That’s a Chinese proverb that you can apply to many aspects of your business.
It’s pretty obvious in its application to customer service. If you can’t make your existing customers happy, they are not going to refer new clients or customers to you – and a “satisfied” customer is only ever one step away from becoming a past customer.
You can equally apply it to the team in the business. If you can make them happy, there’s good chance they will make the extra effort to ensure the customer is happy. That may sound a bit simplistic, but it is one of the foundations of success for SouthWest airlines in the USA.
It’s also the case that the team will help you with recruitment. They think they are working in a great place, so they will tell their friends and family. When you have a vacancy they will recommend someone. Suddenly you’ve not only saved a recruitment fee, you’ve got a new member of the team who is really delighted and enthusiastic to join and you’ve got an existing team member who is going to go all out to make sure the newbie succeeds.
If you wanted to raise more money for the business, just imagine how much harder that is if your existing investors (or your bank) have lost interest or been disappointed. It will be a lot easier to get that overdraft extended or the credit arranged for that new piece of kit if the bank manager is on your side, but even more crucial if you wanted to raise additional equity one of the first questions from any new investor would concern what role your existing investors will play. If they are not risking their money (and they know you) why should I take that risk?
You can apply this to your supply chain. If you’ve looked after them and you have a problem, your suppliers will try to help you. If you’ve always been a pain to deal with that’s less likely to be true.
When you come to sell the business, good due diligence will uncover your reputation, not just with your customers.