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



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.


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

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.

Do You Speak Employeese?

We talk with employees every day. We need them to complete tasks for their job and they need to tell us about the job they do. Seems simple enough, but why is it that there are still employees that we cannot get through to and have one team all working in the same direction? Maybe it is because you are not speaking the same language.

 It is not the phrasing or the words, but rather the lens they see your business through BEFORE you start talking that trips up a good conversation. Before you start a conversation with your employees, you need to understand what biases your employees bring to the table and how they are going to see what you have to say through that point of view. You are, after all, living in two different worlds and may never meet in the middle.

 You think about your business like a prize fighter does a big fight. You plan and train for the day and know that everything you do brings you closer to your goals. From the paperwork, the inventory you account for, and even the taxes you pay – both financially and physically, you are your work. It is something more than pride that keeps you going and you expect the best from everyone you meet. It is the lens that you see your business and your life through. Often you cannot see a reason not to work as hard as you do or why anyone would live any differently.

 Your employees, on the other hand, think about when they need to work and when they get to clock out. Their lens shows them how much money they bring in to the company (your company) and how much of that they get to keep. They see things in black and white. Black is the money that is coming in and white is the amount they get to keep after working hard all day long. They see other workers and calculate that you are rich off their hard work and they just get a small cut. They work – you get paid. They see when you drive up that you are in a nice car and that you have nice clothes. They know you take good care of your family and that, as your own boss, you have the time to spend with your family. They work and do not have as much to go home to. Their lens, to them, is clear since they see things this way every day.

 Recently, I was speaking with an owner of a successful company and he stated he could not get his employees to get extra training and was adamant that they would call in sick, just not show, or have one of a hundred excuses to keep them from showing up. My knee-jerk response was, “You pay them don’t you? Just tell them it is mandatory.” This advice was poorly given and received.

 What I should have done is find out more about the employees and why they did not want to show up. Once I asked the right question, I found out that they wasted their time in a training class in years past and did not want to repeat this. Simple. To them, they wanted to know more about the training before committing to the time required to go. Once we wrote an agenda and had a conversation about how it would help them, they all agreed to show up.

 What else do you want your employees to do that they approach halfheartedly or not at all? The job never end, it just takes on new challenges.

 Find the lens that they see things through by asking questions and removing your own biases and you will get the job done. Follow a few standard questions to help you see things more clearly.

  1. Is there resistance because of time, money, or education/ training issues?

  2. Is there prior experiences that keep them from committing?

  3. Does the message need to come from someone else?

  4. Have you had success discussing this issue before? What is different now?

Stop before you talk and think things through by looking at it as an employee would. Talk with them…not at them. You will find that they return the favor and explain things in terms you will understand too.

Bob Griffin

CEO – Business Bulldog

Business Bulldog