Poor attitude equals poverty: Ghana’s primary equation
ON Monday, November 6, I wanted to buy coconuts at the Santasi roundabout. It was just about 9am; the seller was sweeping and picking plastic from the ground when I approached him. He walked to his table and rinsed his hand in a bucket of water.
I told him that he should use soap. He replied that I could leave if I was not satisfied. When I insisted that he should wash with soap because he had been picking things from the ground, he asked me if he had picked faeces.
I felt sad and numbed by the young man’s heightened level of ignorance. His apparent obtuseness about his appalling attitude and the grave implications for the business frightened me. There are about three people at that station. The other two have been pleasant to me, but thanks to their acerbic partner, they have lost my patronage.
How many customers will he lose for the business? Good businesses do not drive customers away; savvy businesspeople strategise to maintain existing customers.
“The customer is always right” is a business line that stresses the “You-Attitude” as opposed to the “I-Attitude”.
In other words, a business must strive to persuade customers, defer to the latter’s demands even in provocative situations. Meeting customer needs is most effective in creating business goodwill.
Ironically, I got insulted for insisting on hygiene, but that is not the biggest issue. The trader is simply out of touch with Ghanaians’ business culture.
Many indigenous traders believe that making early sale(s) upon opening shop bodes well for the business day. Such traders treat customers who approach them first in a special way. They beg, cajole to persuade the first potential buyer to part with money.
They are afraid that if the first person walks away without any purchase, it might jinx business for the rest of the day.
The fallacious sentiment works through traders’ pragmatic approach in treating customers respectfully. The young trader in reference ought to be pitied for not knowing how to play the game. He did not invite me.
I went to his table on my own accord to give him early sales; he squandered the chance. Some traders wait till the evening before making meagre sales. Some do not sell at all. The trader above got an early offer but chose to let me walk away with my money. Is he business-minded?
Compare his attitude with a hairdresser I visited in Ash-Town the following day, November 7. It was my second visit. My first visit occurred in July. She readily obliged my requested to wash my hair with hot water. That motivated me to return. Her sink was dirty; I prompted her to clean it alongside my request for hot water. She did both; I tipped her well for courtesy.
I needed to retouch my hair so I could have washed my hair at that salon; however, I chose to give half of the service to a different business which treats customers well.
Many businesspeople in this country are not courteous. Yet, courtesy is crucial in creating business goodwill.
Pragmatic businesspeople know that getting patronage depends on quality goods, environment, approach, timing, and consumers’ purchasing power. Discerning consumers insist on value for money.
They buy what they need but can be persuaded to buy impulsively. Smiling, efficient businesspeople tend to draw good consumer patronage. Eventually, cheating businesses pay the consequences by losing business goodwill.
Many small businesses in Ghana do not last due to poor customer service. Owners become complacent when the businesses take off well. They stop respecting customers. They behave as if they are doing customers a favour.
This is largely a buy and sell economy where same businesses keep springing up every day. When new businesses spring up, despised customers simply take their patronage away from ill-behaved businesspeople and give to new respectful ones.
The coconut business is a thriving one around the Santasi roundabout and the main Patasi road. Additionally, there are mobile sellers who fill wheelbarrows with coconut and operate the same route from door-to-door. I had numerous other choices. Despite the apparent heavy patronage of coconut, no smart seller should take customers for granted.
Was the person probably drunk or on drugs?
Well, this is Ghana where people hardly analyse actions, but choose to blame others for every woe. Eventually, when this person manages to drive away all the customers, he will go to a pastor who will tell him that the witches in his family are collapsing his business. He will cry that business is poor and request help from government.
Obtuseness will not be factored into the argument, but poor social plus emotional intelligence and twisted common sense are submerging many people/businesses in poverty in Ghana.
Yet, instead of pragmatic analysis, such sing and pray for divine intervention. God helps the diligent! In business, one reaps the goodwill one sows.
The writer is a Snr Lecturer, Language and Communication Skills,
Takoradi Technical University, Takoradi.