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Simple & Easy

Did you know that your own customers may leave you without telling just because doing business is even a little bit harder than your competition?  Confession is good for the soul, so let’s use me as an example.  Every customer has their priorities…price, friendliness of business, how important you make them feel, etc.  My top two are friendliness of the employees and convenience.  Make the gas pump ask me to punch fewer buttons to get gas and I’m there!  Let me buy from your store without up selling me at the counter or requiring my phone number and zip code at the register and I’m yours.  🙂  Make the line move a little faster, make the online buying process just a touch simpler to figure out, or make your parking lot easier to access from the street and I will pay your price, really! 

I’m a big fan of Publix.  They are always super friendly to my family and they never let me wait in line.  They are quick to open a new register just to get me out a little faster…my kind of people!  But then look at the Sam’s Club biz model:  I have to pay to join, have to have my card to get in the store, have to get my card back out to pay at the register, and then have to show my receipt to the guy at the exit to get out.  I’m not slamming Sam’s…they go for people who like to buy in bulk and save on price; but it’s too complicated for me.  Another example is the gas pump…many of them cut me off at $75 of gas…why is that?  And if you get a pump that pumps slowly, it really can double the time it takes to fill up.

Enough whining, right?  The good news is that you don’t always have to give up profits in order to make things just the slightest bit easier.  Check out this article about how Amazon added an extra $300,000,000 in sales just by making the online buying process a little easier.  Ask a friend to be a new customer for you and to walk through your process with “new eyes”.  What things could you change just to make your product or service just 5% easier to use?  You’ll be amazed at the results!


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


southwest-dogMy friend recently got stuck on the runway for 2 hours (yuck) due to severe weather.  He knew that air traffic control made the call to ground planes and that it wasn’t Southwest’s fault; but still…2 hours is a long time in a crowded plane.

Check out how Southwest Airlines stepped up and made a raving fan out of a bad situation beyond their control:

 [I love her title!]


Greetings from Southwest Airlines:                 

 I’m sorry your flight was caught in the middle of the weather-related mess on April 17.  Heavy rain reduced the visibility and limited the viable air traffic routes from .  Subsequently, we were unable to provide you with timely service and we truly regret the interruption of your travel plans.  Your patience while you waited is greatly appreciated.Houston

Though we may not be able to control Mother Nature or the rate in which Air Traffic Control releases flights, we do have some say in the way we show our appreciation of your valued patronage.  In this regard, I am sending a LUV Voucher to every person traveling with you—I hope this gesture will be accepted as our acknowledgement of the overall frustrations created by this situation.  You can be sure that we are looking forward to seeing you in the days ahead.

Melissa Chalupa, Proactive Customer Svc,

Be A Sure Thing

sure-thing_drHave you ever had an old car that was there for you most of the time; but from time to time it just wouldn’t cooperate and do the one thing you bought it for (drive)?  Then you know the feeling you get when you are running a couple minutes late and you jump in your beloved old car…it’s sort of an anxious feeling as you pray aloud “…just start…just start…START!”

While it doesn’t let you down often, the fact that it MIGHT let you down is enough to keep you from trusting that it will be there to do the job when you need it most, right?  Did you you know that business relationships work the exact same way?  Businesses that don’t deliver what they promise every single time are businesses that never allow their customers to trust that they’ll be there when they need them most.  And that lack of trust will keep you from experiencing the real success you are in business to achieve. 

The good news is that if you drive a stake in the ground and declare that no matter what, you will deliver what you promise every single time and especially when circumstances beyond your control get in your way…you will put yourself in the small group of businesses that people can’t help but refer to their friends.

  • Be the lawn company that doesn’t let rain throw you off schedule.  Let customers plan the party without worrying if the mowers will show up on the scheduled day to make the yard look nice.  [If it’s a monsoon that literally prevents you from cutting, have a plan in place to catch customers up the next day.]
  • Be the dry cleaner that has customer’s shirts pressed even when your hired help doesn’t show up for work.
  • Be CPA that gets the tax returns done on time even when you’ve over promised.
  • Be the sales leader that the owner turns to when he needs a job done right and done today.

Being a sure thing means you can charge higher prices, that you will have people on a waiting list to become your customer and that you can invest your old marketing budget into business tools that make your work easier.

“If you think you are too big for a little job, you are probably too little to be trusted with a big job.”  ~ unknown

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

Nice Job Chick-fil-A!

chickfila-cowQuick sighting of excellent customer service I couldn’t pass up:  Yesterday, I went to our local Chick-fil-A drive thru and it was packed…I mean wrapped 1.5 times around the building packed.    Here’s what they did to make me thrilled with my wait:

  1. The line was so long that the people pulling away from the window with their food were having to drive through the line of cars waiting in line to order.  They had a full time person directing traffic to get them out safely and to help people pull into and out of parking spaces safely and quickly.
  2. As I got in line, a young man with a menu came and took my order and handed me a piece of paper with my order on it.
  3. Next, as I approached the next Chick-fil-A guy, he took my paper with my order on it, called it in and told me my total.
  4. Then I pulled up to window number one and gave them my money.
  5. Finally, I pulled up to window number two where my food was waiting.

All of this took maybe 5 or 6 minutes max.  Not only was all of this fast, and my food hot and fresh and my order correct; but they did all of this with tons of enthusiasm and confidence.  Nice job!

“The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses.”  ~ Napoleon Hill

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