Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘employee

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circuit_city_logoAs any of my past teachers will tell you, when I get bored, I get into trouble. In order to keep out of trouble and to keep my mind sharp, there have been times in the past when in addition to my career, I take a part time job in an area completely different from what I do full time. In the past, I have served as a paid tax preparer, deli worker, photomat technician, I’m still licensed by the state to sell life insurance, and I am now coming to the end of my time as a sales associate at the soon to be defunct electronic retailer, Circuit City.

From my relatively brief time at Circuit City (started Oct and my last day will be in Feb), I have an excellent vantage point from which to see some of the failings of that company. First, a little background.

The store that I as employed at was not a traditional Circuit City. Instead, it was modeled as an “Experience Store” type offering. By that, it differed from the other Circuit City stores in the following ways:

– We had a greeter at the front door. At WalMart, this person’s role is to make someone feel welcome when walking into the store. At The City, the greeter asked if they could direct a visitor to a section of the store. That allows the greeter to tell everyone via mic/earpiece where a customer is going and that they need to be pounced on within 30 seconds (store policy).

– Someone would take it upon himself or herself to look to see how our store is doing in relationship to our daily goal and to push us toward selling harder, regardless of how we’re performing that day.

– Hidden behind the idea of teaching people about the technologies we offer, every part of the sales process is geared toward two basic concepts; what will it take to get you to walk out with something today and how can I get you to purchase an extended warrantee with that?

At this point, I feel obligated to mention that this post is not designed to be a gripe against The City. Far from it. However, as it is a large corporate failure happening today, and because of my perspective, my aim is to use it as a case study and a blueprint of what not to do if you hope to enjoy sales success long term.

Starting with the first encounter with a customer walking into the store, the idea that every single guest needs to be contacted at least once within the first 30 seconds generates a very fundamental negative scenario; due to a lack of communication and forced zeal, customers aren’t so much helped as they are hounded. This has left a very poor taste in the mouth of many customers and generated the appearance of desperation on behalf of the store.

When an eager employee takes it upon themselves to look up and announce daily store performance, that can be helpful. When that information is always couched with “…but we can do better,” it’s demotivating. Nothing the staff can do is good enough. Therefore, why try? Especially when most of the floor team within this type of company is younger, motivation is crucial to success.

I have been on the customer side of “What will it take to get you to buy today.” It’s uncomfortable. It creates, by nature, resistance. A wise customer should always feel like a good deal today will still be a good deal tomorrow. The recipe for success for The City would have included the philosophies of you’ll buy from us because we have the best selection, the best prices, the best policies, and we’ll spend time working on find the right item for you. Because we will only deal with you with respect and honesty, you will have the utmost confidence that we have your best interests in mind and if you don’t buy today, you will tomorrow. We buy items we need from manufacturers we know and people/companies we trust. The “buy now” concept is actually effective short term. Long-term success doesn’t rely on having someone buying an item today. It’s directly dependant on someone buying today AND tomorrow. Bully or pressure someone into buying now, they don’t come back. And, of course, they generate a whole negative word-of-mouth campaign against you.

The last item I mentioned, extended warrantees, are almost never a good idea. Thankfully, most people see through the smoke and mirrors and wisely decline the add-on. I don’t think additional discussion on the topic is warranted.

If you’re a retailer or other business owner within a brick and mortar storefront, have you taken the time to reexamine your company’s sales philosophies from the customer perspective? If you were a customer, would you feel welcome? Would you come back? Would you tell others to go there? Honest answers to those questions are key to generation of more sales.

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Written by Jeff York

January 26, 2009 at 1:58 am

Let me be honest with you!

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All too often, people find themselves in a situation where their bosses or clients ask an opinion. However, from past experience that person doesn’t feel that they are in an environment where their honest opinion is welcome. Rather than being honest, it’s just easier to tell that person what they want to hear. A potentially contentious conversation is avoided in the short term, but nothing of value is gained. Or worse, the truth is kept hidden when having an open and frank conversation would have yielded results.

Whenever I’m put into a management role, I spend a great deal of effort and energy toward breaking down the natural barrier that exists between employee and employer. I reach out to my staff to make sure that they understand that I want the truth and honesty every time, no matter what the circumstances. If I’m working on a project and I ask an opinion about my output, I want to know if it’s pure crap. If someone disagrees with a decision I’ve made, I want to talk about it. If it’s something that’s goinng to hurt my feelings, I don’t care. As long as we’re sitting down and having a 2 directional exchange of honesty with an environment of respect, then I need to hear it. Bring it on.

If you’re a manager, ask yourself “Do I do everything I can to get honest input.” By simply being a manager and asking a question, you will get input. However, unless you have done substantial work beforehand to create an environment that’s condusive to honesty, you’re not going to get it. And if you don’t get it, you not getting what you need.

Written by Jeff York

January 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Google AdSense…is it worth the pennies?

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The other day, my wife was reading a magazine article on saving money.  One of the suggestions that they made was starting a blog and adding Google AdSense.  Each time someone clicks on one of the sponsored links, you earn a few pennies.  Once your account reaches $100, Google cuts you a check.

Yippie.

Of all the reasons to start a blog, this has to be one of the worst.

However, there is tremendous appeal to passive income generation.  I’ve always said there’s three models for generating income: earn money on your work (employee), earn money on someone else’s work (employer), or earn money on work already done (residuals).

I’d love to hear some feedback from you.  As a reader of this blog, what would be your reaction if you started to see sponsored links in addition to the other original content that I create in the blog?  Would you view it as a selling out or just part of the new Internet landscape and as ignorable as print ads?

Written by Jeff York

August 31, 2008 at 2:12 pm