‘I Think I’m Screwed’
It was just a dream, but then again, business owners are under a lot of stress these days.
Here are today’s highlights:
Are door-to-door sales still a viable option?
In some parts of the country, pretty much everyone is back in the office.
Consumer product companies are preparing for a downturn, and it’s not all about price cutting.
And the summer’s hot flavor is ...
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
This week, Jay Goltz tells Shawn Busse and Karen Clark Cole about a dream he had recently. It was a dream, of all things, about this very podcast, and on it, someone—it was a guy—was talking about how his business was faring: “I think I’m screwed,” he says in Jay’s dream. But who was it? And why was he screwed? Jay woke up before those answers were revealed. So we did some interpreting on this week’s real podcast. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t that hard to interpret! Plus: Shawn explains why he thinks his website is no longer performing. Karen explains why she thinks it’s actually easier to onboard an employee who will work remotely. And Jay and Karen discuss whether it’s time to give up on things going back to the way they were.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
A door-to-door salesman is trying to rebrand door-to-door sales: “For eight minutes, Sam Taggart had them all hooked. Relaxed and sincere, he roamed the stage at the Salt Palace Convention Center, selling fifteen hundred door-to-door salesmen on selling. It was a crisp January morning at the fifth D2DCon, an annual conference in Salt Lake City that’s the centerpiece of Taggart’s campaign to elevate a profession reviled by nearly everyone. You can hang up on a telemarketer, but not on the insistent young man who won’t leave your doorstep until you buy some goddam thing—pest control, an alarm system, solar panels, a new roof, magazines, scented candles, paintless autobody dent repair, or perhaps tri-tip steaks from a delivery van that, he swears, just broke down in front of your house.”
“The best door-to-door salesmen can earn more than a million dollars a year, but it’s a punishing way of life. Unlike the salesman who hawks minivans or enterprise software, the door knocker can’t network at the Rotary Club, make a catchy commercial, or research his prospect’s needs.”
“Taggart’s company, the D2D Experts, has an online ‘university’ of hundreds of videos that show sales reps exactly what to say and how to say it.”
“One trusty method is the ‘yes train,’ an idea formalized in the 1880s by John H. Patterson, who founded National Cash Register. Patterson believed questions that elicit a ‘yes’ prime the customer to agree to a purchase.” READ MORE
Ford wants to let customers buy electric vehicles online: “Ford CEO Jim Farley hopes that ecommerce will help the auto giant gain ground on its rivals in the race to dominate the U.S. electric vehicle market. In an investor call discussing the firm's second-quarter results on Wednesday, Farley said Ford plans to allow customers to either order electric models online or order them directly from a dealership. In regards to an e-commerce platform, Farley stressed the need for customers to ‘have a very predictable experience, whether they're in a dealership or in their bunny slippers, and they'll have a very simple, transparent, very easy purchase process.’”
“The company is in the midst of a transition to build more than two million EVs a year by 2026. This includes the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck.”
“Unlike like Tesla, which owns an in-house network of sales and servicing centers, Ford sells its cars through a network of franchisees.”
“Farley said the model puts Ford at an estimated $2,000 disadvantage per vehicle, compared with its ‘pure-play’ competitors.” READ MORE
In small and midsize cities, employees are going back into the office: “More than two years into the pandemic, American corporate workplaces have splintered. Some are nearly as full as they were before Covid-19 struck; others sit abandoned, printers switched off and Keurig cups collecting dust. Workers in America’s midsize and small cities have returned to the office in far greater numbers than those in the biggest U.S. cities. Some executives in large cities are hoping they’ll catch up, though they’ve been impeded by safety and health concerns about mass transit commutes, as well as competitive job markets where employees are more likely to call the shots.”
“In small cities — those with populations under 300,000 — the share of paid, full days worked from home dropped to 27 percent this spring from around 42 percent in October 2020.”
“In the 10 largest U.S. cities, days worked from home shifted to roughly 38 percent from 50 percent in that same period ...”
“‘In some ways, it’s a non-story,’ said Matt Lanter, 33, a co-founder of OpenStore, an e-commerce company in Miami whose 100 workers are in the office full time. ‘There’s nothing really to talk about because people have literally been in the office for the last one to two years.’” READ MORE
Pella is spending $30 million to reinvent its hometown, Pella, Iowa: “One of the toughest jobs, say executives at this closely held maker of windows and doors, is convincing workers to locate here in its hometown, a rural city of about 10,000 residents 45 miles southeast of Des Moines. The company and its controlling shareholders—members of the founding Kuyper family and its descendants—set out to change that. They have spent tens of millions of dollars in the past three years on housing, child-care centers, restaurants and an indoor entertainment center, among other things, to retain and attract new workers. More spending is on the way.”
“‘We just didn’t have the amenities that people we were trying to recruit would expect,’ says Chief Executive Tim Yaggi, noting that the manufacturer competes with major cities for talent.”
“Pella says it has an eye on the long term in its bid to attract more workers. The company says it needs hundreds of workers to fulfill its growth ambitions, which include doubling annual revenue by 2025 from 2020 levels.”
“The city’s annual budget is $47 million, a fraction of the company’s annual revenue of more than $1 billion. Pella Corp. is able and willing to fund community projects that otherwise might never come to fruition, company executives say.
“The steps Pella, the company, is taking evoke memories of old company towns, where employers shaped nearly every facet of community life. It pays for the city’s annual fireworks production and its foundation donates to a range of local causes.” READ MORE
Delivery startups are giving up on offering workers salaries and benefits: “Just Eat is now attempting to U-turn on previous promises. Just Eat couriers based across France received an email on July 18 outlining a coming company restructure, which would mean that riders’ status as employees would change. ‘Just Eat Takeaway has been a major advocate of the salaried delivery model in continental Europe and France. However, we cannot continue to do it alone,’ the email read, blaming regulators for not forcing its competitors to stop using gig workers.”
“French unions say this is an existential moment for the global gig economy, and for the future of platform workers everywhere.”
“If Just Eat is able to backtrack on its commitments in France, they say, it would send a message to other delivery platforms that employing people and giving them benefits doesn’t make financial sense.” READ MORE
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Pennsylvania’s evolving minimum wage and tip regulations could have an impact on restaurant business models: “For credit card and other non-cash tips, Pennsylvania employers will no longer be allowed to deduct processing fees (anywhere from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent depending on a number of factors) often associated with using a card from an employee’s tips — those fees are the responsibility of employers. That full amount is employees’ to keep. For example, if a customer tips $5 on a bill, that total amount goes to them.”
“Employers must disclose that any automatic gratuities are not tips for employees and must provide a space on receipts to directly tip employees. ... For example, some restaurants tack an automatic 20 percent gratuity on parties over a certain size. They must now disclose that percentage is an operational fee that goes to the business, not the server.”
“The new regulations also enact an 80/20 rule for employees. This means that in order to qualify for that wage reduction to as low as $2.83, employees have to spend 80 percent of their time a week doing work that would earn them tips. Otherwise, their wages cannot be reduced.”
“Tip pooling rules will also be updated to clarify that managers and supervisors are not allowed to participate in tip pools unless they have provided the entire service to a customer.” READ MORE
Consumer goods companies are preparing for a downturn: “Unilever has already launched bundled versions of brands such as Degree deodorant and Suave shampoo in the U.S. that are more affordable on a per-ounce basis, while holding prices steady for small sizes of some brands such as Dove soap. It also introduced new variants of personal-care brands—including premium ones such as SheaMoisture hair-care—that it thinks will appeal to consumers cutting back on visiting salons. ‘We are seeing a mix,’ Esi Eggleston Bracey, U.S. president of Unilever, said. “We are seeing premiumization continue and demand increase in our more accessible price points.’”
“Ms. Bracey said she and other company executives have been trying to determine what a recession might look like, given that many consumers still have jobs and high savings.”
“During the pandemic, people became used to pampering themselves at home rather than using professional services, a shift normally seen during a downturn.”
“‘The shower, we’ve learned, can be a place of retreat, people don’t have to go out to a spa,’ Ms. Bracey said.”
“Companies have also highlighted the importance of continuing to invest in marketing and research and development to convince consumers to keep paying higher prices for their brands.” READ MORE
And the summer’s hot flavor is ... pickle: “Pickle seasoning is increasingly turning up in all kinds of foods, from chips and popcorn to dips and salads and even pizza. Though some pickle-spice foods have existed for decades, the versatility of the flavor and its virality on social media have helped the products flourish. Pickle flavor hits all the right notes for people — especially those under 40 — who are looking for bigger, bolder, brighter and sourer flavors, food and beverage researchers said. Pickle seasoning is versatile: It can add sweetness and sourness, and is subtle enough to add other flavors, said Sally Lyons Wyatt, an executive at IRI, a market research company.”
“Blue Diamond Almonds released a spicy dill pickle version in March 2020, with the sour and spicy flavors they say consumers are looking for in snacks.”
“Frito-Lay makes pickle-flavored chips for its Lays, Doritos and recently, Ruffles, lines. Trader Joe’s, which carries a dill pickle falafel, says its dill pickle seasoning blend sold out soon after it hit shelves in May.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST: DASHBOARD
Welcome to the Pre-Recession! This week, Gene Marks tries to make sense of where the economy is headed and what it means for business owners. Plus, Gene explains why he thinks some business owners may be fooling themselves about whether their business is growing. He also talks about a CRM tool that Google is giving away for free as well as what you need to know to start a business.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren