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One of the nicest things about working at Holy Cow Branding is the flexible schedule.  If I want to leave at 4:30 to get a haircut, that is when I leave.  If I wake up early, and am ready to work, I come to the office.

That was the plan anyway.

I was so engrossed in setting up Facebook Insights for Chile Bomba that I completely lost track of time and didn’t leave until 5:30.  If I had realized it was that late, I wouldn’t have even tried to get the haircut.    When I finally made it to Sport Clips, there were a few guys ahead of me, and I was told it would be about 30 minutes.  At the check in, Sabrina, told me that if I wanted to go get a coffee at Starbucks, I would have enough time.  She even offered to call me on my cell when it was close to my turn.

With time to kill, I headed to the Harris Teeter, to get some food stuffs.  On the way thru Kameron’s check-out line I used my KeyRing App to get my reward prices.  After the usual 30 seconds of blindly staring at the receipt with the only purpose being to look like I am doing something smart, I actually do find an error.  This is an amazing feat due to the complexity that is the grocery store receipt.  Good reporting tip, it doesn’t matter how hard it is to decipher the data as long as there is one number at the bottom that says you are winning.

I went back to the cashier and he apologized and told me to take it to his manager at the customer service desk.  When I first looked in that direction I saw no one, it was a ghost town, and before I was 10 feet from the counter there she was.  The manager person, Alva, appeared from thin air, maybe not thin air, she was helping another customer.  It only took her one look at the receipt to see the error and make the correction.

Ordinarily I would not have wasted the time to make the correction, but I had time to kill and I was rewarded for it.  I got $1.87 back in cash!  (Who knew pears were so expensive) And I had that weird feeling that while the world seems like a dismal place, my neighborhood was doing all right.

After stashing the produce in the trunk of my car I made my way back to Sport Clips and as soon as I walked in am told I had great timing and that I was next.  She even remembered my name! What great customer service!

Now, fueled with a sense of community, I pull out my note pad and start writing about this whole experience.  Of course, before I get much done I am being called up.  We have the usual idle chit chat and she asked what I was working on.  I told her it was a blog article about customer service.  I am not sure if that had anything to do with it, but it was an exceptional haircut.

Post Script

Cara, the hair cutter, actually knows enough about sports to foster that feeling of the barber shop and we had a lively conversation about the National League Central division.  She is a Milwaukee Brewer’s Fan, and I am a Chicago Cubs Fan.  The next day the Brewers beat the Cubs in 13 innings.  At least I got a good haircut, and there is always next year.

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We like to count things at Holy Cow. We count words, hours, followers, sodas left in the fridge, site hits, fans, days ’til payday, visitors, bounce rate…we count so much we have our own analytics guy.

The truth is most businesses count things. If they aren’t counting, they are missing information vital to running a business successfully.

Our guy builds spreadsheets for us to count, calculate and analyze data. Not only does he build the spreadsheet, he advises us on how to use excel to work smarter.

Here, let me show you:

Don’t have your own data guy? Well, learn from ours!

He’ll be teaching Microsoft Excel as well as Microsoft Word beginning the week of May 14.
Contact Reuben if you’d like class information.

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How to bounce back from a business catastrophe

The 1980s was not just an era of big hair, it was an era of some of the biggest, or more appropriately, poisonous communication uproars. Seven people died in 1982 after consuming Tylenol Capsules that had been tampered with and laced with potassium cyanide. But despite its deadly attack on Tylenol’s reputation, the company was more than prepared to handle the media and its consumers. Although temporarily removing the product from the shelves of nearly every grocery and drug store nationwide, the company managed to eventually regain its profits and consumers. How did they do it?

 

1-    Tell it all and tell it fast: It’s been proven that in previous crisis management situations, one has less than 24 hours to make its publics aware of the situation.

2-    Go to the Media: It’s important to get to the media before the media gets to you. If your organization isn’t timely in approaching the media, they’ll generate preconceived thoughts about the crisis, and in turn, will put the company in a bad light in front of your audience.

3-    Do not remain silent: It’s imperative that your organization doesn’t remain quiet during the time of a crisis. Doing so will make the company seem guilty. The Tiger Woods scandal is a recent example of the silent technique failure. Tiger Woods was a culprit of not contacting anyone about his affairs. Since he remained quiet, the media was able to do more thorough investigation and find out he had more affairs than originally accused of.

4-    Do not lie: Even the slightest venture away from the truth does not only make a company guilty of the catastrophe but damages its reputation almost permanently as well. It takes years to rebuild trust within the business community, with its employees and with its publics.

Throughout your career, you’ll run into multiple small dilemmas, and potentially a few large crises. It is critical that you have a crisis communication plan set aside before a disaster happens so that your company is ready to handle the situation and face the media and its consumers. Remember, your reputation is everything!

 

 

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Looking for ways to give this holiday season rather than just exchanging gifts? Many non-profit organizations can use donations and volunteers. Here area few:

Build A Box- Fill a shoe box with various gifts and a small donation,  then drop it off at the nearest donation center. For more information click here.

  • Toys for Tots– A foundation sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
    • How you can help:
      • Donate new toys for underprivileged children at your local  donation center or drop-off box.
      • As an alternative to trading or selling your vehicle donate it to Cars for Tots.
      • Holiday Recognition Program- recognize clients, business associates, family and friends by sending a greeting card to them from “Toys for Tots.” Part of the proceeds benefit underprivileged children in your community.
      • Donate through Ebay- When buying or selling your item on Ebay, donate 10 percent to 100 percent of the final selling price to Toys for Tots.

Many of us eagerly await the arrival of the cheery old man in the red suit down our chimneys. Other children, not as fortunate,  wish Santa will remember them and make their Christmas magical. Your warm-hearted spirit or small donation can change the lives of these children who are looking for love and the gift of Christmas in their stockings.

 Image

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I admit it. I am a sucker for a non-profit. I sit on boards, participate in advisory capacities, donate time and anything else I can do to support people who are in the trenches. Working with non-profits is such a great way to feel like I am using my talents to make a difference in some small way.

I see where many companies are embracing Corporate Social Responsibility, but I also see where other companies just can’t seem to wrap their mind around how to do it, especially when it comes to allocating funds that just aren’t there this year.

What these companies are missing is that it isn’t always about the money. It’s about volunteering time. Providing gifts in kind. Participating in the events. Promoting the cause. It’s easy to do, very grassroots… and fun! Here are a couple of things we have going on right now:

Light The Night

Light The Night

On Saturday, I’ve worked with Lea-Ann Berst from Sleddogg Marketing Management and Mary Margaret Harris from Capital Bank to pull together a team of walkers for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light-the-Night walk. I am so excited about this because we have worked to increase awareness of the event, build relationships with business professionals and help fund cancer research… all in one fell swoop. I will be walking for my dad and my uncle, who both died from cancer, for my friends Becky and Suzanne who are currently battling cancer and for all of those who have lost someone dear to them, too.

On a more upbeat note, I recently joined the Assistance League of Raleigh’s Advisory Council. We are sponsoring one of their signature events, Festival of Trees. We’ve helped them put together their invitation package… Here’s a sneak peek:

Festival of Trees 2009

Festival of Trees 2009

Don’t be afraid. Jump right in. A little bit of support goes a long way in the eyes of a non-profit!

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The Meaning of Life

Recently, I had the opportunity to give a commencement speech. Although I have spoken regularly about my industry, this was a first for me. I never really pegged myself to be a motivational speaker. And, truth be told, I’ve been more like the person who says, “Pshaw! Who needs motivational speaking?”

Shortly after agreeing to give the presentation to the 2009 graduating class at the School of Communication Arts, I received a call that went something like this:

“Lorana, we are so glad you are coming to speak to our graduates. We are so excited. We just know you’ll be wonderful.”

(Of course, my head is swelling and I’m telling everyone who will listen that I am famous).

Then… “So, I need to know what your topic is. Right now. I have to get it approved by my boss. No, you can’t have more time. Tell me now.”

Okay. I may be exaggerating. It didn’t really go like that. But I did have to come up with a topic out of thin air. That’s when I came up with “The Meaning of Life.” I figured I should be able to come up with something fun to go along with that.

I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to doing things for myself. So, of course, I waited until the last minute to pull the final pieces of my presentation together. But, let me tell you, delivering that speech was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. I was charged! The audience was engaged. It was fun. And, more importantly, I actually delivered a message with meaning to it.

The underlying message was that it is important to bring meaning to the lives of others. To share your knowledge, your experience and your joys. And, don’t ever forget the people who helped get you to where you are. That’s something I think we all need to remember.

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I don’t know about you, but we have gotten pretty frustrated lately with all of the negativity. To take matters into our own hands, we just launched a new blog called The UpBeat Sound. On the blog we promote when good things happen, whether it is in the business community or on the individual level. We invite you to join in the conversation. Let us know what good things have been happening to you. Tell us your story. Or, if you have a Sound Off for businesses in your area that are bringing it home, give a plug for them, too.

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