0 Comments |  Business planning |  PRINT | 

A roaring trade or a dog of an idea?

Wednesday, 5 February 2014 | By Taskmaster

In business, you have some real dog days. For example, your humble correspondent recently read about a zoo in Luohe, China, that suffered a business dilemma. Namely, the resident African lion was taken off to a breeding facility.


Of course, this created a problem for the zoo, because an empty big cat cage tends to look a little raw. Especially given their customers paid to have a roaring good time while seeing a lion. So how did they deal with this hairy situation?


They decided to put a large, long-haired dog – a Tibetan mastiff – in a lion costume.


No, this is not a tall tale from Old Taskmaster. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me.


Unfortunately for the zoo, the patrons soon became suspicious – especially when the “African lion” began barking.


Sure, some of the patrons might have thought they were going barking mad. However, based on a lifetime of experience, there are always tell-tale signs your lion’s bite might be less mighty than its bark.


For example, a lion compelled to stay, sit, fetch or heel on command is generally a dead giveaway. A dog burying a bone is rather unthreatening – a big cat doing the same not so much. And, really, who wants to see a lion spending all day sniffing another lion’s hindquarters or slobbering all over the carpets?!


While this example is well and truly a howler, the underlying business issue here is one of trust and expectations. Customers and consumers have expectations of the goods and services you provide.


If a parent takes their son or daughter to the zoo, for example, it’s a reasonable expectation they’ll see a lion.


When they purchase your product or service, they do so trusting that you will deliver their reasonable expectations. For example, the child as a consumer trusts they’ll see a real lion today, while the parent as a customer trusts that their children will be entertained enough not to terrorise the neighbours – or lionise the telly.


By putting a dog in lion’s clothing, the zoo betrayed that trust. Sure, they faced a dilemma, but their solution really barked up all the wrong trees.


So is there a prospect that your business, for whatever reason, won’t be able to deliver to your customers or consumers the product or service they expect? If so, you need to manage their expectations before they agree to buy, or let them know at the first possible opportunity.


If you have a physical store, this might mean putting a sign in the front window saying you’ve sold out of a particular item. Or it might be placing a warning on your website that you are expecting delivery delays on a particular item, or a Twitter message saying your stock is currently limited.


Because at the end of the day, no one wants to see a lion go whacko for a Schmacko!


Get it done – today!