Are you in business to solve your customer's problems?
It’s very simple really but I think we all unknowingly struggle with this as business owners and sales people on occasion. Let’s start by understanding, at least as it pertains to this question, your problem as a business owner is you need money. That is why we are in business, at least if you break it down to its simplest form. Your customer’s problem? That can be more complicated.
This past 4th of July I called a locally owned BBQ Restaurant to place a small to go order, the man on the phone informed me they stopped taking to go orders for the day. When I asked why he explained they were simply too busy. I was baffled by the simplicity of his answer, do they hate money? They were open, they accept to go orders as regular policy. Why would they deny my order? “We are too busy?” You may as well say; I made enough money today, try again tomorrow. I’m willing to concede I don’t understand the restaurant industry well enough. Maybe there were more factors at play than I understand.
I have another scenario for you, one relative to the office furniture industry, an industry I understand completely. I received a call from a client in need of an office furniture transfer from one facility to another. My company and staff was very busy that week and feeling overwhelmed but I knew my client was too. I informed our client I wasn’t sure of the details yet but I would get the job done within their parameters. I immediately called a sub-contractor I use regularly. The sub-contractor informed me they had the man power available but not a vehicle to transfer the product. I suggested he rent a vehicle, something companies in our industry do regularly. He responded by saying he didn’t have a driver with a CDL license available. I told him there wasn’t much product and the transfer points were close together, a van would work perfectly. He stammered for a minute as if to think up another excuse. It was clear to me that he just didn’t want to provide a vehicle for whatever reason. I was frustrated with his lack of cooperation so I just said I would provide the vehicle. His lack of cooperation had me irritated the whole day. I later called my sub and canceled the man power. I decided we would rearrange our schedule and add this client to the schedule. It was difficult but we got it done. How we got it done is another blog post, let’s just say it’s amazing the lengths our team will go through for the promise good sushi on the company credit card.
In both scenarios, I didn’t feel like my problem was a consideration. In the first scenario, my problem was I didn’t have delicious slabs of meat to gorge myself on America’s Birthday. In the second scenario, it wasn’t about the money for me. I needed to be a reliable resource for my client. I didn’t think I could accommodate them. Either my vendor didn’t care or couldn’t see that. It doesn’t matter to me which, I now know what to expect from them. I still value that vendor, just not as much. I no longer have an undying loyalty to that vendor. It opened the door for one of their competitors. At the end of the day I’m grateful for the experience, it is a stiff reminder of how my clients will feel if I focus on my problems rather than theirs. I have always heard to never chase money, if you have passion for what you do the money will follow. For me, this is what they mean. What are your thoughts? Have you seen this scenario? Has it happened to you? Am I missing something? Please share.
-Brian Marzka, Natural Office