I feel dirty. No, I didn’t sleep with another woman, nor did I cheat on anyone. But then again, I didn’t go to my usual barber of 20+ years. Is that cheating? I just wanted a haircut that was long overdue. He is closed 3 days out of the week, and this other barber around the corner was open today, and today was the day I could make time to have my hair cut. The first 15 mins were awkward… I am watching what he is doing, how he does it and wondering if its going to work for me. Then he gets some hot gel to shave me with a straight edge razor. Hardly anyone does this anymore. I ask him where he is from. He says Italy. I say “yes I know, but where?” He says Sicily. I say “where in Sicily” and of course its Catania, where my family is from… so now we are talking and having a conversation. A very old school Sicilian is cutting my hair. And actually I don’t feel bad, dirty or cheating on my other barber of 20+ years who I went to high school with his children. Its different, I am not sure its better, but the treatment was certainly better, the conversation was better, he most certainly tried to do a better job, and, in the end, I am glad I broke away to find a new barber. Its not as if I have all that much hair left, but I wanted to be treated with respect, not as an intrusion. Many times I walked into my barber of 20+ years and I was told to come back later, and the last time he told me the day after Thanksgiving “you have to come back later” because he brought back pizza for lunch and he was going to eat. No “Happy Thanksgiving” no “Hello” , no, “please wait” and no sign on the door saying “we will be back at 1pm” — just an open door and no hello, just “come back later”. I told him, I will be back on Monday. He said OK, but Monday I was busy, tuesday was busy, he was closed on tuesday and wednesday, but wednesday is when I had time. This is when I went to the place around the corner and made a new friend.
Most of you will think this is stupid rambling. And, that might be true. Who cares about my hair? No one but me. Not even my barber. But for those of us who value a relationship more than 10 years, there is some remorse. The lesson learned is over time, people, especially in business, take others for granted. Sometimes it is good to make new relationship in business or non-business related. Sometimes you find someone more gracious, charging more, but doing a better job to earn your respect, interest and business, and yes, that alone is a good thing.
No one like being taken for granted. No one likes when a friend or client of 10+ years finds another person to fill the job. But, this is life, and people are people, No matter how loyal you are, remember, always respect your clients and they in turn will respect you by returning to give you business. IF they take that for granted, they need to know that they should never take anything for granted, no matter how far back the relationship goes. A fresh face and person may seem like an affair, and soon that too might grow old… but take care of those who take care of you over the years.
Business is a relationship. Yes, its about money, but its more about relationships that will bring that money. So when you deliver less service/goods, don’t be surprised when they seek others to cover their needs. The thing about business is, they are more likely to “cheat” and go with another than if you are in a marriage and seek other relationships. No oath of God is made when you do business with someone. So always be aware that you need to work just as hard to keep your client base regardless of anything. Relationships under God, Business, Friendship, or anything, in the end, are the same, you must deliver, reciprocate, understand, help, and forgive if you wish to keep that relationship healthy… if you have none of those things, then yes, its time to take a break and encounter new relationships.