All posts by RyanAlexander


Businesses should put higher priority on customer service

Nic DeCaire via Delaware Business Times

Sometimes it can be hard for me to be the customer. While I shop I am either looking for ideas to make my own company better or else critiquing the business where I spend my money.

Unfortunately, I find myself doing more critiquing than finding ideas from other companies. It makes me frustrated and confused but also upset.

I don’t understand why so many business owners don’t seem to take pride in something they’ve built and that has their name attached to it. I also don’t understand why they don’t spend time training their employees who represent them.

Consumers are part of the problem. We are failing business owners. We’ve started to expect subpar service. We’ve actually become OK with staff not making eye contact with us or not being educated about the product they offer. When we actually get good customer service, it blows our mind.

But it shouldn’t. If anything, that’s the way it should always be.

As a consumer, I realize I’m part of the problem. At least five times I have told myself I am not going back to a local grocery store. I get angry every time I go in there. From its absent customer service to rude employees and a lack of cleanliness, this place just drives me crazy.

My longest boycott lasted about four months until I finally gave in because of convenience. They won. I lost. It’s still the same service, same employees and I am still frustrated. But for some reason I still give them my money.

If customers don’t care why should you care?

Because times are changing.

I’m challenging you to take a big step back and look at your current business. Are you satisfied with the way your customers experience your business? Are you proud to have your name on the door? Would you trust your employees to handle crisis situations if you went on vacation for two weeks?

I hope the answer is yes.

If you think you can do better, take heart. Since most customers have such low expectations of good service, it won’t take much to wow them.

Here are some simple things you can do to stand out above your competitors:

No cell phones. Make sure your employees don’t have cell phones that a customer can see. There’s nothing more annoying than watching an employee check a text or post on social media when you are looking for some help.

Smile. Everyone is entitled to a bad day. It happens. But nobody gets inspired or wants to buy something from the person who has a case of the Mondays on a Thursday. If it is truly that bad, perhaps your employee shouldn’t be at work.

Greet everyone. Ever walk into a business and everyone looks at you like you are interrupting them? Customers are guests in your house and they should be treated with respect and welcomed with open arms. No exceptions.

Thank you. These are two simple words employees often forget to get use. When someone spends their hard-earned money with your business, they deserve thanks. They had a choice and they chose you. Forget to say thank you and maybe they will go somewhere else the next time.

Customer service is pretty simple when you think about it. Just treat people like you would want to be treated. Spending time on the little things with your employees will go a long way for your company. If your employees aren’t willing to make the small changes, let them go work for your competitors.


Nic DeCaire is the owner of the Newark business Fitness Fusion and a member of the DBT40 class of 2014.

Original Article:


How to be the change you want to see

Nic DeCaire | Guest Columnist

Be the change you want to see – but be realistic

No matter what we see on television or read on social media, I believe that it is human nature to be good and want to help others. It’s why we are here.

But it can be hard to help if you don’t know how to get started. Nine years ago, I certainly didn’t.

Then I heard from a Fusion Fitness Center member that the Newark Police K-9 unit needed to purchase a new dog. How cool would it be to help, I thought? Of course, I did not know how I was going to help, only that I wanted to.

Since then, Fusion and Friends have raised more than $80,000 for the Newark Police department. Our efforts have helped with the purchase of three canine officers, in addition to equipment and training for the dogs and their human partners. That’s pretty cool considering it all stemmed from a conversation in the gym with a police officer.

People often ask me how they can help with different charity events in the community. Here’s some of the advice I offer.

What are you passionate about?

Is it animals, children or feeding the homeless? I have a special connection to the K-9 department because I wanted to be a K-9 officer. I believe in what they do. When I talk about the program, ask for money or donate my time, I never feel it’s a burden on anyone because I truly believe in what I am trying to do. Make sure you feel the same way.

How much time can you actually give?

Time is precious. We all have work, family and a social life outside of charity. Make sure you are realistic with yourself and also with the organization you are helping about how much time you can honestly commit. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the mission and then quickly get burned out. That’s not good for you or the organization.

How long can you commit?

No matter how passionate they are, I believe everyone has a time limit when it comes to fundraising. Ask yourself how long you plan to commit to helping a certain organization.

I am frequently asked to sit on boards and committees for charitable organizations. As much as I don’t want to, I often have to turn down these requests. Sadly, there are too many people out there who need help and I am not always ready to tie myself down to one organization.

If you already volunteer, I recommend re-evaluating the charities you help out every two or three years to make sure you are on the same page with their current mission and fundraising goals.

If you don’t support a charity, I encourage you to change that. I have met so many one-person operations that are doing amazing things in our community. They just need more volunteers and fundraising to keep their missions alive. I suggest contacting Delaware Community Foundation or the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) for some ideas.

One of the most exciting things about fundraising and charity is you never know what is coming next.

Over the summer, I partnered with Deb Buenaga, founder of Preston’s March for Energy, on the Inclusion Means Everyone 5K, a walk/run that took place just as its name suggests. Our overwhelming success with this inaugural event convinced us to hold another race, this time on Oct. 11 at the Christiana Mall. (For more information, visit

The two of us were at coffee a few weeks ago to plan for this next event. We started thinking about where the money from the race would go this time.

The idea struck us like a bolt of lightning. We would use the race as the kickoff to our efforts to build an inclusive playground in Newark that could be used by all kids.

And with that, I was on to the next adventure.


Nic DeCaire owns Fusion Fitness in Newark and is a member of the DBT40 Class of 2014


Know when to listen to your body when you hurt


“How’s your knee feeling?” I recently asked a friend.

Earlier, we had talked about a half-marathon he was planning to run in Philadelphia.

I already knew the answer. I just wanted to see if he was going to be honest with me.

It hurt, he told me. It was uncomfortable to run and his mileage was low for where he should be in his training.

When he was younger, running was his passion. But many miles over the years put a lot of wear and tear on his body. Now in his early 50s, his body was starting to talk to him more and more.

So I asked the one question no athlete wants to hear: “Is it worth it?”

“I am not sure,” he said.

Does the risk outweigh the reward? It’s something I always ask when I am coaching someone.

Growing up as a competitive bodybuilder and power lifter, I get it. You are always fighting your mind. This is what I used to do. At 17 years old, I squatted 500 pounds. At 35, the thought of that scares the daylights out of me.

Do I want to do it? Absolutely. I just have learned my limits.

For me, trying to squat 500 pounds doesn’t make sense. I’m a husband and father of two amazing girls who need their dad to be healthy and strong. Not injured. Doing something to push the limits just because it’s something I used to do doesn’t make sense. The risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.

People are always trying to push the limits in fitness. Trust me, I love watching American Ninja Warrior and seeing what the human body can do, but I don’t agree with people who come up with crazy exercise routines just for the sake of doing it. Fitness should be something that is fun, challenging and safe.

Do people get hurt exercising? Absolutely. It is a sport. The trick is knowing when to listen to your body.

Here are some tips when it comes to smart fitness:

1. If it makes you sick it probably is not good for you. If you are exercising to the point of vomit, it is time to scale back. It might happen once, but getting sick from a workout should not happen on a regular basis.

2. The slogan, “No pain, no gain,” is about the dumbest thing someone could say. If you feel pain, stop. Try a different exercise or modification. If it doesn’t go away, see your doctor or physical therapist.

3. Make it challenging, but make it safe. I like a good challenge as much as the next guy, but I know when something doesn’t sound safe. Going to the parking lot and trying to pick up cars might sound fun until your back goes out. Make sure your workouts do not leave you crippled for days or lying on the ground saying the rosary.

4. Don’t live in the past. Having your letter jacket from high school in your closet doesn’t mean you should wear it. Work with what your ability is now, not what it was.

I can still remember those days of competing and the joy I got from picking up the heaviest weight possible. And it is a good thing I still have the pictures. Right now, my fitness goal is to just make sure I am strong enough to pick up my girls in each arm.

Back to my friend with his race quandary. He thought he could probably push through those 13.1 miles and be fine.

But his life is about more than running. He recently found another passion in strength training. He has been doing this with a group for a couple of years. He enjoys it and sees the physical benefits.

“Your mind is telling you that you need to run this half-marathon because it is something you have done your entire life,” I said. “Not doing it would be a failure. But your body is telling you it is time for a change.

“Is it worth getting injured?”

He shook his head no.

Learning your limits and being smart about your fitness will keep you strong and healthy for many years. There really is no sense to push the injury or limit.

Remember, if you are injured you are probably on the sidelines.

Nic DeCaire, owner of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, has been training clients for more than a decade.


Help children join Healthy Kids Club for lifetime benefits


His head was slumped down. His feet dangled off the bench.

He couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, but already he weighed about 40 pounds more than other kids his age.

He sat on a bench in the park, tapping on his iPad. His dad sat next to him. He seemed oblivious to the other children running around and playing. Every once in a while, he took a sip from a Pepsi by his side.

My heart ached as I watched him.

If he stays on this sedentary path, this boy may face many health problems in the coming years. I thought about overuse injuries to his neck, eye and hand stemming from the time spent playing video games. I thought about weight-related problems like type 2 diabetes and emotional struggles resulting from other children’s ridicule about his weight.

It made me sad, not just for this young boy but the next generation. We are setting up these kids for failure.

Turn on the television and you will see nothing but ads for fast food, soda and the latest technology. This is how they think they should spend their time.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Adults can make a difference, but it requires us to rethink our own habits and lifestyles.

It’s not easy. I know the struggle of a busy family life.

Parents rush in the morning to get everyone out of the house and off to school. In the afternoon, they shuttle their kids to myriad after-school activities before rushing them home to eat, bathe and finish homework before it’s time for bed.

For many of us, family life operates on a razor-thin schedule. We send work emails while our kids sit at band practice. We take conference calls in the car.

All the while our kids are watching and listening. They see when we are so cramped for time we roll through the drive-thru because we don’t have time to make a healthy dinner. They see when we opt for the DVR instead of a family walk after dinner. They hear us complain about our growing waistlines.

I am just as guilty as everyone else. I gave my daughter an iPad to keep her busy while I am writing this column. The only difference is that after I am done we are going for a walk on the beach.

Children learn from our behaviors. My life is surrounded by health and fitness. We talk about it at home. I take my oldest daughter to work with me once a week so she is exposed to fitness.

Last week, when I picked Josephine up from camp she said “ Dad, I am starting a Healthy Kids Club.” My heart smiled.

I asked her what she planned.

This is what she told me: “Daily exercise. We have to eat fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. You also have to limit the amount of desserts you eat weekly.”

She is 6.

So how do we get other children to join the Healthy Kids Club, I asked her. “We just have to tell them about it and get them excited to be a part of it.”

Here are a few things Josephine and I came up with to help children live a healthier life and become part of the Healthy Kids Club:

1. Go for a scavenger hunt – Instead of asking your children if they want to go for a walk after dinner, make a list of five to 10 items to find in the neighborhood. Turn family fitness into a game.

2. Blend vegetables into pasta sauce – Most kids love spaghetti but don’t want to eat the broccoli and peas on their plates. Boil the broccoli and peas. Mix them with a jar of prepared sauce in a blender. Your children will think it’s just their plain old spaghetti.

3. Have a dance party – I will be the first to admit I love putting on Kidz Bop and watching my girls have a dance party in the living room. They have so much fun, sometimes they even get me to dance with them.

4. Local farms and markets – Take your children to local farms and markets and have them pick out the fruits and vegetables. When they have a sense of “owning it” they are more likely to want to eat it. They also learn these foods don’t just magically appear at ShopRite. Even better, try planting a small garden in your backyard.

5. Create a chart – If your children are like mine, they love to be rewarded and they love sticker charts even more. After our talk the other day, Josephine made a Healthy Kids Club chart. Each day has three boxes underneath it. Whenever she does something healthy – exercise or eat a piece of fruit, for example – she gets to put a sticker in the box. Her goal is to do three healthy things per day. (Reading books counts as brain health.)

Each time I seek a kid mesmerized by a tablet in their lap or swigging a supersized soda, I am reminded of that young boy in the park.

By just implementing some of these ideas of the Healthy Kids Club, families could be setting their children up for a healthier, more productive life.

As a father and fitness professional I want to see the next generation lives a long and healthy life.

Will you please help me on this mission?

Nic DeCaire, owner of Fusion Fitness Center in Newark, has been training clients for more than a decade.


Battle of the Bars hits fundraising record

By Josh Shannon

This year’s Battle of the Bars fundraiser raised a record $14,400 for the Newark Police Department K-9 unit, almost double last year’s total.

The event, held Friday evening at the University of Delaware’s Courtyard Marriott hotel, featured eight downtown bars facing off in a friendly competition to see which one could raise the most money for charity. All tips and drink sales benefited the K-9 fund, which is entirely funded by public support.

For the third year in a row, Taverna raised the most money ($3,666) and took home the Paco Cup, a trophy named after NPD’s first K-9, who died in 2012.

The event also included music by James and Matt Acoustic and a dunk tank featuring Mayor Polly Sierer, NPD Deputy Chief Kevin Feeney and several other notable Newarkers.