One thing that’s really cool about owning a business is…YOU get to make the rules! There is definitely an empowering feeling when you can dictate how a situation goes down and don’t have to rely on a manager or boss to tell you how to handle it. Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility and all too often, business owners push people away with their rules and regulations.
“THAT IS OUR POLICY.”
Those 4 simple words say a lot and, in many cases, they simply say “We don’t want your business.” I know, there are many instances where a customer can try to take advantage of a business and unless you have some rules in place, things can get out of hand quickly. But there are also MANY times were using sound judgement and discussing a solution can go a long way to building customer relationships and establish your business as one who values the people who help pay the bills.
For example, what if someone shows up to your business and needs to use the restroom? Oftentimes, such a request will be met with “Only employees can use our bathrooms, THAT IS OUR POLICY.” Of course, you don’t want your business to be the public restroom, but I’ve had this happen to me at a local store that I would visit AT LEAST once per week and have given THOUSANDS of dollars to over the years. (ok, they happen to sell my favorite beer and wine…) I felt I knew these people, I thought they were friends. One evening, the restaurant on the same block was closed, I was about 10 minutes from home and roadwork meant I was sitting for an additional 10 minutes. I had to go…BAD. I stopped in the place and asked to use the restroom. I would have ABSOLUTELY purchased a bottle of wine before heading home, post bathroom break, but I was met with a fairy firm “We do not allow customers to use our bathrooms.” I felt a gut punch. There was no friendliness, no exception for someone whom they’ve known for 5 years. Just a firm NO. Again, if I was just a random off the street person, I’d have understood a little better, but even then, why take the opportunity to turn away a new client?? And yes, devil’s advocates can jump in with any number of reasons as to why they may have such a policy (few would ever hold up to scrutiny in a situation such as this, as a bathroom break for someone who has given you thousands of dollars worth of business is a pretty sound way to go.
The bottom line is, I walked out. I have since been back, but rarely. I will go to another store who has similar goods. No, I don’t know the people at these other stores, but I don’t see a reason to give one business money over another if there is ZERO relationship there. Their policy had zero flexibility and I realized I was JUST a customer. And if I am JUST a customer, then they are JUST a liquor store. There are plenty of those.
I am sure you can sense a tinge of bitterness…it’s there. Simply put, look at each situation within your business as just that, a UNIQUE situation. If you allow someone to get a discount after a sale has ended, or you stay open 5 minutes longer because a customer couldn’t arrive sooner, or you let someone in need use your restroom, you may have instilled a deep feeling of gratitude within that person and you may have just created a longtime customer. OR, you can just say NO…and see how that works out for you.