Today: Profound advice from a small grocer.
Who is he? Nerses Tumanyan, an Armenian immigrant, who with his wife Nune, owns a small 5,000 square foot neighborhood grocery store, the Malaga Cove Ranch Market in Palos Verdes Estates, CA.
When the Tumanyans came to the U.S. in 1990, they knew little English. In 1995, they took over what had been a failing grocery store, which today they run with family and other employees.
What is remarkable about their small store is that it attracts 12,000 customer visits a month, far more than most stores its size.
Yet nearby, there are giant supermarkets, 7-11 type stores and other major competition. Why do so many shoppers choose this market?
I asked Nerses and his answer reveals that profound advice.
“I love people and I care a lot. Everyone wants to spend their money where their business is appreciated, and I do my best to make people feel that way. I really have a lot of gratitude for the customers and want them to say, ‘I’ll be back.’
“I try to remember their names and I share my friendship. I greet them with a smile and want them to feel welcome in my store.”
It is as simple as that. If you want to become popular, build a successful business or find another way to make a real difference in this world, greet people warmly, remember their names and take a sincere interest in them. Let them know you appreciate them.
The father of modern psychology, the late Harvard Professor William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Practically everybody feels this way. Don’t you?
Yet how many businesspeople, politicians, and even religious leaders take the time or interest to satisfy this need in others? Very few.
Rude service, people who don’t remember your name or who couldn’t care less that you’re there illustrate the value of Nerses’ advice and the difference your thoughtfulness could make.
As an epilogue to our story, last Christmas day I was in the Malaga Cove Ranch Market and saw something quite interesting.
Among the shoppers were people who didn’t need to buy anything. Why were they there?
To speak with Nerses and feel welcome, feel important, feel that they mattered.
If he got too busy at the cash register, he got help, so that he would be free to provide attention to those who wanted it. And they left the store with a kind word and a hug or a warm handshake.
Now I’ll share with you something Nerses is unaware of.
I saw a man in his 80’s, distinguished looking and well spoken. He was probably successful in what had been his field. But on this Christmas afternoon, he engaged Nerses in conversation, clearly in no hurry to leave.
Maybe he had family to go to, maybe not. But here he had an invitation to stay, for Nerses never closes his doors to anyone who would like to be there. Christmas was now a little merrier for this man and life a little less lonely.
Success Tip of the Week: Nerses was unaware of this because he was making people welcome, not focused on why they came in. If you take a sincere interest in others, you will give them what they desperately need and be rewarded many times over for your caring.
Editor's Note: The William James quote is from Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” The underline in the quote is mine.
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