I want to talk to you about an illness that strikes every single successful business at some time or another. It goes through 3 predicable stages. It is called The Success Syndrome.
Stage 1. You start off a new business, and you open the doors for the very first time, and everyone is scared, asking questions to themselves like "What if this doesn't work?". You have a family to feed and employees to pay. In your mind, failure just isn't an option and at this stage you cannot do enough for every person that comes through the door, they are your complete focus. You bend over backwards to be helpful to them. And because of this focus the customers have a good experience in your new business, so they buy, multiply and come back.
Stage 2. You have been open a couple of months maybe a year. You customer base is growing steadily and the outlook is good. You are getting used to the running of the business and all that brings with it. Because of your customer focus in Stage one customer's are flowing in at a steady rate. Then you notice one of your staff being a little bit gruff with a customer, and the customer leaves the shop angry. You think to yourself, "Not a problem! There's plenty more where he came from!". Then later in the day, you are a little bit gruff with a customer and that customer leaves angry, and you think the same thing. The Success Syndrome had taken hold.
Stage 3. It doesn't take long for things to go wrong once The Success Syndrome has taken hold. Your quality of service and performance levels have gone through the floor, and you are the last one to know. Sales have plummeted and customers just are not coming back. You try to make up by cutting costs to the bone which in most cases means layoffs. This in turn only deepens dislike for the company. You blame the competition, the marketplace, the economy, the government. As a last ditch effort you buy some flashy advertisment campaign and use cut rate specials to try to lure customers back , but it doesn't work. Left uncorrected this stage is terminal for the business.
The Success Syndrome is a silent illness, you will not see or hear it but you will notice its effects.
The way to cure it is once you see its main effects, a slump in sales, a slump in customer numbers, is to take immediate action. Look at every facet of your business as if you where opening for the first time, look at it through a customers eyes, ask your customers opinions and fix anything that isn't right. That could range from a staff members attitude, to you level of service. The Success Syndrome is curable but it will require action. And the sooner its detected the easier it is to cure.
Remember: Without a customer there is no sale, without a sale there is no business.