Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Forget About Customers – Just A Necessary Evil
It is amazing how many businesses treat customers not as a necessity but more as a necessary evil. Customers seem to take an inferior role both with the business and employees. Rather than being treated as the lifeline of a business, customers are instead viewed as obstacles, problems, interruptions, or inconveniences that impede business.
As a small business owner, observe businesses that are highly successful. What are they doing that others are not doing? How and why are they achieving a certain amount of success when similar businesses don't seem to be able to compete on the same level? Perhaps, one reason is how customers are treated...as if they were (and are) the lifeline of the business!
Provide Inferior Products and Services – No One Will Ever Notice
While some businesses take the attitude that "cutting corners" and providing customers with inferior products and services will add a few bucks to the bottom line, customer astuteness eventually wins out. In a competitive marketplace, customers seek value in addition to satisfying needs and receiving benefits for the money they spend. A business that falls short on quality, hoping that customers will never notice, eventually discover that purchasers are more skilled in knowing what they should be receiving for what they are paying.
Businesses do not compete with every business selling similar products and services, but they do compete with other businesses offering like kind of products and services. This means that luxury cars compete with other makers of luxury cars but do not necessarily compete with manufacturers of compact economy cars. Likewise, name brand fashion merchandise competes against other name brands but does not necessarily compete with low-priced merchandise normally sold in a big box retail store. Regardless of products or services sold, businesses must strive to offer the "best in its class." When inferior products or services are sold, customers notice!
Employees Are Easily Replaced – Treat Them That Way
Although employees can be replaced, treating them with disrespect carries over to customers and colleagues. When bad attitudes prevail internally, they are typically projected externally as well. If employees think they may be fired or laid off, it's difficult to have a positive attitude about a job, an employer, or worse yet, customers. Without owners ever knowing (but they should), employees can “run off” business by how they interact with customers. Businesses need customers more than customers need a business; therefore, customers want an energetic, positive response when dealing with a business and its employees.
Employees are a company’s greatest assets, and they must be treated as such. They are the front line, the go-between, and representatives of a business. Employees can make or break a business and is ultimately the difference between success and failure. It is the responsibility of employers to motivate, engage, and train employees. Each employee has certain job responsibilities and is expected to accomplish certain results, but it is the synergy of all employees working together that really drives a business forward.
Run An Inefficient Operation - It’s Better Than a Job
Frequently, small business owner views ownership as simply being better than having a job and working for someone else. They do not strive to be highly successful. They just want to be successful enough to “keep the doors open.” Unfortunately, with this attitude, the doors eventually close. Operating a successful business with long-term prospects for the future requires diligence and knowledge not only in one area of a business but also in all aspects of business operations. When attention is not paid to the business entity as a whole, operations become inefficient rather than efficient. For example, a successful marketing campaign cannot produce outstanding results in revenue when products are not available, sales are not closed, or customers not accommodated. Likewise, a business cannot be profitable if expenses are not contained even though revenue is on target.
Operating a successful business is having all of the pieces of a puzzle fit properly together. When one department (or piece of the puzzle) is out of alignment, then every other aspect of the business equally becomes unaligned. Operating a highly efficient business should be the goal of every business owner.
Summary - Turn Pitfalls Into Profits
While the four pitfalls we previously discussed can easily ruin a business, turning the pitfalls into advantages can certainly turn losses into profits. Although doing what is most beneficial for a business is many times more difficult than taking the opposite path, it is those beneficial decisions that keep a business profitable and growing.