YOUR EMPATHY PROPHET ™ - ISSUE 2/ NOVEMBER 2008 THE NEED FOR HONESTY 18STORYTIME THE RETAILER'S DILEMMA A simple situation with which most businesses are faced every day is, JAMIE LYWOOD believes, an ideal insight into how commerce has become unnecessarily complicated.
© 2008 HARDING & YORKE not quite as good a joint ( with almost as much crackling). Here is his dilemma: to which customer should the butcher give the perfect joint and why? BUSINESS BRAINS? I once posed this particular conundrum to a group of three eminent consultants and two business leaders. They discussed it for two hours and calculated and re- calculated everything from the re- sell value through to the life expectancy of the existing customer versus the new one. They could not agree on a unified answer. What would you do? THE BEST POLICY Remembering Tom Peters and his ' every Board should have a 10- year- old on it' comment, I went to Sienna ( my 10- year- old daughter) and asked her the same question. Needless to say she thought it was a trick question and, at first, refused to answer. Interestingly she thought it was a trick question simply, because to her, the answer was so easy. Eventually, after much cajoling I managed to get the answer. ' It's the first customer,' she said. ' Why - how do you figure that?' I came back quickly. Looking at me as if I was some kind of weirdo she says: ' Because he promised!' The really sad part of the story is that no-one ( not even me) had thought about the promise that had been made and about putting our integrity ahead and in front of pure commercialism. Interestingly ( even if you got it right) I would challenge any individual giving the perfect joint to the existing customer to confirm that that is what their organisation would do as an organisation! Food for thought! Imagine a butcher in a small market town. He is an excellent butcher with a loyal customer base and profitable business. This story concerns two customers of his. THE LOYAL CUSTOMER The first customer has been coming to him for the past seven years and has become accustomed to ringing the Butcher either on a Wednesday or Thursday to place their order for meat for the weekend. The Butcher then wraps up the meat and gives it to the customer as they swing by in their car on the Saturday morning. The customer is invoiced monthly and is a prompt payer. On this particular Thursday morning the customer rings the Butcher and explains that they are having lunch party on Sunday for eight people and would like a really nice joint of pork with lots of crackling ( they love crackling). The butcher asks the customer to hold the line while he checks the cold store. He goes to the store and there, on the left middle shelf, he sees the perfect joint of pork ( with lots of crackling). He goes back to the customer and tells them that he has the perfect joint and he will prepare it for them for Saturday. So far no problem. THE NEW OPPORTUNITY The dilemma occurs when a new customer comes in the next day and says: ' Now, Mr. Butcher, you don't know me but you come highly recommended by a friend. I am having a lunch party on Sunday for eight people and would very much like a nice joint of pork with lots of crackling." The butcher says he will be back in just a moment and heads off to the cold store. As he opens the door he immediately sees the perfect joint from the day before and next to it a good, but " Tom peters once said that every Board should have a 10 year old on it for the simple reason that they have yet to learn how to lie and manipulate a situation the way we do in later life. The Retailer's Dilemma exemplifies this wonderfully – remember he has a split second to make a decision whilst we have all the time in the world." 19