Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre


Today I’m sharing a story with some very strong learnings for customer service and cash flow within small business.


Recently a colleague bought lunch.  He ordered two sushi rolls and decided to top up the order with two dumplings. The server started packaging when the supervisor stopped them and said no you can’t have that, we only sell five dumplings. You can have five dumplings. They cost under $5. My colleague was happy to have two at say $2, but he did not need or want to eat five.


The supervisor insisted, no you can only have five. You have to have five. But that’s the thing, he doesn’t have to have five.  He can have none, and no sushi rolls either. So after no joy with the staff, he left and went elsewhere and they missed out on a $10 sale.


Worse for them, this customer was a 2-3 times a week regular. This ‘service’ completely put him off and he won’t go back for some time, if at all. If we say he averages 2.5 visits a week, for say 40 weeks and spends $10 a time, they have foregone $1000 in annual sales!  They now need to acquire new customers to cover the overheads his $1000 paid for. Often acquisition strategies cost money.


Packaging is something we as advisors often encourage. However did they need to insist on five dumplings and lose a customer over it?


Is the customer always right? No, but in this case they only have a desire for a smaller portion size and it seems little imposition on the business to meet the client’s need. Where possible the client’s needs and wants should be met.


Short term decisions can make or break the business. If ten regulars felt the same way about this decision, they could lose a whopping $10,000 in business!


Customer feedback needs to be collected and discussed. If the regulars over the course of a month start disappearing the business owners need to be aware!


Customer service can make or break a business – let it make yours!