The Fight For More Business
( Originally Published 1912 )
Business is a fight. Success belongs to the strong. The careless and ignorant and self-satisfied and lazy and unprogressive are all handicapped. They seldom win.
Competition is keen; to some, it is fierce, to all it is relentless. You cannot get away from it, it is there all the time. Some other firm waiting to take your customers ; some other salesman waiting to step into your shoes; some other bookkeeper watching for you to make a mistake; some other merchant with his eyes on your health or your habits.
Business Sees Everything
Business is so organized that its eyes are on all sides ; it sees everywhere. The president of a billion-dollar corporation visits a gambling place a few times and is deposed from his exalted position. A broker's wife runs up a big bill at one store and then neglects paying. She goes to another store, and a third and a fourth and to the tenth; they all know her record, they will not give her credit.
Capital is everywhere. There is so much money that it is seeking investment in every line of business that will give a safe and adequate return. The man who can prove to capital that by the expenditure of one hundred thousand dollars in advertising he can greatly increase the business, will quickly get the capital. With the hundred thousand dollars to spend in getting more business, he begins to make inroads upon his competitors. They retaliate by making improvements in their stores, and in their business, or their package, or their system, and then spend two hundred thousand dollars in advertising.
The mind of the successful business man is alert all the time, looking out for, and working out, new methods of improving service to customers.
The merchant or manufacturer, shipper or jobber, who falls behind in his service for any reason what-ever, soon feels his ground slipping away from under him.
Business is not a matter of promise, but of performance. A business man or institution is rated by his productions. If he does not serve his constituency to its satisfaction, that constituency will select some other servant.
There are seven modern weapons used in the fight for more business.
The Weapon, Good Values
First: The first weapon is good goods at a fair comparative price. The buyer must feel that he is getting sufficient value for the money, so that in comparison with other goods offered him he will still continue to repeat his orders for those goods.
The Weapon, Good Methods
Second : The second weapon is good methods of handling those goods. It may be a method of selling from manufacturer to retailer, or method of selling from retailer to consumer. It may be a method of handling the goods in transit, or of insuring the goods against loss by fire. Whatever it is, it must be satisfactory in comparison with other similar methods.
The Weapon, Good Employees
Third: The third weapon is employees. They must be agreeable to the purchaser or buyer, courteous, willing, honest, clean, competent. If the employees in one store are below the personnel in an-other store or other business of any kind, that business will suffer ; the fight to hold its customers and get more customers will be just that much harder and less productive.
The Weapon, Advertising
Fourth: The fourth weapon is advertising. This includes not only the newspaper advertising, the street-car, magazine, billboard, sample, novelty, catalogue, or other advertising, but it includes the displaying and decorating of goods so as to enhance their value and increase the desire for them.
The Weapon, Capital
Fifth: The fifth weapon is capital. Capital may be either cash or credit. If one man has one hundred thousand dollars cash, and another man has one hundred thousand dollars first-rating credit, the man with the cash has very little advantage over the man with the credit. Indeed, in the long run, for all kinds of business dealings, the man with the credit will be more apt to have the advantage, be-cause the man with the one hundred thousand dollars cash may be a crook, but the man with the one hundred thousand dollars first-rating credit must be responsible. He has lived a life, and made a success to warrant that credit.
The Weapon, Service
Sixth : The sixth weapon is service. This covers a wide range of subjects. In a store, it may be the equipment of the building, a prompter and more accurate delivery department, a more liberal and accommodating credit system, rest rooms, and a thousand and one other things. In manufacturing, it may be more liberality in dealing with the retailer, or more liberal treatment of the public. In transporting, it may be a better organized system, so that goods will go forward in less time and in greater safety. In some other branches, it may be a more perfect organization and classification of knowledge, which would permit a better service to the person who desired to make use of that knowledge. Service is another word for the art of pleasing customers, knowing what they want, and giving it to them, with profit to the giver.
The Weapon, Integrity
Seventh : The seventh weapon is absolute business integrity and honesty. This is the most essential of all.
With these seven weapons, good goods at a fair price, satisfactory methods, satisfactory employees, effective advertising, plenty of capital, and a service that is pleasing to customers, modern business is waging a relentless warfare.
The Little Retailer
The little retailer may have all of these—and may have them in a more directly usable form than his bigger competitor. The big store has them, and is employing the brains of the greatest experts in mod-ern merchandising to turn out new and more effective ways of putting those weapons into use. The manufacturer is trying to perfect them, the shipper, the banker, the seller, the advertiser, everybody who deals with business is fighting to perfect his business so that in the limelight of modern competition and investigation and publicity it can stand out clearly meriting more business.
Business has no use for the pessimist, or the skeptic or the disbeliever. The man without faith can-not succeed in business. The man who believes in himself, and in business conditions, has the battle half won.
A "Good Morning" Attack
Optimism is contagious. A merchant or clerk can win customers with a simple and cheerful "Good morning" since that reflects genuine appreciation. A waiter can make a dish look appetizing by merely saying, "Doesn't that look delicious"? when he sets it down in front of you.
Every business man is a general. If he does not think out his plans for the campaign, be it ever so insignificant, that campaign may be a failure.
The World Wants Leaders
Courage is a virtue. It appeals to the human heart. The brave man will always be admired whether he is swimming against a current to save a drowning person or at the helm of a business trying to make it a big success. The world wants leaders. Employees want to work for a house that has a competent and succeeding head.
Winning Is a Growth
Winning is a growth. No one can be a big success in one step. The ability to fight for more business has to be learned gradually. The man who is every day getting a tighter hold on his business, who is making progress, who is pleasing his customers, who is giving them a better service, whose credit is improving among those from whom he buys—that man is winning in his fight for more business.
Thrills the Ambition
What fun it is to win ! How it fills the heart with enthusiasm and thrills the ambition ! There is nothing more satisfying, more stimulating, more inspiring than to see business, your business, growing day by day, and year by year under your guidance, at first slowly, then faster and faster until you wonder where it all comes from.
The man who does not have an ambition to fight for more business is already going backward. He will soon be down and out. He need not be considered. The "corner," the "future great," the men who will be the successful ones, little or big, are those who are ambitious to make their business bet-ter and bigger—always bigger and better.