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We just came back from the mall after spending some time shopping for a television. Strange, how impersonal some of the sales staff were to their customers. Breaking away from their cell phone to take the time to serve the clientele didn’t seem part of the job description. No wonder so many new business ventures fail.

We Canadians pride our selves on our vast natural resource base and our ability to manufacture consumer goods. After the hewing and producing we often neglect to see that the goods are useless unless they are sold.
Our American neighbors on the other hand take great pride in being involved in retail sales.

In Toronto there is Harry Rosen with son Larry the Chairman of a two hundred million dollar enterprise that has been in business for fifty-two years. His manager, Mary Viscogliosi, told me that it takes a life time to build a positive relationship. It takes but a minute to lose a customer. They are not interested in a one hit phenomenon.

In London we have Channer’s Men’s & Ladies Apparel. I spoke to Richard Channer who has been in retail with his brothers Mark & Peter for decades. Twenty sales staff enter the pertinent information of your measurements and preferences. A digital photo of you is sent to the manufacturers for made to measure clothes. Rest assured that the data is treated in confidence and not shared. There are two tailors on site to do alterations. Amazing, a week after the sale a card is sent home to check on your satisfaction. Hard cover copies of their sales material along with email allows them to keep in touch with their 6,500 customers.

My family has purchased in the past four years three new automobiles. A car is the second most expensive purchase next to buying a house in our household.

The car salesmen shook our hands in the show room and gave us our keys and registration forms. He did a good job at explaining the warranty and introduced us to the Service Department. Sad, we never ever heard from our salesperson again.

Oh, yea we are supposed to show our customer loyalty and return in due time to purchase another car from the dealership.

The former president of 3M, John Myser, believed that: ‘Some people think the purpose of business is to make money. Wrong. First you serve the needs/wants of your customers and then you make money.’

If you want to be successful in business check out the #1 National best seller, ‘In Search of Excellence, Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies,’ It’s all about quality, service and good value.

Under the heading ‘Service Obsession’ you can read about Joe Girard who has sold more cars then any other competitor in the United States.’ He believes the sale begins after the patron leaves the store. The customer is barely out the door before a thank you note is addressed. Joe genuinely cares about his customer relations sending out 13,000 cards a year. He realizes that his customers are his bread and butter; not merely dollar numbers in his bank-account.

Taking care of your customers should be our motto. If you had purchased stock in the Search for Excellence index in the 2002 edition your total return on your investment would have been 1,300% in 2004.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com