How could you help your customers more, especially in these tough times?

    by Donald Cooper

    Here are a few businesses that are helping their customers by delivering extra value, helpful tips or simple acts of kindness in tough times.

    Every day, the Sun Journal, a daily newspaper in Lewiston, Maine, is featuring penny-pinching tips on their front page that editors believe will save the average reader at least $2,000 USD a year. One of their tips told readers about a special activity day at an area state park that included sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides, with hot dogs, hamburgers, chili and chowder, for only $1.50 per person.

    Marks & Spencer department stores in the United Kingdom have introduced “Plan A,” an educational program designed to save households up to $2,000 a year by reducing energy consumption and food waste. It’s estimated that food waste alone costs the average family more than $1,200 a year.

    On March 10, FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinko’s) offered free résumé printing to folks who are unemployed. This is a great idea, but I don’t understand why they would limit it to one day only. Perhaps I’m just too cynical, but that sounds more like a PR play than a genuine commitment to help folks.

    A tire and auto service client of mine has sent out an e-mail to all its customers with 10 driving tips that will reduce fuel consumption, increase tire life and reduce harmful emissions.

    A Dutch auto insurance company now automatically sends clients text messages to warn them about bad weather approaching that could make driving hazardous. Their goal is to save clients from having accidents that could cause property loss, injury or death.

    So, take a few minutes to think about how you could proactively help your customers during the adversity and “storms” that they face, especially in these challenging times. Create a small “task force” in your business to figure out what helpful tips, information, ideas, encouragement or simple acts of kindness you could provide that would make a difference and create loyal customers for life.

Reprinted from The Donald Cooper Corporation Business Management Newsletter, March 2009

Donald Cooper is respected by clients in more than 40 industries throughout the world as a “thought leader” and passionate visionary in the key areas of management, marketing and service excellence. Drawing from his experience as a world-class manufacturer, award-winning retailer, business speaker and coach, he has helped thousands of businesses sell more, manage smarter and grow their bottom lines. To contact Mr. Cooper, call (416) 252-3704, or visit

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