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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  April 23, 2016 2:30am-3:01am PDT

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good morning, coming up, on msnbc's "your business," we're talking trash. as the own ef of a garbage disposal company warns us that the customer isn't always right. and new york's legendary punk rock clothing store trash and vaudeville makes a location change but survives thanks to its colorful buyer. when the customer is right and wrong. that is all coming up on your business. american express open can help you take on a new job or fill a big order.
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or expand your office. american express open proudly presents "your business" on msnbc. hi, everyone, i'm jj ramberg. welcome to "your business," the show dedicated to helping your small business grow. when a customer calls or e-mails with a complaint about your company, what do you do? are you the type of owner who asks questions or do you just assume the customer is always right and do whatever it takes to fix the problem? the owner of a texas garbage company believes that, of course if there's an actual problem, it should be corrected. but he doesn't always assume there's an issue. unlike many of his fellow small business owners, he's a firm believer that the customer is not always right.
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>> it's nasty, smelly, dirty. if i can get people to not think about what i do, i'm doing a good job. >> people hate their garbage, and kevin atkinson knows it. but to him, every trash can or recycling bin is actually an opportunity. >> i knew all along owning my own garbage collection company was something i truly wanted to do. >> as the owner of texas pride disposal, kevin says his brand, like so many other garbage companies, has an image problem. >> it's very tough to garner respect for what we do. this is an industry where people, as long as it goes away, people don't think about it. >> kevin needed a strategy to fight this negative perception. and so he and his staff focused on their clients. >> the service we deliver and the customer experience behind that, that's all i have to offer. without a happy customer i have nothing. >> it is about the customer. because if they're not happy, nobody's happy. we've got to impress these
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phonings in order to start to grow this business. >> but there's one part of the texas pride service philosophy that may leave some small business owners scratching their heads. >> the customer is not always right. they are right most of the time but there's certain instances where, you know, they push the boundary. >> this is approach came to live after years of interacting with clients. >> they're not always 100% honest with us. they're just trying to take advantage of the system. it's garbage. people want it to go away and they will sometimes do whatever they need to to make sure that it goes away. >> we'll get somebody out there. we'll get it cleaned up for you today. >> every time a call or e-mail comes in, kevin is curious about the nature of the complaint and who's making it. here's just one example. >> when you get that customer that calls and says, your guys didn't pick up my garbage. all right, well, you know, that's what we do. we do this day in and day out. i can't see why they would have just missed yours. are you sure it was out on time? are you sure it's something
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we're supposed to pick up or is it something maybe that's hazardous that we can't pick up? are you sure it's not 100 bags and not 1 bag. >> the truth is most calls aren't bad ones. >> yes, ma'am, how can i help you today. >> nine times out of ten it's a misunderstanding on the customer's part, you know, about what they can and can't put out for trash. >> but when more serious complaints come in, kevin has to take a more pragmatic view. he won't assume the customer is right. and that's for the sake of his team. >> we're there a million miles an hour as it is and keep piling on them every single customer issue that comes in and, hey, i don't care, the customer is right, fix it. i don't care what you do to fix it, it would be exhausting. >> kevin has a unique perspective on the work his crews do. he knows them and he trusts them. >> i've done it before. it's the hardest job i've ever had in my entire life. >> texas pride balances its customer service approach by setting a high bar. kevin doesn't want his clients to have i asingle reason to
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complain. >> i hold my guys to probably a higher standard than anyone in this market and most in the country, i would think. we do our best to be as customer oriented as possible, to go above and beyond. >> everyone is serious about the guidelines. field crews abide by rules of the road. they're reviewed constantly. >> you take pride, have loose trash that might have blown out of the container before we got there, pick that up. you put containers back properly. you don't leave them in the middle of a driveway or toss it halfway into their yard. >> the teams also function as the first line of defense. if there's a problem with the trash being picked up, customers are notified. >> we have a yellow tag. it has ten reasons we didn't pick your trash up. it's everything from you haven't paid your bill to the container is overweight. those yellow tags are a big deflector. >> random quality checks are a reminder of what's expected. >> we go out and do what we call
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route observations on the crew to make sure drivers and helpers are doing the right thing. >> pictures are a key component to the service model. no matter the issue, the photos speak for themselves. >> what do they say, a picture is worth a thousand words? i have a picture. i'm looking at it. it's proof. it's proof of what's really there. >> employees will submit pictures to the office if they see a potential problem. clients are encouraged to send in pictures, too. >> if you really feel justified in your complaint and you're not willing to send me a picture, then i'm going to be a little skeptical. >> the company does make mistakes. and the team tries to resolve them quickly. >> when it's our mistake, we go back and get it. i can text the supervisor right away and he gets on the driver and they turn around and go back. we correct our mistakes in less than a day. >> there are also plenty of variables in the garbage business that can affect the routes. >> it's week in, week out, different crews, could be a different truck. it cowl be sunny.
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it cowl be rainy. trying to be as close to identical, extent, that's the toughest thing we try to achieve. >> the procedures in place are working, the regional provider has 32,000 customers and that number continues to climb. >> we know where we stand. we know what our policies are. the customer may not always agree with it but we can come to a happy medium. >> complaints are at a minimum. there are no recurring issues and the staff is happy, too. >> we've literally had no turnover. >> as texas pride expands, kevin says his service plan will remain the same. he's proud of the business and he's confident it's well situated for perfect growth. >> it's a great service, a great product. it will speak for itself. be responsive. be attentive, make the customer your priority but at the end of the day, know that customer is not always right. as much as we may try, as small business owners we can't
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always please everyone. so like texas pride disposal, how do you handle customer relations? especially when the customer is wrong or unreasonable? let's get our board of director in here to chat about this. peter shankman is the founder of shank minds business masterminds, an online community of entrepreneurs around the world. he's author of "zombie loyalists." and cnbc contributor carol roth is a recovering investment banker, entrepreneur and author. so good to see you both. >> you too, jj. >> i love this piece. the favorite part was the pictures. you cannot argue with a picture. >> there's no reason in today's day and age to not document everything with text, audio, video. we carry so many devices on us that can do that, it solves problems before they become bigger problems. >> here's the challenge. i'm looking at a business like this. i don't know how much choice you have in choosing your trash removal provider.
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from a customer standpoint they have more flexibility to push back on their customers. i think if you have a different type of business, you could have the picture but you could still anger the customer, because the customer is upset about something. you need to be very, very careful. if it's a customer who's very important to you, either because they spend a ton of money with you or they're a big influencer, sometimes it doesn't matter if you have the picture and they're in the wrong. you do have to accommodate them if there's more competition in your market. for a business like that, i completely get it. but i think for other businesses, you need to be very careful about that. >> it's a really good point. there's a line, no greater lover in the world than a former hater. >> yep. >> so if they are having a problem, even if they are in the wrong, you know, saying, you know what, we'll let this slide, take care of it this time for you, try not to do that again, you far exceeded the bar. >> that's the point. >> we expect businesses to argue with us and fight with us. if you go out of your way and say, i'll take care of it this time. they'll tell the world how great
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you are. >> i think letting them know that they did something wrong and taking care of it. >> that takes the sting out of it. >> right. >> you did screw up but we'll handle it anyway. >> in a nice way. >> at the same time, too, one of the things that's powerful for a small business is to break up with customers who aren't worth it. there are customers who take up so much time and so many resources -- >> right. >> and don't have that influence and pull, maybe don't spend a ton of money with you, it is completely okay if you have one or two customers that is draining your staff's time, bringing down morale, cut them loose. say it's not us, it's you. you need to go away now. >> the other interesting point in piece, too, you don't have your customers only. you have your employees. >> yes. >> right? you have to listen to them. >> what i liked about the piece is that they do put their employees first. if you have employees that don't care or impassioned about what they do. we're talking about garbage collection. it takes a special type of person that does that.
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you have to treat them well. they're your first line of caring and empathy. if the boss is not showing that same level of empathy, it won't trickle down to the customer. it has to start from the top. >> it is about that culture. they are ambassadors who are interacting with the customers. >> exactably. >> if they care and are creating the great experience, with somebody like a gash an collerb collector, if they smile and say how are you, how's your day going, that's empowering. they're the ambassadors for the brand, touching the customers. it makes a huge difference as well. >> internally, we trust you, we hired you. you're our team, we trust you. >> i said you will never get fired for trying to fix a problem. you'll get fired if you ignore it. >> everybody's job, i don't care what their resume says, everybody's job is to make the customer happy. >> absolute dpli. >> if you're working on that business and doing that in such a way -- this is garbage
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collection. if the garbage is gone, you're happy. imagine going one step above that. >> and making your garbage cans smell great. >> paint a smiley face on it. thank you, guys. in new york city, loyal customers of a different kind of trash were jolted when they discovered their favorite store was moving from its long-time location. trash and vaudeville, a temple of punk rock clothing was a fixture on new york's east villages st. marks place for 41 years. like many small businesses facing rising rents around the nation, the store was recently forced to relocate. like the store itself, its manager and head buyer jimmy webb is a survivor. he's one of the chief reasons rock clothing fans flock to trash and vaudeville. after spending some time with him, we understand why. >> the biggest selling jackets
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are right now the plaids. >> amazing. really amazing. but this jacket, killing it. current but gothic and rock and roll. >> meet ray goodman and jimmy webb of new york city's punk clothing boutique trash and vaudeville. >> how is this doing? >> good. this is nonstop, nonstop, boys and girls version. nonstop, best fabric ever. >> ray is the owner, he bought it in 1975, renamed it trash and vaudeville and has cultivated it into this ultrahip rock star loving identity. >> i have always been into clothing, fashion and rock 'n' roll and it was a way to put the two together. >> jimmy is the key buyer, primary sales man, and number one spokesman that makes everything -- >> it's leopard with a white motorcycle jacket, it's red
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plaid, silver star, something washed dirty, it's a stud, it's sex, pink and green. and it's a ledger jacket. when you put it on and zip it and unzip it, it's how you feel. >> when it comes to picking merchandise like this, he is a punk fashion genius. >> want to see my favorite tattoo? i need more compassion. i need more forgiveness. i need more understanding. i need more jewelry. >> he knows his customers. the stars and the fans and maybe even more important than that, you might say he's his own best customer. and that gives him a huge edge as a buyer. >> if you tell me what the top five things are i'm probably not going to buy it. i want to stay ahead of the top five things. i want to add to the future, not be stuck. >> trash and vaudeville is a bit unique in its merchandise mix, what we sell here, what works for a lot of people doesn't work for us. and what works for us, doesn't work for a lot of other people.
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>> recently ray and jimmy took off from new york city to attend a week-long fashion vendor showcase called magic. in las vegas. ♪ they hit the convention floor in search of new merchandise. ♪ ♪ >> no, no, no. we have so many of those, we don't need that. prestuded, not for men. so rock 'n' roll, pimp, urban, so girl, so guy, it's good. >> this is [ bleep ] beautiful. how much is this? $300? >> this is good. >> is that good? >> this is really good. it's very jimmy. >> yes, it is. >> good. >> we tried it. you know what i mean? it's bought put but it's not us. >> jimmy is the lifestyle. and he can relate to a 17-year-old kid or a 60-year-old guy. doesn't make a difference. >> don king, sales rep for new jersey based leather company,
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says jimmy's relationship with his customers is not typical of most buyers. and that's what makes him so good at his job. >> he's the guy on the floor, the front line. a lot of buyers are sitting behind the desk and working based on numbers. so they're not as intimate or passionate about what their customers specifically are looking for. >> jimmy has been such an important part for the store because of his styling and his abilities and combination of that and personality and his street smarts. it was a match made in heaven, real. >> i am going to cry happy thankful tears. i just want to make people happy, make dreams come true. that's what i'm known for. that's what i do every day. customers may be downloading your mobile app but this he actually using it? we have five smart ways to get people hooked and keep them
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engaged. one, develop an attractive user interface. keep your customer by deleting your app by sticking to a sleek and simple design that's easy to navigate. two, create a loyalty program, use reward points or free offers from partner businesses. three, provide mobile app discounts. and take advantage of push notifications to let people know about these app exclusive incentives. four, tap into user psychology. people like to achieve things and actively share moments of success with their friends. incorporate features that keep this fact in mind. and five, add gamification elements. let users set goals and track progress through your app. this will increase engagement and get them to come back for more. major league baseball season is under way, much to the delight of not only the fans but also small businesses that make a living with products and services related to our national
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pastime. at one time, you may remember, major leaguers only had one choice when it came to their bats and that was the famous louisville slugger. not anymore, though. today's elevator pitcher is trying to score with his line of wooden bats. let's see if peter and carol want to play ball with him. my name is david chandler. i make the world's greatest baseball bat. >> nice. >> but don't take my word for it alone. look to bryce harper, back-to-back home run derby champion or rookie of the year chris bryant. they're all tell you these are by far the greatest bats ever made. one of the beautiful parts and points of it is that not only do we make this quality for major league players and all-star players but also little league, high school and collegiate players alike as well, the exact same quality. what i went to do is design and engineer a bat and the chandler bat ultimately looks different,
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feels different in the hand, it sounds different and it certainly performs different as well. currently we're seeking a million dollar investment for a 25% stake. the moneys will be utilized for expanding our manufacturing operations, broadening our distribution channel and also increasing our raw material buying power. >> good job with that pitch. congratulations on everything so far. >> thank you. >> and carle is ready to get out there. okay. i've got -- >> do i have to give this back to you? i'm liking this bat. >> you're not seeing this one again. >> here are your boards. two numbers. the first one, one to ten, how did he do on the product and second, how did he do on the pitch? >> one thing i have to say is how you came right out and say this is the world's greatest bat. then you have to substantiate that but that not my attention.
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but i don't count. these guys do. >> this is an amazing product. you proved you have really big names using it. people in major league baseball are obviously not using your bat because it's not the best bat ever. it has to be the best bat ever or they're not going to use it. you didn't give me enough scope about the business. just selling that sizzle part doesn't do it for me. if you're asking for a million dollars and working with mlb, how big is your business? how much have you sold? one of the big things with bats, this was a big thing with louisville slugger that made them sell to wilson, what about the supply of the wood? who are the issues around the business? i don't think you've got into enough of the details on the pitch. so i think your pitch could be improved even though i love that product. can i get the bat back? i need to -- >> you are not taking that home. >> i'm loving this bat. >> peter? >> nine innings in baseball, 7th
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inning stretch. i love the product. feels solid in my hand. having played as a kid makes we want to play again. the issue i have with the pitch, knowing a little bit about baseball, everything is licensing. everything is licensing. you didn't talk about your connection to mlb, the connection to licensing. mlb is one of those massive entities that could say you know what, eh, and you're out. i need to know the strength of that and i want to know numbers. where's the market? talk to me about numbers of kids every year entering baseball, little league, things like that. where are the deals you've already done for supplying and things like that. >> quick question. would you be interested to talk him more? >> based on what he said? >> 100%. when you have a sizzling product like this, something that is so beautiful that actually feels so great in your hands, a lot of times you can skate by on not having such a great pitch but at the same time you have one opportunity. if you're going to sell, whether it's to me, to peter, to mlb,
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you've got to bring it and you've got to have all the ducks in a row. i definitely want to learn more. >> peter, would you? >> i gave you 30 seconds. what you gave back to me qualifies for at least another minute, yes. >> the reason i ask, though, this brings up an interesting point which both of these people are interested in baseball. >> right. >> you automatically start here instead of here with them. so as you're going to pitch people, if you can find someone who's interested in your world. >> everyone is interested in finance. if they're not interested in baseball, hit them with numbers. >> hit them in pitching. >> i felt so much more powerful, yeah, what else you got? awesome. >> how does this do with taking out people? you could add an extra layer of marketing. >> do that off the show. this was great advice. thank you. good luck with everything. thanks for stopping by and pitching. if any of you have a product or service and want feedback
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from our elevator pitch panel like you saw on your chances of getting interested investors, please send us an e-mail. send it to and in that e-mail, make sure to tell us what your company does, how much money you're trying to raise and what you intend to do with that money. we look forward to reading all of those pitches and seeing some of you here on the show. when we come back, what do you do when the market you're targeting isn't responding? and carol tells us why you should be practicing what she calls cash flow yoga. our cosmetics line was a hit. the orders were rushing in. i could feel our deadlines racing towards us. we didn't need a loan. we needed short-term funding fast. building 18 homes in 4 ½ months? that was a leap.
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but i knew i could rely on american express to help me buy those building materials. amex helped me buy the inventory i needed. our amex helped us fill the orders. just like that. another step on the journey. will you be ready when growth presents itself? realize your buying power at if the market that you plan on targeting in your business plan is not responding to your product and services, do you re-evaluate the plan or do you tarring the a new market? >> that's always a great question and it may not be an either/or sort of scenario. i certainly wouldn't want to guess and just try one thing after something already didn't work. to me the answer is always find out, know what you don't know. so i would invest in some research, talk to the people we've been targeting, see why it hasn't been working. do a little product testing. see if there's any possibility to align those together a little stronger it might just take a
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little tweak before you throw the baby out with the bath water, having spent money targeting someone already. you might find out that the product is completely wrong for any market, maybe it's already saturated. so you want to invest in a different way or target might be oversaturated. maybe there's a way to tweak the product and move it somewhere else. i wouldn't want to guess. i'd want to know. we now have the top two tips you need to know to help your small business grow. peter and carol, are back with us one last time. peter, let's start with you. >> i think the number one tip is we need to listen more to our customers. listen to what they're saying and what's out there, listen to what's being said about us when there's not a problem and fix things, make things better and just reach out. when there is a problem, it will be easier to deal with. >> this comes up probably every single show, every conference i go to, every discussion. why aren't people doing it? we know we're supposed to. >> because we don't -- businesses still have a hard time seeing it as a profit
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center. my favorite story, barry diller when he started at paramount pictures, he went in and reached out to ten people in his rolodex every single day, just to say hi. he took paramount from close to bankruptcy to the first billion dollar studio in hollywood. when you had a problem, a new movie or actor, you thought of barry. he was top of mind. there's a lot of money to be made in just reaching out when you have nothing to sell. >> i think it's so important. people think that loyalty is transactional. if i give you a point per dollar. it's not. it's all about the relationship. i could not agree more with that. >> carol? >> i think one of the biggest challenges that small businesses have is managing the cash flow in their business. they look at their income statement, they say i don't understand, i just sold $10,000, why do i not have any money in my bank account. i advocate something i like to call cash flow yoga. it's cash in quickly and out very slowly. let's all do this together.
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cash in quickly, out slowly. how do you get the cash in more quickly? you can do things like preselling your product. even if you just get a deposit or if you can get all of it up front, that's a fantastic way to get the cash in quickly. you can sell gift certificates, you can offer your clients a discount if they pay early or maybe an extra service if they pay early. that's getting the cash in quickly. then on putting it out slowly, you want to do the exact opposite with your vendors. take every last moment you can without making them angry to pay them. you want to use your credit cards wisely. pay them with their credit card, get an extra 30 days to have to pay it. if you get that cash in quickly and put it out slowly you'll be in a much better position to run your business. >> simple yet incredibly smart advice. we remember in 2008, 2009, how many companies, good companies with, that still had good business models and customers close down simply because they didn't have cash. >> yes. >> thank you.
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great advice from both of you. this week's your biz selfie comes from maryland and the company redefine your mind. they make vegan active wear for positive messaging for the cruelty free lifestyle community. that's a mouthful. we love these selfies. pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business and e-mail it to us at or tweet it us to@msnbc your biz and please do not forget to use the #your biz selfie. send us an e-mail to or go to we posted all of the segments from today plus a whole lot more. reach us on any of our digital and social media platforms as well. next week, a company that struggled for years before
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getting traction built an online marketplace that offers a solution for overworked and underpaid teachers. >> they make some money, get recognition for the work they've done and they also get to know they're having real impact in classrooms, because it's important to remember that if you're a teacher-pruer, you're a teener first and entrepreneur second. >> it helps educators become entrepreneurs and sometimes millionaires. until then, i'm jj ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. brought to you by american express open. visit for ideas to help you grow your business. i could feel our deadlines racing towards us. we didn't need a loan. we needed short-term funding fast. building 18 homes in 4 ½ months? that was a leap. but i knew i could rely on american express to help me buy those building materials.
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amex helped me buy the inventory i needed. our amex helped us fill the orders. just like that. another step on the journey. will you be ready when growth presents itself? realize your buying power at >> one of the unexpected news stories of this decade. one of the unexpected things that has happened all over the country, particularly in the last five years, is that there has been a huge and rapid escalation in heroin use in our country. and also in the number of deaths in all age groups, all states, from heroin overdoses. because the heroin epidemic has been so big and because it has not been concentrate t traited in one place, all over in the cities, in suburbs, blue states, red states, every where it has led to surprising alliances in terms of people coming together to try to find a solution to


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