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?


“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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