What Would David Do? Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

I was in a predicament. One of our largest customers had a deadline to meet and I gave my word that we would help them meet it.  While our team has been in the industry for years, we are still a new company and it was vital to make this happen.  I gave my word.  We had to order more computers and we needed them in two days.  Ordering several times before from this big name company, I had come to accept the subpar customer service knowing the product I was ultimately buying.  I figured if anyone could get these computers to me in time it would be this company with their virtually unlimited amount of resources. 

I put a call into my contact to help expedite the order.  After leaving a voicemail, sending an email, and an hour of waiting, he finally called to say it simply could not be done in time.  Being part of a small business, I know this answer is unacceptable and frankly untrue.  I pushed to see what could be done and after talking to several different managers, still nothing.  I heard no solutions, only excuses.  “There is a process that has to be followed.  There is a que.”  I could get the equipment but it would be two days later than I wanted them.  No other options given.  The project could be completed but it would be incredibly close.  I don’t like close.

 Small sapling.

Small sapling.

I had to come up with plan B.  I called other companies, searched online, and finally found the only company who had the same brand and exact models I was looking for.  It was a small business.  Knowing the chance of getting the equipment in time was getting smaller by the hour, I asked, “What is the soonest you could have these to me?” He put me on hold, came back and said “How is tomorrow?”  He was overnighting the order. This was an exorbitant additional cost and cut into the small profitability of the project, but it had to be done.  I gave my word. 

The small business owner I was speaking with had been in my shoes before.  While on the phone, he decided to give us his price for the shipping (no markup) and throw in a small discount.  He helped in a way the giant could and would not.  We ended up getting the computers for a much lower price, on-time, all with an incredible customer service experience.  This is not the first time something like this has happened to me.

Remember David and Goliath?

Goliath, a Philistine giant measuring over nine feet tall, fully armored challenged the Israelites to fight for 40 consecutive days. David, a young Israelite teenager with no armor and armed with merely a slingshot defeats Goliath on the 40th day with agility, responsiveness and tenacity.

This story shot to my mind.  Sometimes, being small is your greatest strength.  Small businesses need not feel intimidated or insecure by their size but use it to do things the giants can’t or won’t do.. and quicker.  David conquered Goliath because of his size not despite it.  This story and my recent computer debacle reminded me of the often underestimated strengths of the small business.

Agility

My mother-in-law has a saying, “Have a plan, but be prepared for it to change.”  Business is in constant motion and if you are doing something right, growing.  You have to be prepared to adapt as should the companies, vendors, and suppliers you do business with.   David originally went to the battle lines to check on his brothers but quickly realized he needed to fight this giant.  He changed his plan instantly.  Adapting to a changing situation and making smart decisions quickly can create a lasting customer experience. How many times has a job changed? How many times have new needs arose? Or the deadline miraculously moved up?  The vendors who helped me out in a bind are never forgotten and are always the first to get my business going forward.

Responsiveness

Being small means being quick.  David was able to defeat Goliath without armor and only his slingshot, because he was knowledgeable of his tool and abilities.  He was able to keep it simple, use what he knows best, and act quickly.  Sometimes important decisions need to be made without hesitation.  Having expert knowledge and experience allows those necessary decisions to be made without the time to get approved by layers of management.  

Our team knows what they are doing and can make necessary decisions.  We are all decision makers. There is no red-tape, no bureaucracy, and most importantly, no delay.  We know firsthand how time can affect a customers’ business.  Sometimes you need an answer now, not in an hour or two.  Being responsive to customer issues, deadlines, and challenges is essential and shouldn’t be a luxury.

Tenacity

David’s knowledge driven by his tenacity gave him the confidence to challenge Goliath.  Tenacity is the intangible, unsung hero of a small business. Going up against tremendous odds is the norm, but any hurdle can be overcome with persistence and the right attitude.    From personal experience, no one will try harder for you than a small business.  Going above and beyond until the job is done right is the only way.  Because it’s not just business, it’s personal.  It is our word, our character, our integrity, our business and livelihood.  As a customer, you are trusting that company to help you achieve your goals, make your business more successful, provide you with quality service and products. That trust is not something a small business takes lightly.

If companies of all sizes could think small like David, they could build more loyalty by creating a better overall customer experience.  It’s the “Let’s get this done” attitude.  How could this small business possibly have more to offer than a multi-billion dollar company?  How could it be more effective than the giant?  There is a key difference.  The small business has the freedom to make things happen as needed.  Being a part of an experienced small business team, and being customers to others, we know what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and the right way to do it.  Thinking like David keeps us on our toes and allows us to do amazing things for our clients and employees.  We proudly look forward to proving that sometimes bigger isn’t always better.

 

Sarah RatheComment