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Deep Phobias, Hockey Masks and Customer Service


Ahhhhhh……Friday the 13th!

Besides being intrinsically linked with homicidal maniac Jason, Friday the 13th is also dreaded by many as one of the unluckiest days on the calendar. In an odd juxtaposition, it is also viewed as a great day to have a party if you are, say, the proud owner of a motorcycle with an affinity for the Port Dover area.


And other than a slew of interesting, sometimes tragic, events that have occurred on Fridays the 13th throughout 

history(No! I was NOT born on this day!), what does the 13th have to do with operating a successful small business? As it turns out, plenty!

Do you know that there is an actual name for the fear of Friday the 13th? It’s ‘friggatriskaidekaphobia’! (Friggatriskaidekaphobia! Friggatriskaidekaphobia! Friggajgljgjhhfytrijgjkgjhkjgy! Ooooops!). Okay then, if you knew that, then you probably know that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 million people suffer from this affliction! TWENTY million!

It’s also been estimated that nearly a billion dollars of business is lost each Friday the 13th because people are too afraid to conduct any financial transactions, or in some extreme cases, are even too afraid to get out of bed in the morning because of the certainty that bad things will happen to them!

But is Friday the 13th really unlucky? Well, according to the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics, there are ‘fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft’ on days when the 13th falls on a Friday than on other days of the calendar. Their conclusion? Because it’s Friday the 13th, people are generally more careful in their day-to-day activities. In other words, statistically speaking, driving on Friday the 13th for example, is slightly safer than performing this routine activity on any other day of the year – unless Carol Leeming happens to be on the road in her truck! Thankfully, that’s not usually to be the case as this Motorcycle Mama is just as likely to be on her way to Port Dover!

But again, how does this translate into one’s business? Well, if you’re an automobile dealership, it might be harder to close sales on Friday the 13th because your potential customers may be less inclined to take a test drive fearing that they may be more likely to get involved in a fender-bender. In this case, it may not be the fear of injury so much as the predicament they would find themselves in after having crashed a car they did not own.

Speaking of cars, what about making major purchases in general? Customers may subconsciously shy away from buying a television, lawn mower, cell phone, car, Ipad and etc. simply because of the perceived bigger chance of buying a lemon! Even with guarantees, most consumers would prefer NOT to have to deal with the hassle of returning a defunct purchase.

What about consumers who want to buy a pet? Or take a trip? How many people would feel really comfortable booking a flight on Friday the 13th? Oh sure! Everyone says they don’t believe in that stuff but…betcha they can find any number of reasons to put that reservation off until Saturday!

So, what’s my point? Only that there are lots of reasons why business ebbs and flows. Very few of them are as simple as, “it’s the economy, silly!” More often than not, it’s the customer service (about 68% of the time according to a well-known Harvard Business School study). In other words, at the end of the day, your business will be much better off if you know what makes your customers tick. How they feel about certain things or react in specific circumstances. And even, what deep, dark subconscious phobias they might have that will affect your ability to do business with them – especially if they don’t know about these things themselves! Beware! You can’t always just educate your consumers out of their ‘irrational’ fears. However, you do have a much better chance at success if at least, you know where they’re coming from.

In the meantime, it is NEVER unlucky to read our Small Business Success Newsletter and I’ve conveniently attached April’s edition to this email.


I’ve also got a few more ‘bits & bites’ to share with you:

1.   Reach For Success Recruitment Program – Perfect for Employers looking to add another set of hand to help out at little or no cost. Begins April 23rd so act quickly (Flyer attached). Contact Kim Postma at 519.235.0471 x 25 for more information and registration;

2.   Simply Accounting Training – The Centre for Employment & Learning is offering a Simply Accounting course starting … Whoops!!!….tomorrow!!! ACT FAST!!! There is a flyer attached for more information. A few spaces remain so while I’ll stop short of recommending, ‘just show up tomorrow at 8:30am’, you might want to consider just showing up in Exeter tomorrow at 8:30am (or a little earlier) to see if you can get in! There are about 4 spots left! At worse, even if they fill up before you get there, you’ll be driving to a lovely community where you can spend a little time shopping, looking for white squirrels, and eating breakfast or lunch at one of their fine restaurants;

3.   Would You Put ‘Umm’ On Your Business Card? Join Jeremy Tracey at Clinton’s REACH Centre on Tuesday, April 17th (7pm) for the next instalment of our Better Business Workshop Series. Jeremy promises to help you learn how to better communicate what you can do for your customers. I guess he believes that better communication leads to higher sales. You know, he may be RIGHT! Get off your KEASTER, it’s no longer EASTER, and REGISTER today at 519.527.0305. Pre-registration is required! The workshops series flyer is attached for your information;

4.   If you’ve read this far, then take comfort in the fact that you’re one of the first to know that the Huron Business Development Corporation is launching a ‘Customer Service Excellence Program’ for Huron County businesses! Details are to be finalized this weekend but the first training date is set for May 1st 2012 and the session will be held here in Town at the Seaforth Legion. More details to follow on Monday. Stay tuned!


That’s it folks! Have a wonderful weekend! Get outside, enjoy the sunshine and zippy air and in the evening, cuddle up with that special someone, fur-covered or not, a bowl of popcorn, and watch at least ONE Friday the 13th movie. Guaranteed to delight and scare!!


Your neighbour,

Jim Niesen

Business & Loans Manager



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