A Small Business at HeartWritten on May 10, 2013 by Jon Bach
There are many types of small business out there. Some are working to grow their brand with the goal of being acquired. Others are on a conquest to grow to be one of the next Fortune 500 companies. Puget Systems is neither of these types.
People often ask me how I can remember the names of just about every Puget Systems customer from my first few years in business. How could I not?! Marcel, you were one of my first customers. When you called to place your order, I was on a weekend getaway to Victoria, BC. I scrambled to scribble down your information on a piece of paper I found on the Victoria waterfront. Robert, your PC arrived with shipping damage. When you called, I was driving up in the mountains with family. I pulled over and for 45 minutes they waited patiently (and in complete silence) in the car with me while I walked you through reseating components. Joe, when I came to your house to set up your PC in your home recording studio, it actually made me a little late for my first date with this girl I now call my wife. Thankfully she married me dispite my tardiness, and you later thanked us by treating us to dinner at the Italian restaurant you manage. I could go on and on, and I look back at these stories with great fondness. These kinds of acts happen every day with small businesses just starting out. They are stories of survival.
Fast forward 13 years and 28 employees and these stories continue. Scott took some vacation time on the east coast recently. He found himself in NY, where a customer with an open support ticket needed help. So, on his vacation, on the other side of the country, he did a house call. Christopher drove 1 hour in the opposite direction of his home after work, to pick up a PC from a customer who needed help. Brett rode down to the office on his bike on the 4th of July to meet a customer who wanted to pick up his new PC and enjoy it over the holiday. Again, I could go on and on. No one asked them to do these things. I don't expect them to do these things. If we were a large business, I probably never would have known that they did these things. But we are a small business, and word has a way of getting around in a small business. Just like me and our first customers, you can bet those guys will remember the names of each of those customers for years to come.
I am very proud of these kinds of stories. When I was first starting out, this is just what had to be done to survive and grow. But not today. Today, this is a choice. It is a choice each of our employees are making on their own. No one had to ask them to do it, because their vision of the customer experience is the same as the company vision. In fact, the company vision for customer experience is what drew many of our employees to seek employment here. They wanted to work for a company they could believe in, and go home each evening with that deep satisfaction you can only get with a job well done.
I was reviewing our mission statement the other day. It is a four point statement, and point number three reads: "We will not grow beyond our ability to provide an excellent and personal customer experience or beyond our ability be a Puget Systems family." I think that tells you a lot about the type of small business we have chosen to be.