Saturday, February 27, 2010

Finish, finish, finish!

The Olympics is a case study in process. The process is not complete until it is complete. Yogi Berra put it much better, "it is not over till it's over" The gold medal game in curling is a perfect life lesson. Victory was within the grasp of the skip, yet the stone slide millimeters short.

Finish, finish finish!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tyranny of assumptions

Christopher Borrelli's article exposes the fine line between knowing your customers and pigeon holing your customer.

But there is a tyranny to being a regular, a tyranny rarely spoken of.

The baristas at my regular Starbucks now prepare my drink before I reach the counter — I am startled every time. The other day, I went into a neighborhood restaurant for my semi-regular Sunday morning breakfast: French toast and coffee with skim milk. My server was new. She approached the table and said, "I was just informed that you will order the French toast and a coffee with skim, and you" — she indicated my girlfriend — "you will get Croque Madame and a Coke." She said this while hesitating to hand over menus.

Is this accommodating and familiar? Or overly intrusive and presumptuous?

She was right, of course. That is what I was about to order. But turned off by the assumption, and the implication that I'm predictable, I found myself ordering a dish I didn't really want. Just to prove her wrong.

I recognize this is twisted, an odd thing to whine about, but it's a feeling we may all want to get used to.
People have a need to be special, not predictable and boring. A business needs to honor the specialness.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Highlight the positive in your business.

There is a new restaurant on a busy corner that in it's infinite wisdom has decided to welcome visitors with a sign that reads; "Stop, Customer parking only. Your vehicle will be towed!" I totally understand the business logic for restricting services to your customers. I however have no patience for blatant stupidity. There is nothing welcoming or warm and fuzzy about that sign. If you have a business, have fun when you are warning away the interlopers who might misuse your scarce resources.

This is rant day. Example two, there is a clerk who was helping a customer check some information. The other clerk notices the line behind the first customer and in full view and earshot of the other customer mentioned to the first clerk, "that the customer can do that themselves, help the other customers in line." There is no getting around this, people are stupid. That interaction totally soured me on the location.

Folks, we are totally and completely dependent on each other. Let's start treating people with respect! LOL

Be fair to all your customers

All your customers feel slighted when you treat some people inordinately better than others.

Mark Thoma reports on a study by Caltech reserachers;

What was especially interesting about the finding, he says, is that the brain responds "very differently to rewards obtained by others under conditions of disadvantageous inequality versus advantageous inequality. It shows that the basic reward structures in the human brain are sensitive to even subtle differences in social context."

This, O'Doherty notes, is somewhat contrary to the prevailing views about human nature. "As a psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist who works on reward and motivation, I very much view the brain as a device designed to maximize one's own self interest," says O'Doherty. "The fact that these basic brain structures appear to be so readily modulated in response to rewards obtained by others highlights the idea that even the basic reward structures in the human brain are not purely self-oriented."

What the study hints at is that humans evolved long ago to understand that they could not have more than others and survive. There is a basic human need for community that is equally shared.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday afternoon

The best time to explore a new restaurant is Sunday afternoon. The Chef-owner, proprietor has time to unwind and really talk to you. You will make an instant connection that would never happen if you only frequent on days when the wait is thirty minutes and the ticket times are running a late.

Discover the soul of the restaurant on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Whatever the mountain gives you!

Watching the Olympic alpine skiing or curling for that matter reminds me of Improv 101. Whatever occurs say "yes, ...and." It is critical that you do not say "yes, but." The only acceptable response is "Yes, ...and ." As the insurance commercial proclaims "will this be remember as the Great Recession or the recession that made us Great?"

Yes, ...And" will make us great!

Customer Service and the Olympics

Here is the issue. Your staff has worked a long hard shift. Have you noticed that the late customers pay the same amount as the early customers? Why is the level of service energy lower? Ask your staff why thier energy and service is less than perfect and what you as an organization can do about it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Go out and dine Chicago

Restaurant Week 2010

The art of the turnaround

It is not pretty, however it is possible.

Matryn Drake explains the five basic steps

  1. Identity
  2. Positioning
  3. People
  4. Focus
  5. Belief Inspiring belief is the single biggest job for an executive in a turnaround business. The biggest enemy to your success is the cynicism and resignation that grows daily in a failing organisation: it’s a contagious mindset that saps energy, kills pace, and stifles change. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right” is a truism that is magnified for an organisation in turnaround. The CEOs most important role is that of chief believer and evangelist.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Now, the other side of the story

Kermit Pattison interviews George Cloutier

His advice is to put profits above all. Always pay yourself first. Shock your laggard employees. Don’t accept excuses. His ax falls on trade shows (“they’re just a flimsy excuse for a paid vacation”), sweat equity (“I call it working for nothing and being a fool”) and teamwork (“vastly overrated”).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Social media real time applications

Jenny Wortham's article spotlights the interactive real time restaurant recommendations.

In addition to offering a special badge for Foursquare users, Zagat will begin piping tips and recommendations into the Foursquare system, which already doubles as a user-generated city guide. Foursquare users can submit their own suggestions for activities and dishes to order at a particular restaurant, which will pop up when their friends “check in” on Foursquare from that venue.

But the Zagat partnership will add a slightly different layer to the content by incorporating recommendations culled from the company’s repository of reader reviews. For example, users who check into a Zagat-ranked restaurant will receive suggestions about great dishes or the best dessert on the menu.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tipping essentials

Bill Shrink explains tipping,

Give Name to customers
Touch the customer

Actionable, Accessible and Auditable

Information is not power, how we use that information is where the power lies.

Sean's article highlights Eric Ries's three steps.

  1. Actionable. Report users must be able to run their own experiments on the data to verify results and make changes.
  2. Accessible. Everyone in the company must know how to read the numbers, and have quick access to them.
  3. Auditable. Managers and execs higher up in the organization need to be able to confirm what the numbers are saying.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Most of us grapple with the mundane, such as "will we make budget this month?" Phil on the other hand deals with the bigger picture.