Chapter 1 – Introduction

 I’ll fire you in a heartbeat. You need to understand that. I don’t mean to sound obnoxious or crude, but I have very strong feelings about this. If I pay you good money to provide me with a service or to deliver a product —–and you don’t make me feel special—– and I mean really special—– you are history.  If I don’t feel I got my money’s worth and more, you’re gone. Do you understand?  Bye Bye.  You’re out’a here. End of story.  And if you purchase my goods orservices, I expect my feet to be held just as close to the fire by YOU. 

 You see, I earn my money the old fashioned way. I work for it, same as you.  I only have so much money to spend on things. I want you to know that, if you are receiving a portion of it, you are one of the chosen few. I could be spending my money elsewhere, with one of your competitors, but I have chosen to spend it on YOU.  In return, I expect to receive your utmost courtesy, respect, and appreciation.  I want to be recognized, stroked and catered to.  I want to feel really good about giving you my money.  Because without it, you are toast!  Got it?

 I am extremely loyal to the people I do business with.  If you do a great job for me, and if your customer service is of the highest quality and caliber, and you make me feel like a part of the family, I am yours for life.  You get to keep me. And you should not take that lightly, because I certainly don’t.  Not only will I continue to buy from you, but I will send my family, friends, neighbors and associates to buy from you too.  I’m even willing to accept a less than perfect product in most cases, as long as the customer service makes up for the imperfection.

 And I don’t think I am alone here.  I believe most consumers think the same way I do.

 But there ‘s a problem with this system.  We have a tendency to become lazy and complacent. We get so overloaded and bogged down with our own day-to-day lives and activities and frustrations, that we repeatedly let slackers and sorry asses off the hook. We continually put up with far less that stellar performances and bad behaviors because we just don’t have time and energy….or energy at the time….. to mess with it.  And so we just buck up and take another hit.  We allow someone else to control our blood pressure and nerves.

 But not anymore.  At least for me.  Nope.  I’ve finally had it with inadequate customer service. Now I do something about it. I fire somebody and I spend my money elsewhere.

 I fire people practically everyday. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not rude, mean-spirited or hateful.  I’m not some heartless SOB who delights in zinging others just to see’um flinch.   I don’t particularly relish the idea that my decision to fire you may end up costing you your job or business.

 The sad fact is, you probably won’t even know you’ve been fired—–at least not at first. It’s only after you begin to notice that I haven’t been around for awhile that you might start asking questions.

 You might think I’ve moved away. Or you might even think I’ve died and gone on to my eternal reward.  But, in reality, you probably won’t even notice that I’m gone.  You see, that’s why I fired you in the first place.  You don’t know me.  You don’t appreciate me.  You don’t respect me.  You’re totally unaware of my infinite value to you and your business.  So why would you miss me?  You’re clueless!

 The fact is….. I, the consumer…..have the power to make you or break you.  I can send you a fortune in new referrals, new customers and new business. I can also send that same fortune to your competitor. It’s up to you and you alone.  If you don’t dazzle me, wow me and make me feel like I’m the only customer you have, I’ll find someone else who will.  Like I said, I’ve grown picky about who gets my money these days.

 But……. it’s not just about money.  It’s also about time.  And my time is actually a lot more valuable to me than my money.  Some people will spend a lot of time to save a little bit of money.  But not me. I’ll spend quite a bit of money if I can save time.

 I can always make more money, but I can’t make any more time.  It is finite. It is fixed, and I only have so much to claim as my own. The few seconds it took me to write this paragraph are gone forever.  I can never get them back. So I am very protective of my time.  Waste one minute of it and I’ll put your butt on the road. It’s as simple as that.

 I wasn’t always like this.  To be honest, I used to put up with bad behavior from business owners and their employees and never say a word about it either.  I just kept on paying my precious good money to jerks, idiots and nincompoops and humbly and dutifully accepting far less than good customer service. Just like you, I was usually just plain too busy, too hurried, or too tired to stop and mess with it. But not anymore. No way. Nowadays I’m a virtual firing machine. Now I do stop and mess with it.  So you’d better not test me. I’m making up for lost time!

 On the other hand, on those rare occasions when I do receive outstanding customer service—–when someone really does stop and take the time and effort to  shock & awe me—– I make it a point to stop and call attention to it.  I speak to the owner, manager or person in charge and make them aware of the fact that they are doing something extremely right.  And I love doing that. I love making their faces light up and watching them take a deep breath and smile and stand up tall and straight and glowingly accept my praise.  I make it a point to make their day! And that makes my day.

 When I owned and operated a small business (a pest control company) I understood that I was a little fish in a big pond.  There were lots and lots of other pest control companies. And many of them had huge advertising budgets. Their ads were on the television and radio and pasted on billboards and in newspapers and magazines. I simply couldn’t afford to buy that kind of exposure. I had to rely on other resources to build my business. 

 I understood that if I did a better job than all of the other guys, I stood a better chance of generating referrals.  I knew that if I could make my customers feel really special—-and I mean really special—- they’d keep on paying me for my services and they’d end up sending their friends, neighbors, associates and family members to me as well. I also knew that, when the chips were down and they were trimming their household budgets like a T-bone steak on a maple chopping block, I’d be one of the last scraps of meat to hit the floor.

 I did everything I could to make them appreciate me.  I wanted to make them want to adopt me.  I wanted them to feel guilty if even the mere thought of firing me ever crossed their minds.  I wanted to be their bug guy forever. And it worked.  My business grew!

 Was I perfect?  No, of course not. Did I make every single customer happy? Absolutely not. Did my employees always deliver the same level of customer service I demanded and expected?  Once again, the answer is NO.  The truth is—- I lost customers because of bad customer service. But not very many.  It was the extreme exception rather than the rule. 

 After 36 years as a small business owner and employer, I developed an in-depth appreciation and understanding of the awesome power of customer service—-or the lack of it.  I wish I could say it happens to all business owners, but sadly, it doesn’t. Unfortunately many business owners today are either not at all aware of this fact, or are simply blind and oblivious to it.  Either way, what could, in many cases, be a growing, flourishing, thriving, referral-driven business, becomes just another casualty on the ever faster moving, bumper-to-bumper highway of commerce. And all due to not taking care of their customers and making them feel special.

 Today’s consumer is used to being burned. They have grown to expect it. It is, in modern day society, more the rule than the exception.  However, there are those of us who have made a commitment to burn back. And, when we burn back, it hurts.  We don’t do it nearly often enough, but when we do, someone pays a price.  The sad thing is, those getting burned don’t feel the pain. They are numb to it. They are clueless airheads who keep right on going, day after day, thinking and believing that just waking up in the morning, driving to the office and showing up for work should be enough. Their businesses eventually go up in smoke and they walk away from the ashes, blaming folks like you and me for not showing up with a fire extinguisher in time.

 Like it or not—–condone it or not—- believe it or not—– if you are a small business owner and you don’t make your customers feel overwhelmingly appreciated and special, you are the proud owner of a dying company. You can not and will not survive. It simply can’t and won’t happen. And it shouldn’t!

To find out about my awesome customer service seminar, call me at 770-993-0004 or email Hal@HalColeman.com

Click here to view my Audio CD’s

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