Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

So, the Royal Bank has come out and apologised for outsourcing some business to an organization that was using foreign workers to facilitate some of its IT work. The effect of the move was that 45 Canadians would lose their roles at the bank….hmmm.

So who’s to blame? Gord Nixon or the bank? The tech company hired to do the work? The RBC employees for not doing a good enough job or not being productive enough? I am sure there would be people that would argue on any of these fronts, but I want to propose that there is someone else responsible for these continued stories of outsourcing, layoffs, downsizings, corporate restructuring or any other word that you want to use for a reduction in the workforce at any company.

YOU. (I include myself in the YOU, but YOU sounds more powerful than WE in this case.)

It’s a complex situation with many other variables (which I would like to expand on in future blogs), but specifically it is anyone who owns shares in a company (or a mutual fund) and continues to demand/expect high quarterly growth or share price increases and dividends without considering the consequences in the short and long term. You see, once sales start to drop (which is happening in just about every company in every sector) there are only a few ways for companies to maintain their profitability in order to keep YOU happy. First, as most companies have already done, you strip out all the fat in your logistics, production and any other cost centre that you may have. Once that is done you start to investigate other areas that create massive amounts of stress within organizations…How about cutting unique aspects of your product out or cutting back on the quality?… Not a good idea. How about cutting your marketing budget and hoping that it won’t affect sales?…I might suggest that it is more about the type of marketing that you are using that may be the issue, but in general if you cut your budget you are less likely to maintain awareness with the buying public…Also, not a good thing. Finally (and not always the last choice), how about cutting some staff or outsourcing to save money?…Well, obviously that doesn’t go over so well with those folks who are directly impacted, but even those that are left behind (I know there is a syndrome named after this) have all of the work that was in the hands of the fired employees dumped on them with no pay increase and no increase in the hours that they have available to get the job done. Outsourcing has a similar effect on the people removed, but the work is…supposedly…passed to others and in this case, the jobs left the country. Whatever choice the company makes, it usually cuts at the core of what and who the company once was, but those in the leadership roles who are most often motivated by short term incentives as well, really are not worried about the long term health of the organization.

In the short term there is upset and anger within the people that have been personally impacted by the downsizing/outsourcing etc. This creates personal stress, family stress, stress within their circle and it all leads to additional issues in society.  The assumption would be that there will be a period of time until these people are able to find a new place to work (if at all) and as a result will change their spending habits, buying less of everything, potentially increasing their debt and adding to the overall risk that they face. This extends to be a risk to our country’s finances should inflation and/or interest rates go up having another negative impact on the segment of the population caught in this growing group.

In the long term, if this type of action happens in more and more companies (open your eyes, it’s happening all around us) and more and more people face the same impact as the individuals above, then it means a lot less people buying a lot less of everything which completes the ugly cycle that we are in right now. Less people with jobs buying less of everything, those with jobs buying fewer products because they think they are next and the companies selling less of everything as a result…and what happens next?  These companies then fire more people to maintain their shrinking profit margins and the cycle begins all over again. It just keeps getting worse unless we start to do something about it.

So what is the solution? Well I am certainly no Einstein, Marx or Keynes and I am certainly not against people working hard and being rewarded for it, but it seems to me we all need to accept less. We need to understand that by accepting less individually (that includes the greedy individuals at the top of organizations making gazillions – when is enough, enough?) we all win as a society.  We need to see that a greater separation between the haves and the have nots is only going to increase the stress and pressure amongst us. That continuing to worry about the Jones’ and buying into continued consumerism will only require more access to money and we will continue to pressure organizations to keep filling our pockets (and theirs) with profits driven by the exact things that drove Gord Nixon and the leadership at RBC to make the decision that they did to outsource the IT roles…even though their first quarter profit for 2013 was 2.7BILLION dollars. Yep, first quarter.

So here is what you and we can do. The next time you show up to your Shareholder’s meeting or have an opportunity to discuss or impact any organization’s direction in whatever role you play, think twice about downsizing or outsourcing as a means to maintain double digit quarterly returns. For those of you who may not be in tight with such business decisions, speak up when you see other situations like the one at RBC. The more light that is placed on these issues in all businesses and industries the more likely it will be that organizations may reset their priorities to include the population that they ultimately serve and who buy their products.  In the world we are in today, the growth numbers of the past couple decades are not sustainable (of course there will be some exceptions) and if we don’t reset our expectations (profit and lifestyle), more Canadians than ever will be out of work, the government will have less people to tax and pay for what will be a growing need for services and we will ALL be worse off.

BUT, let me say this…There might actually be a beautiful golden pot at the end of this not so beautiful rainbow. If we can all (and it must be everyone simultaneously or it will fail) shift our expectations, accept that the past is the past and that the future will be different in how we value our life and lifestyles, if we can accept that he with more toys does not win and that work life balance really is a goal that is worthy of a achievement, we may actually create an even better society that is full of people who think about one another, share their wealth and take the time to smell the roses.

Fingers crossed.

Cheers,

Pete

A few weeks back I was watching everyone’s favourite weatherman, Jeff Hutchison, on Canada AM as he introduced viewers to a recent posting on You Tube from a small book store on Queen Street West (Type bookstore 883 Queen Street West) in Toronto. You can check out this video on You Tube at  http://youtu.be/SKVcQnyEIT8. The video had been viewed over 600,000 times at that point and now is just under 3M views. Over a 24 hour period I saw print and television spots on the content and you can only imagine the media value that this little store created by crafting a unique and inspiring video that captures people hearts, minds and passion for books. Great work at driving awareness and  potential customers by engaging them in great content.

 Lancaster Ltd is another company I have worked with that does this really well. They are a history driven company that creates content that dives into the stories of its partners and then uses social media to drive the interest and engagement to get the message out. Their use of videos, interviews, photo shoots and their garments, often create unexpected results… This past Movember they connected their friend Snoop Dogg with Movember to ‘Keep it Neat’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cH8DdsmOow

 Most recently they launched a tribute film to Muhammad Ali on his 70th birthday. They connected current fighters, legends, and again, Hip Hop Icon Snoop Dogg. You can see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi0zyAI4GNI

 In an ever changing landscape these guys have evolved into a company that is building great content to engage consumers in a very unique way. You can check out their website and some of the amazing content that they have created to date at www.lancasterltd.com.  They understand that spending money and time up front to authentically engage consumers, in expectation of driving authentic engagement and loyalty, is the way of the future for brands. Pull vs. Push.

 The two examples above really have to make you wonder about the organizations who continue to push their message out to consumers. The push is usually an easier sell to senior management as you can buy GRP’s and show wonderful charts to justify the spend and you don’t have to load up on department of young wizards that know more about social media than most. What the Type book store, Lancaster Ltd. and a few others have done is changed the landscape. They are leading with the consumer value. Giving the consumer what they are looking for (even sometimes things they didn’t even know they wanted) in exchange for their interest and loyalty, not making the consumer pay to allow them to be loyal as a result.

 The future is bright for the consumer and for those businesses that understand the difference and make the effective change of engaging their customers.

 Cheers,

Pete

A good friend of mine and a great writer, had a great customer experience and wanted to share it with the Bomber following. Thanks for writing Caron.

The Ten Spot: How to differentiate your business – both online and offline – in a crowded, price-driven mani-pedi marketplace

 These days, there seems to be a nail/beauty bar every couple blocks in downtown Toronto. Many are popping up in the retail space of new condo developments. With this kind of competition, many nail bars are competing on price. You can get a manicure and pedicure for as low as $35 without tax if you pay cash at some establishments. 

 Then there is The Ten Spot, a beauty/nail bar that charges more than its local competitors but offers an excellent customer experience. A customer experience that’s so great…I’m willing to pay a little extra for it – $30 for a manicure, $50 for a pedicure. 

The best part of The Ten Spot is the staff – they are fantastic! They make an effort to look you in the eye and engage you in conversation, which is unfortunately rare for many nail/beauty bars. I was surprised during a February visit when one of the staff members remembered to ask me about a trip I took the previous fall. Impressive!

 

 

 I consider myself to be a social media/social business enthusiast, so I appreciate The Ten Spot’s social media/technology savvy. The Ten Spot offers iPads for customers to use while they are getting their pedicures. When I tweeted about The Ten Spot’s iPad offer, one of my social media contacts Judi Samuels, Director of Marketing for the Fairmont Royal York, retweeted and referred to it as a “purple goldfish” – a reference to Stan Phelp’s book “What’s Your Purple Goldfish: How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth.” 

 Stan’s concept of a “purple goldfish” is “any time a business goes above and beyond to provide a ‘little something extra.’ It’s that unexpected surprise that’s thrown in for good measure. It’s also giving your customers something to talk, tweet, blog and post to Facebook about.” 

 Another example of a “purple goldfish” offered by The Ten Spot is the wrapping of your feet in Vaseline and plastic wrap after a pedicure. This “something extra” ensures your pedicure isn’t ruined once you put your shoes back on for the trip home. 

 The Leslieville location – in a neighbourhood known for its proliferation of moms, babies and strollers – also offers complimentary baby minding service for clients on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a great way to draw in customers during non-peak hours while offering a value-added service to busy stay-at-home moms or those on maternity leave, who often don’t have the time or a babysitter to be able to attend beauty appointments.

 The Ten Spot is also very active on Twitter. I often tweet about my experiences there, and they are quick to retweet and reply to my tweets. Last summer, I was invited via Twitter to receive a free mani/pedi from one of their trainees. This is a good way to reward your Twitter followers and loyal customers, while providing necessary experience for your new employees.

 The Ten Spot is a great example of a business that can charge a higher price for its services because it differentiates its business from its local competitors based on offering clients a great customer experience.

I had to pass it along  as  it made so much sense….

“Good customer service means having people come back because they want to, not because they have to.”

Thanks Carly!

Cheers,
Pete