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Al Smith

published on March 13, 2017 - 8:46 AM
Written by Al Smith

I now enjoy movies via a super-sized TV screen in the comfort of my modern living room. Evidently, I am not alone.

According to a recent CBS News poll, today’s movies are being seen in brick-and-mortar theaters by only 10 percent of consumers. Meanwhile 72 percent (like me) are now watching on their modern home television set and 14 percent (not me) are now catching the flick on the computer or smart pad.  

But — it was Oscar season. I was seduced by the hype and recently went to see Oscar favorite “La La Land.” While I knew the price of movies had gone up, I took special note of what this experience cost me. Two movie tickets cost $20 (senior discount); another $20 for a “small” sized popcorn, an Icee and a coke. Total: more than $40.

Wow! Things surely have changed in this modern times. In 1955 the average cost of a movie ticket was 49 cents and popcorn and coke cost a nickel each. It wasn’t until the 1970s that tickets cost more than a dollar. Today the average cost is $8.20 and don’t even get me started on popcorn and a coke.

At these prices one can understand why your living room might be the best entertainment value there is. So, what is this telling us?

On a larger scale, what does that say about business in general? Particularly businesses that have “always done it this way?”

Brick-and-mortar businesses are going through a huge metamorphous. J.C. Penney just announced it will close 140 stores; Sears is closing 150 and Macy’s 68. Meanwhile, Amazon is hiring more than 100,000 new employees. “Hello? There is a message there.”

Recently I purchased a few shirts, some books, CDs, home and office equipment, some cologne for the wife — all in the comfort of my easy chair.

Instead of taking the time of driving to one of my favorite shopping centers, finding a parking spot usually far from the entrance, going into several different stores, rummaging through various racks or cases and standing in line to check out, modern day technology helps me to just click a button and within two days Amazon had the packages at my doorstep.

Now, I am aware there are those who love to shop. I am married to one. But I have never been a shopper. I am a buyer. I see it. I want it. I buy it!

If one is to survive in this current business world, we had better start rethinking how we conduct transactions.  

Recently, I just finished reading Michael Hyatt’s book, “Platform — Getting Noticed in a Noisy World.” I highly recommend it. It touches on how crowded the economy has become; what changes are taking place; ways to break through and putting in place methods that are more applicable to this shifting commercial world.

What the customer wants, where he/she wants it and how to acquire it, are vastly different from the good old days of 49-cent movie tickets and nickel popcorn. If we want to survive, those of us in business better take note.

If legendary retailer Marshall Field is still correct that “the customer is king,” those of us in the business world better make sure we know to which multiple thrones they are worshipping.

Al Smith, former president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, serves as a leadership coach for local companies as part of the John C. Maxwell leadership-training program. For more information, contact Smith at alsmith@alsmithpartners.com.


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