I recall a conversation I had with my kids when we were at the ice cream store one day. On that particular occasion I was somewhat annoyed when I noticed that there was no place to sit. The store owner only had two chairs with no table near the window and of course they were already taken.
I asked myself, why only two chairs and what is the deal with having no table? My kids also looked around the store and each commented as to why wasn’t there a place for us to sit. Neither of us said anything more about it but I knew that it was an uncomfortable feeling for them. We made the best of our time together by standing and making casual conversation about how good the ice cream tasted. As I pondered over this ice cream maker’s ridiculous customer service strategy, I thought to myself I am probably not bringing my kids to this store again. It was not only the sitting dilemma that influenced my decision but also how the place looked. It had poor lighting, the floors were dirty and the decor was gloomy to say the least. The owner never seemed to have a good selection; neither did he have an inviting smile.
As a customer I was not at ease, and as a business enthusiast I was disappointed that the owner did not do more for his customers. Let’s face it, your customer base will ultimately determine the growth of your business not just your product. Yes, if you have a good product your customers will come back but if someone else has a similar product and yet offers more for that same dollar; I will bet that those customers will begin to shop at the new place instead. I know I will! Your company must evolve and flow with the new spectrum of business for each season. The needs of your customers will not always be the same. People change, and so will your customers. Because they are people and not robots; who are programmed to do the same thing over and over again. It’s simple, people follow change not repetition.
Is your business adapting to consumer needs or is your company suffering because you are not? While I write this entry I’ve learned that the neighborhood ice cream shop has closed its doors, along with others that have been there for a long time. Now you might say the economy is bad and that is the reason. But I don’t think it was due to the economy. I live here and I’ve seen all of these stores and everything was always the same. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s the economy was pretty bad, not as bad as it is now, but still it had similar effects for businesses. Yet, those companies that saw the handwriting on the wall made changes that spawned longevity for their business, even through today. Others who did not adhered to the winds of change and did not make the investments necessary were never heard from again.
If you love something you do not let it slip from your hands or let it die. You cultivate and restructure the areas needed to make it strive, live, and prosper. There is a Japanese word that signifies this business principle and if applied you will reap its benefits; that word is Kaizen. It means constant continuous improvement. I believe that its concept could even be used for our personal development. We all could use a little improvement every so often, but I’ll save that discussion for another time.
Business owner, leader, and potential CEO, you have worked extremely hard with your dreams to allow a little slow down to effect its growth. I hope you will consider the ideas I have presented. Please remember –
1. Customers want more: The decreasing value of the dollar doesn’t mean that we should decrease our service. Selection, Price, and a pleasurable shopping experience are very important for your company’s growth.
2. Additional Investment: Make changes to the product you are selling; consider updating the appearance of your website or packaging. If your clients come to you then consider making some small improvements, like lighting, painting, and if your space allows new furniture; especially for customers to sit and enjoy your product.
3. Research: Create a forum by which you could learn about your customer or clients needs. Study your market for trends and technology.
4. Keep at it: Don’t give up. Don’t allow negative changes in your area to stifle your dreams. Be open to new directions and ideas.
Lastly, remember your purpose, live with passion, and stay true to who you are. Be honest, embrace integrity and take some time for yourself and family.