“The primary purpose of a business is to create value for the customer.”

David Salyers was a student I knew at the University of Georgia when I worked there in 1979 and 1980.

When he left Georgia, he took a job at a hot new fast food chain in Atlanta called Chick-Fil-A. He has been there over 30 years and is now the Vice President of Marketing. David was one of those students you could predict that would do well. In addition to being successful in business, he became an author and inspirational speaker. His book is called “Remarkable.”  It is in my queue to read.

I heard David on a podcast yesterday. One of the insights he shared was: “The primary purpose of a business is to create value for the customer.”

It is a unique take. A more common statement about a business purpose is to say its primary aim is to add value for the shareholder.

David suggests that focusing on the shareholder is misguided. He says that customers who perceive value do three things:

  1. They are willing to pay full price.
  2. They are willing to return often.
  3. They are willing to tell others about the value they receive.

He said those are “high bars” to shoot for and to attain. However, that is what Chick-Fil-A focuses upon.

I have written to you before about the “customer loyalty ladder.” It is an upward ladder that has the customer climbing through stages. The first being “if” (our price is right) to “preferred” onto the top level of “demand.” We have a loyal customer when the “demand” for our products and services as compared to any other.

David’s statements about value can help us think about our customers in a fresh approach.

What about us would make our price a small consideration if at all?

What about us would make us the only call the customer would make?

What about us would cause the customer to tell stories about us?

Those are high bars indeed. However, striving for answers to those questions and implementing them would put some distance between our competitors and us.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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