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Of Pennies, Trees, and the Importance of Every Customer

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Of Pennies, Trees, and the Importance of Every Customer image 300px U.S pennies

When our kids were younger and we were living in Connecticut, we lived in a rather busy neighborhood. So in order to teach our kids how to ride their bikes, and allow them some good bike riding time, we would throw the bikes in the car on the weekends and drive a mile or two to the local high school where there was a large empty parking lot.

On our first trip there we found a number of coins that we pocketed. Mostly pennies, but there was also the occasional nickels, dimes, and quarters. On each successive trip we would walk around the lot looking for money while the kids would try to spot coins from their bikes. We soon learned there was a pattern, and that most of the coins were laying near the parking space divider lines. We assume that as people got in and out of their car and were digging for keys, some coins would invariably fall out. We decided to save these coins and began to fill a jar with them.

Additionally, we took the dog for a lot of walks through our neighborhood and would find quite a few aluminum cans and glass bottles. In Connecticut, when you purchased a soda or beer you paid an additional 5-cents as part of the state bottle bill. Then, when you emptied the bottle, rather than just put it in a recycling bin by the curb, you would take it to a redemption center, usually at a grocery store, put it in a machine, and get your nickel back. Well, we would pick up trash on our walks to help clean up the neighborhood, but we also picked up these redeemable bottles and cans. When we got a large number of them we would take them and redeem them for a nickel apiece, and put the money in our jar.

We got our kids involved, and told them that when we got enough money, we would buy something for them; for the family. And that’s how we got our first DVD player. And some DVDs. And more.

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Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

In business we’re told to step back and focus on the “big picture” so we have an understanding of how everything fits together, rather than just focusing on our little part of that picture. And this is wise advice.

But on the other hand, when we look at our businesses, sometimes we are so focused on the big picture, that we forget the minutiae.

Don’t miss the trees for the forest.

Some might scoff at us for picking up a penny at a time. After all, it’s just a penny. What good can one penny do? But over time, those pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters add up.

Why should we spend so much time providing great customer service to just one customer. After all, what does just one customer mean to your business? That one person at your check out counter is just one person. They don’t mean much, right?

Sure, we shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees, but without each individual tree, there is no forest.

Every penny counts. Every tree matters. Every customer with whom you have contact is important.

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