People usually ask me what the secret formula of my business is and how I carved a chain of 50 superstores in the GCC region. There is no secret to it. The answer is very simple. I trust my customers and treat them with the highest regard and courtesy. I have always offered them good services. In return, they bestowed name and fame upon me. They transformed a small shopkeeper into a Masala King.
This wisdom was imparted to me by my father Mahadev Datar. He was a novice in business when he first established a tiny grocery shop in Dubai back in 1984. He learned the business single-handedly and through his own mistakes. He always told me: “Remember son; a businessman should never talk aggressively with his customers. A satisfied customer can bring at least one new customer with his good recommendation. But a humiliated and hurt customer can drive away at least 10 potential customers from your shop. So, trust your customers always and never argue with them.”
My father then told me an old story of a famous American businessman from the last century— Marshall Field. Field was perhaps the first businessman who applied the principle of ‘Customer is always right’ in his business. He sometimes encountered losses, but always stuck to his principle. He would tell his customers— if you don’t like the purchases made in our shop, come immediately and return the merchandise, get your money back or get a new purchase. One day, Field was working in his office and his shop manager dropped in. He told Field that a lady had purchased an expensive party costume the previous evening from their shop and was there to return it. Usually the policy of the store was not to question the customers, but since this purchase was very expensive, the manager had dared to approach the owner. The manager told Field: ‘Sir, the lady is lying about not using the costume. I found a handkerchief in the pocket of the costume on which the initials of her name are woven with some embroidery. It clearly indicates that she had used the costume for a party.” Field thought for a moment and smilingly told the manager: “If the honourable lady firmly said that she has not used the product, we should believe her words and avoid verifying them. Return her money and her handkerchief with honour and apologise for the delay.” Field’s company, which was running a chain of department stores, soon became famous for the exceptional level of quality and customer service.
Friends, I have been in the field of business for the last 38 years. I am proud that there has not been a single complaint in all these years from our customers. We live by our brand name Al Adil which means a good soul. I like a quote by Scott Cook, famous American Businessman— Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.
Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading.