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

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

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.

Lose Business – Eat BBQ!

I managed a dry cleaners during college to help pay the bills. It wasn’t an enviable job, but finding a decent job when there are thousands of other students looking for work isn’t easy. I considered myself lucky just to have the job.

It was a back-to-basics customer service kind of work. There were six or seven other dry cleaners on the same road, so being the service leader was vital to staying in business (and keeping my job). I would get to know each customer and have their clothes ready when they pulled up.

One night I was called by the owner. He told me there had been a fire and the entire store burned down. This was a real nightmare. You only bring your best clothes to the dry cleaners and now they were burned or smoke damaged – definitely not very clean.

The owner, not being the brave one, gave me the job of calling all of the customers and letting them know we lost their good clothes to a fire. I had to get the price they paid for the clothes to give to the insurance company and other information so they could be paid for their loss. On top of that, I had to sit outside the burned ruins of the business and talk with the customers who drove to the store to talk. This was a perfect time to use some of those crisis management skills I had learned.

Overall, customers were supportive. I had spent the prior year getting to know them, their families, and the story behind a lot of the stains on their clothes. I had a ready question about their family, work, or vacation when they visited to drop off or pick up clothes, so letting them know how sorry I was that we burned their nice clothes was easier because they also knew me.

There were customers who were not so nice. I still vividly recall those people in my mind. The screams of, “How dare you burn my clothes!” and “What are you going to do about this!” were ringing in my ears for weeks after the accident.

Once the insurance company paid the claim, things really got moving rebuilding the store and the brand.

Think about that for a second. We were going to get back into the same business where just months earlier we had lost all of our customer’s clothes. This was a business that was out of business and sent customers to our competitors. How in the world was I going to attract customers back and keep them after an accident like this?

I gave them BBQ!

Bulldog Rule # 7 – Remember to dream about where your business can go and then make it happen

When it came time to reopen the store, I wanted to take some of mystery out of dry cleaning. After all, how do you clean something without getting it wet? I also gave the customers a chance to look around the sparkling clean, new store. I sent invitations to our “Re-Grand Opening” and made it look like a party. We had music playing, toys for the kids, and BBQ sandwiches to eat. I decorated the outside of the store with balloons and streamers and made a sign to hold at the street.

Now, I want to mention the BBQ sandwiches again. This was my moment of genius. Since customers are always worried that stains on their clothes would not come out, I made sure to feed them something that was guaranteed to cause stains. Once they dripped that tasty BBQ sauce on their shirt, I would bring them back to the new machines that would remove the stains and show them how it worked. If it was possible, I would use some of the cleaning fluid and remove the stain while they were still wearing the shirt. On top of that, I gave them a coupon with a steep discount to use on their next visit.

Customers came back because they could see how nice the store was and that we truly wanted them to come back. I re-instituted the customer service that we were known for and customers even brought new customers.

In the end, a fire made things look overwhelmingly dire, but taking advantage of the good customer service I had provided along with a plan to transparent business model gave us a chance to come back stronger than before. A year later, other dry cleaners on that same street started to close. We had taken too many of their customers to keep them going.

If you think like a Business Bulldog, there is always a chance to bring your best efforts. You just have to want it, plan for it, and make it happen.

Bob Griffin – CEO and Chief Bulldog-in-Charge


When I am asked by small business owners how to improve their business I ask questions. The more questions I ask, the better I can see how their business operates. More importantly, the more questions they answer, the more they can see about their business. Often we put blinders on when we look at our business, employee’s performance, or customer service. Having a list of questions to answer about facets of your business can bring a clearer focus to what you think you know about things. The way to do that is to SWOT it.

SWOT stands for:





Have four sheets of paper ready to work on this exercise. The more you are able to write (even if you think it is not important) the more clearly you will see your business and the changes that you can make to have an immense impact on your success.

What are the strengths of your business? This is also known as the elevator pitch. You should be able to give a clear description of what your business is about and why someone should work with you as opposed to a competitor in the time it takes an elevator to go from the lobby to the top floor of a building. Of course, you should have more bumpers sticker phrases to give all the strengths about your business. Starting with, “Why should I buy from you?” is a good focus for the first run-through on a SWOT analysis.

Weaknesses are tougher to name. Both because you do not like to mention them, but also because you may not easily see them. Answer the question, “Why do people NOT buy from my business?” and you will have an uncomfortable list of things to fix.

Opportunities are the part of your business that more often than not costs you in time, money, or effort. Be honest with yourself. Think, “If I had unlimited time, money, or manpower to make changes, what would I do?” The answers to where your opportunities are will show up on your list easily. Take your time and think back to when you were first starting your business. What vision did you have when you wrote your business plan? What do you need to change to bring that vision to life. Business Bulldog Rule #7 – Dream about where your business can go and then make it happen.

Threats are easier to see, but no less tough to see on paper. Competition is the first on the list, but what about internally in your organization? Are there people on your staff who are not helping make your vision come to life? What about cash flow? Are you able to ride out this economy and still make payroll? Threats can come from every direction imaginable. Are you covered if someone gets hurt at your store? What if the street in front of your store closes down for a week or a month? What can you survive and grow despite?

Bulldog Rules for Business were written using this format. Bulldog Rule #6 – Failing to plan for your day, week, month, and year is unacceptable is a good example of where this website came from. How about Bulldog Rule #8 – Re-examine your business often is what we are doing when we use the SWOT method. Even Bulldog Rule #12 – Be aware of your entire business is a SWOT in the right direction.

SWOT every business you can. Not only will you find interesting facts that can help make your business stronger, but you will be able to forecast when business opportunities become available before your competition. You can SWOT anything really. Your business is just one part of you day, so why shouldn’t you look at what else in your life takes time away from building your business. SWOT your business and then make the changes you need to grow, thrive, and build a business that exceeds your vision.

Bob Griffin – CEO and Chief Bulldog