While traveling in Ecuador exploring international business opportunities (follow our travel on Flickr and Facebook), my family and I took a day off to visit the Inca ruins. On the way, we pulled over near a roadside food stand. They are everywhere in Ecuador and this particular one was selling roast pork. They do it like a pig roast or gathering in the States (well, almost…) -it was the whole pig.

Well that seemed alright to everyone. There was a group of people sitting outside at a table a few feet away from the roasted pig enjoying their meal, when up the road came a fellow with a live pig. There was a rope around one of the pigs’ legs as he brought it over to the roadside stand. Apparently he was a farmer who supplied the vendor with the pigs to roast.

As the pig got close he started squealing like you can’t believe. We assumed it was because he saw one of his own on the roasting pit. The unthinking farmer proceeds to tie him up by the pit and is getting ready to prep him to be the next roast pig, all right by the poor people trying to enjoy their meal of pork!

What would you do with that live pig squealing and squirming like he knew what was about to happen? You’d get up and leave. They did. They hardly touched their meal but got right up and ran off to their car. The food vendor realized the foolishness of the farmer who just couldn’t figure out what the problem was. It was pretty unbelievable.

Roast pig at a roadside stand

Now what’s the moral of the story?
How many times do we, as small business owners, do things to annoy, frustrate, or even drive customers away because we don’t see things from their point of view? Probably more times than we’d like to admit. We must always be thinking of our customer and their experience with us.

We’ve been talking about having a referable business. Do you think those people would refer their friends to that roadside food stand? Let’s make sure our customers are so pleased with the level of service we give and our understanding of their needs that they always want to refer us.


by Steven Schlagel