Open SignI had a meeting scheduled this morning at 8am at a local restaurant.  Sure enough, they turned on the “open” sign right on time.

Except.

They had pushed all the tables to one side, moved the booths, and were cleaning the floor.  The 7 of us debated for awhile, then ended up going to a local Starbucks.

The friendly gentleman behind the counter was focused on his cleaning task, and didn’t offer any solution to our dilemma.  He didn’t even suggest using the tables outside.

Were they actually open for business?  Well, they were hard at work on the sandwiches for their lunchtime catering, and I suppose they might have sold us something for carry-out.   For our purposes, no, they weren’t open.

We observed something important here:  The business owner probably wouldn’t have been happy to let customers walk out the door without at least attempting to address their needs.  But the employees were task-focused.  Their tasks were clearly cleaning and sandwich-making, and there was no bigger picture to consider.

Your job, as business owner, is to reinforce that larger picture.  You can’t be everywhere at once, and can’t be involved in every customer interaction unless you yourself ARE the entire business.  Sure, let each employee excel in their particular job, but it’s not great to let customers slip through the cracks.

I’m pretty much a one-person business myself, but I spend a lot of time working with my key partners in Small Fish and elsewhere to make sure we’re all aligned about the Big Picture.  It’s a critical part of what builds a successful business for me.

I hope you’re doing the same.  If you’re worried that you have blind-spots about what’s really going on in your customer contact, enlist someone from the outside to give you some honest and fresh feedback.

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