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When Relevancy Ends

I was driving on Orchard Lake Rd. and my once favorite bagel place, Bruegger's Bagel Factory, was demolished. They had the best flavored cream cheese and their bagels were pretty good too. However, like many other bagel places, they are out of business.

Each of us can think of lots of businesses that are no longer around. Yet life goes on. What makes a business relevant or irrelevant?

Starbucks stock is near a lifetime low of $10 and change. Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Tim Horton's and others have charged forward to attack Starbucks on all fronts. Starbuck's is now focusing on instant oatmeal for $2.75 a packet, microwave breakfast sandwiches and "healthy" pastries. Is that relevant?

If Starbuck's shuttered, we would find coffee elsewhere. Which brings me to one of my favorite Gallup CE11 questions, "I can't imagine a world without _______." Relevant businesses are becoming rare like first edition books (I recently saw a store selling them from $1200-$12000).

One of a CEO's main responsibility is to keep their business relevant to its customers, suppliers, talent and community. It's not an easy task and stakeholders are more on edge than ever before.

Are teenage stores such as Abercrombie relevant if the parents don't give money to their teenagers? Are boat dealers relevant if people stop buying boats? Are salons relevant if people do their hair and/or nails at home?

Here's the thing: There are always people to buy products from a category; the business must be relevant to those people to stay in business. How you define your business, whether a salon, spa, tanning studio or store suggests to your customers your relevancy.

At TNG, we too need to be relevant. As I stated last week, I'm excited about our strategy for 2009 and I know our customers will love it too. In the meantime, stay positive, smile, and know that there is no other place in the world you want to be right now.

Happy Thursday!

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