Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

It’s Still a People Business

I was reminded back around Christmas that most of our work is still a people’s business. In the retail sector, no matter how hard the electrons try, they cannot replicate a warm “hello,” and personal interaction. It seems like competing with the online market is making bricks and mortar stores try a little harder. Best I can tell, it’s working.

On a recent trip to Best Buy, I was stunned when two people approached me to ask if they could help. One clerk even walked me across the store to show me where I could find an item in a different department. This was the polar opposite of past experiences there, and it made me wonder if this new focus on service is just one of the reason Best Buy’s stock went from $13.00 to $42.00 in the last year. I will be back there more frequently.

The same seems to go for the hospitality industry. Earlier in the week, I was staying at the Viceroy Hotel Santa Monica, where the concierge, the front desk and the driver went out of their way to make me feel welcomed. Really welcomed. We were always met with a genuine smile and a wish to please, going above and beyond what I have experienced at other hotels. There’s no doubt they won my loyalty when I visit the area again.

At the end of the day, it’s about more than the product, proprietary systems, balance sheet or solid location. It’s nice to be spoken to, out of the blue. Just a simple “hello” or “how might I help you” goes a long way. I am for this.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.