Pretty Woman

One of my favourite films is the 1990s film Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. I like the film for all sorts of reasons, but it was something that happened to me this week, and a similar event that happened to Vivian (Julia Roberts) in the film, which got me thinking: namely, the short-sightedness of some businesses.

In the film Vivian has been given some money to buy a dress, but because of the way she looks she can’t get served and so can’t spend her money; needless to say, another shop gets the cash.

Well, what happened to me was nothing like that, but it was the same short-sighted view on business.

I was co-directing a stage show a while ago, HMS Pinafore. We had given the show a modern twist and the ladies’ chorus first appear on stage having returned from a shopping spree (see the connection?!). One of my jobs was to source props, so I went in to my local town (Kingston) to see if I could get a few. We needed around twenty bags – classy paper carriers from the top shops there. All the shops were really helpful and interested in what we were doing: Crabtree & Evelyn, T.M. Lewin, Tommy Hilfiger, Fat Face, L.K. Bennett.

All bar one that is: French Connection. “We don’t give carriers away”, I was told in a snooty tone.

Why do I think this is short-sighted? Well for three reasons at least. 1) All the other bags will be shown to an audience every show (free advertising), 2) I’m unlikely ever to shop at French Connection again, whereas the others I will, 3) some of you reading this will have negative thoughts about French Connection.

So, my point is this, are you doing anything in your business that might be hurting it without meaning to? Is your local PR as good as it should be? Little things can mean so much and often a business can’t tell when things started to go wrong for them.

You might be wondering which shop was the nicest to me. Just in case you are it was T.M. Lewin. I was asked if I wanted men’s or ladies bags by a member of staff, but before I could answer another member of staff said to give me some of each. What a difference in attitude!

Author: David Wimblett

Business Mentor helping SMEs build their businesses by finding exactly the right customers that are perfect for them. Started my first business as a 21 year old. Live in Chilworth, Guildford, Surrey with my wife. We have four grown-up sons. Author of 'The 10 Year Breakfast' and 'BNI: One Bite at a Time'.

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