Category Archives: Customer Service

Twisted Rooster – Emphasis on Twisted

Please read the comments section for an update & for a good example of customer service

Twisted Rooster is now open, and I am feel a bit conflicted.  Even though I am a lowly blogger, I feel that I have contributed to Twisted Rooster’s successful launch and opening of their restaurant (but if it fails then I hereby retract the previous statement).  Let me give you some background and you can let me know what you think.  On May 27th I wrote my “Breaking the Chain – O’Charley’s becoming Twisted Rooster” story.  I also tweeted the story at 1:19 PM on May 27th.  On the same date  Twisted Rooster retweeted my tweet (screen shot below and you can also visit their twitter page and scroll down to May 27th on their twitter page and see it). 

Also on May 27th Twisted Rooster posted a link to my blog post on their facebook page, which was “liked” and “commented” by others.  This wall posting that Twisted Rooster put on their own wall was recently removed (I viewed it earlier this week, and now it is nowhere to be found).

Additionally, as soon as my blog was being mentioned on facebook and twitter, Twisted Rooster began using the term “unchaining”, which I first used in my original post (second to the last paragraph)
“So what do you think is this going to be a continuing trend, the “unchaining” of restaurants?  Can we expect more restaurants to go this route?  What are your thoughts and is this a good thing or bad thing?”

So now Twisted Rooster is using the term “unchaining” and in conjunction with Grand Rapids Social Diary they hosted a un”CHAIN”ing Party for their soft launch on July 21, 2010.  Where they invited a list of VIPs to attend.

To recap – Twisted Rooster removed a wall post that they posted about my blog, Twisted Rooster and Grand Rapids Social Diary took “unchaining” term and ran with it, and with what could have been a nice PR move, I was not invited to the soft launch. So it seems to me like they are taking all the credit for the term “unchaining” and then trying to erase the source of this word, me.

It is not like I expect any monetary gain or special treatment, but it would’ve been nice to be recognized for my ideas.  Being invited to attend the soft launch would have been a nice gesture, but again not something I expected to happen.  Let me clarify that I do not have a problem with Twisted Rooster’s actions by themselves, but coupled together and with the Facebook wall post that was deleted (let’s just call this the straw – final one or the one that broke the camel’s back – you decide), just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  I am having trouble coming up with any other reasons why Twisted Rooster would delete their facebook wall post, besides trying to erase their link to me and my post.  So here I am writing about how Twisted Rooster took my idea and pushed me aside instead of writing a follow-up on how cool it was that  they borrowed my idea, gave my blog great publicity, and how I stopped by for lunch the other day.

So what do you think?

a) Shut up stupid blogger, and go back to your mother’s basement
b) Yeah I can understand your frustration but that is life
c) If that happened to me, I would be super pissed and would stand outside of Twisted Rooster with the no rooster sign pictured above
d) I don’t care, just write about something interesting

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Update: The Power of Spin: Grand Craft

As an update to a previous post I wrote back in June 2009 about the irony of a Rapid Growth feature story on Grand Craft and how two months later Grand Craft shut down operations for financial reasons.  Apparently Grand Craft left many commissioned boat projects in limbo and The Holland Sentinel sheds some light on how Anchorage Marine is helping one customer with their commissioned boat (link here).  It is a nice story about how some former Grand Craft employees are back working on a 42 ft boat, with their new employer Anchorage Marine.  Hopefully Anchorage will continue building these beautiful wooden boats, and keeping that craftsmanship a part of Holland.

Picture gallery of Grand Craft boats through Picasa.

In fact if you drive by their former location on 24th Street and Ottawa Avenue you will see a boat sitting out in front with a tarp on it.  I wonder if this is another customer looking to get their boat finished.

Hudsonville Ice Cream and the Power of Social Media

Social Media comes with a lot of hype, and businesses are jumping on-board with fan pages, tweets and the like.  The strategy and goals of each company vary with their social media plan or lack of one.  One local West Michigan company that is doing a great job at social media is Hudsonville Ice Cream, and I had first-hand personal experience by becoming one of Hudsonville Ice Cream’s Chicagoland Ice Cream Ambassadors.

As a casual West Michigan business observer, I use Twitter and Facebook to follow many local companies.  Sometime in late February I came across a tweet from Hudsonville_IC that lead to their facebook page that caught my attention:

“Do you or someone you know live in Chicagoland & love Hudsonville Ice Cream? For a limited time in March & April, Hudsonville Ice Cream will be available at all Jewel stores. We are looking for 50 Cool Ambassadors to host in home ice cream socials. We provide everything, even the ice cream! Tell us why you want to be a… Hudsonville Ice Cream Cool Ambassador & we may roll our truck to your home for a special delivery!”

As a Chicago native I was intrigued, and  it ended up being the perfect scenario because in late March we were having a birthday party for my daughter at her great grandmother’s house to celebrate with the Chicago side of the family.  So I quickly nominated myself, and waited to see what happend.

A couple days later I was contacted by Ken Filippini at Hudsonville Ice Cream, and was told that I was one of the people chosen to host an ice cream social in Chicago.  All that was expected was that you would take pictures or videos of your ice cream social and send them back to Hudsonville Ice Cream, so that they could use the materials.  So in return for a few photos and videos, the hosts received the following:

Ice Cream:   Two 56 Oz cartons of each of:

  • Vanilla – Our original vanilla flavored ice cream made with vanilla and fresh cream
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes Bear Hug –Thick caramel and chocolate covered cashews in our original chocolate ice cream
  • Grand Traverse Bay Cherry Fudge® – Sweet chunks of cherries and thick fudge ripple in creamy cherry ice cream
  • Blueberry Cobbler – Vanilla ice cream swirled with a ribbon of sweet blueberries and golden pie crust pieces
  • Michigan Deer Traxx®- Peanut butter cups and thick chocolate fudge in our original vanilla flavored ice cream
  • SuperScoop. Super swirls of thick, creamy black cherry, blue moon and our original vanilla flavored ice cream.  We only got one of these though.

Supplies

  • 1 Freezer Bag
  • 3- Coolers
  • 3 Hudsonville Ice Cream Spades
  • 25 Bowls
  • 25 Spoons
  • 30 Napkins
  • 2 Aprons
  • 2 Hats
  • 10 Ice Cream Ambassador Refrigerator Magnets
  • 10 Ice Cream description sheets with photos
  • Blank CD
  • Blank DVD
  • Stamped Return Envelope
  • Ice Cream Ambassador Information Guide

Wow, that is a lot of stuff.  Well since I lived in Holland, they asked that I pick up the ice cream myself from their headquarters. I was quite excited to check out the inside of the building that I had driven past so many times.  The interior was like a lodge in the woods.  Wood detail everywhere, but very well done.  I meet with Heidi Buttrey, their Creative Director, who took me back into the plant area to retrieve the ice cream, coolers and dry ice.  The plant area was huge, I had no idea that the building stretched that far back.  The dock area was a large open space, with giant murals painted on one wall depicting animals eating ice cream, painted was though a child had done it.  The murals were done by Joel Tanis (thanks Craig Rich, and to A List Maker’s Life blog), and are very creative and quite cute.  We finally got all the ice cream packaged in the coolers with the dry ice, and I grabbed my other supplies and headed home to prepare for the trip to Chicago the next day for my daughter’s party.

Luckily the dry ice kept everything frozen solid during the trip, and after dinner everyone was ready for ice cream.  No one else at the party had ever been exposed to Hudsonville Ice Cream, but everyone enjoyed it thoroughly, and everyone made sure to try each and every flavor offered.  We ended up giving all the leftover ice cream to the party attendees (one of which had thought ahead and brought several Ziploc bags for leftovers).  One of the things I found most surprising is how my daughter’s grandparents loved SuperScoop (the blue, red, and yellow) ice cream.  They had avoided it for their first sampling, but when they went back for seconds they tried it and loved it.  We ended up handing out most of the other stuff to our guests as well, although we did keep one ice cream scooper because it looked cool and worked great.

So my experience with Hudsonville Ice Cream and their social media efforts was quite memorable.  It was a creative way to jump into a new market, and use current brand ambassadors to spread the word further.  Plus who could resist ice cream.  I enjoyed being a part of the launch in Chicago, and promoting the brand to friends and family, and not to mention I greatly enjoyed the ice cream as well (the Blueberry Cobbler is excellent), but most important was seeing my daughter enjoy herself profusely at her birthday party, and her blue ice cream face.

For another blog post on Hudsonville Ice Cream’s PR event which was heavily promoted on Facebook and Twitter, check out Marn’s Market.

For yet another cool blog post about Hudsonville Ice Cream PR effort, read A List Maker’s Life post.   The blogger and her family received an invite to tour the Hudsonville Ice Cream’s factory after a blog post she had written.

Dutch Village Marketing

Driving through Holland on US-31, you have seen the bright orange tile roofs, the giant wooden shoe, and the windmills. If you have children, then I am sure that they have begged you to stop, at Nelis Dutch Village (located off of US-31 and James Street in Holland). Dutch VillageNelis Dutch Village is a dutch theme park…buildings are in the traditional historic Dutch architecture, they have windmills, farm animals, a carousel, and other traditional Dutch activities and events (see their website for a more accurate description). The reason I am bringing up Nelis is because for the past three years they have deployed an ingenious marketing strategy. Since about three years they have offered a coupon in the local newspaper, The Holland Sentinel, a week before their opening for the season for free admission on their opening day for a family to the attraction. If you show up on opening day (Saturday April 25th) they will also give each member of your family a complimentary season pass to Nelis Dutch Village. Now why would this be a good idea? Well first off here are the rates for a pass to Nelis Dutch Village – Adults are $12, Seniors are $10, and Children are $6 dollars. For a family of four it would be $36 bucks, which is a little steep just to visit the theme park. And as an area resident you would not be interested in paying that amount of money just to visit. So maybe you take your kids there once just to check it out, but most likely you would not be going back anytime soon (or visit multiple times throughout the year). Also living in the area, the whole “Dutch” theme could get old quickly, and it is not something you would be interested in.

Now here is why I think that Nelis Dutch Village free season passes for area residents is a genius marketing strategy.

1) Activity – You get people into the park, most of which would not normally be there. Tourists see activity and that can make that attraction that much more appealing. Who wants to go to a dump with no activity or action, makes you question whether that place would be worth while visiting.
2) Return Visits – Area residents and their families will continue to come back multiple times throughout the year, and each time they come there is a chance that they will be spending money…
3) Money – Visitors spend money. Of course people with free season passes will not spend money on admission but they might on everything else. Like food, wooden shoes (shouldn’t your kids have a new pair every year?), souvenirs, candy, ice cream, feed for farm animals (they have a petting zoo) or any other add-ins they may have
4) Training – Training for your employees, keep them on their toes for when the tourists come
5) Additional admissions – if you have the season passes and if you have visiting family from out of town, and you are looking for activities…why not suggest the Dutch Village. Your family gets in free and maybe grandma and grandpa only have to pay $20 (senior discount) but you got everyone together for an activity.

In summary by offering these free season passes to local residents they are tapping into a market of people who would normally not visit the park. By inviting these residents into the park any day of the week it is going to benefit the park in one way or another. In my opinion, this is a low risk marketing initiative which must be paying off because this is the third year in a row that they have done this. It is a great example of out of the box thinking, they must have done their research on who their customers were and where they came from, and found a largely untapped market, and found a way to engage it.

Any other thoughts on why this is a good idea, or conversely, why you think they are stupid for doing this promotion.