Advice to small businesses

Last week Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, addressed small business owners at a seminar in downtown Cleveland. As a fund raiser, I tend to pay attention when the third richest man in the world is in my neck of the woods.  But I wasn’t interested in his money (although I would have been happy to cash a check) but instead I wanted to know what advice he gave that I could share with all of you.

Here’s his key take away:

“I don’t know how much I paid for this tie and I don’t know how much I paid for this shirt,” said the billionaire. “But I do know how I was treated when I was at the establishment.” He went on to say, “No business has failed with satisfied customers.”

So there’s a good chance your eyes just glazed over and said, “Another post at Christmas time about treating our visitors well on Christmas Eve.”  As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

This is about what you do with your existing customers, you know, the folks who sit in your pews on a fairly regular basis.

We get hung up on the fact that people come to church looking to be greeted warmly, to see clean bathrooms and well-run children’s programs.  They want passionate preaching, good music, plenty of parking, yada yada yada.  But that’s not why they come to church.

They come to church because they have a God-sized hole in their hearts.  They come wanting to be taught, to be challenged, to be discipled.  They want to be held accountable.  They want their church to help them along this journey, to urge them onward, to take risks,and help them get back up again when they stumble.

On January 6, when that Christmas visitor who was greeted warmly and had a clean bathroom comes back church, are you prepared to help him on that journey?  Or will your Evangelism Committee high-five each other that “We got one” and just keep on keeping on?

If Advent is the Golden Season of evangelism, then January needs to be the start of the Golden Season of discipling.  If not, that visitor that you welcomed in the front door, will slide right back out the back door and find a church that realized that a warm handshake is not what he is looking for in the end.

Treat your visitor well, but treat your potential new member as someone who is there for a purpose.  I believe that is how you generate satisfied customers.  And as Buffet told us, your business will not fail if you have enough of those.

  1. Tom Marek says:


    Speaking as a newly un-churched Methodist; might I say that paying more attention to those of us that make up the congregation is a major shortcoming for some churches. Some churches have become a retirement home for old Methodists who resist change in a passive aggressive way in order to maintain their comfort level.

    Tom Marek

  2. Roger Talbott says:

    Excellent! Thank you, Brian!

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