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After about 35 minutes on the phone with, we’ll call him Guy, we hit the part where he says, “Really? You’ll pick up my car, work on it, and then bring it back?”
Me: “Well, yes that’s what we do for our customers.”
Guy: “That sounds so great, how much does that service cost?”
Me: “Nothing. We don’t charge for that sort of stuff.”
Guy: “Now wait a minute, how is that fair, you need to get something for the effort.”
Me: “Nope. It’s just part of it and I know, I know, you just don’t believe it. But here’s the thing… it’s the very reason you need a referral. Our job is to make working with us easy. Our customers get those additional services which is why not everyone is a customer. And it’s why we get to work with such great people, because if you’re a jerk we just fire you. It’s as much about our customers as it is about us, we don’t want to work with miserable people, we want to have a good day and in return we deliver great service. Simple as that.”
At the point where I mention that we fire customers, he busted out laughing. At the end of my little speech thingy he said, “wow, what a breath of fresh air.”
Here’s the best part, he doesn’t have a Porsche for us to work on! He’s just now looking to buy and he was referred to us by a few customers.
It doesn’t pay to take every prospect. It doesn’t pay to be miserable and do mediocre work as a result. It doesn’t pay to take on so much work that you drop the ball.
We take only prospects that have a referral from a known source. We take only work we want to do. We make no effort to hide the fact that if you’re a jerk we’ll fire you.
It’s never uncomfortable to me to tell a complete stranger with money to spend, that I might not want to take his money.
Uncomfortable is doing work you hate.
Uncomfortable is working with people who treat you disrespectfully.
Uncomfortable is not knowing how to say “no”.
There are a lot of ways to do business. I prefer not to have to advertise or sell. I prefer to do good work, have those customers be happy, so that they go tell someone else.
It’s a powerful model. I’m currently booked two weeks out for service work at my Porsche shop. Pretty unusual considering that most people make appointments for repair work when their cars are broken and generally can’t wait two weeks for repair.
Here are a few strategies to get you started:
1. Do more than anyone else would. When you go above and beyond, people talk. You want them talking about you. If you are taking on too much terrible work you’ll end up cutting corners. Great customers won’t allow you to cut corners, they will expect your best and your best will be the thing they remember.
2. Give them something to talk about. Doing great work isn’t always enough. You want to be memorable. How can you stand out from the competition? For our shop, early on I was cheap and didn’t want to pay for a uniform service. So we made our own uniforms. Black Levis, black printed t-shirts with our logo for summer and black long sleeved collared logo’d shirts for winter. Black shoes. I figured we could get a little dirty and no one would notice! But for our customers it stuck. They started calling us Johnny Cash. It didn’t hurt that we also had a black dog…
3. Don’t forget the small stuff. It’s the little things that sometimes get the most attention, even if at first those little things go unnoticed. We will wash cars, or do a small extra item just so that it’s done. Replacing small things like interior bulbs or knobs that are broken or worn. These things take a small amount of time and we don’t charge for it. Most of the time they are initially unnoticed. But it sure is nice to get a call the next day or even a week later from a customer who is still just as happy because they noticed, called to say ‘thanks’, and are thrilled that you took the time.
If you are going to become a business that demands the best customers and the higher price, you’re going to have to do what the other business owner won’t.
The return on investment of those little things, like pick up and delivery or a burned out bulb replacement, are completely worth it. We have customers who have been with us for over 10 years, since we opened our shop. We have customers who would rather have us take their car to have tires put on at another shop, than to do it themselves, because they know we’ll make sure it’s done right.
The long-term pay off in trust is extremely valuable. When a customer trusts you price is no longer a primary consideration. They have no problem paying you for the extras, in fact they want to.
If you are still working for peanuts, chasing down every potential lead, hard selling in a desperate act of getting that one customer… you might want to consider the value of building a referral-based business. You can learn more about the course I teach at byreferralbusinessonly.com. In the meantime, get out there and start getting people to talk about you!