Archive Page 2

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

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!

A New Standard Of Service

146A friend of mine recently asked me if I could refer a good attorney.  I have one that I have used with no real problems, and yet I hesitated to share the referral.  Referring someone is a very personal endorsement and your quality of referrals says a lot about you.  I had to ask myself why I chose not to send my friend to this attorney. 

The reason is not that he has done anything extraordinarily bad.  Sure he has been hard to get in touch with recently and hasn’t returned a few emails, but nothing unusual.  The reason is in fact that I have recently had such great experiences with some other professionals that it has sort of set a new standard of who I want to work with on a regular basis. 

For example, a call returned within 24 hours is absolutely good customer service for busy people.  In fact, most customers will not complain if they get a call back within the week.  And yet my financial advisor returns my call within an hour.  He returns emails within minutes. 

Another example is the idea of who the expert is.  Old school business says that it is normal for your doctor to tell you what’s wrong in a language you don’t quite understand, and then tells you what to do about it and you do it.  But wouldn’t you rather see a doctor that explains things in a way you understand well enough to re-explain it to your spouse, gives you several options along with his or her suggestion of which will fit your health needs best?  And what would you do if your doctor saw you within ten minutes of your appointment time and wasn’t in a hurry when he or she met with you?

Once you have had excellent experiences with other professionals, it’s just hard to go back and settle  for less.  I want to challenge you today to set the new standard of service in your line of work.  Be the one that people just can’t wait to tell their friends about.  Ask yourself how you can manage your time in a way that allows you to meet or exceed every time commitment you make.  I am watching business people with less experience steal market share from the old guard on a daily basis just by being willing to set a new standard in their line of work consistently.  Providing excellence in the ordinary is quite possibly the best and most affordable marketing tool you have & the good news is that you have the power to raise your own bar starting now.

Take Away:  Get creative about the little things you can do to communicate to your clients their importance to you.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what it would take to make them tell their friends about how “over the top” you are.

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.  ~ Charles Hadden Spurgeon

Tern On Yuor Spill Chuck Fur Krying Owt Luod

Today’s post is so simple that I hesitate to go here…but I am going none the less.  If you are in business, very few mistakes will kick your credibility in the stomach the way misspellings can.  Now I hesitate to throw the first stone here because I am by no means an expert in grammar and I have never won a spelling bee.  But I do recognize the importance of how written communication can affect the perception others have of me.  

Now to give you a little breathing room, most people you deal with are not grammar experts.  An occasional “I” instead of “me” is not going to train wreck your relationship.  But most people will recognize horribly misspelled words.  If a client is strongly considering working with you to help them invest, make a purchase, build an expensive home, defend a lawsuit, or do surgery…obviously misspelled words in your written correspondence says several bad things about you.  First, it says you may not be as smart as they want you to be.  Second, it says that you miss details and that you may miss important details on the project they are considering you for.  Third, it says that you were either too lazy or in too big of a hurry to turn on spell check.  For those of us who are phonetically challenged, spell check is a must.  And if a particular document like a resume or a bid on a large job are involved, go an extra step to have one or two other people review it for typos, grammatical errors, and an overall flow that is easy to read and understand.

The bad news is that most people are not going to tell you that you’ve lost their trust based on your inability to spell.  The good news is that if you have done this before, you are in good company and the problem is easily solved and will impact the perception others have of you immediately.

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” ~ Wyatt Earp

Flu Season Is Coming…But What About OCS Season?!

There is a disease…if you catch it, it is professionally fatal.  I call it “old client syndrome” but you might also call it “old team member syndrome” or “old church member syndrome” and it can bring down your best team members or even you if you are not watching for it.  Old Client Syndrome or OCS for short is when things are growing; but your older clients or someone on your team can’t embrace the future simply because it’s different than before.  Comments like, “I used to just be able to do it the way I wanted…” and “I remember when I used to just be able to get it done without having to get permission…” are symptoms of OCS. 

The ironic thing about OCS is that clients or team members don’t have to have been around that long to catch it; just long enough to get attached to the old way of doing things.  One of the dangers of OCS is that it is invisible to the person that catches it.  Left untreated, the person with OCS can allow a bitterness to start to develop.  And as more and more change occurs, they slip further into the OCS coma…

The worst thing that often develops in a severe case of OCS is that a new person joins the team…a new person with no attachment to the old ways…a new person that has a good attitude about things and begins to excel and to generate new results using the new ways as the older, more senior member of the team slips further and further out to sea. 

As a leader, it becomes impossible to ignore the progression of the disease in your old client, team member or church member.  They continue to get bogged down while your new clients continue to thrive.  And often times, you end up losing your old client or team member as they walk away telling you that you have treated them unfairly by asking them to live up to the new standard.  And in many cases, it is time to be big enough for both of you and let the person go before things get too bad.

There is one cure.  First, a brotherly direct acknowledgement of the condition has to happen.  Second, there must be a conscious decision to be an “eternal new guy on the team”.  This means that without abandoning the principles that are important, you are willing to abandon the processes that you used before.  That when things are growing and you get asked to change cubicles for the third time, that you do it quickly and enthusiastically.  That when younger people come on board with new talents, that you are the first one to show them around and acknowledge their strengths.  That when your leader asks you to buy into well thought out changes that allow your team to win at the next level, you not only agree; but that you sincerely buy in and cheer others on to do the same.

Take Away:  Refuse OCS thoughts and determine to be an eternal new guy with your attitude.

“A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.”  ~ Sidney J. Harris

“Processes change.  Philosophies & principles don’t change.”  ~ Dave Ramsey

“Everything has its limit.  Iron cannot be educated into gold.”  ~ Mark Twain

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