I went to a charity luncheon yesterday afternoon. It’s not my normal weekday routine, but I was asked by a close friend, it was for a good cause, and it was being held at one of those hot, trendy places that you could never get a reservation. So, I was excited to attend.
Usually, the food at these things is pretty boring. But, because the place was known for its lively, cutting-edge dishes, my table-mates and I were excited for a fun meal. Unfortunately, we were terribly disappointed as the food was bland, boring, and resembled the stuff they used to serve on airplanes.
As I got up to stretch my legs, I recognized the manager. He was a guy I had known for a long time, so I felt comfortable going over to him for a little conversation about the food.
After catching up with him for a few minutes, I couldn’t wait any longer. “So, what was up with the food today?” I asked without any hint of subtlety. “I’ve been looking forward to eating here since you opened, and this was not what I had expected!”
“Listen,” he said, “You know how these things are. They give us a very limited budget... its a charity... we’re not making anything on it... and the people don’t really care about the food at these things...”
“Oh, sure, of course,” I said, gently letting him off the hook. Why waste a Marketing 101 lesson when the damage was already done? Over a hundred people who could afford to take an afternoon off, plus buy a ticket to the luncheon, and now every one of them thinks the food at this place stinks!
Sometimes we just have to say, “No, I can’t do it at that price.” To try to “make it work” or to accommodate a good customer, and produce something that you are not proud of, or is not representative of your true quality and workmanship, may often do more damage to your brand and reputation than the job was worth. It is hard to say no, but just think of the harm done at that poor restaurant!
One of my friends has a big sign over the door leading from his shop into the show-room. It says in big, bold letters: “If its not perfect, don’t even bring it out!” The message is obvious: let’s not jeopardize our reputation with a product that may disappoint our customers.
Obviously, we can’t always be perfect, but that should be the goal. And, as we talk about these things at The 24 Karat Club clubhouse (which also serves as the bar at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel, venue for the Atlanta Jewelry Show), one theme keeps repeating. What can we do as an organization to improve the business and careers of our retail jeweler friends? And, how can we get them as close to perfect as possible in the eyes of their customers? As always, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions.
Tomorrow, as usual, I’ll be having lunch at my desk. A chicken salad sandwich on multi-grain, which I made myself. It’ll be perfect.