Thursday, February 12, 2009

All-Star Advice

The January issue of Inc. Magazine had a lot of great recession-fighting tips collected under the title, “The Ultimate Business Tune-up for Times Like These.”

Among the business owners surveyed were John Mackey of Whole Foods, Jenny Craig, Bernie Marcus of The Home Depot, and Brian Scudamore of Vancouver-based 1-800-GOT-JUNK?(Maybe they forgot he’s Canadian.)

Here are my favourite tips from the article.

Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com: During the first month of training, Zappos offers new employees $2,000 to quit, plus their time worked. It sounds expensive, but in the long term, it's not. We want people to be here because they are passionate about customer service and because they like our culture. We don't want people who are just here for a paycheck.

Jenny Craig: Rather than cut staff, we have gone against the conventional wisdom and advertised to bring in more business. While our competitors were hunkering down, we would spend a bit more than we had planned, which resulted in a huge competitive advantage.

Bert Jacobs, Life Is Good: We randomly call our retailers and ask, "During this difficult time, is there anything we can do to help?" You would be surprised how many requests you can meet. For example, retailers have input about the upcoming season. They say, "I think you guys have gotten too far away from bright color palettes. Everything seems to be earth tones now." You hear 60 retailers mention that, and you make a change. Then, you give them a sneak preview. They are ecstatic that you listened to them.

Paul Orfalea, Kinko's: Reward co-workers who deliver leads that turn into clients. Now is the time to reinforce the notion that everyone is in sales and marketing.

John Chambers, Cisco Systems: Even in the midst of a downturn, make sure you prepare for the rebound. Start planning as soon as possible for how you are going to gain share and differentiate yourself from your peers.

You can read the full story here.

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