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I’ve often suggested that my readers give away a safety device (smoke detectors, safe heaters, safe baby bathtubs) but here’s a great one that is only marginally connected to safety:

Kidz Med Medicine Dispenser
This is a great baby medicine dispenser.  It’s a pacifier that has a built-in medicine plunger.  You can either allow the child to suck the medicine out (bypassing most of the tongue-based taste buds) or use the plunger to deliver the medicine.

How would you use these in a promotion?  It’s simple really.  You need to offer them as part of an effort to educate parents about the importance of pre-natal and infant medical care.  By teaming with local hospitals, birthing centers and OB-GYN doctors, you can make an impact on people who will one day make important death decisions.  Plus, you’ll be reaching them at a time when they DON’T need you, so it will feel like more of a community outreach project than an advertising campaign.

I found them at Walgreens.

gethuman.comThis site (http://gethuman.com/us/) gives you phone numbers and instructions for most major U.S. companies so that you can get a HUMAN BEING.

How much of your life have you wasted trying to navigate stupid automated phone systems?  Forget it.

GET HUMAN!

So not only does HughesNet refuse to waive their stupid $300 early termination fee for a product that doesn’t work, but when I informed them that I was unwilling to pay it, they dumped all me email accounts WHILE I WAS ON THE PHONE!

They’re not just incompetent; now they’re malicious SOBs as well!

Of course, I didn’t have time to download my address book.  So I’m starting over from scratch.

If you’ve been a customer or have contacted us in the past, please be aware that our address is now finalembraceonline@gmail.com.

Thanks for your understanding.  And thanks for HATING HughesNet with me.

I used to “evangelize” for two firms:  HughesNet and DirecTV.

HughesNet uses a satellite dish to “beam” the internet to remote locations.  And since I live in a secluded community, it was the only option at the time.

DirecTV is was a lower cost alternative to cable (sometimes I’m a price shopper) and worked well, even in bad Central Florida thunderstorms.

Six months ago I upgraded my HughesNet equipment to get better service out of a faster modem.  Three calls to tech support to make it work yielded no help.  It was no faster than my previous service.  I called again to complain.  Nothing.  What’s worse, the new model blocked me from using secure websites, like webstores, so I couldn’t even access the US Postal Service website to send packages.  I was steamed.

Since HughesNet couldn’t wouldn’t help me, I tried cable internet access.  It feels TEN TIMES faster!  Plus, the bundled price made it cheaper to get internet and TV together, so I decided to dump DirecTV as well, even though the service has been great.

But I’ve spent the last two months battling with both companies to cancel my service.  DirecTV answers my requests to dump the service by having a “Retention Specialist” call me to try talking me into staying with them.  At first I explained that I am saving a lot of money by switching, so their offer is pointless.  But they still keep sending me bills.  I’m done calling them, so I drafted an email telling them how much they’re annoying me.  They responded by calling me during the day, when I’m not at home.  I can only imagine that they expect me to keep paying for service that I’m not using while they drag their feet.  But I’ve stopped paying.  And my opinion of them has dropped drastically.

HughesNet has been worse!  They refuse to accept a return of the upgraded merchandise, even though they have documented proof that I’ve called numerous times because it doesn’t work.  They also have the nerve to try to charge me a $300 early termination fee because part of the new equipment was an extended service contract.  Needless to say, since I’m not using their crappy service, I refuse to pay the termination fee.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY:  Don’t turn your product evangelists into your enemies.  Every company loves having people who spread the story of their great product or service by word of mouth.  But it cuts the other way when the company actively creates an enemy from the same person.  Now, I’m spending my days writing articles like this one and telling my friends and acquaintances how much I hate these two companies.  And that’s not good for their bottom lines.

Ron Holt, owner of Two Maids & a Mop, and writer of my new favorite blog, writes about the kinds of people who search for maid service:

We get new customers everyday. Sometimes we get a new customer because we answered the phone first. Sometimes we get a new customer because our name caught their attention. Sometimes we get a new customer because we earned their business. They picked us because they thought that we were the better choice. Being the better choice can be achieved in a number of ways. And you can’t be all the choices. So we don’t expect to win every new customer battle. Here’s why people think their maid is the better choice.

1. Cheapest provider. Winning the cheap battle is tough in our business because you’ll never be the cheapest. There is always somebody just a little more cheaper than you. That’s what happens when you compete an industry that doesn’t require a large start-up investment from the business owner. Of course, cheap has its merits. Sometimes cheap is all you need. But you usually get what you pay for. Hire the cheap maid and you’ll understand. Something always goes wrong. And that’s when we start looking good.

2. Most dependable. Being dependable means that you show up for work on time every time. That’s easier said than done. Being on time every time requires you to operate your cleaning business like a real business. You must have a real scheduling process. Otherwise, you’re going to miss appointments. Or you’re going to arrive late. Being dependable means a lot more than just being dependable. Being dependable is the first step in proving to the customer that you care.

3. Most customer friendly. Yes, you’re hiring someone to clean your house. That’s your ultimate priority. But there’s more to the story than simply cleaning counters. You want someone that is going to provide real customer service. Real customer service means that you can reschedule the housecleaning if your sick. Real customer service means that you can complain about mistakes and expect for the mistakes to be corrected. Real customer service means that your maid should care about you. Finding the most customer friendly company is easy. Just ask them how they make their current customers happy. If you like the answer, hire them.

4. The neighbors use them. This is the most common method of selecting the better choice. Why hire a stranger when your neighbor has already conducted the test drive for you. Of course, it doesn’t have to be your neighbor. It can be your mother. It can be your boss. It can be anybody you know. Or should I say anybody you trust. We have people who call us and never even hear about our pay for performance plan. They don’t even care about our rates. Because they trust their neighbor. Which leads us back to the first three points. You gotta be good at something in order for somebody to pick you in the first place. Once somebody picks you, they tell somebody else to pick you. That’s how the train gets started.

5. The best cleaner. This is possible. But it’s difficult to find. If you’re like me, you make mistakes. Because we’re both human. And that’s what your maid is also. A lot of people hire us and indicate that they are going to let us conduct a “test run”. The theory is that if we do a good job, then we’ll keep doing a good job. The reality is that we’ll mess up at some point. Hopefully, it won’t be during the test run. But it’s possible. Because we’re human. Finding the perfect maid is akin to finding the perfect spouse. Nobody’s perfect.

Click on this link to watch a video that discusses how to select a maid service.

 This directly relates to my previous articles about identifying the types of funeral customers and deciding which you’ll target with marketing. 

You can read those articles here and here.

GoDaddy.com® -- Make a .com name with us!®

I’ve been reading Bob Parsons’ website for a few days now.  Bob owns Godaddy.com, the leading website registration site.

FROM BOB:

I’ve read many times that original ideas are rare indeed. This is particularly true when it comes to the rules herein. I can’t imagine that any of my rules represent new ideas.

My contribution is that I’ve assembled these ideas, put them to work in my life, and can attest — that more often than not — they hold true.

While I put my 16 rules together in response to a business question, I’ve been told by others that they can be applied to almost any pursuit.

Here are the 16 rules I try to live by:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone. I hear people say, “But I’m concerned about security.” My response to that is simple: “Security is for cadavers.”

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it’s attempted. Just because what you’re doing does not seem to be working, doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just means that it might not work the way you’re doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn’t have an opportunity.

3. When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think. There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of “undefined consequences.” My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, “Well, Robert, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.”

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, “As you think, so shall you be.”

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don’t look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what General George S. Patton said: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you’re doing as anyone else, provided that what you’re doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn’t fair. You make your own breaks. You’ll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems. You’ll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you’ll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: “You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others.” There’s also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: “A wise man keeps his own counsel.”

15. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16. There’s always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you’re really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: “We’re not here for a long time; we’re here for a good time.”

A special word of thanks.
I owe a special thanks to Brian Dunn. When I first wrote these rules down and was thinking about compiling them into a book — that book, like most books I suppose, has been half-done for a while ); — Brian read them and suggested a title. His suggestion was, “They Can’t Eat You.” I like Brian’s suggestion for two reasons: 1. It reminds me of my Dad. I sure miss him; and 2. It’s true. No matter how difficult things get, you’re going to be OK. It’s very important to realize that. Thanks, Brian.

Reprinted by permission  of Bob Parsons (http://www.bobparsons.com) and is Copyright © 2004-2006 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

I read it a while ago, but recently started it again.

The Lovely Bones – by Alice Sebold.

Great novel about a little girl who watches her family cope with her murder.

A bit haunting at times, the book actually made me think about the way our client families deal with an unexpected death.

You’ll get some insight on your clients by reading this.

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