The Customer Comes First

This may seem obvious, but as an entrepreneur who founded three companies, I have learned that caring about customers is an intrinsic part of one’s character and beliefs and not something easily “taught”.

Caring about customers requires asking for an opinion and listening to it carefully.
Most of all, it demands that you are willing to reconfigure your OWN ideas about your own business by recognizing that your business is nothing without customers.

Over the years, I have learned so much from the people who have generously supported me. Of course, it is not possible in each case to execute on the ideas that have been shared, but it is crucial to evaluate them carefully before deciding to delay or reject acting on this information.

Using a simple example (that strangely enough emerged in both my tile and eyewear companies), the color red is something that some people love and seek out but not at the level of financial commitment that minimum orders to manufacturers often require.

Many a tile company has been saddled with thousands of dollars of red trim offset by very few sales.

Custom-designed and crafted eyewear also carries high minimums per style and color.

But listening to salespeople and customers who want this is important also.

I have learned that a respectful conversation about the business side of this creative desire is very helpful and that owners, employees, and customers working together can figure out a way to help one another come to the best result.

When the listening goes all three ways, it is really magical, but however, you look at it understanding that you are there to serve others and not to defend yourself requires that you truly appreciate that someone has taken the time to look at your products and has generously supported you either by buying them or taking the time to explain why that was not possible this time.

Customers and merchants are actually engaged in a partnership, and all enduring partnerships require hard work and integrity.