Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

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Some things never change~

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It's springtime in Southern California. I know this for two reasons. I'm feeling better energized each morning and I want to make pretty in my container garden.

Seasons here are scant imitations of the dramatic seasons in the eastern and northern states. This year the southern states were besieged by hefty weather storms also, and caught many by surprise with the cold temps and snow. I admire the hearty souls who know how to drive and survive in snow and ice conditions. But I'm terribly grateful  I live right there. The one winter I lived in Seattle, the snow  showed up one afternoon and I had heart palpitations having to drive my car up a slippery slope on the way home from work.

I'm strong in many ways unique to my own personality and ways of being in this world. Living in one digit climate is not one of them. For those who do live where chains are required, I admire you very much for your stamina.

Gardening.jpg

The saying, "The only thing constant, is change", is true for so many turns in our lives. But as I consider working with my hands in soil, and feeling renewal of spring's song and the rhythm my body tunes into these mornings, I realize nature can be counted on to follow it's course around the sun. And we follow right along with it. 

There's a time to plant and a time to sow. And what we choose to plant and sow is always the change. After 62 winters I finally understand. Springtime will always return and I will always want to dig right in.

The happiness that comes to me in welcoming spring and planting beauty to surround me every morning keeps me grounded. 

And that will never change.

 Ready for Spring!

Ready for Spring!

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Take a Hike and sharpen your Senses

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This morning I decided to walk to the hardware store to make my purchase instead of automatically reaching for the car keys. My idea was to combine morning exercise with a simple chore. Three miles ’round trip. My walks and hikes are more often in the opposite direction from morning traffic but today I thought I’d see what I could see, and to hear things differently.
As I walked on the sidewalk alongside the zooming commuters, my slow and quiet pace was a stark contrast to speed and noise. I reminded myself of how often I drive too fast to make that green light and too impatiently wait for a sole pedestrian to make it across the street. Do I have to wait until they get all the way across? I sensed that was the thought for those caffeine amped worker bees waiting for me to hop back up on the sidewalk and get outta the way! This morning though, drivers were very patient with me. Not one person tried to mow me down in the crosswalk.
I stood at the busy corner waiting for the red hand to turn into the green walker, a bit self conscious, standing solo, feeling vulnerable and so “seen” while thirty odd drives looked at me. I always check out the walkers waiting for their signal to cross when I’m in my car, waiting my turn. It’s something drivers do. You can’t help it. No other walkers were nearby. I was the one pushing the crossing button and single handedly altering traffic flow. That was a power rush, a push of the button and the world demands I get a chance to cross safely.
I walked along an area near the overpass that was dense with high bushes and noticed someone had been sleeping there recently. I’d never noticed speeding by in my CRV. I walked past a man, waiting at the bus stop, his bike next to him with a flat front tire. We made eye contact and smiled. “Oh, a flat tire.” I said. He replied, “Yeah, my brother gave me a bike but didn’t include the air!” We laughed at his joke.
The landscape maintenance worker respectfully paused his mower and smiled a “Good Morning” as I passed his crew and stepped around the trimmed grass and trees.

I made my purchases then headed back home.

Walking along noisy streets is not my first choice for outdoor exercise. I’m out on wilderness trails and in neighborhood parks getting my exercise almost every day. But once in awhile, walking in my neighborhood helps me to remember how to be a conscious driver; easy on the speed, more patient with pedestrians, aware of the people around me, not just their cars, and pay better attention to what I see and hear. It’s so easy to be distracted inside your car.

I had this funny image of all the people going to work, walking, instead of driving. All lined up at the red lights, standing single file, tapping their foot impatiently. And the commuters in the opposite direction, walking quickly through the intersection while they had the green light favor. All that serious speed and heavy metal replaced with……..just people walking. If they had to yell at each other instead of use their horn, would they think twice? Afterall, cutting someone off while you’re walking would look rather ridiculous.

I love having my car. I really enjoy moving along and listening to music and getting from here to there in a very short time. But today I wanted to just move at my own easy paced 3 MPH and remind myself I have a choice, to stop look and listen, no matter how fast I’m moving.

Mi$take$. The le$$on$ we never forget.

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

Never leave a box of eyeglass frames on top of a trash can. This was a $1000. mistake I made during my first year in business.

“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.” Pearl S. Buck.

I had just opened a large order of brand new, beautiful designer frames UPS had delivered that morning. As I sorted through the three large boxes, I set one box containing twenty Christian Dior frames aside,on top of the small trash can underneath my front desk. I set about pricing and entering the other two boxes of product while answering the phone and assisting clients at the same time. The day ended before I could complete the order process. I thought of finishing up the order entry but decided to wait until the next morning, not telling my business partner about my plan.

First thing the following morning, I was ready to open the third box and continue pricing and inventory.

I turned towards the spot I’d set the third box. The trash can had not moved, but the box of frames I’d set on it was gone. After ten minutes of  double-checking my work to see if I’d already accounted for the frames yesterday and searching my office for the missing frames, I asked my co-owner if he’d seen the third box and set it aside.

“You mean that empty box that was sitting on top of the trash can?” My stomach was feeling the squeeze of panic.

“It wasn’t empty. It had the rest of the inventory from yesterday’s order, in it! I set it on top of the empty trash can because it was handy while I was going through the order!”

He had taken out all the trash last evening before heading home. The full box on top of the trash, looked no different to him than the boxes of frames I’d emptied and had set aside to discard.

I ran out to the dumpster in hopes  trash pick up hadn’t arrived yet.

No such luck. $1,000 worth of new inventory lay underneath tons of garbage on its way to the dump.

The $1,000 le$$on I learned was so excruciatingly simple it pains me still, 23 years later.

Trash cans hold trash. And don’t ever expect anyone to think differently. Or that co-workers can read your mind.

I made other mistakes over the course of 22 years running my retail business. Everyone’s best lessons are learned from the mistakes we make, than from the victories. Being successful in business means  the victories out number the mistakes! My advice is don’t live in constant fear that you’ll make one, because you will.

“I’ve got to keep breathing. It’ll be my worst business mistake if I don’t.” Steve Martin.

Just pay attention and take your time in handling your daily details.

And breathe.

Wage War Against Low Wages

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I stopped for lunch at Wahoo’s for a fish taco yesterday,in Laguna Beach, Ca. I had a client work day across the street, so the idea of my lunch break looking out over the ocean while I enjoyed one of my favorite meals, sounded perfect. The weather was cooperating nicely. Sun, breeze, not too hot, clear skies out 25 miles to Catalina Island.

The employee behind the counter, was genuinely happy I’d come in to order. She liked me so much, she offered me a FREE chicken taquito to go with my fish taco. She smiled and asked if I’d like some FREE lip balm and a tube of FREE sunscreen, also. ?? Ok, sure! Seemed like I’d chosen a day to have lunch where they were giving out FREE stuff. I noticed the posted sign on the cash register that read today was a special FREE offer day.

The pleasantry that I was greeted with, continued with the waitress, who brought my lunch to me outside on the patio, the employee who collected finished plates from guests, offered water to others and made sure each customer was being served well. Not one customer went unnoticed or neglected.
The order counter, the kitchen and the staff making their rounds kept a fast pace and shared smiles with everyone. They acted like they really owned the place.

When I was finished basking in the sun and enjoying my delicious lunch, two employees made sure they said goodbye, thanked me for coming in and wished me a good day.

Fish tacos. $3.00 I can’t recall when I’ve had such care put into my experience about eating out. Not for $20, $35, or $75 (for two)! I put in a call and left a message for the store manager to express my appreciation and delight at how well these Wahoo’s employees were trained to treat the customers above and beyond.

And I wanted to know, are they getting paid above minimum wage? Are they receiving performance-based incentives to reward and to share in the success of this restaurant? Is part of the store profits being fairly distributed as bonuses for such commitment and excellent work?

Paying your employees well, is very good for business. Cost and Trader Joe’s are known for paying way above minimum wage to employees. I’m hoping Wahoo’s is following that good idea.

Employees want two things.
1. A fair and equitable place to work.
2. A decent living wage for great work performance (and bonuses!) and to share in profits they had a direct role in creating.
Let’s add a third thing. To be appreciated by your superior for your efforts.

If you are pay your staff better than they could earn at the competitor and tell them how much you appreciate their work, your bottom line will always be better.

Wahoo’s in Laguna Beach is rockin’ customer service.

I sure hope the boss is showing his appreciation every pay-day.

Old-Fashioned Customer Care

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A SMILE and a friendly HELLO is the most common reason (59 percent) why consumers feel loyal towards small and independent retailers. Yet only 54 percent of small and medium size enterprises (SME) businesses stated their business employed this practice.

In this new study of over 2,000 consumers from Kingston University Small Business Centre, 36 percent of consumers said they were loyal to small retailers due to “brilliant customer service” and highly valued businesses remembering their usual order. (Bacon and egg quesadilla, no bacon, easy cheese, yes on the green sauce. My breakfast at Del Taco.)

Yet! Only around HALF of the SME respondents are taking advantage of their position to foster loyalty with shoppers.

“While the majority of decision makers recognize the importance of personal relations with customers, they are failing to develope their own customer loyalty strategies,” said Kingston University Professor Robert Blackburn. “SMEs should consciously build on their natural competitive advantage of being a smaller business as this can make a real difference to business survival and growth.”

Other tidbits of findings:

* Only 50 percent of SME respondents encourage referrals by their regular customers

*Sixty percent of consumers are willing to pay MORE! for a similiar product from a small independent retailer compared to a cheaper product from big box corporate retailers.

*Less than a third of respondents are retaining or growing their current customer base as their business’ main priority to achieve growth. (email addresses and contact information!)

I believe SMALL BUSINESS success is all about knowing your customers who walk in your front door and greeting them warmly. We all have our favorite digs that serve and satisfy our innate desire to connect, create community and supply our basic needs and wants.

Understanding SEO and FB and LinkedIn and weekly blogging and receiving positive postings on yelp are icing on the top of what should be your main ingredient……
good OLD-FASHIONED personalized, smiling, warm hearted, arms wide open (so to speak), efficient, effective, over-the-top excellence in delivering top quality goods and services.

Your wide world web is only as good as the smile and warm, heart-filled greeting behind it.

This note includes a big SMILE!
And a thank you for your referrals of friends and fellow business owners.

Stay cool this summer and find time to be renewed and restored by spending time in nature!