Can Public Art Be Public Hate

Does art become hate? I’m having a hard time deciding. It reminds me of being a kid and looking at renaissance nude art and trying to decide whether it’s soft porn, or really art. I decided at the time some of the ‘art’ was erotic tending to pornographic, no matter what the ‘experts’ call it. I wasn’t old enough to buy it in a magazine, but I could ’study’ it in upscale books and see it in museums.

Some four hundred years ago, a Spanish Conquistador named Juan de Oñate, arrived at the Acoma Pueblo, in what is now New Mexico. What followed at Acoma Pueblo was a brutal battle which the people of the pueblo lost, along with the lives of hundreds of the pueblo peoples.

When does “art” cross the line into something else?

The survivors were taken prisoner and tried. Juan de Oñate severely punished the pueblo peoples. All male prisoners over twenty five had one foot cut off as punishment, and were sentenced to decades of servitude to Spanish families. Younger men were also sentenced servitude. Young women and girls were sent to Mexico City to serve as ‘servants’ to Spanish families.

Some Hopi men who were caught in the battle had there right hand cut off. All this was seen as proper justice back in the day. It mattered little that the Acoma People were defending their home and family from previous acts of Spanish injustice.

In the city of Espanola, New Mexico, a bronze statue of Juan de Oñate was put up against fierce opposition by people who believe Oñate’s statue would be a tribute to hate and genocide, and best forgotten. Up it went anyway.

On the eve of the 400’th anniversary of Spanish arrival celebration plans a group of people cut the right foot off of the statue of Oñate in memory of the brutality that he caused upon the Acoma Pueblo People. Of course people who think of Oñate as a hero were outraged.

More recently, in Mankato, Minnesota, 1862, 38 Native American men were hanged en mass per orders from President Lincoln as punishment for recent uprisings. The 38 men were hanged  in the town square with an estimated 4000 people looking on and cheering at the sight.

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota saw fit in 2012 to allow a gallows scaffolding recreation be erected in the name of ‘art’ amid uproars and dissension from no small amount of people. Only in the last few weeks has this ‘art’ been deemed offensive and the ‘art’ gallows will be taken down.

I remember the public outcry some years back when and “artist” placed a crucifix in a jar of what looked like urine, photographed it, and put it on display calling it, “Piss Christ” (1987). The outrage over this was amazing. The picture was damaged beyond repair about two years later.

Looking back on that incident it seems, whether art is indeed art or something else, depends on how many people are offended by it, and whether they are a minority or not? When does ‘art’ cross the line to become a public display of hate?

The Recrimination of Harley Hanson – and Other Fiction

Harley Hanson was a loser by all accounts except for maybe his mother. Harley drifted from town to town and job to job. Harley was a scammer, petty thief, and guilty of most other minor offenses. Harley lived a hard live filled with alcohol and illegal drugs. There were not a lot of redeeming qualities in Harley Hanson.

Harley discovered by accident he had one talent that could make his life easier. At first Harley didn’t what to do with it, or how to apply his discovered talent. Harley, from so much time on the road, scamming and lying, found he was becoming very good at manipulating people.

With a little stretch, Harley learned he could manipulate street kids who no real purpose in their life who were looking for something, though they knew not what. Excitement was the key for these adult children, and Harley became their ringleader.

Harley was unsure how to apply his new found skill set. Harley toyed around with his newfound talent, manipulating different types of people, usually street people in their late teens who had pliable personalities and thrived on excitement to temper their otherwise bleak life.

Harley started out by having these street people provide him with food, cigarettes, and drugs. Food eventually graduated to places to stay where Harley could hang out, eating more or less regularly, taking hot showers and wearing clean clothes. Harley was starting to like this change to his circumstances.

As Harley worked on improving his manipulation skills, he found these homeless people wanted an authority figure in their life. Someone who would take control and direct them without being authoritative or to parental. Someone who would direct them without judgement.

Harley worked hard on ‘his’ people. They brought him what he needed and more importantly, wanted. They in turn were receiving something they never had at home. Someone who made them feel good and wanted without the strings attached by their parents.

As Harley continued to exert his influence, Harley found he had to be ever more creative in the excitement he provided for his group. The group was now larger, and the smaller childish pranks he was having them do to provide excitement, was now becoming more of the same to most of the group and they were getting bored and reluctant.

Harley found he had to make some major changes. First Harley had to apply more control and pressure to keep everyone in line, doing what he wanted them to do. Harley did this by elevating his own status, and manipulating the group into believing what Harley wanted was good for the group, even though individual members may question the benefit of good for the group.

Harley needed his core followers to believe in him, so they would provide the stick that kept the rest of the group in line. The crime games, which up to now had been pretty immature, consisting of scaring people, didn’t really give the group the thrill they wanted.

The street is real, they story is not,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harley’s group of followers were becoming bored with childish pranks. Harley knew he had to raise the stakes, or watch his little group erupt and disband before him. Harley tweaked and prodded, moving the group towards higher levels of violence that both provided excitement at new levels and cemented the group to him and each other.

Who in Harley’s group after participating in mostly mindless violence along with three or four other group members could break away from the group? Harley was now learning to rule by fear and manipulation.Harley found it wasn’t that hard, and it came with benefits.

Individuals in Harley’s group were scared of what would happen to them if they left the group. Harley was now making unstated threats about what would happen if any of the group’s members tried to leave. They may escape the group, but there remained the fear Harley would send others out to harm their parents or other family members.

In spite of this, Harley’s little group continued to become bored with each uptick in the crimes Harley had them commit. Harley knew he had to pick it up. One afternoon Harley had a flash of insight and a fuzzy plan.

Harley started telling the group that they could commit serious crimes and get away with them. Think of the excitement of committing serious felony level crimes and having the crimes blamed on someone else. Harley was a little fuzzy on who would get the blame for the crimes, but that answer too Harley arrived at in a dream.

Harley’s group started believing they really would commit grizzly murder(s) and leave evidence showing the crime was committed by a group who didn’t yet exist. Who were the perfect group to blame the murders on, Harley wondered as he raised the level of excitement by talking about several grizzly murders and not just one.

Finally, Harley could not contain his followers any longer. The follower’s had talked themselves into how easy it was going to be to commit murder and blame this other group. They wanted to believe that Harley’s planning would protect them from discovery. Harley was now leader of a group of people who with little prodding wanted the excitement of murder in their otherwise pathetic existence.

To make a longer story shorter, Harley sent out his murder crews. Murders were committed, and Harley’s group eventually came under suspicion, were rounded up and arrested, charged with the murders.

Now comes the brilliant part of the story, which is well out of Harley’s control and knowledge. Harley, because he needed the attention so badly, never realized he was being manipulated himself. It never dawned on Harley, it was possible that he would be manipulated as easy as he had manipulated his followers.

The media was fed a fictitious story and they sucked it up without questioning a single detail. They practically fought each other, trying to be the first on the air with the newest turn of morbid events. Wheels of a master plan were set in motion, and the press drank it up and spewed it out without a second thought. So did the jury.

Everything that happened out of the ordinary during the trial was attributed to Harley. Harley could do things using apparently supernatural powers. Harley being in league with the devil was intimated, but never spoken out loud by the mainstream press. Harley being the star of the show, played along. Harley never realized what was going on.

How does a lawyer defend his client(s) who surely would be put to death for murder because the evidence is overwhelming, and the clients all but confessed to the killings? The solution was nothing short of brilliant!

One legal team with one defendant made it very clear to their client, that if they wanted to live, rather than being put to death, there was a way to do it. The legal defense team knew they couldn’t do it alone. The rest of the band of cold blooded killers had to agree to and help carry out the plan to sell it to the jury.

What choice did they have really? Either face a quick trial and the death penalty, or join the team and play roles that just might save their lives? Given the brutal reality of their choice, it did not take a lot of convincing for all the accused to play along as a team.

The fundamental idea was, it had to be a team effort and it had to be convincing. The defendants appeared to protect and then turned on Harley as a group, playing their parts to perfection. The play acting the group accomplished did not take a lot of new skills, as they were accomplished play actors in their own right, calling on their life skills of acting for the roles they were about to play.

It went without saying, it was Harley – who was drifter, lowlife, and human scum who would be the fall guy. It was not a hard sell. Brilliant choreography supported by solid acting was carried out. Each member of the murder team were consummate professionals, their lives depended on their selling this story.

The group under the direction of a superb legal team sold their story, which of course was never seriously questioned. Sensationalism in the press reigned supreme, and other voices were drowned out.

Harley enjoyed being portrayed by the press as all powerful, with the ability to control the minds of innocent adult children, stemming on the supernatural, enjoyed playing his part. Harley expected to be found guilty as he was already tried in the public eye, spoon fed by the press. Harley had been kicked around his whole life, nothing had changed, really. Harley decided he would play his role with enthusiasm and gusto.

To help make a long story shorter, Harley was thrown under the bus, made into a monster just short of being Satan himself. Harley was sentenced to the most severe penalties the State was able to inflict.

It went better for the group of murderer’s. By placing all the blame squarely on Harley, they managed to escape with their lives. The fate of a few of the group was much better than could have been hoped for.

The only remaining condition was silence. Harley Hanson was a nobody, and would be thrown away. Harley was so in love with his imagined prestige, he kept playing the part. The rest of the convicted had to be forever silent. Living by the pretext they were wayward adult child innocents who were manipulated against their will by the fiendish monster Harley. They have done it, and so it is.

Business Management by Democracy

Management by Democracy is an effective form of management used by many successful businesses. Some of the best run companies is the world use this form of management instead of resorting to other methods.

What makes Management by Democracy so effective is it is a total authoritarian method of management camouflaged as group participation. Here is an example of how Management by Democracy works.

As a manager, you need to change something in the way business is done. Perhaps when the business was smaller, all employees went to lunch together. Now business needs demand a change to this. The company is larger and having one lunch times has become a major hindrance in day to day operation.

Customers are calling and no one is answering the phone. Work is not being completed in a timely manner because all employees are at lunch together. In short, the business is not meeting customer needs and this is a problem.

It is easy to declare a new lunch break policy where half of the workers will go to lunch at a predetermined time, and the second half will go to lunch when the first group returns. The problem with this is employee emotions.

Even though employees ‘know’ something needs to be done, they do not want to break up the tradition of going to lunch as a group. If the manager declares a new policy, there will be hard feelings and resistance to change.

The power of directed solutions to business problems

Management by Democracy works around this by holding a employee meeting to find a solution to a problem. In this case the problem is of all employees leaving for lunch at the same time. As the manager, you have already determined what the correct solution is, splitting the group into two parts for lunch.

From a management perspective, how this happens is of no matter, as long as half of employees are working during the lunch period. The employees will work out how they want to implement the lunch break change. Management’s concern is getting the correct result.

Before the meeting is held, let the employee’s know there will be a meeting and what the meeting will be about. Identify how much time will be spent on the meeting. This gives employees time to process emotion and understand this change is required.

Hold the meeting. Field ideas waiting for the correct solution to be brought up. Let the group know this solution (the predetermined solution), sounds feasible and move the group to how the changes can best be accomplished.

Field all possibilities directing the group to your solution. Finally, have the group set an implementation date of when the new changes (not policy) will start. Thank the group for their input and clever solution. Followup with the standard notification procedure of the what the ‘group’ has decided as a fix for the problem.

Most of the employees will feel they were responsible for fixing the lunch break problem, and will take personal ownership for the fix. A few employees may have some anger over the change and that is to be expected. The group as a whole will quell the anger because it was a ‘group’ decision and had to be done.

The outcome is in exchange for time spent in a meeting, the objective was met, and the employees are taking ownership as they feel they were responsible for coming up with the solution. The manager or business owner will experience a rise in productivity because employees feel they have a stake in how business is done. A win win for all.

Only Winning Matters

I was wandering the Internet, looking for something which wasn’t too important as I have forgotten what I was looking for. While looking, I came across a blog post written by Dan Waldschmidt.

Dan reads very aggressive in and with his life judging by this post. I was struck by the stark contrast between Dan’s life and my own using this post as the focus. Well, mainly the last lines of this post. I wonder if Dan’s thinking for this post is to get us to take responsibility for what does or does not happen in our own life, or only about winning?

“….I say these each day — sometimes several times each day — because I play to win each day.

And I don’t have moments to waste doing things that don’t work.

I want to win.”

What caught my attention is the last phrase, “I want to win”. This phrase stood out because we all, “want to win“. For the ultra competitive however winning is usually most important.

Is always wining, no matter who loses really that important?

Several thoughts entered my mind. Take a moment and see where you line up with Dan’s well targeted, motivational post.

How much do you want to win, and what or who who are you willing to sacrifice to win? Is winning at any cost worth it, all the time, in every situation? What about the people who, “lose” if you win? Do they matter? Do they ever have a chance to win?

Should other people ever be allowed to win if it means you lose? What is the purpose of driving so hard to win?

What are you really winning? Do you need money, self esteem, power?

As these thoughts rolled through my mind, I knew Dan’s post was not for me. I don’t need to drive myself to win for the sake of winning. I do not get satisfaction beating someone else at something, especially when I know they lost before they even began.

I have everything I need and want. The way I see it, in less than a hundred years, which sounds like a long time, but really isn’t, we are born, grow up, grow old, and die. If we are lucky, we die in our old age.

Really, what is there to win in the end, a more expensive funeral?

Proper Care and Feeding of Your Customer

Every business has customers. Large businesses have customers within the business. Customers are what makes the wheels turn for business. How those customers are treated reflects on how the customers treat the business. It is a symbiotic relationship in some ways.

Business customers outside a business generally have the privilege of doing business with a number of companies which sell a product they need. That product may be anything from cleaning services to internal watch springs and gears. in respect to this thought, it is important to keep ones mind on the business at hand.

The closer a business gets to its customers, the more attention needs to be payed to interaction with the customer. The customer might decide the business contact is their soul mate, and wants to share life’s most intimate details with the contact, usually a business representative of some fashion.

Looks are deceiving. You have no idea who your customer really is.

The business representative always needs to remember this is a business transaction, no matter how personal the customer wants to be. In this mindset, the following guidelines should be in effect.

1. Gossip with the customer is losing business. Business relationships come and go. You do not want to end a relationship with a customer who knows things about your business and perhaps personal life you wouldn’t want shared in public. Talking generally and amiably about, sports, the economy, or the weather are safe subjects. Politics, religion, and other similar subjects are beyond off limits.

2. Keep your end of the conversation aimed on the business you are there to transact. Time is money. There is a line between between friendliness and wasting time you could be spending with another customer.

3. Over talking is bad for the business and the bottom line. Talking just to talk can lead to uncomfortable conversation, or conversation you may later wish had never taken place. Some customers have days where they are withdrawn and want little interaction. Be aware of your customers wishes, and your conversation.

4. Keep it professional. Sometimes it is okay to get a little loose, and joke around. Other times one off color comment can lose a valued account or customer. Off color, race, sex, and other jokes along these lines are taboo with your customer, even if they initiate them. You do not have to contribute to the conversation.

5. Don’t waste the customers time. Hanging around too long because of an attractive worker close by, or it’s only a few more minutes until lunch is bad business. The world if full of attractive people who are looking for someone like you. Don’t mess up a business relationship with a relationship that should not have happened. Spend those extra a few minutes reviewing your next customer, or going over what you could have done better with this customer.

6. Ensure the customer is comfortable. If you are busy and behind schedule, that is not your customers problem. Your customer needs to feel important to you, and know you have time for them. Appearing hurried or flustered raises red flags in the customers mind.

A good story about good business customer relations is a story of an ex neighbor who ran a wrecking yard. One of the car companies came out with a special anniversary edition car he fell in love with. The closest dealership that had one of the scarce cars on the lot was over two hours away.

Being frugal, he combined reasons for the trip. He would transport car parts to a wrecking yard a friend owned in that city, pick up two cars, and visit the dealership too. The next day, he loaded up a trailer with car parts, and headed out of town.

His parts transaction took longer than he had planned, and it was about two hours before the car dealership closed for the day. Rather than get cleaned up first and have the dealership close on him, he went straight to the dealership.

When the first salesman approached him, he told the salesman exactly why he was there. He was interested in buying this special edition car that the dealership said in a phone call they had on the lot. The salesman, after looking him over, decided he couldn’t afford such a car, but was polite enough to show the car to him. They discussed the car, and it’s attributes for a few minutes, exchanging thoughts on the car.

He told the salesman he wanted to take the car for a test drive, to see if the car was all it was claimed to be. The salesman who was so willing b.s., was not ready for this question. Looking at a man in scruffy worn work clothes, the salesman decided he could not afford the car and denied the test drive because it didn’t look like he could afford to buy any new car.

The neighbor asked the salesman to follow him to his truck and trailer. When they arrived the neighbor reached into the cab and pulled out a gym bag. They walked back over to the car and the neighbor unzipped the bag. Tipping the bag over, wrapped stacks of $100.00 bills fell out, covering the hood of the car. The stacks of money totaled the price of the car plus about thirty percent.

The salesman was overwhelmed. After some blubbering, he said he would be happy to go out on a test drive. Putting the money back into the bag, the neighbor said, no, he’d changed his mind, and he walked back to his truck and trailer and left the lot.

In this story, the salesman was so busy thinking about how great a salesman he was, he completely lost focus on what would what he was there for. The salesman lost what would have been a major sale, maybe bigger than this months commission.

When I listen to junior salesman give their pitch, I remember the wrecking yard owner and his dream car. He did buy one a few weeks later from another dealership. Often salesmen are so busy peddling a line, they either forgot, or never learned why they are part of the conversation.

Of course my neighbor venting his frustration told me and others about his terrible experience at the car lot. All of us listeners, of course shared the story, because that is what we do.

Giving it All Away

Child Prodigy?

Striking child’s art! Perhaps a  child’s rendition of a homeless man?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was at a McDonald’s waiting in line for coffee. There was a homeless man in front of me who had a single dollar bill and had ordered off the $1.00 menu. He was digging in his pockets for change.

The man asked if I had a dollar he could have so he could get a second burger. I gave him a dollar. He asked for a second $1.00 burger and an order of hash browns. He pulled out a pocket full of change and placed it on the counter.

The Manager asked the cashier of he had enough money. The Cashier said if he did not, she would make up the difference.

After the counting was complete, the man had a dime, a nickel, and a collection of pennies which the Cashier had pushed back to him.

The man collected all the change and put the change into the Ronald McDonald House collection box. He donated all the money he had….

Internet Sales Bury Local Business

Everyone who thinks about where to locate their new business or open a new store has heard the phrase, “Location, location, location”.  What the big deal about location? The area a business is located can mean the difference between a thriving, growing business and a business that goes from startup to shutdown in a matter of weeks.

I want to focus on a local business that has been in business for decades. (What really occurred is unknown, below is my thoughts.) The business of this business is shoes, and a small amount of shoe accessories. Their business model is very good, and the customer base reflects this fact. Some businesses like to track where their customers live, this is one of them. Keep selling shoes in mind as you read on.

Tracking where customers live provides more insight in knowing how far your customers are willing to travel for your product and their likely economic status. This business tracks customers by zip code.

Over a period of time, say five years, you find your most active customers are within xx miles of your business street address. It is also obvious from your tracking that new customers are emerging from areas where the city is growing and expanding.  This is usually families moving into new growth areas, or perhaps the city has grown into one or more small communities and the roads have improved enough to bring consumers looking for better prices.

We have to be realistic here. Most shoes are not unique. Competing businesses sell the same shoes we do. Companies that produce shoes are more than willing to sell the same shoes to locally competing businesses. It is all one income stream to them.

This shoe store did the smart thing and opened a second store in a new location where competition between stores would not be an issue. Each store had its own area and market. Sales in the new location skyrocketed. New customers were coming in the door daily. The original store maintained all its previous business.

By opening in the new well chosen location, the second had thousands of potential drive-by customers every day who were eager to spend money. The new location was located in a stand alone building at a mall. Prime territory.

After a few years, the second location had to find a new location. No business would willingly want to vacate such a prime location. Sales were terrific, and the repeat customer base was large. It was apparently decided a move of a few miles should be a non-issue.

The move it turned out, was to not only an issue, but a deal breaker. The second store closed within a few years of moving off the mall property to it’s new home.

Sixty years ago this Gas Station was in a prime location. Slowly business dwindled as expenses increased.

 

What happened at the second now defunct store? The second store according to circulating rumors blames its closing on the Internet. Too many customers found they could buy the same products online for less and online their customer base ran away it was decided by rumor control. How about a reality check?

While the Internet may have caused some sales erosion, the first store is as healthy as before. The true cause of the second store closing was the lack of the thousands of eyeballs from mall traffic.

People generally want to touch and try on shoes. No matter how descriptive and detailed the online ad is, it does not give a customer the opportunity to feel and try out a shoe. People also prefer to support local business whenever possible.

The second store closed not because of the Internet, but because of location. Tens of thousands of mall shoppers a week knew they could probably find the shoe they wanted at the store across the parking lot, for less than they would pay in the big box mall stores. Mall shoppers flocked to the store across the parking lot.

Money is money and savings are savings after all. More importantly it was not two minutes across the parking lot. It was a headache of major proportion to drive to and from the second stores new location.

When the store changed location to their second less desirable location something major happened. The new store lost  the eyeballs of thousands of mall goers every day. The store had relocated to near a major artery road, but it was choked traffic with poor store access. The good times were over.

Location is critical in a saturated market such as shoes where almost every big box and Mom and Pop store is selling everything from $1.00 flip flops to high end heels and boots. If a business is selling a highly desirable product not readily available at every strip mall, customers will put up with a more remote location and poor off the street access if the price is right because of perceived need.

Before you decide on a location, ensure your business model reflects how serious location is for a business that depends on customers driving to your business. What does your future business have to offer customers in exchange for inconvenience? If the answer is very little, look for a new location.

Do Your Employees Stink?

Every business that meets face to face with it’s customers needs to concern itself with how its employees smell. The matter of basic hygiene where you probably expect your employees adhere to normal standards. At issue is each persons definition of normal hygiene standards.

Employee smell may be more involved than having taken a bath and using deodorant. Many people, and this is a more common trait in women, are especially sensitive to smells. For these people, a scent or fragrance that goes unnoticed by most of us, is noticed by these people.

Small business can not afford to lose customers because of an offensive smelling employee. If a new customer visits your business, and is turned off by the way the employee smells, you have lost a sale and a repeat customer. Customers are the most valuable asset a company has.

Depending on where your business is located, employee hygiene changes. However, it is not unreasonable to put in place general guidelines for your employees. Requesting how employees smell while at work is not unreasonable. With a little creativity, smell or lack of  could become part of your companies culture.

Customers prefer to smell food and not your employee!

Common smells that will turn off some first time and repeat customers are:

Body odor. Acceptable body odor varies from area to area, and country to country. No matter what the standard is, some people manage to go beyond what is acceptable.

Bad breath. Bad breath is a turn off for most people. If an employee is in a customer’s personal space and they haven’t brushed their teeth in a few days, or have eaten strong food such as garlic, the customer is not going to appreciate it.

Smoking, whether using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes leaves an odor on employees many customers can do without. You probably can not deem that your employees do not smoke or use electronic cigarettes, but you should be able to prohibit use of these products in and around the workplace. This is not an assault on people using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes, but creates an awareness for employees who work in close contact with their customer.

Laundry detergent, fabric softener and scented dryer sheets. Some of the individual scents each brings to our clothes may be okay. Mixed together these strong scents are sometimes too much.

Personal body soap, bar soap and shampoo are often contribute to how we smell to others. This is especially true for some shampoos targeted at women, though men are now being targeted too. Shampoo that has a strong exotic flower scent, or a trademark scent is great for a night out on the town, but may be a turnoff in the work environment.

Perfume and cologne can be a real problem too. An employee using either product, especially if they are younger or older, may not have a sense of the correct amount to use. Add a little warm air, and a strong scent becomes overpowering.

No one wants to see their food being prepared by someone whose hands look like they were cleaning engine parts earlier, gloves or not. No one wants to helped by someone whose personal smell makes them want to vomit.

Personal hygiene and cleanliness contribute to the success or failure of a customer oriented business. Your lost customer won’t bother telling you they won’t return because one your employees who assisted them stinks literally – to the customer.

There is no one size fits all standard for employee cleanliness. Each business is different and its needs are varied. However, business owners, managers and employees need to be aware of the effect their cleanliness habits or lack thereof have on the repeat customer base.

As uncomfortable as it may be, these situations are manageable during the interview process. Put your expectations out there for prospective employees to hear. Let them know before being hired what your employee hygiene expectations are. This way no one is surprised in a future moment.

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?