Good Rental Experience Reminds Us of Good Business Sense
Sep 6, 2016
This one's preaching stuff most of us, as business owners, already know, but I just happened to see a little example in action over the Labor Day weekend.
Looking at the horses pulling those carriages around he French Quarter, I sometimes wonder how it is that these animals don't go crazy with all that visual stimulation and chaos that surrounds them.
Although I'm no horse whisperer, I suspect that if we could talk to some of these animals, many of them would ask, "what stimulation and chaos? All I see are my feet and the road right in front of me!"
And there's the key. The blinders that they wear around their eyes block out most of the peripheral distractions that would make it very difficult for these horses to operate as successfully in the crowded and trafficked streets around the area.
Blinders are a great idea for those horses, but not for us. As business owners, you can't just sit there and keep doing what you're doing without ever looking around. Take those blinders off and actually see what is going on around your industry. Do a little internet search on "great _____"; "____complaints"; or "_______ reviews" (insert your industry) to see if there are ways you can improve your operation for the mutual betterment of your company, employees, and customers.
I was recently at the beach with the family and the little condo we rented seemed, at first, just like the others we've rented in the complex. However, once you see things, you can't unsee them (unless you've been "neurolized" by an MIB agent!), and if you really pay attention, you start to make a checklist. The things I'm talking about are little things that don't detract from the vacation experience, but that, if all else is the same--especially when it comes to cost--may mean the difference between getting a repeat customer.
For example, while sitting in the outside balcony, we noticed the table had obviously rusted, and it had just been painted over to spruce it up. Can't argue too much--I'm no handyman myself and I know I wouldn't even know how to sand the rusted spots, make whatever repairs (use epoxy?); resand, and paint---by that time it may be cheaper to just buy a new table!
Then my son, who met us from college, mentioned that he's been craving a good burger and we realize that this unit has no BBQ grill like some of the others do. No matter, plenty of good restaurants out there sell much better burgers than the ones I could ever hope to make.
Or the fact that we didn't get any toiletries. Okay, that one could've been a bad one, but thank God I'm a hoarder and I'd kept several miscellaneous toiletries from previous vacations in our luggage.
Like I said--things that don't ruin a vacation. But how, or, did the owner redeem these shortcomings? Yes. When you don't have the greatest and latest, you have to try and differentiate yourself.
She had a basket with about six clean beach towels. She had beach chairs, an umbrella, floating pads, and beach toys in a closet. She had an inflatable mattress that would've made it possible to accommodate even more guests than the unit could officially hold. Our inflatable alligator had a hole in it, but there was a repair patch in the drawer! And she immediately (not "quickly" or "within a few hours"---immediately) replied to my email to apologize for the toiletry situation and offering to fully reimburse us for anything we spent on them. (I really only mentioned it so she could discuss with housekeeping).
She may not have had the best unit in the complex, but she had the right attitude, and knowing how receptive she was to our "need" (and I use the term very loosely because there really was none) has left a favorable experience in my mind that leaves the door open for future rentals.
The same will hopefully be said about your business. You may not operate the absolute best coffee shop, restaurant, gas station, mechanic shop, accounting firm, contracting company, retail store, hair shop, etc...but everyone will love being your customer if you and your staff provide them with the best possible product that you can consistently offer; and, of course, treat them with an honest, positive, respectful, and friendly attitude.
It's that human aspect, after all, that makes most of our experiences worthwhile and memorable. Why do you think Tom Hanks was so devastated when he lost Wilson in Castaway? He didn't lose a ball...he lost his last connection to humanity.
Go out and be your customer's Wilson.