Over-Deliver And Stand Above The Crowd

This morning I read an article by Rich on the Working Smarter Blog over at SmartDraw.com titled “Winners Over-Deliver – Are you a Winner?” that really got me thinking about my experiences in the sign business and how this was true for me. Also, how it has translated into my experiences with EstiMate.

Always Go The Extra Mile

I always tried to go the extra mile with sign customers.  For example, I had a guarantee on all my work, and one horrible day I got a call from a customer that her 4×6 Painted and metallic vinyled sign was falling apart (that I had just installed two months before).  This was early in my sign career, and clearly I had a lot to learn.

What the hell happened?

Upon further investigation I discovered that the primer I had used was wholly inadequate for the job, and everything was peeling off.  In addition, I had bracketed the sign to the posts instead of carving a slot to fit it in, and it was twisting in the wind.

I totally felt like an idiot.  What kind of sign “pro” would make 2 ridiculous mistakes like that?  Man was I demoralized.

Do The Right Thing By Your Customer

I went over to see the sign the next morning, as promised, and sure enough it was a complete disaster.  At this point I could have done one of a few things:

  • Straightened the sign, added more footer concrete, and replaced the brackets with better ones.
  • Added a top coat of frog juice or any good solid UV clear and hope it held the graphics down
  • Replaced just the letters that were in trouble and done my best to touch up the job
  • Haul the thing away, shrug my shoulders and refund the customer’s money

Or I could follow through on my guarantee and replace the sign.

It’s been 10 years now and the replacement still stands, and still looks good.  I had the new sign up in five days, shelving all other projects to make it happen.

What do you think the customer thought of my ridiculousness when this was all over?  She sent me a steady stream of referrals from the time I replaced her sign until the day I closed up shop and started EstiMate.

How Can You Over-Deliver?

I really liked what Rich said in the article I read this morning about where it all begins.

“The only way for anyone in your organization to be perceived as a “winner” or champion in the eyes of your clients is to over-deliver. And that starts with under-promising.”

Start with your customers by offering them a very stable image of your shop, with (of course) solid service and a friendly demeanor.  Then, when finishing the job, always do a little something extra – maybe a SignGold accent they weren’t expecting, or a follow up call after the job, or a drive by and visit two weeks later to ask if the sign has increased their business.

Maybe even bring a flower.  Seriously!

When we sold EstiMate at trade shows in the early 2000′s we always had a huge vase of roses in the booth (once in Orlando we bought these from a guy selling them out of the back of his van for a couple of bucks apiece.  What a hoot!)

Every time someone would buy EstiMate, we’d give them a rose.  They totally weren’t expecting it and it brightened their day.  Even the embarrassed guys would still walk around with that rose sticking out of their trade show bag.

The French Call It “Lagniappe”

A little something extra.“  I remember when we also would send follow up cards, hand written and hand signed, to our customers when they would buy EstiMate online.  We had to stop after passing the 5,000 customer mark — it was just too time consuming.  But we’ve tried to maintain the same level of service by offering our EstiMate Café and now this blog.

It’s worth strategizing about ways that you can offer your customers extra; they will end up being Raving Fans (fantastic book by the way) and your star will shine brightly over there in your corner of the universe.

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