It’s unusual for me to get out of the office for lunch. Although I don’t recommend it I usually work right through lunch and take a break when I can between clients. For me, it’s always about the client and what I can do to make business better for the CEOs, presidents and business owners I advise.
But on this particular day I was out on a quick business errand. So decided to stop at a local restaurant I have patronized quite regularly for years. I know the owner and the restaurant manager well simply because of the frequency of my visits. Because it was 10:57 AM, I sat in the car and waited the three minutes till it was 11 AM. At exactly 11 AM the “open” sign lit up on the restaurant window.
I got out of the car and walked into the restaurant. I patiently stood there for a few minutes because everyone was in the kitchen. After a few minutes the restaurant manager came out, said hello and without catching a breath told me they weren’t open yet. In reply, I commented that the open sign was just turned on. He said: Sorry. Come back at 11:30. End of conversation. He was onto other duties. I politely thanked him, got in the car and went back to work.
I am not one to go to the front of the line or to think I am more special than others but it would have been relatively easy for the restaurant to take my usual order and just apologize for the “open” sign being on (though they probably do this every day). It would good customer service to recognize my frequent visits as being a loyal customer and accommodate the circumstance in order to protect future business opportunities.
I would have been okay with a polite reminder that lunch usually begins to be served at 11:30 AM rather than 11:00 AM. I would have walked away thinking that this restaurant really cares about me and my business. But instead I thought: Wow, these people really don’t care about my business. All the loyalty and business I have given them over the years doesn’t seem important to them. I was an inconvenience to them.
The restaurant has lost my business.
Perhaps business is so good at the restaurant the owners and manager don’t worry about losing business. But if this experience happened to me, then how many other customers have experienced unfavorable situations at the restaurant and decided to try something new for their next dining out experience?
Losing business can easily add up to lost dollars, lost profit and can eventually lead to going out of business if not quickly corrected.
When dealing with your customers to keep and maintain business sometimes, even often, means going the extra distance. Going the extra mile or two – or three. If you don’t make every customer feel welcome and appreciated then you are setting up the circumstances for the company to be losing business of key customers and accounts. If you don’t accommodate special circumstances or needs and let customers know how much you appreciate their business, then the competitors certainly won’t hesitate to welcome the new business. You may lose the consistent, faithful business forever.
Remember: Customer loyalty works both ways. It starts with you and your employees during every customer encounter on a daily basis. Never assume the business is yours. In the blink of an eye, the business could be lost. You’ll wonder what happened!
To your success!
Howard Lewinter guides – focuses – advises CEOs, presidents and business owners throughout the United States to MORE success – MORE profit – less stress. Get MORE from your business! Talk business with Howard: 888-738-1855.