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How Nordstrom influenced my Photography Business

There's always so much to learn and grow with in the world of photography. New technology always keeps us on our toes, even though the fundamental tools and concepts never change. From the film cameras to the newest mirrorless DSLR's, it still comes down to aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Of course we also have drones that can fly high up in the air and apply the same concepts from angles that photographers with exclusive access to a helicopter could achieve.

The same goes for running a business. I am so very glad that I majored in Economics as a young college student, as I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. At least with Economics I can apply my skills in almost any field. Just like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are the fundamental concepts that still apply to photographers today like they did 100 years ago, having great customer service, meticulous records, and being organized and professional is just as important to my business.

Many years ago when I was between jobs I worked a retail position in Nordstrom. I was just looking to make some extra money until I found something better, but little did I know that I would learn the core philosophy that would also help my photography business today. Nordstrom is known to have an almost fanatical drive to make their customers happy. From my first day orientation at Nordstrom, I was told that I must do anything possible to make the customer happy. As long as the customer leaves the store satisfied, then I will never get in trouble. But if the customer leaves unhappy, even if I tried to protect Nordstrom's bottom line, I may get a stern talking-to from my manager.

There's a famous story about an old tire store in Alaska that was converted into a Nordstrom. The tire shop went out of business and some savvy businessmen from Seattle knew a great location when they saw one. One day an elderly woman came into the store with a burst tire. She said that the tire store where the Nordstrom now stands promised her a warranty, and if the tire burst before the warranty was up, they would replace it for free.

She had the receipts and paperwork in order. It would be easy for a store that sells men's suits and women's dresses to deny her and say they do not sell tires at Nordstrom. Instead, they took the tire in and refunded her the money.

This almost unreasonable drive to do anything possible to make each customer happy is the same principal I apply to my business today. My goal is to always make my customer happy, no matter what. If the contracting business takes issue with that, then so be it. Of course, I always operate within reason. If the contracting company has legal rights the RAW images, then I will honor that request. But if the customer asks for those images, I will at least contact my colleagues or a manager to see if anything can be done. I will always explore every avenue possible.

This principal has helped my business soar, and I am very grateful for the small lessons in life that has helped me for many years after. I aim to provide the highest quality of customer experience and photographs, and I will do anything in my power to make sure my customer is happy.

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