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The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success, all of them based on my experience.

I started with nothing and didn’t attend college, so I know you can achieve maximum success, regardless of your education. Each of the articles, after the first, takes a closer look at one of the tactics recommended.

Too often, we create solutions for problems that don’t exist or that aren’t material. You know how you hate that one clause in your loan agreement with the bank or that one stupid rule that you encounter in your favorite store? You aren’t the only one irritated because someone decided to solve a problem that wasn’t really a problem, and did so without considering how a new rule would irritate customers or prospects.

Putting in unnecessary rules is a great way to lose customers. When I go to lunch, I often order ahead to save time. Not far from my office is a very good Mexican restaurant. I am a lunch-time regular; or, at least I was, until the owner decided he would no longer take call-in orders for patrons dining in. The hostess insisted she couldn’t take an order until I was there in person.

I asked her why the restaurant had changed its policies. She said, “Sometimes the person who calls ahead never shows up.” Although I can appreciate the frustration of a no-show, the restaurant owner is solving a problem that really isn’t significant.

The no-show was probably one among many paying customers who order ahead; for sure, he or she was only one of the hundreds or thousands of patrons the restaurant serves every month. The restaurant also began to require prepayment on all to-go orders. One customer out of one thousand had stiffed the restaurant owner, and he responded by inconveniencing a great many of his remaining customers to prevent a small loss.

For the restaurant, of course, the most likely real result is that some clients decide to take their business elsewhere, and the new rules cost the business many times more than just accepting the rare no-shows.

Whenever you contemplate adding a new rule in your business, ask yourself whether the problem you are solving warrants the rule. Before you add a rule, consider whether it makes you easier or harder to do business with, and what the change may cost you.

Years ago, I used to compete against some auto recyclers who would not take credit cards or checks because they were afraid of not getting paid for parts. In my service area, I took cards and was one of the first yards to take checks (I know, I am dating myself to the Stone Age). Yes, I occasionally got burned, but the extra business I gained more than made up for the tiny losses from very rare bad checks.

Of course, nowadays, every yard will take cards and more people pay using their phones than pay by check, but you get the point: As business owners, we need to stay focused on customer experience and stay focused solving the problems that really influence results. Pick your battles.

When you are facing a problem, think about whether it is really worth adding a rule or rethinking a process to prevent something that happens rarely and isn’t significant. Don’t create rules that make it harder to do business or solve problems that really aren’t problems at all.

Published in the December 2017 Edition of American Recycler News