It’s not Business, It’s Personal

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “It’s not personal, it’s business.” But if you think about it, it’s always personal on the receiving end – whether it’s having a tough conversation with an employee or helping a customer decide what to order off your menu, the end result typically impacts someone personally.

Also, think about the places you enjoy going to most. Oftentimes it’s because of how you feel when you’re there – when you visit your mom for a home-cooked meal, purchase a car from a dealer who is helpful instead of pushy, or when you and your spouse take a seat in your favorite server’s section and they say, “Diet Coke and raspberry-flavored tea today?” Conversely, have you ever waited in a grocery line for 15 minutes (which seemed like ½ an hour) and had the clerk complain to you that they haven’t had a break yet today? Or, had to send an undercooked steak back to the kitchen with a server who sighed and rolled their eyes? Or, wandered around a furniture store and had not one person approach you and ask if they could help you find something?

Again, all of those scenarios impact how we feel and how much we look forward to returning (if we return at all). No matter what type of business we’re in, we have the ability to impact how someone feels about the product or service we offer. We also can make someone’s day better or worse based on their interaction with our service providers. Frankly, how we treat people positively or negatively impacts how WE feel at the end of the day. So, in business, it’s always personal – and, if it’s not, you are leaving your customers wanting more, or sending them elsewhere.

There are some businesses that have me as a customer for life based on how they make me feel:

  • En Sushi – whose server gave us a Christmas gift of authentic Japanese tea and greets us like old friends every time we come in. (Not to mention they have amazing food…)
  • Car Max (at least Tom at CarMax in Henderson, NV) – who is always helpful, looks for ways to make the paperwork processing easier and faster, and again, treats us like old friends when we’re looking through the lot for our next car for us or our kids.
  • Hotel Teatro in Denver, CO – whose staff sent me up a complimentary bottle of wine and an offer to “draw an aromatherapy bath” for me after they learned I was in a car accident on the way from the airport to their hotel.
  • Chris Carter, Real Estate agent in Kansas City, MO – to whom we have referred countless prospective home buyers based on his accommodating schedule, patience in showing dozens of homes, and tips of what to look for in every home before you purchase it, and frankly just his friendly and helpful nature.

Do any of those examples spark some ideas you can use in your business? Here are some thoughts for you to consider adding to your business model, if you don’t already:

  • Always find a way to get a customer’s name – even if you have to ask for it – and then use it. (Okay, you’ve probably heard that one over and over, but few businesses still actually do it consistently or genuinely.)
  • Have a means to capture your customer’s address and then encourage your front-line sales associates/food servers/call center employees to send a thank you note for your business. (You probably want to proofread it, and whatever you do, ensure it’s not a form letter but one that is personal and unique to the individual and what they purchased.)
  • Also capture their email address (with a disclaimer that you will be sending them information but will not sell or give their address to anyone else) – and then provide your customers periodically with emails or e-newsletters containing information that can benefit them personally or professionally but aren’t “salesy”.
  • Watch the “Simple Truths of Service” video about Johnny the Bagger ( – and have your employees do the same.
  • Give your employees the latitude to provide their own style of “signature service” – that is, service that has their signature on it. Don’t make it a program or provide a script of something that everyone has to say. Service is only personal when it’s personalized.
  • Use personal testimonials in your business – on your website, on your Facebook page, on your YouTube channel, etc. If you are part of a franchised business (or are a consult to franchisees or franchisors), be sure to take our survey at for a chance to win a Canon Power Shot Camera with Video Capture – then use the video function to record customer testimonials!

And, whatever you do, remember that successful businesses are always personal. Find ways to make your customers’ lives happier, more fulfilled and more special – and you will find your life and business mirroring that as well.

One thought on “It’s not Business, It’s Personal

  1. Well said Michelle. My husband and I own a franchise where the franchisors goal is to get their customers to say “I’ll be back”. Without being personal and making customers feel like they are appreciated getting them back is not always an easy feat.

    Also, I think it is so important as a franchisee to surround yourself with staff that understand your vision yet have the latitude to be themselves!!

    Good luck with your new venture.

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