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Business Review My 2 Cents

Dollar General locations limit store hours due to being understaffed

Stephy Says 💋at 6:46 P.M. on a Wednesday night, my mother & I arrived at Dollar General in Boykins, VA to find the store doors were locked while the lights were still on. Several customers aside from my mother & I patiently waited for the store to reopen, assuming that the locked doors were temporary; particularly because there wasn’t a note posted on the door to let us know otherwise. However, what we did find on the door was store hours posted with timeframes of 8:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M daily. As seen in the picture above from the Google business listing, the closing time should have been 10:00 P.M, yet at 15 minutes until 7:00 P.M, customers were locked out.

Customers began getting out of their parked vehicles approaching one another to get answers about the status of the store, all while other customers continued to pull into the parking lot. The newcomers to our unplanned parking lot party followed suit & got out of their vehicles to ask us questions. None of us had any answers. 

Two cars were parked & empty, which we assumed were the employees. A particular flustered customer was determined to get to the bottom of the issue, & walked to the door & knocked. No one answered or responded. He took out his cell phone & called another DG location. After finishing his phone call, he turned to the waiting audience & said, “they said nobody wanted to come to work, so they closed.” 

One customer suggested to another customer that she should consider driving to another DG location, only for her to inform us that the Dollar General in Rich Square, NC was closed as well. 

Something as simple as a loaf of bread had to be involuntarily forfeited due to lack of staff. 

Due to lack of communication & lack of consideration, a phone call to the corporate office was made. To our surprise, the corporate office wasn’t aware of the early store closing & commented that the District Manager would be contacted. This made me curious as to just how many times local Dollar General locations have closed without permission or knowledge from their superiors. 

The frustration from customers tonight was not solely due to tonight’s fiasco, but rather the fact that this has been a recurring issue for quite some time. Imagine driving numerous miles & using gas only to arrive at Dollar General & find a handwritten note on the door saying, “We closed at 3” in black permanent marker. You did all of that work, just to find out you wasted your time. Well, at least there was a note that time, right?

Another customer stated that during a fairly recent experience, price tags & barcode prices were conflicting, & she was met with poor customer service when it was mentioned. This was yet another inconvenience & poor shopping experience for that customer.

There are times that there are no shopping bags, the cold box is broken, boxes are full, shelves are empty; all due to lack of staff.

In my personal experience, I’ve visited Dollar General’s in Franklin, Courtland, Boykins, & Wakefield to find that they closed way earlier than scheduled or expected, again due to being understaffed.

On the contrary, I have been told by a manager that when Dollar General actually has the workers, the corporate office will not allow them the necessary hours to get the work done. Supposedly, the refusal of increased store hours is due to customers not completing customer surveys that are located on the bottom of receipts. Basically, stores close early because corporate won’t let them stay open any longer, & it’s our own fault. 

Like many other businesses, Covid negatively affected their business, but the inconsistency of store hours & the lack of posted notices regarding changes inconveniences customers & may cause loss of business. 

Employees are not to blame, including managers, because there are only so many hours the body will allow one individual to work. I’m not judging. Trust me, I’ve personally spent enough money in DG during the hours their doors are open to own a franchise.

Hopefully, if enough phone calls & complaints are called into the corporate office, they will provide their staff with adequate staffing & hours. If you decide to contact them, have the store location or store number readily available. 

Contact Dollar General Corporate Headquarters at 1-615-855-4000 to report complaints or grievances..

Categories
My 2 Cents

A Cure to COVID: Suffer Now or Later?

Stephy Says 💋 first of all: I’m sick of COVID. Sick of hearing about it. Sick of talking about it. Sick of working in it. But, it’s still here…therefore, so am I.

With that being said…

2020 hit us all like a ton of bricks as life as we knew it changed so quickly & drastically. COVID-19 reared its head in the most unimaginable way possible. When the Corona virus made news headlines, let’s admit—none of us really took it seriously. I mean after all, we have seen & lived through the H1N1 Swine flu, H5N1 Bird Flu, Ebola, & Zika; not to mention old school outbreaks like Polio, Measles, Chicken Pox, Whooping Cough, & Tuberculosis. This outbreak would come & go like the others, right? Wrong!

COVID-19 made an appearance & proved that it was here to stay. We witnessed laws change, courthouses close, DMVs shut down, approval of to-go alcohol beverages, schools close its doors, jobs furloughed, utility bills & rent be forgiven, & generous funds (stimulus checks) be provided by the government. Who would have ever thought this would happen in America?

Nobody saw this coming, well except maybe the conspiracy theorists. Honestly, I will admit, I’ve listened to some of the theories—& I don’t think they are all wrong.

We went from a democratic nation fighting over toilet paper & hand sanitizer to a mandatory mask wearing social distancing with a curfew new world order country—all in the blink of an eye. Tests were unavailable to confirm actual positive results & symptoms changed from strictly respiratory symptoms to flu like symptoms with a touch of “sinus infection.” Boy, 2020 had us confused.

Initially, scientists were baffled. Doctors were confused. The medical field was in shambles. And healthcare workers felt complete chaos. There was barely any PPE (personal protective equipment) & “no room in the inn” when it came to hospitals.

As far as those who contracted the virus, there was no standard treatment. Individuals were instructed to “treat the symptoms” with OTC medicines like ibuprofen & Tylenol for muscles aches/fever & hydration. Severe cases were treated with ICU hospitalizations for respiratory distress & life threatening cases ended in death.

Then, miraculously vaccinations appeared—3 different vaccines at that (Moderna, Pfizer, & Johnson & Johnson). All of which had been approved for EUA (emergency use authorization) by the FDA with CDC regulating the guidelines.

As of August 23, 2021 Pfizer became the first & only COVID vaccination approved by the FDA.

As of September 17, 2021 the FDA advisers vote against Pfizer booster shots for the general public.

8:50 pm September 17, 2021 FDA panel recommends Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shots only for people 65 and older or at high risk

Editor’s note: This post was originally published [January 9, 2021] and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

This is when everyone in the world became scientists & COVID experts.

As a healthcare professional, I pride myself on being safe, largely in part due to the life of my patients depending on me, but also for the fact that the safety & wellbeing of my patients is my priority. Also, I too like living.

With that being said, I still receive condemning scowls from individuals because I chose not to get vaccinated. I’m usually informed of the death toll from the virus, as if I’m not already aware. I’ve been called all kinds of names you can think of, people can “understand for the life of my why someone just would be so stupid not to get the vaccine.”

Personally, I have seen the news coverage, & I am aware that the numbers are inaccurate.For some reason, it is just hard for some people to accept the concept of free will or the personal choice of not participating in vaccines. I pass no judgement on anyone’s choice when it comes to their health.

I found a few of the most common reasons for people not being vaccinated:

Most people I come across were initially afraid to take the vaccine due to unknown side effects. The most common side effects seem to be fever, muscle aches, soreness or tenderness at injection site, headache, chills, & fatigue.

The other reason is this, “if I can still get COVID then why do I even need to get the shot?” (keep reading for more of my two cents)

HERE’S THE POINT I REALLY WANT TO MAKE!

The divide is not between VACCINATED & UNVACCINATED. The divide is between RESPONSIBLE & IRRESPONSIBLE.

I am unvaccinated, not irresponsible.

I wear a mask.

I wash my hands—THOROUGHLY.

I practice social distancing.

And I would still do the same if I was vaccinated.


Let’s talk vaccines.

The media does a poor job of accurately informing the general public. Overall, their goal is to entertain, not really inform. The information we receive is 3rd party. I can only imagine how many times the information has been re-written & misconstrued before being aired to viewers. They air news & headlines that provide a false certainty & a misguided sense of assurance. The statistics are fluffed up for extra excitement & a little more razzle dazzle.

Contrary to popular belief, receiving the COVID vaccination does NOT prevent an individual from contracting or spreading the virus. It merely decreases the chances of severity of symptoms & makes hospitalization less likely. With that being said, vaccinated individuals can still be positive WITH symptoms. They can also be positive WITHOUT symptoms & transmit it to others without knowing. Hence why masks for vaccinated individuals is still necessary.

The vaccines’ effectiveness is supposed to allegedly last about 6 months. I’ve seen people test positive within 3 months or less of receiving their 2nd dose. Am I surprised? No, because I understand that vaccines do not prevent the virus nor the spread of it.

Here are some facts:

A modest percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get Covid-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes it,” Dr. Walensky said in the email.

THE VACCINES WERE DESIGNED TO PREVENT SEVERE ILLNESS, NOT INFECTION.

The vaccines were intended to prevent hospitalization and death, the worst outcomes of infection, in large part the result of damage to the lungs and other organs.

https://www.nytimes.com/article/covid-breakthrough-delta-variant.html

I said all that to say this, even if you are vaccinated- please be responsible. Yes, I know you’re not responsible for anybody else’s health. However, just for decent human courtesy. It would be nice.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients come into the office upset because they are asked to wear a mask. “I got the shot.” That’s ALWAYS the response. But let me tell you this…my last 2 exposures have not been from unvaccinated people. They have been from vaccinated people who thought they were “ok” (even though they had ALL the symptoms), just because “they got the shot.” Guess who they contracted the virus from? Vaccinated people. Undoubtedly, people who were didn’t feel the need to mask up because of receiving“the shot.”

Educating about the vaccine & it’s objective is key.

My second point:

The news & the community consistently blames the unvaccinated for the spread of the virus when that is not necessarily the case.

Honestly, when the CDC decided to release the new guidelines stating fully vaccinated individuals were no longer required to wear masks, they were too trusting that Americans would be honest. The dishonest unvaccinated ones that chose to forego the mask without the vaccine were irresponsible. THOSE are the ones responsible for the spread of the virus.

That ain’t got nothing to do with me. I was still responsible. Vaccinated? No! Responsible? Yes.

What it all comes down to is being a responsible & courteous human being. Vaccinated or not, wear the mask, wash your hands, & stay outta people’s face.

If people don’t wanna get vaccinated, mind your business & stay outta their way when you see them coming.

If requirements or mandates come, that’s whack as a heart attack but let people deal with that & cross that bridge when they get to it.

There has been some talk of unvaccinated people having higher insurance premiums. Why? If I’m not sick or costing any extra bills or claims, why should it matter?

I stood in the middle of COVID care for over 70 positive patients before scientists even knew what it was or even had a vaccine to offer. I have maintained negative results the whole pandemic, & now because I refuse their precious vaccine, I should be penalized. Get outta here!

Do I agree with the mandates? Absolutely not! Because I don’t believe anyone should be “made” to do something to their body if it’s not their desire or own free will. After all, as a nurse, we were always taught that a patient has a right to refuse any form of treatment. I believe & fully support medical freedom!

A little more perspective for you:


P.S. here’s how I’ve remained negative the entire pandemic :

  • 1,000 mg Vitamin C
  • 110mg Zinc Oxide
  • Orange Juice
  • Hydration (Water)
  • 8-10 hours of sleep
  • Keep stress levels low
  • Wash hands or sanitize
  • Wearing a mask
  • Avoiding large crowds (social distancing)

Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner & not offering any medical advice. Everything in this article is strictly based upon personal experience & opinions.

Stay safe! Happy vaxxing!

Oh yeah, we thought 2020 was bad.

Welcome to 2020won… read it again🥴

As Always, Stephy Says 💋 LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE

Categories
Brand Strategy Business Branding Marketing Strategy My 2 Cents Tips

Create A Marketing Plan You Can Stick To

Stephy Says 💋, last year, I published a blog post about building your brand. In that post, I mentioned that branding is who you are & marketing is what you do. Branding is about YOU & marketing is about the CUSTOMER. I still stand firm on that statement.

Let’s start by defining the word marketing according to Oxford Languages. Marketing is a present participle of the market which means to advertise or promote something.

Marketing consists of 6 C’s: clarity, content, consistency, call to action terms, your community, & commitment.

Content Marketing examples

Before you can market effectively there are a few things to consider, especially when you think of your audience. Examples of considerations are, but not limited to: age, gender, geographical locations, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, religious preferences, education levels, etc.

To better assist you, I’ve compiled a list of thought provoking questions & tips to keep in mind prior to marketing or to enhance your marketing techniques.

In & Out Look to Successful Marketing

Prepare Your Mind for Business

Entrepreneurship is not for the weak! It will definitely test your patience & your gangsta. YOU WILL FAIL! It’s inevitable. However, you are NOT a failure! Success will come! But…it comes with a mindset.

You will need to establish a mind frame of shameless & relentless communication. Remember these 2 words: MILLIONAIRE MINDSET! Challenge your thinking!

Extroverts, this is your time to shine! For those who are innately introverted, it will feel more like over communication. You will feel uncomfortable. However, your success depends on your marketing skills, so get your mind right!

Determine your main niche ( main idea of the business or brand)

Decide what you want to do, & stick with it! Do NOT appear inconsistent. Hone in on what you have to offer. If you offer multiple products, don’t stress yourself out! You don’t have to market every single product, but rather focus on the category of your products: i.e. beauty/makeup, clothing, jewelry/watches, food/drinks, healthcare, etc.

Change strategies if current one does not yield effective results

If ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Buttttt….if your current marketing strategies aren’t bringing in the traffic you need, revamp your strategy. Go back to the drawing board & revisit the aforementioned details about your audience—age, gender, geographical location, socio-economic status. Pay close attention to analytics & stats to see where the majority of your traffic or supporters are. Create hashtags unique to your business & brand- i.e #stephysays💋

For example: Are you marketing high prices items to low economy consumers? Are you pushing your meat products to a vegan audience?

What is the need of my audience, consumer, or customer?

Identify your buyers & identify what stage they are in their buyer’s journey. The awareness stage is the point in which consumers recognize there is a need. Marketing begins here with engagement.

Buyer’s journey photo courtesy of Olsen Matrix

How can I solve their problem?

Again, buyer’s journey. After awareness comes consideration. Your marketing skills should hone in on why your products or service should be considered above all others. The final stage is the decision! Consumers should choose You!

*Fun fact: on average, a buyer will need to see your content at least 7 times before they commit to buying.

What do they not like?

This is just as important as what they do not like, & should be taken into as much consideration when marketing.

What are some items my audience, customer, or consumer love?

Is your audience attracted to bright colors, fun pictures, professional font or more fun font? Do they like personal deliveries or direct door shipping?

How will consumers pay for my products?

In other words, make it clear how payments will be accepted such as—Cash App, PayPal, Automatic draft, money order, check, credit card (Square), After Pay, Zelle, etc.

How will my consumers receive their product?

Consider all methods of delivery & make it clear to consumers before transactions are made. If possible, include it while marketing. Mail, local pick up, local drop off?

Other questions that may often be excluded but are great to consider are —Will they pay for shipping and handling or will the company cover the fee? Will you charge extra for drop offs?

✓What are you hours of operation? Are they convenient for consumers? Include your holiday hours, weekend availability, lunch or meal periods, as well as emergency access if applicable. Emergency application may be necessary for home health agencies or health care services.

Speaking of hours, be cognizant of the hours you market. Pay attention to algorithms & hours that your following base is most active.

✓ Research ways to connect with potential customers & engage. Be a life long learner! Methods of marketing are constantly evolving & changing.


FREEBIE!!

Here’s a downloadable “Can we keep you updated?” form for customers:


Really briefly, let’s talk about fresh ideas to increase your chances to gain traffic to your websites or your business!

MARKETING IDEAS & SUGGESTIONS to gain traffic & new customers:

Create swag bags (sandwich bags or ziplock bags, etc)

Keep swag bags on your person AT ALL TIMES. EVERYONE IS A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER!

Swag bags should include: Business card, sample of product (if applicable), candy (optional) or, & a thoughtful handwritten note.

Pass out bags to people you meet in the grocery store, hairdressers, bank tellers, postal employees, etc).

Write A Letter or email to Potential Customer

Sell yourself & your product. Include how consumers can contact or connect with you such as—Name, Brand name, phone number, website, social media, email, etc.

In the letter, explain what you can do for them, offer promotional discounts, share testimonials, explain why you are better than your competitors & without tearing them down. Do you have competitive prices? Let them know! Solicit donations if applicable. Lastly, offer incentives to become a customer.

Below are listed are public establishments to market your business:

Post Business Fliers

o Laundry mats

o Mobile home parks

o Apartment complexes

o Grocery store community boards

o Daycare Centers

o College Campuseso Churches

o Doctor’s Offices

o Public Library

o Car dealerships

o Gyms

o Newspaper articles

o Restaurants

o Travel Agencies, hotels, airports, etc.

To give you more leverage in the world of entrepreneurship, also consider this list below for additional opportunities to market as well as larger platforms to market.

CONSIDER THIS!

✗ Join your local Chamber of Commerce (NETWORK) !!

✗ Attend workshops and conferences on entrepreneurship

✗ Welcome wagon! Someone new to the neighbor? Welcome them with a sample of your product!

✗ Contact local hospitals that gives “freebies” to new mothers & ask if they accept outside samples.

✗ Donate a PRODUCT BASKETS to establishments for free advertising (churches, fundraisers, non=profits, etc) INCLUDE A BUSINESS CARD

✗ Bookmarks

✗ STEPHY SAYS 💋

No one likes a business that only wants to take & never gives! With that being said…

GIVE BACK!

❖ Birthday promos*Loyalty gifts

❖ Handwritten thank you cards/notes*Keep in touch!

❖ Random giveaways & free samples*Be easy to contact

❖ Wrap purchases like gifts*Schedule a little extra

❖ Customer experience

❖ Create communities for your consumers online (blog posts or open forum, private VIP groups, etc).

❖ Ask for opinions & feedback- how did we do surveys either by email, paper, or phone surveys.

❖ Welcome Packets for new customers! Thank you for being a customer, list of products or services along with prices, promo programs, etc.

Hopefully, this brief guide for beginners has been interesting & informative without it being overwhelming.

As you can probably see, marketing is a full time job & an on-going process. It takes levels of commitment, consistency, & efficiently maneuvering through criticism (from yourself & from others). I won’t lie, it can be draining of energy, but it will be worth it!

To prevent marketing from becoming a daunting task, alternate or revamp techniques to keep it interesting & appealing to you & customers.

As an entrepreneur you need to master 3 things:

Branding, marketing, & networking. Let’s talk!

If you are in need of a business coach for professional development or content marketing, you’re in luck! I’m a certified professional development coach that also happens to be certified in content marketing!

Connect with me on Social media:

Happy marketing 📬📲💻

As always, Stephy Says 💋 LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT, & SUBSCRIBE

Categories
Business Branding Marketing Strategy

Hurry! While Supplies Last for a Limited Time Only….25 Call to Actions to Increase Sales

Stephy Says 💋, I’m sure we have all visited stores or browsed online shops for retail therapy, or maybe just browsed them out of boredom with no real intent to spend money. Every once in a while, we may come across something that piques or interest that we casually toss into our cart. But… How often do we visit Amazon online or other online shops & add items to the cart just to leave them there because we hesitate to checkout?  Chance are, it happens frequently.

Why do we do this?

We do this because there is no sense of urgency. We feel as if we have time to wait. I mean, what’s the rush right? We think to ourselves, “There’s plenty in stock.” We assume that there is high supply & low demand. Sometimes the items sit so long that we start getting reminder emails.

See example pictured below. (these are my emails 😁)

The owners of the website, online store, or boutique lure us with bright colors & maybe even affordable prices, but there is no call to action, so we let those items sit in the cart.

What is a call to action?

In order for us to understand how to effectively use a CTA or the benefits of using a CTA, we must 1st understand exactly what it is. 

call to action is a marketing term, technique, or tactic that is strategically designed to prompt or stimulate an immediate response to encourage an immediate sale, purchase, or subscription. The goal is for the consumer to purchase RIGHT NOW without feeling direct overwhelming or overbearing pressure from the owner to do so. A CTA can be a single word, a phrase, or a sentence. 

By using a CTA, the owner is shouting the message “BUY IT NOT NOW, BUT RIGHT NOW!” However, the owner is doing so with a such a diplomatic approach that the consumer is unaware of the salesman like methodology.

As entrepreneurs, our marketing strategies & tactics are vital because we want our customers to shop our products or subscribe to our services. We want them to be drawn in & ready to buy, but it seems almost as if they aren’t moving fast enough. 

Take a moment to reflect on your business & your marketing strategy. Are you using CTAs?

If you are having trouble thinking of CTAs, here are a few Call to Action terms that may make potential consumers more susceptible to click that “buy now” or “checkout” button that they’ve been hesitant about. 

Call to Action verbiage

1. For limited time only…

2. While supplies last…

3. Exclusive discount…

4. For the next 24 hours…

5. Everything must go!

6. Get 20% off when you buy today!

7. Free download

8. Sale ends today

9. Don’t miss out! Start today!

10. Sign up now!

11. Call today for a free consultation!

12. Buy now, pay later!

13. Free 7 day trial

14. Join our team!

15. Book today to save!

16. Buy one get one free.

17. Back by popular demand

18. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!

19. Free shipping for qualifying orders

20. Risk free

21. This offer expires soon

22. Register now to receive unlimited access

23. Free samples!

24. Click the link to find out more!

25. You’re invited! RSVP by…

These are only a few of the many CTAs that can be used to increase both traffic & sales for your business. Remember: Create an urgency in your clients & potential consumers. Finding the most effective CTA for your business will be trial & error, but study & note which ones are most productive for your business & yields the most successful results. Consider changing them frequently or generate constant traffic. I hope this was helpful! Feel free to add the CTAs you use in the commenta below.

Happy business

As always, Stephy Says 💋 LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE ✨