Are You Just a ‘Yard’ Away From More Business?

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It’s often been said that if you go the extra mile for your clients, you’ll be rewarded with more repeat business and referrals.

That’s true.

But you don’t necessarily have to haul your butt an extra mile every time. Often, just an extra yard will do!

Here’s what I mean:

You see, I just finished a series of copywriting workshops in Austin, Texas. It was a fantastic experience. But what made it great, besides the wonderful group of professionals who attended, was the hotel. The staff there did a terrific job of making my stay comfortable and enjoyable.

Now here’s the thing. Most of the services they provided were similar to what you would expect at most good hotels. The room was clean. The staff was friendly and helpful. The food was tasty. (No awful “banquet food” here!)

But they did do one special thing — one seemingly insignificant, but actually very significant thing — that ensures that I’ll stay at that hotel again and recommend it to others.

They bought me a jar of peanut butter.

You see, I’m a bit of a peanut butter nut. (No pun intended.) I have toast and peanut butter for breakfast almost every morning. So when I went down to the hotel restaurant my first morning in Austin, guess what I ordered?

“Toast with peanut butter, please,” I asked the waitress politely.

“Ah, sorry, sir,” she replied, looking genuinely concerned. “We don’t stock peanut butter. But we do have several varieties of jam!”

I was disappointed but tried not to show it. “Ah, strawberry,” I said.

Then, the next morning, I got a different waiter. So I took a chance and asked for peanut butter again. No luck.

Then, on the third morning, I went down for breakfast and was greeted by my original waitress. “I’ll have coffee and whole wheat toast with, ah . . . strawberry jam, please,” I ordered politely.

She had a slight sheepish grin on her face. “Would you like to have peanut butter instead?” Her smile broadening.

“Ah, yes. That would be great. Thanks!” I said, as if the offer had made my day. And in a way, it had.

I found out later on that the hotel restaurant had purchased a jar of peanut butter just for me.

Keep in mind that I never made a fuss. It wasn’t like I was irate because, damn it, there’s no peanut butter. I was fine with the jam. But the restaurant staff obviously noticed that the peanut butter — which probably cost them less than five dollars — would make me a much happier customer. And it did.

The lesson here is obvious. You don’t necessarily have to go way above and beyond the call of duty to win over clients — and thereby get more repeat business and referrals. Sometimes all it takes is a little extra or a minor accommodation; an extra yard.

One of my past coaching clients, a corporate trainer, once helped a client develop a skills development survey for his employees. She spent about an hour with him on the phone, walking him through the process and brainstorming questions to ask. And she didn’t charge him a cent for the extra time. “To this day,” she says, “my client still mentions the help I gave him and thanks me for it.”

My guess is, he probably gives her more repeat business and recommendations, too.

Now, not every client will react the same way. But when you get the opportunity to “buy a jar of peanut butter,” do it. It’s a small price to pay for a more satisfied client.

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