Cleaning up with Free Shipping and Giving

From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

  1. Defining the Terms
  2. In the News
    Jani-King cleaning up just by asking about customer preferences Still Winning from Free Shipping
  3. Predictions in Strategic Relations
    New Philanthropic Corporation: Morino of Netpreneur and other great fame's helps low-income families
  4. Strategic Relations Tip for Today
    Everybody Likes a Compliment, Especially From His or Her Senior Leadership
  5. Case Studies
    Calling all clients, readers, and interested parties
  6. Strategic Relations Journal
  7. Shameless Shelf Promotion

Defining the Terms

relationship (n.)

  1. The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.
  2. A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other: has a close relationship with his siblings.

I frequently use the word relationship to describe the connection between machines, humans, and systems inside an organization. While this can be confusing, some people see how machines can replace systems (by automating processes) and people can use machines (for implementation). In the same terminology, these different components can be linked together to create new relationships with different characteristics. This object-oriented model leaves some parts of a relationship interchangeable for different purposes; while the components are the same, its characteristics change according to context.

An example would be a CEO who is a peer member of an executive team, but when speaking to the entire organization provides more of leadership role. The way the CEO relates to the groups must fit the groups to which they are communicating at that time. It would not be appropriate to use the same language for both situations, while the message could be the same.

A key to understanding is know the terms used to communicate concepts or convey information. If there are any terms I use that are unclearly or used in a manner not commonly understood, please let me know and I will define the terms here. Email your questions to terminology

In the News

Jani-King cleaning up just by asking about customer preferences

In a recent case study in the October 29th, 2002 edition of B2BMarketBiz Newsletter, they feature Jani-King, a $78 billion commercial cleaning service who did one simple thing to improve customer retention.

With more than 1,000 clients in the Carolinas, constantly hounded by competitors, they make a big effort to meet with each client personally. They found that even for the same buildings, a simple change in management could influence cleaning preferences. At times, even the same managers are unsure about their own preferences.

The solution was to ask each client (1) what are your cleaning preferences, (2) how would you like to be contacted in the future, and (3) is there any other information we can provide to you.

The findings were interesting. They wanted to keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening with clients. While some didn't want regular contact, many enjoyed the frequent surveys by phone, fax, or email. It gave the client control over the perception of quality, while helping Jani-King provide exactly what the customer expected.

The lesson for you, consider simple surveys deliver to customers, as they prefer to receive them (and provide an option for not at all.�) Learn everything you can about the way customers want work done, what characteristics they perceive as quality, and how else can you serve them.

[Original article, "How to Retain Business Clients by Using Regular emailed Surveys"] Still Winning from Free Shipping

Still I would like to think I had something to do with this, as noted in a past newsletter. CRM Daily notes, "Free Shipping Pays Off: Amazon Sales Rise 33 Percent" E-tail giant said sales grew 33 percent year-over-year to $851 million in the third quarter, fueled by its free shipping offer in the United States and by dramatic expansion in overseas sales.

Three psychological factors contribute to increases through "free shipping" arrangements:

  1. If asked to increase the order size by less than the current order commitment to "qualify for" free shipping, the customer feels they are getting something for nothing -- especially when they can add something they want and get it shipped for free. In most cases, shipping is nominal, but it is extra and removing it feels like a discount.
  2. For foreign orders, shipping can be showstopper, especially since its disproportionably more than domestic shipping or that of a local supplier of the same product. Offering free shipping to foreign customers not only increase order volume, but the chance of an order period.
  3. Customers do not calculate hidden costs when picking up their own order and do not associate delivery as a way to save time. Removing shipping costs eliminates another barrier to purchase.

Since removing shipping is very expensive, look at these following ideas to reduce your costs:

While your product may not have shipping costs, look for offsets that you can offer to your customer as a "gift" or benefit of doing business with you. Remember, they have to do something for you before you will remove the charge for them -- never discount unless the customer gets more or less of what you provide.

The key is to bring prospects closer to becoming customers (establish the initial relationship) and keep customers returning for additional purchases (continuing the relationship) by giving them something of value.

Have you seen a news story that I may find interesting as it pertains to strategic relations? Does your company have a story about results with strategic relations? I'd like to hear about it. Email me at feedback-newsletter

Predictions in Strategic Relations

New Philanthropic Corporation: Morino of Netpreneur and other great fame's helps low-income families

In a past issue I predicted a new wave of philanthropic organizations in the news, while this is not necessarily a sign of confirmation, it is a start.

Mario Morino has always sought to help people, I feel he is on the leading edge of a business model that seeks to help more than profit. While profits will be important for the longevity of an organization, it seems their interest is help first, gain reward later.

He is going as far as sun setting the powerful successful Netpreneur organization (comments on right column) he opens up the concept of venture philanthropy. If companies are going to be more giving, they will need capital.

While Enron and Worldcom scandal loom, there are good executives making things happen. In fact, your organization probably has a few of them. If you haven't noticed, in the cases of scandal it has been more a part of corporate culture than a single individual making a mistake. How does your company view giving verses taking?

If you have any questions or concerns about my prediction, maybe even your own insight, then email me at questions-newsletter – I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say.

Strategic Relations Tip for Today

Everybody Likes a Compliment, Especially From His or Her Senior Leadership

I am always asking readers of my newsletters and publications for feedback not only to improve my offerings to them, but because it makes me feel good. True, it really makes my day when someone has something good to say about what I do for a living. In fact, I have thank you cards from clients posted all over the office -- and testimonials all over my web sites.

How do you think it feels when an employee gets a thank you about something they specifically contributed to the organization? The more since and specific you can be, the better they will feel. This works especially well when your “thank you” comes immediately following the desirable action.

When you praise your people it does not matter how many employees you have, they become more loyal to the organization and will repeat the action praised. The secret is that the praise must be sincere, specific, and sporadic -- by sporadic means it cannot be expected and should be received immediately after the event. It is not necessary to wait until their next evaluation for small rewards. (Wal*Mart rewards its employees with 5 to 25 cent merit raises that can be given at anytime.)

I know you are busy, however, if you can take 15 minutes each week to at least point out in a note or private conversation the key contributions each of your team members made that week -- you will be on the road to better employee relationships that may last a lifetime.

Btw, if you have anything nice you might want to tell me about my products or services, email me at feedback-newsletter

Case Studies

Calling all clients, readers, and interested parties

I am working on a number of case studies for upcoming books and publications. I would be interested in your business relationship stories for consideration.

If you are included in any of my upcoming books, I would be happy to send you a complementary copy at no cost, send your name, address, and phone number with a comment about your experiences to case-study

I am primarily interested in experiences about problem solving, internal communications, business relationships, strategic planning, customer profitability, and team leadership. If you found any of my publications particularly useful, please reference those in your comments.

A few case studies will be featured here, along with comments useful to getting more from your organizations relationships (as well as giving.) I am looking forward to your comments. Email them to case-study

Strategic Relations Journal

The Strategic Relations Journal is published by Monday noon EST, for people interested in building stronger relationships in business. Upcoming issues:

Subscribers are invited to visit the private membership area for past articles, bonus gifts, and special materials, visit (User: subscriber -- password required)

I'm always open to answering any questions on strategic relations by email at no charge. Send your questions to strategic-relations-questions – questions will be answered directly and featured in the journal.

If you're not already receiving the Strategic Relations Journal, then subscribe today at

Shameless Shelf Promotion

If at all possible I would like to make my services available for you with as little risk as possible. To often executives have simple questions they would just like to discuss without bringing someone on-site. Many find my General Phone-Based Consulting just that service.

For less than an hour of your time you can get the answers you are seeking with no commitment. The conversation is even provided on a CD recording for your records so you can concentrate on the consultation instead of fumbling with notes. While this type of program can be very candid and revealing it is private.

I will even follow up with you by email to see how you have come along with the ideas we discussed. For quick response and useful ideas consider my phone based consulting services.

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