Amanda (Actual Employee) on phoneIn the movie, “Big Night,” Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub play two Italian brothers who run a struggling restaurant in New Jersey. Primo, the chef, is insulted when a guest wants risotto and spaghetti in the same meal. Real Italian chefs do not want to serve two starches in the same meal – it’s considered vulgar and undignified. Primo feels disrespected and demands to speak to the customer to persuade her to order the “correct” combination of food.

Secondo, the waiter, tells his brother to make the pasta. Even though his feelings are hurt, he knows that the restaurant is struggling and that the customer is always right. Secondo says to his brother, “We have to give people what they want before we can give them what we want.”

This scene is a good example of how sometimes as entrepreneurs, our expectations of what customers want do not always align with the reality. Sometimes the “can’t miss” new product or “in-demand” service we expected people to love does not find its audience. Sometimes customers want something that we don’t expect – sometimes the customer’s favorite item on the menu is the one the chef least expected.

How can your business learn from the lessons of “Big Night?”

As entrepreneurs, we all need to be flexible and change with the evolving demands of our customers. Listen to your customers and give them what they want, not what you want.

Customers might come to you looking for certain needs that you had not expected, or that were not #1 on your list of products and services in your business plan.

Fortunately, “giving your customers what they want” is a two-way street. You don’t just have to passively sit back and give your customers what they want if they’re not the right fit for your business or if “what they want” is not what’s best for them. The most successful small businesses find ways to educate customers and help them discover new things to love about the business. Ask questions and listen carefully to what your customers say – learn to “read between the lines” and uncover your customer’s unspoken needs.

Sometimes customers don’t know enough about your business or your market to be able to truly ask for “what they want.” Whether you sell cars, life insurance, flowers, cakes, photography or catering services, you often will need to find ways to delve deeper into your customers’ “unspoken needs.”

If you sell cars and a family has three kids but the parents express reluctance to buy a minivan, show them some of the midsize SUVs that seat 7 people. If you run a flower shop and a bride-to-be comes to look at wedding flower arrangements, and she says they want a “simple, non-traditional” wedding, look for ways to create a spare-but-elegant arrangement.

In the movie “Big Night,” Primo and Secondo were in a difficult situation – the business was struggling, they urgently needed every customer, and so they didn’t have the luxury of telling the customers that they were “wrong.” But ideally, as your business grows, you can gain enough confidence to show customers the “right way” to experience your business’s offerings – not to be a prima donna or make your customers feel bad, but to help them have the best possible customer experience.

Customers always get what they want (and need) when they hire CorpNet to incorporate a business. If you want to start a business, CorpNet can help you incorporate as an S-Corp or form an LLC to get your business up and running. We help entrepreneurs start a business by managing the business filings to incorporate a company. Whether you want to form an LLC or S-Corporation or other corporate entity, CorpNet can help you choose a business structure with a free business consultation.