I love being right, but..

April 11, 2009

If you know me, you know I love being right, but lately, I wish I weren’t right so often.

When The Oregonian, interviewing me for a story about the Joe’s bankruptcy, asked whether I thought Joe’s could survive and/or might be sold to another company, I said, “No.”  Yesterday, Joe’s started liquidating.

The evaporation of so many retailers is a scenario being repeated too often for three key reasons:

  1. Many retail operations operate with thin profit margins–or no profit margins–so when sales decline, the retailers simply have no (forgive the pun) margin for error.
  2. Many retail operations have no raison d’etre–no reason for being–no strategy that separates them from their competitors, no strategy for meeting changing consumer needs.
  3. Too often, good customer service is missing in action.  Poor customer service can result in lost sales, and few companies today can afford to lose those sales.

Perhaps, as a result of the current economic environment, we will see a return to good customer service.  I’d really like to be right about that!

6 Responses to “I love being right, but..”

  1. April 13, 2009

    What the US needs to do is reduce the total square footage of retail space so that there is a reasonable ratio. In 2007, we had over 16 square feet of retail space for EVERY person in the US, more than double any other country and more than double ten years ago. We need to restructure many retailers out of existence!

    Biff Ruttenberg

  2. April 19, 2009

    As a resident in Asia where shopping involves either a visit to a very busy store or a “hole in the wall” run by a family, I am always reminded of the rule that unless your business is high volume/low margin or low volume/high margin, being neither one or the other is a recipe for failure. Is it fair to say that the US retailers who have failed have been caught in the middle of these alternative strategies?

  3. May 6, 2009

    Renee, your blog is outstanding, thank you for providing these gems of wisdom!

  4. May 11, 2009

    Despite reasons #1 and #2, I think that there are a lot of companies that will keep around employees that contribute to poor customer service either because managers don’t want to be confrontational, or they are afraid of legal retribution. If your employees are not providing good customer service, you need to replace them with someone who will (bad attitude people rarely become good attitude people.) Sadly, in this day and age it is very easy to hire someone and very difficult to fire them. Make sure that customer-facing positions are filled carefully!

    As a former business owner, I always tell managers or owners when I am unhappy with the service that I receive. Without this feedback, they may not know why their customers are going away.

  5. May 12, 2009

    Casey makes a point, but there is another side to customer care, and that is: Employees who are not happy and challenged in a positive way, will not give good customer service. Before firing them make sure that their bosses are not the problem.

  6. June 13, 2009

    The best information i have found exactly here. Keep going Thank you

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