Lately I’ve noticed a lot of what I will call fowtogs.
It stands for fear.of.what.the.other.guy.says.
Feedback can be scary. It’s never fun to hear that what you are pouring your blood sweat and tears into isn’t working–or that it’s or ugly, dysfunctional or broken.
However, if you indeed are pouring blood, sweat and tears–it seems counter-intuitive that you wouldn’t want to hear what will get you to your goal easier, faster, better….
Someone’s seeming insensitive criticism could provide you with the “the golden ticket,” “the missing link,” “the missing ingredient” etc etc.
Business isn’t a lottery. Rarely does anyone get lucky or win. But the clever ones get help–and more importantly they ask for feedback. Their desire to “win” is stronger than their fowtogs.
Did You Know Your Customers Call You “Whole Paycheck?”
We know that the popular health food grocer Whole Foods feels like any foodie’s palace.
Upon entering the store you feast your eyes on elegant chocolates and gorgeous cheese displays. The smells of indian spices waft into your nose from the exotic buffets or perhaps you drift over to the fish market where an immense fresh catch is artfully displayed across streams of ice.
The impressive meat and poultry sections are both something any chef or modest cook write home about. Once your eyes are satiated you head to one of the handful of in-house cafes–or the beauty and health store. Whole Foods is the land of plenty, offering what feels like a limitless and never-browning supply of produce—everything you want if you are vegan, vegetarian or strict gluten-free dieter.
Of course I’m skeptical.
When I lived in New York I understood the value of Whole Foods in Union Square. It was where you went to get glimpses of the beautiful people–starlets shopping for chic-peas or famous musicians grabbing a shot of grass.
But in Lake Merritt, my charming, humble and up-and coming neighborhood I call home–it’s hard for me to believe people want to pay the extra seven dollars for a small vat for cherries.
While Lake Merritt has nice high rises and local businesses like Kaiser Permanente, I don’t understand the pricing. And apparently neither do the Whole Foods workers who are known to shop at Trader Joe’s (I spot them there–the Trader Joe’s check-out people notice as well).
Stick To Your Roots
The only thing I want from the grocery store, is essentially good, fresh and affordable groceries. I don’t want frills. That’s why I prepare food at home.
I wonder if Whole Foods ever asks their customers what they really want. If you are Whole Foods and you are reading this blog, I would love to see your customer feedback surveys–especially around the topic of price and value.
From what I’ve learned it seems that it costs Whole Foods a lot of money to pay off their energy bills–and I’m sure it takes its toll on the environment as well (for all who shop at Whole Foods for sustainable food).
TJ’s: No Nonsense, Just Affordable Good Quality Groceries
Trader Joe’s employees–bedecked in Hawaiian shirts (yes I just used the word “bedecked”)– appear to pride themselves on being unpretentious. The staff appear to be happy, hard-working, customer-focused and proud. The one luxury is the fact that the food is good and affordable.
Today as I chatted with the Trader Joe’s clerk–she told me the store doesn’t keep the beer cold because of the overhead cost. I laughed with her that if Whole Foods surveyed its customers, I am pretty sure they would prefer more affordable food over cold beer.
The best thing Whole Foods has going is its sheer size and location.
No matter if you are Whole Foods, or a cherry stand on the I5, it’s critical to ask for feedback. If you understand what motivates your customers [insert another word like "audience"], you are at a major advantage–mostly because most people don’t seem to know….
The only reason not to ask is out of fear of rejection, or fear of having to change. But when it’s having to change your business model, or going out of business, I would say change is pretty attractive.
I would like to think I’m the cobbler with shoes because I actually have coaches. I have mentors. I have people who I go to for feedback.
It’s critical that we always get feedback, in order to improve–whether that’s a business, or just in our own personal lives.
And apparently I’m not the only one confused by the Whole Foods palace effect. TJ’s is the customer favorite. Cheers to luke warm beer.
I don’t want to have to compete with this guy for groceries–but maybe you do… :-]