Fast Food Funk

sad burgerWe talked last week about people’s favorite fast food joints, with Chick fil A coming in at #1, and Hardee’s at #20. Here is the flip side. An article in Business Insider reports on a survey done by Morgan Stanley asking folks, “If you have stopped going to a certain fast food place, or you’re thinking about quitting…Why?” The answers ranged from Too Expensive, to Quality Going Downhill, to Eating Healthier, and so on. See if any of these sound familiar to you…

Why Would You/Did You Quit…

  • McDonalds: Eating healthier, don’t trust quality, artificial ingredients
  • Starbuck’s: Too expensive
  • Red Lobster: Too expensive
  • Burger King: Quality, service decline
  • Domino’s: Boring, unappealing menu

Now, these are subjective, personal opinions. They don’t always reflect facts on the ground. For more on that, read this piece about how Millennials gripe and complain and disparage McD’s…but they eat there far more than any other place! Anyway, lots more at the original piece, so check it out!

So, how about you? Have you cut back on fast food? Any place in particular? Why? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!





Radio Shack, Over and Out

radio shackIt looks like it’s curtains for a retailer with a long, troubled history…

Radio Shack, whose roots trace back more than 90 years — will go on the auction block. The Fort Worth company, once a haven for ham radios and walkie-talkies, but which never fully embraced the digital age, is facing a live or die moment. USA Today

Maybe it’s a guy thing, or a guy-of-a-certain-age thing, but I have a LOT of memories of Radio Shack. As a kid, it was Heathkit DIY projects (“build your own crystal radio for some reason!”)

Later, as an adult, there was a Radio Shack across from my TV studio in Indiana. We kept that place afloat by constantly replacing the video and audio connectors that would roll underneath furniture. We were too lazy to get down on the floor and find them because, hey, we had a RadioShack across the street (and a corporate account!)

So what are some mistakes that doomed Radio Shack? CBS News addresses this in an article entitled “Five Mistakes that Doomed Radio Shack.”

  • The cell phone kiosk: Really got into cellphone services, but in the 90s, signing up a customer took 45 minutes, tying up the sales staff. (As we know, signing up for a phone only takes 40 minutes today!)
  • Failing to ramp up on e-commerce: One of the last big retailers to offer shopping from their website.
  • Weird mix of inventory: These stores were SMALL. They had tough choices to make, and they often chose poorly.
  • Marketing confusion: You need only to remember that bizarre 80s commercial with Cliff the Mailman and Hulk Hogan from last year’s Super Bowl.
  • Failing to catch onto the Maker movement: Finally, when this hipster/artisan/DIY craze hits, aiming right for Radio Shack’s historic roots, they failed to recognize it.

So, lots of missteps. What’s the future? They are hoping to keep some store open, somehow. I hope they do, mainly because of the JOBS. What do you think? Are you a Radio Shack fan? Me, despite my nostalgia, haven’t been inside one in YEARS. Any thoughts? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!

This Fast Food Survey is Making Me Hungry

hamburgerThere’s talk of a fast food backlash, but I don’t know. McDonalds is certainly hurting; Millennials just don’t want to go there. Others are doing OK, however, and it’s not just the new upstarts. Old warhorses like Dairy Queen are getting excellent scores in public opinion.

A recent survey asked 10,000 people to rate fast food chains, and here are the top 20 achievers for 2015:

  • Chick-fil-A
  • Papa John’s
  • Dairy Queen
  • Panera Bread
  • Subway
  • Sonic Drive-In
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Pizza Hut
  • Popeye’s
  • Taco Bell
  • Starbucks
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Wendy’s
  • Arby’s
  • Little Caesar’s
  • Domino’s
  • Panda Express
  • KFC
  • Burger King
  • Hardees

It’s a pretty tight spread, with #1 Chick-fil-A earning 82% satisfaction, and #20 Hardees earning 72. By the way, McDonalds was in 21st place. Of course, your mileage will vary. Asking folks to describe their feelings is a pretty subjective thing!

How about you? Does this look like a good list? Any of your favorites missing? Any here surprise you? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

St. Patrick’s Day Stats 2015

st patsLet go of my Lucky Charms, and listen up! Here’s where all your “green” will go this year on St. Patrick’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation:

How are we celebrating?

  • 82% will wear green
  • 30% make a special dinner
  • 29% attend a party at a bar or restaurant
  • 29% decorate the home or office
  • 19% attend a private party

How much are we spending?

  • $4.8 billion in spending
  • $36.52 per person
  • $245 million spent on beer

AND THE RADDEST STATISTIC OF ALL: Dentist visits spike by 64% on the day after St. Pat’s due to getting punched in the mouth during bar fights! MSN Money

How about you? Any special plans for St Pat’s (other than visiting the dentist on Wednesday?) Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page! Have a good weekend and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Stressing Over Money

dollarPretty much everybody stresses about their personal finances to some degree. These days, it’s only natural to wonder how you would cope if you or your spouse lost a job, had a big medical expense, etc.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece out today, entitled “5 Tips for Passing a Personal-Finance Stress Test.” Here are the bullet points…

  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: How much money comes and goes out each month
  • Discretionary Expenses: Which things can you cut back (gym membership) and which you can’t (your mortgage.)
  • Emergency Savings: Enough to pay 3 months of expenses at the minimum
  • Additional Income: Cutting grass? Paper route? Sell your stuff? Etc.
  • Total Assets: Everything you own, divided by monthly expenses, to see how much cushion you have

There’s more info at the original piece, so check it out!

Figuring out where you stand in your personal finances may not change any facts on the ground. You may not like the result, but it can help erase the uncertainty and maybe help you focus on solutions.

So, have YOU done an inventory like this? Did it help you focus and make some changes? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Practical Savings Tips

changeThey say that we aren’t saving enough for the proverbial rainy day. But saving is hard for many folks. It’s a habit that must be learned, and we have to stick to it for it to make a difference.

So, what are some saving strategies we can try? This article, “13 Easy Ways to Save Money From Robert Kiyosaki, Clark Howard and Others,” has a few ideas, some better than others. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Automation: If you’re lazy like me, taking the thought out of things is a plus. Set up an automatic transfer system at your bank. When you deposit your check, send some to savings. You will forget you’re even doing it, and you might be surprised at how much you are saving.

Save your change: I am a total change-saver! I have a glass 1-gallon apple cider jug and every time I walk in the house, the change goes in. Last time I counted, there was $150 in there. That’s a nice emergency fund, or fix a flat tire money, or vacation money. Try it out!

As I said, some of their examples are a little bogus. “How did you make your millions?”….”I met a need in the marketplace.” Er, thanks? Still there is some useful stuff in the article. Check it out!

How about you? Are you saving? Do you have any tricks to share? Let us know at the MindField Online Facebook page!

Customer Satisfaction: Who Stands Out?

shopcartA big study just came out. It interviewed 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate their recent interactions with 293 companies across 20 industries and then evaluated their experiences across three dimensions: success, effort, and emotion.”

Who are the big winners? Grocery stores, as a whole, get the highest marks. Publix takes the top spot. I have to say, I do like the overall vibe of Publix, but MAN! That experience comes at a high price! Interestingly, the grocery store Aldi also placed highly. Um, has Aldi changed? I remember it as the bare-bones, no-frills store that carries all the foreign knock-offs of your favorite products, e.g., the detergent in the orange box is called “Surf” instead of “Tide.” Must be a price thing? I can see how that would score these days!

Other achievers, getting positive ratings, include fast food, retailers, parcel delivery services, and banks. Meanwhile, Internet service providers, TV service providers, and health plans received “poor” ratings.

As for “movers,” companies that have improved or gotten worse, Residence Inn, US Cellular, and JetBlue Airlines moved up, while Subaru dealers, TD Ameritrade, and Buick dealers went down.

How about you? What do you look for in a retailer? How do you define customer satisfaction? Who’s at the top of YOUR list? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page, and have a great weekend!

Best Deals for March 2015

MARCH DEALSEach month, we take a look at the best deals/bargains/values for that month, as well as the items to avoid. So here are your buy/avoid links for March 2015!

So, what’s your best bet for March values? Anything to do with Spring cleaning. Frozen food (March is Frozen Food Month, because there is a month for everything!) Winter clothes. Anything to do with travel, because we are sick of sitting in the house all winter. Last year’s electronics – especially Android devices. Post-Valentines (but pre-Easter!) chocolate. It is also a slow time for home improvement contractors, so they are looking for work and ready to deal!

Now for your linking pleasure, here is the rundown from sources across the fruited plain.

Was this helpful? Did they miss any March deals? Let us know over at the MindField Online Facebook page!