Friday, June 26, 2009

Raley's Supermarket: Leading or Following?

Yesterday I stopped at my favorite Raley's grocery store and as I was checking out, I slid my ATM card through the little pay device, then changed my mind to use cash. There was no way to cancel it on my end, so the checker had to do it. This is a newer system they recently installed. The old system had a cancel button. This got me to thinking a bit and I mentioned to the checker that sometimes new systems are not an improvement from the old. How many times have you run across the same thing? Some new thing or change is supposed to be so much better and your experience is the opposite.

So, after my remark to the clerk, she said that they changed it because the competition had a system like it, so we had to. I thought for a moment and said to her, there is no competition when you are leading. I have always thought of Raley's as the leader. I know places that are cheaper and bigger and they are nearby, but I have always chosen Raley's on purpose because I like the experience--the feel, if you will. I never even thought of them as competing against Safeway and others.

People get so hung up on competition. Really. Who cares what the store down the street or across town is doing? Lead. Carve your own path. Make your own decisions. Go boldly where no business has been before. . . It is the land of no competition. Let go of the competitive thinking and just focus on you being the best you and your business being the best business. You will never, ever get all the customers anyway. Just give the best: the best service, the best value, the best experience. I don't mean the best in the marketplace. That would be competing again. I mean the best that you've got to give. And, at the same time, it pays to keep your edge sharp by continual learning and growing so you can give ever better service, value and experience.

There is no competition when you are leading. Let the rest follow you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We Tried That. That Stuff Don't Work!

It is amazing how many times I have heard these two phrases. We are always offering suggestions to improve business and much of what we offer is tried and proven over and over again. Yet, we still hear these phrases.

I've learned over a long period of time that "swimming upstream" with people is not good for me or them, so when I hear these phrases, I might swim upstream a stroke or two and take another approach with them, but if I don't hear any interest in a few seconds, I completely back off and agree with them and find a way to leave quickly.

This just happened yesterday again and I just turned and floated back downstream and let them continue to say as I was leaving, "we tried that and it didn't work. . ." Oh, he even said how long he tried it: he tried it for four weeks. Whew! I'm glad he gave it his all. Four weeks. That's a long time. He also said that the customers came in, but they didn't act as he wanted them to, so he quit it. Well, there ya go! Four weeks, customers not doing as we want, we're out of here. . .

Of course, you are more willing to hear the whole pitch and to listen to the ideas and to see if they make sense and to try to understand, right? If others are successful using the idea, you might think that it could pay off for you as well, right? It could happen.

Let's change the phrase: We tried that and it changed our business forever! It is the most successful thing we ever did! Thank you!