Our high school janitor was Mr. Mitchell. He was always dressed in a clean khaki uniform, usually attached to a wide hall broom. He took great care of his white, crewcut hair. Always tidy, he liked the place clean.
One day, I heard him express his true feelings about his job –
“It’s the students who make my job tough. Some day we should get rid of them all, then I could get my job done and it would stay done.”
I have heard the same kind of thinking from many retailers, particularly quick serve restaurant franchisees. The customers make their job so difficult. Customers mess things up; they don’t understand how things are supposed to run; they are always complaining.
They should stop and realize that without those “customers” there would be no job for them. It is part of the price of operating a business or service.
While the retailers’ focus is on their business processes – that is not their real goal. Their real goal is making the customer happy. If they make the customer happy, those customers will return. Repeat this pattern and the retailer will have higher sales; if they have higher sales they will make more profit.
So often we lose sight of the real Goal in Business – making a profit to stay in business. This means solving problems in the short term without forgetting to think for the long term, not just the immediate, short term.
Short term thinking can get you through a predicament; but, it doesn’t build the longer term streams of revenue that create real success and provide long term life for an enterprise.
The old cliche is: that when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is tough to remember you were there to drain the swamp. But draining the swamp will get rid of the alligators.
Mr. Mitchell’s hidden goal was self defeating. He was always pleasant with the students while harbouring this inner desire. Besides, at a high school, he got rid of the kids every three or five years anyway.
Retailers do not have that turnover. They should be aiming to make customers for life.