Learning from just waiting

by Robert Field

Perhaps the most important business lesson of my life came when I was thirteen years old.

During the summer, my father assigned me to work at his satellite furniture store on Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia, which was about thirty feet horizontally and fifty feet vertically from the Frankfort Elevator, at that location an above ground “subway.”

At this store all that we sold was furniture, TVs and appliances, “big ticket” items.

Mr Rosenthal the manager and I would sit, and sit, and sit for hours waiting for a customer to come into the store. When one did, he did the best he could to serve and please. If he sold a living room or dining room suite of furniture it was a time for rejoicing.

Inadvertently sitting and waiting taught me the importance of customers and that we should do everything we reasonably could to please them. (Perhaps that was what Father had in mind.)

That lesson profoundly influenced me throughout the many decades of my successful business career. Over the years, we dealt with tens of thousands of customers. We carefully monitored whether they were pleased with every aspect of our dealings and sought to correct or explain when they were dissatisfied.

One of the greatest asset of any business is a positive word-of-mouth reputation. And caring about customers’ wellbeing is reward in itself.

Updated: February 11, 2022 — 2:05 pm