Put Customers Before The P&L


“The best things we ever did were when we put the customer before the P&L”. This quote was attributed to Sir Terry Leahy talking about his time at Tesco and I really hope he said it and meant it. Here is one of the greatest retail leaders in history recognising a simple truth. There is a conflict between a business and it’s customers: the customers want the best price and the business wants to maximise profits.

And when customers see that the business is sacrificing profit for them, it makes those customers feel good.

It reminded me of some research we did looking into the meaning of ‘good value’. Shoppers described good value as when a company was ‘generous’ with its profit and gave a bit more back than its competitors. This could be a lower price or better quality or a thoughtful offer or service or an initiative that made their lives easier or going the extra mile to meet their needs.

In essence this was summed up as good value = ‘generosity’ or put the Terry Leahy way “when we put the customer before the P&L.”

Every business and brand should remind itself of this every day (and I include our very own advertising industry in this). Put the customer first and the profit should follow and not the other way round.

Be fair, be thoughtful, be generous and your business and brands might just flourish.