Who is buying and who is selling?

I am new to owning my own gym. Even though I have coached every aspect of gymnastics for 30 years, I never had my own gym where I was the boss. So I am in a learning curve on running a business. Furthermore, my business is a Christian gymnastics school, so I am trying to understand how to run an honest business according to the Way of Christ.

This morning I had a lesson in business that got me to thinking.   Yesterday my wife had a fender bender so this morning I brought her car to some auto shops for an estimate of repair.  The damage has no interference with the function of the car, nor is it an ugly eyesore.  So my motivation for repair is very low.  But I know it will make my wife happy to have it fixed.

The lesson I learned involved two different auto shops.  In the first shop when I walked in the door the receptionist immediately began asking me for information to set up a customer file on me.  I declined to give her my name and said that I would give her that information if I decided to use their business.  All I wanted was an estimate on repair.

Since I was polite in my conversation she was agreeable and asked me to wait for a salesman to give me the quote.   After a few minutes a sales man took a look at my car.  He gave me a ball park quote of $1200 to $1300, but a specific estimate would require  a list.    So he asked me to come back to his desk.  When I sat down, he immediately wanted my personal data to set up a file on me.   I told him the same thing I told the secretary that I would give it after I made the decision to use their business.  He then said that he could not give me an estimate without creating a file on me first.   I told him, “Then you do not want my business, and I will go elsewhere.”

Next door was another shop.  He came out and gave me a quote of $280 to replace the fender and to paint it.  I told him that I would be back in a few days and that he had a deal.  I shook his hand.  He never asked for my name nor desired information from me.

Driving home I had to ask myself, who is the boss and who is the customer?  With the first shop they viewed me as subservient to them.  They were the boss, but that is not true.   They lost my business, for I am boss.  I am hiring a service.  They are the customer.  The second shop seemed to understand this difference.  The hand shake was good enough.

So as I consider how I wish to run my business, this was a reminder to me that  each customer of mine is actually my employer.  In the photograph above I ask the question, “Who is buying and who is selling?”  The answer is both.     The store is selling goods to buy the customer’s money.  The customer is selling money to buy the goods.   Honest business is when both parties in the transactions believe that they have gotten a good deal.

So I am selling my skills and knowledge in training gymnastics to the families to buy their money.   They are selling their money to buy my skills and knowledge.  We are both customers and salespeople at the same time.

The  first auto shop that I went to did not recognize this truth.  They are functioning according to the world for self gain only.  The second shop did understand it.  He got my business.  He gave a price that is profitable for him, yet was a savings for me.  He trusted me to bring my car in on a handshake.  This is how I want to run my gym.

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