Because of complicating factors, I was in an unfamiliar part of town last week and had to find a place to take my kids for dinner. I chose a chain restaurant that looked clean and immediately regretted my choice.
It was clean and orderly but the food was terrible. The cashier upsold me on toppings to net the chain an bonus 50 cents. What does it say about a company that would choose such a small one-time profit instead of fostering long-term customer loyalty? Because that’s what that 50 cents netted them.
Also, the TV was tuned in to ESPN and it destroyed the possibility of any kind of conversation. Everyone who worked there looked bored and counting the minutes until their shift was over. Not a single person there was motivated by management to do anything outside of the bare minimum required. That’s what you get when you manage by the stick and not by using carrots.
It was near a high traffic mall and we were surrounded by other chain stores. I had the overwhelming feeling of being processed – lumped into a giant pack to be fed, clothed, and entertained in bulk. I didn’t fully grasp the scale and reach of these herd-processing corporations until I read that if McDonalds wanted to create a menu item featuring shrimp, they would deplete the world’s shrimp supply in 2-3 months.
Don’t get me wrong, this kind of processing is entirely preferable to the alternative. Given the choice of Big Mac or starvation, I’ll pick the Big Mac seven days a week. But it did give me insight into why small businesses, like mine, flourish in the face of enormous competition.
Small businesses can’t compete with the big chains when it comes to efficiency and a low, low price. But we can when it comes to not treating people like herd animals, or not using deceptive practices to net an additional 50 cents on a transaction. When running a small business, doing good work leads to more work. The best advertising route available to you is your good name.
Small businesses have to provide a good product that we are proud to serve and motivated to serve with a smile because we know our livelihoods depend on it. I’m all too aware of the competition out there and focus on delivering products to my clients with speed, quality, and a smile.
It’s David vs. Goliath all over again – you have to be fast, smart, and use technology to your advantage to succeed in this line of work. It’s a welcome change and I love it.