CAIRO BOOKS's Description
#131 The Case of the Two-Cent Candy
Years ago, I wrote about a retail store in the Palo Alto environsa good one,
which had a box of two-cent candies at the checkout. I subsequently remember
that "little" parting gesture of the two-cent candy as a symbol of all that is
Excellent at that store. Dozens of people who have attended seminars of
minefrom retailers to bankers to plumbing-supply-house ownershave come up to
remind me, sometimes 15 or 20 years later, of "the two-cent candy story," and
to tell me how it had a sizable impact on how they did business, metaphorically
and in fact.
Well, the Two-Cent Candy Phenomenon has struck againwith oomph and in the
most unlikely of places.
For years Singapore's "brand" has more or less been Southeast Asia's "place
that works." Its legendary operational efficiency in all it does has attracted
businesses of all sorts to set up shop there. But as "the rest" in the
geographic neighborhood closed the efficiency gap, and China continued to
rise-race-soar, Singapore decided a couple of years ago to "rebrand" itself as
not only a place that works but also as an exciting, "with it" city. (I was a
participant in an early rebranding conference that also featured the likes of
the late Anita Roddick, Deepak Chopra, and Infosys founder and superman N. R.
Singapore's fabled operating efficiency starts, as indeed it should, at ports
of entrythe airport being a prime example. From immigration to baggage claim
to transportation downtown, the services are unmatched anywhere in the world
for speed and efficiency.
Saga . . .
Immigration services in Thailand, three days before a trip to Singapore, were
a pain. ("Memorable.") And entering Russia some months ago was hardly a walk in
the park, either. To be sure, and especially after 9/11, entry to the United
States has not been a process you'd mistake for arriving at Disneyland, nor
marked by an attitude that shouted "Welcome, honored guest."
Singapore immigration services, on the other hand:
The entry form was a marvel of simplicity.
The lines were short, very short, with more than adequate staffing.
The process was simple and unobtrusive .
The immigration officer could have easily gotten work at Starbucks; she was
all smiles and courtesy.
And . . . yes!
There was a little candy jar at each Immigration portal!
The "candy jar message" in a dozen ways:
"Welcome to Singapore, Tom!! We are absolutely beside ourselves with delight
that you have decided to come here!"
Ask yourself . . . now:
What is my (personal, department, project, restaurant, law firm) "Two-Cent
Does every part of the process of working with us/me include two-cent candies?
Do we, as a group, "think two-cent candies"?
Operationalizing: Make "two-centing it" part and parcel of "the way we do
business around here." Don't go light on the so-called substancebut do
remember that . . . perception is reality . . . and perception is shaped by
two-cent candies as much as by that so-called hard substance.
Start: Have your staff collect "two-cent candy stories" for the next two
weeks in their routine "life" transactions. Share those stories. Translate into
"our world." And implement.
(Recession or no recessionyou can afford two cents.)
(In fact, it is a particularly Brilliant Idea for a recessionyou doubtless
don't maximize Two-Cent Opportunities. And what opportunities they are.)