01/04/2010: "When Great Businesses Lose Their Edge"
As an avid weight lifter and bodybuilding fan, I like and appreciate good quality gym clothes and related supplies. Oh, I know that's odd for a woman of a certain age. But hey, let's not get personal.
I used to order lots of things from goldsgear.com. I always liked the old Gold's Gym. My bodybuilding buddies loved it. In the Golden Age it was king.
Well sir, the stuff I got was high quality. Great stuff. Well- made. It cost a bit more. But I didn't mind paying the price because it was high quality and just felt good on the skin. The material was always the best you could buy and the stitching fabulous.
Then one day I got my order. Opened it up. What a mess! At first sight I saw shabby workmanship. Second Rate lettering. This was gawd-awful stuff. My old friend had let me down.
I returned the stuff and never ordered from Gold's Gear again. And, about a year later, they were out of business.
What had happened? A great business lost its edge.
Another business I used to love was Starbucks. Now, as a disclaimer, I must tell you I still buy two pounds of Italian Roast beans from Starbucks every week or so. But it's not the same. Here's why.
When I first went to a Starbucks, my coffee came in the neatest little glass cup. You know, the kind you can see through. And the taste --- oh my what a full, rich flavor! I was sold on Starbucks that instant.
I was buying not just a coffee but an experience. I was buying something unique and it was well worth the extra money.
But alas, Starbucks changed. No more little class cups. Now it's paper cups like everyone else. I hate paper cups. I even use china cups at home.
Moreover, the coffee quality is not consistent and often it's downright putrid.
Starbucks lost its edge.
Now added to my list of disappointments is the great Amazon.com. The great marketer. The king of the hill with the marketing that used to make me thrill.
They used to ship books in sturdy boxes. You never got a roughed-up book from Amazon. You got fast service and caring quality --- every time.
Moreover, their Web site was tops. Always easy to browse and order. Never a problem.
Fast forward to 2010. Amazon throws a hardback book in a padded envelope and ships it off to you. Sometimes the book is not even great quality but sort of second rate, maybe even scuffed up a bit. The packaging now is downright shabby.
To make matters worse, when I'm looking for a book on Amazon, this stupid Web site of theirs will, out of nowhere, send me to another page in an effort to sell me something. Damn! It did that once just as I was about to click the buy button. Then I forgot the name of the book I was about to buy and ended up buying nothing.
Now, I ask you, is that smart for Amazon to do that? No. Amazon has lost its edge.
Will I continue to buy from Amazon? Sure. But I find I buy less from them now and more from Abes and Alibris and even my local Barnes and Noble.
Great businesses get different types of starts. Some start off a bit rough but then pick up the pace and leapfrog to the front. Others start at the front. Yet others get there after many tries and failures.
Some businesses get better. But all too often, great businesses let their guard down. They stop doing what made them great. They lose their edge.
Once a business loses its edge, it begins a decline. It starts to become just like every other business in its category. It becomes just a commodity.
Never take your customers or clients for granted. Never stop giving the very best service in your category. Always give more than anyone else. If you ever stop doing that, you'll lose your edge and the business that loses its edge eventually loses business. Some even go out of business.
It's really sad when great businesses lose their edge.
business, amazon, starbucks, golds gym, marketing, salesmanship, sales, lose business