If you don’t genuinely like your customers, chances are they won’t buy. - Thomas Watson, former CEO IBM
This past week or so we've heard a lot about the NYRA admission (and proposed parking) hike. It's almost never-ending. People seem very, very upset about this increase in fees, which only amounts to a couple of dollars, or barely the price of a coffee. Meme's have surfaced that it's all about the money and people are not going to like paying for more of anything.
My brother in law is one of those dudes who likes to stop in small towns and browse around, looking to see if he can find anything interesting to buy. Last weekend he was on a back-road in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia and came across a sign in a yard that seemed to say something about "tree art".
He stopped and a young girl ran up and said "I will get him, one minute."
A couple of minutes later out walked a man with a slow step and hands and skin that looked like he'd been a hard-worker his whole life. He might've been in his mid-fifties but looked older. He went on to tell Steve a story that he'd had a contractors' job in the area, but had to quit because of his health problems.
He said "working with wood helps me get through the boredom, and helps me rehabilitate myself after my illness".
After conversing a little more, the man took Steve on a trip to the old barns (that were falling apart, just like the house was) and showed him his work. He made some cool looking "Christmas trees out of Christmas trees" and a bunch of other smaller items that were constructed with craftsman precision. Steve thought they looked great and asked to purchase two large items and two small ones.
The fellow said, "let me show you some other things I've been working on" without a hint of salesmanship.
He then took him on a further tour of another barn which had wood items that can only be described as a type of folk art that, too, looked pretty neat. All the while telling his story. Steve was impressed with this fellow and immediately liked him.
When heading back to the driveway, Steve asked the man "Can I have your phone number, because I'd love to bring my wife back with me and look at some of those items again"
The fellow sheepishly replied that he had no phone. Times were tough. He said he would give him the neighbors' number and they would come and find him if he called.
Back at the car, Steve took his four items and expected to pay over $100 for them. When he asked the price the man asked "would you pay $50?"
Steve said, "No way, let me give you at least $75". The man would not take it, but Steve insisted. When Steve was not taking no for an answer, the man ran back into the back barn and came out with four other smaller items and said "take these, and then we'll do $75"
Steve paid him. When he goes back to look at the other art with my sister, he will likely overpay for those to give this talented, hard-working fellow what he deserves for them.
Steve said he was a "great guy that was so friendly and passionate." That he was "having a rough go and you respected what he'd been through". He was a guy you want to pay more money to, "because he is likely giving you way too good a deal because that's the way he is."
Unfortunately in business it rarely is that way, unless that business is exceptional. NYRA is not exceptional. Players have seen hiked takeouts, complain about customer service and everything else. I have not even mentioned the fact that unlike this fellow who has fallen on viciously hard times who does not even have a phone, slot machines are churning out millions and millions of dollars for purses and profits in New York.
Customers aren't greedy. "No one likes to pay more for anything" is not at all an accurate statement. They just want to be appreciated for being good customers, and be treated well for spending their money at your establishment.
I think we can all learn a lot from a down-on-his-luck man in the backwoods of Nova Scotia.