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The Chicken Soup Nazi

I had an interesting “Soup Nazi” experience at the Farmer’s Market today. The woman selling organic pasture-fed chickens became really rude to me because I wasn’t standing in line properly. I had visions of my teacher yelling at me in first grade during an evacuation drill (I was born in the Soviet Union – for anyone that doesn’t know me), during which we needed to line up in a single file line. I didn’t like to be talked down to at as a seven year old and I don’t like it now.

Yet I thought she was simply having a bad day, so I smiled and collected my chicken. She proceeded to short me $5 on the change. When I told her of this mistake, she began yelling at me. Then she told me that she knows what I look like and might not sell to me again. “Is this really about me?” I asked. She just gave me a dirty look.

Now, Hoffman Chickens are the only regular organic pasture-fed chicken suppliers at the Market. Marin Sun Farms, the other supplier, only brings in chickens on a rare occasion for double the price. I had a dilemma. Somehow I stayed calm and made a gut decision I gave the woman her chicken back and collected my $. All I wanted was a chicken and friendly service. All I got was the chicken. It simply wasn’t good enough. A few people came over to me and said that’s how the woman is all the time. She is “grumpy” said one of the other vendors nearby.

I remembered the Soup Nazi again. He thought his soup was so good that he didn’t need to be nice to his customers. The chicken lady sells out every week and has very little competition in the organic pasture-fed chicken market. She places a lot of value on the quality of the chicken and no value on her customer care. It’s a short-sighted strategy. One day she will find herself with lots of chickens and no customers. It makes sense as she does care more about the chickens than her customers.

The story ends with me going to the Marin Sun Farms stand and pre-ordering more chickens from David, one of the friendliest sellers at the market. Hoffman Chickens lost a customer. Marin Sun Farms gained a customer despite their less frequent delivery and much higher prices.

I learned a lot from this experience, but most of all I was reminded of this mantra:

Place a high value on the experience of your customers in your selling process. How you sell is a big part of your branding and the perception your customers will have of your business.

** Does your selling or client attraction process match the personality of your business?

** How can your selling process reflect more of your brand and come from a place of integrity?

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