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Stew Leonard's Does A Little Extra For A Mom And Her Son

From 2003 to 2012 I lived just up the hill from the original Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk, CT. As the World’s Largest Dairy Store, it was one of the main inspirations behind my first book, Purple Goldfish. Stew’s truly gets the idea of doing the little something extra and the importance of a differentiated customer experience.

The store has been called the Disneyland of Dairy Stores by the New York Times, because of its milk processing, costume characters, scheduled entertainment, petting zoo, and animatronics throughout the stores. The favorite for my kids was the Chiquita Banana. My son Thomas used to dance to this catchy jingle:

In the words of Stew, “Where kids go, customers follow.” Last week Stew Leonard’s shared a note on their Facebook page from a customer:

Stew Leonards

“Hey Stew Leonard’s, Just wanted to let you know about a great experience I had in your store. My son Charlie (age 8) is developmentally disabled and while he loves to shop he has a tough time waiting at checkout. I mentioned it to the cashier and immediately he and Chris H jumped into action and said ‘mam you just watch Charlie and we got this!’ Then another cashier came in and beautifully packed my groceries alongside Chris H and checked me out. I was able to attend to Charlie in the front of the store and keep him calm without a meltdown situation. What a surprise and a pleasure! Most people don’t realize children with disabilities are not naughty, it’s just some situations can be overwhelming. I always loved Stew’s and I will definitely frequent Stew’s more! Great group of employees – all of them class acts!”

Special Needs

One of the 12 types of Purple Goldfish is a category called Special Needs. Every once in a while you’ll have a customer that requires a little unexpected extra care or attention. Those special needs can be varied. In the book we shared examples involving food allergies, breathing issues, death in the family, illness, and scheduling issues. Handling these issues like Stew’s did for Charlie and his Mom demonstrate both warmth and competence. It demonstrates humanity in business and the importance of service.

A business shouldn’t do these things because they want to generate marketing buzz. They should do these things because they are the right thing to do. Any extra word of mouth should be an added bonus. One of the stories from my keynotes and workshops involves Panera helping a customer with a special need:

panera-purple-goldfish

Panera used good judgement to help a dying grandmother by making soup and sending along cookies for lagniappe. In less than four weeks, a single Facebook post by her grandson Brandon Cook garnered over 800,000+ likes, 35,000 comments, and national media coverage. Why? Because Panera empowered its employees to do the little extra for a customer in need.

How are you helping customers with a special need? What’s Your Purple Goldfish?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is a story I heard from the founder and namesake of Stew Leonard’s.During his first year in business, Stew was asked by the local elementary school to speak on career day about his store and the dairy business. Even though he didn’t see the appeal for kids, Stew reluctantly agreed. Pulling into the parking lot he knew instantly there was trouble. A fire truck parked in front of the school with a bunch of enthralled kids all around it. It didn’t get any better when he walked through the doors of the school. The was a room of kids with a member of the Air Force. They were playing a movie about the history of jet airplanes. Across the hall was a police officer showing a packed classroom various police equipment and weapons. Stew walked down the hall and eventually found his classroom. There was a sign on the  door that read THE MILK BUSINESS. Stew walked in the room to find only three kids. Two of them were the sons of his produce manager. For the next 30 minutes he talked about running a dairy store. At the end of the talk he thanked the kids for their attention. Then Stew reached into his pocket and handed them each a coupon for a free ice cream. The kids left and Stew waited to present the second of two Career Day sessions. He waited and waited… no kids. 15 minutes later and still no kids. After 20 minutes the school prinicipal came rushing in and exclaimed, “Stew, I don’t know what you told those kids, but we have to move your next session to the school auditorium.” This simple story underscores the power of giving and how effective word of mouth marketing can be. By the way, guess what you get when you buy $100 of groceries at Stew Leonard’s? You guessed it, a free ice cream.

We Mean Business Interview – Discussing the Power of G.L.U.E. to Win Customers

During a recent trip to DC I had the opportunity to be a guest on the TV show, “We Mean Business.” The show just aired on Channel 16 on MMC-TV.

Here is the conversation with Steve Dorfman from Driven to Excel:

Here are some of things we talked about:

  1. G.L.U.E. What does it stand for and how was it inspired?
  2. “GLUE” experience of a Target customer…
  3. You have another great story about Panera Bread …
  4. For those business owners who might be wondering, does this translate into dollars or is it just good will? Are the results quantifiable?
  5. Tell us about the role that employee engagement plays in all of this.
  6. What about the frontline employee who’d rather not give a little extra to that “rude” customer?
  7. You say that what we see as common sense is not always common practice. Why is that?
  8. You say that it’s all about reaching the hearts of our customers. Where does one begin, when it comes to developing this type of culture?
  9. Do you have a favorite interview question that helps to find a culture fit?
  10. Your background is in marketing – when and why did you pivot and niche?
  11. You say that nobody meets customer expectations?
  12. Some leaders are still of the belief that their employees should feel lucky just to have a job. What would you like to say to those leaders?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is Daniel Pink on We Mean Business talking about his most recent book, To Sell is Human. I just mentioned Dan in my latest blog post in Forbes about purpose.

TEDx Talk – Rethinking Business With the Power of G.L.U.E.

My TEDxDouglasville is now live on the TED channel on YouTube. Here’s the video:

The title is “Rethinking Business With the Power of G.L.U.E.”

According to Gartner, by 2016, 89% of businesses will compete mostly on customer experience. That percentage was just 36% four years ago. There is now a need to create powerful unique experiences to drive differentiation, loyalty and referrals. The solution is G.L.U.E, the practice of giving little unexpected extras to exceed expectations. Doing the little signature things that can make a big difference.

This talk is packed with examples from leading companies such as Panera, Doubletree Hotels, Safelite, Izzy’s Ice Cream, Kimpton and Disney. Learn about the biggest myth in business, the idea of a Purple Goldfish, and how to compete in today’s customer-driven market.

I hope you enjoy it and if so, please share it with a friend or two on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

 

The Two Most Vital Elements in Marketing and Sales

[The following post is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of the book, What’s Your Golden Goldfish]

Golden Goldfish BookIn our evolution as humans, we were forced to develop skills integral to our survival. One of which was the ability to make snap judgments about our surroundings with a high degree of speed and accuracy. As we walked out of the “cave” our senses went immediately into survival mode. We judged everyone and everything we encountered on two basic criteria:

  1. Are they a threat?
  2. Their ability to carry out that threat?

This basic truth is at the heart of the work of Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. {Endnote 24} Their research, built upon work done by Dr. Bogdan Wojciszke, has shown that over 80% of our judgments as based on these two factors. It boils down to our perception of 1. warmth and 2. competence. These perceptions don’t just apply to people. We also apply the same standards to products and companies. We automatically perceive and judge their behaviors on a subconscious level. Brands are people too. According to their book The Human Brand, we are in the midst of a Relationship Renaissance.

The Human BrandFrom the Local Village to Mass Market to Global Village…

The mass market is a relatively new phenomenon. Merely 150 years ago we consumed almost everything made from people we know. The reputation of a merchant was as precious as gold. If a small business wronged you, everyone in the local village would quickly know about it. Merchants faced public censure, potential ruin and even losing a limb. As a result, businesses worked hard to establish trust and earn repeat business.

But then the mass market emerged. Almost everything we consumed was made by a faceless, far-off company. The voice of the customer waned. We were powerless to expose or punish brands that acted badly. Outside of lodging a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or writing consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, we were handcuffed.

Enter Digital, Social and Mobile. The internet has changed the game. In the words of author Chris Malone,

For the first time in history, the entire world is wired in a way that is consistent with the way evolution has wired us to think and behave.” {Endnote 25}

Social has flattened the earth. Each consumer has the opportunity to share their experiences with millions of others. It has caused a huge ripple effect in the global village.

Instant Karma

Brands beware. Feedback is now instantaneous. John Lennon famously called this Instant Karma,

“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race”

Need an example to drive this home? Look no further than the story of Panera and Brandon Cook. {Endnote 26}

panera-purple-goldfishThe Human Brand shares the touching tale of a Panera store manager who used good judgment to help the dying grandmother of a customer. The story involves Panera going above and beyond to make a special batch of clam chowder. The manager was thoughtful to provide a small package of cookies thrown in complimentary for good measure. Touched by the effort, it inspired the customer to share the encounter socially. In less than four weeks, a single Facebook post by Brandon Cook garnered 800,000+ likes, nearly 36,000 comments and scores of national media attention. Why? Because Panera empowered its employees to demonstrate warmth and competence by doing the little extra.

Consumers want to be heard. Social accountability is back and its here to stay. Consumers expect to have relationships with their brands. Companies must forge genuine relationships with customers. We now expect relational accountability from the companies and brands we support. Consumers will view the actions (or inaction) of brands based on warmth and competence. And warmth is absolutely key.

The idea of warmth and competence is not just theory. It draws from original research spanning 10 separate studies. Once you start to view every action through the lens of warmth and competence, you will:

  • rethink your approach to loyalty programs
  • rethink how you prioritize people vs. profits
  • rethink ever doing a “daily deal” like Groupon or LivingSocial
  • rethink the cost of new customer acquisition vs. upselling current customers
  • rethink how important is to make the first step in demonstrating warmth and competence
  • rethink how leadership can become the literal “face” of your brand
  • rethink how you handle a crisis

Malone and Fiske spent three years studying more than 45 major companies. The research has confirmed that warmth perceptions and communal relationships are the dominant drivers of customer loyalty. What’s a brand to do? The authors posit in a BusinessWeek.com article, {Endnote 27}

Lasting prosperity requires a fundamental shift in business priorities, a shift in which individual customer relationships are every bit as important as short-term profit. Our success as humans has always depended on the cooperation and loyalty of others, and in that regard, our capacity to express warmth and competence ranks among our most precious assets. Therefore, keeping the best interests of others in balance with our own is simply a form of highly enlightened self-interest.

Companies need to find ways to leverage individual customer and employee relationships by doing a tangible extra. Actions speaks louder than words.

CASE STUDY – DOUBLETREE HOTELS 

Doubletree Chocolate Chip CookieMy family recently stayed at a Doubletree Hotel in Richmond. It was part of a family vacation to Virginia. I’m a big fan of the hotel because of their chocolate chip cookie. It epitomizes the signature extra and the idea of being REMARK-able.

I can distinctly remember my first stay at a Doubletree like it was yesterday. It was April 1996 in Atlanta, GA when the love affair began. After numerous delays on a rainy day we finally reached the Hotel. It was one of my first business trips. Tired and hungry I checked into the Doubletree. In addition to receiving my room key I was a given an individually wrapped bit of warmth and goodness. Inside my bag was a chocolate chip cookie. And not just an ordinary chocolate chip cookie, it was warm, large and packed with oozy chocolate chips. A smile came across my face. I was smitten.

As much as I love the cookie, I pale in comparison to Jeff Hayzlett. The former CMO of Kodak and best-selling author of The Mirror Test & Running the Gauntlet loves them so much, Jeff dreams of the Doubletree cookie when he stays at other hotels.

Doubletree’s motto is “The Little Things Mean Everything.” A recent commercial highlighted the cookie as one of “the little things our hotel team members do every day to create a rewarding experience for our hotel guests.

The Origin

In the 1980’s, most hotels offered treats like chocolate chip cookies to VIP customers. Doubletree believed all customers are VIP’s and thus they started handing them out to every customer in 1987. Fast forward to 2014, Doubletree by Hilton gives away roughly 60,000 chocolate chip cookies per day across the world. Since starting the program, they’ve given away over 300 million cookies.

Why a Cookie?

Doubletree offers an explanation right on the brown paper bag the cookie comes in. “Why a cookie?” the headline asks. “Cookies are warm, personal and inviting, much like our hotels and the staff here that serves you.” Warm is key here and a signature feature of the Doubletree cookie.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Some may argue that a mere chocolate chip cookie is empty and meaningless gesture.  It’s not meaningless, especially when that little extra is a signature first impression.  I subscribe to the philosophy that Malcolm Gladwell offered in The Tipping Point,

The little things can make the biggest difference.”  

Doubletree understands the chocolate chip cookie is not just a cookie, it’s a warm welcome and a stunningly competent first impression.

Bio: Stan Phelps is the founder of 9 INCH marketing, a consultancy that helps brands obtain customers that are four times as valuable as ordinary customers through the Goldfish Rule. He’s the author of the Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and the Golden Goldfish. He works with senior leaders to focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan creates custom keynotes, workshops, and programs that are memorable and on brand, inspiring businesses to become REMARK-able by design.

The two most important factors of how we relate to people, products and companies

Book Review: The Human Brand

In our evolution as humans, we were forced to develop skills integral to our survival. One of which was the ability to make snap judgements about our surroundings with a high degree of speed and accuracy. As we walked out of the “cave” our senses went immediately into survival mode. We judged everyone and everything we encountered on two basic criteria:

  1. Are they a threat?
  2. What was their ability to carry out that threat?

The Human BrandThis basic truth is at the heart of Wiley’s new book The Human Brand by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske. Their research has shown that over 80% of our judgements as based on these two factors. It boils down to our perception of 1. warmth and 2. competence. These perceptions don’t just apply to people. We also apply the same standards to products and companies. We automatically perceive and judge their behaviors on a subconscious level. Brands are people too.

Here is author Chris Malone talking about the two dimensions of Trust:

Relationship Renaissance

From the Local Village to the Mass Market to the Global Village

The mass market is a relatively new phenomenon. Merely 150 years ago we consumed almost everything made from people we know. A merchants reputation was as precious as gold. If a small business wronged you, everyone in the local village would quickly know about it. Merchants faced public censure, potential ruin and even losing a limb (see story of the “Bakers Dozen“). As a result, businesses worked hard to establish trust and earn repeat business.

But then the mass market emerged. Almost everything we consumed was made by a faceless, far off company. The voice of the customer waned. We were powerless to expose or punish brands that acted badly. Outside of lodging a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or writing consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, we were handcuffed.

Enter Digital, Social and Mobile. The internet has changed the game. In the words of author Chris Malone, “For the first time in history, the entire world is wired in a way that is consistent with the way evolution has wired us to think and behave.” Social has flattened the earth. Each consumer has the opportunity to share their experiences with millions of others. There is a huge ripple effect in the global village.

A phenomenon John Lennon famously called Instant Karma,

Lyrics from the Hard Rock Vault

Lyrics from the Hard Rock Vault

“Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race”

Need an example to drive this home? Look no further than Panera and the story of Brandon Cook.

panera-purple-goldfish

The Human Brand shares the touching tale of a Panera store manager who used good judgement to help the dying grandmother of a customer. Making soup and sending along cookies for good measure. In less than four weeks, a single Facebook post by customer Brandon Cook garnered 800,000+ likes, nearly 35,000 comments and scores of national media attention. Why? Because Panera empowered its employees to demonstrate warmth and competence by doing the little extra.

BOOK TAKEAWAYS: Consumers want to be heard. Social accountability is back and its here to stay. Consumers expect to have relationships with their brands. Companies must forge genuine relationships with customers. We now expect relational accountability from the companies and brands we support. Consumers will view the actions (or inaction) of brands based on warmth and competence. And warmth is absolutely key.

Chris Zane of Zane's Cycles

Chris Zane of Zane’s Cycles

The Human Brand is not just theory. It draws from original research, evaluating over 45 companies over the course of 10 separate studies. There are plenty of case studies. The book features in-depth analyses of large companies such as Hershey’s, Domino’s, Lululemon, Zappos, Coca-Cola, Panera, Amazon, Chobani and Sprint. It also touches on small to medium sized businesses with compelling case studies such as Dr. Kelly Faddis, the University of Dayton, Zane’s Cycles and Loeber Motors.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a game changer. I guarantee you will be rethinking your approach to customers and prospects after reading this book.

  • You’ll rethink your approach to loyalty programs
  • You’ll rethink how you prioritize people vs. profits
  • You’ll rethink ever doing a “daily deal” like Groupon or LivingSocial
  • You’ll rethink the cost of new customer acquisition vs. upselling current customers
  • You’ll rethink how important is to make the first step in demonstrating warmth and competence
  • You’ll rethink how your actions will be perceived through the Principle of Worthy Intentions
  • You’ll rethink how leadership can become the literal “face” of your brand
  • You’ll rethink how you handle a crisis

In the words of Malone, perhaps the greatest takeaway is this, “Companies need to embrace significant change in the way they do business with customers, better aligning their policies, practices and processes to reflect warmth and competence.

One word: AMEN

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is John Lennon singing his classic, Instant Karma at Madison Square Garden:

Recognition is top of mind and eye level @Delta

delta green goldfish

I was heading to Los Angeles this week for a speaking engagement and meetings. Upon boarding my flight with Delta I noticed something. Right in the galley upon entering the plane was this sign.

The plaque called out Jim Stefl as a 2013 honoree of the Delta Chairman’s Club. The club recognizes employees for above and beyond performance. One the crew members noticed me taking the photo. They told me a bit about the program. Roughly 100 employees get recognized each year and that many more get nominated for the program. According to press release by Delta, about 10,000 were nominated last year.

In the words of CEO Richard Anderson,

 “We say it all the time here — Delta people cannot be replicated, and our Chairman’s Club honorees represent the best of what Delta has to offer.”

It looks like Delta celebrates the honorees in style. They walk the red carpet across Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta to the cheers of their colleagues before the ceremony begins. [Here’s a touching video about the program and its ‘star’ honorees]

Caring Front and Center

I love how Delta how celebrates the winners. It reminded me of a neat program by the South African insurance company Etana and their program REDwards. The awards honor the efforts of employees who have gone above and beyond in living the Etana values. The actual awards are made by local artists and are given out to reinforce the core values at the company: Be Open, Know, Grow, Give and Make it Happen.

Similar to Delta, here was the added touch that really drove home the recognition. To coincide with the event, Etana bought billboards near the home office. The billboards highlighted the different winners from the REDwards. A total surprise and delight for employees when they returned to work the following day. Here is Kurt Solomon with his billboard:

Kurt&MakeItHappen

Recognition is Key

Here’s an excerpt from my latest book, What’s Your Green Goldfish on recognition:

Recognition fuels a sense of worth and belonging in individuals. No rocket science here. As humans we crave acceptance. Yet, the majority of companies see recognition as an afterthought. Most are putting the cart before the horse. Recognition can impact satisfaction and more importantly performance.

Here are five Green Goldfish from the book highlighting Recognition

green goldfish decision lens action figures

1. Get Creative and Have Fun – Virginia based Decision Lens (Green Goldfish #712) awards top-performing salespeople with custom-made action figures designed to resemble the employee.  According to Co-Founder John Saaty,

“It’s a humorous way to acknowledge the great efforts of our sales team, and something that’s more memorable than the usual plaque or something like that.”  

2. Make it Visible – The Tabar (Green Goldfish #411) Thumbs Up Award is a roaming statue that sits on an employee’s desk when he or she goes over and above the call of job performance.

nerdery green goldfish

3. Do it often and consistently – Every week The Nerdery (Green Goldfish #305) agency compiles a video of shout-outs, with employees publicly praising their fellow nerds for going above and beyond. Five shout-out recipients are chosen for free lunches the following week. The weekly shout-out video is played for all at the Friday afternoon Bottlecap Talk, where the agency celebrates the successful launch of a recent project with a show-and-tell demo led by the rockstar developers who made it happen.

campbell-soup-co-green-goldfish

4. Take Note – it doesn’t have to cost anything. Former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company (Green Goldfish #21) Doug Conant is a big proponent of the power of handwritten notes. In Doug’s words,

“Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I would spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking for news of people who have made a difference at Campbell’s. Get out your pen. Believe it or not, I have sent roughly 30,000 handwritten notes to employees over the last decade, from maintenance people to senior executives. I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments.(I send handwritten notes too because well over half of our associates don’t use a computer). I also jump on any opportunities to write to people who partner with our company any time I meet with them. It’s the least you can do for people who do things to help your company and industry. On the face of it, writing handwritten notes may seem like a waste of time. But in my experience, they build goodwill and lead to higher productivity.

5.  Don’t play politics – You need to recognize everyone on their merits. Long before he became CEO of iProspect (Green Goldfish #739), back as an analyst at Bain Capital and KPMG, Robert J. Murray had an idea on how you should run a services business.

“One thing that always surprised me in prior work experiences is when your assets walk out the door each day, why aren’t companies doing more to value the people doing the business?”

Mr. Murray thinks he’s found the answer to that, and quite a large number of his employees happen to agree. Mr. Murray’s formula: hire competitive people; promote early and often; give constant feedback, including iProps — notes of encouragement. “We are a meritocracy. When positions come open, we don’t care if you’ve been here six months or six years — we will promote the best person into that position,” he said.

RECOGNITION RESONATES

Recognition is effective. Thirty-five percent of workers and 30% of chief financial officers cited frequent recognition of accomplishments as the most effective non monetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is key to making them feel appreciated.

Remember, it’s not just an afterthought, it’s a driver of performance.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – When you publicly recognize your employees, you are also sending a message to your customers. That message is CARING. It’s a sign of warmth. In the words of Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske in The Human Brand, the brand is demonstrating the principle of worthy intentions. Recognition sends a message. Actions truly speak louder than words. Here is Chris sharing one of my favorite stories about Panera:

It’s time to focus on retaining customers

MENGThis post was written by Monique de Maio and originally posted on onDemandCMO. It is a recap of my MENG presentation on 10/11:

Traditional marketing is all about building awareness for products and brands. In traditional marketing, the emphasis is on getting new customers and very little attention is paid to retaining existing customers. According to best-selling author and marketer, Stan Phelps, traditional marketing is dead. Instead, it’s time to focus on retaining customers.

gartner 5 percent retentionThe data backs Phelps’ claim up: according Gartner research, decreasing customer churn by just 5% can increase profits by 25%-125%. The reason is that it is expensive to get new customers—it’s much easier and more sustainable to keep your current customer and sell them more products.

Phelps discussed how to do this at the last meeting of the NJ Chapter of MENG (Marketing Executives Networking Group). It all boils down to doing that little extra for your customers—like what one Panera store did this summer when it went out of its way to make a bowl of clam chowder for a young man to take to his grandmother in the hospital. The story wound up on Facebook and it has almost a million likes now!

Panera got great exposure and lots of good will from its simple act of kindness. Going the extra mile for your customers sounds like common sense, but it is far from common practice.

Panera is obviously B2C, but their model has applications for B2B as well. For example, when you send shipments out, pack the boxes in the same order that the manifest is written. Also, take good care of your channel distributors and they will pass the love on to their customers—a.k.a. your end users!

Here are some ways Phelps suggests to give customers that little extra:

Follow up with your customers. This is a really easy way to get started. Call your customers up after they buy from you and ask them if they are happy with the product/service and see if there are any issues you can clear up for them.

Write thank you letters to your customers (hand write them for extreme bonus points!). Writing thank you letter is becoming a lost art today—which makes them very powerful tools when used. Want to retain customers? Thank them for doing business with you!

Handle mistakes well. It is inevitable that you will make a mistake at some point. How you handle that mistake is very important though: don’t just make it right for the customer, go above and beyond. If you do above and beyond to rectify a wrong, you can actually form a stronger bond with the customer than if you had never made the mistake.

What might this look like in action? Well, for home health service provider Nurse Next Door that means they hand deliver fresh baked apple pies to customers when something goes wrong. Nurse Next Door spends about $1,500 a year eating humble pie (literally!), but they estimate that they save about $100,000 in business from going elsewhere. That’s some pretty good ROI!

Value add. Is there a small extra you can add to your service or product for your customers? For example, when Safelite AutoGlass replaces windshields in cars, they also clean the customers’ cars for them. See, it takes time for the windshield glue to dry, so rather than just sit around and do nothing while the glue dries, Safelite technicians put away their tools and take out vacuums and clean the car. Safelite has time since it has to wait for the glue to dry and the put it to use.

Waiting… In business, waiting is often as inevitable as it is annoying. But, it doesn’t have to be annoying. If you can provide some extra service or product while your customers are waiting, then they will be very happy. For example, burger chain Five Guys has boxes and boxes of free (and delicious!) peanuts for customers to nosh on while they wait for their burgers.

Make a good first impression. If you’ve been around long enough, chances are you have heard the cheesy pick up line, “do you believe in love at first sight—or should I walk by again?” That may or not work in romance, but it certainly does not work in business. Customers form lasting impressions right away, which is why it is so important to make a good first impression.

If you have ever stayed at a DoubleTree Hotel, you have enjoyed a delicious first impression: starting in the early 1980s, DoubleTree began a tradition of serving warm chocolate chip cookies to customers when the check-in. At the time, it was common for hotels to give cookies to VIPs, but DoubleTree said “all our customers are VIPs,” and today, they have sold 250 million of these cookies. These cookies are quite popular –a fact noted by the New York Times and by the 4.2 million hits a Google search for “DoubleTree cookie” brings up.

Take care of your customers and look for ways to give them just a little extra. You might be surprised at how well your customers respond!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a one minute video interview I did with MENG NJ: