Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)
When do wise managers spend idea money?
Years and years ago (it feels like centuries) ,when we all were young 'uns in our business game of life, we knew when the business cycle was up or down. It was like the ups and downs of a roller coaster but we never knew who pushed the "on" button. An unseen finger just clicked a button in the business atmosphere and off we would go on a Coney Island style up-and-down business ride.
One thing for sure it wasn't a Washington politic or a "face-this" or "twiddle-that" force that set things in motion. It was simply a personal, personnel happening.
But these days, with its endless wonders of internet, outernet, hairnet and net-net, we just ponder: "When do we spend idea money?"
"Grandpa," you ask, "aren't things sweaty enough these days without you asking hot-air balloon, up-and-down questions? We've got enough serious projects to worry about and understand like: Tea Parties without crackers; the counting of dead inventory; the clearing of floor samples; the plugging of holes caused by vacation vacancies and the wandering off of key personnel to detective a furnishings market or two?
"These philosophical questions of yours can wait," you conclude. "But! What in the world is this 'idea money' rigmarole?" you ask.
"Idea money," is money to be invested in stirring up sales excitement without another 25% off sale. A hoop-dee-doo like a bridal shower expert store visit and other consumer free-bees that lay the groundwork for future sales because they bring consumers to come in and just take a look-see and ask questions.
So when do we spend idea money on up periods or down periods?
The philosophic answer is usually: "Wait." Wait because we haven't got the cash. Wait because a million other things are on line. Wait-forever-because other items are always on the wait list. Wait- forever-because who ever admits when consumer curiousity really goes up. And finally, wait-forever-because when we're finally breathing... hah!... who knows when it's going to go down, again.
The Disney guys once entertained 60,000 people in Central Park with a free-be "Pocahontas" showing! Yipes! you say. Those are 60,000 who won't have to buy tickets! No way! I say. Those are 60,000 consumers running around and telling millions of other kids and parents about your "Pocahontas." A million dollars worth of freebie p.r. that Disney wheels cashed in on.
"But, Grandpa," you cry, "such guys have millions to spare!" No way, I say again. Chief honchos of studios are tossed out just like every other CEO who doesn't produce. It's all the same business game for all of us except in bigger proportions. You, too, are a chief but only with a little "c" that doesn't have a million to toss around. Oy!
I remember one day when an international biggie re-supered their top automobile number although nothing was wrong with it. Why didn't they wait until the bottom fell out? Uh! Uh! When you're at the bottom you fight to get out from under but when you're at the top you buttress your position.
A-n-d when you're at the bottom you fight back with idea money: Like a Friday/Saturday Combination where Friday is only a "look-see" day of free, valuable information from your design and sales personnel for your customer.
No-sales pads allowed. No names taken for mail pieces allowed. Only friendly, expert, valuable design advice is dished out.
B-u-t the customers who come back on Saturday or Sunday bring with them your "Friday Friendship Coupon", which you handed them on Friday with your ten-percent, unbeatable, value company insignia discount imprinted on it.
That's idea money.
Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90
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About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)
Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.
Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.
Graduated high school at 16.
Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.
Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.
Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.
Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.
Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.
Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.
Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.
Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.
Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.
He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."
Retired from retail management at age 70.
BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.
Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home
Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.
At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.
Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,
IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.
At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.