Management at Sleepy’s

Seth Godin has this story to tell about a mattress store chain:

It’s a post about the phone on the Sleepy’s salesman’s desk. Our sales guy, who was outstanding by the way, explained that all 400 stores in the chain are owned by one guy, and that the instructions are clear: if there’s anything in the store, anything important, that’s broken and not fixed within 72 hours (including policies, prices, inventory, whatever), his job is to pick up the phone and dial 300.

And Harry Acker, the owner, the billionaire, answers. “This is Harry.” And you tell him and he fixes it.

Mobile Web Communities

Dana Blankenhorn writes:

Over time, the mobile Internet will become more-and-more like the laptop Internet. But right now the economics are quite different. It’s time to take advantage of this.

No one has yet succeeded in this, but here’s the trick.

1. Create a vertical community on the Web, database-driven, filled with interaction, free but requesting PII (personally identifiable information).
2. Deliver mobile services aimed at that community, advertised on the Web site (and elsewhere online).

This is not an easy dollar. It takes an immense amount of free content to build a community, along with software that scales this intimacy, that enables people to create their own worlds based on the free content. Only after you’ve engaged in such a world will you gladly pay to put parts of it in your hand.

What you need to do, first, is to gain a solid relationship with mobile carriers. This is not easy to do. It’s a high hurdle to jump. It’s a barrier to competition. You need to practically guarantee volume. That’s the only way to get your costs down to the point where the mobile business becomes profitable.