There was a man standing in my doorway, this always makes me suspicious.
He explained that they were starting a milk round in the area and they were looking for enough customers to make it worthwhile. He said they wouldn’t just do milk, but all dairy products, bread and potatoes too.
I asked if I could pay and change my order online. He reassured me that I could.
I like supporting small business, plus I don’t eat gluten or dairy, but my husband does, and its easy to be able to request them as he needs them, rather than popping to the corner shop, where inevitably more than bread and milk is purchased.
We waited a few weeks, and nothing. Then, one Friday morning when I went to take Buster for a walk I almost tripped over some milk. Excellent.
Each week more milk arrived, but we never got asked for any money. One day I bumped into the milkman as I was up early with Buster and said we hadn’t had a bill or been asked for money. He explained he he had knocked one Saturday morning but we hadn’t answered. Right.
I asked him about ordering and paying online and he said that wasn’t possible. Right.
He gave me a scrappy piece of paper with all the goods they could deliver listed on them. Right.
A couple of weeks went past and we still hadn’t had a bill, I hate owning people money and not knowing how much I owe. In the end I put a note out with the bottles saying to cancel the order.
A month and a half later and I still haven’t been asked for the money. One or other of us is nearly always in on a Saturday morning. Or they could put a bill through the door and ask for it to be left out. Or something.
The stupid thing is that they are a small business, I am happy to pay, but they are not making it possible to do so.
And as for telling me I could manage my account online, a blatant lie, then you are making it very difficult for me to give you my business.
It’s the same as a small town near where I have a few friends. The restaurants all close at 6pm. Even when there is an incredibly well publicised event on in the town and there are several hundred people all wanting to buy food. They close at 6pm.
They are open for lunch, but some of them are staffed by people who seem to hate the general public. I can sympathise, working in a restaurant is my idea of hell, but then I chose to do other types of work. Why set up your own restaurant if you hate people?
My local chemist? Open Monday-Friday, closed for lunch and they don’t accept cards.
Good business practice is often quite easy and boils down to simple things. Make it easy for people to give you money. Open when your customers want you. Make up little kits/packages of your products so people can easily grab them – that applies to physical products and services. Bill them on time. Under promise and over deliver. Make it easy for them to order from you.
And of course, all of these small business will be moaning that big retailers are putting them out of business. That no-one likes the personal touch any more.
Well yes, the big retailers make it easy for me to give them money. By being open. Accepting cards. Having good staff (for the most part). None of this is complicated or costs money. It’s just good business practice.