I recently returned from a trip to France where I got to experience first-hand how the French do business. Here are a few of my observations.
- Every customer is greeted before any business is done. In fact, if you don’t say, “Bonjour,” the clerk will wait for you to do so prior to fulfilling your request. While some may find this bothersome, I happen to like it as I was acknowledged in every place that I did business, as opposed to here in the US where you can walk up to a clerk in the store and feel invisible. Perhaps it’s time for US employers to go back to basics and train their front-line people to say hello to every customer so they feel welcome.
- Speaking of manners, I was always thanked for my business; at least I thought I was! A smile was delivered with every purchase or check. When is the last time that happen to you at a store or restaurant? Sometimes you get one or the other, but rarely both.
- In France it’s all about quality, rather than price. I’m not going to kid you. Things were expensive there, especially given our weak dollar. However, the quality was first-rate. Starting with the pastries and ending with the clothing. After a while you stopped counting Euros and started counting the moments until your next fresh baguette. Most consumers are willing to pay for quality, so why not charge a bit more and give people a better product? You may sell a few less, but in the end, you’ll be more profitable and your reputation will have people lining up outside your doors waiting to do business with you.
- It’s all about style. People were dressed fashionably, regardless of their job. You simply couldn’t imagine a manager having to send a clerk home because they were dressed inappropriately. Yet here in the states, a day doesn’t go by when an HR person is reaching out to their colleagues for help on how to tell an employee their work attire looks more like something Snooky of Jersey Shore fame would be wearing. Be specific about your dress code and take action immediately when people show up for work dressed for the evening or a day at the beach.
I’m sure there are many lessons the French could learn from us regarding best practices in business. I’ll list a few in my next blog posting for my international followers.
In the mean time, what have you learned from the French and what do you think they can learn from us when it comes to business practices?