The Tale of the Hot Dog Vendor

Rhonda Hiltbrand“Early to bed, early to rise, work like [#%!] and advertise.” – Ted Turner

Over the years there have been similar versions of this tale.  It is one of my favorites.  From time to time I get asked to share it again, so here it is!

The Hot Dog Vendor

There was a hot dog vendor who sold the very best hot dogs by the side of the road. His business was booming, people loved his hot dogs, and his business steadily increased month after month. The man loved his business and believed in the need to provide great food at a great price.

This man was so busy advertising and selling his hot dogs and making lots of money, that he didn’t even have time to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Consequently, he never heard a word about the potential economic slowdown. He just continued to offer his delicious hot dogs and his customers bought them. He kept advertising and selling, and they kept buying.

Then one day his college educated son told him that an economic downturn was surely coming. His son told him that people wouldn’t have enough money to buy his hot dogs. The successful hot dog vendor believed this, so on his son’s advice, he cut back on his advertising. Additionally, he started ordering less supplies and product, because after all, people would be cutting back soon.

He even went so far as to take down many of the billboards that led to his roadside stand. And sure enough, people stopped coming to him. People stopped buying his hot dogs, and he eventually went broke.

Then he thought to himself. “How smart my son is in predicting this.”

Hope you enjoyed it!

Happy advertising!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Can You Be Replaced by Artificial Intelligence?

rhonda…Stephen Hawking suggests that “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” to Elon Musk saying that “If I had to guess what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably artificial intelligence.”

I must admit to you all that I am a Star Trek fan. My favorites are Star Trek, Next Generation and Star Trek, Voyager.  When it comes to artificial intelligence interacting with humans I always picture Data and The Doctor.  I know a lot of Sci Fi shows (and even these showed the dark side of AI on an episode or two) have the AI’s wiping out humanity, unhappy at how they had been treated.

My inbox is full lately on the subject of AI. My Smartbriefs articles are all about AI and what it can do for businesses.  It has been seen as the way to get back good customer service.  I have been thinking a lot about that lately and think to myself…what a shame that customer service has become so poor that we need to create an artificial type.

I had the point driven home to me when I was exceptionally tired last week and in a moment of weakness drove through and ordered a diet coke.  (I try to just have my morning coffee and then water the rest of the day).  The person handed me a dripping cup.  I asked that it be wiped off please (who wants that on their clothes and in the cup holder?).  They did and I left and when I went to take a drink the lid came off, getting me wet anyway.  At that moment, I thought that an AI being couldn’t do any worse and perhaps could do a whole lot better!

The news was saying that in ten years banks will no longer have tellers as they will be replaced with AI.  I find that very sad. Other businesses are also preparing to replace humans with kiosks and other forms of AI.

Next time you are out and about notice the type of customer service you are receiving.  Then ask yourself if you are giving the best possible customer service to your customers.  It is something to consider.  I am sure no one wants to feel they can be replaced by AI.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Never Be Too “Busy” to Help the Customer

Most-Important-Visitor

Rhonda HiltbrandThis week I went, as usual, to our local farmer’s market.  They have many unique items, a wonderful array of Amish goods and local homemade items. I was at the deli counter and asked for a pound of shaved ham.  The counter person kept slicing and putting it up on the scale until it was short one quarter pound.  She sighed deeply and said if I must have a pound she would have to open a new package.  I was shocked at the attitude but said, “No, that is okay. I’ll try to get by with this amount.”

I think she then realized what she had done and asked me what I was going to use it for.  I told her and we chatted a bit about recipes and such and then she asked if I needed anything else.  Before I could answer she said, “I know, the rest of your order of ham!”  I told her it was okay and took my package and went about my shopping.

She was an employee at this small business and in my opinion basically cheated her employer out of a full sale (and this is always wrong no matter if it is a big box store or small independent) but I felt especially bad for this employer as it is a small, independent business and every sale counts!

I then thought about the Facebook post I had put on our News Works page (the one above) and thought…how very true!

Have a great month and treat those customers well!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Why We Suggest a Little Humor (and Sometimes a Lot!)

Rhonda HiltbrandHumor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place. ~Mark Twain

My mother has been gradually declining in health for four years.  She was 81 years old and today February 7th) the daily nurse came to my parent’s home and left some literature about what to expect during these final days of her life.  My sister and I were there, and of course, we were all feeling sad. (Mom passed around midnight).

Our dear Pastor Roberts came by and we discussed the funeral plans and he wanted some of my Mom’s history (where her and Dad met, where they got married and other facts) and Dad answered and told some stories.  The Pastor then asked us all to go to Mom’s beside where he prayed a beautiful, uplifting prayer.  He then asked us to join him in the living room.

Dad, my sister and I listened to him as he shared an experience he had as a chaplain for Hospice (he was a Hospice Chaplain for 30 years during much of his time as a pastor).  He went to a patient’s room that he had known for some time, and her two daughters were there.  He said he would like to pray with their Mom.  They said that was okay but that she had been totally unresponsive for two weeks.  He knelt and gently told the patient that he would like to pray with her, not expecting a response, when she said, “Okay, just keep it brief!”  He fell over and her daughters were shocked!  Those were the last words she spoke before she died.

We laughed, knowing that pastors frequently get teased about long sermons and prayers!  He spoke at her funeral and said that this woman told him exactly what she expected at her funeral.  The daughters started laughing thinking about it and when Reverend Roberts shared the story with those attending the funeral, they all laughed.

I know my Dad, sister and I felt so much better after he shared this with us.  It has been a very serious time in our lives, one which no one can ever really be prepared for, yet when he left our day had been brightened and our energy renewed!

We know some of our customers simply want “very serious” all the time and that is fine.  Our customers who allow us to include humor know it helps in so many ways, because humor transcends your audience. Do what works best for you, of course, but this is just an example of how humor always has a place! We shared this story with the funeral director as we finalized the plans for Mom and he enjoyed it as well. It got us through the tough times.

Hope you all have a great week!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing

PS:  Don’t forget about our referral program for 2017!  If you refer a shop to us and they become a customer, we will give you the following for free:

Newsletters – 250 free with your order or

Postcards – 500 free with your order

This special is good all year long!


Gratitude

Rhonda HiltbrandGratitude is the best attitude. ~Author unknown

It is that time again!  Time to pause and count our blessings.  It would benefit us all, of course, to count our blessings daily.

I know life gets crazy and sometimes it is difficult to stop and realize all the good we have in our lives.  Service advisors sometimes deal with difficult customers and of course, being a small business owner is a daily challenge all by itself.  I’m sure, like me, you sometimes wonder, “What was I thinking?”  LOL!

Speaking as a business owner, I know I have lots of people to thank each and every day for keeping the business going.  It seems seamless sometimes, but of course, that is just because my staff and my suppliers do their jobs so well that it seems to run on auto pilot.  Of course, if anything happened to any one of them, the business would feel it!

I am very thankful for all our wonderful customers! We talk about this at our Friday staff/lunch meetings.  We have such great customers and they seem more like friends as we truly care about them on a personal level and we feel they care about us in return.  Can it get any better than that?  The only way that can be improved on is to get more just like them!

Thanks for everything you do to help us make News Works Marketing a success! Our goal each day is to help you keep your business successful!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Certified

Rhonda HiltbrandA certificate does not make you certified. Attitude, performance, commitment to self and team — these and a certificate make you certified. ~Author Unknown

This quote pretty much says it all!

Attitude – Come to work each day and do your best to put any troubles behind you and add a smile!
Performance – Come to work each day ready to perform to the best of your ability!
Commitment – Come to work each day ready to serve the customer and help your team!

A certification is really great…it shows you know how to pass a test.  The real test each day is to put what you know into practice.

You can do it!!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Thinking

Rhonda HiltbrandInvest a few moments in thinking. It will pay good interest. ~Author Unknown

There is usually a little sticker in the upper window of the driver’s side of a vehicle stating when a service has been completed … and when the next service should be performed.  It is generally based on mileage.

It is amazing to me that when a person takes their vehicle to a different shop than the one who performed the service that sticker represents…that the new shop just ignores it…and recommends those services even if they have just been performed.  When you point out that the service has just been performed…they stutter, they stammer, they shuffle…and at that moment all trust in that shop has gone down the drain.

As most of you know, I visit chains on occasion to see what your competition is up to.  This “ignoring of the sticker” has happened to me more than once when I have visited a chain.  As soon as it happens, I point it out and then tell them I’ll just wait until my usual shop is opened on Monday.  They are very embarrassed, as they should be, but I honestly didn’t set them up for the failure…they did it all by themselves.

They need to think before they recommend…it builds trust!  I’m sure you, as a seasoned service advisor, would never do this but if you are training someone new, point it out to them.  It just takes a moment to look at that small but significant sticker. In that moment trust can be built or destroyed forever.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


It Is Often “The Little Things” That Matter

Rhonda HiltbrandIntention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you. – Andy Andrews

I was attending a meeting with a group of auto repair shop owners when we got on the subject of the importance of doing the job right in order to build trust.  One of the shop owners remembered I had written about my flat tire experience on a very cold winter’s night…secure that my auto repair shop had my spare ready to go.  Sadly, my spare was completely flat!

The article generated a lot of feedback…like the shops can’t always get to the spare for the junk in the trunk, etc.  I assured them all that my trusty Jeep was clean inside and out and the tire was amazingly easy to get to.

I then shared other things that we expect when we bring our vehicle in for service.  It seems if you have a rear windshield wiper…many technicians overlook adding more fluid and it is very annoying to need the fluid and it isn’t there.  Nothing like a day full of pollen to make this very noticeable.

I recently had new headlights installed and now one shines upward and one shines downward. Hmmm…

Yes…little things matter and if done correctly…builds trust.  If one can trust one’s repair shop with the little things…we feel more confident about trusting them with the big jobs.

I’m sure this doesn’t apply to most of you, but perhaps if you have a new employee or apprentice, they might find this helpful!

Thanks!
Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


Be Excellent

Rhonda HiltbrandExcellence is not a skill. It is an attitude. ~Ralph Marston

All of us are working in a small business.  We each have a part to play to make that small business thrive. Everything you do, or don’t do, matters. You need to be on your best game every day.

I am going to relate two true stories to you that happened a few years ago now…but I will never forget them.

My husband inherited an assistant years ago and during crunch time to get a project done he handed her a paper with a sticky note attached that said “make 18 copies please.”  She came back with 18 copies of the sticky note instead of 18 copies of the paper.  We laugh about it often…but he was truly shocked at the time.  She had a great attitude and willingness to learn so he felt she was worth training. She in time became a valuable employee with excellent skills and was consistently promoted within the company and always got excellent reviews.

We had an employee once that was highly educated, had put in 30 years in a career but wasn’t ready to just retire at such a relatively young age.  In the interview he stated that he had just lost a job he had for less than a year and wasn’t sure why but he knew he would be able to do the job we needed him for.  One of his duties was to do the invoicing which involved running credit cards.

In a few weeks the accountant asked to meet with the owner and myself (this was before I owned the company) and pointed out that though the sales were great, the funds were not for some strange reason.  I was asked to look into it and it turned out that the credit cards were not actually being run.  We looked great on paper but not in the bank!  When I asked the employee about it he said he didn’t like to run credit cards so he simply didn’t do it.  He then went on to tell me that he loved his job…just not any of the duties he was expected to do.  He liked the companionship of his fellow workers and the paycheck …but didn’t actually want to do the work.  Needless to say he didn’t last at our company.  He was a nice person, he was fun, but if he didn’t want to do the job we could find “nice” and “fun” and still get the job done! His attitude was not geared towards excellence.

Have a great attitude, be trainable and get the job done!  That way you can be called “excellent” by your employer, your fellow workers and your customers.

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing


“Learning In Action”

Rhonda HiltbrandYou learn something every day if you pay attention. ~Ray LeBlond

I always learn something when I teach a marketing class.  It happens every single time!  Recently I had the privilege to speak at the Auto Tech Expo, presented by Auto Wares in Schaumburg, Illinois and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tim from The Muffler Shop shared with me that one of the best things he does for all of his customers is leave a gift in their cars after service.  The gift is a cone of popcorn!  He orders it from www.popcornopolis.com.  He says his customers tell him that whatever the cost of the service or repair, this free gift makes them so happy.

Phillip from D & H told me that he always tells his customers that he and his crew stay up-to-the-minute when it comes to auto repair so they can know they are getting the very best service and repair.  When he comes to any training event, he always gets his picture and that of his staff taken and shares it on Facebook.  He says his customers like to see them “learning in action.”

I just had to share these fun ideas with you, my readers, in case you would like to try them!  I got Tim and Phillip’s permission to do this!

If you do some different things and would like to share, please let me know!

Thanks and happy spring!

Rhonda Hiltbrand
CEO
News Works Marketing