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Broken Windows, Broken Business
How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards

by Michael Levine

      Do you ever notice dirty storefront windows and worn carpeting in your favorite restaurant? Do you find quality customer service in short supply? Do you continue to frequent businesses with poor service or inadequate products? In Broken Windows, Broken Business, author Michael Levine explains that businesses' broken windows, or flaws, cause customers to feel neglected, ignored, or mistreated.

Levine clearly outlines the problems of well-known businesses and the broken windows that lead to their path of deterioration. Businesses that ignore their broken windows lose their customers and revenue. Do you remember Kmart's blue-light specials? Customers found great bargains and enjoyed the race across the store. Do you know what pulled the plug on the blue-light? The answer might surprise you. Do your children beg for the newest Happy Meal toy? How many times did you get the advertised toy? McDonald's restaurants display numerous broken windows including missing toys, dirty restrooms, and lackluster customer service.

Successful businesses fix broken windows or anticipate them so they do not get broken. What do the Nordstrom piano and Ikea's Ball Room have in common? A simplistic answer is that both companies understand their customers' needs. How did a search engine become a verb? Did you Google today? Sometimes, a business needs to make small changes. Solutions may include replacing worn carpeting or firing an ineffective staff member.

Broken Windows, Broken Business is based on a criminology theory. A house with a broken window gives the perception of high criminal activities and highlights the neighborhood's apathy. Ignoring businesses' broken windows shows similar apathy. Levine demonstrates that every aspect of a business needs obsessive and compulsive attention. His theory delves beyond the axiom that the customer is always right. Reading from my Sociology background and as a potential business owner, I loved the explanations, research, and well-written advice. Now, I leave places with a judgment of "too many broken windows" or "no broken windows there"! Levine covers failures and successes of different owners and from storefronts to Internet businesses. Owners of all businesses should devour the steps in Broken Windows, Broken Business to ensure their windows stay intact!

The Book

Warner Business Groups
November 2005
Non-fiction, Business
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The Reviewer

Jennifer Akers
Reviewed 2005
© 2005