Richard A. Lindsey, CPA

Lindsey & Waldo, LLC – Certified Public Accountants

  • Nov 10

    I know in polite company and business communications you’re not supposed to talk politics and religion, but I am SO tired of talking to business owners whose religion is…

    Price.

    At least that’s what some of you believe. Based on your actions – the only way you ever talk about your product or service is that you are the cheapest provider in the city/area/community/street/block — you believe you SHOULD BE and CAN BE the low price leader in your category. Don’t you know you are worshiping at the altar of shortsightedness?

    Yes, there is a place for the lowest cost provider, but that place is fraught with peril. The margins there are razor thin; you must be ever vigilant to honor the gods of cost cutting and pray that someone more committed (or with deeper pockets) than you doesn’t step into your marketplace and undercut your price by a penny.

    Remember a few years ago when Apple® released their newest (at the time) iPhones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. To say there was a lot of hoopla would be an understatement, right? Apple® released the new and improved phones on Friday, September 19th and by Monday they had sold 10 million units, one million more than the first week of the 5s and 5c the year before.

    Despite the “bad” economy. Despite losing its visionary co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. Despite my belief that 10 million people can’t NEED a new Apple® phone. Despite that Apple® products are rarely, if ever, cheaper than the competition.

    Apple® has achieved what every business owner dreams of: the ability to charge premium prices and still attract business. Apple® has successfully refused to bow at the altar of low price—and your business can too. Here are four ways Apple® has accomplished this…

    Can you apply these principles to your business?

    1. POWERFUL BRANDING. Thanks to a well executed branding campaign, Apple® has built a brand that is trendy, cool, and technologically advanced. The iPhone, in particular, has become a status symbol for many.
    2. STRATEGIC MARKETING. Every time a new product is launched, customers line up for hours (if not days) outside Apple® retail locations. And every time, a product shortage prompts anxiety and even desperation from customers who were unable to get their hands on the product. The result is a palpable feeling of scarcity and value—customers feel privileged to fork over $200-300 for the latest model or closer to $650-750 if their plan isn’t eligible for an upgrade! While Apple® won’t admit that they intentionally create product shortages in order to create a buzz, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t be able to meet everyone’s demand on day one if they wanted to.
    3. EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE. Apple Care, the company’s warranty and customer care program, provides a level of service that is unparalleled in the electronics industry. The peace of mind that comes from knowing that expert help is a phone call away is a big part of the value Apple® provides.
    4. THE PRODUCT THAT DOESN’T DISAPPOINT. Branding, marketing, and customer service don’t mean anything if the product is disappointing. Apple® doesn’t cut corners and doesn’t make promises that its products can’t keep—resulting in customers that are consistently thrilled with their purchase. At the end of the day, if a product can’t live up to the expectations set by its marketing; it won’t be successful in the long-term.

    Apple® doesn’t compete on price—and your business doesn’t have to, either. Apply these lessons… and you’ll find that you have the ability to charge premium prices and still win the business!

  • Mar 21

    I recently read an article where Robert Skrob, president of the Information Marketing Association, was describing his experiences with Disney — there are some ideas I think you can use in your business. Here’s Robert:

    When you enter the Magic Kingdom® park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, you’re really on the second level. Unseen to guest, there is an underground level where employees (or “cast members” as Disney calls them) enter the park. As part of a seminar I held in Orlando, I treated all of the attendees to a tour of this underground area as well as other “behind-the-scenes” areas at Walt Disney World.

    During this event, we had the “opportunity” to tour Disney’s laundry. When the Disney people told me they thought my attendees, which were all CEOs of $25 million plus companies, would benefit from a tour of their laundry facility, I was apprehensive. I’ve seen the inside of too many Laundromats already; I didn’t think my members needed any of that. But, reluctantly, I agreed.

    The laundry operation is enormous — with 160 employees, it is the largest laundry facility in the world. Walt Disney World includes 12 different resorts, each with 500 to 2,500 hotel rooms and their requisite supply of towels and sheets, plus restaurant linens and everything else that needs to be laundered. The individuals who operate the towel folding machines fold an average of one towel every four seconds over an eight hour shift. The monotony must be excruciating; however, they have a staff turnover rate of only 3%. Some employees are second and third generation, their families having worked in the facility for years.

    There is a lot of neat automation to see, but most importantly, I discovered that the laundry can be an important customer service area of the resort in two important ways.

    Laundry as a customer service #1: Each day, guests leave hundreds of items that get mixed in with the hotels’ towels and sheets. When those items get to the laundry facility, each item is indexed by the date, resort name and room number, and then is entered into a database. The laundry facility has a call center to handle the guests’ calls looking for lost items.

    As you can imagine, every day, there are dozens of stuffed animals purchased in the park one day, and left in the bed that night that end up in the laundry the next day. If the guest has already returned home before calling to recover a stuffed animal, the laundry staff takes photos of the toy at several places throughout the Magic Kingdom® and creates a small scrapbook of photos. Then the stuffed animal, the scrapbook and a note, talking about how the animal wasn’t done having fun and that’s why it ”snuck out” to stay back for a couple of extra days, find their way home. The Disney staff goes to great pains to take this “guest mistake” and turn it into an opportunity for them to provide a terrific experience.

    Laundry as customer service #2: Even at the Magic Kingdom®, doing the laundry is not a fun job. It’s wet, it’s hot, it has to be pressed and folded and just when you get it done, another truck full of dirty sheets arrives. It’s grueling, but it has to be done. Plus, these employees don’t get to see guests enjoying their work. It’s one thing to operate a ride; at least you get to see the excited children. In the laundry there is nothing but more laundry. Disney does a great job of ensuring its employees understand why their jobs are a critical part of the guest experience. For the laundry services employee, there are mounds of wet sheets. For guests, a freshly laundered pillowcase is the last thing they see before they close their eyes at the end of a magical day.

    Are there common ways that customers experience frustration that you can plan for and turn them into opportunities to provide a unique experience? Can you turn an embarrassing and tense situation into a “wow” experience for your customer?

    You can find out more about Robert Skrob and the Information Marketing Association at www.info-marketing.org.