I’ve been a small business owner for three years now. Before that, I worked for a small, family-run, business. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but, I do want to ask one small favour of you, if you’re reading this:
Please be kind.
I don’t know when or why it happened, but it seems like small business owners are expected to go above and beyond for their customers. Maybe it’s to compete with the larger corporations that can beat us in prices, size, and convenience? Either way, I don’t know a single small business owner that wouldn’t go above and beyond to make a customer happy. Providing an awesome, personalized experience is one of the things we can do better than the big box stores. We can show the customer that their business truly means the world to us.
But what happens when the expectation that we’ll go above and beyond gets out of hand? Sometimes I feel somewhat taken advantage of, and I know my peers do too.
I had a friend who was forced to cut fabric for a product in the least efficient way, wasting the majority of their supplies, in order to “center the print” on the product. Because anything else was “unacceptable.”
I had a woman approach me at market demanding to return earrings she purchased over a year ago (and had worn several times!)
I’ve seen my friends get cussed out for forgetting to send a tracking number on time.
I’ve had friends threatened, bullied, and pushed into giving unfair discounts, returns, and exchanges.
I’ve watched friends get berated by clients for taking time off for mental health (after being assured they would finish their order on the original timeline).
I’ve seen a friend get yelled at, and shamed, because they were IN THE HOSPITAL and couldn’t finish an order on time.
Sometimes I want to scream and tell my customers “I’m a person, too!”
And that’s what I want you to take away from this. Small business owners are people, too. They have family and friends. They get sick. They make mistakes. They are human as well.
I promise you, if you treat us with respect and courtesy, we absolutely will go above and beyond to make sure you’re happy.
It’s okay to ask for a refund if your order is going to take longer due to illness/personal problems. Just please be kind.
It’s okay to ask for an exchange or repair if you receive a defective item. Just please be kind.
It’s okay to check on the status of an order. Just please be kind.
It’s okay to ask if the artist/owner is willing to customize something for you. Just please be kind.
Please be kind, and understand that we WANT to make you happy. We WANT to give you products and services you love. We WANT this to be as meaningful to you, as it is to us. Please be kind, and we’ll do our absolute best for you.
Vice President, YYC Girl Gang