Month: July 2010

You can’t make this stuff up!

Just when you think there might be some sanity returning to  the world, something comes to slap you upside the head to make sure you’re paying attention. Ready?…………….

General Motors, yes, the same car company the Federal Government had to take over. The same company that made bad deals, over-loaded its books with unsustainable debt, and much, much more, is now really going to boost its sales. How you might ask? The same way we had such a great housing boon. GM announced today that it is buying a finance company, not just any finance company, but a company that specializes……wait for it……….. In “sub-prime” auto loans. Loans so that people with less than perfect credit can purchase a car more easily. Wow, is all I can say.

I wrote an article before on why GM might never lose that “Government Motors” moniker. How prescient is that now.

If it all goes the way of Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Looks like Fannie and Freddie will  be able to use the drive-up window to get at the ATM machine (American Tax  Money) because they’ll be seated in a new Cadillac.

And you thought Green Cars meant fuel efficient……Silly You!

Mark

A “Reality Check”…by Walking Around

A few years back one on this countries well-known and for my money one of its best business guru’s Tom Peters coined the phrase…”Management by walking around.” In layman’s terms, it basically meant get out from behind the desk and get out there and talk to your employees and customers to find out just what really is happening. Not just what you “think”, or what others are telling you. I’ll just add my own 6 words to this often overlooked basic truth of business philosophy…Look, notice, ask, implement, verify, repeat!

Over and over you hear conflicting data from one source or another stating, “The Recovery is on track!”…or another stating, “The end of the world is here!” Today it’s hard for anything to make sense when this is all you hear. So I’ll add a data point that hit me with what I believe is the equivalent of religious clarity.

When I was growing up as a kid and pretty much through the rest of my business life, one thing I always took notice of was that I could tell how well the economy was moving along by how many churches would open in vacant stores. When the economy was poor or getting worse, you would see churches of all types from many different faiths or followings opening in the now vacant store front. Usually it was a small retailer, or a small store. Maybe it was in a downtown building, but they were usually modest in size. The severity of the economic stagnation or decline would usually govern the amount or size of vacant property available. It’s in these times that a landlord will rent to just about anybody that can pay the lease or rent. Whether it’s a retail business or something else. If you can make the rent….It’s yours….Period!

Well by walking around in my own city this weekend, I just found out that a local, …wait for it……..Mall, that is now vacant will be leased or sold for the purpose of becoming a church. Not a store front, not a section, not a strip mall, an entire MALL! Yes an entire mall, one that you think of when you picture one in your mind’s eye. The same size and scope of a major city mall in any well populated city in the US. If this doesn’t give me a little clarity on the economic times we are in, nothing does.

Looks like this economy may truly bring us to our knees.

Mark

They’re wearing me down!

Yep, they are!    And guess who?

It’s the front line person most of us meet when we make a transaction or ask for help in just about any business commerce today. I used to not let it bother me, but I’m getting very tired as of late. Here’s why…..

This weekend I took my family to a local State Park. It’s a beautiful park where the World Equestrian Games are being held later in the year. My wife and I usually purchase season passes but we haven’t had the time as of late. I have my niece visiting for the summer so we thought we would just wait until she came and renew then. Not thinking when we entered, I just paid for a day pass for each. When I went through the gate my wife asked me how much. I had to look at the tickets, and to our shock they were considerably high-priced. My wife asked…”Didn’t you get season passes?” I said “no,” I just didn’t feel like going through the rigmarole. She gave me that look that only your wife can give. I gave that look back that said, Please don’t make me go back…I don’t care….I don’t want the hassle. Well, I lost. That would be enough if that were the end….but wait…there’s more!

First time back I said to the girl, “I made a mistake, we should have purchased season passes can we fix this?”……She replied……”Ahhhh No. It’s too late, you can purchase them next time, Sorry.” (I’ll just remind you that I haven’t entered the park, but have only gone 5 feet past her desk before realizing the issue.) I start to fume, but I say I am not in the mood for this and head back to my wife where I tell her they said “No.” You guessed it, I’m immediately sent back to ask for a manager, which is exactly what I should have done in the first place, but I was worn.

When I get back to the desk, the original girl is waiting on another family, so I go to the desk directly aside of her and speak to a girl there and explain my dilemma. She replies, ” Sure, I can take care of that. It’ll take a minute because I need to get a different piece of paperwork to proceed.” This is all within earshot of the first girl. She never blinked, nor appeared to care. I was really taken back by the whole episode. Right there you could see why work ethics matter to both customers, and employees. Without them you wont have a business for long in this economy.

In the end, I was more mad at myself for allowing it to happen. When I accept poor service, I’m the root of the problem. Not the other way around.

Mark