A large, national electronics and appliance store botches the delivery of a range, microwave and dishwasher. The purchaser is told these items would show up at their home on Monday and instead they arrive Friday. Does the retailer offer the customer anything, like a gift card or discount on their next order, for the inconvenience? No way. A meager, insincere apology would have to do.
A prominent fitness center refuses to allow a member to pay an entire year’s worth of dues in advance because it’s against corporate policy. Never mind that it’s more convenient for the consumer.
The waitress at a regional restaurant chain denies a customer’s order of eight chicken wings. The wait staff is only allowed to enter 6, 12, or 18 into the computer system. Would it be too much trouble to toss two extra chicken wings on the plate the customer asks? Sorry, can’t do it, says the waitress. It’s against the rules.
All of the above are examples of corporate culture run amok. How do I know these stories are real? They all happened to me in the last month.
One of the best parts about being a small business owner is having the freedom, flexibility, creativity and nimbleness to solve problems without asking for permission from the Man. For me, the most frustrating thing about the corporate culture is that it doesn’t have to be that way. If employees and managers were empowered by their superiors to swiftly and fairly right a wrong then blog posts like this would never get written.
In real estate, or any other business for that matter, it’s important to make quick, thoughtful decisions that benefit both the customer and the bottom line.
A few years ago, the air conditioning went out at one of my rental properties in the middle of the summer. In case you hadn’t heard it gets very hot in Phoenix. How hot you ask? It’s so hot here I once saw two trees fighting over a dog. But, I digress. The repairman couldn’t get to the house until the following day so I made hotel arrangements for my tenant and offered to pay for all her meals until the unit was fixed.
I once had the refrigerator in one of my vacation rentals breakdown, spoiling all of my tenant’s groceries. The next day I had a brand new refrigerator delivered to the house and gave my guests $200 to restock their food supply.
In both of these cases I could have offered a lame apology like a big retail store would do. Or worse, I could have refused to take any action at all. However, as I just pointed out that’s the wrong thing to do. I’m okay letting the corporate culture kill my lunch (I really wanted those two extra chicken wings) but I’m not okay with the corporate culture killing my business. Don’t let it kill yours either.