“There is only one boss: the customer.” — Sam Walton
A successful business should be honest to its customers, good to its employees, and well-organized in its management. And when I say this, I mean that a successful business has to be all three of these things. I have seen too many businesses focus on one too much and insist that it is the most important part of their business model. No matter how good your model is, if you do not take steps to balance these three areas of required excellence, then you are not maximizing your potential.
In this post, however, I am going to focus on the customer. The customer has more power than any single person in the company. It is the customer alone that has the ability to put everybody in the company out of a job, from the janitor to the CEO. Business originated from the demands of customers, and a good business should always go back to the demands of its customers. Whether you have a few or a few thousand different customers, the same principles apply. I have compiled for you a list of some suggestions that I often give my clients:
Be an honest salesperson — If you are honest with your customers then they will be honest with you, and this can lead to growth. Customers are the best indicators of the market and you want to be able to learn as much as possible from them.
Make them feel at home — Sometimes all it takes is a friendly smile and a little wave to make someone feel welcome.
Make exceptions — Rules are good to have to maintain order, but every customer is different, and if they want something that you can’t provide because of a simple rule then they will simply go somewhere else.
Have a good relationship — Having a good relationship with a customer encompasses a lot of different things (such as all the examples above), but if you get it right, then you have achieved the most important step to getting customers away from the competition and towards your own business.
If you can do all of these things while still balancing the other two aspects of business that I talked about (employees and management), then you are well on your way to success. Just remember that even if you are not particularly competitive, there are plenty of business-owners out there who will do whatever it takes to win. A lot of the time, though, the practices they use are dishonest and unreliable. The key is to build up a reliable customer base, which can only be done by using the above steps. There are no cheat codes or shortcuts, just simple, honest business.