LeadershipManagement

Gut Check Time: How Good of a Customer Are You?

Have you ever worked retail? I have, and I waited tables and bartended for years in high school and college. Didn’t you just hate it when a customer gave you attitude, was rude, and acted like you were the cause for all of their problems? I used to get so annoyed butshutterstock_146001740 there was almost always someone that came in after them who was so nice they made up for the other moron. So my question is, what kind of customer are you?

There is no doubt I have been that moron serving up attitude if the order took too long, or if I saw the store only had one person on register, creating a long line I had to wait in. How about outside of your personal experience though? What kind of customer are you in your business? When I was working as a bedding producer it always befuddled me when I would sit down with a retailer who decided it was their job to intimidate me and do everything in their power to make sure the deal of the day would in no way benefit my company. There was no such thing as the win/win to them. 

Here’s the thing: just because you are a buyer and control a large spend and could easily justify acting like a jerk because you CAN doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Do buyers really think they are going to get the best deal from a supplier by keeping them waiting extra long in the lobby, not returning phone calls, or making sure you get stuck with the check EVERY SINGLE TIME you share a meal? People like to throw around the word “partnership” – so is it, or isn’t it?

Stan Harmon from Sam’s Club used to buy me lunch out of his own pocket because his company would not pay for a supplier and we could not pay for him. Bert Rainwater from Dillard’s used to bring his suppliers together in meetings to work strategy for his bedding department as a team instead of always pitting us against one another. Bridget Gordon, my old buyer from Montgomery Ward, used to make out with me in the back of taxi cabs (we ended up getting married so maybe that doesn’t count). Guess what? I broke my back for these guys because they were looking out for us as well, not just trying to stick us for everything they could.

Have you ever asked your suppliers to rate you on how good of a customer you are? Do you have a relationship with them where you are confident they will tell you the truth? If they like you and trust you, they are going to give you the best deals, provide you with insights that will help you buy the right things, and simply want you to win – which should not be underestimated. If you like who you are selling to, or who you are buying from, it stands to reason you are going to go the extra mile to make them successful.

So the next time you stretch your supplier on payment terms, just remember what kind of impact that has on you when your customers do the same. Be the kind of customer you want your customers to be and the good karma will reward you over and over. Am I being too soft here? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

2 thoughts on “Gut Check Time: How Good of a Customer Are You?

  1. Mark : I remember some 40+ years ago this from a Owner operator of 5 Supermarkets.
    ” I always talk to salesmen, thats how I learn about our industry”. That has always stuck with me so no matter how busy I am I’ll take the time to at least listen to anyone who wants to talk about My Business. Still learning !

    1. That is some very good advice Bill, thanks for passing it along. I have heard people also talk about how important the delivery guys are as they can also tell you a lot about the industry. And your competition!

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