This happened earlier this morning. If I had known the names of the bikers I may have changed them to disguise their identity, but I don’t.
If you know the Kessock Service Station on Longman Road (the Esso garage not the BP one), you will know that there are frequently queues of cars and lorries waiting to get access to the pumps. I usually fill up once a week on a Friday afternoon but this week it was Saturday morning. I was at a BBQ organised by BNI Highland the night before at Anytime Fitness on Harbour Road.
Don’t worry, I did not try to combine a session on the machines with drinking red wine. Each of these alone deserves your full attention and on this occasion, I concentrated on the red wine, in moderation of course, and the rather nice food. Great night but relatively early to bed as I was going to be busy the next day.
I don’t think I have ever been to a gym, not seriously anyway, but I do get plenty of exercise. Anyway, apparently you can access Anytime Fitness at any time of the day or night (provided you are a member) and there are various systems to prevent anyone other than members getting access. It’s not that far from our office on Shore Street and so I go past the gym early in the morning and late at night and there is always somebody using the facilities. I have not checked at 3am, well not yet anyway! Donald Mackay and his team seem to have found a vacant business niche.
So, this morning meant a trip to the Kessock Service Station. When I arrived, there were the usual 3 or 4 cars waiting to get access to a pump. Others were coming in all the time. Alongside each of 3 of the pumps was one motorbike. Nothing wrong with that of course.
It’s always great fun trying to judge which pump will be clear first and so which queue to join. I saw a biker coming out of the shop so queued waiting to take his place when he moved off. Except he didn’t. Neither did the other two. They stood talking amongst themselves completely oblivious to anyone waiting to get on to their pumps.
I managed to get on to another pump and they were still standing talking when I had finished so, on my way to pay for my fuel, I mentioned to them that they were taking up 3 pumps when other cars were waiting. One of them looked around and of course, at that moment, there were no cars waiting.
So where am I going with this? Well, you see, it reminded me that we are all guilty of this at times. We are so intent on our own little world that we forget to look up and see what is going on around us. I know that I am anyway because Helen tells me so.
It’s a little like when you are travelling. You may see the same “crowd” that you are used to seeing but is that crowd necessarily made up of the same people every time? Do you stop to notice your fellow travellers? Do you ever wonder about their stories and the reason why they are travelling?
So take this back to your business. Are your customers real individuals with their own lives, likes, dislikes, wants and desires or are they just part of a crowd that you describe with various stats. These real people mingle, they talk, they might even gurn, but they interact with their own circle of acquaintances, whether that be big or small, so at the individual level they are very important to you. If you are a little removed from the front line and don’t deal directly with customers day to day, you are allowed to look at the stats. However, the attitudes in a business frequently come from the top down so don’t give the impression that customers are just stats or that is how they will be treated by everyone.
In business, it is often said that people buy from people. But when we look at people we frequently take our first impression as being definitive but how often have our first impressions been proven wrong once we interact with them on a personal level? They may seem to have a grumpy looking face but then turn out to be quite the opposite when you get to know them. This can be particularly true when you just communicate with people by email. Sometimes, you just need to pick up the phone or book a zoom call, to really get to understand them.
Everyone has a story. Are you listening hard enough?
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership