So last week I did something unheard of; I went on vacation during tax season. It was the first time in 13 years that I have taken any sort of time off during the January to April period. Although I was away from work I still had a productive week because I got to reflect on the business. I got a lot of big picture thinking done and came back refreshed with more direction in our business than I had before.
I also paid attention while in Mexico, especially to the business side of it all. Mexico was nothing like I thought it would be. I pictured a place that was brown, hot and unsafe. What I found was a mountainous, lush green and very safe place. Additionally the people knew quite a bit more about business than I thought. Here are a few business lessons I picked up on while in Mexico.
Cater to Your Customers
One thing I noticed is that the people of Mexico know that they need tourism to survive. They don't do construction on their new hotels during tourism season so they don't bother the tourists. Another thing they have recognized is the importance of being able to speak English. Many of the locals speak English and they are also teaching their kids to speak English right from the get go. Another thing I noticed about everyone in the hospitality industry was how nice and polite everyone was. I worked in the hospitality industry for almost a decade when I first moved out West. I know how difficult it can be to always be polite. I never saw one person slip and they were always incredibly polite even when I saw someone being rude to them.
Low Price Doesn't Necessarily Win
I was walking around the flea market with my wife who was looking for nothing in particular. Every vendor offered us the best prices. "Come on amigo I will make you a great deal." "Senor, best prices in town." My wife later said to me, "I wish someone would have offered me the best product rather than the best price."
Not everyone cares about a low price. In fact when you are looking for something important do you shop on price or value? The lowest price doesn't always win, but a fair price for a valuable product or service always wins.
Man the workers in Mexico really know how to hustle. I wanted to ask everyone if they knew QuickBooks so I could take them back to work with me. One waiter in particular Javier comes to mind. As my dad said, "Not the best waiter I've ever had, but man can he sell." When we walked into eat Javier would waive us over to his area. We were told one night by the hostess that it would be a 30 minute wait and then Javier flagged us down waiving us to his section. The guy knew his audience. He knew how to put butts in the seats and that is all that matters when you are in sales. Bringing in customers is crucial for your business to succeed and you need someone that is good at it.
The Power of Yes
Most of the workers in Mexico loved to say yes. "Can I have an omelet with so and so?" "Would you mind bringing a palm tree out to this floating dock so I can have some shade?" "Could I get both of these entrees on one plate?" No matter how ridiculous or needy the requests were the answer was always the same; "Yes I will bring it to you."
Your customers love to hear yes from you. Giving your customers what they want is important, but so is setting the limits. If all you do is say yes to your customers you will find yourself doing some pretty ridiculous things outside of the scope of what you really do. Additionally you may find yourself with some unproductive customers. While it is important to make sure your customers are happy, it is important to know when it is appropriate to say no.