Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Chick-Fil-A does it again

2072370579_c68bb0db2eActual email sent by a friend of mine to Chick-Fil-A after his wife visited an extremely crowded location this week:

“My wife just called me on the phone to tell me about her CFA experience today. She and her friend decided to brave a very crowded CFA at lunchtime. With 3 kids under 3 they weren’t sure what a good idea this would be. To say they were blown away would be an understatement. They were greeted at the door, had a table found for them. High Chairs were brought to them and their food was carried to their table along with place mats for the kids and anti-bacterial wipes. She couldn’t stop talking about how amazed they were. Great job to the team at Chick Fil A!”

3 Step Marketing Plan For Small Biz

If you’ve ever worked with small business people in area of home maintenance, painting, re-modeling, etc., you have experienced the frustration of people showing up late, or unprepared or not showing up at all.  Well I am in the middle of a painting project that is going so smoothly that I just had to share it with you.

We recently purchased some land with an old farm house on it.  We want to fix it up without overdoing it since we don’t plan to live there full time and we needed the inside of the house painted.  My neighbor is having some painters do some work for him.  And I notice how early they get there each day during the project and he goes on to tell me how hard they have worked, how they’ve gone out of their way to be flexible, that they are great painters and to top it all off they clean up the project area each night after they finish…SOLD!

Sure enough, my project has gone just as smoothly.  They show up very early each day, work extremely hard and consequently get the job done super fast while keeping the quality of the job very high. 

Did I mention how neat there website was?  How catchy their company mission statement is?  How nice their service trucks are?  Or that I’ve ever seen their ads in the yellow pages or on TV?  That’s because it’s not the way people find quality small biz people.  In fact, only one of our painters speaks English; their work trucks are old, they have long hair with lots of piercings…you get the picture.  But let me tell how excited I am to refer Alfonzo and his crew to anyone needing painting work done.  It’s like discovering a fantastic restaurant or seeing a great movie.  You just can’t wait to tell your friends what they have been missing. 

So often, small biz people put so much of their energy into marketing that it distracts them from the things that truly send you quality referral business which is the filet mignon of  the small biz world.  So if you will just do the basics when it comes to marketing (just being able to be found by those looking for you) and put the other 98% of your effort into these three things, you will prosper:

  1. Show up to the site on time or early:  Showing up on time creates trust.  It lets your customer know you are serious about the job.
  2. Do what you say you will do and a little more:  Leave room in your estimate of the job to do a few things at no extra charge.  Find a way to offer your customer just a little more value than you agreed to offer.  My painter painted a closet for me at no additional charge.  Not to be outdone, I tipped him an extra $100 after the job was done.
  3. Work:  No sarcasm intended.  But I’m telling you, Alfonzo’s crew works super hard while they are on the job.  The job goes by fast and it’s fun to go by and see all the progress they’ve made. 
  4. Bonus #4:  Clean up:  If you are doing any type of messy work, leave enough time in your day to clean up your work area as much as possible.  Much like showing up on time at the beginning of the day, cleaning up shows your customer that you care about their project, that you take pride in your work, and it gives them one more thing to tell their neighbors about.

If you’ll learn from Alfonzo’s success, you’ll have the best marketing plan in town!

“Would you like fries with that?”: Upselling serves your customer


Last week I had a small biz owner come out to clean two chimneys in an old farm house I just bought.  I knew I was going to like him right away because he returned my estimate email very quickly with specific prices & services.  He also said he could clean my chimneys the very next day…my kind of business man!

But here’s what I liked most about the service and what provides you and I a good reminder when it comes to selling.  After he cleaned the chimneys, he also gave me his opinion about some trouble spots I had in the old chimney.  My grate was broken and the mortar inside the chimney was gone, leaving a fire hazard if sparks were to fall to the crawl space below.  And when I asked how much to fix them both, he gave me specific prices.  But the best part is that he had the time and materials to fix the mortar & he just happened to have an iron grate in his truck that he sold me on the spot after showing me how well it fit in my fire place. 

Now to some, it may seem as if he showed up hoping he could up sell me the extra things I needed and make his trip more profitable.  I say…exactly!  He had already gained my trust by serving my needs quickly and professionally, so I valued his opinion.  Could I have saved a few bucks by buying a cheaper grate or bidding out the mortar repair?  Maybe.  But because he had the materials on hand, I didn’t have to think twice.  I was thrilled that he could finish the job I needed.  I appreciated him telling me what else I needed in order to have a safe fire the next day.  I was glad to make his trip more profitable.  And I will refer Chim Chimney to my friends every chance I get.

The lesson is that too often we feel guilty to suggest customers spend any more money than they originally planned.  We make suggestions for the future; but we leave the customer in limbo when they agree to think about it…knowing they won’t think about it and knowing they won’t follow our suggestions.  But I suggest to you this is weak customer service.  If you are the expert, and you know they need the extra product or service, then be bold and tell them they need it.  Then be able to finish the job on the spot.  Customers are starving for small business men and women who will tell them what to do.  Do your customers a favor and show up expecting to provide the value adding upgrades they need.

Take Away:  High integrity experts are highly sought after by your customers.

“One path to your goal is to make it a solution to someone else’s problem”  ~ JBG

The Eyes Of Your Customer

114472004_7d7b437da31Over the holidays, I visited a new movie theater.  Theaters have really come a long way.  This theater must have cost multiple millions of dollars to build.  The entire area where this brand new theater sits now was once solid rock.  From the parking lot, you look up at least 50 feet at solid stone.  From the outside, it looks like a Vegas night club…it’s beautiful.  Inside, you’ll find flat screen concession menus and gourmet coffee bars, hardwood floors, etc.  Nothing was spared.  I couldn’t wait to see the inside of the theater.  But as I went inside, I was surprised to see that maybe half of the chairs still had drinks from earlier movies…boxes of old candy and popcorn in the chairs…and tons of popcorn and drinks in the floor.  Seriously, it looked there had been a food fight.  I could not help but think how much time, effort, money and attention to details had gone into developing this new theater.  The owners spared no expense and had obviously tried to create a wonderful atmosphere for taking in a movie.  And yet something as basic as not keeping it clean left customers feeling gross as they had to move spilled drinks to sit down.  I say let’s give them benefit of the doubt that it was an off night and not a regular occurrence. 

But how often do you go inside of a brand name fast food restaurant that someone has invested a fortune in only to find they’ve hired scary looking people to prepare your food or that the place is so dirty that you are worried about what’s inside your burger or taco?

The lesson is this:  See your business through the eyes of your customer.  Walk in for the first time again or ask others to do it for you, and look for the first things your customers will see.  Go through your entire business, web site, store front, etc. and ask yourself if a first time visitor would be impressed or not. 

Take away:  Don’t let your hard work be threatened by obvious things that turn off customers.

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”  ~ Muhammad Ali

Do You See What I See?

christmas-rushThe Christmas season brings a great opportunity for those of us in any sort of customer service business…if you are looking for it.  Over the next two weeks everyone is out, streets and stores are jam packed with people.  Everyone is in a hurry.  People are trying to find that perfect gift and the last two stores just sold the last one…nerves are on edge to say the least.  On top of that, this season brings a lot of emotion.  It is a reminder of both good and bad things that have happened in our lives throughout the year.   People are at their best and their worst…at the same time.

So what does this have to do with customer service?  It presents a HUGE opportunity.   You may come across more potential new customers and referrals in the next two weeks than you do in the next six months.  These new customers are tired and are probably not giving you benefit of the doubt based on their less than excellent experience with other businesses.  Perfect. 

Now is the time for you to take your game up a notch.  This is when you take your energy level up, when you happen to things instead of letting them happen to you.  If someone has a problem, you are their answer.  If they come in three minutes before you close for the night, you are going to treat them like they are your first customer of the day.  If someone leaves you a voice mail, you are going to jump at the chance to call them back in minutes or even seconds.  You are going to be the person that fixes the problem no matter what the problem is or whose fault the problem is.  THIS IS YOUR TIME.

By doing this, you are going to stand out like a light in the darkness.  People are going to be telling all of their friends how you bent over backwards to help them, and how you refused to take anything extra for it because its just the way you do business.

Take Away:  Go out of your way to show people how much you care even when they are not always at their best.

“One way to achieve your goal is to make it a solution to someone else’s problem.”

I Am Thankful For Great Customer Service: 2 sightings

logoGreat Customer Experience Sighting #1:  BIG 40th anniversary party at my house last week for my wife’s parents…catering, candles, the whole nine yards.  Everything was on track until I realized all of our under counter lights were out…and these bulbs are impossible to find.  But then I called Frank @ Sarai Lighting Gallery in Columbia TN.  Not only did he have the bulbs, but he drove 20 miles to my house and put them in just to make sure they were the correct ones.  Seriously…that is over the top!  These guys have done things like this for me before.  If they work long distance, you won’t find a company with more of a heart for serving the customer than Frank & his team.

keys_smGreat Customer Experience Sighting #2:  Took our family Suburban to Miles Auto Spa to have it cleaned (5 kids) for our Thanksgiving trip.  The $29 package always does what I need but this time it was especially dirty and I was eyeing the $69 package.  “How much longer does the $69 package take than the $29 package”, I asked.  “About 25 minutes.” said the guy.  I didn’t have that much time and was disappointed.  They were obviously very busy and it wasn’t his fault that I didn’t have time for the pricier package.  “Stay right here.” the guy said.  In two minutes, “Miles” the owner of the entire place pulls around in his convertible BMW…yep, he said “Jump in!” and drove me back to my office so that I could get the package I wanted without the wait.  Now you know I couldn’t wait to get back and tell my friends about service like that!

Superbowl Tickets Are Cheap The Day After The Game

Hannah Montana tickets with a face value of about $50 went for hundreds, even thousands in some cases the day before the concert.  Fathers raced in high heels dressed as Hannah Montana trying to win tickets.  But the day after the concert, those tickets wouldn’t get you a cup of Starbucks.  Superbowl tickets on the 50 yard line are a lot more affordable after kick off, nearly free by the third quarter, and worthless when the game is over. 

Opportunity often only knocks once and it doesn’t always come with advance notice.  Did you know that a fussy customer is an awesome opportunity for some great advertising?  I once heard that if a kid at Disney World drops an ice cream cone, Disney team members don’t just get them a new cone, they get them a new cone stacked three scoops high!  Even if that is an exaggerated story, did you notice that I didn’t see it on a Disney commercial?  True or not…I heard it from other people

If you work with the public, you have undoubtedly dealt with the guy that wants his steak cooked “jusssst right” and sends it back three times.  Those customers usually show up when you have already had a tough day.  It crosses your mind to tell him to just go back there and do it himself if he’s so picky.  🙂  But I want to challenge you to see that moment as a fleeting opportunity to convert him into your own personal Disney story.  The more obnoxious he is, the better, because that means he enjoys telling other people what he thinks.  Go out of your way to capture the opportunity, to exceed his expectations.  After all, he is going to tell the next ten friends he sees something about his night out at your restaurant.  Why not deputize him and everyone at his table to brag on how you blew them away and seized the moment?

Take Away:  Every customer is a brief opportunity to evangelize your community.

Subscribe to RSS

Top Posts