Today, I'm working out of the home office. The phone rings, from time to time.
Luke Carson: "Hi Kevin, Luke Carson, CEO of Borsons, how are you doing?"
Kevin: "I'm doing fine, Mr. Carson. How can I help you?"
Luke Carson: "Say, what are you hearing out there? How was the Holiday season for folks?"
Kevin: "I'm hearing it was mixed. Business was up from 2008, but seems to have been fueled by deep discounting. How about your business, Mr. Carson?"
Luke Carson: "We beat plan, Kevin, and we're cautiously optimistic about 2010. Say, you've been working with Gliebers Dresses, right? How is their business?"
Kevin: "I can't share any specifics, Mr. Carson, you know that."
Luke Carson: "I know. I've heard that their business missed plan, and that their loyalty program is costing them a fortune. Anyway, thanks for the info, Kev. Let's do lunch next time you're in town, ok? Bye."
Nancy Walsh: "Hi Kevin, this is Nancy Walsh, CEO at Penningtons, how are you doing?"
Kevin: "I'm well, Ms. Walsh, how are you?"
Nancy Walsh: "Oh, it was a great Holiday, Kev, a chance to see family and friends. Say, what are you hearing out there? How was everybody's Holiday season?"
Kevin: "I'm hearing mixed results. Many people are meeting or exceeding plans, though those plans were conservative, not even coming close to where business was in 2006-2007. How about you?"
Nancy Walsh: "Yeah, we beat plan, but it was a really conservative plan, and we had to do a lot of discounting to meet plan. The p&l probably won't be great, but we will be clean on inventory. Hey, I heard you are working with Gliebers Dresses. How was their Holiday season?"
Kevin: "You know I can't share anything about that, Ms. Walsh."
Nancy Walsh: "I heard that their loyalty program is a disaster. Buy four dresses, get free shipping for the year, and then they give everybody free shipping during the Holiday season. How do you build loyalty when you give every customer the same deal you give loyal customers?"
Kevin: "Loyalty programs are tough to execute, aren't they?"
Nancy Walsh: "Anyway Kev, thanks for the chat, I appreciate it. Bye."
Craig Nilmendorf: "Kevin, hi, Craig Nilmendorf here, CEO of Nilmendorfs, how are you?"
Kevin: "Hi Mr. Nilmendorf, I'm well, how are you?"
Craig Nilmendorf: "We're ok. Say, Kev, what are you hearing out there? How was business for folks this past month?"
Kevin: "Oh, you know, folks are saying they beat plan, but had to give it all away in margin in order to get the orders."
Craig Nilmendorf: "Yup, same story here. How the heck are we ever going to wean our customers off of discounts and promotions, Kev?"
Kevin: "Why they heck did we ever introduce all of these discounts and promotions, Mr. Nilmendorf? Aren't we the problem?"
Craig Nilmendorf: "Well, there's a competitive issue at play, Kev, you've got to play the game. You can't be out there at full price suckin' air while everybody else is out there at 20% off with free shipping. Say, let me ask you a question, Kev, you are workin' with Gliebers Dresses, right? How the heck did they do? That loyalty program, that thing really had to help them. I mean, you buy four dresses, and you get free shipping for a year. I'll be that thing was worth ten or fifteen points of improvement. How is it doing, Kev?"
Kevin: "You know I can't share the details behind that program, Mr. Nilmendorf."
Craig Nilmendorf: "Yea, I know. Anyway, it was nice chatting with you Kev. You know, we've got a few nickels in the budget for somebody like you in 2010. Maybe we can have you set up a loyalty program for us like you set up at Gliebers Dresses, huh?"