All organizations need to provide good customer service. But there is another side of the coin: It is called learning how to be a better customer.

In this era of downsizing, there has been an increase in the number of small businesses. Many talented people who used to work for large companies now run their own businesses. More and more, small businesses find themselves buying from, selling to, and competing with, other small businesses.

Unfortunately, small businesses sometimes do not know not to treat each other with respect. The same professional courtesy that applies to larger organizations also applies to small organizations.

Unprofessional behavior between small businesses can take many forms. Small business owners often try to get “deals” and cost reductions from other small business owners that they would never dream of asking the larger providers. Small business owners often complain that their peers do not acknowledge the value of their time. They often request consultations and advice for free. Research states that many small business owners routinely pay larger providers first and smaller providers last.

Some small business owners even try to undercut the competition by spreading false information about them. One small business won some work away from a competitor by telling the customer that her competitor could not receive e-mail. This allegation was not true.

It’s time for small businesses to take a new look at their ethics. There is a lot of room for healthy cooperation and competition. There is plenty of room for networking and learning from each other. Successful small businesses have informal partnerships with other businesses that provide complementary services. Others regularly refer overflow work to other small businesses where there has been a relationship of trust and integrity.

In the long run, we can all profit by following some simple, common sense “Golden Rules” when we are customers of other small businesses.

Golden Rules for Good Customers

· Value your colleagues’ time as much as you value your own time.

· Think long and hard before asking for a “deal” or a cost cut.

· Pay your colleagues’ bills as quickly as you would like your own bills to be paid.

· Treat your colleagues in other businesses the way you would like to be treated.

Author's Bio: 

Jane received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from The Ohio State University. She has done doctoral work at the University of South Florida and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, Wright State University, Sinclair Community College and Antioch University McGregor. She also served as the Associate Director of the Antioch University McGregor Organizational Institute.

The author of seven books, she uses both the podium and paper to promote personal and professional excellence. Her best seller, How To Love the Job You Hate, has been endorsed by Dr. Kenneth Blanchard, respected author of the best seller, The One Minute Manager. She has been interviewed and profiled by Forbes and The New York Times. She is also a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist appearing in business journals throughout the country.

Jane worked with at-risk youth before going into her professional speaking career. This high-powered Fortune 500 professional speaker, corporate trainer, Certified Mediator and consultant tells it like it is with organizations such as: the United States Senate, USDA, Department of the Navy, United States Air Force, FDIC, Merrill Lynch, General Motors, Toyota, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), IBM, NCR, International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals (IAHMP) and Prudential of Europe. She has received praise from such notables as Senator Orrin Hatch and has shared the platform with General Norman Schwarzkopf, Bernard Siegel, M.D. and Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn. Not shy with the media, she has been on more than 1,000 radio and television programs, including CNBC, CBN and CNN.

She is one of the most dynamic women on the speaking circuit today. The National Speakers Association awarded the CSP designation to Jane. Fewer than 8% of all professional speakers hold this distinction.