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Etiquette, Goodwill, and Business Custom

Updated on August 18, 2016


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common-sense in managing a business

People who start businesses do so from all sort of different backgrounds. One may have 20 years’ experience with good firms, and will know most of the answers to the problems of what to do and what are not done.

Others, however, Will only have the vaguest notions of this subject, and may well have come from a completely non-business background. Of course, business etiquette is based on good manners, but even

With these and an ample supply of common-sense, these are some things worth mentioning.

Don’t Run Down your Competitors

Many people think is clever to go about making derogatory remarks regarding competitors, and perhaps even boasting about how much better they can do. Nowhere is more true to say that often pride goes before a fall than a competitive business. To adopt an attitude of slanging one’s competitors is the almost certain way towards trouble, if not disaster. From a common-sense angle, it is well to realize that many customers will have been dealing with your competitors for generations and hold them in high regard. For all you know they may be very friendly with them, so that any disparaging remarks coming from you could be repeated to the competitors concerned.

As a new entry into a trade, probably with very limited resources, it is folly to invite the power of your competitors against you. A strong competitor may adopt a policy against you which could ruin you. It is, therefore, wise to try and keep all the goodwill you can even if it is from competitors.


Endeavour to avoid quarrels, because none of us know what the future holds. This brings me back to the question of maintaining goodwill, and creating it. Let me illustrate what can happen.

Free service

Many people in business adopt a grasping attitude and try to get the highest price for everything on all occasions. Unfortunately for them, the way to make the most money is not necessarily always to get the highest price.

Customers are human, and the urge to find and secure bargains is keen. To try to run a business, as many people do, on what might be called a very strict costing basic, frequently ends in disaster, particularly for the new entry that has his way to make.

In business one normally has to allow one’s head to rule the heart, but there are times when it can pay handsomely to do the opposite.

In other words, if you have secured a bargain supply of merchandise, pass some of this bargain on to your customers, if not all of it. This is one of the tricks of making business friends, and while one must avoid giving away all one’s advantage, to do so occasionally create goodwill and wonderful publicity.

The Bait

Big stores and similar concerns use what are called loss leaders. What happens is this. This concern buys a bargain lot of something, and then promotes and sells it at perhaps the price they paid, possibly even at a slight loss, but certainly on a much reduced profit percentage. They do this in order to draw customers into their stores and warehouses. Then they hope the customers wise to sell at a loss unless

you have to, but if you can put forward one or two bargains in the list of goods you sell, these often go far towards securing other profitable business. Bargain items are especially good to use when trying to open accounts with good customers. Low prices speak louder than words.

Good Manners Help

Finally, when someone phones up or calls in, do remember that a nice welcome is attractive. I once knew a man whose work entailed negotiating with a number of official bodies, and who was known to be successful in getting favorable decisions after others had failed. His success was based on simply understanding human nature and being courteous.

If your business, welcome people on the phone and try to make them feel important because they are customers. Similarly, in your letter try to bring in a certain amount of friendliness. I do not suggest either flattery or welcome to the extent of dishonesty. For instance, if you are having difficulty with someone, it is insincere to flatter him at the same time. But in all normal dealing you will find kindness and courtesy will do much to help make your business profitable.


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