased loyalty from customers and potential customers goes hand in hand with a focus on customer service. Delivering on a promise to provide outstanding and exceptional service to all customers, internal and external, is best accomplished when the promise becomes deeply rooted in the company culture. Providing exceptional customer service is aspirational. It begins with desire and is rewarded through the self-satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing by doing right for others. The benefits can be measured in small assurances or large returns. Smiling faces, exceptional morale, increased productivity, enhanced customer loyalty, and lower employee turnover rates are all tangible benefits of an exceptional customer service program.Customer service has to do with the customer’s perception of the level of service she or he expects. Exceeding customers’ service expectations can be the defining factor in distinguishing a company from its competitors in the eyes and minds of consumers.To customers, great service is an...
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Guarantee and Well-being

by DW Green — January 5, 2010

I’m an ardent proponent of product and service guarantees. A guarantee is a promise or assurance that a company will stand behind the quality of products it sells or services it performs. Guarantees build trust and loyalty with consumers. In a sense, a guarantee is a company’s commitment to the well-being of its customers. Wow, what an intriguing approach to serving the customer. Imagine a conscious intention by company leaders to enhance the well-being* of a customer. Is that possible?

5 Reasons Why A Guarantee Works

First, it pushes the entire company to focus on customers’ definition of good products/service, not an executive’s assumption. Second, it sets clear performance standards, which boost employees performance and morale. Third, it generates reliable data (through payouts) when performance is poor. Fourth, it forces an organization to examine its entire service-delivery system for possible failure points. Last, it builds customer loyalty, sales and market share.What is a good guarantee? It is (1) unconditional, (2) easy to understand and communicate, (3) meaningful, (4) easy and painless to invoke, and (5) easy and quick to collect on.Cheating. Fear of customers cheating is a big hurdle for some when considering offering guarantees. Sure, there will be cheats—the handful of customers who take advantage of a guarantee to get something for nothing. What they cost the company a...
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The No-Name Trap

by DW Green — December 28, 2009

no-name-trapIn the marketing classic Positioning, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout, probably the world’s best-known marketing strategists wrote that it is unwise to use initials for a company name. They have coined the practice the “no-name trap”. While there are successful exceptions to the initial rule, Ries and Trout warn against using the letter “w”. As “dou-ble-U” is the only letter in alphabet with more than one syllable. Unfortunately I didn’t read the book until after I had named my company…unknowingly falling into the “no-name trap!”
I named my company DW Green after myself. It is easy for me to remember and I wanted to honor my parents. Neither is named DW, though DW is my father’s initials. Ries and Trout might still approve because DW Green is only 5 syllables long! And green is a popular word now.When I incorporated DW Green, way back in 1988, my choices from Alaska’s Corporation Commission were CorporationInc., or Company. I selected company because of its many positive connotati...
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