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Goodwill Hunting

As I write, retailers around the world will be anxiously doing their sums, wondering whether they’ve got any chance of making it through until next Christmas, or maybe even next week. It’s obvious that Woolies won’t be the last retailer to go to the wall.

I believe that we’ll see a resurgence of old fashioned goodwill in 2009. Goodwill is a business concept that’s lost some of its lustre in recent years. I’d suggest that during the boom times plenty of businesses have taken their customers for granted. They were pretty sure that if they wound up one customer, another would come along with a maxed-out credit card some time soon, ready to take their place.

But now businesses will have to fight harder for our custom, and that’s no bad thing. It makes me laugh how it’s being portrayed as somehow patriotic to spend your hard earned cash in order to save the economy. The bottom line is that I don’t feel a great deal of goodwill towards many of the businesses that are struggling, so I’m hardly going to spend my money in order to keep them going.

Social businesses should be well placed to generate goodwill amongst their customers. Take my Christmas dinner as an example. I drove all the way over to the other side of Leeds to get my Turkey from Swillington Farm because I like their meat but just as importantly I like them. I want them to succeed and I’ll do what I can to make sure that they do. Like many of their customers, I’m in what some people might call a ‘we’ relationship with Swillington. It’s the kind of relationship that businesses will need to encourage in order to survive the difficult times ahead.

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