Friday, March 27, 2009

Dawn Direct Foam TM

I just got back from Target and was surprised to see that Dawn Direct Foam has reduced the size of their bottle and kept the price the same. Instead of 250 pumps, you now only get 190 pumps. The price is roughly still the same $2.50. I went to Dawn's website and nothing addressed this issue. My first thought was, "I'm going to have to buy this product more often, so I should start looking around for a cheaper replacement."

In these tough economic times, Dawn made the decision to do a disservice to their customers by reducing the amount of the product it gives them in exchange for some cost savings. Cut costs when times are bad...sounds reasonable, right? Maybe, but will it help the company over the long term?

What else could have Dawn done to save or make more money? These lessons apply to many businesses. Let's look at what I'm teaching my students at Florida State College of Jacksonville. These notes come from Gary Armstrong and Philip Kotler in their text book titled Marketing, an Introduction.

First of all, Dawn is taking a cost based pricing approach instead of a value based pricing approach. They see the consumer pool as limited and shrinking instead of expanding. This product has the capability to expand their market rather than replace their current line of dawn dish soaps. We have a dishwasher in our house and try not to wash anything in the sink (because I'm lazy that way). However, we had a baby a year ago and I have to wash her bottles and sippy cups on a daily basis. We did not have dawn soap in the house before, but now we have the Dawn Direct Foam and love it (others do too). It is convenient and a real time saver. About a quarter of a squirt goes in the bottle and I can use the bottle brush to clean the bottle. So my advice to you and to Dawn - KNOW THE VALUE YOU BRING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Second, they could have raised the price. Like I mentioned above, this is far superior to any dish soap on the market and we love it. We buy it about once a month and are not likely to buy anything else, because there is little that compares to it next to the shelves.

Third, if they were worried about price comparisons to products next to it on the shelves, they could work with Target to have it moved to another location in the store. Move it by the paper plates to position it as convenience. Move to to the baby isle to illustrate its worth to new parents.

Fourth, they could have expanded this line of the product. Sure, the Direct Foam expands their dish soap line, but why not deepen their Direct Foam line. Make it anti bacterial and put it next to the hand soap as a combination hand/dish soap. Put it in a stainless bottle and push the refills to be more environmentally friendly.

I hope you are starting to see you don't have to cut prices or disservice your customers when these economic times are bad. Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.

p.s. Follow the link to the Dawn Direct Foam website and they often have coupons.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nader's Pest Rader's

A couple of weeks ago, I was spraying weed killer on all of the weeds in my St. Augustine Grass yard. After going through two and a half gallons of weed killer, I decided I'm not going to do this anymore. Here is my story of hiring a Yard Weed and Pest Control company in the Jacksonville/Yulee Florida area. I hired Nader's Pest Raiders to do the job.

I had used Bug Out a few years ago and they over promised and under delivered. My in-laws had used Enviro Pest Control and they fired them and hired Bug Out. They are happy with Bug Out, but I would never hire them again.

I came into the house and opened up the yellow pages. Ideally, I wanted to hire a Gardner or a company that would at least do all the weed and pest control and I could have them mow the lawn if I did not have the time one week. The only one I could find was CB Murphy, but I could not find any information online about them. The Yellow Pages were a bust because all the companies looked the same except for the size of their ad.

Next I went to the Internet and looked at the Better Business Bureau's website. I searched on Pest Companies in the Yulee/Fernandina area and two came up - Nader's Pest Raiders and another business that had an F rating because of a non-response. I chose Nader's because I had heard of them before and they were a BBB Accredited Business. This just means that they meet BBB Standards and pay the BBB a fee to get this accreditation. I went to Nader's Website and read a few pages and went to the contact us page. I filled in a form to request an appointment. (This was Sunday Night).

Monday morning, I received a call from Nader's for an appointment. They came to the house the next day, without me needing to be at home, and gave me an estimate. It was about $500 for a year of yard pest and weed control and an extra $100 for the Fire Ant Control.

I asked the sales person how they handle problems in between visits and he said they would come out any time to address problems and consultations. (I had problems with Bug Out in this area. Bug Out would not come out until 3 weeks after an application.)

I asked the sales person if the fire ant control covered the whole yard or just the grassy areas. In my experience here in Florida, if you put fire ant bait down in the yard, the ants just move to the flower beds. He said he did not know. He called a co-worker and called me back less than a half hour later to confirm that they will get rid of the ants no matter where they are in my yard.

I told him I would talk to my wife and get back with him. My wife and I figured out how much it would cost us each year with putting down all the chemicals ourselves. Doing the four weed and feeds a year, 3-4 lawn fungus treatments, a bug treatment, a few fire ant treatments we figured out that it would cost us about $300-$350 a year. So that means that their service would be an extra $20-$30 a month. I figured that this would pay for us not forgetting to apply the chemicals and my time involved (and hopefully less weed pulling). My wife added that she would not have to nag me about doing it either...priceless.

We could pay monthly, after each application, or yearly. We decided to pay yearly for a few reasons.

  1. We received a 3% discount.
  2. We would be less likely to cancel the contract mid way through the year like we did with Bug Out.
  3. We always pay extra taxes and would have the money from our tax return this time of year every year.

I was able to fax the contract back signed with my credit card number. It took them about 2-3 days to call me to set the first appointment. I was getting worried, but stayed patient. They made the appointment for the following week.


The first appointment is today. I received a call from the technician when he was leaving Ponte Vedra and he told me about what time he would be here.

The tech arrived on time and took time with me to go over my yard and talk about the areas that were causing us problems. We had an especially cold winter so he showed me how to check the runners to see if we needed to re-sod the area. He also said he uses centipede grass mixed in in his yard. We explained the mystery of why the grass closer to the house and fence always looked better (it is because the shade helps them hold water longer.)

When he sees problems (such as too many weeds), he said he will write down a next visit in his appointment book in between applications to check up on the yard and apply more chemicals if needed.

So far, I'm very impressed. I'll keep you updated.