Since my first day with Mereo, the firm’s rallying cry “seek to serve, not to sell™” has been exemplified in almost every conversation and interaction. It is easy to see this phrase isn’t just a byline or a catch phrase—it is the core of who Mereo is as a company, as an organization, as a community. It is in their DNA.
I would often sit back and think, “but isn’t the goal really to sell first?” but time has answered that question with a consistent answer. Mereo’s goal truly is to serve their clients first (and enable those very clients to do so as well), because the rest will follow.
Because serving clients and colleagues is so vital to Mereo, we are going to begin to spotlight other companies, organizations and individuals who take customer service to the next level. Through this we hope to learn from and applaud those who are making this counter-cultural way of business central to what they do.
Ninety-five kilometers east of Toronto is Cobourg—a lake town that caught my attention in the news this past week. The headline read: “Adapting to change, great staff and focus on customer service key to staying vital as a downtown merchant in Cobourg.”
United TV Stereo was started in 1966 by a 26-year old Irish immigrant who had an interest in technology. Now, 50-years later, this electronics merchant is the oldest storefront in downtown Cobourg, still owned and operated by its original owner.
The interviewer, for this particular article, asked the owner and his daughter, who also works in the store, how they were able to make it through 50 years of economic changes—especially in the ever-changing electronics business. To which 76 year-old owner, Chris Graham, replied, “What has kept us in business is our service department and the fact that we could back up the sales with service.”
There could have been several other likely answers: staying on top of technology trends, amazing marketing or keeping prices low. But instead, after 50 years, Graham has discovered that good customer service is what has helped his business acquire and retain customers. “We’ve got some customers that we dealt with the grandparents, parents and now the kids,” Graham’s daughter shares later in the article.
I love stories like this—stories that don’t often make the national headlines, but should. Hats off to you United TV Stereo. Thank you for putting people over profit, and setting an amazing example for other businesses. This feel-good story gives us continued hope in our long-time business theme song: Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™
Are you in an industry that is constantly changing and updating? There will always be false shortcuts to success when you feel like you are falling behind. Instead of being reactive, let this story challenge you to be proactive—to reach out to current and prospective customers, to listen to what they need and to their problems. SERVE them to the best of your ability, and simply put them first. Success will follow. Here is a post from Mereo Founder, Jay Mitchell, on how to hold effective buyer panels—allowing you to LISTEN and learn from those most important to your business.