When You’re Green You’re Growing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


When you’re green you’re growing. When you’re ripe you rot. – Ray Kroc

When owners talk about sales not being what they used to be, the quick question to ask is whether they are doing the same things that they used to in order to drive sales. It’s a simple question. If you are still doing what you have always done to drive sales and your profits aren’t what they used to be, then we need to find out what changed. It’s one of three things: Marketing Driver, Customer Tastes, or Message.


Marketing Driver

If you are “old school” and still using mailers to drive sales, the post office and the printing industry love you. Your customers are ignoring you since they read about sales at their favorite stores on their phones. The way you market didn’t change but your customer’s focus did. I still see people agonizing over whether to use TV and radio to get the word out about their brand. Why? Commercials are deleted with the tap of a button or ignored by changing the channel. You have to go where your customers are and they have a whole new home. Pewresearch.org states that 30% of the general population get their news from Facebook. That’s 30% of everyone!! Are you now getting the idea that a coupon postcard isn’t going to cut it?


Customer Tastes

If you have been in business for more than five years, then you have noticed that some of your best sellers when you opened are not selling nearly as well. Why? It’s because your customers are evolving. Do you speak with your customers or do you just sell to them? If you aren’t regularly asking your customers for their input on what they like, you are already in the process of going out of business. When you started, you were interested in what was driving your customers to buy from you and you wanted to give them what they were asking to buy. Somewhere along the timeline, you got lazy. What do you know about your customers? Are you doing tests with new products for good customers? Do you even know who your good customers are? Tracking sales from each customer is going to be more vital as you grow your business. Everything gets tracked online. Why aren’t you tracking things offline as well? Ask, learn, change and grow your business.



What does your message say about your business? There are great big businesses that fall down on message. Billion-dollar brands lose customers all the time because they aren’t connecting their message to what their customers want to hear, read, or see. The story you want to tell about your products or services is up to you to get across to customers. the tricky part is making the message relevant to the people you want giving you money. Is your message old, sloppy, or does it really explain why you want them as customers? Does it connect your product or service with the customer’s life? Is it an invitation to buy? Everyone wants to know they are invited to the party. Is that what your message does? Does your message have a call to action? I see marketing every day that is missing the call to action. What is it that you want people to do?

When you are green you’re growing. Are you green? Do you still actively look for customers or do you keep doing the same thing and expect the same results? Change happens with your input or without you. Embrace the change!


Bob Griffin
Chief Bulldog-in-Charge
Business Bulldog, LLC

Let’s Break Stuff

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Breaking Your Business


I like to take businesses apart and rework them. I like to take different businesses and mash them together. I am not the CEO of these businesses but I do work with them to get them to think bigger than what they currently have. It is part of a workshop I have to get them to grow through using their best technology – their brains!

The first part of the workshop is where I break off a part of their business and make them find ways to continue to work and earn profits. It is a struggle for them and it is the number one best way for them to find out who is a problem-solver and who is an anchor holding them back. For example, I remove their entire marketing campaign for the year and the budget. Now, I tell them not to  lose customers and to find ways to earn more customers. Ah, the fun begins.

Taking away parts of a business shines a light on the rest. For example, without a marketing department, you have to make the operations department work harder. Can they work harder? What would they need to keep and earn more customers? Do they have the training and tools to maintain and grow your business? OK, now write it down so everyone can see it. Writing it down and posting it make leaders cringe. That makes me smile because we are getting to the root of a problem. Comfort make owners lazy.

Would you be willing to remove part of your business to help what’s left of it to grow?I don’t like the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” way of thinking. Something always breaks and not being prepared is a stupid business strategy for saving money.

Remember, this is just the first part of my workshop. Ties get loosened and the suit coats come off when we get to this point. Breaking things is uncomfortable. When you lose your comfort zone, you gain clarity.

Want more ways to grow your business? Just ask. I can be reached at CEO@BusinessBulldog.com.


Business Use of Social Media

Are you using social media wrong?

Are you using social media wrong?


I have been educating myself more and more on the use of social media to grow brand image. It seems that many of us, Business Bulldog included, are using the platforms completely wrong. Yes, there is a wrong way of using something free. And, yes, we are wildly throwing away our brand name to get recognized.

First, let me say that I am recovering from my own poor use of this new media. Is it really “new”? It is since we are still getting new and creative platforms every week that portend to give us the ability to reach anyone anywhere.

Your website is your home base. It is where you have complete control and can give your audience, which sought you out, a clear vision of your company. Everything on your website should relate back to why someone should spend money on your products or services. A clean design that is colorful and has a “Call to Action” will leave your audience with a sense of purpose. Without those elements, you will lose them as soon as the log off. Understand that your website is the final stop and the point where you should be closing the deal. All other media should point to your website.

Facebook is a great example of how you could throw away a chance to make a good impression. I constantly see weird pictures posted to business Facebook pages that have nothing to do with getting to visit your website. Worse yet, I see things that make me want to close my computer and sanitize it. I won’t point you to any of those Facebook pages out of respect to those companies. Often, they hire someone who thinks that any post that they think is funny, intriguing, etc. will bring visitors. They measure success by likes. Likes on Facebook do not necessarily turn into visits to your website.  Measure the links to your website for accurate KPIs.

Twitter, as far as I can tell, is useless for businesses. No one is going to Twitter to find a business. Also, no one is going to transition from Twitter to a business website. Twitter users stay on Twitter. Grab your brand name but don’t worry about it as a driving force to bring visitors to you.

LinkedIn works well for developing who you are a pushing people to your website. It is the BEST place on social media to grab customers. Make sure the voice on LinkedIn for your business matches the voice you have on your website. Turning your LinkedIn business page over to someone looking for likes is a recipe for disaster. Again, if you measure the number of times someone found you through LinkedIn instead of likes on LinkedIn, you will have a accurate measurement. Don’t’ get spun around by online marketing that tells you that you need to have followers on LinkedIn. You need paying customers. That happens when you direct them to your call to action.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for social media but it gives you a great idea of what to look for in working on your online presence. Be prepared for slumps. People are looking for distractions until they start looking for resources. I’m sure there is a cycle there. Someone smarter than me can figure that out.

Take a good look at how you look on the web. Let me know what you changed and how it affected your bottom line.

Bob Griffin

Chief Bulldog-in-Charge
Business Bulldog, LLC.


Closed-Loop Listening


Closed-Loop Listening

Closed-Loop Listening


If you haven’t heard of closed-loop listening, you are probably using it. Some of the biggest companies on the planet get caught in this type of communications and reality-view. It is a bad idea, destructive at its worst and it the main reason that companies that have a great brand name get beat up by new businesses that are smaller in comparison.

Closed-loop listening is the use of twelve or less sources/people for information to make decisions. This leadership system includes sources such as people, news outlets, and books or magazines.

Pick the resources that you use every day or week to get a picture of how your business is running. I bet you don’t even hit ten. This limited view is why you are stuck in a rut and not able to out-think your competition. When you hear the same viewpoint, you never get all of the information you need to grow.

This is why you see big businesses replace their president or chief operating officer in order to get to the next level. The problem with that way of making change is that the next guy is going to bring in his own closed-loop. A new loop is good for a bit but isn’t a great way to understand your business.

I mentioned in a prior article on BusinessBulldog.org that learning about your business can be as simple as talking with the janitor or the person standing at the front counter ringing up sales. The TV show Undercover Boss made a series on this simple way for a CEO or founder to learn about the business they are leading. It’s a train wreck of a show. Watching people who think that a spreadsheet is where the money is made trying to do the job that actually makes the spreadsheet have any value is a brilliant disaster. They find great employees (that’s part of the shtick for this show) and they find some losers. Either way, they learn so much more about their business than the ten sources they have used in the past that they make serious changes to how they operate their business.

I recently reached out to the President of Mrs. Winner’s Chicken and Biscuits franchise, John Buttolph. We connected on LinkedIn and had a quick conversation about adding a subscriber element to his company website. He was fast to respond, open to suggestions, and most importantly, was able to see value in a new viewpoint. I will always promote a franchise that has that kind of leadership. Check out Mrs. Winner’s Chicken and Biscuits at http://lovemrswinners.com/.

How do you reach outside your circle of trust?

Finding best practices comes from looking up from whatever you have been focused on for more than six months. “We always did it that way” is the worst of all statements a leader can say. Finding better ways requires bringing in people who think differently than you do. You may not like everything they say but, they are giving you information. It is something you are missing as you listen to the same people you always have.

How many new resources can you find this week? Let me know where your best new resources come from at Bob@BusinessBulldog.com.






I have been watching the downfall of many great fast food and retail companies because they forgot to mention the only thing that matters in business to the employees (all of the employees). Even internet companies are starting to tick me off with their lack of laser focus on this one thing that will mean the end of the business. How is this possible??

Many of my reads have been in business for a long time and have been very, very successful. So, it hurts me to watch them drop the ball on training, reminding, and making SPEED OF SERVICE the number one thing everyone is talking about. When you think of what customers want in an experience, speed of service is one of the top two or three items on the list.

Must you have great products? Yes.

Is a clean, inviting environment to sell in required? Yes.

So, why don’t you also have fast, pleasant service? Customers don’t want to spend all day in your store. Even Starbucks gets the fact that customers may lounge in the chairs but when a customer asks for coffee, they move fast. Customers want what they want and want to leave once they get it. (My English teacher would kill me for that last sentence…oh well, I’m moving to fast to care)

Make the first thing you talk about every day speed of service. Even if you are the only employee. Speed of service can handle a lot of problems.

Speaking of problems, let’s talk about planning. Being prepared for the day’s sales is one thing. Being prepared for the bad things that happen every day is another. If you aren’t talking with managers on how to remove problems, then you are the problem. Start with a list of what has gone wrong this year at the store level. Make it a good long list. Write everything that didn’t help sell another widget or whatever it is you sell. Now, start planning on how to remove the problems. Speed bump removal is an art form.

I bet you fired a dynamic staff that can tell you how they removed problems from the sales floor nicely and with customers still smiling. Ask them what worked. You will be surprised at the answers. Remember to listen, not judge. Many of the answers will be wrong but in the heat of the moment, and without you giving them directions, they did what they needed to keep the sales moving.

I will write another article on how to remove SOS Bumps. Right now, I need to get working!

Enjoy your day and drop me a line on what is working to keep thing moving for you.


Is Ear-splitting a Business Plan?



I am currently sitting in a roller skating rink listening to the loudest Katy Perry song I have ever heard. Even if I did like her music before this, I don’t now. Loud seems to be the theme here. Everyone has to yell to be heard and that may be the point of it.

When someone started thinking about a business plan for a skating rink, they probably thought of it being a night club for kids. Not sure that is a good way to think but for some reason, it works here. Hang on, I have to clear the blood from my ears before I keep typing.


So, I was saying that loud is a business plan. It may be the fact that I may never get my hearing back and I want it to be for a good reason but being the loudest thing next to a jet engine may be exactly why parents bring kids here. And, that is a plan for profits.

Yes, the carpet looks like it was made by psychotic clowns and the painting on the walls looks like someone who lost their job airbrushing t-shirts at the carnival was the artist, but it works.  I didn’t bring a bunch of kids here for a calm afternoon. I want to wear them out and have them feel like they were someplace special. This has special airbrushed all over it!

Did you say something? It is tough to hear with the ringing in my ears and the table actually moving to the music. I’m distracted. Did you know if you raise the level of base high enough, it will actually alter the rhythm of your heart? Damn you Katy Perry!

I like talking with the kids. I learn something new each time I talk with them. Listening is a big part of my career helping business owners. That is how I learn how to help. At a skating rink, no one is listening. I think the staff is taught to lip read. For the kids, they don’t have to talk with Mom or Dad and can skate away and honestly say, “I didn’t hear you.” I think the best part is when the kids get to yell at their parents and get away with it. Where else can they do that?

Do you have something in your business that is different than everywhere else a customer can go? Is it a restaurant that has singing waiters or a movie theater where the staff gets to dress up like characters in the movies playing? You aren’t going to go to a desk job and see your boss dressed like a minion. You have to find a place like that. If not, tell me where you work. I want to work there too.

I make fun of business owners who keep doing the same marketing and wondering why they aren’t getting more customers. Read Sign Gnomes are a Nuisance on my other blog and you will see what I mean. Do the same things over and over and they happen to be the same as your competition and you will not make it in business long.

I think Katy Perry owns this place. Why do they keep playing all her songs?

What was I saying? Oh yeah, the kids love it. They are skating around and coming over to yell at me. Great times! To the owner’s credit, it is well air conditioned and it doesn’t smell. It is clean and well maintained. She gets it. How do I know a woman is the owner? She is wandering around with lots of gold and diamond jewelry on and is doing odd jobs. I am pretty sure she thinks she is managing the employees by adding ice to the fountains with a sanitizer bucket but that is another story.

There are plenty of average businesses. They make a good living for owners and do a service in the community. Absolutely none of them will survive past the next five years. Average means newer kicks your butt every day. And, there is always someone new to contend with in business.

Sorry. I was going to write more but there was a pause in the music and I had to hit myself in the chest to get my heart to work on its own.

Be different and tell me about it. Questions@BusinessBulldog.com

Bob Griffin
CEO and Chief Bulldog-in-Charge


The Stupid Little Things in Business

If you waste time on things that don't help grow your business you won't have time for the things that do.

If you waste time on things that don’t help grow your business you won’t have time for the things that do.


The Wall Street Journal had a story this week that McDonald’s has decided to remove Heinz ketchup from its stores since Burger King will now use Heinz in its stores. This is the dumbest argument I have heard in awhile. How about spending time and energy to have better service at McDonald’s? Training employees to serve the customers better is way more complicated than getting press for a war over ketchup.

You can read the WSJ article here.

There are far too many things that you can distract yourself with as a business owner or, in the case of McDonald’s, as the executive team at a major brand. I listen to business owners talk about the problem with one thing or another all the time. I have plenty of stories of owners fretting about stupid little things that do not add customers, profits, or loyalty to a brand.

For instance, I visited a franchisee in an ice cream store brand who was screaming about how a vendor was cheating him because the box said whole pecans and some of pecans were broken. I don’t think you could get me to raise my voice over pecans. I have never heard another complaint about pecans since and that was years ago. Sigh.

Another story is the restauranteur who told me he was saving tons of money by only giving two napkins to a customer. I can count on one hand how many restaurants went under because of napkin theft. One. That guy. He spent so much time worrying about napkins that he lost all his customers and closed. Stupid little things can eat your time and profits.

So what filter should you use when you want to spend the energy to improve your business? It is the same one I use when I consult with owners,

  1. Do any of your concerns interrupt daily business?
  2. Would making a change delay helping customers?
  3. What is it going to cost to make a change?
  4. If you waited a week or a month to make a change would it negatively impact your profits, products, or service?
  5. Does anyone else have the same concern?

I have more questions to help filter the problem into one of two piles, one of which is in the trash can, but any one of these questions leads to more topics and that is the point. Think it through before you spent anything.

If McDonald’s had looked at ketchup the way that customers look at ketchup (we don’t care), then they would have left Heinz where it was. If this is a publicity stunt, they just lost me as a customer. If this is a real problem, they have too much money and need to be taken down a notch. I, for one, am going to pack my lunch.

What stupid little thing have you worried about? I am at the age when I can let many stupid little things fall away. I used to worry about the owners that I couldn’t save. Now, I give them the advice and let them act on it. If they fail because they didn’t listen, I move on. I don’t control their ears.

What filters do you use? Is it a list of questions or is it a person (like me) who you can bounce concerns off to get a better perspective? If you don’t, the stupid little thing in business is YOU.

Free Wi-fi

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

WiFi stands for “What I Find Interesting”

The internet revolution is over. The internet won. Of all the things that we thought would take over the world of business, the internet was not high on my list of things to make or break a business, but here we are. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the strategy ends at the wi-fi connection.

Your reputation on the internet, your webpage, your likeability, and your “tweetiness” will all show what kind of brand you are and whether people will spend money with you. Not once in my business classes in college did any professor explain that we needed to have a virtual presence and it needed to look really, really good.

But, here we are and all of us need to have a business plan for being seen by customers.

There are as many SEO Experts as there are websites and they all say the same thing – “You need to create a brand and announce it everywhere online.” That, my friends, is not going to happen unless you have a team dedicated to watching everything that anyone says about you and responds as well as adds great stories about your company every day.

I can save you time and money. The key to online success is to just be friendly. Earth-shattering isn’t it?

There are times when you should be talkative and there is the rest of the time. Those talkative times are when you have something great about your business that you want to announce to everyone. It adds value to your company to be new and fresh. Just adding noise to be seen every day is numbing and you will soon find your customers tuning you out.

If there is a new product, a place to find your coupon, or even an employee of the month, announce it and be proud. Business owners forget to bring something interesting to show and tell…yes, that is what the internet is. It’s a world-wide show and tell. The kid who brings a rock he found outside and doesn’t care more than to get talking to the class over with is forgettable. The kid who talks about getting a new puppy is excited and happy and someone to watch. Be the kid with the new puppy.

Also, find the right spot to talk. Facebook is not a great place to announce things any more. LinkedIn is only good for business to business. Twitter is even less great when you don’t have a lot of followers. So, what is the spot that your customers visit most? Ask them. A simple question to find out how they would like to hear from you. It could be an email, text, or mail. Whatever they want is what you use. Being everywhere is a waste of time and energy when your customers only listen is one spot.

Sorry to disappoint all the new marketing people who think they can make or break a business with their skills in using 140 characters or less. The key is being real and honest. When you don’t have something to talk about, it is OK to be quiet. When you are excited about your business, talk and show it. Simple.

Let me know what you are excited about in your business.

Bob Griffin
CEO and Chief-Bulldog-in-Charge

Franchise Even-handedness

Opened Book In Hand Stock Image  By phanlop88, published on 15 March 2013 Stock Image - image ID: 100147306

Franchise Even-handedness


In the world of franchising, there is no more damaging action than a side deal or special perks for a long-time franchisee from an executive in the franchise.  Every franchisor is thankful for the people who looked at the franchise and jumped in feet first on the recommendation of the founders and did well.

Thankfulness is one thing.  Being blind to putting that franchisee high up on a pedestal and not enforcing the rules evenhandedly is when real damage is done.

I could tell a million stories about deals that hit franchises hard because the founders wanted to show deference to a franchisee who has been in the system since the beginning or even just years longer than other franchisees.  I could also tell you stories, great stories, about franchisees who have been in a system for decades and still listen, learn, and help new franchisees out when they can.  Business is a choice.  How you treat your business is the split in the road.

Bulldog Rule for Business #9 You may not be the best person for the job goes right to the center of the problem.  You, as the leader of the franchise, may be the wrong person to be in charge because you are too close to the situation and can’t or won’t see the damage that you are causing to newer franchisees by being best buddies with the ones who helped start the brand.  We are all that way in some part of our lives.  As a leader, you affect more than just the relationship between yourself and franchisee.

  • If you can’t take bad news or even critical news about a franchisee you have known for a long time and deal with it like you would a new franchisee, then you are the problem.
  • If you “shoot the messengers” for the problems of the franchisees, then you are the problem.
  • If can’t see all franchisees as part of the chain and that they all need to follow the system the same way, then you are the problem.
  • If you can’t act the same with a franchisee who just joined as you do with a franchisee who has been in the system for a decade or more, then you are the problem.
  • If you would be sued for giving special treatment to a franchisee, then you are a BIG problem.

I have personally listened to franchise CEO’s give speeches about firing themselves if they were seen as the problem.  Funny thing about that is that they won’t step down and they won’t change their ways because they don’t see themselves as the problem.  So, the problem persists and the chain suffers.  If you have great employees leaving often, then you need to take a good hard look at things.

If I was interested in a franchise to invest in, I would spend my due diligence calling the newest franchisees, franchisees who have been in the system for a year, and a couple who have been in the chain for five or more years.  If I can’t get enough franchisees to call from the franchisor, then I wouldn’t buy in.

Questions to ask a franchisee who is new to a system would be:

  • Did you get what you were promised when you started?  Training, help with real estate, a person to call with questions, and more get promised by the development manager.  All of those items are needed to make you successful.  If you don’t get at least that much help, then sell fast and walk away from the franchise.  It is indicative of bigger problems that will grow over time.
  • A few months after opening, were you connected with a franchisee who has been in the system for years who can be a mentor?  Finding someone who has already been in the system and lived through the rough patch of starting out can make a big difference.
  • Is the mentor they paired you with someone who would remember what it was like when they started?  Build a business from scratch is a lot different than a business that has regular customers and strong base who know the brand.  I see this mistake more often than I like.  It is the “Big Brush Off” from the franchisor.  They figure that a franchisee who has been in the system for a while has the time and the desire to help other franchisees.  In fact, they may want to knock a new franchisee down to limit any competition.
  • Can you give feedback that gets a response?  I listen to franchisees.  It is how I am most effective in getting results.  If they don’t feel like anything is getting done to make changes to build the brand, franchisees become disgruntled and cause problems in order to be heard.  One way or another, franchisees will be heard.

I want to say that I have personally witnessed changes at the top of a franchise that have made the culture in the franchise grow.  But, I can’t.  There are so few times when changes to the way franchisees are treated that I have not seen it work or work well.  It happens but it usually takes a complete gutting of the executive team.  It doesn’t need to happen that way, but the power structure of a franchise is what makes it tough.  Why would a CEO change how he/she treats franchisees if it didn’t personally affect him/ her?  No one under the CEO will tell, so nothing changes for the better.

Step back, look at things as if you weren’t in charge, and give yourself the advice you would give someone who is sledding down a slippery slope thinking its a fun ride.  Rides end.  Being at the bottom is a tough climb back to the top when you could have stepped back sooner and made things right.

Bob Griffin – Chief Bulldog-in-Charge

Saving the Yogurt Industry

By digitalart, published on 02 May 2011 Stock Image - image ID: 10039925

Saving the Yogurt Industry

It occurred to me that we let a lot of industries die out because we label them a fad and let the customers walk away. Frozen yogurt has been a treat for decades and saw a renewal over the last five to eight years. Now, it is steadily declining in sales and I thought I would take a few moments and throw some ideas on the table to get things moving again. It may be my desire to tackle a challenge or my enjoyment in eating frozen yogurt, but I am going to give the industry a kick in the pants.

If you want to get your customers back, ask them to come back. Too simple? Yeah, it is. That’s why you need to do it.

Just letting the customers go or trying to send out more coupons is not the best solution. If you weren’t great at getting customer information, then start right now and invite what customers you do have back soon. For customers you lost, get them back with a big sign and a postcard you can mail to homes that says in clear terms, “I Want You Back! The same wonderful treat is still here and we are ready to do what it takes to bring you back.” It is a little bit of begging, but it also true. And, truth is the defining characteristic that will separate you from the competition.

Start a DAILY marketing plan. I see retail shops that only do visual marketing when they are slow or when they feel like they will get the most customers into the store. That is boring and, if you haven’t looked around, every other shop is doing the same thing.Yogurt, like many retail items, is not a necessity. You have to stay in front of the customers to get them to even think about coming in to your store.

Daily marketing also means that you have to be creative and consistent. Signs are relatively cheap and can be put up and taken down fast. If you can get away with signs near the street, put up something that customers can read as they drive by at 55 miles per hour. Big, colorful letters on a plain background works best. If you can’t have signs because of local laws, then decorate your own car with advertising. Coupons on your car is not destructive and it is not a sign at the street. It is funny and eye catching. Park your car near your store, but not in front. Make customers stop and look. Do this every day of the week and then change your game for the following week.

Create a challenge. There is no one more creative than everyone. Use the power of the people to bring sales back to your store. What is the next flavor you want to taste? Are you the ultimate frozen yogurt lover? Can you name every flavor? Can you name every flavor by just tasting it? Who can eat the most before getting an “ice cream headache”? What’s the best dance moves to get rid of an “ice cream headache”?

You see, the number of things you can do to be creative is unending. What will the yogurt industry do? Stay tuned…they may just listen and act.