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.

An Open Letter to the CEO of SEARS


Dear Mr. Ed Lampert,

When you took over as CEO of Sears I assumed you were hoping to make a lot of money and that you were the man for the job. As a small business and franchise consultant, I see a lot of guys who think they can handle the job. As a successful hedge fund manager, it is easy to see how you can take the leap from understanding spreadsheets to thinking that you had a handle on the pulse of retail. After all, there are spreadsheets at Sears.

I watched with great interest as Sears has turned from a family place to shop into a thrift store.  That is what you were working to make it into isn’t it? A smart, successful man like you can’t walk around Sears and think that you wanted people with real money to spend any of it there, so it must be a call to gather all the Walmart shoppers who want to visit a mall setting. Thrift Store in a mall! Genius!

I especially like the way you keep payroll down so you can add more to the bottom line. It took me forever to find someone to allow me to spend over $100 on a new battery for my car. This, I further assume, was to make me wander around the store searching for an employee so I could find more things to buy. I threw out my back carrying the battery, but I did see lots and lots of things on clearance. I will have to add a new rule to my Bulldog Rules for Business – “Make ’em wait!”

Your new tagline is “Life. Well Spent.” I get it now. I can’t spend money at Sears, but I can spend my life trying to find someone to help me. That old tagline, “The softer side of Sears”, was for wusses. Make ’em work to give you money! That must be the best strategy.

When I did find someone to help me he was helping someone else and I had to wait more. More genius! When he was done and the other customer wandered away, I was told I had to wait more since he needed to put paperwork in a little bin somewhere behind a wall. I am not sure what that was for since all he said was, “I’ll be back”, but it was apparently more important than me and my money. Whatever you told that guy his job was, he did it well. I waited for more than 10 minutes and then left.

There are many places to buy a car battery, but there is only one Sears. I think you can be proud of that. No one can be as service-oriented as you and your team. I can tell that you have them all trained that way. The recruiting and training process must be intense. Proud!

As I finish my letter to you, Mr. Lampert, I want to thank you for showing me what it takes to run a big box retailer. I know I am not ready for that level of, um, success. As for you, my retail friend, be ready for more success as things seem to be moving faster than you anticipate. Your spreadsheets can’t tell you the future. They only look at what has already happened. But, from what I saw, I can tell you things will be exciting this year. Exciting!


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

P.S. I will be happy to talk with you personally anytime, Ed. As a fee for my services, you’ll have to buy me one of those sweet clearance shirts that I can’t look at directly without getting dizzy.