At the door of a thriving bakery, there stood a smelly and filthy beggar. Customers who were queuing up felt disgusted and frowned at the beggar.
Workers shouted at him, “Go somewhere else to loiter!” The beggar brought out some dirty, crumpled money and showed to the worker, “I want to buy some bread. The cheapest ones please.”
Suddenly the bakery owner walked towards the beggar with a box of freshly baked bread and gave them to the beggar.
The owner bowed enthusiastically to the beggar and said, “Thank you for your business! Please come again!” The beggar felt touched and flattered as this was his first time being treated as a customer. The beggar then left with the freshly baked goods.
The bakery owner’s grandson could not understand his act so he asked, “Grandfather, why did you serve the beggar enthusiastically?”
The bakery owner explained, “He may be a beggar but today he is a customer to me! He wanted to eat my freshly baked bread and spent a lot of time begging for money to buy my bread. It really is a tough life for him so I must personally serve him. If not, I would have disappointed him for wanting to buy my bread as a customer!”
His grandson asked, “If so, then, why did you take his money?”
The bakery owner answered, “Today, he is a customer. Not a beggar coming to beg for food so we must respect him. If we do not accept his money, wouldn’t it be an insult to him? We must remember to respect every paying customer that comes in as our business is kept running by our loyal customers.” Grandson nodded and understood the meanings of those words.
The bakery owner mentioned in this story is Yoshiaki Tsutsumi’s grandfather, the owner of the bread store. Yoshiaki Tsutsumi is a legendary businessman. He was once the richest man on earth and made it to the front page of the magazine ‘Forbes’ twice. His grandfather was the one who inspired him to be a successful businessman.
Yoshiaki Tsutsumi said that this story of the beggar was the most memorable teaching from his grandfather and was deeply carved into his memory. Until now, he still remembers the whole story including his grandfather’s movements and words that he spoke to the beggar.
He used to repeat this story during meetings to remind his staffs so that they would be like his grandfather who treated every customer with respect.
This story tells us that respect must come from the bottom of our hearts. Only then, our customers could sincerely understand, appreciate our hospitality and feel respected. Furthermore, it is important to treat each customer with equal amount of respect. We must not discriminate any paying customers and by doing so, we would get the simplest and purest form of reward from our customers.
Respecting others is a common sense and it is a virtue when you are able to respect others. A Chinese scholar, Mencius, once said, “He who loves others is constantly loved by them; he who respect others is constantly respected by them.”
Whether you like it or hate it, whether they are friends or enemies, we must always remember to treat them equally and respect them.