Every once in a while I have to remind myself what a lucky guy I am: I have a wonderful wife, Anne; great family and friends; a comfortable life and my health. I also get to write a column that helps me even more than my readers.

Often I’m asked how I can continue to come up with new ideas for each column. This is a great question when you consider I’ve written almost 600 columns—all on the subject of retail education. But my answer is quick: I’m fortunate to work daily in the field that I write about. There is not a day that goes by on the sales floor or out on an in-home estimate that I don’t see a situation to be written about. I figure if I’m having trouble or success with something then it is a topic that my retailers could benefit from.

Also, I get to remind myself that most of the things I do wrong are things that I already know how to do right; I simply stopped doing them, got lazy or complacent. I catch the problem, get to write about it, and remind myself to get back on track. This is why I say this column helps me more than you. Kind of selfish, don’t you think?

Follow-up Service

One subject that inspired me yesterday was a situation that had nothing to do with floor covering sales, however, the correlation was so dead on that a new column idea came to mind. I recently published a photo of the home that Anne and I built. The last step to finishing that project was to landscape and put in sod. In all, the project went very well; nothing that a couple thousand gallons of water couldn’t help. Yesterday my landscaper called to see how the new grass was coming along. He is a young guy in his first year of having his own company, and I’ve been mentoring him because I could see his frustrations at learning the ropes. I’ve been teaching him things like making sure he could give a bid on the spot for a new prospective job, how to know when to turn a job down, and how to create confidence in a new customer. He even asked me for a copy of my book “Stop Selling Start Winning.” Okay, he didn’t ask for the book; I was happy to get him a copy.

When he called me to check on the job after it was completed, I congratulated him on his follow-up service. I wanted him to know just how important it was because it’s the part of the job where he builds referrals and follow-up business. Basically, it was an opportunity to remind myself how to turn silver into gold. I told him almost everything on the job had gone great.

“Except what?” he asked.

“Well, there is one strip of sod that appears to be a different type of grass and one spot at the end of a row that is about four inches short of the edge metal,” I answered.

“No problem,” he said. “I’ll replace that strip of sod and fill in that end tomorrow.”

When a customer is surprised that you actually do the right thing or go the extra step, you make a friend who respects you for life.

It reminded me of something I learned 20 years ago at CarpetMax upper management class in Georgia. The trainer explained that as business owners we want good news fast but bad news faster. Then we want to fix the problem fast. The idea is that you can do almost everything perfect on a job, but one little problem may be the only thing a customer remembers a few years down the road.

The trainer also taught me some interesting statistics: a job done well will get you one to two referrals while a job done almost perfectly, but the customer never bothers to tell you about the small problem, will cost you at least five of that customer’s friends. But get this: a job done with a few problems that get fixed fast will get you upwards of 10 new referrals. Who would have thought that a job not done quite right could turn out to be the gold? When a customer is surprised that you actually do the right thing or go the extra step, you make a friend who respects you for life. This kind of thing is why good follow-up service—what I call “the final touch”—makes you more money in the long haul than mass advertising ever could.

Other Final Touches

You’ve often heard me speak about following the customer home to do the estimate. You do the full estimate on the spot so you can finalize the deal immediately. After you’ve sealed the deal remember to work on getting rid of buyer’s remorse. Here’s what I do once the contract has been signed and the check is in hand: I shake the hands of all parties in the room (I even pet the dog goodbye) and say: “Thanks so much for your business; I think you made a wise choice. I can’t wait for you to see the new place when we get your floor done.”

In almost every case the customer responds with. “I’m sure we‘re going to love it.”

Getting someone to say that is the final touch that reminds them why they just bought from you. Plus, it kills any buyer’s remorse.

One last final touch: When I call the day after the installation is done, I always say: “Well, what did the neighbors think?”

“Nothing but compliments” is the most common response.

Leaving a buyer with pride is the best feeling a Trusted Sales Advisor can ever get. That’s my gold. Thanks for reading.