HOW TO RUIN A BUSINESS

Two interactions with local businessmen remind me how easy it is for business owners to ruin their businesses, rather than run them.  In the first, I received a call last week from a handyman that my family has used for tasks around the home property from time-to-time.  His assistant left me a message that they were just “checking in” and if we needed anything to give them a call.  All good, so far, right?  The fellow always does a credible job, so I looked around for things to have him come over to do and sent him a text that evening detailing the job, thinking that he would be able to order his day better if he knew the details.  He responded almost immediately.  All good so far, right?  But his response was:   “Contact the office to make these arrangements.”   Hunh – ?  If he wanted his “office” to be informed (actually his wife serves as his assistant) he could simply have forwarded the text to her and asked that she give me a call.  Did I make the effort to “contact the office” you might be asking – ?  No, I didn’t take my time to adhere to his fantasies of grandeur; we’re using someone else.

The second instance is a story similar to this one, only 15 years later.  A new UPS store was opening in the center nearest our house.  I decided to drop in, congratulate the new owners and do some “exploratory” business on the morning they were opening.  I had parked in front of the store and watched as the operator and his family came back together from the nearby Starbucks with their drinks and went inside.  When my cellphone indicated that it was 9:00am I approached the front door, only to find it locked.  As I attempted to open the door, the newly-decaffeinated operator approached from the other side – to open the door, I thought.  No, what his mission was to look at me through the glass and point to his watch, which apparently indicated that it was a few minutes before 9:00.  Well, you can probably guess my reaction – I turned on my heel and left the premises never to return until last week – 15 years later, when the new management was signifying that the store offered a Notary service.  While I was inside for the notary work, I related the story for the current manager, to her horror.  And, I tell the story frequently when I talk with our corporate clients, to remind them that it doesn’t take much to lose a customer.

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