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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.

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.

Businessperson of the Year not always singular

December 16th, 2011 Comments off

When we first dreamed up the idea of having an MBJ Businessperson of the Year, we had no idea that the inaugural award would turn out like it did.

We generally thought the award would end up going to someone like a Hu Meena at C Spire, who led his Ridgeland-based companies to new heights in 2011 by working a deal to offer Apple’s iPhone to his customers.

>> SEE MAIN STORY: SURVIVING THE STORM
>> SEE WHAT’S NEXT FOR SMITHVILLE
>> SEE WHAT THE FAMILIES ARE SAYING
>> TOWN BANKING ON HIGHWAY RECONSTRUCTION

Maybe someone like Hartley Peavey at Peavey Electronics in Meridian for the yeoman’s work he has done over the course of a lifetime that has led to a more positive image for Mississippi.

But when we really began to think more about the year that was in 2011, the weather from the historic floods and the EF-5 tornado that struck Smithville kept coming to the forefront.

From there, we looked for business people who had really made a difference to their communities and regions in a great time of need.

Then, we ran across Doughbellys Pizzeria and Mel’s Diner — two businesses that were totally destroyed during the April 27 storms.

So, here we are. In our inaugural Businessperson of the Year award, we are honoring the grit and guile of two Smithville small business ownerships, who stared down a community-destroying EF-5 tornado. Theirs, along with all but two business, were destroyed last April. But Phillip and Tiffany Lockhart of Doughbellys Pizzeria and Bobby and Melanie Edwards of Mel’s Diner have built back — bigger and better — and are serving a town that is healing on multiple levels. Sometimes, success is not measured in hundreds of millions of dollars made, but in serving your community. This is one of those times.

Many business owners fled, however, worried that the small, rebuilding Smithville might not be able to support much business going forward.

So, why stay?

According to Ted Carter’s story on page 13, there were signs that suggested that there was still plenty work to do in Smithville — for the town and themselves.

So why didn’t Smithville restaurateurs Bobby and Melanie Edwards and their neighbors Phillip and Tiffany Lockhart move on to new pursuits or go back to former occupations after April 27’s EF-5 tornado destroyed their businesses?

The Edwards say signs signaling what they should do appeared among the debris that was Mel‘s Diner, a business they built together for 14 years. The tornado took all the walls except the one dividing the kitchen and walk-in freezer and most every other part of the structure. But it left behind much of what Bobby and Melanie would need to make a new start including grills, stoves and fryers. The cake mixes, macaroni and other food remained on a shelf undisturbed.

“All the stuff was sitting there,” Bobby Edwards says. “The equipment was there.”

The reaction of Melanie Edwards? “She said, ‘God didn’t leave all this stuff here for us to just walk off,’” her husband recalls.

Sounds like a great reason to me.

So, while in the future, I am sure there will be lots of CEOs and bank presidents and more traditional types that will win this award, this time our most prestigious award goes to a group of people whose hard-working business practices just may help save an entire town.

We thank Edwards and the Lockharts for their dedication to their craft, their families and their towns. They are absolutely deserving of this honor.

Bryant forges ahead on healthcare city

November 23rd, 2011 Comments off

You have to give Gov.-elect Phil Bryant credit.

Gov.-elect Phil Bryant

He is jumping in with both feet to work on campaign promises.

>> Read more about healthcare in Mississippi

Bryant is set to lead a trip to Houston, Texas, to tour Texas Medical Center on Nov. 29-30.

Bryant, who will become governor in January, will be joined by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads and some health care providers and business leaders.

Texas Medical Center consists of 49 institutions and is recognized as the largest medical center in the world. TMC has 162 buildings on its main campus, nearly 7,000 patient beds, over 90,000 employees, and 71,500 students.

Bryant has proposed creating a hospital city in Jackson, and the Texas Medical Center is a great place to emulate.

We hope that Bryant is able to find the same type of money from the private sector that Texas has been able to collect over the last 50 years.

A friend of mine in the fund-raising business for hospitals says that finding people to give huge amounts of money for healthcare these days is difficult.

Having said that, we applaud Bryant’s efforts.

Of course, one of the things Bryant could do immediately would be to ramp up the discussion on prevention and education.

We harken back to the recent story, “Life Expectancy Falling in 561 Rural Counties” by Bill Bishop that documents the fact that life expectancy is declining in more rural areas than urban ones. Read it. The first thing, though, that pops out is that 14 of the top (uh, worst) 50 counties in America with the shortest life expectancies are in Mississippi, including the top (worst) seven.

Then, there was the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that highlighted Mississippi and Alabama as the only two states, which continue to apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption without providing any offsetting relief for low- and moderate-income families.

Gosh, if Mississippians were able to purchase more healthy foods, maybe they wouldn’t have such short lifespans.

There’s more. Men’s Health magazine ranked Jackson No. 3 in the nation as part of its “Laziest City in America” series.

We definitely need a hospital city as well as lots of sidewalks leading up to it so we can exercise on the way to being treated for obesity and heart disease.

So, with one of the slowest growing economies in the nation because of poor education and health care, Bryant’s feeling that healthcare is a prime issue is refreshing.

Starting with the elimination of corn-based sodas from K-12 campuses could jump-start all of Bryant’s plans. We agree.

We also agree that his trip to Houston is productive and a step in the right direction.

Parlor Market releases statement about the death of Noone

October 14th, 2011 Comments off

In the wake of the news that Craig Noone, the chef and owner of Parlor Market on Capitol Street, was killed in a car accident around 1 a.m. Friday at the intersection of Capitol and West streets, officials with the business have released a statement and referred all questions to Michael Rejeban.

Parlor Market chef and owner Craig Noone, who was killed in an automobile accident early Friday morning in Jackson.

See Clay Chandler’s Magnolia Marketplace about Noone from early Friday.

The statement reads:

Statement on the Passing of Jackson Restaurateur Craig Noone

Craig Noone, chef and owner of Parlor Market Restaurant in Downtown Jackson, passed away on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011. He was 32 years old.

Craig was foremost a very special person and friend, and an extremely talented chef. He had the courage to pursue his dream of opening a restaurant in the heart of Downtown Jackson. Even more, he was an incredibly giving person and touched countless lives with his generosity. He brought great happiness and joy to his family and friends and will be missed by many.

Through Craig’s efforts, Parlor Market, which opened in Sept. 2010, has become one of Mississippi’s premier restaurants. He was a true visionary who saw potential where others didn’t and understood that relationships are the key to the success of any business.

A Jackson native, Craig had a deep love of the city and especially Downtown, and took a keen interest in helping to ensure its revitalization. But most important, Craig was a true friend to all who knew him. While tragic, Craig’s death serves as a testament to the meaning of true friendship, drive, desire and love for those we know.

Parlor Market will be closed through the weekend. Funeral arrangements are pending.

••• Check back later for more information

Right out of ‘Swamp People': Greenville gator nabbed

August 11th, 2011 Comments off

An 11-foot American Alligator was captured on the streets of Greenville …

11-foot ‘gator nabbed prowling Greenville streets

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi wildlife department sergeant and six others caught an 11-foot-alligator prowling the streets of Greenville.

Master Sgt. Hugh Johnson told The Delta Democrat-Times (http://bit.ly/ntYfBM) that a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the alligator while patrolling Wednesday morning.

The alligator was to be released at the Pearl River Wildlife Management area in Madison County.

“He’s a reminder that where there is one, there are others. This must be taken very seriously. They can hurt you,” said Johnson, who was bitten on his right thumb earlier this year by one of the reptiles.

“These animals are hungry,” said Johnson. “They will eat anything that gets in their way.”

Johnson advised residents not to feed alligators and to call authorities if they spot one.

“I can’t emphasize enough on how important it is to call someone if they spot one of these things,” he said. “They are very dangerous.”

New TV ad for Bill Luckett is a good one

July 19th, 2011 Comments off

If you like good, positive political advertising, check out the latest ad from Bill Luckett. … Good job.

Stereotypes be damned: Cops (especially traffic cops) love do-nuts

June 28th, 2011 1 comment

As most of you know I like to buy do-nuts for the office every week or so.

Well, this morning, as I was looking for a parking place in downtown Jackson near Spurlock’s, I noticed a police vehicle parked in a no parking zone, but I didn’t think much of it.

I went ahead and parked and walked a block or so to the do-nut shop. Well, guess who was the first person I saw when I walked in the do-nut shop?

No- Parking Zone

Yep.

One of the traffic enforcement officers was sitting enjoying her morning coffee and breakfast at Spurlock’s while her vehicle was parked in a no parking zone outside of the Jackson business.

I will let you take the story from here. I am not judging, I’m just sayin’ …

Y’all have a nice day!!

Live blog to highlight MBJ’s coverage of the Mississippi Bankers Association convention in Destin, Florida

May 9th, 2011 Comments off

Mississippi Business Journal banking writer Ted Carter will be reporting live this week from the Mississippi Bankers Association annual convention in Destin, Fla. Look for his reports on the “Business Blog” on this site.
Ted looks forward to personally meeting bankers from across the state and learning about the issues and trends of importance to them. Mississippi’s banks have experienced historic challenges in recent years and must now gear up for meeting significant new challenges that are part of the nation’s financial reform law. Some of the new law’s mandates must be met by mid summer. Ted will be especially interested in reporting on the preparations Mississippi’s banking sector is making to meet the mandates.
He will be interested as well in news about your bank, including new services, new technology, new partnerships, new customer-recruitment or or anything else you think the MBJ’s readers would like to know about your bank.
Ted looks forward to making the acquaintance of the the people who make it possible for Mississippi’s banks to serve their communities.

McCain takes aim square at Mississippi catfish farmers

March 11th, 2011 Comments off

Bennie Thompson ain’t talking about catfish, but Sen. John McCain is.
We have asked Congressman Thompson to comment on the new catfish inspection program that critics say threatens to derail U.S. trade relations with Vietnam. He has never returned a phone call or an e-mail.
However, last week, we ran a story on our website about the catfish industry’s reaction to a proposal by McCain to repeal that very same law, and the McCain camp was on the phone.
They wanted to know where the story came from, and why we were running it and why we didn’t have a response from Sen. McCain.
That’s what I am looking for, I said.
This whole thing has boggled my mind from the beginning and I wanted someone to explain why there would be any consideration for choosing Vietnamese fish in a trade debate ahead of U.S. catfish.
What the McCain camp sent was a canned, rambling floor statement, which read, in part, “Mr. President, Section 11016 is nothing more than the latest effort by members of Congress serving the special interests of the catfish industry in their home states. A similar protectionist tactic was tried in the 2002 Farm Bill when many of these same members slipped in language that made it illegal to label Vietnamese catfish (‘pangasius’) as catfish in U.S. retail markets.”
Mississippi’s Thad Cochran also responded to interview requests, saying, “My initial reaction to legislation to repeal the USDA catfish inspection authority is that it is uncalled for.
“I will oppose it,” Cochran continued. “The Department of Agriculture should be given a chance to finally carry out the inspection authority Congress gave it in 2008. This inspection process would help ensure that imported catfish are as safe and nutritious as the catfish produced in Mississippi and elsewhere. We do not have that assurance today The current federal inspection regime involves testing a very small percentage – only 2 percent — of the catfish imported into this country. While I regret the long, drawn-out process to implement this USDA mandate, I believe it remains important.”
Unfortunately, neither Cochran nor McCain’s positions do a lot to help the Mississippi catfish farmers, mostly conservative and mostly Republican, who are going broke.
As someone without a dog in the fight, other than being from a state that produces farm-raised catfish, it would appear Sen. McCain is more concerned about trade with Vietnam than the economy in the South, specifically.
Mississippi catfish growers have taken a huge financial hit from the import of catfish products, according to statistics from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In recent weeks, we reported that Itta Bena-based Heartland Catfish is making cutbacks. Many other independent farmers are turning over their ponds to go back to row crops, and this has been going on for years now.
It won’t be too long before there isn’t a debate to have as all of the catfish ponds around the South will have dried up.
We won’t take it for granted, like we do now, of the all-you-can-eat buffets across Mississippi and the rest of the Southeast.
It will become something we eat when we go and catch the big one; you know, the one that has grown up in the Mississippi River where it has survived on a constant diet of sludge and pollutants.
You know, kind of like the fish the Vietnamese importing to us now.

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