Jersey Mike’s Manager Conducts Master Class in Humanity & Customer Relations

This is a true story from this week.

A woman who has technically been a senior citizen for some years now yet who is quite robust and spry for her numerical age, wearing a face mask, walked into a Jersey Mike’s sub shop in suburban Denville, New Jersey on a weekday afternoon shortly after lunch time.

“My husband hasn’t been doing well and we’re on our way home from a doctor’s appointment. I asked him what he’d like to eat and he said Jersey Mike’s. Done, I said. We’d like a number 7, Giant, with Mike’s Way, and if you can make it a good one I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.”

The man behind the counter listened, looked at this woman and responded: “This one’s on me.”

The woman did not understand. “What do you mean? The employee explained: “I’d like to treat you to your sandwich. It’s on the house. No charge.”

Clearly taken aback, the woman declined. “Thank you very much. That’s very kind and generous. I appreciate it. However, I’m able to take care of this. I’ll tell you what. How about you pay it forward. One day someone else will come in who’s truly in need and you can give them a free sandwich.”

When it was time to pay the bill, the woman noticed the total was much lower than what that sandwich would normally cost. “Excuse me, I think you may have made a mistake ringing up my order. This sandwich usually costs much more.”

He replied: “Yes, you’re right. Since you wouldn’t let us treat you to the sandwich, we took 25% off.”

Credit: Jersey Mike’s Facebook

It turns out that the man working at Jersey Mike’s is named Tom, and he’s the manager. This particular location has only been open a month or so, and perhaps he’s keen on building positive word of mouth. I’d like to think he’s just a good human being.

So why am I sharing this story? There is important meaning, both for business and in life.

4 Business & Life Takeaways
from
Jersey Mike’s Manager, Tom

  • Listen to your customers. Okay, you’re not going to provide free products or services too often, if ever. That’s not the point. If you really listen and pay attention, you might learn something that helps your business. If not today, then down the road. You may also decide to take an immediate action based on what you’ve heard and how you assess the situation.
  • Lead and develop. Give your employees and team some operation and decision-making freedom and flexibility. Teach them how to apply the values and business practices important to you and your company.
  • Small things matter. This woman is going to tell the story to all her friends and family. She started doing it on the ride home from Jersey Mike’s. This is goodwill and super positive word of mouth for this Jersey Mike’s shop and for the Jersey Mike’s brand. It may not tally up as ROI on a spreadsheet, but it’s still good business.
  • Be a good person. Whether in business or in life, try to do the right things. We all make mistakes and none of us are perfect, yet over time it’s usually easy to tell who the good people are versus the “fill-in-the-blank adjective” people. When you try to do the right things, good things often happen. Plus, you’ll just feel better.

Thank you, Tom, for the kind gesture, providing an uplifting experience to someone who could use one and for being a good person! I hope your Jersey Mike’s store is a great success.


Harvey Chimoff is a customer-focused global business leader who connects marketing across the organization to drive performance and achieve business objectives. His marketing expertise includes B2B, CPG brand management and consulting. Contact him at harveychimoff.com.

Make it Easy (Easier) for Customers to Interact and Buy More

We’ve all been frustrated at times how hard it is to have a direct communication with the company we’re doing or trying to do business with.

This happens despite technology enabling all kinds of communication options.

Still, for many business entities, the question remains: how do you know what your customer really thinks, or wants?

There are many ways to understand customer sentiment, including mining social media activity, assessing inbound website questions, responding to call/contact center interactions, conducting research surveys, and establishing a net promoter score program. The approaches require different levels of commitment, investment and execution.

There is one thing that every company or organization should be able to do to increase sales potential and/or learn more about what’s happening with their customers: make it easy for the customer or potential customer to get in touch.

With so much of today’s customer journey happening during pre-purchase analysis and investigation, having a top-notch website is critical. Sometimes that’s not enough and the customer still has questions and/or needs direct communication. If you are not able to satisfy that information need, you may lose a potential sale or even worse, it may go to a competitor. In addition, the communication need can arise at some point after the purchase has been made.


Consider two action steps, one that is designed for both pre- and post-purchase interaction, and the other for post-purchase customer relationship maximization. Each should not be overly difficult to implement.

  1. Put contact information in an easy-to-find place on your website, be that a phone number, chat option, email address, contact form or social media account links.
  1. For post-purchase customer satisfaction, one tactic that impressed me recently was from Anker, the self described “global leader in charging technology.” Anker takes advantage of the product shipping occasion to deliver a simple and unexpected message.

Anker includes a small card with product purchases, with one side marked “Happy?” and the other “Not happy?”

The “happy” section says:

  • “We’re just happy that you’re happy. If you don’t know how to express your newfound joy, we’ve got a few suggestions …”
Photo: Harvey Chimoff

The suggestions are share the news (meaning be a recommender or influencer); write a review on Amazon; and connnect with Anker on social media platforms. Okay, if you think this part of the card comes across as overly playful, remember this: positive word of mouth is one of the most effective sales and marketing actions! There’s no shame encouraging it.

The “not happy” section says this:

  • “Our friendly customer service team will work hard to put a smile back on your face. Here’s how we can connect.” There are USA and international phone numbers, an email address, and a website support URL.
Photo: Harvey Chimoff

By the way, the “Contact Us” section on Anker’s website lists a range of USA and international contact options.

Whatever customer interaction approach you choose, have a ready-to-respond system in place and activated. This can be as simple as designating a member of the team to monitor, directly respond or coordinate a timely response. Otherwise, you may need the “Not happy” cards.



Harvey Chimoff is a customer-focused global business leader who connects marketing across the organization to drive performance and achieve business objectives. His B2B and CPG marketing expertise includes agribusiness, ingredients and food and beverage. Contact him at harveychimoff.com.

Ask This Question to Beat Your Competition

Business is a hard competition. Sometimes it’s winner take all. Often, it’s dividing an existing market. Once in a while, it’s sharing an expanding market.

Regardless, any business team worth its mettle is spending at least some time determining how to go to market better, maintain share leadership, increase share or build a new business. They’re also thinking about how to beat their competitors. That means you!

An executive at Dick’s Sporting Goods demonstrates how to practically boil down such critical strategic and competitor assessments. Steve Miller, SVP of Strategy, Ecommerce and Analytics, asks this powerful question, per Lisa Lacy writing in Adweek:

  • “If there was a store that would open next to us that would scare us, what would that store look like?”

This is simple. Direct. Easy for everyone to understand. So incredibly useful.

Do you and your team think this way? Do you ask yourselves this type of powerful, direct question? Or, are you hung up in fancy, time-consuming exercises that nobody likes to do and no one will look at afterwards?


The Dick’s question is a good example of “scenario planning,” an approach that I’ve found helpful in my career. When organized properly, this type of activity is practical and effective, and can easily be repeated as necessary. Some related question examples:

  • “Wow. If our competitor did X, that would really scare us. What proactive steps should we take for competitive protection?”
  • “You know, if we took action A, we’d really increase sales and profits and position ourselves for sustained success.”
  • What do we expect our competitors to do in the next six months? How would we be prepared to act?

Framing your question(s) is critical for success, and how you do that depends on your particular business dynamics and personal style. You’ll want to create excitement and interest, though, so go with direct, conversational language.

For maximum effect, try this question:

  • “If we did X, we’d really drive our business forward and kick our competitor’s butt.”

Encourage your teams to adopt this type of business mindset for direct assessment, and both strategic and opportunistic thinking and action. Conduct regular sessions, whether informal or a bit more formal, to capture ideas and concerns, make improvements, and take advantage of opportunities.

Just remember, whether or not you think this way and ask these kind of questions, your competitors almost certainly are! They want to win now, too.



Harvey Chimoff is a customer-focused global business leader who connects marketing across the organization to drive performance and achieve business objectives. His B2B and CPG marketing expertise includes agribusiness, ingredients and food and beverage. Contact him at harveychimoff.com.