Why not try to satisfy all customers?

You don’t have to vote the way your customers want, but you risk upsetting them – and losing business


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I went to Pennsylvania for a wedding last weekend. (How anyone can get married in the middle of sailing season is beyond me.) Ah, but they're my cousins, and I love them, so I went.

Have you ever gone to Pennsylvania in August? Warm and humid – I hear some of them go to Miami to cool off. But that's not the worst of it. My ears are still ringing from the DJ. Admittedly the dance floor was full all night, so some people liked it, but they will end up deaf and wonder why. It’s not that I’m getting old; I didn’t like loud music even as a teenager.

No doubt, rock ‘n’ roll bands have made a lot of money playing loud music (if you can call it music), so I may be in the minority here. But I think they would do so much better with quieter music. People could still dance, and some could talk as well.

When we go to weddings, we often see people we don’t see all the time and enjoy catching up with them. But somehow this DJ didn’t want any of that. If you were anywhere in the vicinity, he wanted you paying attention only to him and his music.

I can remember my father had asked me to manage the band at the wedding of one of my sisters. They started off fine, but then they started cranking it up. People complained, and I went and spoke to the band leader. They toned it down for a few numbers; then started cranking again. I went back to the band leader and asked if they wanted to get paid. We didn’t have any more trouble after that.

Artists may want to be free spirits and do their own thing, but when they want to eat, they have to sell their wares. That means playing not what they want, but what their customers want at the volume their customers want.

Like it or not, the customer is always in charge. We can choose not to buy.

Interestingly, the people this DJ was offending were those most likely to hire a DJ in the future. I heard more than one say, “I have to find out who he is to make sure we never hire him for one of our parties.”

The kids looked like they were having a blast, but most of them don’t have money for DJs.

Different tastes

Have you ever heard anyone complain about the music at one of these things not being loud enough? He could have played music at a reasonable level; the kids would be dancing away, and the parents and others could talk. Why not try to please both groups?

A DJ who took that approach would obviously get more gigs. Why wouldn’t he want to do that? He probably has never thought it through and just doesn’t understand. Instead, he struggles along on whatever he’s making, when he could easily make a whole lot more with no additional effort.

What about your business?

Are you inadvertently upsetting some customers by doing something you like, or even something you think some of them like or should like? No doubt, different customers have different tastes, but we’re uncommonly similar in some respects.

As another example, we’re in the middle of a very heated political election, and some businesses are clearly demonstrating their support for one side or the other. No doubt they have that right, but they could be easily alienating half of their potential customers. Many people, myself included, feel strongly about some of these issues, and a business’ stance could affect our buying decisions.

My hat is off to anyone who does this realizing the potential consequences beforehand. If you feel very strongly about an issue or a candidate, by all means, show your support. If business falls off, realize it’s a consequence of showing such support, not bad luck or a poor economy.

I once went to a doctor, who came into the examining room wearing a large, in-your-face campaign button for a candidate I disliked. I didn’t show my displeasure, but I never went back to him either. Like the hapless DJ, he may very well be wondering why he loses patients at certain times.

You don’t have to vote the way your customers want, but why risk upsetting them? Be willing to pay the price if you do.

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or RonBourque@myfairpoint.net.

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