Golden rules for golden customers |

Golden rules for golden customers

Jane Boucher

All organizations need to provide good customer service. But there is another side of the coin: It is called learning how to be a better customer.

In this era of downsizing, there has been an increase in the number of small businesses. Many talented people who used to work for large companies now run their own businesses. More and more, small businesses find themselves buying from, selling to, and competing with, other small businesses.

Unfortunately, small businesses sometimes do not know how to treat each other with respect. The same professional courtesy that applies to larger organizations also applies to small organizations.

Unprofessional behavior between small businesses can take many forms. Small business owners often try to get “deals” and cost reductions from other small business owners that they would never dream of asking from larger providers. Small business owners often complain that their peers do not acknowledge the value of their time. They often request consultations and advice for free. Research states that many small business owners routinely pay larger providers first and smaller providers last.

Some small business owners even try to undercut the competition by spreading false information about them. One small business won some work away from a competitor by telling the customer that her competitor could not receive e-mail. This allegation was not true.

It’s time for small businesses to take a new look at their ethics. There is a lot of room for healthy cooperation and competition. There is plenty of room for networking and learning from each other.

Recommended Stories For You

Successful small businesses have informal partnerships with other businesses that provide complementary services. Others regularly refer overflow work to other small businesses where there has been a relationship of trust and integrity.

In the long run, we can all profit by following some simple, common sense “Golden Rules” when we are customers of other small businesses.

Golden Rules for being a good customer:

Value your colleagues’ time as much as you value your own time.

Think long and hard before asking for a “deal” or a cost cut.

Pay your colleagues’ bills as quickly as you would like your own bills to be paid.

Treat your colleagues in other businesses the way you would like to be treated.

Jane Boucher is an author and professional speaker with offices in Reno. Reach her at 853-0226 or