Home | Financial Page
a new business up and running is not an easy task. Making that
business successful is even more difficult. Too often business
owners, especially small business owners, pay too much attention to
what they think will help
their business to be more successful, and completely overlook some of
the things that have the greatest impact on making a business
successful. In order to help give you the best chance of making
your business successful, here are...
Some Secrets To Running A Successful Business
By Keith Rawlinson
Volunteer Budget Counselor
The most important person in your business--the customer.
just is not possible to overemphasize this point. It is a simple
matter to hire more employees or buy fancy equipment, but it is
very difficult to gain new customers while retaining the old ones.
Without customers, you are out of business. The success or
failure of your business is quite literally defined by the quantity and
quality of your customers; yet, so many businesses don't seem to
understand, or believe this. Just look at how the level of
customer service in America is deteriorating. Personally, it has
now gotten to the point that when I hear a company say that one of the
reasons to do business with them is because they offer great customer
service--I just roll my eyes and disregard it. How sad that it's gotten to that point.
Well, because customers are just so pivotal to the success and
growth of a business, I'm going to start there. Herein, I am
giving you an honest and open discussion from the point of view of one
who is often a customer, but due to being a financial counselor, is
also keenly aware of how customer satisfaction affects the bottom line
of any business. If you own or are starting a business, here is a
opportunity for you to gain some valuable insight that can mean success
and growth to your business. Please take advantage of this opportunity to learn.
The customer is (not) always right.
heard it said that the customer is always right. Well, I'm sorry
but that just isn't true. I'm speaking from the perspective of a
former point-of-sale employee as well as from the perspective of a
former manager. The customer is not always right--but, the customer is
always the customer! I say this because even though customers can
be wrong, irritating, rude, difficult, etc. etc., it is very important
to deal with these situation calmly and professionally. One of
the keys to success in a business is understanding that we customers
are tired of being lied to, misled, shorted, cheated, disrespected,
and treated as though we are disposable and replaceable. If
want to succeed in your business, use the information I just gave you
to your advantage. How? By being a sort of oasis from all
of those things. Trust me, we customers are more than willing to
be loyal to businesses which address those issues. In fact, due
to being treated properly, I have returned again and again
to businesses at which I knew I would have to pay a little more.
I gladly paid the higher price in order to do business at a place
where I was treated the way I thought I should be. And trust me,
I am not the only customer who feels that way.
A business success "to do" list.
Be willing to go out of your way to make sure you have satisfied customers.
you own any kind of service business, you can greatly outshine your
competition just by showing up when you say you will, getting the job
done on time, doing good work, and going the extra mile if necessary to
keep your promises. Pretty basic isn't it? It seems like
something customers should always be able expect; but sadly, it is
becoming rare these days. I don't think that enough businesses
today realize how valuable are repeat customers and word-of-mouth
I've heard it said that it costs three times
as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an old one.
Yet, too many businesses treat old customers as "we've already
got you, so it isn't as important how we treat you." But if I
become a dissatisfied customer and leave you, it will cost you three
times as much to get a new customer to spend the same amount of
money you just lost from me. From a business perspective, how
does that make sense? But it happens every day.
And once I
am a dissatisfied customer, what am I going to tell other people about
your business? If just one person takes my advice and does not do
business with you, you haven't just lost one customer--you've actually
lost two. And chances are that I can get more than one person to
listen to me. From a business perspective, how does that make
sense? But it happens every day. Want a perfect example? Read my article about Toys R Us
and how I was done very wrong by this company. Not only will I
never shop there again, but I tell other people about it both in my
personal life and in my work as a financial counselor. Not only
that, but I have posted it here on the Internet for anyone and everyone
to read! How many old and new customers did that one, really bad
decision on the part of Toys R Us cost them? Who knows--but I
hope it's a lot and I hope that you will read the article and decide not to shop at
Toys R Us.
I used to go to a local restaurant which ran really
good breakfast specials if you got there before 11:00am. In fact,
my family and I went every week and took several friends along with us.
One day, we got there in plenty of time, but because they were so
busy our order wasn't put in until a few minutes past 11:00. The
waitress came back several minutes later and told us that the
kitchen was now closed for breakfast and we would have to order
something else. I calmly informed the manager of the situation
and asked if they could please just use one little corner of their
grill to fill our breakfast order. He told me "Eleven o'clock is
eleven o'clock." I asked him if it was worth losing customers
over this? He actually responded with "I really don't care if you
come back or not." Needless to say, we never went back.
They lost me and my family, all of the friends we used to bring
with us, and several people whom I told about it. Let's assume that they
only lost 12 people (I bet it was more) and let's say those 12 people
spent an average of $15 each time we made our weekly visit--that
restaurant lost $9,360 in business per year just because of that one
incident! What a stupid, stupid decision for that small business
owner to make! If I had owned that restaurant, I would have
gotten out a frying pan if I had to and cooked that breakfast order
myself before I would let an angry, dissatisfied customer walk out the
door. If we were mistreated, you can bet that other customers
were as well. Not surprisingly, that restaurant went out of
business a year or two later. And that brings up another valuable
piece of advice...
Don't let your pride interfere with your business.
sure that part of the reason that whole, unfortunate incident at the
restaurant took place is because the owner's pride was involved and he
didn't want to back down. His pride cost him not only customers,
but ultimately his entire business. Be smart. Make your
business decisions calmly and wisely. Remember how valuable your
customers are and treat them accordingly. Instead of trying to
boost your pride by 'winning' arguments with customers, boost your
pride by knowing that you were right, but were smart enough to take
very good care of your customers anyway. That's smart--that's
wise--that's making a good business decision.
little true story that helps make the point about pride. I had
just sold a house through a bank that I had never done business with
before--National City Bank, in fact. After all was settled and
all of the money had been paid, the bank billed me for an additional
$75. I called the manager and asked her what it was for.
She told me it was for an 'inspection fee' they had forgotten to
include. I reminded here that the additional $75 was not in our
original contract and I therefore did not have to pay it.
Granted, it was only $75, but it was $75 I didn't owe so I was
not about to pay it. This woman then began to loudly and
condescendingly argue with me and eventually got to the point of
threatening to refer it to her legal department, send it on to
collections, and take me to court. I then informed her that the fee was
not in our contract, the courts would, therefore, never enforce it, and
I would file a counter suit for expenses and attorney fees. At
that point she finally backed down, told me it better never happen
again, and then hung up on me. We are talking here about a very large,
national bank chain to whom that $75 would have meant nothing.
There is no way a company that size was going to miss the $75 I
refused to pay. But the woman got her pride involved, determined
that she was going to 'win' the argument, and for $75 lost me as a
customer along with everyone I could convince not to bank there.
And don't forget that I am a financial counselor and I talk to a
lot of people about money and banking. If this incident cost them
even one mortgage customer,
an average mortgage would have netted the bank over $173,000 in
interest profit! If I managed to convince just one person not to
do their mortgage with National City Bank, that manager's pride cost
her company more than $173,000. Over a measly $75,
this woman was willing to lose a potential new customer (remember, it
was my first time with their bank) along with everyone I have told this
story to--which now includes you. That incident took place years
ago, yet has done damage to their business ever since. What if I
had been treated right and ended up being impressed with their bank?
I would have not only done business with them myself, but I would
have been sending them customers through my counseling. To this
day I wonder how much money this one incident actually ended up costing
them. Be smart, never, ever let your pride lead you into making
very bad business decisions. Take very good care of your
customers. Your business literally depends upon it. When I
was a business manager years ago, I had a rule that no customer went
out the door unhappy until we had done every reasonable thing at our disposal to make them happy.
Follow these golden rules of dealing with customers:
you want to really shine among your competitors, pay very close attention
to that last rule. The little things are just as important as the
big ones. There once was an elderly woman in counseling who at one time had pull-knobs
coming loose on her kitchen cabinets. She called a small local
cabinet company figuring that they would know what to do. They
told her that they had a minimum order policy and could not be
bothered with tightening knobs on cabinet doors unless she had
additional work that needed to be done. Next, she called an even
smaller local cabinet company who told her that they would send
someone right over to take care of it. While driving in her
neighborhood between calls the very next day, one of their technicians
stopped by, tightened the knobs on her cabinets, charged her $20 and
then went on his way. A year or two later, this same woman needed
to have her entire kitchen and her bathrooms remodeled in preparation
to sell her house--guess which company she hired to do the work.
Treat the little things as just as important as the big things.
Quite often, the little things lead to big things.
- The customer is not always right, but they are always the customer. They are the most important person in your business.
- Make sure you have done every reasonable thing before letting an unhappy customer go out the door.
- When you make a mistake, admit it, apologize immediately and sincerely, then find a way to make it right with the customer.
- Always strive to treat your customers with more respect and service than they even have the right to expect.
- Irritating a customer by trying to squeeze a little extra money out of them is not worth the longterm damage to your business.
- Try to remember all of the times you were ever personally dissatisfied as a customer, and don't let it happen to yours.
- Treat each customer like they are the only customer you will ever have.
- Treat the little things as just as important as the big things.
want to make your business succeed and grow, put yourself way
ahead of most of your competitors by taking very, very good care of
each and every one of your customers. Not only will you get to
customers, you will eventually start winning over some of your
competitors' customers. Be courteous, professional, helpful,
truthful and do
honest work. Show up when you say you will, get the job done on
time and make sure the work is done as well as you can afford to do it.
If you do these things, you are already well ahead of most of
your competitors; thus, word of mouth advertising and repeat
customers will very likely make your business grow.
Your greatest resource--employees.
is imperative that you take care not only of your customers, but also
of your employees. Regardless of at which level of the
organization any particular employees work, your employees can
literally make or break your company. And don't be fooled into
thinking that good pay makes good employees. Granted, you can't
keep good employees without competitive pay, but just paying someone
well does not necessarily mean that they will be a good employee.
In fact, in most of the job satisfaction surveys that I have seen
or conducted, pay wasn't even at the top of the list! That really
surprised me, but it has proven to be the case over and over. It
turns out that one of the greatest predictors of job satisfaction is
whether or not the employee feels valued and respected. If your
employees are happy in their job, that will show in how they do their
work and in how they deal with customers. Never forget that a
customer's opinion about your entire company is usually determined by the
interaction with employees--sometimes, only one employee.
Case in point: I once took my
family to a local fast food restaurant that we had never previously
visited. When we went up to the counter, none of the employees
were smiling. Several of them were just standing around talking
or doing nothing, and a couple of them were actually having a loud,
verbal confrontation right there behind the counter. I remember
thinking "wow, if this place is so bad that this is how the employees
feel, I sure don't want to eat here!" We left, went to a
competitor down the street, and have never been back to that
restaurant. Was the place clean? Yes. Was the food
good? I don't know since I didn't stay long enough to find out.
My entire opinion about that restaurant was formed quickly and
permanently based solely upon the behavior of the employees. I'm
willing to bet that most, if not all, of those employees were not happy
in their job.
My point is this: If you want your business
to grow and be successful, you have to seriously consider the condition
of your greatest resource--your employees. So how do you increase
the job satisfaction of employees? Here are some practical
suggestions based upon my many years of being an employee--an inside
peek into the psyche of employees if you will:
First of all,
treat your employees with respect. Talk to them in the same way
you would with any VIP in your company. If appropriate, try to
address them by their first names and allow them to do the same at
least with their immediate supervisors. Try not to address an
employee by their last name unless you put a Mr. Mrs. or Miss in front
of it. Addressing someone only by their last name tends to make
them feel like more of a company commodity and less of a person.
When you address someone by only their last name, it implies that
that person is somehow less valuable than you are. The employee
might not even realize it, but that is usually how it makes them feel.
It may sound trite, but basically just treat your employees the
way you would want to be treated regardless of the employee's position
within the organization. If you don't think that a "lower level"
employee is important to the success of your business, know that my
family and I have also not returned to several different restaurants
because their floors were not swept and the restrooms were not clean.
I wonder if the manager had any idea that the person who cleans
the toilets was important enough to cost them customers?
important way to show that you respect and value your employees is to be
willing to hear, and take suggestions from them. Keep in mind
that your employees are the ones 'in the trenches' so to speak.
They know the nuts and bolts of how your business is being run on
their level. I seriously wonder why so many employers fail to tap
into the resource of all of the day-to-day experience and knowledge of
their employees? It is just too great a resource to waste!
So, ask your employees for suggestions on how to do things
easier, more efficiently or cheaper. Ask them what things would
make them happier on the job. You don't have to implement every
suggestion you receive, but implementing just a few good ideas makes
the whole effort worth it, not to mention the effect on your business of employees who
feel valued and respected.
the time daily to thank any deserving employees for a job
well done. Even if the work was their responsibility and nothing
of the ordinary. If day-to-day work is done well, that should be
acknowledged. Be sincere, though, if an employee's work is not
deserving of praise, don't praise them. If you do, all of your
employees will see the insincerity and not take your praise seriously.
If you don't believe me that sincere praise is a powerful thing,
try it on a few employees and then watch their reaction.
occasional pat on the back is a great idea, but don't let it be the
only means of rewarding good ideas or exceptional work. If an
employee finds a way to save, or make your business extra money, then
that employee should be materially rewarded if at all possible.
And I'm not talking about such things as coffee mugs, key chains
or tee shirts. (I actually once had an employer who gave out
computer-printed certificates of appreciation--I honestly never cared
if I got one of those or not, so please don't treat me like I'm in
third grade.) I'm talking about rewards that the employee will
actually care about. How about a cash bonus for ideas that save
or make the company additional money? Or maybe award tickets to
sporting events or gift certificates to a nice restaurant. Trust
me, most employees will work for rewards like that. Too
expensive? Okay, then how about additional vacation time?
Still too expensive? Then how about letting the employee go
home an hour early with pay, extended lunch time, or a special parking
space? See? There are ways to reward employees that they
will work for and which will show them that they are valued, respected
and appreciated--which they very well should be. They can, after
all, make or break a business.
Don't be afraid to lose excess weight.
Another thing that destroys
employee morale is a 'dead-weight' employee. You know, the one
who makes the minimum effort if any, complains constantly, argues
excessively, finds ways to get out of work and often tries to get
others to do the work for them. If there is any way possible,
when you have such an employee either straighten them up or ship them
out. Letting them stay just 'infects' everyone else, lowers the
morale and job satisfaction of everyone, and costs your business money
and aggravation. Of course I believe that any employee should be
given the chance to straighten up, but if they don't, they should go.
I remember my very first day at a particular company where one of
their long-time employees befriended me and offered to show me some
'great places to hide' in the building so I could get away with doing
less work! Imagine the drop in productivity of anyone who was
lazy enough to take him up on his offer! I told him no thanks
because trying to hide out would make for a very long day of feeling
like I accomplished nothing. If any employees are nothing but excess weight, lose them!
The all-important pep talk.
don't be afraid to give
your employees occasional , sincere 'pep talks.' Let them know
how important they are to your business and to your customers.
Foster a sense of pride in that it's a better place because they
are there and a part of the team. Help them to understand that
the entire organization might be judged on how they deal with
customers. Give them some sense of 'ownership' of how the
business succeeds and grows. And, as the business succeeds and
grows, be sure to try to find ways to reward the employees who
made it happen. Make those rewards ongoing. An annual
outing for the employees is nice, but it doesn't last the whole rest of
the year. Maybe even tie bonuses and incentives to company
profits. That way, bad employees know that they are only hurting
Final thoughts on employees.
Just always keep in mind that your employees are what
keeps your business going. Look for ways to be respectful,
appreciative and sincere in your interaction with employees. Make
sure they are reasonably paid, that benefits, if any, are
competitive and that every effort is made to maintain a safe, clean
work environment. Once your employees are well cared for,
respected, and have a reasonable sense of job satisfaction, then you
will have more loyal employees, less turnover and you are in a much better position to terminate employees who don't measure
The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory.
Chinese proverb makes my next point. If you want your business to
be a success, put everything in writing! This includes contracts
with partners, customers, employees, suppliers, landlords, tenants,
etc. A dispute that gets taken to court can end up costing your
company a surprising amount of time and money. It has been my
experience that if everything is in writing, and you are the one who is
right, generally it won't even go to court because the other party
already knows that the judge will tend to rule in favor of a written
If you have partners in your business--any
partners--make absolutely sure that everything is in writing! I
don't care if your partner is a friend, relative, or even your own
spouse--put everything in writing! I also recommend that you have
a competent, knowledgeable attorney help you draft the documents.
Generally, written agreements among partners are not needed when
things are going well; it's when something goes wrong that a written
agreement has the power to save you. In the case of a spouse, the
agreement may spell out what they are, and are not permitted to do with
respect to running the business, but can also spell out how they will
be taken care of if you were to die or become disabled. Actually,
the same holds true for agreements with your partners. What
happens if one of them fails to live up to their obligations?
What happens if one of them dies? What happens if a
partner goes through a divorce or a law suit? What happens if the
business becomes hugely successful? What happens if the business
goes under taking everyone's investment with it? Trust me, if
something goes seriously wrong in a business, and you don't have a
written agreement with your partners, there will be ill feelings, and there will
most likely be a fight of some sort. I don't care if the partner
is a stranger, friend, your mom or dear old grandma--put everything in
writing, no exceptions!
With regard to customers, putting things
in writing lets them know exactly what they can expect.
Sometimes, you finish the work but the customer thought you were
going to do more than you did. With a written agreement, you can
politely and professionally show them what was agreed to. At the
same time, you can point out to your customer that they are protected
as well, because you are contractually obligated to do everything you
put in writing. It is an advantage to both you and your customer,
and it can save a lot of misunderstanding and grief later.
it comes to employees, a written agreement can come in very handy.
As you may already be aware, it can be very difficult to fire an
incompetent or even dishonest employee unless you can prove that they
failed to fulfill what was expected of them. And if what was
expected of them was not in writing, then in court it will be your word
against theirs. And imagine what happens in court if the employee
manages to get a couple of other employees to side with them! If
a bad, detrimental employee happens to be a member of a protected class
under the law, the legal ramifications of terminating their employment
get even more complicated. Having the employees responsibilities
and limitations in writing makes it much easier to reprimand an
employee if they fail to fulfill their obligations, and makes it much
easier to prove your case in court should it get to the point that you
need to fire them.
As for suppliers, landlords, tenants, etc,
the same reasoning as all of the above still applies. One of the
things that destroy new businesses is the anger and resentment that
arise when there is a misunderstanding--not to mention the cost of
legal action. In order to protect yourself, and the people you
deal with in your business, make sure that you always put everything in
writing. Contracts, agreements, work orders, receipts,
everything! You can't go wrong if you do it, but you can go very
wrong if you don't. If anyone is offended that you request a
written agreement, you can just say that is is policy with everyone.
If they are still offended, then take that as an indication that
you may not want to be doing business with them in the first place.
Another advantage of putting things in writing is that it allows you to
demonstrate what is owed you, while making sure you only pay out what
is actually due. This brings up my next point:
Credit where credit is due--and debit where debit is due.
sure you collect money that is owed you, and that you pay money that is
due. I remember as I child that after raking leaves, mowing
someone's lawn or shoveling snow from someone's driveway, I always felt
funny about knocking on the door and asking to be paid. Sadly,
and I'm not even sure why, this feeling followed me into adulthood.
Then one day, while reading one of the many financial books I
have read over the years, I came across a section in which the author
said that if you did the work, and did it well, then you have earned
your money and your customer should pay it willingly. If they
don't want to pay you for a job well done, that is their problem not
yours. I took that to heart and have been applying it to my life
ever since. In your business, you should as well. If you
follow the other advice I have given in this article, then you are
doing quality work and are taking good care of your customers.
You deserve to be paid and you need to make sure that you are.
By the same token, make sure that you treat your employees,
suppliers, landlords, etc. with the same respect.
Not too long
ago, I was the owner and landlord of a duplex home in a small town.
Whenever I put in a new tenant, I made it very clear that I
would treat them with professionalism and respect as long as they did
the same. I promised to do repairs in a timely manner and make
sure their home was a healthy, safe, enjoyable place to live--a promise I kept. In
return, they were expected to pay their rent in full and on time.
I explained to them that I didn't just run out and spend
the rent money on furs and fun--I used it to pay the mortgage, taxes,
insurance, repairs and so on. In fact, this information was
included right in the written lease. I made it very clear, even
in the written contract, that I would act immediately if rent was not
paid. If all of that made them uncomfortable or hesitant, then I
didn't rent to them. Over the years, I had very little problem
with collecting rent in full and on time. Why? Because I
made it very clear that I expected to be paid in full, on time and would not tolerate anything less. Well, it worked.
In over a decade of being a landlord, I never had to evict a tenant,
and I only had to go to court one time for money owed (a case I won easily thanks to a
I say that to say this:
let the people with whom you deal in your business know up front
that you expect to be paid on time and in full or you will no longer be
able to have dealings with them. Then, follow through on what you
said you would do. If one of my tenants was late by even one day
with the rent, I immediately drove right over to the building and posted
a "three day notice to pay" on their door. In my state, that is
the first necessary legal step to eviction and a lawsuit. I did
it calmly and let them know that it was being done with regret.
But it did let them know that I meant what I said about paying on
time, and I didn't usually have to do it more than once during their
tenancy. Often, just to take the emotion out of it and show my
tenants (customers) that I cared, I would regretfully hand them the
notice, remind them of our agreement, then ask if there was anything
wrong with the building that I needed to addresss.
same in your business. Don't respond to non-payment
emotionally--respond professionally. Let your customers know
right from the start what is expected of them. Be helpful and
polite, but make no mistake about letting them know that you are
serious about fulfilling your obligations and are serious about them
fulfilling theirs. All too often, you will get a sad story from
someone who doesn't want to pay. Sometimes the stories are true
and sometimes not. But regardless of whether or not they are
true, you are running a business, not a charity. You can be
empathetic and concerned while still wanting to be paid. One of
the things I did as a landlord was to have a ready list of
organizations and charities that could help in a variety of situations.
When they refused to pay due to whatever their circumstances
were, I informed them of the organizations that could help their
situation, but still insisted on being paid. If I wasn't paid, I
would sadly follow through on our agreement and ask them to move out. I
wasn't being cold about it. For one thing, I deserved to be paid
and I was willing to put in a new tenant who would
pay me. I also had given them help in the form of organizations
that could assist them. If they didn't look into it, then either
their story wasn't true, or they were unwilling to make the effort to
help themselves. Either way, I had bills too and I needed to be
paid. I cared about my tenants, but I couldn't afford to make
their problems my problems. I was running a business not a
charity. Besides, I made sure that I occasionally made donations
to some of the very charities I was recommending. Always care
about your customers, but also care about yourself, your business and
taking care of your family--make sure you are paid and don't be
hesitant about it. If anyone refuses to pay you, please be smart
enough to never do business with them again. Too many times, a
sad story and a smooth talker can convince you to let them burn you
more than once.
There are ways to motivate people to pay you
without your having to be heavy-handed about it. Besides making
your expectations clear right from the beginning, don't be afraid to
use discounts and incentives to motivate your customers. Maybe
give a discount for on-time payment. Surprisingly, it doesn't
always have to be a big discount in order to motivate. If not a
discount, then some sort of rewards program--pay on time and get so
much in free merchandise with your next order. Some real estate
rental businesses even offer one month at half price or even free, with
each full year of on-time payment. Use your imagination.
Talk to your customers and find out what kind of incentives they
would like to see. But whatever you do, make sure you are paid
what is due you, and that you likewise pay others what you owe.
Many successful businesses have been built on good relationships
with respect to paying and being paid.
If you offer it, make it happen.
of what it is, if you offer something, make sure it happens. I
don't just mean what's in your written agreements, but also what you do
in the day-to-day running of your business. Don't
bait-and-switch, and never try to trick your customers. When you
do things like this, you are implying that you cannot be trusted.
That could kill your business. And if you make some kind of
special offer, don't try to get out of it. My wife and I once
went to a local location of a national chain grocery store because they
advertised a half-price sale on ice cream. When we got there,
they informed us that the sale was not available at all location and
they didn't even have any of the "on-sale" ice cream in the store.
Yes, they tricked us and got us into the store, but we didn't buy
anything and never went back. For the couple of dollars it would
have cost them to make good on their offer, they lost some customers
permanently. How stupid on their part--they paid for and ran a
national advertisement which ended up costing them customers. If
they had just honored their offer, we would have bought the ice cream,
a few additional items, and gone back there to shop in the future.
time, there was a small, local restaurant near our favorite vacation
spot in the middle of nowhere. It said right on their sign that
they were open until 10:00 PM every day; but, many of the times
we went there after 8:00 PM, they were already closed. They
didn't close at 8:00 PM every
day, just on some days. When we asked the owner about it, she
told us that if business was slow, they would just close up early.
Believe me, it was very frustrating to dive out there during
their posted business hours, only to find them closed. Before
long we found another local restaurant quite a bit farther away, but
one which was open when they said they would be. We started going
there instead, and never did go back to that first place. We did
notice, however, that the first place started closing a little earlier
and a little earlier as the months went by (which meant fewer and fewer
customer were showing up) and eventually went out of business
I remember one time when our auto insurance
company was offering a "one accident forgiveness program" by which your
first accident did not raise your premiums if you had been with them
for at least ten years. A couple of days after the ten year
anniversary of our having been with this company, we had a minor
accident and filed a claim. They informed us that filing the
claim would raise our premiums so were we sure we still wanted to do
it. I informed them that we had been with them for the required
ten years and were requesting the one accident forgiveness program.
The agent actually told us that, yes, we signed the papers with
them ten years ago, but they didn't cash our check until two weeks
after that and they go by when the check is cashed, not by when we
signed the papers. I told the agent that next time, don't make a
special offer if you're just going to weasel out of it. All they
did was manage to get us angry with them. By the way, you'd be
surprised how much you can lower your car insurance premiums when you
get angry with your current company and start shopping around.
What a stupid decision on their part. In order to try to
get that extra money out of us, they were willing to risk losing us
Don't make the same kinds of
stupid mistakes. If you offer something to your customers,
no matter how insignificant it may or may not be, follow through and
make it happen.
The grief of poor quality is remembered long after the thrill of a low price.
Too many business owner ask themselves "what is the least I can offer my customers and still keep their business?" The question should instead be "what is the most
I can afford to offer my customers?" In other words, don't try to
make extra profit by offering poor quality or bad service. Even
if you offer it at a very low price, customers will generally remember
the frustration of the poor quality long after they forget how low the
price was. Always strive to do the most you can for each customer.
Yes, you may make a reduced profit margin at first, but once
word-of-mouth advertising brings in new customers along with the many
customers you'll be able to keep, you will more than make up for the
lower profit margin with the increased quantity of business.
Trust me, if you frustrate your customers with poor quality or
bad service, word gets around. You may not see the damage to your
customer base right away, but sooner or later you likely will. A
bad reputation can slowly kill off your business.
location, location, location Reputation, Reputation, Reputation
the real estate business, you've probably heard it said that the three
most important things are location, location and location. Well,
in the general business world, the three most important things, in my
opinion, are reputation, reputation and reputation. If your
business has a reputation for doing all of the things I have mentioned
in this article, word gets around and your customer base should grow.
If, however, you let your business get a bad reputation, you have
to spend about three times as much effort and money to try to win new
customers than it would cost you to keep the old ones you lose because
of a bad reputation. How do you get a good reputation?
By doing the things I have talked about in this article.
How do you get a bad reputation? Don't do the things I have taught in this article. It's your business--it's your choice.
Please know that all of the thoughts, information,
and techniques given on this site are nothing more than the author's
the matter being addressed. Do further research before making
This article copyright
© 2007 by Keith C. Rawlinson
(Eclecticsite.com). All rights reserved.
This article may be
copied for non-profit use including newsletters, bulletins, etc.
as long as you
first get written permission from the author and full credit is given
which includes the author's name
and the name of this website.