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Steve Marr Blog

Steve Marr's contributions
Mar 04
2020

The Coronavirus Outbreak Impacts Main Street

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

We see daily news reports of increased infections worldwide from the coronavirus.  Financial markets gyrate but move sharply lower.  For most of us, not much has changed . . . yet.

 

Scripture is clear that we cannot predict the future. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” (James 4:14, NIV) Many want to see into the future in order to take the right steps for success. However, the future is not predictable. We are better prepared when we understand the changes that have already occurred and act on those changes.

Feb 28
2020

Passing on Credit Card Fees

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

When a business accepts credit cards, there is a cost to the business. Most pay around 3%; although some charges may be higher or lower depending on volume and other factors. At the end of the month we see these processing costs and may think about how to pass these costs directly to our customers. One way or the other we do, either by absorbing them into a slightly higher price or charging extra for credit card use.

The question this brings up is should we add the charges to consumer cost? An article in the local newspaper caught my eye when an upscale restaurant started adding 3% to customer bills when paid by credit card. My initial thinking was that this was not a particularly good idea.  The gross margin in most restaurants is 60%.  If you lose a few customers over the 3% charge you’re probably way behind.

Gas stations at times have two prices: one for cash and one for credit. I tend to avoid these because the cash price is close to what I pay using my credit card someplace else. I prefer to manage my expenses through a credit card while at the same time gaining cash back. When I thought I would save $.05 or $0.10 a gallon, I might just go in and put $20 or $40 down and take the savings. 

Feb 24
2020

Solving Fake Problems

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Effective advertising targets the need a problem present and how a customer ineffectively has met that need. Occasionally we encounter advertising that seems to create a problem that doesn’t exist in order to demonstrate a way to meet the problem they want to solve.

An example is the recent advertising for Domino’s pizza focusing on how they will fix a mistake quickly without charge. However, fixing a mistake should go without saying.  It’s like driving your new car out of the showroom and the transmission drops in the road two miles down the street.  They agree to take care of it for you. “Of course you will,” you say. I don’t think most of us would respond positively to a new car ad explaining how quickly they will fix warranty problems.  There shouldn’t be a problem to fix in the first place.

I don’t recall ever having a problem with an incorrect pizza delivery. In these days of my advancing age, we don’t order a lot of pizza anyway.  However, my perspective is that this simply isn’t a major problem.

Feb 20
2020

Competing on Price

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

Generally, I’ve never been a great fan of competing by offering the lowest price of all competitors because it doesn’t work well. I’ve had individuals tell me they can compete with Walmart’s price. My general response is that they are probably not competing as well as they think. Furthermore, undercutting Walmart’s price may lead people to view you as cheap rather than inexpensive.

When I was in the international trade business, we priced our services at a premium level because we felt the customer would receive good value for their money. We knew if a customer was looking for price and price alone, we would lose the business. Our business model charged a higher price and delivered a superior service. If we tried to provide the superior service for a lower fee, it would be a prescription for pushing us out of business sooner rather than later. Instead, our responsibility was to demonstrate our value to the customer and sell to customers who appreciated that value proposition.

Feb 14
2020

Send Welcome Emails

Posted by Steve Marr in Untagged 

The hope of every business owner is new customers.  Sometimes they come every day; other times less frequently. An overlooked strategy is to send a “welcome aboard” email to begin a business relationship. This is useful for several reasons.

1.  People like to be thanked.

Sending a warm thank you for being a new customer tells the customer you notice them.  It is a good first step.