Radius & The Retailer

November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

RadiusA retailers radius is the number of potential customers in the geographic area between yourself and your nearest competitors. Your radius changes depending on the product or proposition.

For example if you are the only one to carry a specific wine, your radius for that product is as broad as 50km, your job then is to tell the customers for that product in your radius that you have it. On the other hand if you carry the same wine at the same price as everyone else the radius for that product is at its smallest.

There are only two ways to improve your business and that is to get more customers or get more margin from the customers you have. The first is best served by finding products or programs that increase your radius. The second is all about getting a better price than your competitor.

The DorkUncorked


September 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dear Importers, Agents an Sales Reps;
Save your money!!!!

Most new product pitches that come across my desk are heavily leveraged against the tasting of the product. In BC this is ridiculously costly and doesn’t get nearly as many sales is it should and can.

Smart buyers understand that the taste of the product solves a couple problems, however these problems can only be solved if the business needs of the deal are met first. Tasting/Sampling only serves to provide staff education for those on the floor and to convince me, the buyer, that the product will sell more than once to a customer.

First things first is how does this product solve my business problems? Does this fill a hole in a price and margin segment? How seamless is distribution? Is it a year round proposition, seasonal or one time buy? Does it represent a category I’m lacking in? Do you have the codes necessary for our POS system to accept it?

Lastly what benefits does the consumer realize from this product/proposition. This is almost never answered and it is far more key to the success of the product than the taste.

Most pitches are laden with a long list of features. I call these meetings show up and throw up meetings. The presentation leaves it to me to assume what the benefits to me and the consumer are and this is where the presentation gets tripped up. It is better for the sales rep to answer objections to stated benefits than to argue the validity of a feature of the product.

Sampling should be treated like the subjects to buying a house. It is a condition of sale, but one of the last conditions that need to be met. Furthermore once met, the deal should be closed. So save your money and use sampling tactically.


The Dork UnCorked


May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is amazing how time away from something that captivates so much of your time, energy and thought process can add perspective.

I took a week off last week and took the family away. I have come back with some tools that formed by connecting the dots. In other words all the elements were there before, they just hadn’t been mixed together. My perspective has changed and now it is simply about using the tools to test it out.

First and foremost is to prioritize better at work and the tools needed. I have developed a threshold for each category for each store that should allow me to manage our inventory better, track movement against expectations better and that will hopefully lead to greater profitability and accountability of more than just me.

There it is… the reason I blog. Every blog asks me to work out an idea. The idea of this blog was to have the tools that made more people accountable for our mutual success than just me. To create a playing field where it is pretty cut and dry if you are succeeding, getting by or getting tossed.

Ooh that feels good. Feels like I have finally itched that spot that keeps moving.

30 Day Challenge – Days 25-27 Cold Effects.

February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It has been a few days since I last wrote about my experiences and I have to say that it was not because I didn’t want to, it was because I just didn’t have the energy.

I know that is not supposed to happen when I am taking such good care of myself; alas it did.

I am not sure what came first the scratchy throat of the lack of energy, however I can tell you that it was precipitated by stress… I think.

I now have a cold and the simple explanation could be that it is because I caught the bug from any number of people that I know that have the cold, but let’s consider some facts. I have been constantly getting 6 1/3 to 7 1/2 hours of pretty much uninterrupted sleep a night. I have been eating my veggies, fruit and proteins. I have been religiously taken a multi-vitamin supplement along with a daily dose of fish oil. Added on to all that I have been following my work out routine to the rep, yet I still find myself fighting a cold. How can that be? All of these things are supposed to have my immune system in tip-top condition.

Let’s take a look at other factors that are known to depress one’s immune system; namely stress and stress. In my job I manage our companies Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Gowalla, Yelp) activities, I meet with all the sales reps, I determine the purchasing plans for each store, I write all the signage in the stores, and I am involved in the day-to-day operations of each store. In recent weeks we determined that we will be opening another store in less than two months, I am developing a total and complete marketing plan for our next two fiscal years, and our regulator, which happens to also be our distributor and direct competitor has been doing some pretty wacky stuff that is making the whole industry very uneasy. Oh and I forgot the element of envy pops in; a number of people I know are just embarking on sun drenched no phone vacations- bastards. So yeah I’m a little stressed.

But exercise and a healthy diet were supposed to help control my stress so what is going on? Is it because the end of the 30 days is near and I can almost taste the bread, the wine, the cheese and I am just not in the moment, whereas 3 weeks ago I was totally in the moment with my cravings and awakenings? Or does it have to do with my nature? Am I just the type of person that seems to relish stress as I know I love being the one with the ball rushing to the goal line. Maybe I just don’t want to pass the goal line, feel a moment of intense joy and satisfaction and then have it go away.

Anyway in a couple of days I will have completed the 30 days and I will come back to these questions. Hopefully minus a cold and hopefully in the moment.

I Don’t Care What You Know Until I Know that You Care

October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is a really simple statement and applicable in so many ways. 

You can apply this statement to any facet of your life because it is a call to action for you or the other person to find out about your/their values, needs, wants, life. How can you/they offer anything of value if you/they don’t genuinely know what you/they value?

The other day I was talking with a rep who was calling into question the intellect and blood lines of my largest competitor. I think he thought that this is what I wanted to hear and that would make it seem that he was on my side, instead it had the opposite effect. He didn’t care about me, my business or even his own when I think of it. He was trying to employ a cheap trick in order to transfer some inventory. There are no idiots, just people who you haven’t taken to the time to understand.

Instead he should have gone into my business, taken a look at the exterior, met the people, take a look at the merchandise and how it is displayed, start to understand who I am through what I have built and then come and ask questions to confirm or deny his assumptions, upon which he can pitch something.

On my side I completely dismissed the guy. I should have stopped him and asked him questions about him, what he values about the company he is working for, what are his goals & dreams? Who knows if I had practiced what I preach then I could have found the next killer wine/beer/spirit that was going to rock the world. Everybody is a present, we just have to unwrap them… if they want.

Another example comes for a blog post by Chris Burdge at B West Interactive http://www.bwest.ca/blog/car-dealerships-social-media-and-purchase-process. The example is one that is a classic. You go onto a car lot and the salesmen proceeds to do the show up and throw up. You know- when they greet you don’t ask a question other than what are you looking for, then proceed to throw up a diatribe about all the features of this particular vehicle? The vehicle that Chris ended up buying may not have all the features of others in its class, but the guy selling it him took the time to find what was important to Chris. Chris bought peace of mind and trust simply because the salesmen talked to Chris and not to a ‘prospective commission’.

Let’s look at politics. About 5% of population will follow a political party blindly. The rest of us sway depending on the level of care that we perceive to be receiving from a government or political party. The BC Liberals are in the tank in terms of popularity just like the NDP was in the late 90’s. The issues may have changed but the function was the same. In both cases they were elected because the people thought they cared about them. They, the parties, presented compelling cases why their lives would be better under the governance of their party. Yet I don’t know of many people who have actually done an analysis.

Take HST. I think we can all agree that there are real economic facts that say that we will be better off economically with HST than without it. What we don’t is the government went ahead and implemented it without showing that they cared about us. They didn’t even ask one question. The same is with the Fast Ferry fiasco. Why did it mean to me to save  15 min. on a boat trip between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay. What did it mean to me to develop this technology in B.C.? So what if Nobel Peace Prize winners for Economics can prove that HST is the right thing to do? So what if an engineer has a better mouse trap that they can build in B.C. ? What do you know about me that says these needed to be done?

If I want you to buy a particular wine does it matter that I travelled around the world, suffered through an American Airlines flight to find it. No! The question would be what makes me think that you want/need that wine and how do I know that to be true.

Guessing is/will not be good enough anymore. Nor will focus groups. What will be good enough is simply talking to people and that is what Social Media is. Talking to people. If you really want to make your life better, find out how you can make someone else’s life better.

Thanks for reading this.

Bully vs The Force Field

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

As I kid I remember playing Super Hero games and I always had a force field. It protected me from all the bully’s of the universe and I could rely on it at anytime.

I no longer play Super Hero games with my competitors, but I do deal with bully’s and have a force field.

Every industry has some bully’s in it and it seems that they hold all the cards. They have greater cash reserves, they can and do buy more advertising, they get first crack at a lot of things and it is really hard to see how one can compete.

You need a force field. Your force field is your proposition that your competition, no matter how big, can not take away from you.

I was reminded of this the other day when in the bully in my industry was able to circumvent an order I had  placed with the supplier. It was an illegal move but the regulators will turn a blind eye, why? because my regulator is also my distributor who is also my retail competitor. It made my blood boil. I sat down at my computer to write an angry, acerbic e-mail that was guaranteed to have everyone that I was yelling at bending to my will. Ridiculous – delete.

I reminded myself that the bully had lost over 35% of the their market share in the last 2 years to companies like ours. They are starting to get desperate and, like all bullies, resort to underhanded tactics to try to pull back market share. They don’t get that I have a force field that even under handed and evil tactics can not penetrate.

My force field is only as strong as the relationship we have with our customers, suppliers and other vendors. Our relationships are premised on having open dialogue with a goal to raising the bar. Our force field is directly impacted by the level of engagement we have with the customer. That engagement has many faces(price, selection, customer service, hours, parking, location, personality) but it all comes down to honesty and doing what we say we are going to do.

The bully can’t deal with that. If they did it would become clear that they are a bully and they stand to lose even more market share. I have yet to come across a story where the bully wins anything that lasts. They will lose but you have to help them lose by constantly building your force field.

Thank you for reading this.

Customer Service By The Numbers

October 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Most businesses have always measured their performance in terms of inventory, terms, gross margin, and net profits and almost never in terms of Customer Service.

Every staff member, every telephone or fax line, every e-mail address, Facebook Page, Twitter Account, Yelp, and Foursquare account is a contact with your customers, and customers are anybody making contact with your company or within your company. To put this in perspective, we all know what we do when ignored on the phone or standing the till of a company. What would a CEO do if the VP of Marketing didn’t bother to return his or her calls? What is a vendor who can’t get a return call think about the company that they are dealing with? What would they tell their family and friends about that company? The point is that every point of contact is an opportunity to build your business because every contact relates to the bottom line.

There is a local company that I am very familiar with that has been measuring the performance in terms of Customer Service  as well as financially and operationally. They simply quantified the customer service relationship. They calculated the number of customer service contacts they have and divided gross revenue by that number. They even went so far as to divide gross profits by the number of customer service contacts (to sound fancy and MBAish I should call these CSC’s).


$100 / 10 CSC’s = $10/CSC

They measure this quarterly, annually and use it as a measure of impact of specific marketing campaigns. What they have found is when they simply invested in customer counts (advertising to increase traffic) the revenue per CSC only increased marginally and in some cases when backwards. When they invested in programs that focussed on Customer Service, $/CSC increased by 15-20%. When they invested in customer service programs and supported that with advertising to encourage more customer contact, not only did gross revenue and profits increase, but the $/CSC jumped 50%.

Here is the other thing they realized. Greater loyalty and engagement from their customers and staff. Messaging to staff no longer had to be dumbed down, rather messaging to staff encouraged discussion debate and innovation. Wierd hey?

If you are not doing this at company start. Start my simply creating a starting point by doing the math. Gross Revenue/Customer Service Contacts.

Thanks for reading this.

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