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Category Archives: stories

My wife and I own a giant creature. His name is Charlie and he is a 9 month old 120 pound Newfoundland with a healthy appetite for destruction.

With that being said, we need a brand that can fulfill our need as consumers. Petsmart was fulfilling this need, until November third of last year. Petsmart previously had the best return policy of any pet store around. They would accept anything from their store that didn’t hold up to the pet it was purchased for. So having a dog that destorys leashes, this concept was very compelling to me. Charlie is now on his fourth leash since I have been taking care of him. Leash number 3 was purchased at Petsmart and lasted 11 days before plastic pieces started to crumble off and eventually led to it’s demise. So, two weeks seemed a bit crappy to me. We tried to take it back, and at first the cashier assisting us was going to accept our return and told us pick out what we needed and come back to the counter when we were ready. A few moments later, she finds me in the store and tells me that her manager said we could not return it because it had visual damage. To which I said, “I know, that’s why I’m returning it.” She said I could speak with the manager. So I did. For purposes of this story, we’ll call him ‘Dick’. Dick tells me that he cannot accept said item because it has visible damage and that they have a new store policy because of “Economical Difficulties”. At this point, I give up and say thank you and leave the store.

Very bothered by the situation, Kelly and I call the store and talk to Dick immediately after leaving just to tell him that we understand the financial hardships of our nation, and we felt we were treated unkindly in his store. We then told him that we will not be returning to the store, because the petsmart brand had been tarnished for us and we would rather support a local business anyway and since petsmart could no longer offer us a guarantee that would make it financially smarter for us to shop there then we would use a more localized source for our pet needs.

At this point, Dick recanted and told us that he would accept the return in order to keep us as customers. Kelly and I agreed that it was little too late for that, and we ended the conversation. We don’t hold Dick responsible for the new policies of his company.

Moral of the story: When your company falls on hard times you shouldn’t allow your brand standards visual or personal to fall by the wayside due to financial difficulties. My family bought all of our pet needs from petsmart (leashes, dishes, treats, grooming, and a 40 lb bag of dog food every 3 weeks). Now we don’t. We shop local now, which is a good thing. If you offer a guarantee that no one else offers, in this troubling time you can’t afford to change it. My father also owns a Newfoundland and has also sworn off Petsmart (in a much more angry way than I, but still). I can only imagine that most would and will do the same as they discover this new policy. Is it more cost effective to destroy your brand and save a few dollars or maintain your brand and save a few followers?

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I read an article about the CEO of C.F. Martin and Co. guitar manufacturers;

Like a lot of growing businesses, he had hired a guy to come in and make the company run more efficiently; therefore, earning greater profits and making the company more valuable.  This guy says to the CEO, “Chris, everyone around here works so hard and I tell them, ‘we aren’t trying to make the perfect guitar.'”  And his response was simply, “We are trying to make the perfect guitar.”

I want to work for a guy like this. You know that thing that people say, “you should get smart clients if you want to do great work.”?  I think the same applies to employment.  If you want to do great work, work with smart people.

As a side note:

In the same article, it told a story about a time when the CEO was at a trade show with his father.  CBS had offered to buy Martin and Co., and his father asks him if he would ever want to be involved in the family business.  His response is that he may be interested, but could not guarantee it. (He was 14 years old.)

In the meeting with the CBS executive, his father says “My son may be interested in taking over the company some day, so we aren’t going to sell.”

It was a short meeting.