He’s making a list, and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

Everyone knows that Santa is always watching. He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. As creepy as this might seem, it’s a good reminder to forego being naughty and try harder to be nice—nice to our customers, nice to our staff, nice to our neighbors, and nice to our competitors.

I found a list on a recent visit to Santa’s workshop. Yes, I’ve been to Santa’s workshop. The jolly Mr. Kringle had me up to the pole to talk about a possible partnership between AMBC and the Yonder Unit of Local Elves (YULE).

You see, the elves want to offer their services as global overnight shipping experts to our member stores, however they didn’t understand how to set up their rates. I was talking dollars and dimensional weights, but they were stuck on cookies and cocoa. Our best solution was convert everything to standardized candy cane units, but the fine points got too sticky. We continue to talk and will make an official vendor announcement soon, if necessary.

But I digress, back to this list. It’s fascinating! Santa keeps track of exactly what AMBC member stores are doing, and determines their naughty or nice quotient to reward them with December traffic and sales. Who knew!?

The big man in red is keeping an eye on all of us, watching our behavior and habits.

So what do you do when Mr. Salamida pulls up to the curb outside your store, blocks the loading zone, and comes in with three envelopes wrapped in a crusty old rubber band to drop in the mail? Do you just watch him hobble in, roll your eyes, and then ignore the fact that the glue on one of his letters is coming undone? Or do you greet him at the door, thank him for visiting, and then put a piece of tape on that goofy flap before placing it in the bin?

I certainly hope you’re doing the latter. Mr. Salamida might not be spending any money at your store that day, but he’s leaving with a very good impression, grateful for your patience and kindness to him. Someday soon, he’ll have to mail back that Time Life book that he “didn’t order” and make copies of his old family photos to share with his grandchildren. Did you know that his granddaughter is in fact working on her own local start-up right now and needs someone to help with her product distribution? Guess who’ll get a glowing recommendation by the grandfather that she adores? It’ll be you!

What do you do when Kirsten, your hardworking, honest, diligent employee, comes to you with a family emergency and won’t be able to work this Saturday? Do you tell her, “That’s your second strike. One more and you’re out!” Do you give her an ultimatum that, if she can find another employee to work, she can switch her schedule this one time only? Do you begrudgingly tell her you’ll work for her but she’s really put you in a bind? Or do you listen to her problem, offer your empathy, and tell her that you’ll be very happy to work for her because family comes first, not making any issue that you’ll have to mow your lawn another day?

Because you were compassionate to Kirsten, she’ll be much more likely to continue to go out of her way for you when you need her in the future. She’ll want to support your business and do what she can to make sure it’s successful. Loyal, dedicated employees are invaluable.

How do you handle drop-offs? Do you treat dropper-offers as potential customers, making their visit to your store as pleasant and pain-free as possible, hoping each one will tell all of their friends what a nice shop you run and then come back when they have a need for another service that you offer? Or do you treat them like they’re wasting your time and costing you money?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve converted a drop-off customer into a paying customer, particularly on services like printing and international shipping—things they want an expert to handle. Some are now my biggest accounts! It’s all because I made them feel welcome, taped their box as a courtesy, gave them a drop-off confirmation slip, and made sure they left carrying my brochure, impressed.

Do you work with any charities at your store? Everyone has a cause—or multiple causes—close to their hearts. We can’t support everything and everyone, but we can make a difference to something and someone.

You can set aside a month a year to fundraise for your choice cause, possibly with a window display and series of tweets to raise awareness, by selling something, or by taking donations. Perhaps a percentage of a certain SKU that month gets donated. Or maybe your staff participates in an annual charity event as a store team.

Maybe you work with your neighbor, Lisa, who owns a barber shop and campaigns every year to collect Christmas cards for the troops. You can offer to ship them all in one big box to a soldier who’s willing to distribute them to their peers.

Or maybe you collect letters to Santa from children, placing them in a dedicated “North Pole Express” mailbox that you have set up and ornately decorated for everyone to see.

The limits to what you can do are endless. Nice behavior is inevitably rewarded, whether you believe in karma or not.

Christopher Elliott wrote a great piece about the importance of good manners. While his focus is on travel, the principles outlined ring true across the board. I highly recommend checking out elliott.org/blog/why-good-behavior-is-your-most-valuable-travel-asset/.

Now, all things considered, nobody is perfect. Nobody chooses wisely and behaves angelically 100% of the time. Some frustrating customers—frustromers—push us over the edge. In fact, when I was at the pole, Santa showed me some footage of me being not very nice, and my face turned as red as his hat. There’s always room for improvement.

You get what you give. So give goodness, and have a very merry Christmas.

For more information on Marty, please visit unclemartysoffice.com.

This article was originally published in MBC Today Volume 17, Issue 6 (November/December 2015).

Source: AMBC Blog