contact HGO      +1 613.475.4704


 Home / Article: Life is free research

Life is free research

 13 December 2021     Donald Cooper 

Every time I go to my local Shopper’s Drug Mart to pick up my medication, I get a new lesson on how not to run a business. At my age, I’m on a lot of meds, so I get lots of lessons on how to get it wrong.

The other day, it took the pharmacy clerk 6.5 minutes to locate my one bag of meds in various drawers, shelves and bins scattered around the dispensary. While this search was going on, the line-up behind me grew from two frustrated customers to nine. In addition to ticked off customers, the huge inefficiency of taking 6.5 minutes to do something that should take ten seconds, must be costing the pharmacy big-time in unnecessary labour costs. The embarrassed pharmacy clerk apologized to me five times over the 6.5 minutes, so she was not enjoying being there either.

Here are my four insights from that trip to the pharmacy:

The first business lesson here is about being aware there’s a problem in your business and an urgent commitment to fix it. The store franchisee/owner was right there, five feet from the chaos, but completely oblivious to it. Clearly, she sees herself as a pharmacist and not as a manager, leader or advocate for efficiency and extraordinary customer experiences.

The second business lesson is about ‘systems and process’. This chaos, inefficiency and customer frustration could easily be solved by a 20-minute team meeting to get their thoughts on the problem, a slight re-configuring of the physical layout of the dispensary and some upgraded systems and software. Remember, our front-line people know stuff and they hate it when we don’t ask.

The third business biz lesson is about head-office support. Shoppers Drug Mart is Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, by far, and is owned by Canada’s largest grocery chain, by far (the George Weston Group). But, in spite of all that head office brain power, the individual Shoppers Drug Mart store franchisee/owners have not been encouraged, trained and supported to think and act like businesspeople. And their regional territory managers must be oblivious to what’s going on in the stores they supervise.

The fourth business lesson is no one at head office, or in the local store, appears to be paying attention to their Google rating and comments. This location gets just two Google stars out of five (most people give them just one star) and there are hundreds of Google comments like, “The worst pharmacy in town.”

You might ask why I keep going back to this pharmacy. Mainly because it’s an endless source of new insight on what not to do in business. I keep waiting to see when someone will wake up and fix what needs fixing. It has become a hobby of mine like looking for pennies in parking metres or watching paint dry.

So, below are a few questions to ask about your business: 

  • Are you paying attention, or are you blissfully oblivious?
  • Are you thinking like a day-to-day ‘operator,’ or like a manager and leader?
  • Are you constantly looking to improve the customer experience and operational efficiency in every part of your business?
  • Have you embraced the latest and best systems and processes?
  • Finally, are you paying attention to your Google ratings and comments and to other customer feedback and committed to fix what needs fixing?

When you’re out in the world, being a customer, are you looking for insights on how to make your business better? Life is free research when you’re paying attention.

Here’s a little something extra to think about: 

My business quote of the week: “The world doesn’t need one more mediocre anything! First you have to be a story and then you have to tell your story. What’s your compelling and differentiating value story and where and how do you tell it?”

UPS drivers almost never turn left. Here’s why. UPS’s vehicle routing software has determined that turning left is most often a waste of time and fuel because of the time spent waiting for traffic or signals to make the turn. Left turns also have a higher accident risk. (Note: For readers in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore, we’re talking about right turns here).

It’s estimated the ‘almost never’ left turn rule saves ten million gallons of fuel, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 tonnes and facilitates the delivery of 350,000 more packages each year.

So, what study, analysis and decisions are being made in your business to be more efficient and more environmentally responsible? Small improvements can make a big difference.

Companies led by women outperform the average by more than double. An eight-year study of 11,000 publicly traded companies from around the world by Stockholm-based Bank found companies led by women had an annualized return of 25% versus the average for all companies of just 11%. So clearly we need many more smart women in top management positions. 

That’s it for this week. Stay safe and live brilliantly!

Stearns & Foster
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

The HGO Merchandiser
Summer 2022
Summer 2022
Spring 2022
Spring 2022
Autumn 2021
Autumn 2021
Summer 2021
Summer 2021

 View all editions of The HGO Merchandiser.

  About HGO

Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

  Contact Us
  Home Goods Online

Published by:
Windsor Bay Communications Inc.
P.O. Box 3023; 120 Ontario Street,
Brighton ON Canada K0K 1H0

Tel : 613.475.4704

Fax : 613.475.0829
Mail : contact us