Customers Giving Back with Cash Mobs

by Stan Phelps

in Gift Economy,Pay it Forward

Guest post by Megan Totka of ChamberofCommerce.com

Exploring a new way to Pay it Forward

So typically, this blog focuses on great things that companies do for others – customers as well as employees. I find both the Green and Purple Goldfish Project to be so interesting and they give great ideas about what businesses both small and large can do to retain not only their customer base but also build loyalty among employees.

I recently came across an idea that actually has the customers turning the tables on great local businesses. This seems to fit perfectly with the idea of harmony between customers, businesses, and employees. Most people have heard of the concept of a flash mob, where people gather in a pre-determined location and cause some sort of scene – dancing being the most popular, but other examples include dressing like store employees and mobbing a store, as well as putting on impromptu performances in public places. The article I found addresses a new phenomenon that is similar, called a cash mob.

What is a Cash Mob?
The concept of a cash mob is pretty simple and similar to that of a flash mob. Cash mob organizers encourage people to bring $20 or more to a designated local business on a specific date and time. The business could really be anything – from a local card shop to a favorite restaurant. The idea is to give the business an unexpected influx of cash on a random day. Most of the time it seems that the business owners who are the ones set to be mobbed do not know that this will be happening, although some organizers choose to warn them ahead of time.

Who Organizes a Cash Mob?
Anyone! This is the beauty of a cash mob (flash mobs as well). Any person with an idea for a business to mob and 1 or more social media accounts can organize a cash mob. Some key factors to get people to participate would be letting them know what great things this particular business has to offer, or that the business is in a crunch and could really use the help. The articles I found regarding cash mobs noted that often businesses that are mobbed are able to double or triple their sales in comparison to a typical day. This helps local businesses to stay afloat in economic times that are slowly getting better, but still stagnant on a good day.
According to the site cashmob.com, several events are scheduled in the next few weeks in the New York City area.

Helping those in need

I honestly could not think of a better way to help out local businesses who may be struggling in the wake of the devastation that was Hurricane Sandy. At the beginning of this year there was a cash mob in Brooklyn that inspired small businesses in the area.  Hopefully the cash mobs scheduled in the New York City area have the same effect.

If starting a cash mob appeals to you, there is really no better time to do it than now. With the intense holiday shopping season descending quickly, many small businesses may be feeling the crunch. It’s particularly hard for smaller businesses to compete with the big box retailers. This is a great way to help businesses stay afloat and even prosper through the holiday season!

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for www.chamberofcommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and connects local businesses to their local Chamber of Commerce.

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Lessons on Employee Lagniappe from the Founder of Patagonia

by Stan Phelps

in Green Goldfish Project

Guest post by Brent Hardy of Extra Space Storage

When most people think of Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, they think of him as a trailblazer in blurring the lines between corporate success and social and environmental activism. The business model he adopted as the head of Patagonia was a bit unconventional. While most CEOs closely monitor the bottom line, Chouinard quickly developed a reputation for allowing his moral compass to guide the direction of corporate policy. To the surprise of some, that strategy was hugely successful and Patagonia has gone on to realize huge profits over the years.

In his latest book, The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years, Chouinard expands on his business philosophy by providing several checklists that companies should consider in the pursuit of adopting responsible business practices. One of those checklists specifically addresses how companies should handle relations with employees. Interestingly, many of the items on that checklist highlight the importance of employee lagniappe and can provide inspiration for the Green Goldfish Project.

Compensation

Although Yvon Chouinard may seem to care more about certain social causes than he does about profits, he’s not naïve enough to think that all Americans have that luxury. He understands that his employees have families and have to earn a living wage in order to make ends meet. Therefore, the checklist provides some simple, pragmatic pointers for employers to consider with regard to adequately compensating their workforce.

However, Chouinard doesn’t stop there. He understands that the best workers will often flock to the best paying jobs, so he recommends that companies:

Determine whether your company pays above-market, at-market, or below-market rates. Paying below market means your competitors will attract the best talent, including your own.

In addition, to promote equity among employees with regard to compensation, he urges employers to:

Calculate the multiple by which the company’s highest paid employee compares to its lowest-paid full-time worker. Set a goal over a specific period of time to narrow the gap to a specific multiple, appropriate to your industry.

Benefits

This checklist also suggests that companies should constantly be mindful of employees’ wellbeing, both physical and financial. To that end, Chouinard suggests offering health insurance coverage to all employees, including part-time staff members. In addition, he even promotes installation of showers in the workplace so employees can exercise during breaks. After all, healthy employees are productive employees. Chouinard also recognizes that employees who feel financially secure will ultimately be more productive and satisfied, so he is a big proponent of contributing generously to employees’ retirement accounts whenever possible. In the checklist, Chouinard also encourages companies to exhibit sensitivity when things aren’t going well. He advises employers to:

Provide paid sick leave and personal days, including bereavement leave, and days to care for sick children

Working Conditions

Chouinard offers one bit of advice that surely no reputable employer would object to: working conditions should be generally safe for employees. He goes further, however, and suggests that working conditions shouldn’t just be safe, they should also be comfortable. There’s physical comfort, which he addresses, but there are other levels of comfort that Chouinard refers to. For example, he recommends that employers make accommodations for employees with disabilities. In addition, he supports the idea that:

Diversity and gender balance, at all levels of the workforce, are strong virtues in a workforce; discourage both management myopia and provincialism.

He also proposes having a café onsite, so employees have dining options without having to travel. Finally, in a day and age where many employers are cutting positions and slashing benefits, Chouinard offers the radical position that providing longtime employees with extended vacations and sabbaticals can help them recharge and will ultimately make them more valuable members of the team.

Chouinard’s checklist is a great resource for employees to use as they evaluate their own relationships with their workers. Following these guidelines will enable a company to differentiate itself in the market, attract the best talent, and thereafter retain those employees and keep them happy.

About the Author: Brent Hardy is the driving force for Extra Space Storage corporate responsibility through energy management and sustainability programs at www.extraspace.com. Brent leads a conversation about sustainability at blog.extraspace.com/category/sustainability.

[Editor’s Note: This is Patagonia’s fourth example in the Green Goldfish Project. They are also #35, #145 and #188 in the Project]

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Margaritas and breakfast tacos @WeberShandwick Dallas

by Stan Phelps

in Green Goldfish Project

#25 in the Green Goldfish Project – Weber Shandwick

Submitted by Keith Green and taken from a post by Mihaela Lica Butler:

Weber Shandwick Dallas is this year’s best place to work, according to the Dallas Business Journal. The company won the recognition after an independent survey of Weber Shandwick Dallas employees covering topics such as personal growth, professional opportunities and employee recognition.

Weber Shandwick provides employees in its Dallas office with numerous benefits, including breakfast tacos, margaritas (hopefully not for breakfast) and Putt Putt tournaments. There is also a health program that reimburses employees who invest in health and wellness activities (if they still manage to go on after all those margaritas). Last but not least, employees are offered opportunities to pursue professional goals through additional paid days off and tuition reimbursement.

Green Goldfish Takeaway: Creating fun team building activities is the longest hanging fruit in building culture. Anyone can do bagels on Friday. Kudos to WSW Dallas for standing out in a sea of sameness.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – It takes years and sometimes decades to build a brand. Today that brand and reputation can be taken down in 2 hours:

What is the Green Goldfish Project?

The Green Goldfish Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Happy employees = Happy Customers. A green goldfish is the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, increase employee retention and drive positive word of mouth.

What’s Your Green Goldfish?

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A cure for board-dom at McNeil Designs for Brighter Minds

by Stan Phelps

in Green Goldfish Project

#29 in the Green Goldfish Project – McNeill Designs

Taken from a post by Keith Hein:

At McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds, they take the time to just crack open a board game and play.

“Maybe it’s because we’re a game development firm, but we find on a Friday afternoon, nothing beats playing a game,” says CEO Donald W. McNeill. “We check out the competition and have a little healthy competition. We typically get a pizza and throw in a prize for the grand winner of the afternoon.”

Prizes vary from a “late morning start pass” to “party money.” One offshoot of the games is “it often leads to a more friendly discussion of personal issues that may be affecting performance.”

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – What happened to Mr. Monopoly during the recession? Let’s find out:

What is the Green Goldfish Project?

The Green Goldfish Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Happy employees = Happy Customers. A green goldfish is the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, increase employee retention and drive positive word of mouth.

What’s Your Green Goldfish?

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The power of the pen and positive feedback @CampbellSoupCo

October 24, 2012 Green Goldfish Project

#21 in the Green Goldfish Project – Campbell Soup Co. Taken from a post at HBR by Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company: In Doug’s words: “Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking […]

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A newborn bonus is literally a little extra @Facebook

October 23, 2012 Green Goldfish Project

#20 in the Green Goldfish Project – Facebook Facebook gives employees $4,500 when they have a baby. A little bonus for a new addition. Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a deep thought: If you were just one out of a million on Facebook . . .  there would […]

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A paid . . . paid vacation that’s green goldfishworthy @FullContactAPI

October 22, 2012 Green Goldfish Project

#19 in the Green Goldfish Project – Full Contact API Taken from a post from ABC News on Yahoo news: The CEO of Denver-based internet start-up FullContact API said in a market that is competitive for top talent, he wants to keep his employees happy and refreshed. The flip-flop wearing founder offers his employees $7,500 for […]

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Making employee wellness convenient @StewLeonards

October 21, 2012 Green Goldfish Project

#18 in the Green Goldfish Project – Stew Leonard’s Submitted by Jack Campisi As part of an on-going commitment to preventive healthcare, Stew Leonard’s will launch a pilot program  offering on-site physicals for Team Members at the Norwalk store. The Stew Leonard’s “Wellness Mobile” will be led by Dr. Igal Staw, a local Norwalk physician […]

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Employees @NewBelgium get a Fat Tire Cruiser after one year of service

October 20, 2012 Green Goldfish Project

#17 in the Green Goldfish Project – New Belgium Brewery Submitted by Owen Clark: This is a little outside the box, but New Belgium gives their employees a free cruiser bike on their one year-anniversary with the company. The bike is similar to the one on the cover of the brewery’s flagship beer Fat Tire. […]

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O to the iPad and a bunch of cash. Little extras to celebrate the 10th anniversary @O_Magazine

October 19, 2012 Green Goldfish Project

Sweet #16 in the Green Goldfish Project – O Magazine Submitted to the Project by Bryan Welfel: Hey Stan, It’s great to hear there is more to come! I followed the progress of the Purple Goldfish project closely and am starting in on the book this weekend. As for the Green Goldfish project, I think […]

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