Episode 3

Welcome to Mining the Store, the podcast for small business owners who want to mine more gold from their businesses.  This is Episode 3.

There’s no “I” in podcast, so your comments are very important.  You can leave a comment here on the show notes page.  Or, you can email your comment to mike@miningthestore.com.  If you’d like to leave an audio comment, you can attach an mp3 file to your email.

Skype users can leave an audio comment at mike.buckley3.

Our music is called “Shenandoah” and it’s by Larry Allen Brown from the Garage Band web site, find it here.

Mining the Store is a member of the blubrry podcast network, http://www.blubrry.com.

According to my wife, I should lighten up, so welcome to Mining the Store Lite–half the fat and calories of our regular podcast with all the flavor.

Looking for great free software?  Here are two “best of” links.  PC Magazine’s “Best Free Software” and CNET’s “Webware 100“.

Results of our field trip to Branson, MO, the “live entertainment capital of the United States.”

Could your keyboard be 500 times dirtier than your toilet seat?  The BBC says yes.

MTS finally gets into Twitter.  It’s a lot more than we thought it was.

Check out what I do at my day job at the Mine Your Own Business blog.

Direct download: Episode_3.mp3
Category: podcasts — posted at: 12:14 AM

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It’s My Podcast and I’ll Brag if I want To

When it comes to strenuous physical exercise, I can watch someone else do it all day.  If that someone happens to be related, I’m definitely there.

Yesterday, son Tim completed the St. Louis Half Marathon (that’s thirteen point one miles) in a time of 1:51:45.  With gasoline at more than $3.00 per gallon, I’m lucky to drive 13.1 miles in under two hours.

Seriously, his mother and I are very proud of him.  Through diet and exercise he has trimmed down and gotten himself into excellent shape.  We’ve seen him running mile after mile during the sometimes brutal St. Louis winter to reach this point.  Training to be a distance runner is a very lonely and solitary pass-time.  It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to push yourself out the door in sub-freezing temperatures, often in the dark, to do the training necessary to compete in a spring long-distance race.

Oh, yeah.  While he wasn’t running, he’s been doing the work necessary to receive his master’s degree and to accept a teaching position at a local university.

To stay with the theme of Mining Your Own Business, persistence is one of the most important traits any entrepreneur can possess.  Much like Tim’s training, sometimes you have to push yourself out the door when you’d really rather go back to bed.  But it’s that extra effort that marks the difference between champions and the rest of us.

Episode 2

Welcome to Mining the Store, the podcast for small business owners who want to mine more gold from their businesses.  This is Episode 2, more of a mile stone than you might think.  Only 98 to go to reach 100!

There’s no “I” in podcast, so your comments are very important.  You can leave a comment here on the show notes page.  Or, you can email your comment to mike@miningthestore.com.  If you’d like to leave an audio comment, you can attach an mp3 file to your email.

Skype users can leave an audio comment at mike.buckley3.

Our music is called “Shenandoah” and it’s by Larry Allen Brown from the Garage Band web site, find it here.

Mining the Store is a member of the blubrry podcast network, http://www.blubrry.com.

The Shane Company

Blendtec–Makers of the Total Blender

Show notes:

A review of Joseph Jaffe’s latest book, Join the Conversation–How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialog, and Partnership.

Links:

Ark Building for Dummies–No link.  I made it up.  It hasn’t rained 40 days and 40 nights……yet.

Join the ConversationpHow to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialog, and Partnership

Jaffe Juice, the blog and podcast

My review of JTC on Amazon.com

Episode 1

Welcome to Mining the Store, the podcast for small business owners who want to mine more gold from their businesses.  This is Episode 1, our first official program.

There’s no “I” in podcast, so your comments are very important.  You can leave a comment here on the show notes page.  Or, you can email your comment to mike@miningthestore.com.  If you’d like to leave an audio comment, you can attach an mp3 file to your email.

Skype users can leave an audio comment at mike.buckley3.

Our music is called “Shenandoah” and it’s by Larry Allen Brown from the Garage Band web site, http://www.garageband.com/song?%7Cpe1%7CS8LTM0LdsaSlZFO_ZGE.

Mining the Store is a member of the blubrry podcast network, http://www.blubrry.com.

Show notes:

Backup and Save–Don’t do as I say, do as I do. Save your work regularly and whatever you do, backup your files and store the backup media away in a location away from your computer. Mine Your Own Business is the Tacony Corporation blog.

MyMoney.gov
Here’s something free from your favorite uncle, Uncle Sam. Good consumer advice available by mail or download.

Keith Burtis’ Magic Woodworks
Keith used the power of social media to sell out of his hand turned wooden bowls and earn enough money to pay off his fiancee’s engagement ring, just in time to pop the question at Podcamp Toronto.

Joseph Jaffee is a social media guru, and author of Join the Conversation.

Kappy’s Department Store–My first job (at age 14) introduced me to the best retailer I’ve ever known. And he didn’t even own a computer. Social media tools are just that—tools. Don’t let the tool get in the way of the conversation.

Download the podcast here:

Mining the Store-Episode 1

You’re the Expert

Reporter
We all do what we do because (we believe) we’re good at it.  Whatever it is that you sell, you know more about it than just about anyone else.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get some recognition of that fact?  Here’s a chance to do just that. 

Donna Papacosta, on her Trafcom News blog, points us to a service called "Help a Reporter Out."  It was started by Peter Shankman to help his journalist friends find sources for articles.  Here’s how it works.

Sign up on Shankman’s web site as a source.  Journalists post the articles they’re working on and you receive daily emails listing the topics.  If you have the expertise to "Help a Reporter Out" you respond to the request.  Voila!  You’re an expert.  The reporter gets the information he/she needs and you get credit as a source.  According to Shankman’s web site, HARO has over 12,000 members and "has a growing stable of national journalists using the service on a daily basis."

But what if the reporter’s a thousand miles away?  What good is it to be an expert in Seattle if your store is in New Orleans?  There are a dozen ways to use your new-found celebrity.  Post the article on your web site.  Write about it on your blog.  Post copies of the article in your store.  Use it in your advertising.  How much traction you get from the publicity is up to you.

Even if all you do is show the article to your employees to show them how smart you are, it’s well worth the effort.  Anything you can do to build up your reputation as the expert in your field builds up your brand and will increase your sales and profitablilty. 

Bonus tip:  If you do get quoted in a distant publication, don’t hesitate to send a copy of the article to your local news media.  The next time they need help, they may just come to you.

Practicing What You Preach

Meatball
How would you feel if Jack Nicholson complimented your acting?  Or if Frank Sinatra complimented your singing?  What if a best-selling author complimented your work?  I’m betting you’d feel pretty good.

Yesterday (No Way to Treat a Friend) we quoted and linked to a blog post by Seth Godin called “Two Seconds”.  It was a post on taking just a little extra time to make the customer feel like a friend. 

We’ve quoted Seth here before.  He writes great stuff.  His blog is on virtually every list of the top business blogs.  He’s written a number of best selling books and is a popular speaker.  There’s no doubt that Seth Godin is a guru and a super star in the world of marketing.

If you look at yesterday’s post you’ll see that Seth Godin left a comment.  But not just any comment, he wrote:   

“Well said!

thanks for reading.” 

Here’s a guy who actually practices what he preaches.  Five words!  Twenty-four letters, a period, and an exclamation mark!  (He didn’t just say “well said”, he wrote “well said !” ) It took ten seconds, tops, and it made my day.

I’m not here to brag even though the top marketing blogger on the planet took the time to acknowledge my writing.  That’s not the point. 

The point is, this is a busy guy, but he took ten seconds to acknowledge another human being. No big deal—but a huge deal!

Forget Batman and Spiderman, and all the other super heroes.  Take a lesson from Seth.  You have a super power of your own.  The power to make someone’s day. And it only takes a few seconds!

No Way to Treat a Friend

Seth Godin wrote the other day about an experience he had in a restaurant.  The maitre d, after looking up Seth’s name in his magic reservation book said "’over there against the wall,’ while he pointed.”

Now, I’m just guessing, but given Seth’s success as a speaker and author, and the fact that he was greeted by a “maitre d” this probably wasn’t a place with “bar and grill” in its name.  Not that that makes a difference.  Some of the best service I’ve ever had has been in places where you were lucky to get a paper napkin, let alone a cloth one.  Good service doesn’t have to equal high price. 

Don’t you consider someone who comes into your place of business a friend?  Doesn’t that person deserve the same consideration you would give someone who came to your house for dinner?  I can’t imagine telling a friend “over there against the wall”. 

As far as I know, no one is trying to steal my friends.  But I do know that someone is trying to steal your customers.  Don’t make it easy for them by not treating everyone who comes into your store as a friend. 

Seth’s post is called “Two Seconds” because that’s the amount of extra time it would have taken the maitre d to be courteous.  I’d say that even if it takes ten seconds, or thirty, or even an extra minute or two, it’s time well spent.

Are You a Vac Head?

Today’s post is very unusual for MYOB.  While we primarily focus on information that we think will be of value to Tacony Corporation’s dealers, this is an open forum.  Anyone is welcome to participate.   Our topic today is one that is directed primarily at vacuum cleaner and sewing machine dealers.  It’s not limited to our customers, but it is limited to readers in those two specific industries.

Today we are launching a new service to the vacuum and sewing industries called "VacHeads".  VacHeads is a forum for dealers to discuss specific issues that affect their day-to-day operations.  It’s also open to manufacturers– not just Tacony Corporation, but to all manufacturers who wonder what dealers are talking about, or who want to talk to dealers.  As you can tell by the name, the forum is focused more on vacuums than sewing machines, but strong participation by sewing dealers could potentially lead to a spin-off sewing forum.

Like this blog, we are offering the VacHeads forum as a service to the industries we serve (at least to two of them).  There’s no charge to belong and the only requirement for membership is that you be a qualified retailer of vacuums and/or sewing machines.  We encourage ALL qualified retailers to join.  We also encourage our competitors to join.  Our goal is to see a continuing dialogue among dealers and manufacturers which will benefit everybody.

Disappearing Laptops

Laptop_wings
I’m not sure exactly what this means but according to an outfit called the Ponemon Institute, more than 10,000 laptops are reported lost every month at the United States’ 36 largest airports with just 35% of them being reclaimed.  Another 2,000 are lost at middle-sized airports every month with just 31% reclaimed. 

According to my math, that’s a total of 12,000 lost laptops per month with 4,120 being reclaimed, or a net loss of 7,880 per month.  Multiply by 12 and you have a phenomenal total of 94,560 laptops going missing per year.  That’s a lot of computers!

According to Ponemon 77% of the unlucky laptop losers say they have "no hope" of recovering their property and 16% say they won’t even try. 

This report seems to ask more questions than it answers.

  • Where do all those missing laptops go?
  • Were they lost or were they stolen?
  • Given the high cost of the average laptop, why are so many people so lax in protecting their (or their company’s) investment?
  • With so many people having no hope of recovering their machine, does that mean that they haven’t bothered to record the serial number or engraved identifying information on this expensive piece of equipment?
  • Not to be overly-suspicious, but could some of those who "lost" their laptops, especially the ones who aren’t even going to try to get them back, be ready for an upgrade (at the cost of their insurance deductible)?

We’d be interested in hearing from anyone who’s lost their laptop at an airport or elsewhere to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to Trevor Cook at the Corporate Engagement blog from Sydney, Australia for the story lead.

Here’s some good information on protecting your laptop and your information.

Does Wal-Mart Really Hurt Small Business?

Last week Business Week online posted an article with this title.  The article cites research done by Russell S. Sobel and Andrea M. Dean of the University of West Virginia.  Their conclusion? 

“Contrary to popular belief, our results suggest that the process of creative destruction unleashed by Wal-Mart has had no statistically significant long-run impact on the overall size and profitability of the small business sector in the United States.”

Always willing to take one for the team, your intrepid blogger has read the twenty-two page study so you don’t have to.  However, if you care to, you can find it here

To make a long story short, Sobel and Dean suggest that we must look at the big picture before we decide whether Wal-Mart has had a negative impact.  They fault earlier studies that looked at the data on a county-by-county basis.  This, they say, doesn’t give us an overall perspective of the issue.  In other words, if a hot dog stand opens up in Seattle, that cancels out the loss of a 100-year-old independent hardware store in a small town in Georgia.  One business opened, one business closed = no impact on small business.  Tell that to the third-generation owners of the hardware store.

They also point out that other businesses often take over the locations of the businesses that have closed with the arrival of the “world’s largest retailer.”  Their example is an art gallery that moves into that hardware store’s formal diggs.  That’s supposed to be an equal swap. 

Here’s where I believe their argument breaks down.  For the sake of round numbers, let’s say a small grocery store had been employing five people, including the owner.  Let’s say that they generated $100,000 in pre-tax profit on $1,000,000 of sales their last year in business, which included $200,000 of locally grown produce, locally produced bakery goods, and locally grown meat.

When Wal-Mart comes to town the grocery store goes out of business and is replaced by Sobel and Dean’s art gallery.  The art gallery owner is the only employee and he generates $100,000 in pre-tax profit by selling paintings that he painted himself.  He doesn’t pay himself a salary, so the $100,000 is his total income from the business. 

What’s the difference?  The difference is $900,000 in local economic activity, four jobs, and $200,000 not spent with local farmers and bakers.  The art gallery does minimal advertising where the grocery store was in the paper every week.   Because of the exodus from downtown, the art gallery pays only 60% of the rent that the hardware store paid and one out of every four store fronts on main street is empty meaning rents will probably go down even more.

While the grocer had dozens of regular customers who would come downtown each week to shop, often visiting the other stores in the area and eating lunch, the art gallery has a few high-end regular customers, but they may only come into the gallery two or three times a year.  According to the study, the two businesses are equal. 

Of course people don’t stop eating.  Those grocery dollars are still being spent and jobs are being created.  But a self-service grocery “super center” doesn’t create the same number of jobs relative to their sales volume. And, at the end of the day, the receipts are forwarded to Bentonville, AR, not to the local bank account of a local owner.

Academics may be able to generate charts and graphs to prove that local economies do just fine when all the business goes to out-of-town corporations, but real people in real towns know better.