Small businesses, especially those run by family members or spouses, are often called “Mom & Pop.” I have written about this previously and have planned other posts on this subject. Sometimes, there seems to be almost a negative connotation to being Mom & Pop and the implication is that Mom & Pop can’t be on par with a bigger brand name, a corporate entity. I think “Mom & Pop” is an overly simplistic description and, in this post, I want to address a fundamental question, why buy from a Mom & Pop business? The answer is 3 words. Key Lime Pie. I was recently reminded that often the best food, the best service, the best products and services, come from very small businesses. Sweet Delights in south Miami in a small, colorful building and it is amazing. The proprietor, Debbie, is welcoming and seems to enjoy tempting her prospective customers with samples of her creations. She is obviously proud of her work, as she should be. What reminded me, however, of this plug for small businesses was a story she told of a recent customer of hers. That customer was the store manager of a nearby grocery store – a major chain – which is known for having a good bakery that sells key lime pies. (And, they will remain nameless, but suffice it to say, they are at the opposite end of the size continuum from Sweet Delights.) Debbie said she asked the store manager why he bought her pies instead of the pies sold in his grocery store. – His answer was, “Because I know what is in them and I know the difference.” Debbie’s pies cost probably 3 to 4 times what the grocery store key lime pies cost. And, they are worth every penny! I thought this story well illustrated the benefits of finding a gem. It may be a key lime pie. It may be a small law firm – a boutique, or in our case, a small trial consulting firm capable of providing service to the largest of law firms, and clients. The responsiveness and skills of boutique firms can provide much greater service and/or product quality than one might otherwise think. Attorneys trying to best serve their clients to their best ability should always keep Sweet Delight’s key lime pie story in mind. Brand name is less important than what the consultant, or pie baker, has to offer.
As the co-owner of a small business in which the other owner is my husband, I am “Mom” to his “Pop.” In my opinion, and based on my experience, there are many advantages for clients and customers of small businesses that can never be achieved when doing business with a huge conglomerate. Having worked for several huge organizations, both public and private, I can compare, first hand, the ways in which large and small businesses operate. Although large corporations have advantages, such as volume based pricing, to their clients, there is no way they can compete with the personal dedication, quality work, and client focus that comes with working with the owner of the business. My preference for doing business with small business owners includes eating at locally owned restaurants and avoiding chain restaurants whenever possible; buying supplies from the local hardware or electronics store instead of well known big box retailers; and, as David mentioned, buying Debbie’s key lime pie at Sweet Delights near Homestead. I am adept at recognizing another business owner when I see him or her walking through the business I am patronizing. I often ask, “How long have you owned this restaurant?” to which the proprietor responds, “Thank you for noticing how hard I am working!” or something similar. I have rarely mistaken an employee for the owner of the business; there is a unique characteristic common to those of us who are not only “the boss,” but who are proud of our work to the point we challenge other people who think they can do our job better. I am confident that prospective clients who pass up the opportunity to work with my company, Magnus Research Consultants, in order to work with one of our “big box” competitors will never obtain the excellence that is part of everything I do. When it comes to working with a litigation, jury, or trial consultant, I believe excellence, not brand name, is most important. From key lime pies to jury research and consulting, the more personal the service, the better the result.