November 23, 2020– A few months ago, I packed Luna into the truck and drove for about an hour and a half to deliver some books that were ordered to an establishment in a small town. It was a new account and I was so excited to chat with the owner of the store, talk about the new release, and see if perhaps we could collaborate in the future by cross-promoting each other. I was also pumped to browse the items she offered, and I needed to do some shopping!
I arrived at the destination, books in hand and pushed through the front door. No one seemed to be around, so I took a few steps further inside. A woman popped up from behind the counter, and suddenly out of nowhere, there were four sales clerks. “Can I help you with something?” the woman asked, and I said, “Hi, I’m Lacey, and I’m here to meet Jane (name has been changed).” The woman paused, “Does she know you’re coming?” I said, “She sure does! I told her I’d be here today at 11, and here I am!” The woman shot me a glare and said, “What was your name again, and what are you here for?” I explained about the book order that I was dropping off and repeated my name.
The woman finally went to get Jane and returned to the counter to chat with the other workers about me apparently being wrong for waltzing into the place and asking to see the owner. Much to my amusement, the experience with the owner was worse! I smiled and handed her the books. “Thanks,” she said and spun on her heel and left. I was dumbfounded. Was this actually happening? I stood in place for a moment to see if she was just putting down the books and then coming back. She never returned.
I left the store without looking around, without picking out the three birthday gifts I planned on getting, and without posting the collaboration on social media. I was so disgusted by the entire experience that I vowed never to mention the company by name; I unfollowed them on social media and basically washed my hands of the situation. By the time I had walked back to the truck, my phone had dinged with an email notification…it was from Jane. She said, “Thanks for dropping off the order. The books are great! I look forward to meeting you one day.” I laughed out loud. I emailed her back. I said, “You’re welcome. You already have met me; I was in your store five minutes ago.” My phone rang almost instantly, and Jane was on the other end, explaining that she didn’t know I was the owner etc. etc.
Here’s the thing, it shouldn’t matter if I’m the owner, the driver, the receptionist, the plumber, the janitor, or the intern…everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. That company lost my business that day. They lost my contact, social media support, positive word of mouth advertising, and the wholesale discount I gave them for any future orders. I have no interest in dealing with that business or its employees ever again. First impressions matter! And so do second and third, and fifteenth. I have never felt more like an inconvenience in my life, and I’ve never felt that unwelcome before. It’s too bad because small businesses need our support more than ever. But save your pennies for the places that want to serve you with kindness and respect, the places that are eager to help you and that make you feel welcome.
Your company and your employees are an extension of YOU. You set the standard of care for your customers, and if you’re setting a bad example, why shouldn’t your employees do the same? It all starts at the top. And pleading ignorance is a lame excuse that no one will believe anyway, so don’t bother. Treat people how you want to be treated. It’s that simple. Your first impression can make or break your business!