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Are All Small Businesses Going To Hell In a Handbasket?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I pride myself as being upbeat, self-motivated, make-it-happen type of guy. In fact, my business card labels me as a “Motivational Speaker” so I must be more than squared away more often than not.

But I am also a seasoned realist … a guy who has been around the bases more than once and who has developed the skill of spotting a creep from down the block. I am a student of the customer service game and not much gets by me. I am good!

This week alone four organizations entered my world and rapidly positioned themselves as “not-so-good.” In each case I had a wallet that I was prepared to make lighter with them in mind. Disappointment is not the right word … incredible disenchantment better sums up my experience. Why do so many people fail to understand how this game is played? Can we blame it on their parents … their teachers … the economy … local regulations … the church they do or don’t frequent … the books they do or don’t read? What?

So as not to ruin this fine summer day in upstate New York I will cut to the chase without bringing these establishments down in a fire ball of negative angst. Let it suffice to say they involve a nursery, an eye doctor, an insurance agency and a paving company. It appears that a single industry does not have the lousy representation department cornered.

The sad news is (based on my 30-years of street-savvy experience) is that the people who need to read this article are out making bad first impressions. You (who are still reading) probably have this thing already figured out.

Here are my top ten suggestions to avoid my writing about you in future columns:
1. If you are speaking to me, be interested in what I have to say.
2. Look me in the eye more than once during every 10-minute conversation.
3. Answer the phone as if I have the power to pay your next light bill.
4. When you do answer the phone, stop doing what you were doing prior to answering the phone.
5. Don’t tell me something simply for the sake of making me smile.
6. Do what you say you will do.
7. Call me back sooner rather than later.
8. After you “made the sale” treat me like you are still trying to “make the sale.”
9. Don’t assume that I am as smart as you are. (In all probability, I am probably smarter.)
10. Keep me on your “touch base” list after our deal has been consummated.

So there you have it. If you want to join the growing numbers of lousy businesses who have a plethora (look it up) of excuses as to why customers drive them mad, you don’t have to work too hard.

But if you want to position yourself as something special in a marketplace that is in need for somebody special, then reread my top ten list. Yes it is. It is as easy as that.

I’m Mike Marchev, and I promise to continue bad-mouthing lousy service.

Contact Mike at or visit

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