Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Square changes the geometry of payments

The cashless society requires an alternate payment system. Square may be that system.

Chris Skinner discusses the Jack Dorsey's strategy

But the most outrageous part was how easy it suddenly became for anyone to accept credit cards, using a device they already owned. The process through which businesses are authorized to accept credit card payments is notoriously arduous and slow, particularly for small merchants. The issuing banks demand multiple proofs of creditworthiness and pile on extra fees. Square itself had difficulty negotiating that red tape—it took longer to get approval from Visa and Mastercard to accept a swipe than it did to create a prototype for the entire payment system. “Our sign-up process takes literally two minutes,” Dorsey says. “You download an app, put in your name and address, answer three security questions, link your bank account, and you’re done.” Andersen saw the potential. Just as Twitter democratized broadcasting, Dorsey’s new company would democratize the credit card industry. 

Henderson, the engineering lead on Pay With Square, points out that the company collects all kinds of information about its users, data that might be invaluable to merchants and customers alike. “First of all, we know your location,” he says. “Second, we have a decent sense of your history. We know the kinds of places you’ve been and what you like. But we also know lots of other things—like if there’s a whole bunch of food trucks that pull up nearby, we’ll see the spike in activity and can point you to those trucks. I think you’ll see us get really good at this.”
Analytics and data-mining might provide Square’s real business model. So far, the company has charged a very small fee for each transaction, and merchants aren’t likely to pay much more. And while Square has been giving participating merchants access to analytics about their businesses for free, it is also aggregating that data, real-time information about what people are buying in every region of the country, complete with detailed demographics. It’s reasonable to think that might be very valuable in the near future.

Raise awareness among your customers

Danielle Schlanger and Kim Bhasin highlight the fast casual juggernaut that is Chipotle. Sometimes you need to raise awareness.

Looking back at the early days of Chipotle, CMO Mark Crumpacker admitted that they overestimated how much people actually cared about animals and the environment. He had to shift its marketing.

"It turned out to essentially not be true," Crumpacker said at a conference earlier this year. "Only 20 to 30 percent of those people actually care about that stuff."
So, Chipotle had to revamp its marketing focus. Instead of only touting all the great stuff it's doing, it had to raise awareness for environmental issues and get people to care about making a difference.

Training, training and more training

Celeste Edman highlights the continual need for training

Recently, I ate at a casual Italian restaurant. I was looking forward to the experience as the owners excelled at their fine-dining Italian establishment so I was interested in their take on casual. When I arrived, I was greeted by a welcoming host. We were seated, given menus, and told our server would be right with us. So far, so good. We waited. And we waited. And, we waited. Finally, the server arrived and asked us if we were ready to order. We asked about specials. There were none. Any recommendations on a starter, we asked? "There's some bread on there that's supposed to be good", he said to us.

It was in fact, very good. All the food was outstanding, but the service got progressively worse. When asked what his favorite pizza was, he informed us that he tried not to eat it because it made him fat! 

The owners had obviously taken great care to ensure quality products were used in their food, the d├ęcor was deliberate and specific to their brand, and the overall ambiance was good, however the server was so untrained and so incompetent that we won't be back.

Every person in your restaurant plays a role in your customer's experience. With thoughtful attention to your process and in turn your customer, you'll ensure consistency over all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer's day

 Bill said it best a long time ago

 Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

William Shakespeare 

Summer joy is upon us

The shortest night of the year has just ended. The Earth has reached the farthest point of its orbit around the Sun which does not know it is a star.  The northern tilt of the Earth is now at it's maximum. The conquest of light begun at the Winter Solstice is now complete. Enjoy!

A nice chart explaining the sunlight differences around the northern hemisphere At 6:09 p.m. (CDT) today, the sun will shine directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer while the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt towards the sun. For the Northern Hemisphere, this marks the official start of summer and the longest day of the year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

automated production

What is the number one issue every restaurateur deals with, labor. What is the number one complaint of customers, rude or inconsiderate staff. Well look here, John Biggs introduces us to the BurritoBot

The system will let you use your iPhone to order different condiments and toppings. Sliders control the amount of salsa, guac, and crema. It uses a Thing-o-matic and is currently in beta form, so don’t expect it to make you a burrito anytime soon.
Its creator, Marko Manriquez, is a student at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and this is part of his Master’s Thesis. Remember back when you wrote your thesis? About politics or some junk? Yeah, you should have picked the “build a freaking burrito robot” major. You wouldn’t be an accountant right now.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

No one needs us anymore

All business is predicated on relevancy, once that fails you have got nothing. Any business needs to add value to the life of the customer. If that is taken away either by technology or a competitor that does things differently, your business model will not survive. 3D printers are on the way, business services can be outsourced, we are not that far away from a holographic doctor. How will your business remain relevant and add value?

Scott Ginsberg makes an incredible point for any business model.

Proof once again, there’s nothing more frightening than the prospect of irrelevancy.

The only problem is, no one needs us. We’re a dying breed. Everything people used to need from us – information, answers, ideas and advice – is available to them right now, for free, in perfect form, forever.

It didn’t used to be that way. There was a time when we were vessels of knowledge. Pillars of wisdom. Narrators of the story of life. And paragons of experience that those who were hungry could climb mountains to pursue, even if only to touch the hem of our garment.

But now people just google stuff. Nobody needs to wonder, think, reflect, ask, create, mediate, listen or read.  Just download, verify and repeat. Download, verify and repeat. And if we don’t do something to reverse this trend, our species is not going to make it. If the pendulum doesn’t start to swing the other way, we are not going to last.

Human beings are social creatures. We need to need each other. Our craving for belonging, connectedness and togetherness is no less essential that food, water or shelter.

But if we insist on ignoring, avoiding and circumventing each other – if we continue to solely depend on the pixels of digital surrogates instead of the perspective of actual people – we will continue to become less human by the hour.

Eventually, we’ll serve no purpose other than fleshy holsters for electronic devices.

We don’t need more access to information.

We need more access to each other.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus

A gentile reminder that we are not alone in the universe. The planet Venus will come between us and the Sun today at 5pm CST. The planet will be visible as a black dot moving across the surface of the Sun.