We Will Not Have Civil Wars
On the latest podcast episode, the owners talk about how they cope with the inevitable tensions that arise within a business.
Here are today’s highlights:
Some restaurants are finding that Thursday is their new big night.
Struggling to get your team to use your CRM? Gene Marks has suggestions.
Thanks to an influx of ecommerce businesses, Reno is booming. But can employees afford to live there?
Did you know that the word ‘abrasive’ is used 11 times more often in performance reviews of women?
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Rule No. 1: We Will Not Have Civil Wars: This week, Shawn Busse, Paul Downs, and Liz Picarazzi talk about why it’s so easy for tension to break out inside a business. Liz sees tension brewing between her people in the office and her people in the field. Shawn often sees friction at businesses between sales and those who have to deliver what sales sells. Paul says there’s always the potential for problems when a project gets handed from one set of workers to another, and he’s created a very deliberate process to address it. We have, he says, “really tamped down the civil wars and started solving the problems, as opposed to letting them fester.” Plus: Are Shawn and Liz going to hit their numbers this year? And have the owners seen their health insurance rates for next year?
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Restaurants are continuing to evolve: “While we’re all familiar with the bigger developments (higher prices, fewer workers, no more late-night feasts), some more specific, surprising changes have taken hold in the restaurant world. Here are some of the pandemic pivots that look like they’ll stick around as long as Covid itself, which is to say they’re here for good.”
“Owners say that they’ve seen a noticeable uptick in activity on Thursday nights — a phenomenon they attribute to work-from-home policies. ‘I have a theory,’ says 21 Greenpoint owner Homer Murray, ‘that it’s because most people in Greenpoint [Brooklyn] work remotely, so they can take Fridays off.’”
“At many restaurants, menus are getting simpler because of high labor turnover, fewer available cooks, and the rising costs of ingredients. Chefs are also designing their dishes to be less rigid, which is less about creative expression and more about necessity in the time of supply-chain disruptions.”
“‘Pre-pandemic, we were way more strict on our sick and call-up policy, but now our messaging to the staff is, If you’re feeling sick, if you’re feeling under weather, please stay home,’ says Kim Hoang, a co-owner of Di An Di in Greenpoint. ‘We have people call out every week.’”
“While cancellation fees were already common at fine-dining restaurants, reservation requirements and penalties for no-shows have become increasingly common at cocktail bars and more neighborhood-focused spots.” READ MORE
Gene Marks on fixing the biggest problem with your CRM: “Customer Relationship Management systems are not accounting systems. CRM systems don’t do billing, cash receipts, disbursements or payroll. If a CRM system isn’t used, a company still continues to operate. If an accounting system isn’t used, a company doesn’t operate. This is why so many of my clients complain that the number one CRM challenge they have is actually getting people to use the system. Here’s how to fix it.”
“Don’t make your CRM database too complex. Cut down on the fields. Minimize the data entry. Scale back your complex sales and service processes. The less you’re asking your people to do the easier it will be for them to do it.”
“Get rid of your spreadsheets and replace them with just a few key reports. Start with a simple pipeline report where every opportunity is tracked with details including sales potential, probability of close, projected close date, last action and next action.”
“My clients can be segregated into three groups: the CRM experts, the CRM users and the CRM dummies. Leave the experts alone, give a bit of help to your users and focus your training and support on the dummies. Because let’s face it: there are some people that can pick up technologies and other people that can’t plug in a TV set.” READ MORE
Business owners are bracing for a quiet holiday season: “AlixPartners, the global consulting firm, forecasts that holiday sales will rise between 4 percent to 7 percent, far below last year’s growth of 16 percent. With inflation running above 8 percent, retailers would see a decrease in real sales. To prepare, owners say they’re ordering inventory earlier to avoid the supply-chain snags that frustrated them the past two holiday seasons and to draw in early birds. They’re stepping up discounts as much as they can in the face of their own higher costs. And owners also hope more people will shop in stores and holiday markets after doing more of their shopping online during the pandemic.”
“Mat Pond operates The Epicurean Trader in San Francisco, including four brick-and-mortar stores, an online shop and a corporate gift basket business. In past years, he started building inventory in November, but this year he’s already stocking up on items such as gourmet food, chocolate, wine and giftware.”
“Everyone’s planning ahead,” Pond said. “I think everybody’s learning from the past two years.” READ MORE
Live-streamed shopping is off to a slow start in the U.S. but brands are still trying: “The practice, which adapts the QVC model of televised home shopping to the digital era, grew popular in the Asia-Pacific region before exploding in China during the pandemic as businesses rushed to connect more directly with homebound consumers. Many U.S. marketers view the trend with caution because it hasn’t yet delivered significant sales in the U.S. But revenue from U.S. live-stream shopping is predicted to grow to $20 billion this year from $6 billion in 2020, and to $57 billion in 2025, according to research firm Coresight Research.”
“Cosmetics company e.l.f. Beauty, which in recent months organized shopping events on platforms including TikTok and Ntwrk, a live-shopping app owned by Commerce Media Holdings, sees live shopping as a key part of its North American marketing strategy, says Ekta Chopra, the company’s chief digital officer.”
“‘It isn’t huge in terms of being a revenue generator; it’s huge in terms of engagement,’ Ms. Chopra says.”
“The U.S. consumer experience also can be bumpy, sometimes requiring users to sign up for individual shopping events, download new apps and enter identification and payment information in multiple places, says Ms. Chopra of e.l.f. Beauty.” READ MORE
Thanks to ecommerce, Reno is booming: “In recent years, e-commerce companies have flooded the market. The Reno-Sparks area, with a population of about half a million, ticks a lot of boxes for companies seeking to expand back-end operations. There’s no state income tax, cheap land is available, there’s access to a main interstate and an international airport, and it’s close to California, whose huge economy and millions of people are significant draws for consumer companies looking to easily connect with their customers. In 2014, when Elon Musk came to Nevada to celebrate the opening of Tesla’s giant Gigafactory warehouse, meant to build batteries for his company’s electric vehicles, he encouraged other executives to follow.”
“‘What the people of Nevada have created is a state where you can be very agile, where you can do things quickly and get things done,’ Mr. Musk said at the time.”
“And follow they did. Chewy, Amazon, Thrive Market and Apple have opened or expanded warehouses in the area over the past decade. Third-party logistics companies like OnTrac and Stord have also propped up new facilities in town.”
“Yet Reno and the surrounding area have also seen the cost of things like housing, gas and groceries rise, making daily existence in this growing metropolis increasingly difficult for many of the people who live here.” READ MORE
Tech CEO Davis Bell of Canopy announced that he’d fired two engineers for working two full-time jobs simultaneously: “The post went viral Friday after Bell said Canopy, a midsize software company in Utah, recently fired two engineers who were secretly working two full-time jobs simultaneously. Overemployment has soared during the pandemic, with some saying it allows them to make up to $600,000 a year during a period of record inflation and soaring housing costs. ‘To me, this isn't some fun new social trend,’ Bell wrote in the post. ‘It's a new form of theft and deception, and not something in which an ethical, honest person would participate.’”
“The post prompted backlash from several corners of the internet, including the subreddit Antiwork, with some users saying that tech CEOs like Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk were lauded for working at multiple companies at once, while regular workers were punished for it.” READ MORE
Vertical farming is transforming how cities get their greens: “Kalera, an Orlando-based vertical farming company, opened the 85,000-square-foot vertical farm a year ago to supply Texas and Louisiana markets with freshly grown leafy greens—betting that consumer demand for fresher, sustainably grown produce will buoy its growth. Its lettuces are available in Trader Joe’s and H-E-B grocery stores in Houston, with more locations expected as it expands its national retail footprint by more than 40 percent this year.”
“It recently opened a farm in Denver, adding to its existing locations in Atlanta, Orlando, and Houston. Next are new farms in Seattle, Honolulu, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Columbus, Ohio.”
“Like much of Houston’s produce, most of the region's lettuce is imported from out of state, typically traveling hundreds of miles from California before winding up on a Texas dinner plate. Not only does this create more greenhouse gases, it also means Houstonians are munching on older greens.”
“Stacking the greens means Kalera can compress more crops into a smaller footprint. Within its 64,000 square feet of growing space at its Houston farm, Kalera estimates it's using about 97 percent less space than a standard farm.”
“But myriad challenges remain. For one, most vertical farms aren’t yet profitable, although Kalera’s Houston facility is almost there, said Aric Nissen, chief marketing officer at Kalera. The company’s upfront cost of setting up the high-tech farms is about $10 million, Nissen said.” READ MORE
Textio wants to take the bias out of performance reviews: “The Seattle tech startup built its business using machine learning and natural language processing to weed out bias in job postings, and it’s about to roll out a product to do the same for performance reviews. When Textio analyzed feedback for 25,000 workers at 250 organizations, it found that female and Black employees tend to get the most exaggerated assessments. Textio examined language patterns and flagged absolutes like ‘never’ or ‘constantly’ that showed a manager may be overstating things. That jibes with the findings of Harvard Business School researcher Francesca Gino, whose survey results last year showed that feedback for women tends to focus on personality, while men get more comments on how to advance in an organization.”
“The new product, which will be available starting in November through Workday Inc.’s workforce management tool, flags problematic language, or areas where comments can be more specific or helpful, and prompts bosses to fix the reviews before they’re delivered.”
“It also aggregates feedback data by categories such as race and gender, so a company can see if reviews are getting more equitable over time.”
“If a reviewer writes that a female employee is ‘abrasive’—a word that comes up 11 times more often in descriptions of women than in those of men—Textio’s software will highlight it and prompt a manager to steer clear of personality and focus on the work.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST: DASHBOARD
Victor Hwang on Entrepreneurship in America: Founder of entrepreneurial advocacy organization Right to Start, Hwang suggests bipartisan policy changes that would help Americans build more businesses. He also talks about why funding of U.S. businesses is broken, what Americans really think of business owners, and what he learned about entrepreneurs on his recent cross-country roadtrip.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren