Recently, I needed to run my filthy truck through the car wash. I opted for an ‘Express’ wash, a process that involved driving through an automated alleyway (the likes of which have scared young children for generations), followed by the actual washing process: a shower of water, the plop-plop of a blue-green colored soap, a thorough cleansing with vertically hung and heavily waterlogged strips of felt and their horizontal spinning counterparts, another showering rinse and, finally, the all-important hurricane-force hot air dry.
Upon emerging from the tunnel of cleanliness, two young men motioned me to move forward, then stop so they could hand-dry the truck. My first thought was that this extra step was unnecessary and not a good business practice. After all, these kids were probably making minimum wage, there were several of them waiting to dry cars and, if the owner of the car wash had simply invested in a more powerful blow-drying machine—say, an EF5 simulation— it would have mitigated the need for the additional personnel. Then I had an epiphany of sorts.
While it was not necessary for two people to hand-dry my truck, it was a nice touch. It was their version of going the extra mile, of providing a personal service to an otherwise automated process. And I concluded that the young men were, in all likelihood, not being paid minimum wage but instead depended upon the appreciation of strangers—at which point, I searched frantically through my wallet for cash.
This business owner had it right—they went the extra mile and did so in a way that resulted in a win-win for everyone. The young men were collecting tips, supplementing whatever hourly wage they were earning, and the business owner was providing an actual hands-on service that went above and beyond the usual automation. I call that pretty smart.
In business, we must look for ways to go the extra mile, to provide that extra bit of service without compromising our bottom line. Providing customers with personal service that goes beyond automation results not only in satisfied customers, but also builds a positive and lasting relationship that will pay off in spades.
(And, yes, I tipped them well.)
How do you go the extra mile for your customers?
Ron Crowl is president of FeneTech, the Aurora, Ohio, provider of software automation products and services to the glass, window and door fabrication industries. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.