I love cars. I do. All of my life I’ve had a love affair with automobiles. My first car was an old beaten up 1950 Plymouth 4 door…but it was mine! The engine was bad, the floors rusted, and the upholstery ruined…but…mine.
Dad and I spent months working in our driveway to bring that old tub back to life. It lasted me through high school and a couple of years beyond.
Today I have a new older car and I’m in process to renew it completely. The cost of this classic car was low, for the purchase, but it’s quickly growing as I repair and refresh it. My mechanic recommended an upholsterer, Tony, who “does great work” and is low in price. We got a quote from him that is very affordable, and his shop is only three miles from my home.
Then I called his shop to ask a couple of questions and the whole situation changed. He sounded annoyed at having to take a call and he was skeptical about whether he could do some of the simple things I wanted done. So, I started asking around for referrals to other upholsterers.
That’s when I met Fernando. I drove by his shop, which is also fairly near my home, without an appointment and looked to see how clean and professional it was. As I stopped in front of his shop in an auto mall, a man approached my car. I inquired about Fernando’s shop and he said, “I am Fernando.” Then he took a moment to shake my hand, inspect my car and briefly discuss my needs. He was busy and I had no appointment but still he made four or five minutes of time to assess my project. He quoted me a price that was twice as much as Tony’s.
There was something about Fernando’s demeanor that showed he was genuinely interested in assisting me. In short, he cared. Later I drove by Tony’s shop to give him a second chance, but his parking lot was crowded with vehicles and seemed unapproachable. Plus, I wanted to avoid the same annoyance feeling that he gave me earlier.
Now think about that, I was willing to pay another of these two strangers twice as much to do the same job and both of them were recommended as competent providers. In other words, they both had good products, strong referrals and yet, just through a five-minute spontaneous interaction, I had doubled the amount of money I was willing to spend. How does this apply to you?
How do you convey your interest and “caring” to would-be customers who make inquiries? Do you find ways to accommodate interruptions graciously in order to gain a new customer while still fulfilling your obligation to others?
Or are you more of a Tony? It doesn’t matter how well we can justify or rationalize our behavior at inconvenient moments, if we lose business from it. You just might be able to earn twice as much money from the same amount of work if you increase the “Fernando” factor in your day to day interactions.
PS my latest car is a Jaguar XK8 convertible.