(This article was written on August 25, 2004. Because it has a half decent message I’ve republished it so more people get to read it.)
We had a guy called Paul come in and make his pitch for our ink/laser cartridge business. The business he is with provides free delivery and a free cake with each order.
That sure did impress Mel and Jo in the office!
Paul did a good job and we decided to move away from our current supplier and give these guys a try. We go through 12 $165 laser cartridges a year and 8 $34 ink cartridges. That’s $2,252 per annum.
Mel ordered a cartridge… and a Chocolate Mud Cake!
Mel rang up and ordered a cartridge for the laser printer. Costs $164. She ordered on Monday and it was to be delivered yesterday (Tuesday). We held off on some printing.
Sure enough Tuesday comes and no sign of the cartridge. No phone call to say it wasn’t coming. Nothing.
When this cartridge selling business fails (and the owner loses thousands of $) the owner will say, “There’s just no market in this city. It’s too competitive, too hard, too many backroom deals going on.”
What he should be saying…
What he should be saying is,
“I’m a moron who has no understanding of business.
I shouldn’t be allowed within 100 feet of a business.”
This is all I wanted….
All I wanted was this: my cartridge to be delivered when they said it would be delivered. That was the acid test.
Now I won’t use them again because of the simple fact that I don’t trust them. Their shoddy service directs me to make all sorts of negative assumptions about them. They don’t do what they say they will.
Do what you say you will. That will impress the customer. As an added bonus, you get his money. And his word of mouth referrals. Sure, my business is only worth $2,252 a year. But I’d already told 4 people about this great concept. If they buy the same as what I do, that’s in excess of $11,000 in sales pa.
But that all stops. All gone (almost).
I gave them a second chance… they are even more stupid than I first suspected!
The cartridge wasn’t delivered. I rang up and said, “The cartridge was meant to be delivered yesterday.”
“Sorry,” she said. “Our delivery guy was delayed. It will be there today.”
And it did come. A day late. Guess what? No cake.
“We’ll bring the cake back tomorrow.”
This is why it’s so easy to be successful in business…
…it’s because you are competing against clowns like these people.
Here’s the situation so far:
- They haven’t meet the expectation. Failed miserably.
- We gave them a second chance and waited another day for the delivery.
- They failed that miserably by not meeting the expectation then.
2 chances. Failed them both terribly.
Here’s what should have been done:
#1: Delivery should have been as promised!
The cartridge and the Mud Cake should have been delivered by a friendly delivery guy when they said it was going to be delivered. That should have been accompanied by a “Thanks for your business” card:
Thanks so much for your business – we greatly appreciate you giving us a try and can assure you of our best efforts, prices and products at all times. And yummy cakes!
Thanks again. Look forward to being of assistance.
Now that would have been impressive. Exceeded our expectations. Been professional and friendly. Made us feel like we’d want to do business with them again. Made us feel appreciated (most people stop using a business because they don’t feel appreciated).
#2: The delivery guy is running late?
So do this: Ring us.
“Hello Mel. It’s Mary here from Cookies, Cakes & Cartridges. I’m terribly sorry Dave (personalise it) is running a little behind schedule because the traffic has been much heavier than expected.
Is it okay if we deliver the cartridge tomorrow? (Get the customer’s permission) I’m very sorry for the inconvenience – we always strive for a perfect scorecard.
Dave will call on you first thing in the morning (ambiguous, Dave can turn up at 10 and that’ll still be okay) and he’ll have an extra cake for you as our way of saying sorry for the inconvenience.
Thanks for your understanding Mel. Bye.”
#3: The delivery is a day late and they didn’t bring the cake.
Time for some major groveling here because the business sucks and you know it.
Here’s a choice of 3 actions they should have taken – what would you do?
- Phone call apology. Written apology. Extra cake. And no charge for the cartridge. Eat the cost, cost yourself $100. With a policy like that you (as the business owner) won’t be tolerating crap performance from yourself in the future. If you do, it’s gonna hurt your hip pocket.And you’ll probably keep the client, win back some goodwill and get some positive word of mouth because of what you did.
- Free cake. $20 discount. Phone call apology an hour after the cartridge and/or cake was delivered.
- Phone call apology. $20 discount voucher off your next order.
I can’t wait for the Mud Cake to arrive tomorrow – it will either be a Cheesecake or won’t show at all!!
It’s tough to make a buck out there in the business world. Make the most of every customer. They’re the ones who pay the bills, feed the kids and pay the mortgage.
If you do mess it up (and we all do), make things right for your customer as quickly as possible. It’s the right thing to do – not only for your customer, but for your business as well.
(By the way, that old saying “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”… should actually be “Hell hath no fury like a woman who didn’t get her cake.” Mel and Jo are angry!!)