Back in the New York Groove 1

I’m staying at the historic New York Athletic Club on my trip into the Big Apple. Part if its history involves college football.

The New York Athletic Club is where the annual event honoring the best college football player that year is held. The Heisman Trophy is awarded and all of college football royalty is in attendance. I saw a sign promoting an event later this month at the club with past Heisman recipients to raise money for the Ronald McDonald charities. That would be fun to go to!

The club is directly across the street from Central Park. It’s a little drizzly today to take a jaunt and tomorrow is supposed to be better, so I will wait until then. Just came back from a delicious lunch with a friend near Times Square and now time to relax a little.

One of the joys of business traveling is experiencing the soul of a city. That means taking in the sights, eating the food, and mixing with people. This morning, I shared stories over coffee with other travelers on their way to South Africa from Calgary to judge an international dance contest and then go on safari. Ironically, we were in a Starbucks in the rain! Ironic for me because that is normal in Seattle!

Bottom line – enjoy where you are and be bold in discovering and trying. You never know if and when you will cross that path again.

I think I will see if I can find the ghost of Jay Berwanger skulking about the premises…

Copyright 2013 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

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Lessons from a Starbucks Store

Yesterday, I visited the original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. This was the first store set up by founder Howard Schultz back in the 1970s. It’s really small. I mean really tiny. I bet there’s not 1000 square feet. There are no chairs, but one small standing bar that faces out to the market. Two people can comfortably stand there and three would be tight. This was the first time that there was no line. Normally, the place is overflowing. It probably helped that it was late October and rainy.

I chatted with one of the employees who mentioned that my friend and I were fortunate to be there with nobody there. I said that I had never seen it so sparse and that this was rare. He went on to tell me that this little Starbucks store was in the top 5 stores in sales in the world for the company. The top 5 in the world!

It really hit me that such a tiny store could compete in volume with their larger counterparts. So what does that mean for you? Consider these 5 lessons when thinking about your own business…

1. Be unique. This store would be dead if it weren’t for the fact it is the original and can lay claim to a uniqueness that nobody else can own. You are unique. Your methodology may be similar or even the same to others. But no one else can be you! When you are in competition and someone asks you what makes you different, the answer is easy. It’s YOU. Make yourself a unique differentiator.

2. Offer unbeatable service and value. I dealt with three people there. Katie, who took my order (I still remember her name), was the perfect “front of the house” person for the store. The girl who made our drinks chatted with us and shared stories. The guy who told us about the statistics was warm and friendly. How do clients and prospects view you and/or your employees? Do they gain value from your work? Are you a problem solver, or merely a hired hand? Offer unbeatable value and you will never be wanting for clients.

3.Understand small can be good. Size doesn’t always matter! In fact, sometimes it can be a burden. Monolithic corporations can get bogged down in bureaucracy, committees, red tape, and politics. You can maneuver quickly and nimbly. That benefits you and your clients and makes you valuable to others.

4. Create brand. Regardless of whether you like them or not, you can’t argue that Starbucks doesn’t have a powerful brand. They have one of the strongest in the world. How strong is your brand? Are you recognizable in the arena you play in? Do people often say, “I’ve heard about you?” If not, you have some brand awareness to work on.

5. Create evangelists. There are Starbucks on virtually every corner of every major city in the world. Why do they come to this one when they are in Seattle? Because others tell them they have to. Heck, I’m evangelizing for them right now. People talk about how great the experience is, how wonderful the people are, and how they love the ambiance of the marketplace. You need people telling others, “You need Jane for that project,” or “Jim can solve that problem for you quickly.” This tiny little store has created evangelists. Where are yours and are they telling others about you?

As we were leaving, the store was picking up people. When we came in, there were only a couple other people. By the time we left, there were almost 20. Business as usual!

 

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Standing in Line

I am always intrigued by lines out the door.

Last week, I took my family to Pike Place market in Seattle. There are several small, hole-in-the-wall type restaurants and cafes that literally had Disneyland-style lines waiting to get in. Contrary to what you might think, I develop a great desire to go stand in line and buy something! Why? There is a reason for the long line!

Mercedes-Benz is not even close to inexpensive, yet people with the means to pay for them do so in droves. Apple is more expensive than it’s PC competitors, but Apple stores are always packed and the evangelists are all over the place singing their praises.  Nordstrom is not known for cheap suits and purses, but it’s built a clothing empire.

You know the reasons as well as I do. Quality trumps price all the time. You gotta’ have it. The best is worth the wait and the price. The return on investment is great.

How do people view your business, and most specifically you? No matter what you do, you are the brand. Will people ask for you, stand in line for you, and pay more for you? What is the image you want?

It still amazes me. We all know this to be a reality. Yet so many still try to build a business based on cheapest price. When you have tremendous quality; great service; and become an object of interest, you will be sought out. Once you are sought out your value increases and people are willing to compensate you well for that. Why? Because they view their return on investing in you worth it!

Business is about relationships. Period. Do you think people standing outside the door at Starbucks are all about a cheap cup of coffee? Nobody wants cheap. They want value; they want to feel good; they want to be taken care of; they want to shine. Do you do that for your customers and clients?

Once you do, you will soon find the line out your door, too!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved