The weekly meeting
The Schroeder children inherited the quaint little store in the quaint little town.
As was the routine when Mom and Pop were alive, the store staff gathered weekly to discuss operational issues. These meetings were mostly routine.
As the children gathered on this Tuesday morning a new hire of the store -- not related to the family -- spoke out with uncharacteristic authenticity. "Excuse me for saying so, but I was getting my hair cut last week. As I chatted with the folks there in the salon, it seemed that our store has an unfortunate image problem. People in the salon seemed to think that our product was expensive. But they also said that our store was snobby and that it exists only for upper class clients.
The second oldest of the children chimed in, "Yeah, its true, we have a bit of an unsavory reputation in the community. But really, what does it matter? Our product is the best around. We make our product just like Mom and Pop made it. It is as good now, as it was then. It sells itself, doesn't it?"
The new hire chimed in again. "Perhaps many locals don't really know us. Why don't we push some info out into the community? You know, do a public relations campaign. Maybe in the process we could uncover what are the needs of our neighbors?" This seemed to set off a round of murmuring while some around the table nodded in agreement.
The eldest spoke up now, "the best public relations method is to build meaningful relationships," he said energetically. Sure, we need to focus. Yes, we need to keep up the integrity and quality of our product. But its all about relationships."
The room went awkwardly quiet.
Just then, Mom and Pop's youngest joined the conversation. "I don't quite get that. I mean, we are all nice people around this table. Right? Each of us has a cadre of relationships that we nurture. If good public relations occur through personal relationships, why are we not loved in the community? If all we need to do is to keep doing what we doing (in the name of good relationships) how will we ever turn our current reputation on its head?"
He turned to the second eldest. "Furthermore and with all due respect" he continued, "products don't actually sell themselves. If this were the case, our product would be flying off the shelf. But that is not our current state of affairs is it? We started this conversation about our reputation but perhaps this topic dovetails with another pressing issue; namely, the current stagnation in sales. Our sales have really waned over the last couple of years."
"Well" said the eldest, "I see that our time is up. Let's review the items we need to order for next week and be dismissed."
And so, the weekly meeting ended precisely on time. Just as it did when Mom and Pop were running the store.