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The Mr. Nice Guy saga

OPINION by Jim Davidson | May 2, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

One day a man walked into a small grocery store just in time to hear an angry customer chewing the manager up one side and down the other. This customer was unhappy about a number of things, including poor service, and he was letting the manager know about it. The manager just stood there taking his abuse, nodding his head up and down, and agreeing with everything he was saying. Finally, the manager said, "You are right, Sir. We will try to do better in the future.

After the irate customer left, this man who had just come in walked over to the manager and said, "I could not help but overhear what this man said to you, and I want to compliment the way you handled it." The manager responded, "You know, I wish I had a hundred customers like him." This man then said, "After the way he treated you, why would you say that you would like to have a hundred customers like him?" The manager responded, "Well, heck, I got a thousand."

Well, I guess this proves that old Albert Einstein was right when he developed the Theory of Relativity? Everything is indeed relative.

Contrary to the irate customer in this little story, most customers are nice people and they are tolerant up to a point. However, they can be lost and they will take their credit cards and checkbooks with them. For the benefit of customers, business owners, managers, employees and especially new people just starting out in business, I want to share some thoughts that may be helpful. What I am going to say may only be a reminder for you, but we should never forget that in the American Free Enterprise system, the customer is still king.

Keeping customers, even those who don't complain, is important to the success of any business. We call these people "Mr. Nice Guy." Have you ever asked yourself this question about some nice guy who used to come by: "Wonder where he went?" This could well be his answer and it's not original with me: It could be called "The Saga of Mr. Nice Guy."

I am a nice customer. You all know me. I am the one who never complains no matter what kind of service I get. I never kick. I never nag. I never criticize, and I would never dream of making a scene as I have seen people doing in public places. I think it's uncalled for.

No, I am the customer. And I'll tell you what else I am. I am the customer who never comes back. If I am pushed around, I take whatever you hand out because I know I am not coming back. It's true this doesn't relieve my feelings right off, as telling you what I think could, but in the long run it's far more deadly than blowing my top. In fact, a nice customer like me, multiplied by others of my kind, can just about ruin a business. And there are lots of nice people in the world, just like me. When we get pushed far enough, we go to one of your competitors.

And here is the bottom line. Why spend all that money on advertising to get new customers if you are not going to take care of them? Of each 100 customers, the first year a business loses 15 of these, and over the next nine years they lose 66 more, leaving just 19 of the original 100 customers. This is why a business must have new customers to survive. How customers are treated determines success or failure and why in a free-market economy, the customer is still king -- including Mr. Nice Guy.

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