Archive for December, 2009

For years I have wondered what makes someone cool. Then, in the most recent issue of Utah Valley Business Q I figured it out. When you read the article on the top 10 coolest people in Utah you will notice that one very notable cool person is on the cover, and he has a beard.

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I was intrigued, and starting flipping through the pages to find out if this was maybe a pattern of coolness. And it is. Four out of eight of the coolest people in the Business Q article have beards. Then I realized that there are more cool people that I know that have beards as well. Greg Warnock is a member of our board, and definitely cool. Michael Sikorsky is absolutely cool, and he has a beard as well. So I did what any rational person would do that wanted to be cool as well. I grew a beard.

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What do you think? Does the beard do it for me, or should I lose it and against the odds try to be cool without it? If you are wondering if you should grow a beard to help you attain coolness I compiled some information on beards that may help you in your decision.

The study of beards is called pogonology. Men grow a beard for many reasons. They do it out of Religion or culture, or to change their personal style and appearance, change the shape of their face and jaw line, let it grow out of laziness or in some cases to “hide” something. Additionally some men look better with beards, not all beards are unkempt, and some do fit actually certain facial types, in the end it all comes down to subjectivity – who you are dealing with and if you are forced to shave or not due to the job you have. So being part of a man’s appearance, beards can lead people in a certain context to make judgments in one way or the other, positive or negative.

A study from the University of Texas Austin found that men with facial hair were perceived as more aggressive, less appeasing, less attractive, older, and lower on social maturity than clean shaven faces (UTexas.edu). A study on men with facial hair found that 63 percent of them believe it makes them more manly and attractive, whereas 92 percent of women said they preferred a clean-shaven man (Suite101.com).

Billy Mays was a famous pitch man on television, enthusiastically selling a variety of products. Through his work on television and personal appearances, Billy Mays became a celebrity. Just as famous as Billy himself was, so was his dark full beard. Billy demonstrated to the world that a full-bearded man could appear in advertising and achieve great success.

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My view is that while beards can definitely bump up the coolness factor, there also can be an itchy factor. I would love to have a study done on what percent of men don’t grow beards because it just is too itchy.

Ten percent of workers feel that their productivity suffers during rainy and cold conditions. Also, employee absenteeism is higher on rainy days with twenty-one percent of workers admitting to calling out sick to avoid facing the elements. Ultimately, it depends on every business. For example, when there is a snow storm a landscaping business can’t complete their jobs, whereas ski resorts are flooded with business.

In the painting industry we see an interesting trend. When the sun shines, people go outside and see what the winter, spring, and fall have done to their home and make a phone call to find out what it will cost to repair. It’s difficult to do an exterior paint job when the temperature is below 40°F. Most customers recognize that cold, wet weather means painting will have to be put off. If we were to compare the number of calls we receive during a sunny week vs. a rainy one Five Star Painting’s phone rings twice as much when the sun is out. Also, interestingly enough, our phone always rings the most on Monday.

Years ago I used to be involved with a winter festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba called Festival du Voyageur. This festival was insane enough to run in the height of winter and provided heated tents with entertainment, ice sculptures, and dog-sled racing. All in all it’s a great time, but I can assure you that this outdoor festival would in some years experience -50°C (-58°F) weather. I acquired some research and did a plot chart of the average temperature to the festival attendance. The correlation was staggering, yet expected. The colder the weather the less tickets sales we would have.

How does bad weather affect your business? A few disadvantages of running a business when the weather is bad can be overwhelming traffic, delayed shipments, tardy employees, and the list can go on. Most businesses have to take risks and try to force through it. Surprisingly, 75% of restaurants report a sales drop of at least 10% due to undesirable changes in the weather. BlueskyLocal.com mentions that if you are in the restaurant industry, this may not surprise you too much since many accept it as a way of doing business. Simply stated, if weather is bad certain businesses suffer. Click here to read my blog post on fishing. It would make sense to avoid direct mail in December to market painting a home and try to do it in the spring as the days get longer, and the sun starts to come out.

When running a business, how can you take advantage when the sun is out? Usually in the springtime, people are more willing to do spring cleaning, clean out everything, and organize. AnnArbor.com states that a Farmer’s Market in Kerrytown, MI decided to take advantage of the sunny skies and warmer temps, and ended up having great success. The mood was festive around the market, shoppers were enjoying the weather and the vendors were happily selling their wares. Many merchants, who said sales were up, credited the boost to the good weather.

Even the best weather professionals get it wrong, so how can an entrepreneur get it right? Before you start marketing take a look into what your environment experiences historically during the months you are going to be marketing, and go with the highest probability plays. You won’t always get it right, but sometimes the stars align and your marketing program will hit the week of sunshine you are looking for.

Perception is Reality

Posted by admin under Branding

Matrix is one of my favorite movies. I watched it for the first time in New York while on business with my father. The movie completely blew me away, not only due to the visual effects, but the story line.

This idea that people can break through reality through a paradigm shift from dependence to independence introduces the first three habits of Stephen R. Covey’s, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. This shift is based on the character ethic of human beings. We can think of it as the base structure of a building, it has to be strong to be able to withstand the weight of the building, and the author labeled this shift as private victory since the shift is done between you and yourself.

The next three habits shift us to total interdependent. They are based on personality ethic management or what we call modern management. This provides us with the tools needed for managing our lives in a social environment, and the author labeled them as public victory since it involves others.

The seventh habit is introduced to contain all the other six habits in an upward spiral motion to guarantee their effectiveness and stability. It gives a balanced renewal of the four basic dimensions of life (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional).

Now that I have successfully blogged about one of my favorite movies and books I will touch on a few ideas on Perception vs. Reality.

I have learned over and over again that perception is reality. No matter what you may think your brand means, and what your brand does, whatever your customer perceives is reality to them. This is an interesting concept in franchising and a big message on why branding is so critical.

I have been going to Subway for some time, and for the most part have found that Subway has done a great job of creating a consistent brand through each of their stores and food quality. Have you ever been to a subway where for whatever reason the restaurant was a mess, or the bread was stale, or perhaps the people working behind the counter were disheveled? This has happened to me once, and it has always stuck out in my mind as strange, because Subway has done an excellent job of creating brand consistency.

When does our perception begin on a new brand? For a lot of small business it is the sign and building that we see when we drive by. Companies are just like people, we all give a first impression and begin creating the reality that your customers perceive. This is one of the main reasons I got into the painting industry and began franchising. That first impression is often communicated by colors and the quality of the environment that people are operating in. The art of persuasion and influence is a tricky area for entrepreneurs, but it’s not as mysterious as you think.

The overall appearance of your workplace has a huge impact on how your customers and even your current employees perceive your business. Color plays a large psychological factor in how your customers identify your business and respond to your products. Most customers aren’t willing to accept a product if it doesn’t come in their preferred or perceived color combination. That in itself explains how significant colors can be. For example, most popular chain restaurants use the colors red and orange. These colors have been determined to stimulate appetite and encourage diners to eat more quickly. Just what a restaurant wants in a customer!

If you are considering changing colors and would like a quick guide on how to impact the perception of your customers before they even walk in the door I have prepared a short chart below for quick reference.

Red Excitement, danger, power intensity, love, passion. Red is a very noticeable color and is known to stimulate heartbeat and respiration.
Blue Cool, trust, reliability, peace. Blue is the most popular color. It causes peaceful and tranquil feelings.
Green Nature, wealth, growth, abundance. Green is a calming and refreshing color, and darker green is associated with wealth and money.
Yellow Warmth, happiness, sunshine. An optimistic color that enhances concentration and speeds metabolism. Be careful not to overuse yellow as it can be overpowering.
Purple Royal, dignity, spirituality. Also associated with luxury and sophistication.
White Pure, clean, virginal, innocence. Also a neutral color.
Black Authority, power, death, villainous.
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