Monday, August 10, 2009

customer comments

Recently I’ve been drawn to online conversations about businesses. Perhaps the United Breaks Guitars video really caught my attention. In my role as a downtown advocate and business recruiter, I am challenged by some of the things I “overhear” online.

My most recent experience was very positive; in fact I was being solicited for a reference on a downtown business that I support personally. I say that because I support all downtown businesses professionally. One of my Twitter friends was talking about his upcoming workout at The Urban Studios (a personal training facility on N 4th Street). I teased that the boxing class will wear you out. Another Studios patron tweeted that the workout equaled exhaustion and arm failure. Both the patron and I agree that The Studios have some of the best workouts either of us has ever had.

The mutual patron by the way is Chris Green, the GM at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. Since working out at The Urban Studios, he has lost an amazing 26+ pounds. He even admits to not eating right and still being successful.

On the flip side of the coin is an unnamed ice cream place. A customer recently tweeted that the customer service there was the worst ever. In fact, he will probably not ever go back. Another Twitterer (always confused about that term) sounded somewhat surprised. Personally, I’m blinded by the awesome smells of the unnamed ice cream place.

Later in the week, I shared the experience with a few of my board members. One of the board members had some great inside knowledge and I’m proud to say, the ice cream shop will soon change. It turns out the owners are buying a condo within one block of the shop so that they can address the challenges they have. They recognize that they cannot provide the leadership and support necessary from halfway across the state.

More importantly, they recognize the value of good customer service, and they did so without me having to tell them about what I read online. Perhaps monitoring the conversations about your business online are just as important as watching the business from behind the cash register.

Remember, if you are an entrepreneur, or curious about moving or expanding your business, please let me know if I can assist. I work for the mutual benefit of all downtown Wilmington, so let our organization help you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Front Street Design Session - Tonight

Just a quick note about the Front Street Streetscape Design public input session tonight and why its important to attend. This meeting is to get final input from the public regarding the look and feel of Front Street once the design is complete.

As some of you are aware, the City of Wilmington is replacing the 100 year old sewer and water lines along the intersection of Front and Market Streets, and the 0 & 100 blocks of North Front Street. This work is long overdue, but well planned. While under the street, the City of Wilmington, at the urging of Wilmington Downtown; decided that a coplete make-over of the streetscape is also necessary.

Several consultants (planning, retail, etc) have all said the same thing ... "You need to improve the appearence of your streets and sidewalks." This project is going to vastly improve our experience on Front Street ... as long as we work together on the design.

This project is going to be difficult. At an estimated 8 month project timeline, many businesses will not be able to survive. This is going to be very painful, and not fun. But the end product will improve the pedestrian and retail shopper expereince. The project was originally slated to begin in October, but I fought like crazy to push this past the Christmas shopping season. It took lots of arm twisting, but I finally got many retailers to agree, and eventually the city agreed too.

Several design elements that I am interested in seeing include, but are not limited to:
the design and type of brick pavers used,
are we going to have recycling bins on each block,
can we get one of those cool fire hydrants like the one at Halyburton Park that doubles as a dog watering station,
are we getting new trash cans (my big pet peave),
are we going to get water hook-ups so that merchants can hose down the sidewalks in front of the shops,
what type of lighting are getting, and
are we getting post banners and hanging baskets ... to name a few.

So be sure to come to City Hall tonight at 5:30, the design part should be fun, we know the project construction is going to be tough. Let's be sure we are happy with the design when it is complete.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Taking a dip, into the blogging stratosphere

I'm a rookie at Blogging, so here goes. Wilmington Downtown will soon be launching a new blog from our website. I writing this as a test to be sure I understand just enough to be dangerous. This site will eventually evolve into my personal blog, but for the next couple of weeks, I will use this as our blog posting site.

One thing I've noticed about social media, there are those who get it, and those who don't. The debates within our board have challenged me to think about what and how I use social media to carry the message of Wilmington Downtown. This blog will allow me to discuss issues, experiences and events downtown that don't always make the news. It will also allow me the opportunity to counter news articles where retractions, follow-ups and corrections don't always draw the same attention or headline (if they happen at all).

There are alot of great attributes to living, working and playing downtown. The key for me is to effectively communicate them is a an easy to read format, and deliver them to the masses. This blog will also be joined by a YouTube Channel, a new Facebook Page, and a new username on Twitter. All of that will be posted on the new blog ... coming soon.