[December 30, 2015] Shopping this past month for Christmas and birthday gifts provided amble time for me to observe both good and bad small business practices in action. It also gave me a snapshot of their core values and whether their employees understood and practiced those values in serving customers.
Any business that survives for more than a few months has a set of core values put into place by the owner(s). These values don’t have to be written along with a fancy mission statement because it was likely the result of the passion of the owner when setting up the business. However, the values should be clear and well communicated to everyone working there.
It’s easy to “see” the core values in places where shopping is pleasant and satisfying. Those businesses that provide good customer service and ensure the shopping experience is a positive thing, have a value system consistent with success. In a small business that’s easier when the owner is directly involved and where those values come directly into play.
Here a list that consolidates the core values that I observed this month1:
- Put customers first.
- Take good care of the employees.
- Resolute adherence to integrity.
- Provide the best product possible (whether a product or service)
A rather short list of core values I will admit but it sums up just about all there was to their small businesses. No need to get too complicated or too contrived with a long list of things that don’t apply day-to-day. I found that these businesses weren’t necessarily trying to offer the best prices since the big stores can do that but rather that they wanted to offer their best product and service. Passion defined the owner and in most cases the same existed in their employees.
I was always treated well and enjoyed each of those businesses. This is something that I don’t often encounter with the bigger stores where sometimes I feel like I’m inconveniencing them by shopping there. Perhaps I should stay with small businesses to get those things I need.
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1. Of the 17 businesses I visited, I spoke with the owner in every case and in most of them I also had the chance to interact with employees. It was the employees that gave me the best idea of whether the core values were being infused throughout that small business.