January 10, 2015

►    There were 43 One-of-These Awards last month; two for Customer Service.  By himself, Joe received almost 30% of them!  Finalists were Joe, Mia, and Patrick.  Owner’s Choice was Joe.  Drawing winner was Joe.  Congratulations to all.

►    Stephanie has agreed to take on additional responsibilities, as Acting Sales Manager.  Why Stephanie?  Because she is an  excellent manager, and can organize our sales process, and enforce all salespeople (not just those stationed at the Design Center) in follow-up, competitive shops, and more.  Why Acting?  Because the job, done right, would be a lot of work. Should we develop another person for some or all of those responsibilities, she might split the job.  However, my inclination is that Stephanie will develop into to an excellent Sales Manager, in addition to her primary job.  Patrick, Jeanne, and I are very happy that she has agreed to take on this new project.

►    Marquis has improved the design of their Signature filter cartridge.  It now has a better core and fabric.  Most noticeably, the top helps to keep the cartridge centered in order to prevent cross-threading and to filter more efficiently.

►    Customer Feedback:  Customer Charles D., from Candia, NH stated that his general shopping experience with us was Good.  Did any of our team members do an unusually good job?  “Patrick found the liner we needed for our pool.”  Sales help and operations were rated Excellent.  Communication was rated Good.  What can we do to improve?  “Move closer to the Seacoast.”  What do we do really well?  “Advertise.”

►    Advertising, specials, and promotions all continue from last week:  “Family Fun Sale”

►    Rose got us some $10 discount cards while buying gift cards for the One-of-These Awards.  The Longhorn one expires 2/9/15, two Olive Garden ones expire 1/31/15, and two Chili’s ones expire 2/10/15.  They all have fine print and may require an additional purchase so read those labels!  First come, first served, on the breakroom wall.

►    It apparently bears repeating:

  1. When someone calls for another team member, and you have to offer to take a message, you MUST offer to the customer, to take a message, or: Could anyone else help you? Imagine how angry a customer would be to play telephone tag for a week or two, only to find out they could have been helped on the first call.
  2. Take a look at our customer feedback forms on our Service department. Overall, we get Excellent grades once we get to the job, but only average to good grades on how we handle the initial phone calls.
  3. Another person answers a call, announces “Water chemistry on line one”. You pick up and say “Hello, this is ____. How may I help you?” That is also rude. It makes the customer think that they wasted their time talking to the first person. You say “Hello, this is _____. You have a question on water chemistry?” That makes the customer think that we care about him or her. In 40 years of retail, I have never had a clue announced on a call announcement that I could not turn into: “You have a question on (fill in the subject)?”

►    You voted to have a second party back at the store, after the Wrap Party dinner, and contribute to the cost from the Tip Jar.        Since we did not need a bartender, I am not going to take anything from the Tip Jar for it. Now a question: If we eat in a restaurant first, then come back here how badly do we need a bar? My preference is to have no alcohol at all, because I don’t have to watch the under-21 crowd, especially their guests. What do you think? You just had 3 hours of open bar at the restaurant. Here, do we have a full bar? Beer and wine only? Just soft drinks?

►    I’ve been asked why we have not had a raffle at the Wrap Party for a few years. The original purpose of the raffle was to return prizes and kickbacks to you, from our vendors. Jeanne and I would throw in a couple of hundred dollars to make some of the mystery gifts more interesting, but it was mostly to return gifts to you – like the Tip Jar. We actually had a lot of kickbacks from Baquacil, who paid us for conversions with points to buy things. Anne-Marie would review our receipts and apply for whatever we could, then cash in the points for small appliances, etc. We also had stationery vendors who sent us “bribes” to buy from them. The MASCAR prizes should be handled this way if we ever get something better than a coffee cup or a towel.  All the vendors cut way back on these things after the recession started in 2007. Though a few seem to be starting to come back now. Baquacil is no longer letting us use points for prizes, though they are letting us use some for promotional giveaways (like the beach balls), and a trip. That’s how we paid for Ann’s trip to the Dominican Republic last year, and Mia’s trip to Costa Rica last week. Every year is different, as to what prizes (if any) are available.

►    A manager last week left me a note on a price question, and gave me how much the item cost, by looking at Retail Pro. Please note that what you are looking at is not necessarily the actual cost.  Typically, Retail Pro is going to show you the Early Buy PO or first cost.  There is supposed to be an inventory cost there also, that shows the actual cost after shipping.  However, it rarely does, because shipping costs are often not even known until 5 months after the item was put on an earl buy.  Plus, the reorder price (and freight) are not updated until at least a month after the reorder arrives – if, at all.  Plus the Retail Pro cost of a pool is just the pool – not the liner which we include.  A pool table does not include the cloth, the crating  charge (and often pockets), and a hot tub does not included chemicals.  That price is not there for you, it is there for the office and the factory.

►    I was in a meeting at Santander Bank, and they mentioned a promotion that I have seen them advertise.  It doesn’t make sense that they could give away so much money.  They say it is not a one-month promotion, and it is funded for at least five  years – from their headquarters in Spain.  I brought a brochure so Jeanne can look into changing our account.  I’ll put one in your mailbox, too.  It takes serious income:  $1,500 a month in your direct deposit, and paying two bills a month  electronically (all banks need to get people to stop writing checks and use just debit cards and electronic payments).  Checks  cost them a fortune to process.  Anyhow, I am not recommending it, and Jen is not going to appreciate having to change  banks for direct deposit, but I thought I’d pass it along.

►    More Internet Humor: A guy is walking past a big wooden fence at the insane asylum and he hears all the residents inside chanting, 13! 13! 13!   Quite curious about this, he finds a hole in the fence, and looks in.  Someone inside pokes him in the eye.  Then everyone inside the asylum starts chanting 14! 14! 14!

Added by Dennis:  This joke is either old or British.  We closed the insane asylums in the U.S. in the early 1960’s.  Now we have mental health hospitals, which are not the same thing.