Costco vs. AT&T – A Lesson in Good Business

Costco is a great example of a good business
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart

I was meeting a colleague in the Costco parking lot yesterday morning at 10:00am. We were riding together to an out-of-town business trip.

I arrived early, about 9:45am, and was surprised to find that although the parking lot was pretty empty, there were about 5 to 7 people sitting in their cars waiting. I decided the Costco parking lot is probably *not* a park-n-ride for most people. And that’s when I saw the store opened at 10:00am.

Ha! LOSERS, I thought. Who shows up before the store even opens?

Everyone knows the employees are in there playing hacky sack.

(Is that still a thing? Remember when Freddy Prinze Jr. improvises a hacky sack monologue in some kind of weird theatre performance to impress Rachael Leigh Cook in “She’s All That”? Fine… remember Freddy Prinze Jr.?)

Good Business:

Anyway, that’s when it happened… I’m mid-taunt when the door to Costco opens at 9:50am (gasp!) and people get out of their cars and just walk right in.

What? This is absolute blasphemy. I’ve never seen this happen.

Not-So-Good Business:

Contrast that to just last week when I finally upgraded my iPhone 4s.

(Evidently it shouldn’t take 3 minutes to load a score on the ESPN app. Who knew?)

Anyway, I showed up to the AT&T store about 10 minutes before it opened and waited until 5 minutes AFTER it was supposed to open as one store employee stood at a counter playing on his phone until ‘time to open.’

How many times have you been sitting outside a store watching employees mill around? And how frustrating is it when it’s AFTER the time it’s supposed to open?

Expectations:

“But, we don’t want to set that precedent,” says some suit in an office. “If we open early one day customers will come to expect that.”

Expect what? Your company to over-deliver? To surprise people? To exceed expectations?

Yeah, all those things sound awful. I bet companies that do all those things get shitty Yelp reviews and go out of business.

Why do we often make business harder than it has to be?

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