There is only one reason to be in business and that is to make a profit. If you are not making a profit it is not a business, but a hobby and you had better find a job!

Your Customers

You must produce your product to the best of your ability and continue to for ways to make your product the best in you town, then your province, then your country....and finally the world.

ALWAYS have a open mind and train yourself to think outside the square and train yourself in lateral thinking.  If you do this you will find you are in rarefied air with very few others in competition. 

It is easy to be a success in business because there is often in NZ no competition. 

When I say no competition the people who are in your business are not perfect and there is a pretty good chance while they may be doing one thing right they are doing many things wrong.  So start picking on the things they are doing wrong and start doing those things right.  People will notice and if they don't... TELL THEM.   You will of course have to do the thing they are doing right BETTER than they are.  Things can always be done a little bit better.

Develop your "differential advantage"  work out WHY people should deal with you and don't bore me with things like Good, Trustworthy, Kind to animals ...of course you have to be good in these areas I mean the real difference people experience when they deal with you... if you do not have a differential advantage you better get QUICK!

You can not win a argument with a customer!  Many people think they have won the argument they have with their customer.... but it is hard to check that out when they go off and deal with your competition!

You must be fair to your customers and at all times give them the benefit of any doubt that there may be in any transactions.

If you are supplying a technical product you may find some of your new clients do not have the right understanding to use you product or to supply to you the raw material for you to do your job to your normal standard.  

You therefore need to educate your client to a level that is necessary for them to become one of your better clients.  You must do this with equal vigor to all of you clients knowing that some will mature to excel and others will become plodders needing reassurance often, but they will remain loyal clients contributing to your profits year after year.

Occasionally you may find one that that takes advantage of you if you adopt the above philosophy, but remember if they purchase $100 of you services per week and you maintain their custom for 10 years and you have a 20% margin you will have received from them $10400.00.  Now would you tell a customer worth that to go and get stuffed?   

First you must examine your dealings with them and ask yourself what have you done wrong? Often it is you at fault and you need to put your house in order and when you do this all of your customers will benefit. 

However in spite of all of the re and soul ing some may be costing you more than this to deal with them so take them to one side and talk to them...sometimes you may find out something about you or your product which will turn your thinking around and send you on your way to your second million.

Explain that while you understand they have a right to complain you to the other degree do produce your product for them to the best of your ability which is obviously not up to their standard.   Therefore you would respectfully ask them to find another supplier within 10 days.

Often you will find that they will remain with you and their complaints will disappear or reduce to normal levels and they will become your best customer.

The TEN year rule
When you work out your cost of getting a customer think of the 10 year period and what you will obtain if you look after them and keep them for ten is very interesting.    

My customers in the '80's were averaging $2000 per month with a 20% profit ratio.  This meant that the average customer was responsible for a profit of $48,000 over the 10 year period.

When you think that some of those customers are still there almost 30 years later you can see why they were looked after and helped in their business and why seminars were arranged to keep them upto date with current trends.

Is this any way to treat a Customer
Vodafone have just written to me (Dec '00) and TOLD me that they were changing my pricing plan because it would save me money... Oh really!
If it was so good why did they not give me the option?

When I queried it, the real reason was they were discontinuing my current plan and that was the one THEY had worked out suited me....I had NO OPTION....the plan that they had told me was there as long as I want it, HAD GONE! ...but then they are a multi national, so they know no better!

The Landagent or as they call themselves today "property consultants"  
This guy persuaded me to let him show a American Millionaire thro our home.  When he arrived he shook my hand as if he was a lumberjack seeing who had the strongest grip. With arthritis in my hand he did not impress me!  Here is your sign

He was complaining about not being able to contact people because his Cellular phone supplier was "Down". Well if you are in a business where you need constant communication it would make sense to carry a different supplier's "Pay as you go" cellular can probably even redirect your calls from your "Down supplier" to your spare "Pay as you go phone"  Yes! He needs a sign

He then saw our Persian cat out on the balcony crying to be let in.  He asked why? I told him we did not want her under out feet. He replied "I don't mind" ...."what about your clients stupid" I felt like asking! Here is your sign

He then told me 20 minutes into the tour that "he did not want to rush me but they would have to be gone in 20 minutes" as we were over halfway thro the house I do not know why he disturbed his client with that comment!  As it was were were finished with 10 minutes to spare!  Here is your sign

He then promised to phone me later in the day which he did not do nor did he phone the following day. You make a promise you do it that is why it is called a promise! Here is your sign

Well he better pull up his sox if he wants to make real money in his business, as if these were the "foxes paws" he made with me, goodness knows how many others he makes in the course of a day.

Being called Ivan by a sales assistant young enough to be my grandchild or any salesman especially car salesmen and others of a equal social standing.   Now when they ask me my name I tell them McLellan....when they ask me for my first name as they invariably do I tell them they can call me Mr.

When shopping, for the assistant to ask "are you all right" I always answer "Yes it is nice for you to care" They usually don't hear me as they already have dropped back into their dream world!


Your Suppliers
Their Creed should indicate that they likewise have a duty to you to be fair in their treatment to you, to supply you goods and support in a manner that will enable you to prosper in business and there-by sell you more product.

Dealing with your suppliers
You of course need to be reasonable it your demands to your suppliers and this works well in most circumstances.  However where they choose to ignore what I have labeled their creed above and it affects you ability to make the profit that is rightfully yours, I get angry!

Now Psalm 37.11 of the Good Book tells us "But the humble shall possess the land" or as it is sometimes quoted "The meek shall inherit the Earth"   ....but let me assure you it will not in this life time!    Bastards win every time!

The multi- Nationals are the worse at this and the larger they are the worse (in most cases) are the staff.   They begin to think like those wonderful people called public servants.   They are all the time thinking about how certain things will affect their promotion or their budget.   Now do not under estimate this concern of "their Budget" this is paramount to their thinking.  If what you ask is not within their budget then you have major problems.  If you are large enough then you will probably get your request but some poor small bastard will get screwed to make up their budget.

Now for those rare gems out there that work for the multi nationals who generally have your interests at heart ....we love you and please try and stay there helping for as long as possible.  However you can be sure that some corporate person will move them sideways to where they can no longer help the customers of the coy.

So how do you deal with a multi national who is ignoring your cries for help and you see your business disappearing before your eyes.

First of all you must realize that the people you are dealing with ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS.   You have no responsibility to them what so ever if they fail to do their job, in looking after you, their customer.

It becomes a factor of YOU or THEM and personally as far as I am concerned it is me every time.

If the action you take causes them to loose their it your fault?   Or their stupid fault.  Unfortunately with most multi nationals it is fairly hard to loose a job thro lack of competency, otherwise they possibly would have no staff.

Back in the '70's we had a Wang 2200 computer. We were, in computer talk, small ...very small.  One week it started giving us trouble and the service man came happened to be a Friday afternoon and round 5pm he told us he had to go and would return some time on Monday.... this fell straight thro to the category of "Ivan you are being screwed! " 

So I rang the Auckland Manager and in nice tones told him of my problems.  He was not sympatric.... I then Faxed Dr Wang in USA telling him of my problems.  The last thing the founder or president of a coy wants to hear is of some small problem that should be delt with at the local level. 

I then thought I should be fair so I rang the Auck Manager back and told him of what I had done.. he only said six words "you have cost me my job" and hung up.   And he did go several weeks later.  I never had that trouble again!

Unfortunately the staff of one of my suppliers did not learn as fast... they fought me every step of the way....I never had to go the the President of the coy....often the NZ M/D sorted out the problem occasionally I had to go several layers above.

I always found that if the request was reasonable the request was never denied at that level.  This did not endear me to the staff, but most time I did not get messed with and was able to carry on and build the largest colour lab in NZ in spite of some of the staff of one of my suppliers.

Again being fair, most of the problems came thro their training and their lack of knowledge, which is the result of management's thinking and decisions re training of their staff.

So what do you do if you have a problem

  1. Talk to the staff at your normal level if you get nowhere
  2. write down the total problem from your point and telephone the M/D of the coy and tell him you are sending him a fax.  Give it 24 hours and if you have not heard from somebody with a better attitude 
  3. ring the office and ask the address of the international region... now they may not tell you so check out the internet and send off letters to who ever looks important.
  4. Finally if you are still not getting any help write to the Owner/M.D/President or Herr Capitan! etc. Tell of all the steps you have had to go thro.   Ask should you have to do this to get a little bit of service etc etc.

But they are not a multi national..
So therefore the owner will be to him/her if they do not resolve it the chances are they are doing this to many people and it won't be long before someone steps in and fills the vacuum.

I was one of the first pro photographers in NZ to do full colour weddings back in 1970.   I had seen colour prints being thrown out in the States that were better that what we were receiving as finished prints in NZ.   I was told "Yes, Ivan, we too have been to the States and seen those things, but you are the first into colour and as soon as more switch we will be able to increase the quality and reduce the price"  

Do you think I believed them?   I set up my own lab and soon everyone was asking me to do their processing.  I had worked out what came first the chicken or the egg unlike the people above.

Samson slew a thousand men with the jawbone of a Ass and as many sales are lost each day thro the same medium.