Customer Value Verses Customer Money

This is a comparison of two businesses. They both are in the food service industry. The areas they are located in are about the same, but they manage their business completely different.

One of these, a Mom and Pop business, has an inviting entrance and a pleasant atmosphere which invites repeat business. The second, a popular chain, has an entrance that looks like it is one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. Once inside, the walls are adorned with the usual fare, plus more negative signage.

The negative signage tells the customers in a very negative way how long they can stay, and if they can use the facilities or not. Between the entrance and the barrage of signage inside my expectations were low. The place was neat and clean. I was also surprised at how good customer service was. Though there was a big downside of the staff being focused on the wrong things.

Customer satisfaction is second to money at this business.

Customer satisfaction is second to money at this business.

The staff were sales people and not wait staff. Every comment from the person helping me was to sell me more than I asked for. Did I want to add on to what I ordered for so much more? Did I want more choices than the items I picked? Did I want to double the size of my order for less than the stated price? Worst of all, there was a tip jar at the register. I was told as I paid my bill there was a tip jar – as if I could not see it – and all tips were appreciated.

 

 

The second location was the complete opposite of this. The service was prompt and totally customer focused. I was asked if I preferred a smaller portion than the portion listed on the menu for less money? The person who was waiting on us came to the table no less than eight times checking to see if there was anything that they could do. Top off the drinks, bring more napkins, refill the water glasses, more ice in the drink, more cream for the coffee, and other real reasons to show up at the table. The check was brought at the end of the meal and not during the meal. We were asked if we wanted to-go drinks to take with us (lemonade and coffee).

Repeat customers is the goal of this business

Repeat customers is the goal of this business

Both of these restaurants are in the same price range. Yet one totally out sells the other without so much as a hint of a sales pitch. One enjoys a growing list of repeat customers, while the other is trying its best to fleece every customer who walks through the door.

Put another way, one business will thrive in any economy. One business may be near to closing even though it sells a more popular product. Which business would you wish to spend your hard earned money at, and which business would you likely never visit again? If you are a business owner, which business more closely resembles you own business?

Running a business where customers walk in off the street is difficult. Competition is tough, and profit margins are generally small. However a businesses that focuses on making the customer and not the customer’s money the number one priority stays in business longer and is more successful than a business who thinks their product is far superior that customer focus takes a distant second customer’s money.

When anyone asks my opinion on a good place to eat, a fun place to visit or a good place to see, places where I felt special come to mind quickly and they are what I recommend. When you are asked your opinion on where to go or where to eat, where do you recommend?

Purpose of Business is Profit

This is a business story. There are lessons to be learned here, more than about what is and is not the scope of any business.

I had a friend who had quite a good understanding of business, even though he had never gone beyond a high school education. I guess, he was a natural to some extent. I was thinking of him the other day, and something that happened in a little out of way tavern in the middle of nowhere several years ago.

It was about this time of year. The two of us had been traveling for a number of hours for a business purchase. We completed our business and were on the return trip. We were both tired and hungry. As we drove along some back road, a well kept tavern appeared on the side of the road.

We decided it was time to stop and rest. While there we would have some food and coffee, getting rested for the remainder of the trip. The building was very nice for being so far from anywhere.

The walls were paneled wood, and well oiled. The lighting was soft, but no overly so. The only employee present, the bartender, turned out to be the owner. He had owned the place for some years, and he prided himself on everything about his business from the building that housed it, to the paper napkins we would use during our meal.

The food was of course excellent. Nothing fancy, way better than the standard out of the way back country bar usually provides. I remember I had a cheeseburger. It was fresh and cooked to perfection with grilled onions, and cheddar cheese. I can still taste the burger when I think about it. The home made steak fries and coleslaw that came with my burger were also fresh, and very good.

When we finished eating, we asked if there was coffee. The bartender said there was, and it would take a few minutes to make if we would wait. Of course we would wait, the thought of coffee promised to be every bit as good as the meal we finished.

Coffee arrived a few minutes later, and it was very good. Not too strong, not overly hot, not bitter. As with the rest of the meal and surroundings, it was more than we expected.

Unusual however were the cups the coffee was served in. Not elegant, but certainly not run of the mill. They were very tasteful and unique glass coffee mugs. I had never seen anything like them before, and neither had my friend. He wasn’t sure what was better the coffee or the mugs the coffee was served in.

What is the true purpose of Business?

Purpose of business is profit

As we sipped our coffee and discussed the trip, my friend told me how much he would like to have four of these coffee mugs we were holding in our hands. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted four of them.

The bartender/owner came to the table asking if we would like a refill on the coffee. My friend told the man how much he liked the mugs, and could he buy four of them? He was willing to pay a reasonable price.

The bartender/owner remained quiet, and thought for a few seconds. He then told my friend, the mugs were unique to the business, and he purchased them through one of his suppliers. He continued he didn’t have any extra mugs he would sell.

I don’t know if was from being tired, or my friend wanted four mugs so dearly, but after listening he said, ”Would you rather sell me four mugs or would you prefer I stole them?”

I don’t know who was more shocked the bartender/owner or myself. My friend was was as honest as the day was long. I couldn’t believe what I just heard!

The bartender/owner was also quite taken aback, and I could tell from his expression he was on the brink of asking us to pay our bill and leave right now. Before he could continue that thought, my friend broke the silence.

He said, the building was exceptional, the food just as good, and the glass coffee mugs were indeed unique. However was it possible, more mugs could be purchased to replace the four mugs he wanted to buy?

I thought in this moment was to be had a brilliant business lesson. Here is a business owner, who is in business to make a living. Up until this moment he was doing this by operating a tavern and feeding his customers in a pleasant atmosphere. He took pride in everything about his business.

The bartender/owner walked away without saying anything more. I thought in the moment we had overstayed our welcome, and we were going to be asked to leave. He went into a back room for a minute or so, came out and beckoned my friend to the bar.

My friend went to the bar, and they conversed for a minute or so. Some money exchanged hands, and my friend walked back to the table with his four coffee mugs well wrapped and packaged.

The point to all this is what is the business of business? Up to that moment, the tavern owner never dreamed he would be selling his coffee mugs. My friend was obviously not driving across country in search of the lost mug. Yet business had been conducted, a surprise to both parties involved in the transaction with myself more surprised than both of them.

Business does not come naturally to me as it did for my friend. To the detriment of my bottom line, I may have asked us to leave, before I thought through all my options. If you own and operate a business, are you open to all avenues of income your business can generate? If you were the owner of the tavern, what would you have done?

Cracked Skin Relief is Cheap and Effective

I have had problems with cracking skin for a long time. Cracked skin comes on with the dry fall weather and comes and goes over the winter until spring. Cracked skin hurts. Cracked skin hurts more when it becomes infected.

It is not a strong pain. Just a reminder every time you step or pick up something that your skin is cracked. Many people have said the obvious. Use lotion. While lotion helps, lotion does not seem to be any kind of fix. I have also been told to wear plastic gloves. Again not a good solution.

The main problem with cracking skin is thick dry skin I have found. Especially around my heels. The skin gets thick from the summer weather when I tend to go barefoot more often. Also my hand skin sometimes cracks. Usually it is on the tip of my finger on either side of my finger nail. Occasionally a crack will show up on the edge of my hand.

The best fix I know for fall and winter cracking skin

The best fix I know for fall and winter cracking skin

After so many years of trial and error, I still do not have a good method in place to prevent my skin from cracking. I have however found a method that helps. When my skin now cracks, I found I can heal my cracking skin faster than normal. This method heals up a skin crack in the fastest possible way. I will share it with you so you can try it out too.

Cracking skin left alone, because it is only an irritant and not real pain often becomes infected. Then a mild irritant becomes a major pain. Then we wish we would have done something about it before the skin cracked.

For feet and hands where the skin is thick, I find a nail file works very well. Often just filing away the dead skin keeps the skin from cracking. I also found an item that acts as a skin rasp collecting the shaved skin for deposit rather than letting the skin fall to the floor.

A nail file works well on its own. Just put a sheet of paper under the area you are going to file to catch the skin dust. The more aggressive the nail file the faster the dead skin build up is removed. I have found the nail file tends to leave live skin alone.

When my skin cracks anyway, I have found a simple solution. Hydrogen Peroxide and lotion that coats the skin, although any lotion will work. Using a few drops hydrogen peroxide on the cracked skin area disinfects the cracked skin. Infected skin does not heal well.

After a few applications of hydrogen peroxide dry the cracked area. I have found toilet paper works fine. Hydrogen Peroxide is like bleach and will bleach a colored cloth, so unless it is scrap material, cloth is not a good choice.

After the cracked area is dry, apply a drop or two of lotion. Some lotions work better than others, although even olive oil will suffice if lotion is not an option. Allow the lotion time to dry.

I have found cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and coating with lotion three times a day promotes the fastest healing. As the cracked skin heals, dead skin around the crack should be removed daily by filing or sanding. This promotes the healing process and allows the skin to mend quickly.

The most effective deterrent to cracking skin I have found is the nail file or skin rasp. Skin that is supple and not covered with callous is much less likely to crack than thick dry calloused skin that is being forced to flex.

This is the best method for managing winter skin cracks I have found. If you have fall and winter cracking skin, I hope my method helps you.

Does The Kitchen Area Look Like This Too?

I went out out for lunch today with friends. I parked on the street side of the restaurant. This side of the restaurant is not the side with the entrance, but it is not obvious when one parks where the entrance is.

The main entrance is to the left of where I parked. This view is to the right of where I parked. This dumpster area is also visible from the street and more the parking area. This is the area for customers who want close parking want to park.

This restaurant is a chain restaurant. There are two of these eateries in town. The other has a door to hide the trash bin. The door at the second location is always closed and the area clean, unless an employee is dumping trash.

Being a chain, one would think there are certain common standards for the business to follow? Standards do not seem to be present for the dumpster area. Management’s focus and concerns do not appear to include the whole customer experience.

My side view as I stepped out of my vehicle was this messy dumpster area with trash laying on the ground next to the dumpster. Being a curious person, the first thought that came into my mind after seeing the dumpster and the trash laying around it was:

“Does the kitchen look like this too?”

 

No customer of yours should see this. Look at your business with customer eyes.

No customer of yours should see this. Look at your business with customer eyes.

 

Maybe the kitchen is spotless. I’ll give the restaurant the benefit of doubt.  Neglecting the dumpster area however leaves or creates room for doubt. There is little doubt, this restaurant is the poorer performing of the two in town. Losing the potential revenue of repeat customers, and some first time customers with this area view.

This may be an off day, or this may be business as usual. How many diners are willing to gamble on their stomach?If I were not meeting other people for lunch, I would have gone to one of the other twenty or so restaurants within a few miles of this one.

As it is, I will not be back in the near future. What I will do, is share my observation with you the reader. Then  I will email the restaurant letting them know the dumpster area did not add to my appetite or dining experience.

Focus in business is a good thing. Focus is minding the bottom line and makes a difference between healthy profit and failure for business. Someone in  every business needs to see the business with a wholistic view. See what the customer will see. Hear what the customer may or may not hear. Someone in the business needs to see the business as the competition see the business.

No competitor, and rarely  is going to knock on the door and say, “You know your dumpster are looks pretty gross. Why don’t you clean it up and put a gate up so we don’t have to look at it?” Instead, the competition looks in the cash registers and thinks, “I hope the dumpster are over there stays open and trashy. It sure helps our bottom line!” Customers as in my case usually tell others about their experience and rarely tell the business.

When running a business it is not overly difficult or complex to succeed with a good product. Chains are chains because they have a product customers want. Not looking at the business from a customers perspective damages the bottom line. Myopia and business never make good partners.

Followup: Poor management leads to poor decisions. I went to the website to express my concerns on this matter, and the website was a database canned comment collection type web site which did not address my concerns.

The only email was a gift card email address. I sent my email to them with the picture. Not surprisingly I received a reply back that the gift card department can not manage my email, and perhaps I should address my concerns on the web page response system?

Not appreciating this answer I replied, perhaps they could forward my email much faster than I could find a valid email address. Following this, i went online to find the email of the CEO. It seems the company has filed for bankruptcy.

This is a great example of how poor upper management grows poor management, and poor top level decisions lead to poor decisions down the chain. Perhaps when bought out, the chain will make a comeback. Let’s hope so, it has a very good product.

Driving with Deer

Driving with the possibility of having one or more deer dart out on the road varies by where you are driving. This article applies to driving on a road where the probability of deer being present is high. When driving in deer country, the way you drive should be modified, especially at night or in other poor visibility driving conditions.

Take notice of the landscape you are driving through. What is the terrain around the road you are driving on. Can a deer run out on the road without being seen until the deer is on the road, or do you have  clear view of both sides of the road?

Always heed Deer are present in area signs

Always heed Deer are present in area signs

 

Is it day or night time? Deer are most active during dawn and dusk, but if they are being bothered by predators such as pack dogs, they will run. Running into the road may be the only direction a deer can escape danger in.

Evening or poor visibility changes your driving options

Evening or poor visibility changes your driving options

What season you are in makes a difference. Deer breed or ‘Rut’ in the late fall. When this happens male deer known as Buck, rounds up as many female deer, known as Does, as he can, hoping to breed with each of his new found harem. Often some of the Doe’s are not in the mood to breed at the moment and try to run off given the chance.

The Buck, herds the Does moving them in front of him in an attempt to keep them together and distance himself from rival Bucks attentions.The Does, are being pushed or herded, so stepping out on the road in front of a moving car is no different for them than moving through the woods.

Your view of the road and sides of the road is much better during the daylight hours. You have a better chance of seeing a deer moving toward the road than you do when the lighting is poor. Deer are adaptably colored. They are difficult to see any time of the day or night.

Look for movement first and the shape of a deer secondly, while scanning both sides of the roadway. Our eyes are better at noticing movement than they are picking out a deer partially hidden by shrubs or grass.

Travel at a reasonable speed. The distance you can slow down, stop or swerve if need be is more important than how long the trip will take. The trip will take much longer if you hit a deer and you are hurt and your car damaged.

If you are driving at night, slow down. You have to observe everything you watch in the daytime when deer may be present. With it being night time, you are now depending on your headlights to light the road for you. Most car headlights do a better job of lighting the road ahead than they do lighting the sides of the road.

If memory serves, about fifty-five miles per hour or eight-eight kilometer per hour is about the fastest one can drive and have a reasonable chance of avoiding hitting a deer with ample visual warning.

Any faster than these speeds and you greatly increase the probability that you are overdriving your headlights. Of course road conditions and visual warning times are the best indicator of the speed you should drive at.

Be careful of overdriving your headlights. Drive too fast in the wrong conditions, and the deer you see becomes the deer you hit.

Overdriving Your Headlights

 

“Overdriving your headlights means not being able to stop inside the illuminated area ahead. It is difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night. Do not overdrive your headlights—it creates a blind “crash area” in front of your vehicle. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area ahead.”

When possible, ensure a vehicle is in front of you or on the side a deer is likely to come from

When possible, ensure a vehicle is in front of you or on the side a deer is likely to come from

Whenever possible after you have taken other precautions, get behind a blocker vehicle. A blocker vehicle is any vehicle you can follow that will hit any deer that come onto the road. In the picture below the vehicle, semi-truck in this case is in the far right lane. Any deer venturing on the road is going to be hit by the truck, and not by my vehicle. I have a clear view of the left side of the road giving me plenty of time to stop or swerve if need be.

Common sense rules the road when driving on roads known for having deer in the area. Requirements vary from location to location on signage. When you see a road sign notifying you there are deer in the area for the next xxx miles take heed. Deer warning signs are posted whenever a certain number of deer are hit or killed in a specified time.

I took this picture this morning. I took the picture through my car window. Deer can and will be anywhere.

Unless there are high fences, deer can be anywhere

Unless there are high fences, deer can be anywhere

Hot Air Balloon and Canadian Honker’s Frozen in Time

We are having our Annual Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque. I was out walking Saturday morning and took this interesting photo of a Hot Air Balloon that touched down on a drainage ditch road. I wanted to share the picture with you.

The passengers have for the most part left the gondola and are standing around the gondola. The flock of geese is much closer to where I stood.

If you notice in the top left side of the picture, you will see most of a flock of geese heading to the wetlands to winter. I believe they are Canadian Honker’s as they made sure everything within three miles heard them.

The flock had other geese calling out and dogs barking as they flew over the balloon and it’s passengers who where for the most part oblivious to the sight and sounds.

Those are the Sandia Mountains in the background. When it rains in the day time, the mountains take on a reddish hue as the last of the day’s sunlight wash over them at sunset. Sandia is Spanish for Watermelon.

Hot Air Balloon and flying Geese caught in the same picture

Hot Air Balloon and flying Geese caught in the same picture

Fall and the Walking Path

As I walked along during the spring and summer, I was curious if my stopping to pull weeds and pick up trash from the side of the walking path was worth my time. I am happy to write: A spring and summer of pulling weeds along the walking path I take has come to fruition.

Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy from my walking path. Included pictures are of Desert Willow, Wild Aster, Wild Geranium, Sunset.

The Desert Willow, which can be purchased locally, is a volunteer along this path.

Can be purchased locally, but this one is a volunteer,

Can be purchased locally, but this one is a volunteer,

 

Wild Aster did well this year and are plentiful

Wild Aster did well this year due to the weather.

Wild Aster did well this year due to the weather.

 

Wild Geranium was not so happy with this years weather, it is not as showy as usual.

Not as showy as previous years, but still pretty

Not as showy as previous years, but still pretty

 

Finally what is the Southwest, without a sunset?

If you love sunsets, visit New Mexico!

If you love sunsets, visit New Mexico!

 

I hope you enjoyed these pictures of Albuquerque and New Mexico in general!

Dakota Access Pipeline – Where’s the News Coverage?

This video looked like Kent State in the 60’s & 70’s and the civil rights movement wrapped all into one. Why are we sitting back when people are being treated in this manner? This story should be in every daily newscast, every paper. Attack dogs being forced on people and we do not say a word about it?

Here is a youtube video title. The video is very graphic. Here is the video title if the link changes: “Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs & Pepper Spray”

And the citation for the video.

Published on Sep 3, 2016

On September 3, the Dakota Access pipeline company attacked Native Americans with dogs and pepper spray as they protested against the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction. If completed, the pipeline would carry about 500,000 barrels of crude per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield to Illinois. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of nearly 100 more tribes from across the U.S. and Canada.

We have people trying to protect the land and the people. We have a company paying massive amounts of money to farmers and ranchers for access through their land. Who can say no to needed monies when you are struggling?

The oil as I understand it is dirty oil from collected from Fracking Operations. The lifespan of the pipeline is limited to how useful the oil is. Once the dirty oil from the pipeline is no longer profitable, what then? Will the pipeline be left to rot and contaminate the land it was built on?

As I understand the pipeline is slated to go under the Missouri River. Imagine what a break in the pipeline will do downstream?

Finally, who is going to protect this controversial pipeline? Surely it will be the target at least of malcontents who will try to damage the pipeline.

Who will be around to clean up the mess that will surely follow once the pipeline is abandoned? I’m guessing, we the tax payers will have to pick up the financial tab, and our children will live with the environmental destruction.

Hummingbird Feeding in the Fall

When it comes to Humming birds and the fall, people hear things about Hummingbirds they tend to believe. Around here it is a Labor Day event. Well meaning people faithfully feed Hummingbirds starting in the early spring, throughout the summer and into the fall.

Once Labor Day arrives, to many people pull their feeders because it has been passed from mouth to mouth so many times it must be true, “Hummingbirds need to head south for the winter after Labor Day”. Unfortunately, no one has ever told the hummingbirds.

In the fall, first year hummingbirds are still putting on weight for the arduous flight ahead. The parents, who spent the summer feeding their offspring, finally get to keep all their food to themselves. Can you imagine what happens when the Hummingbirds come to their feeders to find they are missing?

Taking in hummingbird feeders too early, is like hauling away your refrigerator on Labor Day. What do the birds do for the energy they need to head south? They are forced to start their migration early, because unlike a natural process where the food supply goes away naturally, the go from feast to famine overnight.

Not only the effect on the local birds, but pulling your feeder from the yard effects any hummingbirds who are looking for food on their flight south. They may remember there was food their last year and head for your feeder. Only to find air where the feeder was last year.

There is a number of weeks between Labor Day and frost. During these weeks, local and traveling hummingbirds need your feeder. Leave it out with fresh syrup. It doesn’t cost much, and the hummingbirds will remember your feeder on the return trip.

I have two pictures here. One about syrup, and the second about cleaning your feeder. I have two feeders, so the process is simple. I fill up the second feeder with a ratio of 1:4 sugar to water. In my case that is 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups water. Some people use less sugar and others use more. The water needs to be fresh and clean. Try not to get your fingers or other containments in the mix. I use room temperature water, and the sugar dissolves within minutes with steady stirring.

Many people use a 1:4 sugar to water ratio

Many people use a 1:4 sugar to water ratio

This second picture is how I clean the feeders between use. Feeders are community food bowls for Hummingbirds. They get dirty and moldy, so I take care to clean them well. First I wash and rinse them just like any pot or pan. Then I soak the feeder in a bucket of water and bleach. On the third morning I take it out to let the feeder dry out. Later in the day, I make a fresh batch of syrup and put it out in the now cleaned feeder.

It's a good idea to bleach any bird feeder now and then

It’s a good idea to bleach any bird feeder now and then

Nuts About Nuts

Nuts are something I never gave much thought to until recently. I had been buying premium brands of tree nuts for some time now. I eat tree nuts daily. In one of the stores I shop in, tree nuts for baking and cereal are in the same aisle. When I looked at the ingredients of the ‘Premium’ brand I noticed the oils listed are not the nut oils, but other oils used in frying.

What's in your nut?

What’s in your nut?

I went to the bakery section and looked at the oils contained in a package of baking tree nuts. The only oils listed are the natural oil of the nut itself, no other oils listed as ingredients.

Whose nuts are better?

Whose nuts are better?

Being curious I went to the web to find out about the differences. I was surprised by what I discovered. What I discovered made me change from buying premium tree nuts to the less expensive baking brands.

Most people who make nuts a part of their diet, do so for the oils the nuts contain. Nut oil is thought to be healthier than off the shelf oils and a good healthy source of fat in a diet.

Premium nuts as I understood from what I read are generally deep fried. Premium nuts do not really have to be premium in all respects. They do not need to be fresh, or packed with their own oils. Any nut that meets the processor’s requirements, is not too old or rancid, can be a premium nut.

What I did not find out was if the nut oils are intentionally extracted. If the nut oils are extracted, then premium nuts are not premium at all. These nuts are a by product of the nut oil extraction process.

Whether what I understand is true or not, two things are obvious about nuts. Baking nuts are less expensive than premium nuts. Baking nut oils are the better, natural nut oil, not a lower cost oil used for commercial processing.

Important stuff for people who eat nuts on a daily basis. Depending on which type of tree nut you buy, you may be missing, what you think you are getting from the tree nut. As for taste, well that is an individual choice.