My Two Cents: A Simple Business Lesson

This is a quick lesson about customer service and making money for people who don’t or haven’t pondered the actual importance of customers and money to their business.

My gym/fitness club has a fitness beverage/smoothie counter in it, operated by a franchise.  It’s a little overpriced but super convenient when I’m in a rush and need to pound 70g of protein and a banana and almond milk and don’t have a NutriBullet plugged in the Honda.  Which is more frequently than you may imagine. 

On the counter is a “$1” basket, where you can buy, for $1, any number of sample-sized items.  Amino acid powders to mix in your water, help you move along in the workout.  Maybe some Energy Boosters to pop before you change into your sweatpants so that when you’re about ready to do some sit-ups, you’ll feel energized… like enough energy to nakedly grapple a gawddammed rabid bear BECAUSE THOSE PILLS HAVE ONE GEAR AND IT’S GONNA HAPPEN WHETHER OR NOT YOU’RE ON THE ELLIPTICAL AND YOU’RE GONNA FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A CHAINSAW DICK, CAPTAIN KHAKIPANTS…Image

i pulled a packet of amino powder out the other day, it was clearly labeled “FOR INTRA-WORKOUT FOCUS AND ENERGY – NOT LABELED FOR RESALE”.  But I don’t care, it’s a dollar, and I had a $1 bill on me and I needed workout focus and energy, labeling be damned.

The gal working the counter rings me up… $1.08
Sorry, what?  8 cents over a dollar?  Taxed on an item you’re not supposed to be selling?  I just look at her and say, “Oh, I don’t have any change, can we just do the dollar?” 
She’s like “Umm, sorry, it won’t let me.”  SO HERE’S THE LESSON

I said, “Ah, ok.  Sorry, I don’t have any change.”  No sale.  Not then.  Not in the future.
You either make a dollar on a free item, or you lose a dollar on a free item due to 8 pennies worth of misprogramming.  And hopefully hear the message:
Getting some of something you need is always better than getting all of nothing.

I had this issue with a local vacuum & sewing machine repair shop, too.  We were given a very nice, ridiculously powerful vacuum cleaner that takes special bags we usually have to order online.  A local business sells them for $22.99 for 6, so you can see how many ways this vacuum sucks.  Online we can get them for $17 + $3 shipping.  We walked into the local brick & mortar and said “Hey, we have $20 for these bags.”
The lady behind the counter with enough time on her hands to barely look up from her magazine said “Hmm, those are $23, though.” 
“Yeah, but we don’t have the $3, I have cash ready to buy one of these 7 packs, can we do $20?”

She looked at us with distrust, like we’re trying to pull a fast one on her.  Well, nobody gets one over on this gal.  Nope.  No dice.  Wouldn’t budge.  Also, wouldn’t be adding any money from us, then or in the future, into her till. 

The customer doesn’t always have to be RIGHT.  But you have to have a customer in the store before you can even have a discussion with them, let alone build the relationship, appreciate their business, and try to upsell them on a real nice Dyson you just repaired. 

If you run a business and have a set price for something, remember that price is what you HOPE the customer will pay for the item.  Why stop there?  Why not sell 1 pair of over-embossed sweatpants for $180, instead of 6 pairs at $50?  Less work for you, right?  I’m not saying you should haggle over every little item you want to buy; it’s not a garage sale, it’s a place of business.  But don’t let 8% cost you 100%.  Do the right thing. 

Oh, and have some food samples out. 

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About Geoff Lott

Geoff Lott is a "thinking person's comedian" as much as a "drinking person's comedian." Born and raised near Seattle, his writing and comedy is Cloudy with a Chance of Hope. Less offensive than your average nightly news program, Geoff is opinionated with intent, and a rebel without a clause. A comedian, actor, dad, husband, co-worker, weirdo, and great friend, Geoff Lott has a sense of humor like a sommelier's sense of smell; aged well, with a hint of dark chocolate, Irish whiskey, and leather. Credits and press kit available upon request!
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