It’s easy to get caught up in the fancy business cards, the elegant office furniture, and the latest toys and tools when trying to close that next big sale. We should remember, though, that our customers often take a more practical approach in their opinion of us and their purchasing decision. “Can we trust them?” and “Will they deliver what they promise?” are the things we should focus on, not how much business bling we can wave around.
In my youth I started a jobbing business with a friend. We purchased beverages and such in bulk from a wholesaler, then went store to store selling those wares. It was a tight, cutthroat business (a fact we learned quickly) and the area we worked already had several jobbers – independents like us, and employees of major brands like Pepsi. We were
naive stupid undaunted, and pressed forward with this business venture.
Guess what we found?
In our ignorance, we’d tell the store owner when we’d come back again, and to their complete and utter surprise that’s when we came back again. This idea of a jobber doing what they promised was clearly a concept they hadn’t expected, and for some reason many of them switched their business from their regular jobber to us. In fact, I recall walking into a store one afternoon to find the owner arguing with the local Pepsi trucker. The owner saw us and then told the jobber, “Forget it, I’m getting my Pepsi from these guys from now on.” I kept my mouth shut, hoping they’d work things out (because we didn’t carry Pepsi and couldn’t possibly make any money doing it) but the Pepsi jobber quickly conceded.
Eventually we got squeezed out by our suppliers to the point where we could no longer offer reasonable prices and had to close our doors. (That, and school was starting up again.) Anyway, the business lasted several months and was a wellspring of lessons in my ongoing entrepreneurial activities. The most important lesson I learned from it was this:
Promise what you’ll do, then do what you promise.
It helped us overcome a wealth of barriers, and made a difference for our customers. It can do wonders for your business, too.
Image courtesy of Srinayan Puppala via Flickr