Just because someone is a customer today does not mean they will patronize your business tomorrow.


If you want proof look no further than McDonald's. Last month the Wall Street Journal reported that in response to a challenging operating environment the burger giant was stepping up its efforts to get employees at its 14,000-plus U.S. locations to get better at providing service with a smile because the WSJ reported that one in five customer complaints was about staff friendliness and that stat is continuing to grow.

It is interesting to note that McDonald's is focusing its efforts on staff training and development and not food quality or menu innovation. That's because the chain has those aspects of its business down to a science. McDonald's has long been known for thoroughly researching new menu options, innovating by providing consumers with products they value at a price point most feel they can afford.

But McDonald's challenges should serve as a wakeup call for every business leader in today's foodservice industry. If customers will ding McDonald's for poor service they will not hesitate to do the same to any other company. And if you don't think this applies in the business to business sector think again.

Most everyone today feels they have too much to do and lack the resources they need to do their jobs. So when a company finally gathers a pile of money they want to invest to help address a specific need, they want to know the people they do business with take their situation just as seriously. In other words, they want to know that their supplier has got their back.

One company that has their customers' backs is Singer Equipment Company, FE&S' 2013 Dealer of the Year. Like many companies, Singer Equipment Co. has a stated corporate culture that encourages associates to be responsive, knowledgeable and friendly. But unlike other companies Singer Equipment Company's culture is much more than a few words painted on the walls. It serves as a common set of terms that shape how everyone in the company approaches their job on a daily basis.

The team at Singer Equipment Co. is keenly aware of the fact that customers today have no shortage of options when it comes to sourcing foodservice equipment and supplies and they further realize that competing on price alone is a brutal race to the bottom that nobody wins.

Instead, they choose to compete on service. And, no, I don't mean lip service. The Singer Equipment Co. team understands that service that's delivered in a responsive, knowledgeable and friendly manner is what keeps their customers coming back. It is this understanding that allowed the company to remain stable during the recent economic downturn and ready to capitalize as the market steadily improves.

Anyone can sell a product for a price. But the key to developing a business that withstands the tests of time is understanding that how you do something is equally as important as what you do. Just ask McDonald's.