You Can Compete: Double Sales without Discounting
By Bob Phibbs
By Bob Johnson
Kaffe Magnum Opus
Kaffe Magnum Opus Blog
Bob’s CEO Blog
You Can Compete – Double Sales without Discounting,
Bob Phibbs, 2003.
Excerpts, Notes and Ideas
From forward: “No one else is responsible for you making a profit”. The owner, the
person in the mirror is responsible.
You can’t win by continuing to cut prices as there will be no profit left to finance your on
XIII – They were tracking the daily sales of their stores, their departments and their sales
people”. Author describing a store and manage who listened to his recommendations and
achieved new levels of sales and profits.
XIV – Ad Astra per Aspera: “To the stars with difficulty”. This is a new one on me, but
it tells a story succinctly. There is no easy road to success. Even 100 years ago in
families like the Roosevelt’s that is the parents of Teddy Roosevelt, the youngsters, who
were very rich, had to work extremely hard for success.
XV – a chains biggest advantage is consistent standard (and cleanliness)
XVI – “If you are not willing to support your neighbors, who will support you”. So don’t
get caught in a chain store, any chain store in your town. If you shop at Wal-Mart’s the
killer of Hardware stores, lumber stores and who knows what else, then you support the
very forces that may be putting pressure on your operation.
XVII – Consumers want small to medium independent businesses to succeed. All other
things being equal people will shop where they have relationships. And if things are not
equal, then you have to have really good relationships.
XVIII – the author cites a magnificent Chocolate gift store in a good location in a big
mall. The lady was closing in a month and it was too late to save her. She blamed for
her problems everything and everyone under the sun.
The author would have had her hire an outside sales person and sell the store for gifts.
Visit every Secretary in town with brochures (Doctors, Lawyers, Big companies and little
companies) with brochures on her gifts. Then hand deliver a sample box emblazoned
with the CEO’s name (of the prospect) and Prospects logo to the top 30 prospects.
Our company might do this for example substituting five pound bags of coffee or new
exciting private label bags, or a retail coffee operation might do it with coffee baskets.
Revisit the prospects regularly
XIX – you must be able to sell your service and why your store is better to a person who
threatens to go to a chain store or competitor. You must be ready. Practice your
XX – the book’s objective is to bring back hope to independent businesses under pressure
and giving the owners the tools to become and stay profitable.
Chapter 1: The Titanic and You
Hubris – excessive pride (and some arrogance).
Inertia – the enemy
The status quo – an even bigger enemy
Change – your friend.
Listen – Watch – Be Prepared – have back up plans in place for the very things you can
not see coming – Train you staff better than ever before – how to answer the phone –
collect information from customers – have a reserve of cash.
Save money when the goods times are here.
You might have to get a bigger mortgage to help finance your business.
If the Titanic’s skipper had listened to the radio warnings and plotted a course around the
ice fields he was told were dead ahead, he, and all his passengers would have made it. So
listen, watch and learn and plan and act.
Chapter 2: How we Got Here and Who’s to Blame
I have to say I don’t like some of these Chapter titles. But the author’s ideas are sound.
Add value to your customers experience – give them compelling reasons to come
back. The more you give the more you will get. It’s true.
You must have revenue and KEEP THE PASSION – to build a success.
The trap of buying at chains – like Lowes for light bulbs or Home depot for tools
is that your customers might shop at chains that compete with you following your
There is a disconnect, that is, we do not make the connection between large chains
and the destruction of downtowns (or we ignore it). The we I speak of is the retail
establishments and their owners and managers, and town councils. Local
business provides good wages and income that is spent locally (if the owners of
successful stores and establishments also buy local)
For example: Would you want to buy your underwear with the odor of fried food
around – Wal-Mart with a McDonalds. McDonalds is out to capture and the
coffee business and Wal-Mart helps them. Do you want to shop at, and give
money to the very businesses that are hurting your future?
What you have to do
o Enhance customer service with knowledgeable sales people
o Maintain upgraded facilities
o Create clever marketing programs
o Develop strong relationships with customers
Get rid of archaic policies like special parking places and focus your time and
effort on important stuff – like training the sales people.
Chapter 3: The More Things Remain the Same, The Less
Likely Things Will Change
1. Hold on to existing Customers – the owners and executives must dot this – like
the life of the business depended on it
a. It does
b. Its must cheaper to keep then to get new ones
c. Lost customers will talk to 100 others
2. Hold up the Mirror
a. Lead with the strengths the company and staff have
b. Decide if you can change
c. Decide if you can do what has to be done
3. Be proactive. Think about the results you want. Think about the results every
4. Go after the result
a. You know the old adage: if you keep doing what you do then you will
keep getting what you get.
Put together a plan and stick to it.
A little change every day. Change something right now
Figure out what scares you a lot. Figure out what you would never want to happen to
Then use that fear to help motivate you. Not everyone is motivated by ice cream or
Icebergs – how in the world would a see captain in the north Atlantic not be afraid of
icebergs? Feel the Fear and do what you have to do to make it go away.
For me, Bob Johnson, fear of failure is a great motivator. Not all the time, and
sometimes I coast. But as my anxiety goes up so does my action.
Summary of Chapter 3
Now you know why you have to alter what you do
You can see what will happen if you don’t change
You have a desired result in mind and you think about it all day long
You begin to change what you do a little at a time. Like brush your teeth before
Like Smokey the Bear: “Only you can plot a course around the iceberg.
Chapter 4: Merchandising like Your Life Depends on It,
Because Your Life Does Depend on Merchandising.
This chapter at first seemed not to apply to the issues I’ve focused on. But it does. The
gist of it is that the basics, the foundation of a first class, healthy, prospering business is
how it looks, how clean it is, how it is merchandised, and how frequently you clean the
windows and sidewalks.
I’ve taken literary license with the Chapter heading. The actual heading is “Look Around
You: The Facility”. I thought this lame and changed it.
Inventory your store from outside in from the point of view of a customer. What do they
see as they walk in? Do you use red, white and black to merchandise? Are your displays
changed regularly? Do the displays have multi-levels? Is the Stuff people need, in the
rear? You know how maddening it is go to the back of a store to get milk? It is the same
in your store.
I wonder though how many convenience stores were started because of this type of
product placement. When I want to get in and out, I want to get in and out. So maybe
some of these theories have to be re-thought. I’d try it both ways and measure the result
closely to let customers decide.
Is your operation Bright? Is it well lit?
Do the windows shine?
Do you have in place things to help a customer stay a while?
Is your wifi in place? Is your web store on line and do you have a computer for
customers to use with a home page of your store? Is your Blog on line?
Are your Feeds up to date and gathering news and new techniques and new products
from your coffee supplier?
Do you decorate at July 4th? Do you decorate at Christmas?
My wife and I have always thought that if a letter in a lighted sign is not working it is a
sure sign that the store is in trouble. Why would bulbs not be replaced? Is it a bored, non
caring owner? Or is it a lack of cash generated by the store?
So to sum up: take and inventory. Create a check list. Assign the cleaning in
merchandising tasks to specific people. Rotate this responsibility for good training and
back up if you wish.
Then Follow Up. Keep a to-do list for each person on the staff in
excel. Keep in on your desktop. Check it twice a day.
Stuff will not get done unless you follow and measure results.
Chapter 4 A: Take Down Every Sign in Your Place
1. Bathrooms for Customers Only – great way to treat a needy prospect or
first-time visitor. Find a way to keep your bathroom clean. Maybe people
stay away from your place because of the sign, and, this lowers your sales.
2. No Refunds – not if it’s a credit card purchase. Do you want to fight with
the credit card company? Anyway, who cares provided the customer is
happy and you can afford to not hastle people. There is no surer sign of a
troubled business than a fight over a refund, or
3. No Returns – why not? Why not make you customers tell good stories
4. All handwritten Signs. All of them.