It was the golden age of sitcoms (situation comedies). Alf 1986 - 1990, The Cosby Show, 1984-1992, Perfect Strangers, 1986-1993, Family Ties, 1982-1989, Night Court, 1984-1992, and Newhart, 1982-1990.

During this historic period, one show stood out from all the rest. From 1982 to 1993, TV audiences paid a weekly visit to “Cheers,” the Boston watering hole, whose chief claim to fame was — it’s “where everybody knows your name.” “Cheers” was never out of the top ten ratings between 1985 to its final episode in 1993.

While all of the famous shows of that period had theme songs, none stick in our memories, and hit home quite as much as, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo.

I’m writing about this topic today because I happened to catch the re-broadcast of the very first “Cheers” episode a few nights ago. Listening to that theme again, I wondered if Portnoy and Angelo realized they were also writing some pretty insightful business pointers. Follow the lyrics below and see if you agree with me.

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.”

The opening line of the theme says it all. There’s no question, that under current economic conditions, most business owners would agree that the days of doing business as usual are pretty much over for the next couple of years. Business has to be on top of their game every minute of the day. To keep the doors open today really does take everything you’ve got.

“Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.”

Working 16 to 18 hour days take a lot out of anyone and business owners are no exception. Worries are part and parcel of business ownership. Cash flow, advertising, marketing, employees, suppliers, customers, all take their toll over time. Stress can easily overcome anyone. To say starting a business is tough, is the understatement of all time. Good business owners are able to put business on the back burner for at least a short time while their subconscious works on a solution.

“Wouldn't you like to get away?”

Not talking about taking a vacation or taking time off from the business. I’m talking about taking a step back. Trying to look at the business from the outside rather than the inside. Take off the owner hat and put on the customer hat. How do you want customers to see you? What’s missing? Are your products and services the best you can offer? Are you employees well trained, helpful and courteous?

“Sometimes you want to go — Where everybody knows your name,”

Sometimes businesses forget why they are really in business in the first place — to serve their customers. Every good business knows there their only job is to provide good service and good products at a fair price. Dale Carnegie, in “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” writes, “The most beautiful sound to any person is the sound of their own name.” What can make a customer more loyal to a business than the common courtesy and consideration of calling them by name?

“… and they’re always glad you came.”

We’ve all seen the sign, “Customers are not an interruption of our business they are the reason for it.” Customers really aren’t looking for “wow” service or “knock my socks off” treatment. All they really want is for the business owner to appreciate them and be “always glad they came.”

“You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same …”

Customers want to know that you’ve seen the problems they are experiencing before. They want to know that you are experienced in handling and recommending solutions or referring them to someone who can. Not every problem has a “cookie cutter” solution but your marketing and advertising messages state you are the solution to their general problem.

“You wanna go where people know, people are all the same,”

The biggest mistake I see business owners make, is to shortcut employee training. Every customer who comes in contact with an employee should get the same answers to the same question. There is no excuse to ever hear an employee say, “The boss would have to make that decision and he’s out to lunch … can you come back later?” I want to go where there is someone who can solve my problem. I really don’t care who that is.

Some Final Thoughts

OK, I may be taking some latitude with some of my assumptions based on the lyrics. The point of the song is, there’s a place — “Cheers” — where you can go and be insulated from the problems of the day.

That’s what customers are looking for. Getting through life for them is taking everything they’ve got. Why compound the problem for them? If you can solve their problems, not only do you inherit a loyal customer, but you also have a powerful, word-of-mouth, public relations tool building your business.

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