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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Learn How to Succeed in Business Without Pissing Me Off



Let me tell you a little anecdote that compares good business to bad business.

Last Sunday, my family and I decided to go out for lunch. My eldest had a coupon she had gotten for reading achievement (she gets something like that every month). The coupon was for a local Italian restaurant. You know the kind -- you pass by it every day and people say it's good, but you've never went. So this was a good time to use our "Buy one adult meal, get a kid's personal pizza free".

The place was tiny. Maybe a dozen tables, and you had to walk single file to get back to the dining area, the space was so small. We went there on a Sunday at noon...


...And they weren't serving any meals. They were having some kind of Sunday brunch buffet. No pizza or spaghetti. Confusedly, we sat down. My wife went to see if we could get menus, while the waiter came up to me, and I had to awkwardly ask about this buffet thing. Because if it's one thing Italian places are known for, it's breakfast buffets. The waitress was very tall, with a nose piercing, but she was pleasant enough.

She said that it ended at 1:00. Yay. But my wife found out that the kitchen was willing to make us something from the menu. Great. She asked if the coupon was still good (because she always does that, even though there's no reason it wouldn't be).

And then noticed it was only valid Monday through Thursday, for dinners. The waitress went back to see if they could/would still honor it. But they wouldn't. So since we didn't want to eat breakfast, we looked around, got up and went to Subway.



First of all, why do you make a coupon like that? If you're a small, struggling, local business, you want to get word out as far as you can. You want all the incoming families to experience you. Coupons are a great way to get butts in chairs. Why make one that restricts when you can use it? Why prevent users from accessing your content? That's as stupid as closing a web site during business hours. And the other thing is this unexpected breakfast buffet that superceded the regular menu.

This is why, unpopular opinion as it is, I don't really care for local businesses. Because you never know what's going to happen or what you're going to get. When I go to McDonald's, I know that a hamburger there will be the same as every other McDonald's I've dined at. I know it will always be available (provided it's before 10:30).  Every menu will read the same, every restaurant will look the same. If I go to Taco Bell, I know they will have tacos, no matter when I go. There ain't going to be no damn breakfast buffet on Sundays.


Now here's an example of some good business practices. My Steam inbox, with no reason or prompting, suddenly blipped up with a coupon in it. 25% off Broken Age. It said it was sent because of "Customer Loyalty". Said customer loyalty is just from buying "Psychonauts" a long time ago on a Steam Sale for, like, 4 bucks.

 I enjoyed the game a lot, and I have respect for Tim Schafer. But I really had no interest in playing "Broken Age". It's a point-and-click adventure game, and I grew out of those. Or at least now I find them boring. However, with this nice coupon (for a not-insignificant discount), and the good buzz around the game, I bought it anyway.

The coupon automatically applied when I went to check out. Didn't have to enter a code or anything. No restrictions. Didn't have to prove it was for the game I was buying or some Gold Platinum version or Special Edition. Showed me exactly how much it was getting off. Bing-bang-boom.

Now that's good business. Getting the customer to buy something he/she wouldn't have bought is the ultimate goal of any salesman. Whereas this restaurant, I really have no reason to go back there. I didn't even like what I saw when I was there. People say you need to support local business, but the majority of the ones I go into, I don't like.


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