A few years back, my son Joshua planned to drive his 1974 bright orange VW bus to Nashville to pursue his dream in music. Like a good dad, I wanted to make sure everything was in working order for the trip and was given a recommendation for a top-notch mechanic that works on classic VW’s. This guy was supposed to be one of the best in the city.
I called this mechanic shortly after 8 a.m. on a Tuesday. Someone answered the phone with a “Hello, this is Bill.” I asked him if he had a few minutes so I could explain the problems my son was having with his bus. Bill told me his shop didn’t open until 9 and that I needed to call back later. As far as Bill was concerned that was the end of the conversation. I filled the deafening silence with “Okay, goodbye” and hung up.
I sat there in total bewilderment. My first reaction was, “if you are not open until 9 DON’T ANSWER YOUR PHONE!” After a 5-minute rant with my wife, I still couldn’t believe how I had been treated. After all, I am the customer, I have money to spend, and there are other VW mechanics in town. What was this guy thinking?
As I pondered what had just happened, my attitude started to change. How many times have we as producers said “yes,” when we really meant “no”? How many times have we made sacrifices for our clients or customers and they really didn’t appreciate the value we created for them? And how many of those sacrifices were made out of fear of losing a customer or a prospect?
Most or all of us have experienced the overwhelming pressure to please them all (or at least trying to). I can think of countless examples from friends and colleagues who automatically take care of customers’ every last whim at the expense of their health, relationships and even better judgment.
What would it be like to be Bill (the VW guy), where our reputation allows us to set the rules of engagement and stick to them? What would it like be to achieve a level of excellence that results in this kind of customer loyalty and trust without imprisoning ourselves with the pressures and expectations of our profession?
There was a great lesson for me that morning.
A 24/7/365 world with no boundaries completely swamps our ability to recharge the batteries and reconnect with the part of us that is passionate and energetic about bringing quality services to our customers. The foundation of creating these types of relationships, whether they are professional or personal, is quality. The VW mechanic was very clear about his boundaries and how he wanted to conduct his business. He did not get there by chance or accident. His customers wait patiently and are tolerant of a unique way of doing business because they get Quality with a capital Q.
Trust and loyalty follow when customers perceive that you are giving them your attention and creativity. Keeping a balance in our lives with the time and energy to maintain this level of service requires that we take care of ourselves first. We have little to give if we consistently run on empty.
What are your boundaries and how are they working for you?
Kloyda is founder of The Prospecting Expert and The Producer’s Toolbox. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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