Thursday, September 18th14.6°C
Ignite Innovate Impact - Geoff Mintenko

Ten shots of espresso

Business is slow, sales are flat, margins are weak and staff morale is low.

It’s a story I hear, more often than not, from retailers far and wide. Many souls reminiscing of the good old days, and longing for their speedy return.

My general advice to those individuals is, if you’re waiting for your business world to return to normal – don’t. You have to accept the world never returns to normal. However, if you learn to adapt you can still enjoy remarkable success.

When I’m asked if there are any quick fixes to start business rejuvenation, I can safely say it all starts with taking action and it’s my belief the time to act is always now.

For those that may need a little more direction on what they could be doing to increase business, check out the list below to get you started. Think of these 10 points as shots of Espresso for you business, recharging you, giving you energy and igniting your company’s soul. Drink up!

  • Many services and products that once required face time can be profitably handled online. Make sure you have a current and meaningful presence online.
  • Aggressively go after local markets that big companies can’t reach.
  • If you wish to attract a younger demographic of shopper – forget traditional advertising. Make sure your products rock the cool factor and they’ll do your marketing for you.
  • The price is right. There’s little most consumers won’t leave home for if the price is right. Forget about yesterday. What is the market willing to pay in the now economy?
  • Being different makes all the difference. You have to be the most of something to stand out. Ask yourself – Are you the most of anything?
  • We are living in the age of disruption. You can’t do big things if you are content with doing things a little better than everyone else. Be a change agent!
  • History lesson. In troubled organizations rich with tradition and success, history can be a curse. The challenge is to break from the past without disavowing it but not letting your past control your future.
  • Become radical! Meet very basic customer needs with a radical new design.
  • Many companies are surrounded by customers, suppliers and advocates who are busting with ideas and eager to be involved. Why not invite them to share their best ideas with you?
  • Never underestimate the profit potential of fun. A fun workplace is a happy workplace, staff thrive in these environments and customers feel the good vibe. This equates to less staff turnover and increased profit. Doesn’t that bring a smile to your face?


There it is friends, 10 quick shots of Espresso for your business, just another million or so shots available for the taking if you decide to take action. You already know how I feel – The time to act is always now.


Questions, comments? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion.


Why we bought our new car from you

My secondary title for this piece could have been – Why we didn’t buy our new car from you.

Though names won’t be named, to the expert we bought our new car from, you know who you are, and we thank you very much for your exceptional service. Though names won’t be named, to the other dealership we shopped, please use this article as a checklist on how to improve customer experience. Often observations from an outside the industry individual, can add tremendous value. Many companies have become blind to their own surroundings and require a fresh set of eyes to help them grow and create new best practices.

Both my wife Karen and I have extensive backgrounds in sales and marketing, as well as being sales trainers and facilitators in a multitude of levels. We equally enjoy, appreciate and evaluate the sales processes we involve ourselves in as consumers and both love the art of great salesmanship when it shows itself.

Now let’s get to it! The fact is, Karen and I make very quick decisions. We decided it was time to replace one of our cars. We both had an idea of what we liked and had the choice narrowed down to two different makes and models almost immediately. We researched both models online and were pleased with what we learned about each of them.

We had never driven either of these new vehicles yet and it was time for a test drive. Tens of thousands of dollars were about to be spent and it was simply going to come down to one test drive and how our overall customer experience was that would indicate where our dollars were to go.

Here is my personal business audit.


Dealership #1 - Where we bought our new car.

  • Well defined sales lot, new vehicle inventory front and centre, clean and vibrant. The stars shine!
  • Many places to park in our area of interest. This is convenient.
  • We were able to browse the inventory ourselves without being approached by anyone. This is comfortable.
  • Plenty of room to walk around entire vehicles front to back. Gives you a great visual perspective.
  • Wide selection of models with many different options and colors available for us to look at. This shows abundance combined with custom choice.
  • Clearly defined signage on each vehicle listing options and final price. A confused mind says no. Being clear and upfront leaves no grey area. It makes choice easy.
  • We found new a car we were interested in.
  • I was happy to go and ask for assistance once we had our personal look around.
  • The person I approached was friendly and personable (non-aggressive). I was asked if we had been dealing with anyone prior. It shows they care.
  • Upon my brief description of the car we were looking at, the sales pro knew his inventory and got us the keys.
  • We were then given a tremendous, thorough, professional education on the features and benefits of the vehicle.
  • Test drive time. Karen put the car through its paces. The sales pro was along for the ride listening to our questions and answering them with enthusiasm and confidence. Karen tops the drive off with her sensational figure eights in an open area; she appreciates fine tuned steering and performance.
  • The test drive was done and the sales pro reviewed all the great promotions that were being offered on the vehicle we drove.
  • The level of service was top notch. We informed the sales pro we had one more dealership to check out prior to making a decision. The sales pro understood completely and reinforced they were there for us if they could assist in anyway.


Dealership #2 - Where we didn’t buy our new car.

  • Sales lot was a jumble. A few new cars in the front of the sales lot. Used inventory was featured front and centre as what was being promoted heavily. This car company has a strong brand reputation – You are the only show in town, lead with your new inventory to set the pace and create excitement for your personal brand.
  • Karen and I were just about to walk around to the back of the sales lot to look at the new inventory, when we were approached by a salesman. Please give your customers space.
  • The salesman wanted us to come into his office to qualify us. Karen was kind and obliged, I did not. I want to get a look at the selection up close and personal first, and then we can talk. This particular approach split us up as customers – not good.
  • Retail is detail and what I encountered next just didn’t jive. The entire new inventory was parked in the back sales lot. The cars are dirty, and parked so tightly together I couldn’t navigate around them to check their style lines or read the options and prices on them. I’m in shock.
  • Karen emerges from the sales office. She has given the salesman a basic overview of what we are looking for.
  • The salesman drives a dirty, black color vehicle out from the back lot for us to test drive. We laugh, the joke is we want pearl white; this couldn’t be further from the energy of our wishes.
  • After maybe a 4 minute review of the car, it’s test drive time. Honestly, no real features or benefits covered. We feel bewildered.
  • The salesman wants to drive first rather than having us drive. What’s up with this?
  • It’s then realized the vehicle is below the empty line on the fuel gauge, but hey, we’re going for it! How exciting, this is feeling like a Seinfeld episode to me.
  • We are taken on a drive for about 10 minutes, the salesman tells us about a problem that has been corrected in the model we are interested in. The problem is talked about 3 times by the individual. No meaningful positive conversation about the car occurs. Now it’s Karen’s turn behind the wheel.
  • We make a bee-line back to the dealership hoping not to run out of fuel.
  • The whole experience was so awkward, it’s not hard to say goodbye. We want to get the heck out of there.
  • We go back to dealership #1 and buy a new car.


The morale of this manifesto?

Every day, consumers make large and small purchases. Tens of thousands of dollars will be spent. Sales are made and lost every day, due to details, listening and communication skills, personalities and trust.

What kind of customer experience do you and your team deliver on a daily basis? Do you operate your business through the eyes of a customer, like dealership #1 does, or are you more of a #2?


Questions, comments? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion.

The 2% mindset & business

Many of you may have seen an infographic that has become quite popular in the multitude of social media circles we all travel in.

The 2% Mindset is a visual designed by whoisCH! and gives a great perspective on what separates 2% of the population from the majority that live in the comfort zone.

I can speak from experience that when you make a choice to grow and create change in your life and business, becoming part of the 2% is where you will want to stay forever.

Becoming comfortable living outside of the comfort zone will start to create a much more exciting abundant life for you and those around you. Living outside the comfort zone when applied to business will re-energize, stimulate and inspire new business growth and well being within your company.

I have seen firsthand the positive results over and over again when business owners living in the 98% have let go of playing it safe, stopped living in fear, stopped procrastinating, refused settling for less and stopped being like everyone else.

Being in the 2% minority rocks! The moment you allow yourself to explore new things in your business and act in spite of your fear, positive change will occur. You, your staff and your clients deserve the very best. Happiness, excitement and fulfillment is what business ownership is all about. If you don’t feel that way, trust me, the sooner you become part of the 2% minority, the better.

Enjoy the infographic attached, get out of your comfort zone, you never know, it just may change your life and business.


Questions, comments? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion.


The magic of MACY'S

I’m an avid consumer. I love MACY’S and absolutely no doubt about it, I love to shop. My consumerism has been a great benefit to myself and my clients in more ways than one as my business has grown over the years.

Being a visual person, combined with a strong background in retail and retail floor layout, has allowed me to develop a laser vision on what’s working on a retailer’s floor and what’s not.

In very quick measure, I’m able to see areas of concern, where money is being left on the table and plot a course of action to turn these areas or stores into income generators.

When I’m working with clients that require a fresh approach retail floor make over, MACY’S is top of mind to me on how retailing is done right and I’m more than happy to share some of their winning strategies.

To give some brief background, MACY’S Inc had fiscal sales of about $ 27.9 billion in 2013. They operate about 840 stores in 45 states. MACY’S workforce is diverse and includes approximately 172,500 employees.

Having just returned from Las Vegas, the MACY’S located in The Fashion Show Mall is still fresh in my mind, so I’ll use this shop as my basis today. However it’s important to know their standards are the same throughout their entire operation.

The magic of MACY’S key observations and winning strategies:

  • Clean, clean, clean - This MACY’S has two separate stores covering two floors each. The square footage is huge! Every single department in every area was spotless. It shows they care.
  • Lighting - The lighting was perfect. Bright and clean, no dark areas and the spot lights were placed perfectly over the displays they were featuring. It shows they care.
  • Clearly Marked Departments - No mixed messages here, departments are clearly defined and product mixes stay within their zones. The signage is superb, each department is specialized. It shows they care.
  • Big Open Walkways - Clean paths to navigate the store make life good! No pop up clearance tables or hanging racks in the walkways. A perfect balance is created between the merchandise and the consumer. It shows they care.
  • Abundant Selection - Every department from fashion to jewelry, bed and bath to dining was very well appointed. Stocked shelves and a deep selection of product mix shows that they mean business. It shows they care.
  • Background Music - Every department had its own groove happening. In the men’s wear area they were playing some cool blues. By the shoe department some upbeat dance. No local yokel radio being played here, they made the music personal. It shows they care.
  • Friendly, attentive, present and pleasant staff - Knowledgeable, present and pleasant staff makes all the difference. No pushiness, just really a pleasure to talk to. These people are really into what they are doing. It shows they care.

Now let’s set the record straight. I know most retailers do care about their clients shopping experience and you are probably one of those retailers. The problem is, often retailers become so busy in the day to day nature of business they become blind to the details of their business that once set them apart. It’s just good to take an honest look at your operation now and again with clear focus and without distraction. It’s also important to know you don’t have to have a MACY’S budget to do a great job. I know you care.

I could go on and on raving about MACY’s, but I’ve got some shopping to do. Happy retailing!


Questions, comments? Come over to my Retail Evolution Facebook page and start a discussion. 

Read more Ignite Innovate Impact articles


About the Author

Renowned Retail Expert and Strategist Geoff Mintenko is the driving force behind the company Retail-Evolution. Geoff consults and speaks to power retailers North America-wide, sparking innovation, igniting positive change and helping companies thrive is his passion.

Geoff’s real-speak, direct approach attitude to business, has garnered him local and international acclaim. The articles he writes and the keynote speeches he gives are meant to stimulate, educate and frustrate - that’s a good thing, it helps business evolve. Helping companies break boundaries, shift mindset and foster a culture of creativity is Geoff’s specialty. He has helped many companies thrive in this ever-changing economic climate.

You can find him at or [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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