When I travel around the country doing ride along training, what I find is, there is very little difference in how we do this from one business to another. So, I am constantly asking the customers I work with, what is it that sets you apart from your competition. Or, another way to put it is, what is it that makes you exceptional? How are you any different from any home service business?
If we are all doing everything like everyone else, how do we expect our customers to find a difference in their mind? Is it only because we leave our card on their refrigerator that gets them to call us back? Is it just habit? After all, we’re the known entity, and, you know, the devil you know is not as scary as the one you don’t know. So, they stick with us because we get the job done and we don’t create problems. And, we call that customer loyalty when, in fact, it’s just habit.
And, sure, habit is fine, if they keep calling us. After all, we all kept going to Sears for stuff all those years until someone better came along. But once we found someone more convenient, more user friendly, with a nicer store interior, better merchandising, our HABIT of going to Sears ended pretty quickly. Why? Because it wasn’t based in loyalty. It was based on what we were used to doing. And now, many of those key retail chains are closing up shop because a better offer has come along in the form of Amazon.
So, what’s the point? It’s simple, if you keep taking your customers’ loyalty for granted, you may one day wake up to a totally new world where a more aggressive and savvy and forward-thinking competitor has moved into town. And before you know it, the cheese has moved and you haven’t got a clue about where to find it. You are way behind the curve and the business you thought you could count on forever has slipped away in the night.
But that doesn’t have to happen. What DOES have to happen is you must begin to assess everything about how you do business as if you were that competitor moving into a new territory. You must look objectively at every way you engage the public and most importantly your customers. You must decide if you want to really set yourself apart from your competitors, or, if you want to just count on your customers’ habit of calling you.
Where do you start? Start with the story you project about your business. What is it that you want to say that tells the truth about your company and makes a more compelling case for anyone to prefer you over others? And, then make sure everyone of your employees understands it, lives it, breathes it, owns it, embodies it. That is called company culture. Make sure that culture, that difference between you and everyone else, is reflected to your customers from their very first phone call to you through every single moment they encounter you and your team. Make certain when your guys go to a customer’s home, the experience is flawless from beginning to end. Make sure that when they leave, the customer is so impressed, so astounded by the quality of service, so pleased with how you made him feel, that he can hardly wait to tell others.
Is that easy to accomplish? Actually, it is. But you have to put your creative attention on it. You have to really look at the whole picture and decide who and what you want to be. And you have to excite your entire staff with the prospect of being better than anyone else. You have to get out of the rut you’ve been mired in and think in a new way about your customers and what will delight them. Because if you don’t, their habits can change in the blink of an eye. Just look around. It’s happening everywhere, and no one saw it coming.