5 Words From A Small Business Owner That Make Me Scream!

I was having an email conversation with a Small Business Salt follower earlier today. She runs a coffee shop in Denver and was telling me that she was stepping back from the day to day counter services of selling the coffee etc. to focus on the marketing and finances. She is clearly a smart lady and is going to be even more successful in the future than she is already. The secret for all business owners is to understand that if they spend time cracking the marketing code that works for their business, they will always be successful.

I have no doubt she will do well, and no doubt if you visit her coffee shop (Forty Weight Coffee in Arvada, Denver) that you will receive excellent service, along with excellent coffee.

However, I am not so sure this will happen if you visit one of the UK’s larger and more expensive supermarkets, Waitrose! I have a Waitrose store a stone’s throw from my office in Nailsea, so I often pop in there to get milk, tea etc. and sometimes my lunch (not that I stop for lunch of course, because as Michael Douglas said in Wall Street, “Lunch is for wimps”).

Every single time I go in there and am ready to pay, at the start of my checkout experience the cashier asks me five words which are slowly driving me insane. “Would you like a bag?”

Now it is a fairly harmless question at first glance isn’t it? And I can understand why Waitrose train their cashiers to ask the question in the now environmentally friendly world in which we live in. Plastic is bad for the world. I accept and understand that.

The problem I have with it is that the question seems as far removed from the Waitrose brand as you could possibly get. Waitrose is supposedly all about quality: quality produce, quality staff and quality service. So if they are really all about quality, can they not train their cashiers to lean their neck slightly to the left or right and realise that if I have 20 items on the conveyor belt and no bag in my hands I am going to need a bag or two? Wouldn’t that be what a quality supermarket that is supposed to go a little bit further than the others would do for me? Why ask a question which is simply unnecessary and might annoy some of their less patient customers like me?

Now I am worried that one day I am going to snap and make some ridiculously underhand remark to an innocent cashier who is just doing as she is told to do.

“Would you like a bag”.

“Oh no, that’s fine. Don’t you worry about that! I have trained these 30 items on your conveyor belt to levitate their way back to my office. Once I have paid you they are just going to float up into the air, out of the doors, down the High Street a little and then up the stairs into my office. So stand down cashier, a plastic bag is not needed for me.”

The important question for you and for your business is this; are you doing something that drives your clients totally insane without realising it? Are you providing a generally exceptional service most of the time yet failing in one small area which is slowly building resentment like Waitrose is doing with me? The trouble is that you can do 99 things right, but the one thing you do wrong could kill all of your good efforts.

Are you providing a fantastic service when you have a new client, yet your phone rings out when a new prospect tries to call you? Are you doing everything else right but then you have a Rottweiler who telephones to chase payment of an invoice on its due date making your clients think twice about using you again?

We get so wrapped up in our businesses that sometimes we miss the small things that can suddenly open the gates of success for us. Take some time to do what my Forty Weight Coffee lady is doing in Denver. Stand back from the day to day service you provide and look at what you do from the eyes of your clients. You might just find a couple of hurdles or stumbling blocks that you have been making your clients climb over or navigate around before they can really appreciate what you do. Remove them and see what happens….

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