Just a quick blast to let you all know that the newsletter subscription links are up and ready for you to join! I've started putting together my newsletters, rotating the focus and content so that there is a little morsel for everybody. I'd love to get some feedback and questions from my followers (for future newsletter content), so start sending in your questions!
Finally! After all the drama and heartache of the Currie Barracks market having closed at Christmas time; it reopened in it's new digs this weekend! 4 foodie thumbs up from my kid posse and I today!
Love the new food-sit down area with a larger play area for toddlers AND big kids; this was the highlight of the trip for my 8 year old for the simple fact that the old market had a strict height regulation that boycotted all kids taller than a corn cob.
After we filled our reusable, shopping bags with fixings for an amazing dinner; the kids did another bounce through the play area and I sat and people watched ....and yes, analyzed the new joint.
I watched as people lined up at the various food kiosks and started head counts. Didn't take long to realize that the lineups were stacked in front of the kiosks that had actually posted their menus and prices and the kiosks with literally NO signage, NO brand, NO logo, NO menu, NO marketing whatsoever,.....were empty. I wonder if any of these businesses realized that opening weekend was kind of a big deal? I know, I know, you are all thinking Shi@ happens but this is where a good brainstorming session would have made all the difference! Especially knowing that the traffic was going to be monumental (yesterday’s counts were approximately 10,000 people alone).
Of course I see an outstanding opportunity to play “what if”. What if that happened to me? What if this happened to a client of mine; what would I do? What would I recommend?
Grand opening dates are announced for your new retail location and your sign company calls to tell you:
a) your new company sign will not be ready in time for the grand opening (or the 36,000 people that will be flooding the venue that Easter weekend)
b) your wall mounted, huge menu signage with all your items and prices will not be ready
c) your countertop branding signage, logo, brochures won't be ready....so..what do you do?
(Besides the obvious search for a NEW sign company!)..
Emergency Solution Suggestions:
a) Don't open! (unless mandated by the landlord, co-op or committee)
-this approach would be obvious if you know your quality of product or service is compromised in any way. If you have not received your key deliveries, your staff is not ready or your staff will not be capable of selling your goods without the signage and wall details. This would NOT be my first choice but it would be on the brainstorming list.
Why is this an issue? Think of the experience from the customer's perspective. They see a counter display with various exotic food dishes, no signage or prices. If your staff do not know the items thoroughly and are unable to actively and authentically sell your wares; those customers will walk away frustrated. Is it couscous? Is it quinoa? How much is the wrap? What does it come with? Not exactly a great first impression in farm fresh, "fast" food is it?
b) With computer technology at everybody's finger tips, there was no reason why some of the these "sign-less, menu-less" business owners could not have printed and laminated menu headers to place on their countertops or at the till. Laminating services are dirt cheap, in fact I bought a laminator years ago at Staples and use it for hundreds of projects.
c) Get a chalk board and wall mount it with your menu written on it, or maybe a sandwich board/floor sign with your "Plat Du Jour" proudly displayed.
d) Get chalkboard paint and paint the wall where the sign is going to be hung. If you are lucky; when the sign arrives, it may be large enough to hang right over top of your temporary fix; necessitating no further paint touch ups.
e) Using the laminated menu cards and taking it one step further, why not have a staff member out in front of the counter, animating the menu card and greeting customers? They can be cheerfully pointing out the fabulous food for sale! Just make sure they KNOW the menu inside out!
f) Call a company that makes vinyl banners. Standard widths are 22”, 34”, 46” or pay more for custom widths in whatever length you need. Full colour patches can be applied for photos and logos or choose full processed colour. It is even a good idea to have a standard one made with your business name, logo and nothing else. Keep it for emergencies just like this. Then it can be used again for trade shows, BBQ and outdoor events, sponsorship events and future openings when sign companies mess up!
g) Look at using a projector. Have it projecting your menu items up onto the back wall. It might take some wrangling to figure out the placement where it will not be blocked by moving staff.
h) Get food industry sign sticks or if no time, make individual little signs with popsicle sticks and laminated business cards for each food item on display in counter array. Print the name of each dish with the price, making it simple for the customer to navigate.
i) Print magnetic business cards with menu items and prices and place them on your metal food case or food bins. *Note: Will not work on stainless*
Essentially, there are many things that could have been done to save the experiences of these food vendors. I sat quietly, watching customer after customer walk away from these vendor stalls and truthfully felt bad for them. This list took 20 minutes of brainstorming; too bad they couldn't find that amount of time to save their launch profile.Luckily, I now have another handful of “what ifs” to add to my “what if” file!
Moral of this post?
Think outside of the takeout box. Choose a solution and then make it all look like an authentic, intentional twist on the market, food experience as opposed to the royally, embarassing hiccup it truly was!
PS. Don’t forget to send the bill for your band-aid solution for the missing menu and signage to your old sign company, it’s the least they can do! Bon appetit!
Super excited that the new designs for my book covers are done and they are BEAUTIFUL! If you have ordered an e-book in the last 2-3 days, give it an extra day to arrive via email as all our new covers are being added to our PDF, epub and ibook files! Thanks all and happy reading!
I am a HUGE Apple and Mac fan, so it goes without saying that I own the Mac Pro laptop, the desktop system, i-phone, Apple TV and more... below are a few of my favourite apps, software programs and gadgets that make running my multiple companies easier!
THINGS (for Mac)
If you have a Mac computer, the "THINGS" software merges with your current 'to-do" lists and ical, and pulls everything into one program. You then have the option of adding TAGS to your never ending lists of things to do, tasks and projects. This allows you infinitely more flexibility in organizing your thoughs, projects, delegations and more!
I use tags such as DELEGATED (by staff member name) and the obvious breakdown within each of my companies like: URGENT, MEMOS, BO BEBE CR, BO BEBE WH, BO BEBE SH (for each retail location, and then I will create tag items by category like ACCOUNTING, PR, PO's, PAYROLL, etc. Being that I have 5 retail stores, I have tags for each store, tag for my magazine and all my other business projects. Then as I want to work on each category or project, I can sort my "to-do's by Tag name. If I feel like working on my new magazine articles, I pull up my MAG tag list, everything is there. It lets you sort all to-dos and projects by priority as well...check it out, it is a HUGE time saver! PS- one item can have many tags if needed..ie, BLOG IDEAS might also come under DEADLINES, BRAINSTORMING, URGENT.
There are many fantastic organizational tools via the app store that are massive time savers (and downright fun!) . One new one is called "My Measures & Dimensions" - it allows you to snap a photo and line draw and add measurements to it. How does this apply to business? How about you being at one retail location taking photos of shelving displays and then forwarding the photo with written measurements for merchandising for your staff at another location? Or perhaps real estate agents needing to take preliminary photos and measurements quickly for a sublease or trying to fit a P.O.P display into a certain, small area in your store,....very handy!
Other itunes/istore Apps, to check out:
Scan Biz Card- the obvious, scans business cards and places them into your Address Book. This is a HUGE plus when doing trade shows and business meetings. It's fast, paperless and solves 2 steps in one functional scan!
Drop Box -mobile files and storage, photos, files, videos, documents..
Bump -for fast exchange of details with one other i-phone, bump recipients. No more handing out biz cards at meetings or trade shows! One pitfall it is only works with recipients with the same app though.
TellMe Later - for people who do not keep a detailed calender/agenda but need reminders none-the-less. I tried to get my husband to subscribe to something like this; but unfortunately he is too disorganized to even download the app!
AutoPark - for business travellers, keep track of parking meters, parking spots, GPS parked car finder, etc..Dictamus -dictation app allows you to record messages, rewind, re-record, overwrite messages to yourself; to-do lists, dictate letters to your assistant, brainstorm while driving etc...then send the file to yourself or staff via email, mobileme, drop box etc... hundreds of various applications can be applied to this simple app.
It is funny how a trip to the spa for most people is a relaxing, therapeutic event. They arrive, they leave all their worries and troubles at the door; peeling off the grime of the work week and submerging themselves into bliss and oblivion. Right?
So how come when I win a PHENOMENAL spa package (yup, $10,000 worth!!) when I finally start to go for my appointments, I find myself brainstorming marketing ideas, worrying about my daughter's next medical treatment detail or blasting through a yet to be written to-do list in my brain while my lovely masseuse is working on my shoulder knots? Do any of you have that problem? Is this normal? Never being able to turn off the runaway train or sit still for that matter?
Somewhere between my full body massage and my honey-papaya body scrub I realized that if I didn't derail this bad-ass train; I was going to "work" throughout my entire first day of relaxation and pampering, albeit lying down on a spa massage table; but my brain was still working full tilt!
So I started to focus on my breathing, then I forced myself to relax every muscle from my toes to my nose. Then I focused on the music, then on the fabulous fingers melting the stress out from between my shoulder blades...and you know what happened? I RELAXED! My whole body turned to jelly, I think I morphed or oozed into the table itself. I cannot remember the last time I was actually able to truthfully, completely, thoroughly relax!
I put all my agenda items into "park", I shoved my unanswered email list out of my head and I laid back and enjoyed every delicious minute of my Honey-Papaya Scrub,Rub & Float. If you have not heard of this (I hadn't either), and if you are fortunate enough to live in Calgary, check out www.tobesublime.com and ask for the Nurturing Body Float (and ask for Casey, she is lovely!) I won't even begin to try and explain it here but it is a relaxing, hot, detoxifying, AMAZING experience that I will definitely be doing again!
My point being, don't wait to reward and pamper yourself. Yes, you can be a busy, successful business owner with a blessed and bustling company (or two or three!); just don't forget to balance it with some downtime....and if you just cannot turn off that brain of yours, go visit Sublime Energy Spa on 17th Ave SW and just ask Casey to turn down the lights; then let her massage your to-do list away!
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!