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It’s OK to Set Boundaries for Your Business

Take a day off. Schedule it. Publish it. Tell your customers about it.

Economists refer to it as Artificial Scarcity not because your business needs it, but because you do.

I’ve written before about the perils of not being digital and needing instant access to information. This statement still rings true, but I also want to balance it with realistic expectations of what people can accomplish. Every business has realistic working hours, even if they advertise as 24/7. Amazon won’t ship something at 3:30 in the morning, for example, but it will leave promptly at 6 a.m. and be there between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Consider where you can take a break with your business. You may not have the luxury of taking weekends off, but you need the time, nonetheless. As if running your own business wasn’t hard enough as it is, you now have the coronavirus and state-mandated lockdowns to contend with.

Don’t think it’s possible?

Let’s take a quick look at Chick-Fil-A. You probably have one near you; they operate in 47 states. For the uninitiated, they are the McDonald’s of chicken-only fast-casual. They have a drive-thru, a dining room, playgrounds for the kids, and an array of condiments and desserts. The one thing they don’t have is beef—and Sundays.

That’s right—a fast-food joint closed every Sunday. Crazy, right? Or maybe it’s the other side of genius.

Here are some stats:

  • 2,400 restaurants nationwide
  • Gold winner of 2015 A.R.E. Design awards
  • Forbes Best Employer by State (South Carolina)
  • QSR Reader’s Choice Awards
  • Rated #1 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index
  • Newsweek: America’s Best Customer Service Report
  • 20,000 corporate employees and 11,000 restaurant employees
  • They are entirely vertical with Chick-Fil-A Supply Company
  • The most expensive item on the menu is a gallon of sweet tea for about $10 in most regions (Salads go for around $8)
  • $10.46 billion in revenue

Pause for a moment. $10 billion, with a B. That’s $4.6 million per restaurant.

What’s the catch?

Business Insider estimates that the business walks away from $1.2 billion by closing on Sundays. Yet, the Washington Post says it is the third-largest restaurant chain in America behind McDonald’s and Starbucks, both of which rely on international markets for a significant portion of their revenue. Chick-Fil-A only has restaurants in one country, and they are a privately held company without the benefit of raising capital through public markets.

OK, what’s the point?

The point is that a marginally good product combined with an exceptional customer experience can more than makeup for losing out on 12% of possible revenue. The company is still growing at double-digit rates.

What Chick-Fil-A proves, and has proven for over 70 years, is that customers will alter their behavior to maintain a relationship with your business. We’re getting one right next to my house, and the neighbors are going crazy. People want more confidence in the choices they make, and providing that confidence also yields rewards back to you.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves:

  • Your business needs to make life easy for your customers
  • You need to make transactions simple and profitable for your business
  • Your customers expect high-value applications at competitive prices
  • Your customers expect excellent customer service

How is it that independent hardware stores, lumber yards, and flooring installers can survive when Lowe’s and Home Depot exist? It’s the customer experience.

How did Shopify explode onto the scene and exponentially grow when Amazon exists? It’s the customer experience.

Your focus should be on creating a delightful shopping experience over anything else. Unless you’re in the emergency response business, customers will shift their schedules for you, and they will appreciate that you are taking time for yourself to recharge and maintain the energy level required to deliver that delight.

So, it’s OK to set some boundaries. It’s OK to take some time for yourself and your employees. You deserve it, and your customers will appreciate it when they know that your scheduled downtime is helping to provide a great experience for them.

Dana Curtis

Dana Curtis

Biztools

Dana Curtis is the founder and CEO of Biztools, a strategic consulting firm that helps small businesses multiply revenue through improved customer experience and pivot to new markets.

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