By now you’ve undoubtedly heard that Starbucks is going to be changing their rewards program in April. And you have also heard that this change has caused an uproar with some Starbucks customers because they feel like they’re going to have to spend a lot more now.
In case you’re not one of the proud (okay, that’s just me), card-carrying Rewards members (me again!), the program currently rewards you a free item of your choice after making 12 trips in for purchases. Each purchase gains you a star (and that means each trip - not one star for every item per trip), and 12 stars = a freebie. So you could buy 12 black coffees on 12 separate occasions and you’d get a freebie of whatever you wanted. A grande latte, a chocolate croissant, a lunch. It’s pretty nice. Well, in April, we won’t count stars based on each purchase. Instead, we’ll be getting two stars for each dollar we spend. When we get to 125 stars, we get a freebie.
As I said, many customers are up in arms. I’ve seen plenty of articles that show people ranting about how the program is awful because people who just drink coffee will take forever to get a reward. Good. That’s how it should be.
I think this change is a good thing, and it’s not because I love Starbucks (I do) and it’s not because Starbucks sponsors anything in my life (it doesn’t, but hey Starbucks - I’m willing to talk!). They are aligning their program like plenty of other rewards programs are. So why is that a bad thing?
Ask yourself this. Is it fair that someone who goes into a store and buys a $1 candy bar should get the same rewards as someone who goes into that same store and buys $100 in groceries? If you said yes, then ask yourself this. If your business offered rewards, wouldn’t those people that spent more money get more rewards? Of course they would. They are your star customers, and you want to make them feel that they are special. They are different. The person that shops in your store every week deserves more than a person that comes in once a year.
And I think that’s where Starbucks is headed with this. It’s an equitable solution to truly reward those who are spending more while still allowing the casual customer to eventually earn their freebie. It just might take a little more effort.
You need to think about this if you offer services. The person that buys our eBook , the person that purchases our Caffeinated Coaching services and the person that will fly us to their private island (hey, it could happen) will all receive our best care, knowledge and experience. However as a reward for spending all of that extra money - and let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about - they’ll end up getting some extra special rewards.
It sounds devious, but it is what rewards are about. Credit cards do it. Travel websites do it. The grocery store even does it now. Spend more money, get more rewards. It’s not a bad thing. Just be considerate as to how you reward your own customers.
Yes, we’re being blunt. Get off your ass. The only way you’re going to get anything done is if you get up and start doing it. And it’s especially hard when you’re working from home because you’re the boss. You’re in charge. You’re the only person you have to answer to. And if you don’t get off your ass, you’re going to be lazy pretty quickly. Here are five tips to help you keep things moving when working from home.
Get Up! Get Moving!
When I was in college I used to schedule all my classes to start no earlier than 11am. I was the queen of scheduling. Why would I want to get up early? I wanted to sleep in, leisurely awaken, have some breakfast, watch some TV and eventually stroll into class. Plus, I could get any homework I didn’t do the night before done before class. Big mistake. I missed out on all the energy I had and needed to use throughout the day.
Mornings are different for me now. I’m up by 5:30am and sometimes sitting down at the laptop by 6am. I wake up with ideas and motivation and want to start doing things. And if I sleep in and wait around another three or four hours, I’ve lost precious time that I can be creating, prepping, thinking, exercising (yes, by 7:30am I’m at the gym!) and enjoying the morning before everyone else wakes up and the world gets chaotic. Get up. Get moving. Don’t wait around for things to happen.
Yes, yes, you want to be able to be in your jammies because you finally get to work from home. This is a big mistake. I’m not saying that you can never have a day spent in your jammies. Sometimes you need it, for therapeutic purposes. But the rest of the time, get dressed. And I don’t just mean throw on a pair of sweatpants and a ratty t-shirt. Get cleaned up. Do your hair. Ladies, put on some makeup. (Guys, too, if you do that!) Wear a nice shirt even if you’re just putting on jeans. Get your shoes on. Give yourself a spray of cologne or perfume. And then start your day. You’ll automatically be more motivated to get things done. How does that old saying go? You have to dress the part. So do it. Get dressed when you work from home and watch your productivity rise.
Rotate Your Work
How motivated would you be if you did nothing but wash dishes for eight hours? Not very, I’d think. You can’t do the same thing all day long. Your mind will go numb and your work will suffer for it. Every time you start a new task, your mind is fresh, and you feel better about doing it. So put together a schedule for yourself to rotate the tasks you do throughout the day. Wake up. Spend 30 minutes doing X. Walk away and do Y for 15 minutes. Start doing Z for 25 minutes. Come back to X for another 30 minutes. Whatever works. But don’t do the same thing for hours and hours no matter how much you might love the task. Give your mind a break to refresh (as well as your body to move) by taking breaks and rotating your work tasks throughout the day.
TV is a distraction. I know. I would grab my laptop, sit in the living room, and turn on the TV. It was noise. It was company. It made the house not-so-quiet. But it also blocked out all the ideas I needed to have. It muddled the problems I needed to solve. And at times, prevented me from getting work done. It’s great to watch your morning show over breakfast, or catch the news at lunch, but then save your TV time for the evening after work is done. Make TV a reward for a hard day’s work - not a distraction that takes away your time to work.
Good breakfast, light lunch
Power up with a wonderful, energizing breakfast. I used to be horrible about eating in the morning. Breakfast was always a cup of coffee. (It’s no wonder I never had any energy in college!) But you really need to start your day with some healthy, tasty food. And for lunch - stay away from the carbs. That’s hard for me to say because I love carbs. Give me a big bowl of pasta and a lump of garlic bread. But then watch me fall asleep immediately after. It’s terrible, and it means that I ruin my whole afternoon because carbs have swallowed up all my motivation.
I stick to a lighter lunch now so that I can maintain energy throughout the rest of my day. A salad, some soup, even some meat, cheese and a side of fruit - I just stay away from the bread until such time as I can nap with reckless abandoned. Eat well to give you the energy to get all of your work done throughout the day.
Let’s talk about service. And honesty. And making things right. Because if you’re going to work for yourself, you’d better damn know how to provide excellent service, be honest, and make things right for your customer. You’d want to be treated the same, right?
Here’s my case study of two well-known service chains - how one succeeds and how the other just fakes it.
Last Friday (yes, just a few days ago!) my son and I stopped in to our favorite coffee establishment (let’s not mention any names!) for a couple of specialty drinks they were offering for the Valentine holiday. It was late afternoon, and not a busy time. Our order was placed, and we went to the end of the counter to receive it.
And we waited. And waited. And another gentleman came up and waited. It didn’t appear as though anyone was making any beverages. What’s going on? Well, apparently the label printer was out, and a worker didn’t know how to replace the labels, thus causing a complete breakdown in production. (No labels = no orders printing = a very thirsty Andrea.)
It was a bit frustrating because she didn’t seem quite concerned that people were waiting. But another worker, possibly the one in charge for that shift, apologized, had her start making the drinks, and when the drinks were finished, handed them to us along with a $4 off anything card, along with more apologies.
I was satisfied. Your system broke down and caused me, your customer, several minutes of time and a bit of irritation. So you jumped in and quickly and easily said, “I’m sorry - have a freebie on us. It shouldn’t have happened.” Voila. We go away happy, and will definitely return - because hey, it’s our favorite place!
Let’s talk about another business. Last month my son wanted seafood for his birthday, so we went to a chain restaurant nearby that is supposed to be all about seafood in their shack. We were promptly seated - because it was a weeknight and the place was fairly empty.
The server came over and took our drink order. (We had to point out what the specials were to him.) We put in an appetizer order. We put in a dinner order. All standard, straight off the menu items. We received our drinks. Then we waited. And waited. And the manager and another girl came with our dinner order. - Hello? We ordered an appetizer. Oops. Didn’t get it. (And didn’t want it now since our meals were here.) And then my son’s dinner was wrong. (Which is amazing, since it’s a standard meal they are supposed to serve.) The manager came back and apologized. (Our server never did.) The manager then proceeds to give us a card for a free appetizer the next time we come in.
Now, I don’t expect freebies all the time, but when you really mess up, you definitely need to make sure you fix things so that the customer is happy. I can tell you - I was not happy. Because that “free” appetizer wasn’t free. In order to get it, we would have to come back, buy an adult meal, and then we could only pick an appetizer that was under a certain dollar value. (Which turned out to be soup - that’s it. A bowl of soup was all we could have gotten.)
This restaurant failed miserably in their customer service department (among several other areas). They are faking their apology. They’re not sincere. What makes me want to ever return? Nothing. They did absolutely nothing to ensure I would come back again.
Don’t do this to your customers and clients. Their problem is your problem, and you have to fix it the right way. Does that mean you have to give free product and service each time something bad happens. No. Most people just want their problem solved as quickly as possible. And with genuine care and concern. Don’t ever fake it. Don’t lie. Don’t give a cheap token to pacify them. SOLVE THE PROBLEM. CARE ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMER. It’s the only way they’ll continue to be your customer.
There is a happiness, a joy, from being able to work from home each day. But being in your own home office doesn’t mean there aren’t issues that you’re going to be confronted with.
No One Thinks You’re Busy
When you work from home, people tend to think that you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want. And yes, there is flexibility in your schedule that you can’t get in an office job, but it doesn’t mean you are at the beckoned call of everyone who needs something just because you’re at home. I once had someone become incredibly furious with me because I wasn’t responding to her voicemail regarding a school event issue. She was so irate that she berated me via email to our whole group of moms. It didn’t matter that I was busy with my clients. Working from home doesn’t seem like a real job to many people.
You Are Alone A Lot
Being a social butterfly and working from home may not be a good fit. Depending upon the type of job you’re doing, you could be at home all day and never speak to anyone. You have to be able to handle that. And it’s not easy for a lot of people. I’ve known several friends who have tried it and realized that they need the interaction and camaraderie that takes place when you go to work somewhere else. Emailing clients and customers is not the same type of social interaction. You have to really be secure within yourself to be alone and be okay with it.
You Miss Out on Office Fun
Christmas parties? No. Casual Friday? Nah - you get that every day. The boss takes the department out to lunch? Not you. Team Building Get-togethers? Never. This hits home especially if you are a remote worker and are working for a company that is miles - or states - away from you. It’s very hard to see the photos and emails and chatter about the last great get-together knowing you didn’t get to be a part of it, and will never be a part of it. You will be left out, and that’s hard to deal with.
On Sunday we took a drive to Ikea. I created a new office space in my head and I wanted to see it come into being immediately. I haven’t been working properly lately (working here, there and everywhere with my laptop, but never properly, at a desk, with focus totally on work). I needed to be able to create a space for me, but also incorporate my husband’s office needs as well.
Ikea had all my solutions so off we went. After a fun walk through all the rooms (I’ve picked out my kitchen already!), we go to pick up a cart to pull our boxes for the table and chair I want, and I saw her. Bernice. Here she is.
This is Bernice, my office pig. Yes, we gave her that name. She looks like a Bernice. (Please feel free to laugh out loud here, and it’s okay if you think I’m a little nuts, too!)
Now, you might be wondering why the hell a grown woman would buy a stuffed pig. Honestly, because she’s cute, soft, and funny. And when I sit at my desk and am feeling frustrated, perplexed, overworked, sad, achy and perhaps just plain miserable about how the day went, she’s going to be there and I’ll look over, give her a squeeze, and laugh.
You have to make your office a place of fun. Of joy. Of silliness. You’re going to have some rough days (everyone does), and if you can’t give yourself an oasis of happiness to turn to, you’re going to find that each time you return to your desk, you’ll be more sour and more bitter, and you’ll end up putting off work, or ignoring it totally.
Have fun! A stuffed pig needed a home (and a name) and so I gave her one. In my brick and mortar days I had all sorts of toys on my desk, from silly putty to a stuffed reindeer that a co-worker gave to me when she left. You have to have fun. I once had a boss (a VP in a company) whom we took to Chuck E. Cheese for his 40th birthday. We had a blast. Everyone was silly and played. (Imaging a 6’4” man turning in his gaming tickets for some silly toys for his office.)
Do a serious, excellent job with your work, but just don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing it. And go buy yourself a stuffed pig to start. (Or cow, bat, kangaroo…. whatever floats your boat!)
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.