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08.26.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

#1 Thing Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know

If you’re a small business owner, you probably believe that you’re in business to deliver a specific product or service. That’s obvious, right?

I want to suggest to you, however, that there’s another component to being in business for yourself—one that’s often overlooked.

This one thing is the difference between surviving and thriving in business. It’s the one thing that will awe your customers and will fulfill your desire for repeat business and tons of referrals.

So, whether you sell carpet, cars, or houses—whatever the nature of your business— what you really need to know is that the #1 thing you do is solve problems.  

That’s basically it. Your customer has a specific problem or need, and it’s your job to make sure that need is met or the problem is solved.

As entrepreneurs, we too often fool ourselves into thinking we do just that, but the greater probability is that we get so focused on our bottom line, we forget this one very simple thing.

I don’t know about you, but I find that whenever I work with a small independent business owner and a problem comes up—and a problem always come up—that business owner will often do one of three things:

1.         Blame someone else for the problem.

2.         Try to make me think that the problem isn't real.

3.         Ignore the problem all together.

The reason we do this is because we didn't build a “problem” into our pricing structure. To fix the problem would undoubtedly cost us more time and money.

Here’s the deal. The customer doesn't care about your reason. All they know is that the problem isn't being resolved. If they aren't being heard, they will easily become angry, frustrated, and annoyed. And, they will more than likely tell everyone they know just how they feel.

As an independent business owner, you can’t afford that backlash. You want referrals and satisfied customers. If all you have are enemies describing the details of their horrible experience to their friends and neighbors, you probably won’t be in business very long.

So, here’s a story of how this #1 thing became very real to me over the last few months.

We’re renovating our master bath. I mean I put this off until the tiles were literally falling off the wall because, quite frankly, I just didn't want to deal with having contractors in and out of my house. Anyone who’s ever gone through a renovation can tell you, it’s rarely, if ever, fun.

We were looking for a professional who would get the job done and who would take full responsibility for any issues that might arise along the way. After months and months of shopping around, we met Keith Vellequette and knew we’d found our man.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Timely response to our initial call.
  • Sales process that was efficient and more about us than him.
  • Confidence that he could get the job done and meet our needs.
  • Show room and design team that allowed us to visualize a finished product.
  • Efficient start-up date.
  • Impressive team that secured and respected our home.
  • Outstanding contractors who are committed to getting the job done.
  • Cohesive teamwork that responds to our questions/concerns immediately.

I could go on and on about KBF Kitchen Designs. My husband and I have been camping out in the guest room for several weeks now. The right side of our home is virtually off limits, pretty much a construction site, and, yet, Keith and his team have somehow managed to make this a pleasant experience.

Yes, I really did say, pleasant. But, how?

Keith and his team understand the #1 thing. They are not in my home to make me crazy or miserable. They are here to give us a new bathroom—something we've dreamed and talked about for almost 15 years. And, when problems arise, as they always do in the midst of renovation, Keith and his team put their heads together, and, they solve them.

They are not in the business of making me wrong. They are not in the business of ignoring my questions or requests. They are not in the business of trying to work around what needs to be done just because it would be easier for them or their schedule.

KBF Kitchen Designs is in the business of solving problems for their customers.

If this experience had turned out differently, I wouldn't be writing about it. It’s not my practice to bad mouth another business (well, okay, I make exceptions for airlines), but I am so enjoying the professionalism of this team, I just had to share the good news.

It’s not often enough that we, as consumers, run across excellence. When we do, I think it’s worth a shout.

The bathroom is not yet complete, but I’m not anticipating any horrendous problems from this point on. What’s great is that I know whatever comes up, Keith and his team will handle it.

When a team comes together at this level of excellence, it’s a testimony to great leadership. I've taught leadership for many years, and Keith exemplifies it as well as any I've known. What he’s produced is a company founded on loyalty—loyalty to one another and loyalty to the customer.

So, to Keith, Melissa, Dwaine, Jonathan, Austin, Beau, Ashley, and the rest of the team . . .I’m gonna miss you guys coming in and out of my home every day.

Now, that’s customer service and definitely something to brag about!

Q:  What’s the best or worst customer experience you've ever had? [reminder]

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. August 26, 2014