Black Owned Businesses

If you didn’t know, I’m currently the corresponding secretary for the Washington DC Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association.  I also do the website for the chapter.  At the end of 2013, I proposed that we have some sort of donation effort so people could donate money to the chapter.  The FAMU NAA is a 501c3 non profit organization.  We could accept donations from people just like any other 501c3 and people could get tax relief when they donate to our organization just like they do for any other organization.  So, I put together a donation portion of the site where people could make online and offline donations.  We promised to answer any of their questions within 24 hours via email or phone and we acknowledged everyone’s donations online and promised to send a letter that they could use for tax purposes.  We came up with an initial goal of raising $5000 by December 31, 2013.  We ended up raising over $7700!!  You can find out more about it on the chapter website.

I was so blown away, I couldn’t understand how we raised money like that.  However, it started to dawn on me once I started seeing the comments associated with the donors.  I can’t even tell you how many people sent emails to the chapter saying “I like how you provide such great customer service” or “I really appreciate you acknowledging us for our donations; most of the time I give money to FAMU and they dont even say thank you” or “Everything was done in such a professional way, keep up the good work” along with their donations.  So apparently, our uncommon professional method of operation and apparently uncommon customer service was the key to raising the money.

Earlier this month, my wife and I went to this restaurant on a LivingSocial thing.  I walked in the door and it was a really nice looking plate, but I see nothing but Black staff and management.  My wife didn’t notice this, but I did and my expectation of great service dropped immediately.  I was not disappointed.  The service was very bad to begin with but improved slightly as the meal went along.  My wife orders a maple glazed salmon and do you know these fools put straight pancake syrup (yes, pancake syrup) on the salmon like it was some waffles or something??  My wife tells the waitress that the salmon is covered in pancake syrup and the waitress says “oh” like that’s normal.  No “I’m so sorry, let me get you another” or “Let me get my manager to make this right for you.”  Needless to say, we will never be eating there, LivingSocial coupon or no living social coupon.  

Too often, there is a feeling among many Black owned, Black run businesses and organizations that we can operate in a way that is not top notch, not world class, not the best that is possible.  We say things like “you know how we do” or “that’s just how things are with us” or some other nonsense.  We accept that kind of second class thinking when dealing with Black owned businesses us but then turn around and get mad when someone puts ice in our water when we didn’t want ice at Red Lobster or Cheesecake Factory.  Why would we accept such a dichotomy of expectations?  I believe that most people don’t accept two levels of expectations because when you deal with many businesses like my wifes business that strive to be top notch in every area, they are successful like many businesses are that strive to be the best, Black owned or not.  So should the people that run Black owned businesses and organizations strive to be top notch and world class?  Arent we doing what were doing to make money and be successful?  What is the purpose of actively trying to not be the best when were trying to make a lot of money?

©  Stephen D. Roberson, 2016