You Can’t Suck and Blow in The Same Breath

You can’t suck and blow in the same breath. You can do one or the other, but you can’t do both at the same time. I have a soft spot for service providers, and those working with the general public., having spent over 30 years as a general manager for a major retailer. Profit and being profitable is not a dirty word. When small businesses go out of business, the whole community suffers. You have a choice. You can pay lower prices for the goods and services you buy , or you can have exceptional customer service, but you can’t have both.

Self-Serve Checkouts

I know a lot of customers are upset with retailers who are installing banks of self-serve checkouts. Some are going so far as to suggest you boycott those stores. I spent over 30 years in retail as a general manager for a major retailer. I understand the challenges they face. Margins continue to be squeezed. Costs continue to go up. Business owners are paying more for the goods they sell, the utilities they use, and the equipment they lease or buy. You have a choice. If you want exceptional customer service, you’ll have to be willing to pay more for the products you buy, but you can’t have low prices and service too. If you put it to a vote, the majority of customers would pick low prices.

ATM Machines

I remember the time, yes I’m that old, when my local bank installed an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) along the side of the building. You had to stand out side – sometimes in inclement weather to use it. Customers had a choice. You can go inside the bank, stand in the line up and wait your turn to get served by the teller or learn to use the machine. Initially, there was a lot of pushback from customers who refused to use the device. If you wanted the bank to hold the line on what they charged for the services they provided, then something had to give. Either they had to charge you more for the services they offered so they could afford to hire more tellers or install more ATM’s, because they couldn’t afford to do both. At least nowadays, you don’t have to go outside to use one. Even better yet. Some banks now have drive-through lanes so you don’t even have to get out of your vehicle to use the ATM.

Fast-Food Outlets

I love the touch screen machines being installed at fast food outlets. You have a choice. You can either embrace the new way of ordering your food and pay for your purchase online or stand in the line up. However, keep in mind that they can only afford one cashier so it may take longer to place and pay for your order. The new frontier, now being introduced by the Taco Bell’s of the fast-food industry is contactless service. They are experimenting with multiple drive-through lanes, some of them dedicated to mobile orders and curbside pickups. Customers can scan their order via a QR code at the digital check-in screen, pay for their order online and then proceed to the pickup area. Handling cash with become a thing of the past.

You can’t suck and blow in the same breath. You can have low prices or pay for exceptional customer service, but you can’t have both.

Copyright (c) 2021. Brian Smith – Power Link Dynamics. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian specializes in soft skills training and leadership development. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit his website: or contact him directly –

Learn To Count To Ten

According to Wikipedia patience is the ability to endure difficult circumstances such as perserverence in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding in anger; or forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer term difficulties. Patience is a much needed 21st Century skill. Some have it in spades, others have to work at it. Picking up a 2X4 and smacking someone on the side of the head may not be the way to go when you are frustrated. You need to learn to count to ten.

Worth Remembering … “Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle

Do you need to develop more patience? Here are some things to keep in mind.

1 – Expect challenges. Expect delays. There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Something will go wrong and when it does, work around it or climb over it.

2 – Go slow to go fast. You don’t want to end up doing things twice. Get all the facts before making a decision, but make a decision in a timely manner. Procrastination is a killer.

3 – Be empathetic. People will make mistakes, everyone does. When things go wrong, fix it, don’t dwell on it.

4 – See the big picture. Don’t get bogged down in the weeds. Keep your eye on the prize. A minor set back is just that. Keep moving forward.

Worth Remembering … “He that can have patience can have what he will.” – Benjamin Franklin

Those that know me best know that patience was never my strong suit. It’s something I have had to work at. I’ve had to bite my tongue on more than one occasion. If you want to be a more effective 21st Century manager or business leader then you need to learn to count to ten.

Copyright (c) 2020. Brian Smith – Power Link Dynamics. Not to be reproduced without permission. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit:


How to Create a Competitive Advantage

The only competitive advantage you have is the level of customer service you provide, and if you aren’t delivering exceptional customer service then you put yourself and your organization at a distinct disadvantage. Chances are you won’t be in business very long. Think of your own experiences. When was the last time you had exceptional customer service? I mean eye-popping, wow service. How did that make you feel? When was the last time you had terrible, so-so service? The kind of service that made you decide never to do business with that company again. 

Worth Remembering … “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” – Zig Ziglar 

What is it going to take for you and your organization to be exceptional? The 4-P’s – Price, Product, Promotion and Place are no longer relevant. The internet and social media have created a level playing field. Now no business is too big to fail. We can name a number of companies like Sears who thought they were. Going far beyond the call of duty, exceeding your client’s expectation; that is what exceptional service is all about.

Worth Remembering … “If you want to succeed at any job, make yourself invaluable. Go the extra mile; make them never to be able to imagine doing business with anyone else but you.” – Ross Mathews

Every time you do business with your clients is a test. Make sure everyone on your team is up for the challenge. Every time your clients do business with you, they are comparing you against your competitors. If you are going to be exceptional then you have to be better than your competition. You have to remain one step ahead. Never compete on price, someone is always willing to sell for less. Find out what your clients value the most and deliver on that every time you do business with them. That’s how you create a competitive advantage.

Copyright (c) 2020. Brian Smith – Power Link Dynamics. Not to be reproduced without permission. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit: or contact him directly at –

Are You Asking The Right Type of Question?

Are you looking for answers? Not getting the answers you are looking for? Maybe it’s because you aren’t asking the right type of question. If you learn to ask the right type of questions and listen, really listen to the answers, chances are others will tell you everything you need to hear.

Worth Remembering ... “I listen to understand – not necessarily to agree” – Dale Carnegie

Depending on what you want to know, you have four basic types of questions that you can ask.

Open Ended Questions – If you are wanting to promote dialoge then you need to ask an open ended question. Ask a question that requires more than a one word answer from the other person. – Example: “What kind of options are you looking for?”

Closed Questions – When a one word answer will do. A closed question gives the person limited options as to how to respond to your question. – Example: “What colour?”

Clarifying Questions – A non-judgemental question when you want to verify what was said. – Example: “So if I heard you correctly you said …..”

Problem Solving Questions – Sakichi Toyoda, the Japanese Industrialist, inventor, and founder of Toyota Industries, developed the 5 Whys technique. If you are looking to solve a problem try asking “Why”until you discover what problem, or problems need to be solved before you get the desired results. Some solutions may be simple, while others may be more complex. You might uncover more problems then you think you had. – Example: “The shipment didn’t get delivered on time – Why?”

Worth Remembering … “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Robert McCloskey

Are you asking the right type of question?

Copyright (c) 2020. Brian Smith – Power Link Dynamics. Not to be reproduced without permission. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit: