I really do have an Uncle Bubba.
Bubba's real name is Lloyd, but I never heard anyone ever call him by that name. I started working for Uncle Bubba when I was 14.
Bubba had a restaurant, and working there for all the years I did was one of the best experiences I could have had.
You see, Bubba taught me the value of a customer.
When anyone came into his restaurant, it did not matter what you were hired for. Dish washer, cook, waiter, you stopped what you were doing and always took care of the customer FIRST!
Clearing a table, making another pot of coffee, starting the dish washer all could wait until the customer was at least acknowledged.
Why am I sharing this with you?
...Rach and I are in the steel city attending the national BNI conference. We came to Pittsburgh a few days early to have a mini-vacation before the conference starts.
I've always wanted to come to Pittsburgh because this is the home of America's first billionaire - Andrew Carnegie. We spent Wednesday going through the Carnegie Natural History and Art Museum.
We spent seven hours going through the museum and probably missed some of it.
Anyway, after seven hours, we decided to relax and get something to eat. Our research showed that the South Side of Pittsburgh was the place to go, so off we went. It was pouring rain and the closest place was the Cheesecake Factory. The bartender was phenomenal. Very attentive, explained the menu and we did not have to wait for anything.
Once the rain let up, we decided to explore some other places. We decided to go to an Irish pub and this is where it started going downhill.
We walked into the place and Rach and I were the only ones sitting at the bar. At the end of the bar were TWO bartenders and TWO waitresses and the Manager. We sat down and no one said hi, no one said, "Be right with you," no one said "Welcome."
Nothing, nada, zip, zitch!!!
Rach said that we should just go some place else. I gently raised my hand and said we are staying. I then said...
"...Rachael, I'm The Marketing Pit Bull. I help businesses and this one needs my help. I'm going to give them a FREE lesson in marketing."
After rolling her eyes she sat back and watched as I took my cellphone out. My cellphone has a stopwatch and I began timing the wait staff.
After six minutes and thirty nine seconds, Adam approached us.
"Hi, I'm Adam and I'll be your server today."
This is when I began my lesson for Adam. I said:
"Adam, do you see this? This is a stop watch and I've been timing you. It took you over six minutes to come over and serve us. The bar is empty and there are four of you that could have helped us."
Adam's face flushed and he started to stammer out a response.
Before Adam could say anything I said: "Adam, convince me to stay here. We got off to a bad start but my wife and I love Irish pubs and this looks like a cool place so how are you going to make it up to us?"
Adam apologized and gave me a lame excuse about it being the shift change and he had to talk to the rest of the staff.
I didn't say anything but I really didn't care.
Adam then offered us some free samples of the beer that they had. Okay, Adam was trying.
Then an amazing thing happened. Adam became very attentive and explained the menu and said he would be right back to take our order.
Before we go any further...
I can hear some of you out there in Pit Bull Nation thinking that I am a first class jerk. Who do I think I am?
Let me explain that I did Adam and that restaurant a HUGE service for FREE!!!
See, if I had a chance, I would have said to Adam that in the South Side of Pittsburgh there are dozens and dozens of restaurants to chose from. I could have gone to any of them but I chose their restaurant. I decided to go there and spend cash.
Anyone that has been in the restaurant business knows first-hand how tough this industry can be. Most of them fail and this is one of the reasons.
All business is about customer service. My uncle's restaurant's main business was breakfast. Eggs are eggs, the food is pretty much the same. When it comes to breakfast, two things count - Fast and Hot.
My Uncle Bubba never spent a dime on advertising. No yellow pages, no newspaper ads, no radio, TV or direct mail. His entire business was built on WORD OF MOUTH - the BEST marketing in the world!
His business jammed because everyone talked about how fast the service was.
If I was a real jerk, I would give you the name of the restaurant we went to last night, but I'm not, because once the problem was pointed out, Adam did a good job. He made recommendations on what to eat and told us some places to visit while in Pittsburgh.
Also, another interesting thing happened.
Another customer walked in while we were there and Adam was all over this person. Fast, attentive and friendly.
"Look at that Rach." I said. "Look how fast Adam responded to the customer. I just helped him and this restaurant. Because I had the courage to talk to Adam about the lousy customer service, he has stepped up to the plate and will probably get better tips, this restaurant will be more successful and it will help end the recession."
Rach told me that when we get home I really need to have my head examined.
So here's the question:
How is your customer service?
How long does it take you or your staff to acknowledge a customer?
How fast do you answer your phone?
How friendly are you and your staff?
How long does it take you to answer an email?
How long does a customer have to wait for you to call back?
Customer satisfaction is unacceptable. It's easy to be satisfied. If you want to keep your customers, or more importantly, keep them talking about you and your business, you have to do MORE than just satisfy them.
You have to exceed customer expectation, and here's a little secret for you:
It's not that hard to exceed customer expectation because it is so low.
It's also crucial to remember that customer service is not just about first contact.
What really separates the pros from the chumps is what happens after the sale. If you really want to stand out from the competition and exceed expectations, take a look at what you're doing AFTER the sale.
Are you sending thank you cards?
Do you call and thank customers?
Do you send birthday cards?
Do you offer free workshops or seminars helping your clients?
Do you hold customer appreciation days?
Does your website offer helpful solutions?
Do you send a weekly email newsletter offering value?
Do you send a monthly newsletter (to their mailbox)?
"Whoa, Pit Bull, this sounds like a lot of work." I can hear some of you saying.
I'm watching FOX news as I write this in my Hotel room and they are talking about a double digit recession. If you want to be around after all of this doom and gloom is behind us, this will not seem like work.
And I have some good news for you:
FIRST: Marketing can be fun! In fact, done the MPB way, it can be one of the most enjoyable activities you do in your business.
SECOND: I can help you. What a guy.
Let's wrap this up.
There are a lot of great restaurants in the Springfield area and Rach and I have gone to a lot of them. One restaurant that I have only been to twice sent me this email:
WAY TO GO CAFE LEBANON! TWO ENTHUSIASTIC THUMBS UP!
Cafe Lebanon has the Marketing Pit Bull attitude. How about you?
Author of the book Impact Marketing, Eric Letendre helps business professionals use a mix of marketing strategies to develop relationships, attract more clients and increase sales. For more information visit http://themarketingpitbull.com
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