No one gets excited over a complaint about their business, but smart entrepreneurs don’t get all twisted up either. It’s impossible to please everyone all of the time and, at some point or another, even the best companies are going to receive a criticism. What separates successful entrepreneurs from ones who are unsuccessful is how that comment is viewed and handled. By Alesia Visconti
No one gets excited over a complaint about their business, but smart entrepreneurs don’t get all twisted up either. It’s impossible to please everyone all of the time and, at some point or another, even the best companies are going to receive a criticism. What separates successful entrepreneurs from ones who are unsuccessful is how that comment is viewed and handled.
I subscribe to the notion that a complaint voiced by a customer is a blessing because it gives the business owner the opportunity to view the comment and then correct it. Feedback from customers helps us tweak operations and often improve the deliverability of services or goods. It’s an invite to explore other options. And so, I think of our firm’s clients as my “advisory board,” always giving me feedback to help process improvement and efficiency. Often, problems can arise when an entrepreneur/business owner becomes defensive about a complaint or about feedback that may be viewed as less than stellar. Rather than try to defend the current operation or system, it helps to look at the situation from your customer’s perspective. Sometimes, we are too close to our systems to see them objectively. The saying “you can’t see the forest through the trees” comes to mind. Additionally, in business I know that when everything is “perfect,” it’s already teetering on being obsolete; business moves at the speed of light. So having feedback – even when it’s not exactly what we want to hear – helps sharpen our businesses in ways we might not have explored otherwise.
As the CEO of FranServe, Inc., I experienced that myself. Last year, one of our franchisor brands commented about the clunky navigation in our back-end system used by all franchise partners. Rather than feel the need to defend our system, I invited him on a call with me to explore what he liked, what he didn’t like, and where he felt improvements were needed. I took all of that information and ran it by my team. We all felt his insights led to an “aha” moment and immediately saw how his comments rang true. Because of that complaint, we completely re-did the back end for our franchise partners and now receive continual praise from franchisors about the smoothness and efficiency of the new system. I’m forever grateful to that franchisor and his helpful complaint!
Pete Baldine, president of Moran Family of Brands, had a similar “aha” moment. Pete explained:
“So I’ve always believed that a customer complaint is an opportunity to prove how good you really are, and you need to take full advantage of that. Quick story: A couple of years ago, I had a longtime franchisee that was coming up on the expiration of his agreement. He notified us that he was not going to renew because he wanted to go in ‘a different direction.’ I contacted him to explore what that direction was, and he shared with me why he was going to leave. I loved the ideas he had to change the business model and asked him if he would make those changes with me instead of on his own. As a result, we have launched our new Turbo Tint brand with that franchisee as a partner and area developer. We are always better together!”
Well said, Pete, and congratulations for listening to your franchisee and turning a complaint into a new business. Now that’s a successful entrepreneur!
Entrepreneurs know that whatever term is used – feedback, constructive criticism, or good old-fashioned complaint – taking something from a negative perspective and turning it into something that positively helps your business is always a win-win situation. Indeed, as Pete said, “We are always better together.”
– Alesia Visconti
Alesia Visconti, CFC, is the CEO/Publisher of Franchise Dictionary Magazine and the CEO of FranServe Inc., the world’s largest franchise consulting and expansion organization. She has 20 years of experience as a C-level executive, driving organizational development and taking companies to the next level. An author, professional speaker, and entrepreneur, her motto in life is “Work hard, play hard, help others, repeat.” A self-proclaimed nerd, Alesia loves all things “superhero.”