A look at what makes Christmas memories special and the importance of applying this to business.
Christmas time: a time for joy, family and love. It is also a time for memories, such as when my father, stepmother, sister and I would hop into a car and drive around looking at the Christmas lights which bejeweled all the neighborhood houses. One year my stepbrother joined us for Christmas and as we perused the luminous domiciles, we spotted the blinking red light that sits atop a water tower. In the spirit that seems to consume most older siblings, my step brother managed to convince me that it was Rudolph stopping to get a drink of water. Next it would be home to roast marshmallows and hot dogs in the fireplace. Each year two records received continuous play (a record, for the younger reader, is much like a CD, only larger and they break a great deal easier). The albums were “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “A Chipmunk Christmas” (even at such a young age my taste for the finer arts was obvious). Finally, it was off to bed to await the visit of Old Saint Nick.
No doubt, the pinnacle of the holiday was awaking to find some sort of ray gun or spaceship under the tree, the stockings overflowing with candy and toys. The next hour or so would be spent watching my father fight to put together a toy whose directions inevitably had come to us in some language other than English. One year the frustrating gift was a tent, which he and I both took outside and placed in the back yard. As we did this, my father chose to let me in on a secret about Santa Clause that most children had figured out on their own years earlier (no one ever said I was not a gullible child. After all I was the one who had been convinced that Rudolph stopped on water towers to quench his thirst). After this we would head to our grandparents to consume more food than most third world countries.
Added to these great memories were parties at school and church; therefore, it is no wonder that Christmas is such a special time to children the world over. Each of you no doubt has his or her individual traditions and customs. They may be similar to mine or perhaps they vary greatly; however, the good memories seem to revolve around one constant theme: time with family and friends as well as stopping our busy lives long enough to love and be loved.
How does this apply to business? Well, as Christmas time approaches, for many of our customers, this means less about love and more about life becoming more and more hectic. A day out shopping can mean rude customers, likely to knock you over for the new “it” toy of the season, and irritable employees who are working longer and harder than they have all year long. Going out we can be more struck by the general commercialism that Christmas seems to bring than by a feeling of peace and well being. So, no matter our business, we are more likely to stand out if we are one of the few that offer helpings of the Christmas spirit to all our customers through our service. One common focus of all business is this: everyone has a customer and that customer is the most important factor to our success. A pilot’s customer is his passenger; a writer’s customer is his reader and his editors. For a factory owner it is his buyer and to the school teacher it is the children and their parents. No matter your occupation you have a customer and making a decision to focus on the principles we all love about Christmas will pay off in our customer’s memories for some time to come.
We must think of our customers as our friends. We must realize now more than ever that treating them with ethics, integrity and the spirit of love will shine most brilliantly now, for most of our competition is likely succumbing to the urge to give into the frustration and irritability which overtake us at this time of year. Forget the principle of win/lose in negotiation (a principle which most now denounce) and embrace win/win solutions. We must put an emphasis on networking. The lists of ways in which we can rise above the competition are endless but remember a focus now on the principles which adorn our most cherished memories will likely reap benefits for the entire year to come.
© Copyright 2005 by T. James Musler