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Chick-fil-A has customer service down to a science

March 13th, 2012 Comments off

It’s interesting to see how much attention the business world’s service industry, in general, gets for being surly, cantankerous and, in many cases, uninterested.

Yet, things never change.

We complain to ourselves, our spouses or our friends about specific instances at specific businesses, then — more times than not — we continue to patronize the business as if nothing ever happened.

Carlie Kollath at the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo recently wrote a column on the subject. She says that in the current economic times, it is particularly important to keep customers happy and coming back.

First impressions are more important than ever for businesses. Consumers like me are rethinking how we spend money. We don’t buy a new outfit every weekend. And, we have cut back on dining out every night of the week.

But we still shop and eat out.

And when we do, we want businesses to want our business. We want them to be excited that we have chosen to spend money with them instead of someone else.

Yet, I’ve found a lack of enthusiasm in Tupelo lately in the retail and restaurant sector. The main breakdown has been how I am greeted when I enter the business.

I’ve been ignored as employees text on their cell phones. I’ve been talked down to for asking about something I saw on the company’s website that I can’t find in the store.

>> READ KOLLATH’S ENTIRE COLUMN …

It reminds me of a column written by a colleague and friend of mine, the late Tony Lanius, from when I worked at the Daily Journal way back in the stone ages, late last century.

Tony had made a dinner run for the copy desk one evening and encountered some troubles along the way with poor service and a general lack of effort and concern from the staff at a couple of different restaurants along Gloster Ave. To say that Tony was a little unhappy about the experience would be like saying that Mount Everest is kind of tall.

From there, Tony penned his column that got lots of attention across North Mississippi.

The bottom line is it doesn’t take much to be nice. A pleasant disposition, a smile and a few good manners will get you a long way, even if there are other things that aren’t necessarily perfect.

That’s why it’s always nice to do business at Chick-fil-A. You all know what I mean. It’s  the “My pleasure” at the end of the transaction that really gets you — it really classes up the joint. There is always a smile and a good attitude from everyone that permeates each restaurant.

Plus, getting great service, when you don’t always get great service elsewhere, makes visits to Chick-fil-A that much more special.

So, it bears repeating that a smile and a good disposition will get you a long way, whether economic times are good or not. But a smile and good economic times are preferred, if we get a choice.

Arts Alive set for May in Jackson’s Smith Park

March 8th, 2012 Comments off

Arts Alive will take place May 4-5 at Smith Park in Downtown Jackson.

The music, arts and crafts festival is a free festival that promotes both performing and visual arts. It also stimulates the Jackson Metro area to support and boost downtown and it raises awareness of homelessness and supports local charitable organizations such as Stewpot Ministries.

It’s hosted by Galloway United Methodist Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral, and Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle

For more information on Arts Alive, go to www.artsalivejackson.com

Conviction of A.J. Jefferson at South Delta Regional Housing Authority a victory for all

March 7th, 2012 Comments off

A.J. Jefferson — Photo by Bill Johnson/Delta Democrat TImes

Everyone should be pleased that the law worked in the case of A.J. Jefferson and the South Delta Regional Housing Authority …

A federal jury has convicted the director of the housing organization on charges of intimidating witnesses in a federal investigation.

No sentencing date has been set.

>> READ MORE …

EPA admits it has no experts on Yazoo Pump Project

March 7th, 2012 Comments off

Just got off the phone with the EPA in Atlanta, and, according to a media representative, there is no one there who is an expert on the Yazoo Backwater Project.

Having said that, a federal appeals court panel sided yesterday with the Environmental Protection Agency over its 2008 veto of a $220 million flood control project near the Yazoo River in the south Mississippi Delta.

Does it make sense that there is no one in the entirety of the EPA who falls into the category of an “expert” who can answer questions about the project, yet it vetoed the project and has been willing to defend that decision in the courts?

HEY JIM HOOD … and all you other losers — quit robocalling my house!!!

March 1st, 2012 1 comment

My 7-year-old daughter is sitting in my lap last night while my wife and 6-year-old son were cuddled up on the couch as we watched, the recently released-at-home movie “Hugo”.

Then, I hear our home phone ringing on the other side of the house.

So, I make my daughter scoot over. I get up, wander through the kitchen and through the living room, looking for the ringing phone, hoping it doesn’t wake up the 2-year-old.

I finally find it, but it was too late.

“Damn telemarketers!” I think as I look at the 800 number on the Caller-ID screen. I grab the phone and carry it back with me to the TV room, where my daughter had abandoned me for the comfy confines of the couch with her mom and brother.

About 15 minutes later, it rings again.

“DAD!” everyone yells.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I whisper, walking into the kitchen to answer the phone.

No, it wasn’t a telemarketer. It was a robocall from Attorney General Jim Hood. The recorded voice was saying something about how he was mad at the legislature — like I didn’t already know that.

This was a total waste of my time.

I started to call the A.G.’s office this morning and ask him what was so important that he had to call during my family time — which I don’t get nearly enough of — and then not even have the courtesy of actually being on the other end of the phone.

It’s not just Jim Hood. Anybody running for office likes to interrupt your life without having to interrupt theirs.

I’m not so naive not to realize that robocalls are an effective way for politicians to communicate their one-way, trumped-up message.

Yet, robocalls are rude and intrusive and interrupt my time with my family.

So, Jim, the next time you have something to say, take out an ad in the newspaper. I am much more likely to see it there.

Mississippi’s impact on the Academy Awards as well as the arts world

February 29th, 2012 3 comments

Morgan Freeman at the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

At one point during the Academy Awards presentation last week, I was taken aback by the indelible mark Mississippi and Mississippians were making on the film industry at that very moment.

Sure everyone knew about “The Help”, and wondered if the Kathryn Stockett book, then turned into a movie could pull the upset and win for Best Picture. And yes, we all were keenly aware of Octavia Spencer winning an Oscar for her role in that movie.

But, there was more — much, much more.

Our own Morgan Freeman — a winner of an Oscar for acting and a cast member of three Best Picture winners, not to mention his best movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” which is recognized as one of Top 100 movies of all time — was the leadoff hitter for the show as a presenter.

“The Muppet Movie” (remember Jim Henson) won an award, and then the academy recognized Mississippi natives James Earl Jones (that’s Darth Vader to my kids and Terrance Mann to me) and Oprah Winfrey (no description needed) with Oscars.

Their awards were part of the Governors Awards, which were launched three years ago.

With Mississippi in the midst of boosting its image among film big shots as part of a Creative Economy campaign, the state couldn’t have had a bigger and more positive night in the spotlight.

I don’t have any particular numbers to back this up, but I would suspect that Mississippi — per capita — had a bigger impact on the Academy Awards in 2012 than any other state in America.

Add that to our world-wide impact on literature as well as the music industry and there is a case to be made that Mississippi should be considered to have had the most positive historical influence on arts in America — ever.

Canton officials should come out of their caves

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

In some parts of Mississippi, humans never evolved from cavemen.

That is the case in Canton, where city leaders’ lawsuit against Nissan North American for the right to annex the nearby vehicle production plant is scheduled for trial in August.

Canton officials say legislation approved in 2000 that prohibits the city from annexing the plant for 30 years without the automaker’s written consent violates the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and state constitutions.

A federal jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 6-17.

Nissan agreed to make payments in lieu of taxes to the Canton school district and to Madison County. Madison County uses the Nissan funds to make payments on bonds used for public infrastructure improvements for the plant.

Nissan has operated the $1.4 billion Canton plant since May 2003.

It should be remembered that before the plant was built near the city, the city had wanted to annex the land, but Nissan threatened to back out of the deal.

What makes these same city leaders think Nissan doesn’t feel the same way today. It seems Canton’s needs are served much better with Nissan being where it is.

Would Canton be better off annexing the land with an empty Nissan plant on it?

Save our kids — Government overstepping its bounds?

February 20th, 2012 Comments off

Government is too involved in our everyday lives. That’s the popular mantra for this political season.

Yet, every time we turn around, there is another bill that finds a way to get involved in our everyday lives.

This week, it’s a bill that would educate youth sports leaders and participants about concussions and would make it illegal for coaches to send players back on the field after suffering one.

It is a great idea. Everyone is against kids having concussions.

It’s still a bill that finds a way to get involved in our everyday lives. So, is it OK for government to have more regulation or isn’t it?

Who is going to oversee whether a high school football coach, who makes less than $50,000 a year, as to whether he makes the correct evaluation?

Is Mississippi going to fund the extra medical staff at every high school sporting event — from football to futbol — to make sure we give accurate assessments?

Again, everyone is for kids not being forced to play sports with concussions, but I am not sure Mississippi’s legislature needs to step in to make that happen.

Having covered sports for a large part of my career, it is my opinion that the vast majority of coaches go out of their way to make sure kids remain healthy. The only thing this bill would do is to act as a deterrent for good, quality people to get into the coaching profession. Considering the hours involved and the money offered, it’s particularly difficult now.

Maybe the Mississippi legislature could offer a bill requiring a certain amount of people to be high school athletics coaches.

For the love of Pete, somebody take Southaven mayor Greg Davis out behind the woodshed

February 15th, 2012 Comments off

Southaven mayor Greg Davis addresses questions during an interview from his home in Southaven this week. Southaven aldermen say they want an internal audit of city finances to get a more in-depth look than the one provided by the routine annual audit. The Commercial Appeal reports a newly formed committee plans to initiate the review in the wake of ongoing questions over Mayor Greg Davis' spending. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Stan Carroll)

Seriously?

Greg Davis wants to pin blame on his alderman for him being an idiot?

The only thing the Southaven Board of Aldermen should have done differently in the last several months is for one of them to have taken their mayor out behind the woodshed for a lesson in humility and humanity.

Apparently, Southaven mayor Greg Davis believes he has done nothing wrong in regard to deals involving a Florida condominium he co-owns with a developer who has received more than $3.4 million through real estate dealings with the city since 2008, a fire station that could cost taxpayers up to $4 million because of an unusual no-bid contract negotiated by Davis, and other recently reported transactions.

Why?

Because, he says, the city’s aldermen approved all transactions.

>> ORIGINAL POST: Embattled Davis blames alderman for approving transactions …

I suppose if the alderman had known ahead of time that the mayor had been running around using the city credit card on items from a Canadian sex shop (and why wasn’t it an American sex shop?) or was dropping $1,000 tips at a Ridgeland restaurant as he picked up the tab for state legislators, then maybe they would have stopped, dropped and said, “No way we are taking this deal you piece of garbage.”

By the way, has anyone wondered which legislators went to dinner with Davis that night?

As it stands, the aldermen are guilty of believing everything Davis ever said during his political campaigns about truth, family and the American way.

Well, that will never happen again.

Davis has used all of his political capital and probably all of his personal capital as well.

Remember, Davis was absent from city business on a 30-day leave for medical treatment when most of the dealings were uncovered and is under criminal investigation for misuse of city funds after being ordered by the state auditor to repay about $170,000.

And for all of the group therapy and extensive psycho-education he picked up during his 30-day leave, I am not even going to insult your intelligence by reprinting Davis’ quotes, blaming everyone but himself in this fiasco. He even believes he has done what is in the best interest of the citizens.

So, which is it?

The aldermen should have known he was a lying, cheating sack of, uh, beans, or he is a good, upstanding guy that is doing the work of the people.

As for those credit card reimbursements that led to the repayment order from the state auditor, Davis said he could not discuss it because of the ongoing state and federal investigation.

“I just want the public to be patient and wait because all the facts will come out,” Davis said.

After everything else that has come out, you really think he wants more to come out now?

My guess is Davis doesn’t believe in karma.

Please, somebody, one of you aldermen do the right thing and teach the mayor a lesson.

Then again, maybe some time in jail would be good for the mayor. I suspect that would be a much more — how should I say? — educational experience.

To ID tax-and-spenders is to look past the label provided by opponents

February 9th, 2012 Comments off

Labels are a hard thing to get rid of.

In real life, they have that sticky adhesive that is bound to ruin any piece of clothing if gets attached.

In the political and perceptive world, labels are much the same.

During the last election cycle, many Mississippi Democrats were labeled as free spenders for voting on particular tax measures.

With that in mind, emotions were high last week in a debate about — you guessed it — taxes.

Several Democrats said opponents sent mailers claiming they voted for a large number of tax increases, unfairly counting times they voted to raise or renew taxes requested by individual cities and counties.

Last week, the bill was to renew a 2 percent tax on Hancock County hotels for two years to fund tourism promotion. The bill passed the House, 69-44.

So, does that mean those who voted for the bill are big government, nut-job liberals? Probably not.

We have created such stereotypes in politics, that the ethics and morals of actual people are being questioned, based on votes like last week. And that vote — if you want to label it — was pro-business.

It will provide needed funds for communities to promote themselves to bring more tourists in, therefore bringing more money to the businesses and families in Hancock County.

Therefore, should the 44 who voted against the bill be labeled as anti-business?

Just asking.

>> Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018