Have any of you read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hseih? You should! It’s a fantastic book all about the journey of Tony and his company Zappos, the $billion online retailing business in the US. I’ve just finished reading it and I can’t tell how reassuring it was to me! Why? Because Tony talks all about how customer service and vendor relations are at the very heart of the success of Zappos and that’s exactly what we believe here at Minerva. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we are about to grow into a $billion turnover business – chance’d be a fine thing – but one way our business will most definitely mirror Zappos is in our desire to keep customers and suppliers happy.
I strongly believe that their happiness and success will lead to our happiness and success.
I recently undertook a review of supplies for two of my schools and in both cases the current suppliers were unknown to me. Out of courtesy I telephoned them, before sending them a tender brief, to reassure them that the process we were about to undertake would be fair and that I looked forward to working with them. In both cases they responded with reactions to the effect of “we’ve dealt with companies like you before”. Apparently, I am going to screw them to the floor, make a fast buck off of my customers and then disappear into the sunset with my ill-gotten gains! When I tried to suggest that this is not how I do business I was greeted with a “heard that before” response. I found the whole thing quite depressing really. Why is it so hard to believe that someone in business is ethical, cares about their customers AND their suppliers and is in it for the long haul? What a shame that people’s experiences have obviously been so poor in the past.
It’s also a shame, for them, that I won’t get to work with these suppliers more closely. What they failed to see in their short sighted ‘one size fits all’ approach is that instead of screwing them to the floor I could, infact, retain revenue for them and potentially bring them more business. As those suppliers who I do work closely with will vouch I bring them new customers and, when they deliver what they said they would at the price they agreed, I bring them more business. My customers get a great deal and fantastic service and are happy and, therefore, so am I.
My annual birthday bash is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to my customers, suppliers, business introducers, friends and family. To everyone who supports my business growth and success. It’s not cheap to put it on – far from it – but to me it’s not about the monetary return (or lack of it) I get from holding the event it’s all about looking after my relationships and making sure people understand how much they are valued and appreciated.
These are just some of the comments I had after the evening:
“You beat me to saying thank you for a lovely evening – I laughed so much I think I split my stomach muscles!! I was delighted to have a lemony smelling £20 note back and though that Peter was outstanding.”
“Thanks to you guys for a great evening – that magician was amazing !”
“We both really enjoyed it – especially the magician —really fantastic”
“Many thanks for the excellent and enjoyable event last night, very generous hospitality and Peter was a great speaker.”
“Very many thanks for inviting us to your event yesterday. It was a very enjoyable evening and you did brilliantly in finding Peter Wardell to entertain us – he was superb.”
“What a great evening! The drinks were good, the location perfect, the magician absolutely fantastic and the general company very vibrant and good fun.”
For all of you who attended the 2012 Birthday Celebrations (and those who didn’t so you can see what you missed out on!) please find below a short video with some images of the evening.
Create a birthday video at Animoto
My goal is that in years to come some of these suppliers who are quick to dismiss me, unconvinced about how we do business here at Minerva, will be knocking my door down to get an invite to the ‘Event of the Year’!