Hello! Thank you for continuing to read my Shop Talk series, even though its postings are not regular. I would like to discuss an issue that is sure to come up sooner or later as a business owner. I want to share with you a sentence that I have used before and it served me well:
"That is not how I run my business."
At some point in every business, you will come across a request, a client, or situation in which you are forced to rethink your business. And even more commonly, well-meaning (and even mean-spirited) people like to offer suggestions on how you should do things. Always one to want to learn, I do listen to the "advice" and take what I need and throw out the rest. That is just common sense. We all do that. But, there are times that if the suggestion of how to run our business is not taken, the "advisor" can become persistent in wanting to get his/her way.
Some common examples are: You don't offer lay-away. The customer may become persistent or start criticizing your policies. You then just simply say: "That is not how I run my business." No explanation needed. Or there may be a time in which a customer complains about how all the other stores stay open until 8PM, and that your store closes at 5PM. Again, my favorite reply: "That is not how I run my business." Or, a client wants to only purchase 5 of your custom soaps (that you sell wholesale to store owners), but you require a minimum of 10 soaps, again, "that's not how I run my business" comes in handy.
I once had a customer come into my store (many years ago when I was fairly new at this) who wanted to hire me to furnish her entire second floor with furniture. She had lived in the home for almost four years and the second floor still remained bare. I had never seen her before, but she "heard about me." I explained my consulting fee and how my consulting service and shopping works. We made an appointment for the next week. A few days later, this customer calls me up and tells me that she and her husband were not comfortable paying me by the hour. That instead, I should just come over and see what she needs, and go get it for her and she will pay just for the furniture at whatever price I come up with and my payment will be the profit I make from the furniture sale.
First, I was startled by the offer. And I did think about the offer for a bit. I know how much work it takes to find the right furniture, ordering, delivering and so on...but that isn't the point. What I didn't like was not only how she casually approached my business, especially after I explained how my service works and after she agreed to an appointment, but what she basically was telling me was that my time was worth nothing. Only the furniture was worth paying for. So, this was my reply to her:
"Jane Doe, while I appreciate you wanting to hire me to find furniture for your second floor, I am a little taken aback at you not wanting to pay for my time, but only for the furniture. What you are proposing is like hiring a baker to create an elaborate wedding cake with all the frosted details. And once the cake is delivered, you only want to pay for the sugar, flour, butter, and eggs. I have the eye, the taste, and the ability to pick out furnishings that fit perfectly in your home that many do not. If it was easy to do, your second floor would be furnished by now. I am sorry, but that is not how I run my business."
I then gave her an out and told her to think about it and to talk to her husband again. And that I will cancel the appointment and should she reconsider, she could always call me back. I never heard from her again, which I knew I wouldn't. I may have been new at retail, but I also know when someone is waving a carrot in front of me - and no one, and I mean no one would ever "pay whatever price" I put on a piece of furniture.
I once had a customer that required a lot of "hand holding." Meaning, she always needed to know every single step of my process, how I was doing something, and had to put her two cents in all the time I was working on a custom order for her. She expressed many times that she didn't understand why I charge extra for a particular service because according to her "that should just be part of the job." No matter that I explained up front that this service was extra, and she agreed to that, she continued to "tell me for future reference" that I should not charge for it. Finally, at one point, she once again said, "I just don't think you should charge for this service, it should be part of the project." I said to her calmly and with a smile, "That is the beauty of owning one's own business. I get to run it any way I choose. I don't run my business that way." And by the way, what she was asking for (too complicated to explain) was most definitely not a part of the project.
So please remember that it really IS your business. You can run it any way you choose and you can change the rules anytime you choose. Of course, we all hope to run our businesses smartly and to make changes smartly. But bottom line is: it is our business to run how we see fit. Luckily I had only a few "suggestions" on how to run my business. Some were good, some were just stupid, and some were mean-spirited. But like I told one customer who chastised me loudly for closing my store for ten minutes (I put up a sign on the door when I am out back getting a delivery) and how if SHE had a store she wouldn't keep customers waiting outside. I just simply told her that it sounds like she needs her own business so she could mind it.
I hope my experiences help you to remember that your business is ran by your rules. And also know that simply because someone wants you to do something out of the norm for your business, you don't have to give a reply right then. You can just say you will get back with them after giving it some thought. I do that all the time. Never feel pressure to make a decision on the spot when you are unsure. There are very few times that a decision can't wait. Most of them can.
From my house to your house,