Rant rating 6/10

Ireland is in the grip of recession, everyone knows this, but nobody here seems willing to put it right.

Business owners continue to blame the banks and there is some truth in this. However the real reason is because the people who run these businesses still think they can get away with the rip off prices and pathetic customer service they operated when times were good.

A prime example of this was yesterday when, having paid my €14(!!) for coffee and cake in Marks and Spencer I sat overlooking the shopping centre and in particular, Burtons/Dorothy Perkins. It was 11.35am and it was still not open! When the staff arrived at 11.55 to open the store I had witnessed at least 10 people try the door and walk away.

Now I may be wrong but, assuming the store is confident of it’s offering, they would expect to convert most of these people to sales and again I’m speculating, but I would guess they would be unhappy at losing that kind of business.

Consider also that Estate agents (auctioneers as they refer to themselves over here), and travel agents don’t open at all on weekends! Then they wonder why they are doing no business!

The crux of the problem is that business in Ireland had it easy for 10 years and is now run by people who are incapable of adapting to troubled times, and are far too quick to let the blame fall at someone (anyone) else’s feet and is still around 30% too expensive.

It fails to understand that a product is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it and it has to be showcased in order for people to buy it.

As a country it needs to get real with it’s pricing, start blaming the right people for their problems ( themselves) and lose the blatant lazy attitude towards customers.

A couple of success stories.

Planet Health Club in late 2007 charged €682 for a years membership. It had 800 or so members. Last summer it reduced it’s membership to €499 and included 12 personal training session free as part of the package. Today it has nearly 2500 members and is still growing, with a far increased membership renewal rate when compared to the old pricing strategy.

Hardwood restaurant in Cork City introduced a “recession buster” menu in January 2009 – three courses plus a beer or wine for €20 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They packed the place out, to the extent that the offer has been removed (recession over?) and replaced with a similar one offering better value for both it’s customers and itself.

Two examples of how some businesses get off their fat butts and do something while others look around for someone else to blame.