Being Nice: A Business Strategy

I’m going to tackle a new topic today.  Spent the last three weeks asking you to consider quitting Amazon, telling you to quit Amazon, and then imploring you to make goals if you’re going to stay with Amazon.   I still think one of the single biggest predictors of who will make the most progress in their business is determined by who will take the time to set really good goals and then actively work to achieve them.  But, it’s one of those things most people will never do.  So, this week, I decided to try to give you one easy way that everyone can do better business.

 

Be nice. 

 

That’s really all I have.  But let me give you some examples so you can see what I’m talking about.

 

suppliersMany of you are self-employed or just do this Amazon business on the side.  It often feels like it is just you, but that’s not really the case.  There are a lot of people who are essential to the long term success of your business.  Just inside of seller support you have to rely on warehouse employees, seller support, seller performance, catalog team, feedback team, etc.

 

UPS Store  — Let’s acknowledge that each store is different and each owner / employee is different.  Some are wonderful and some are truly bad.  But, in my experience, if you want to get the most out of them, being nice is the way to go.  Ask how you can make their job easier.  Maybe you always stack your boxes neatly, but they’d prefer them in a different location.  Maybe it would make their job easier if you came at a slightly different time in the day.  Maybe it helps them if you sticker boxes on the front, rather than on the top.  Besides trying to make their life easier, I try to make a habit out of saying things like this: “Hey, I know you don’t make a ton off of me, but I’d be loss without you guys.  Thanks so much for everything.”  And finally, try to get to know the key players.  Is it some 17 year old girl who just works a few hours each afternoon?  Is it the owner?  How long has she been in business?  Do they have kids?  I know this might take 2 minutes out of your day, and time is money, but you’d be surprised how little things like this can make a lot of difference.

UPS Driver — I don’t spend that much time in UPS stores anymore because my driver is awesome.  He’s come back later in the day for me because my whole shipment wasn’t complete.  When the road was closed he called me and had me meet him at a liqueur store to get a package, rather than just marking it “unable to deliver.”  How can we be nice to the driver?  My cutoff time is at 1pm, but I learned that he likes to come by at 12:30, so it’s really a lot better for him if I can request by noon.  So, I request by noon.  If it is 12:40, I don’t schedule a pickup.  I can take it to the store myself, or I’ll wait until after my cutoff time so he can come tomorrow.  I like to help him carry boxes to the truck.  Occasionally I’ll give him some sealed water or Gatorade. The Holiday Season is coming.  I’d strongly advise tipping some combination of a financial gift and something like cookies/candy.

USPS Carrier — Same basic idea as UPS drivers.  If you see them stopped outside of your house, and you’re expecting product, go out and grab the box from them, rather than having them trek up to your door.  Learn their name.  This is a person you could theoretically see 200x per year.  You should probably be able to greet them on a first name basis.

Store employees — Do you leave stores a mess after you go through the aisles?  If so, you’re probably not endearing yourself to the employees.  Are you returning things all of the time?  Do you take forever to check out?  I try to make life as easy as possible for store employees.  If I tear through an aisle sourcing, I leave it looking clean before I leave.  I never have the people at the register bag my items.  I can checkout with 200 items faster, including doing tax exempt, than the average cart with 15 items.  Do you return your shopping cart to where it actually belongs, or do you leave it in an empty parking space or propped up against a parking lot island?  Do you smile?  You’d be surprised how many shifts a WM employee can get through without ever actually looking in someone’s eyes and smiling.  If you’ve ever been in a WM, you understand why.

Store managers — These people have the right to completely ban you from their store all the way to having the right to give you huge discounts on products.  Are you making them a partner or an enemy?  Ask for deals, but make it beneficial for them too.  If they need to clear a shelf, buy the whole shelf.  If they want you to leave 4 of an item for other customers, leave 4 of an item for other customers.  Treat their employees and customers respectfully.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered questions for customers.  One lady was looking for a particular scent of a soap.  The employee said, “Sorry it looks like we’re out and those usually aren’t items that we’ll get back in stock.  One of the other stores might have it.”  I chimed in and said, “oh Lavender?  Yeah they have that over at the Rialto store.”  Then I gave her directions.  One time, I finished my transaction, where I explained to the manager how to do sales tax exempt.  He asked if I could show his employees how to do it.  So what did I do? I taught three different employees how to do it.


 

I could go on and on looking at every potential person you might ever run across in this business, but the point is the same.  Frankly, I think being nice should be the go to option in general, but even if it isn’t, it should be a business strategy.  Some of these people literally hold your entire business in your hand.
If I was a jerk to my UPS driver, do you suspect that he’d make a second trip to my house?  I know of some people who no longer have free pickup, but they have the UPS driver’s phone number and they just send a text when they need a pickup (for free).  Do you source in a store where they don’t allow resellers?  Do you think there is any difference in how you might be treated if you’re nice versus if you’re a jerk?  There is.  Have you ever asked for a discount?  Do you think it matters if the manager likes you or hates you?  It does.

 

So, here’s the takeaway: What is a single thing that you can do in the next week to foster a better relationship with somebody who is instrumental for your business?  If you think the answer is nothing, you’re probably wrong.  If you can think of something, then do it.  I don’t normally ask for comments on my posts, but I’d like to get some feedback on this one.  Let me know one thing you want to do this week to improve your relationship with someone who plays a role in your success.

 

As Always, Best Wishes

Mike

One thought on “Being Nice: A Business Strategy

  • October 16, 2015 at 2:42 pm
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    Mike, I totally agree with you. We should try to be nice to everyone we come in contact with, even if it’s not a business relationship. This whole world would be much better. It’s not always easy when you deal with a real difficult person, but you might just be able to take a little of that hard edge off.

    Steve K

    Reply

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