The 5 Steps That Turn Dream Into Reality

How did you like the special PDF article “Action River” that I gave you?

(Haven’t seen it?  Just enter your email into the box on the right, and I’ll get a copy right to you!)

Was it useful or inspiring to you?

What are your thoughts about success?  What’s your story?

Leave a comment below and share with me!

How NOT To Treat Your Customers – Lessons From a 7-11

Last week I visited a local 7-11 to purchase a refill card for my cell phone (I use a pay-as-you-go plan).  In order to get the best deal, I always buy the $100 denomination cards.  I had only a credit card with me, and no cash.

With credit card in hand, I took the refill card to the counter, where the store’s proprietor was at the cash register.

Tersely he said, “Cash?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any cash with me.  Do you not take credit card?”  I could see the little electronic credit card terminal right in front of me.

“Debit card?”

Me: “Uh, sorry, I only have a credit card.”

“Fine, slide your card…”

Now, I understand why he balked at the credit card.  Credit cards impose a percentage fee, probable around 2% (worth $2.00 in this case) for him.  Debit cards have a fee which is less expensive.  And of course cash is best.

So by my using credit card, he would earn $2.00 less profit on this transaction.

Previously I’ve used a credit card to buy phone refills at places like Target without so much as a bat of an eyelash.

That was my first visit to his 7-11, and it will be my last. Why?  His reaction left me feeling hesitant to go through that experience again, when a much easier and friendly experience is available elsewhere.

He gained nothing.  In the end, I still paid with credit card, and he missed out on $2.  Worse still, he lost a potential repeat customer (the 7-11 is conveniently located along my daily route).  On subsequent trips, maybe I’d have cash.  Or maybe I’d also buy other items in the store (with higher profit margins) while there to get a phone card.

In this light, it was very shortsighted to be so concerned about a single transaction — especially since this was my “first impression” with his business.  Conventional wisdom says that existing customers are 7-10 TIMES more valuable than new customers because someone who’s bought from you before is far more likely to buy from you (again).

It’s all about your customer’s experience.

If your customers have a good experience with you, they’ll happily come back for more.

If your customers have a GREAT experience with you, that they can’t get anywhere else, they’ll become raving fans and tell all their friends.

Think about your business from your customer’s perspective.  What can you do to give them a great experience?  What can you offer your customers that’s uniquely you?

P.S. Bonus points if you can figure out how I knew the man at the register was the proprietor.  :)

SF Vegan Drinks Night!

SF Vegan Drinks

This Thursday January 28, 6pm to 8pm, is SF Vegan Drinks night!

Could be a good networking opportunity for fellow vegan entrepreneurs.

Hope to see you there!

(If you’re planning on going please drop a comment here so we’ll know to look for each other.)

UPDATE 1/29/2010: This was really fun!  I had a great time and met a bunch of interesting folks: Shannon of Cinnaholic fame, Bob Linden from Go Vegan Radio, Brian Grupe from Vegan Outreach, and Sarah from Colorado.  :)

SF Vegan Bake Sale Benefit for Haiti

Vegan Bake Sale Benefit for HaitiThis Saturday there was a vegan bake sale in San Francisco to benefit Haiti.  Since it had been raining, it was held indoors at the Mercury Cafe at Octavia & Page Streets.  There was a steady stream of people, which kept the cafe full and bustling.

There was a veritable cornucopia of pastries, cookies, pies, rolls, breads, and more.  I won’t tell you how many treats I bought in the two trips I made to the counter, since it was embarrassingly many.  But it was definitely for a good cause.  Kudos to the organizers for their generous support of Haiti in the aftermath of its recent tragedy.

I had gone hoping to meet up with Cinnaholic’s Shannon Michelle-Radke, but it turns out we missed each other by mere moments!  (I did snag one of her s’mores rolls and pizza rolls on the way out, though.)

A veritably vast variety of very voracious vegan vittles.

A veritably vast variety of very voracious vegan vittles.

Without resorting to "one of each," my son and I choose our indulgence.

Without resorting to "one of each," my son and I choose our indulgence.

New Vegan Business Needs YOU

Bountiful Vegan is a new vegan business in the San Francisco Bay area.

They make the vegan “Intention Cookies” and are starting to see business pick up as area stores like Whole Foods begin to stock their cookies.  (Read their story here.)

Co-founder Mary Wilmer (and fellow SF Bay Area Vegan Business Owners group member) says:

Business is growing steadily and has already reached the point where we need help. Currently, we do all the baking, packaging, labeling, deliveries, sales, and in-store demos. We can handle everything well, except the in-store demos, which are absolutely vital to the success of our cookie business. We need 3 or 4 people to do the in-store demos for us — but for a short period of time they’ll have to be unpaid volunteer positions. We’re estimating that within just one or two months we will be able to make these paid positions. Our current store accounts are in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. Store demos generally run from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. We’d love to get started as soon as possible because we’re already at the point where we can’t handle all our stores, as well as do all the other things we need to do.

So what do you say?  This business is in its infancy and could use a little vegan community support to carry it forward.

Please note, these are unpaid volunteer positions until the business gets on its feet and can make these paid positions.

(Could be the perfect opportunity to see how things work “from the inside” if you think you might ever want to start a vegan business of your own.  Like an internship.)

Are you outgoing and enjoy working with the public?  Do you have a few hours to spare to lend a hand?

If you’re interested in learning more, please leave a comment on this blog post with your contact information.

(Don’t worry, your comment won’t be visible to the public.)

Let’s wish Mary and Terry all the best of success with their vegan business!

Nature’s Express Berkeley grand opening a phenomenal success!

Today was the grand opening of Nature’s Express new Berkeley location.

I went expecting there to be a handful of people — but instead was greeted by a line that extended outside the restaurant and down the sidewalk! The place was JAM PACKED. The spectacle generated a tangible buzz amongst the passers-by. (See photos below!)

There were so many people I was in line for about an hour before I could place an order. But it was well worth the wait! I had a “classic burger” and it was delicious.

I drove all the way from San Rafael, and despite the distance, I will definitely be back. There are few restaurants I can eat at and feel 100% confident about the vegan-ness of the food. On top of it, I get to feel good that I’m supporting something I believe in and voting with my dollars.

Nature’s express is 100% plant-based “fast food” — though it’s not what you might think of as fast food. There’s an appetizingly large variety of options, and includes items like fruit smoothies.

While there I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Carl Myers, the founder, as well as general manager (and fellow SF Bay Area Vegan Business Owners group member) Molly Patrick, green event planner Karine Brighten, and (vegan) photographer Cathryn Lovecraft.

Congratulations to Nature’s Express on such a phenomenally successful opening!

Nature’s Express
1823 Solano Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94707

Monday – Saturday 6 am to 9 pm
Sunday 8 am to 8 pm

If you’re in the area, definitely stop by and support this fantastic vegan business!

Nature's Express Berkeley Grand Opening - Line Extends Down the Sidewalk

There were about 30-40 people in line when I got there, and the line continued to grow. (I'm all the way on the right talking to vegan photographer Cathryn Lovecraft.)

Nature's Express Berkeley Grand Opening - Inside is Jam Packed

Nature's Express founder Dr. Carl Myers gives a brief speech to an enthusiastic (and hungry!) crowd.

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