Many companies and individuals operate on the basis of self-interest. We see this in children as they angle for the “biggest piece” each and every time. Many adults try to make the most money for themselves on every transaction while putting in the least amount of effort.
In telecommunications, some agents decide which service provider to sell based primarily upon who pays the agent the highest rate. A few consultants demand fees from their clients for analyzing needs and recommending service providers. Then, they accept a “finder’s fee” from the provider for placing that client’s business with the provider.
While self-interest comes from a natural instinct, it is a flawed concept. It may work in “one-off” transactions, but it is not an effective model for the long term. Children who always get stuck with the small piece will usually find someone else to play with. Customers gravitate towards companies that treat them fairly and offer reasonable prices.
In business, enlightened self-interest recognizes that being profitable is essential. But, the concept requires that a company take the long view. Customers are hard to acquire. It is better to keep the customers a company has than to expend the time and effort to replace them. And, it is easier to obtain customers initially by offering extra service and real value.
At Sagewood we have adopted enlightened self-interest as the governing concept to assure our long term success. Instead of trying to squeeze the last dime out of every transaction, we want repeat business, and we want referrals. The best way to achieve these objectives is to put the customers’ needs first. If we take good care of our customers, they will take care of us.