None of us in our right mind ever wants to sabotage our hard work.
On the contrary, we want our business to do very well.
Yet, some of the things we do to help our success actually lead to lesser business.
Yes, it happens without us realising it.
In fact, we'd vouch that those very same things we do help reduce cost, increase revenues, etc.
I'm sure most of our business activities lead to that end, but not all.
So, what are some examples of the little foxes that spoil the vines?
A Lesson From A Roadside Stall
When was the last time you visited the pisang goreng stall?
If you're not born in Singapore or any of the Malay-speaking south-east asian countries, pisang goreng is actually a delicious fried banana fritter, found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. They are ripe bananas that have been dipped in a simple batter and deep fried. The result is a banana that's crispy on the outside and creamy and sweet on the inside. The snack is so well-loved that many stalls have gotten creative with their deep-fried offerings, so you'll also find variations such as tapioca fritters, sweet potato fritters, etc
You can't possibly miss a pisang goreng stall when you pass by one. They usually have to be made fresh so there'll be deep frying at the stall and the irresistible aroma that comes out of it. Equally irresistible is the look of the golden coloured crispy flour that cover the pisang (or banana). The smell and sound of deep frying plus the sight of the fritters not only draw her admirers but also make buying them the best decision of the moment. I'd go as far as to say that if there's not more than one stall around the block, the pisang goreng stall never runs out of business.
Then Drama Starts To Happen
You start to frown though you try to hide it. That initial euphoria starts to wane the moment the hawker starts putting the fritters into the bag. Can you guess what has happened? What has happened is this. You've been waiting in queue for like 20 minutes and are finally face to face with the hawker. You ask for half a dozen of those pisangs and look on eagerly as the hawker puts them into that familiar brown waffle paper bag. Even though he's well trained in the trade, you can't help but notice that he's selecting three smaller pieces and perhaps three medium sized ones. No, not the biggest ones (usually positioned in front of the pack). Your eyes are following the tongs, they are so near the big juicy fritters, but he just swerves like the racer in the Grand Prix and the smaller piece next to it is selected instead. You simply cannot believe the betrayal. You feel like fainting.
What Was The Hawker Thinking?
In the mind of the hawker, he's just being wise. His rationale is that he can't be giving away the big pieces and leave the smaller pieces for last, no one's going to want them at the end of the day. He's merely taking care of the business.
Have you ever thought like that in your business? I guess you know you're not the only one. Many businesses do exactly the same thing. Why? Because it makes so much business sense.
But really? May I ask, what's the next most important thing a business must have apart from a great product (or service)?
I hope you got it right. It's not to have the biggest pieces of fritters at the end of the day. It's happy and loyal customers.
What Does The Customer Think?
The customer thinks likewise. He's thinking of the best bang for his bucks, don't you see? Whether we like to admit it at all, don't we all think the same as customers? We're always looking after our own interests.
Even though the above illustration has been dramatized for effect, it is not too far from the truth. What do you think will be the customer's reaction? The customer will probably keep quiet and think twice about coming back after such an experience, much less recommend friends to the stall. Seriously, you would too. We've all been there. The hawker sabotages his own business daily by repeating that one wrong move over and over again thinking that he's right. But instead of producing happy pisang customers, he's pissing off his customers.
The Right Mindset & Action?
For this example, the hawker should really get out of the norm and strive to always give the biggest pieces to the customer of the moment. And, if he is smart enough, he should make sure that his customer knows about it. How? Well, by stating the obvious! "For coming, I'm going to give you the biggest pieces I've got!" Say it loud enough for the customer in front of him to hear and the wait for the reciprocrating smile. Wait, but what if the hawker runs out of the big pieces? You see, the next customer has no idea of what the biggest pieces were. All he cares about is that he's getting the special treatment now. So, even though they're just mid-sized fritters, he'll still feel elated because those are the best he's getting from the hawker. This next customer, and the next, and the next will still be grateful as long as they're getting the best they can see. Get the picture? Now, guess what these happy people are going to tell their friends about the stall after this?
By setting a new trend, the hawker generates a good amount of goodwill with his customers and turns them into loyal customers. He can now say to them with confidence, "Do tell your friends about my stall".
OK, I've still not addressed the smaller leftover pieces. At the end of the day, if the sizes really do not justify the price, do a sale! That's being nice. Tell the later customers that they getting a discount or more pieces for the same price! That'll still generate some smiles and loyalty! Don't you think?
Think how you can do the same with your business. It doesn't matter whether you're selling a product or offering a service, the same principle applies. Giving the best to the customer can hardly go wrong. In fact, it'll bring you more customers.