Life Outside My Cube

My life, a work in progress.

Beating a Path To Your Door

I hear people say sensible things all the time; my problem is that I don’t remember those things. Every once in a while, though, one sticks in my head and I find myself thinking about it over the course of several days.

I heard a radio commentator say that the devastation in Japan was going to be a boon for entrepreneurs. That’s all, just a short sentence. But I got to thinking about what it would be like to build a village / town / city from scratch, and all the business and infrastructure that would be needed. Entrepreneurs for sure! There will be a boatload of opportunities there!

I don’t mean to trivialize the personal and business destruction that happened there. I know lives, families and fortunes were lost in a matter of hours. It was a horrific thing, even if it’s so far from my imagination because of where I live. My heart goes out to those who have lost so much.

I don’t live where there are those kind of new opportunities, though, and at first I was tempted to sulk a bit. Coincidentally, I’d read someone that said, regarding starting a business, that you don’t need to do something something that no one else is doing, you can just do what they’re doing better. Now that’s sensible. I’m sure you (and I) have heard it a million times, but for some reason it stuck with me that day.

How many business have you patronized where you were dissatisfied with the product, service or employee performance? We to often encounter, for example, restaurants where the meals are mediocre, or the wait staff are far from satisfactory, and come away saying, “In my restaurant, things would be different.” Of course, we don’t have the experience or capital to open a restaurant, but that’s only one example. I’m sure there are many other opportunities out there for an entrepreneur to open a similar business and distinguish himself from others by providing a superior product (maybe harder) or superior service (easier). In fact, I’d say that receiving superior service is quite remarkable these days.

A recent visit to both Lowe’s and Home Depot made this clear. I’ve shopped in both innumerable times, and was generally frustrated at the difficulty of finding available floor staff for assistance. This time, however, not only were we audibly greeted by most every employee, we were always within sight of a helpful blue- or orange-vested person. When passing out of the store (were were just browsing at that point), a friendly casher engaged us in conversation, and reminded us that we could get a Lowe’s gift card at the Giant Eagle just down the way and get double Fuel Perks this week!

Well, didn’t we just high tail it down to that Giant Eagle and buy a $100 gift card, then come back to Lowe’s and purchase what we were looking at? A no-cost minimal effort on the part of one person brought profit to 2 stores and one happy couple. That’s what I’d call superior service, and it makes me much more likely to patronize that Lowe’s from now on. It also makes me think too, that any business that treats its customers this way will profit, regardless – or in spite of – the competition.

So what’s stopping you from taking that bad experience you’ve had, and turning it and some capital into an entrepreneurial opportunity?

* Question 3

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