Twisting like a pretzel to please the customer

I have seen many small business owners exhibit a willingness to do anything for a customer, such as meeting at odd hours. I oppose the idea–I desire to have a life and I’m not willing to turn into a pretzel to please my customers.

Some believe that flexibility shows the customer that the business “will be there for the customer.” Is this really the message that you want to convey?

I doubt that business owners literally mean that they would do anything to please the customer. So where does they draw the line? Are they willing to give up weekends and evenings. If they are willing to meet customers at 7 p.m., why not 8 p.m., or 9 p.m., or any other time the customer chooses?

Some may say that my questions are silly, that we have to draw the line somewhere. I agree that we must draw a line. I simply disagree where the line should be drawn, and who should draw it.

While I believe that we should exhibit some flexibility in dealing with customers, it should be on our terms. We should establish the type of business we want to own, and then operate on that standard. I choose to have a life in addition to my business. I do not want my business dominating my life and preventing me from enjoying other activities.

I will admit that there was a time I would do almost anything a customer requested. And I was miserable. My life was being dictated by the desires of others. And when I finally realized this and established set work hours, a funny thing happened—customers were generally accommodating. We occasionally lose a lead, but it is rather infrequent. Just as customers find a way to accommodate the cable guy, or the phone company, or a multitude of other service providers, they can find a way to accommodate us as well.

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