I have never used this blog to attack anyone personally, that is… until now.
You see, yesterday, I had a unique experience that I want to share with you. I think it illustrates perfectly a key mistake that many business owners (both online and offline) make.
Here’s the background…
The car I drive is a Porsche 911 C4 Cabriolet. It’s a great car and a great ride and it puts a smile on my face whenever I get in and take it for a ride. On Friday, I got in my car, ready to drive to work, only to notice I had a flat tire (bummer). My wife, Debi, was getting ready to go for her morning walk, and since I wasn’t going anywhere fast, I decided to join her. On our walk together, we took an alternate route so I could stop at the tire store that has replaced my tires three times before.
That’s one of the unadvertised costs of owning a 911: The low profile, soft rubber tires only last about 10-12,000 miles. So you end up replacing tires much more frequently than normal cars. You’d think this purchase frequency would make me a VIP customer when buying tires but apparently you’d be mistaken.
I walked into the tire center and was greeted by the owner, Mal Halperin. I explained it was time for me to get a new set of tires for my car and that he could look me up to pull my previous order and just get me the same tires as before.
He pulled up my customer history on his computer, reviewed my previous orders and figured out which tires I needed. He said he could replace them today (since he wasn’t that busy) and I was excited to have it taken care of.
Then Mal asked me for a credit card to secure my order. I explained that since I was out walking I didn’t have a credit card with me, but I would return to the tire center within 2 hours to get the job done. Mal informed me that he wouldn’t order the tires for me until I gave him a deposit.
I tried to reason with him, that I had been a loyal customer for the past three years and that my order history should vouch for my credibility as someone who wasn’t going to magically disappear once he ordered my tires for me. In addition he already had my home address, my home phone number, my cell phone number, my work phone number, and that it should be enough to calm any concerns he might have.
Well, Mal still disagreed and said he would only order the tires after he had been given a deposit. Realizing that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with him, and knowing that my wife was waiting to complete the remainder of our walk – I said, “OK,” and that I would return once my wife and I were finished with our walk.
Approximately 3 hours later (putting on the spare was a real pain in the you know what), I returned to Great Bear to finalize my purchase. At first Mal didn’t even remember me. I guess they turn away business like mine all the time, so I didn’t even stand out in his mind. Mal then informed me it was too late to get my tires changed – because the place where he ordered the tires from wouldn’t deliver them until Monday.
I was disappointed, but not devastated. And I thought that would be the end of it. I had bitten my tongue regarding what I perceived to be a major mistake in dealing with customers, and I don’t generally give advice when I know it won’t be well received.
But then Mal put the bait out there…
He said “If you ever owned a business you would surely understand that you can’t take your customer’s word.”
That was it… Let the fireworks begin!
Well, I explained to Mal in words even he would understand that I have in fact owned several businesses, that all of them have grown to the 8 figure mark and that currently I advise small and big companies on how to grow their businesses. I told him he was making a very big mistake if he treated all of his customers the way he was treating me.
That’s when Mal threw me out of his store. Yep, that’s right – he no longer wanted my business.
I explained to Mal the mistake was his and simply went around the block to another tire center only too happy to service a new customer — especially one who owns a Porsche and who has many friends and neighbors who also need tires for their high-end vehicles.
The crime that Mal committed was to forget that it literally cost six times as much to sell a new customer as it does a repeat customer. But unfortunately Mal is not alone in his idiocy. Approximately six months ago I was a guest at my mentor Michael Masterson’s exclusive $10,000-per-person business building seminar. During the seminar a question was posed to the group about their autoresponders.
The question: “Do you market differently to your customer list than you do your prospect list?”
Surprisingly, even in this group of successful business owners, not one of them had different sequences for customers. The same offers and broadcasts that went out to prospects were going out to customers, and neither one was optimized for their current status.
And that my friends, is a lesson in what NOT TO DO when running your online business.
Obviously Mal is a moron. And my hope in writing this post is that not only does he lose me as a customer (which he already has), but that others who might have been mistreated by him in the past choose to no longer do business with him in the future.
But my bigger objective is to get you to analyze whether or not you are currently doing enough for your current customers. If so, are you offering them more opportunities to spend more money with you?
For the longevity of your business I certainly hope so.
So, tell me what you think? And more importantly tell me and your fellow readers the ways you’ve discovered to offer your clients more and at the same time increase their value to your business.