Thursday, July 26, 2007

Interesting Conversation

I was chatting with our Seattle Assistant Manager about my thoughts over what happened during my weekend retail encounters.

We both agreed that there is a lot to giving good customer service - but that it's also simply part of the deal. Especially in an environment like Daly's where we are there to support customers with their projects, provide additional information and education, not to mention providing quality products and tools to get the job done. Right? Right.

Well, she said that when she gets poor service, she just never goes back.

We talked about how we probably never hear of the majority of complaints that people have about our store (What? We get complaints???) And how that is too bad, really, because then we don't always know what needs to be fixed.

That being said, I don't know anyone who finds complaints easy to accept. It sucks. But hopefully, we try to turn them around... except when it's the middle of the summer and there is nobody around to take the complaint anyways, because it's too damn busy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Retail Reflections

I had a few opportunities to be the customer this weekend, and I had three very different encounters that left me with impressions of the establishments I was frequenting...

Saturday Morning
I popped into my local bookstore to pick up our copy of Harry Potter - my ten-year old made SURE we were there when the store opened at 8am! Not too hard to do, since the store is only one house away. We practically rolled into the store in our jammies.

Yay! Harry Potter!

While there, I ran into my neighbor across the street. Just 2 days before, she mentioned that the store gave a "Good Neighbor" discount. How cool is that, right? They HAVE been good neighbors to everyone, so this just furthered that warm-fuzzy feeling of supporting the local INDEPENDENT bookstore. That's why I bought Harry Potter there for about 30 bucks instead of at Costco for about 18 bucks.

So after making sure no other customers except my neighbor was in earshot (what retailer likes to have others hear that you are offering a discount that others might not be able to take advantage of?), I asked the guy behind the counter, who happens to be the manager, if we could sign up for the good neighbor discount.

"NO!" We all jumped.

He then said in what I felt was a very terse tone that they only did that for those directly affected by traffic that their store may have caused. I started to say that we were only a door away, on this side of the street ... he was shaking his head NO, and we were basically cut off at the knee for even asking.

We quickly left, and my neighbor was apologizing, etc.

I believe there are skillful ways of saying NO, and he really dropped the ball. It left us all with a bad feeling, my neighbor felt guilty and I felt like he didn't even care to know that I am a good neighbor to his business.

How did this leave me feeling about the business? Immediately I started to think of all the times that I HAVE been affected by their traffic!

If he had simply said "Gosh, I'm sorry, we no longer offer that discount" or something to that effect, it would have been a totally different experience. Instead I felt embarrassed and pissed at being treated like that. Will I go back? Yes, of course. Will I try to engage him? No, I won't.

A great illustration for us here at Daly's.

Saturday Afternoon
Popped into the local Starbuck's to look for a new tea thermos. Found one that met my needs, and went up to the counter to buy it. It's been a few years, but I remembered that I used to get a free drink when I bought a thermos or mug... That wasn't offered, and when I ordered a tea to be put in the mug, I was rung up for the thermos and the tea.

Not a bid deal, especially considering my drinks costs something like $1.50 or thereabouts... But still, I left bemused and wondering... And after the morning experience I had, I wasn't about to ask for anything special again!

Resultant thoughts: Felt let-down that I didn't get my special treat. Next thought was "Oh well, they are so big, who cares?" Next thought after that was, "Why even worry about a single little drink, I don't mind paying for it..." So why was I feeling a little let-down? Because it was there as a policy and now it's gone. More sad for Starbuck's than for me.

Sunday Afternoon
While shopping at Costco, I overheard an employee complaining to another shopper about how AWFUL this woman and her daughter were in the clothes area. They made messes, didn't treat the folded clothes with any respect; not even when the Costco employee was right there, refolding their mess.

My reaction: I didn't want to hear about her problems! In fact, I wheeled away from her table, so make sure I wasn't going to be engaged in her drama.

I think it's because when you are being the customer, it's all about your own personal experience, not the staffs. It doesn't matter if it's the small business down the street or the large behemoth where cost is the name of the game. It is STILL about the customer's experience.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One of My Favorite Four-Letter F Words...


What did you think I was going to say?

Last week we posted FREE Paint on Craig's List. Whaddya know? It works! Like any paint store, we occasionally have mis-tints that we can't sell and after being in business for as many years as we have, those little mistakes can add up to quite a pile of perfectly good designer paint.

We donate lots of our scrap paint to worthy organizations, but since these scraps comes in one and two gallons units, it's not always easy to give away.

Enter Craig's List. In this last week, we have seen cars pull up, comb over the free pile in the front of the store, grab a bucket or two and zoom off. We've probably gotten rid of about 140 gallons so far. Not bad, considering that we have to pay quite a bit to get rid of unusable gallonage or pay rent to store it on our shelves.

I guess FREE is a word that everyone understands!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


How does your home shape you?I've been giving a lot of thought lately to how our home shapes the way we live.

I live in a 1920's house with distinct rooms; living room, dining room, kitchen and nook. The "old world charm" factor is certainly there, but how does it fit my lifestyle? How does a layout like this affect the way I live?

For example: We have some friends who are buying a new home with no formal living or dining room. Instead, the house has the open kitchen with a dining area and great room. This allows for more connected family time, and recognizes the fact that they do little to no formal entertaining anyways.

Would it be easier to live like this? Another friend has a deck right off her kitchen. Her husband is out on the grill all year 'round, because access is so easy. My kitchen is in the middle of the house, so I need to go down to the back of the house to crank up the grill. I can assure you that once the weather turns, our BBQ is closed for the season!

Needs change, too. The features you look for in your first home may be vastly different than what you desire as you age or as you raise children. Some homes are more easily adapted to change than others. How is your home suiting your needs at this point in your life?

Do you ever pause from the daily routine to review your lifestyle? Often small changes can have huge payback - creating a mail sorting system, for example. By constantly making small changes and improvements, you will find that over time you've adapted the house to your lifestyle rather than needed to change yourself.