56 Servings of Grits? Someone in Marketing is Not Paying Attention to Basics.

Bear with me on this slightly sarcastic post – it actually does lead somewhere in regard to business!Quaker Grits Serving sizes - for what army?

Whether you realize it or not… customer service is part of marketing for your business, so here is my example of a vendor’s marketing department not paying attention to important basics.

My beef is with the Quaker Oats package recipe instructions.

Note in the image above the serving sizes for Stove Top style cooking – 1, 4, 28, 56!

Not exactly the logical progression I sought. Remember, the serving sizes posted are for side servings. My fam likes a BOWL of grits. And my ever-growing 16 yo son, 6’1″, 195 lbs, likes a BIG bowl. So somewhere between 4 and 28 servings is what I was looking for.

SO why am I posting about Quaker Oats Grits Recipe serving sizes?

  • It’s about knowing your customer.
  • Knowing who you are marketing to.
  • Considering the use of your product.
  • Providing said use in a consumer friendly manner.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I don’t do math – school was over a long time ago! And especially at 6:30 in the morning, my brain is waiting for the coffee and carbs to kick in, not ready to calculate how much I need to cook for 3 cereal bowls-full of grits. I don’t mind some leftovers, but seriously?

So, Quaker Oats, unless your consumer is the Church volunteer breakfast cook or the local Homeless Shelter, WHO EVEN OWNS A FOUR GALLON POT to make 56 servings of grits! And just how old is this recipe chart?

This is about:

  • knowing your customer,
  • understanding your customer’s needs, and YES, the user-friendliness of a product is part of marketing!
  • and marketing to the right customer – make up your mind, Quaker Oats, is this product for singles, families, or the ARMY?

And it’s not just Quaker...How many times have you had to search all over a pasta box to find the instructions to just cook the noodles!@%(*&$! No, they have to fill the packaging with suggested recipes and somewhere in a tiny little hidden spot are size 8 font instructions for how long to just cook the noodles!

That’s my rant of the day… ;)

P.S. Yes, I can tell it’s pretty much a 4:1 ratio – but again, I don’t want to have to do the math! And the Southern way is to substitute 1 part water with milk – creamier…better tasting… mmm. But I digress :)

You Bet Your “National Taco Day” It’s Worth Having a Twitter Account!

October 4th is National Taco Day!

Of course, I would have posted this at the beginning of the day if I had known earlier. Sorry if you missed any related festivities! ;)

And, if you are not partial to tacos, just wait a few days. Apparently there is a  some kind of national food day just about every day here in the USA!

But why am I talking about NTD and how did I find out about this unique food day? …

Twitter, of course!!!

Why is this blog worthy?

Think about it… If you are a Mexican restaurant, food chain, etc. wouldn’t it make sense for you to get in on this action? The tweets go on and on. Notice the first tweet is from the press – the Kansas City Star. If you have a taco place in KC, and responded to this tweet in any way, you’d get free notice!!! Just sayin’…

Why so many businesses still don’t think Twitter is of value, I can’t figure out…

Oh, well, there are still lots of Twitter opportunities…  :)

October 5 National Apple Betty Day
October 6 National Noodle Day
October 9 National Dessert Day
October 10 National Angel Food Cake Day
October 11 National Sausage Pizza Day
October 13 National Peanut Festival
October 13 National Pumpkin Festival
October 15 National Mushroom Day
October 17 National Pasta Day
October 18 National Chocolate Cupcake Day
October 20 National Brandied Fruit Day
October 22 National Nut Day
October 23 National Boston Cream Pie Day
October 24 National Bologna Day
October 26 National Mincemeat Day
October 28 National Chocolate Day
October 29 National Oatmeal Day
October 30 National Candy Corn Day (of course :) for Halloween!)

and more…

But, alas, there is no National Garbanzo Bean day! Stephan Pastis apparently made it up! http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2011/10/03
Go have a taco! And tweet about it! And while you’re there, follow me https://twitter.com/#!/bizcommunicator

Retail Schedules Suck – Get a Little Goofy!

Have a nice day? - on my weekend?

So, what’s the best way to make the most of working on weekends?

Learn from Huck Finn

Jeez, it’s tough enough on your retail staff to hear their 9-5 weekday friends talk about weekend plans that they can’t attend. Don’t let them bring that dismal digression to work to bring yourself and the customers down.

Make Weekends something to look forward to!

Owners and Managers: Think Huckleberry Finn – make the undesirable job more desirable.

Bring in the doughnuts, spring for coffee and Chicken biscuits from the local breakfast place for the Saturday morning meeting. Or pop for pizzas at lunchtime. Make that morning meeting lively with an agenda that allows for lots of feedback, caffeine and food.

Loosen the dress code.

Make it a theme day.

Free Food!

Keep food handy – trail mix, water, nutritious snacks of all kinds that they can munch in the stock room as they search for merchandise. (And mount a hand sanitizer dispenser on the wall).

You know it’s tough to handle lunches on a Saturday… Free Food is an unexpected perk that means a lot more to your staff than you might think. The food court gets really old – especially on a busy, high traffic weekend.

More logical shifts

Schedule shorter 4-6 hour shifts so you don’t have to schedule in those 1/2 hours breaks (depending on state labor laws). It’s too hard to handle all the customers with too many lunches scheduled.

Get a Little GOOFY

Let the staff see your “other side.” Loosen up a little and energize the atmosphere. Keep the admin work for the weekdays. Better yet, hire a bookkeeper to handle the payroll and pay the bills so you can hang out on the floor more to enjoy your customers and get to know your staff better – including their strengths and weaknesses.

On the serious side…

Be ready for the weekends. If you have young staff, be realistic – – –  Have a backup plan if one of them calls in late Saturday morning instead of going ballistic when they call in or show up late. Be prepared!

Have a sit down with each staff member and tell them you know Friday night is for fun, but…

Don’t screw with me on a Saturday morning.

Consider telling them if they know they have a big party to go to Friday night, get approval from you to swap with someone to take the Saturday Morning shift. And if they call in sick Saturday morning, you most likely won’t believe them. Saturdays are too important in retail.

Saturdays are ridiculous to try to schedule in retail – and too important.

  • Morning shoppers who can’t wait for the door to open.
  • Weekend brunchers roll in around 1 pm.
  • Craziness then sets in before and after dinnertime.

So what do you do?

Weekend shoppers are different from those who shop during the week, but you still need good coverage. And busy professionals get really irked when there is no decision-maker available on weekends… schedule for that, too.

  • Schedule someone who is awake and ready to be there when the doors open, and schedule the “less-morning-resilient” (I made that term up) for the later shift.
  • Stagger shifts throughout the day. Bring in a lunchtime/peaktime shift.
  • Use your journal reports to track and document your busiest times for better scheduling.
  • Make a point of being on the floor on Weekends to make notes on the whos, whats and whys of shoppers – and your staff!.


All retail should be open only Tuesdays through Saturdays. Keep people on a permanent and contained schedule and you’ll have better coverage and lower turnover for all shifts.

They have a life!

Retail employees would really like a better quality of life where they could actually schedule a haircut or doctor’s appointment weeks ahead and plan family and friends time.

With a modified schedule of Tues-Sat, Employers would have a stable staff, lower turnover, and better customer satisfaction.

Just think of the repeat referral growth if a customer always knew their favorite salesperson’s schedule. The high-end stores already know this…

Hair Salons and Chick-Fil-A do it

Chick-Fil-A, hair salons and the banks can close 1-2 days a week without losing volume, so you can, too. When stores have experimented with extended hours, often it evolves into a shift in traffic, not additional traffic.

And don’t give me any crap about how your sales volume would take a huge hit if you weren’t open on Sunday and Monday. Seriously? Customers who say they can’t shop your existing hours are likely the same people who like to come in just at closing time no matter how many hours and days you are open.

Hmmmmm… just imagine:

  • A happier, rested staff who takes better care of customers.
  • Customers who are more relaxed and better taken care of because they have a happier salesperson to wait on them.
  • Customers who can have their favorite salesperson every time they shop because the schedule doesn’t change.
  • Customers AND staff enjoying their Sundays with family and friends. No one really caring that stores aren’t open on Monday!
  • The staff actually enjoying their jobs.
  • A manager who doesn’t have to spend hours every week juggling to make a new schedule.

If I ever open a store, that will be the plan. Maybe I’ll close in the evenings, too. At least most nights……. ;-)

Neighborhood bars lure customers with the Superbowl

Superbowl Celebrators
Image by williamhartz via Flickr

Who’s going to watch the Superbowl this Sunday?

Even if you aren’t a football fan, the Superbowl is the big neighborhood bar or restaurant event of the year!

Married with children, single or coupled, popular or a geek, male or female… it doesn’t matter! All types will be watching the Superbowl at a local bar or restaurant with their friends.

What fans are looking for…

Smart neighborhood bars and restaurants have been preparing since before the football season started last fall…adding flatscreens, creating killer appetizers and food specials, creating new cocktails, expanding beer selections and scheduling fun events to lure you to come back to their place every week.

This is a golden opportunity for neighborhood bars and restaurants to be able to hit every demographic to expand their customer base. How often do businesses get such a wide range of customer types in one day? Now the big goal for businesses is …