Friday, May 30, 2008

Why is gas so expensive?

Simple answer: it's because oil is expensive, right?

Pretty much. But why is oil so expensive?

There the answer gets more complicated. Are we running out? Is someone hoarding? Are India and China drinking it all? I'll leave those answers to others. But here's one answer that may make things slightly more clear.

Oil is always traded in dollars. No matter where you buy a barrel of oil in the world you have to pay the man in greenbacks. That means the value of our dollar has a direct effect on how we perceive oil's price. When the dollar devalues the price of oil goes up for us because it takes more cash to buy a barrel. Similarly, when the dollar increases in value the price of oil goes down for us.

As we know, the dollar has devalued--like crazy! Let's go back six years. In 2002, oil cost $25 per barrel. The Euro and the dollar were at parity (one dollar bought one Euro). Fast forward to 2008. Oil costs $125 per barrel. But it now takes $1.60 to buy one Euro. The dollar has devalued. The price of oil had to go up. How much of the oil price rise can be explained by the devaluation? Well, you can just look at Europe. They only pay 75 Euros per barrel. If we were still at parity that's what we'd pay, too. In other words, $125 - 75 = $45 of the price increase of oil--almost half the $100 increase--can be explained by the dollar's devaluation.

Removing dollar devaluation, the price of oil has tripled in six years. Sounds bad, sure. But historically it's not unique.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gift Card Graph (Fixed Link)

Jessica Hagy is a conceptual artist who makes
interesting graphs on index cards.

This one makes me think about our customers,
and whether it's true for some, maybe not for others?

You can see more of Jessica's work here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's down with revenue?

Puns aside, we don't know.

Mother's Day week's revenue came in 6% below last year. That's only the fourth week we've fallen below last year's numbers since January 1st. All our other weeks have been well above 2007. In fact, at the end of April – even though we were down compared to plan – we were up 12% over last year for the winter/spring season (all of 2008). Lots of businesses would give a kidney to have growth like that.

Because we share financial numbers I know bad sales news has a tendency to seep into your bloodstream like cough syrup. It makes us numb, groggy, a little depressed. Don't let it get you down too much, though. As Betty likes to say, "It is what it is." We move on. Our food is good, our service is great, these blips and blops will pass. Hopefully I'll have an answer for what the dilly happened with the revenue soon. In the meantime stick to the things you know you can improve; focus on the sphere you influence around you. Keep giving great service on the phone and to each other. Keep knocking down code reds to reduce mistakes. Eat some of the great lunch Colin has been making.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oprah & NPR, The Last Check In.

Answers to a couple questions people have asked:

Q: Does this data include or exclude Zingerman's folks looking at or using the site at work?
A: It includes them.

Q: How does this compare to other days?
A: I don't know. We just started getting this data Friday! (when we moved our website to our new host, IAS).

Q: Did the NPR visitors buy things?
A: I hope so, but I don't know. The problem is this: we often don't know where people come from when they shop online. There are only three ways we can tell.
1) We already have their address (then they usually come because of a mailing)
2) We gave them an offer and they needed a code to get the deal, or
3) They clicked through a Google Ad we bought.
If they didn't match one of these three we can't tell how they found us. It's a mystery.

Friday: 2,119
Saturday: 2,857
Sunday: 3,979
Monday so far: 3,227

45 lbs of BBQ Beef Brisket
119 Challah Buns
21 Pints of Beans
77 Pickles


Sunday, May 11, 2008

50 and 12 Hours Later

50 hours after Oprah, 12 hours after the NPR story (which seems to have spiked our web attendance even more), here are the numbers from ZMO:

Friday: 2,119
Saturday: 2,857
Sunday so far: 3,544

40 lbs of BBQ Beef Brisket
103 Challah Buns
20 Pints of Beans
79 Pickles


Saturday, May 10, 2008

28 Hours Later

28 hours after Oprah, here are the numbers from ZMO:

Friday: 2,139
Saturday so far: 2,417
Friday's peak hour: 500
Saturday's peak hour: 600

32 lbs of BBQ Beef Brisket
81 Challah Buns
16 Pints of Beans
75 Pickles


Friday, May 9, 2008

Oprah, Hour 2

It's 2 hours after Oprah's major airing. Here are some numbers from deep inside the heart of ZMO:

1-2 pm: 100
2-3 pm: 80
4-5 pm: 500
5-6 pm: 250

14 lbs of BBQ Beef Brisket
33 Challah Buns
8 Pints of Beans
41 Pickles


We're calling it a light wave here, no Oprah tsunami. We'll keep you updated tomorrow around the same time. Thanks for everyone who has been helping!