Greetings. Just because you have the best products or services doesn't mean that you'll be successful in business over the long term. This point came to mind in the past few weeks when a critically-acclaimed local restaurant closed it's doors. The General Store opened with great fanfare. Launched in 2009 by an award-winning chef, it quickly earned rave reviews for its simple and creative comfort food menu that included signature fried chicken, mac and cheese, beef stew, fish tacos, chili, corn bread, greens, crispy shrimp sandwiches, and a range of soups, pies, and other desserts. All offered in a comfortable old building that had been tastefully restored and included an old player piano.
So news of the restaurant's closing, after only two years in business, brought with it a flurry of articles in the local papers and several dozen letters posted on on-line chats throughout the surrounding community. Publicly the owners indicated that a dispute with the landlord had hastened the restaurant's demise. But many letters suggested a somewhat different story than the news reports. Customers who were initially excited about the restaurant wrote that "while the food was delicious the customer experience left a bad taste in their mouths"–citing incidents that ranged from a lack of interest and responsiveness to extremely rude behavior, particularly toward customers with children. One customer even noted an occasion when the owner screamed repeatedly at her son as he began to play the restaurant's piano. And, when she questioned the outburst and tried to explain that the piano did not have a sign reading "Do Not Touch" and did have a very comfortable and inviting bench, the owner spoke disparagingly to her for questioning the outburst.
And then a series of YouTube videos surfaced showing the owners mocking their customers. Talk about an innovative marketing strategy!
We'll never know what really forced The General Store to close, though the news stories reported that the owners were already planning to open another restaurant in a different location. But we do know that most customers expect to be treated with interest and respect. After all, they have choices. And so do all of your customers. As one former customer wrote: "There are lots of restaurants in our community that not only serve great food but are excited when you arrive. That make you feel welcome and treat you like family."
We win in business and in life by providing great products, services, and solutions. And by treating our customers with the kindness and consideration they deserve. Do you treat your customers like "family" (i.e, in the very best sense of the word)?