Menu Boards & the Lost Art of Loyalty

You may have read the title and thought to yourself, “this guy is about to unload some sour grapes on us.”  Well you’d be incorrect, in fact it’s quite the contrary.Loyalty

Over the course of the last couple weeks I was told by a couple of prospects that they were simply doing their due diligence and that they were quite satisfied with their current supplier.  After digging a little bit I was able to uncover who they were using.  Both were reputable companies however I knew for a fact that we could provide a comparable product for a better price.  But it didn’t bother me, not one bit.

Although these instances are rare, they are examples of when I don’t get the least bit salty.  As I told one of the gentleman I spoke with, “I like clients like you.  You recognize that there is more to a product than simply a number (price) on a piece of paper.  I can totally respect that.”  I 100% meant it.  Why leave a company for another sight unseen, hoping that you’ll get the same service and quality- even if you could save a few bucks.

Let me make one thing clear, you can ALWAYS find cheaper.  Rather than getting in to the typical differentiator list I wanted to point out some of the more subtle things that should give you the warm and fuzzies when working with a menu board company.

1- Product flexibility: As you get in to your 2nd, 3rd or 10th+ location, it is unlikely that you are going to have the exact same foot print at each.  The size that worked for you at one location may not work at another.  Ideally, you are working with a company that can adapt alongside you to any given environment.

2- You call, they answer: There are many walks of life and when it comes to business, some prefer to do it in person, some via email and some like to talk on the phone.  For example, we ask all of our clients to send any design changes they’d like to see in one, concise email.  This happens maybe half the time.  Others would prefer to get on the phone and go through it with the project manager.  I know of companies that are stringent in their business practices and simply will not bend on policies like this which is probably a good thing for their productivity.  However, what is the cost of the sour taste you’ve left in your customers mouth?

3- Proactive: Most orders take a similar path: Order > Design > Revisions > Approval > Production > Packaging > Shipping.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be given statuses at each stage without having to ask for them?  For instance, an item ships and you automatically receive the tracking information.  Being proactive is a part of the foundation of customer service but all too many companies would prefer to “address when asked.”

4- Personal relationship: Many view this as a potential negative as well.  It can be likened to “never do business with friends or family.”  Sure their is risk, but the personal relationships I am speaking of are the one’s you cultivate with your rep over time; a fringe-type friend and hardly someone you’d invite to your wedding but someone you genuinely enjoy doing business with.  What could be better than having an internal ambassador on your side.  Something comes up and you need something done quicker than usual?  Well, now you have a foot soldier to see it through.

5- Industry specific design expertise: Last week I got to talking to an old colleague of mine who happens to be a graphic designer but who recently took a job at a law office.  We talked about his graphic design job search to which he replied, “Well everyone has a nephew who can do graphic design; they might not be good but they can hack it on PhotoShop.”  I silently chuckled to myself because that mentality is very relevant to our business.  Looking to save a buck, we’re constantly told that they (prospect) have someone who can do the design.  The benefit of knowledge and expertise in the field suddenly doesn’t matter if you can save, save, save!

6- Quality: OK so not exactly “not often talked about” but I feel compelled to mention it.  It simply cannot be undervalued.  Buy cheap, get cheap; plain and simple!

Look, I understand that in today’s day and age it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not getting taken to the cleaners but that is totally different than simply price shopping.  What you stand to gain in the short term is likely to hurt you in the long run if your overwhelming factor is money.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t a number of viable options, however what I am suggesting can be summed up by two classic idioms, 1- don’t look a gift horse in the mouth (if you currently have a good working relationship with a company) and 2- the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Tell us what you think.  Is the all mighty dollar the most important thing to you or do you value strong business relationships with a hint of a personal side?

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