What I Learned at the Coffee Shop, by Steve Arendt-Founder, Teeco Solutions

Sometimes the start of my day includes a stop at the coffee shop. Today, I could not help but overhear a nearby conversation about a transaction a person had had with a highly respected company who sells great products. In this particular conversation, it was obvious that these people would never do business there again. Furthermore, not one word was brought up about the product! All conversation was focused around the experience. To me, the complete outsider, it seemed that most likely the customer rep of this company was having a bad day and this energy was transferred to the customer. Most likely it was the result of a simple series of unfortunate events.

In this case the bottom line… the combination of a great product and bad experience lead to no more customer loyalty.

Suddenly I began reflecting on my experience of having owned a party rental company. For the most part we did provide great customer service and great products. Yet I would be remiss if I claimed 100% success in this. After all, we all have bad days, and nothing is perfect. A few questions came up as I began to reflect, and I thought I would seek your perspective on some of them. Here they are… Will you add your thoughts?

  • As the owner, I had a finite amount of money to invest in the company. Should I buy the absolute best products to rent and use the left over money to invest in great employees and customer service training? Or should I buy a just enough quality that the customer will never question and spend more money on providing the best customer experience possible?
  • What was important to my customer insofar as their perception of a quality product? Was it more about how sturdy the product was, how well it would hold up? Or was it more about the appearance of the product? After all, the sturdy stuff cost much more, and if my customer did not care, I could use the savings to buy machinery to upkeep the appearance (saving my operational cost) and buy a volume of inventory to take care of more customers on any given day. Effectively, this would allow me to increase revenues and decrease operational expenses. Yet on the other hand I may create a new headache/cost in the business. I would have to have systems in place to constantly cull out the less sturdy inventory that was broken or worn. A happy medium may have been to have a healthy cross mix in my inventory. Identify those pieces that absolutely needed to be sturdy (such as large pole tents-think safety) and those items that could fit the mold of less capital outlay with an expected shorter lifespan.

If you would like to see what Steve and the Teeco Solutions team are up to, check them out at www.teecosolutions.com