Yesterday was one of those Monday mornings that I could have done without. My husband flew out of town for work and I ran the kids to school. Work has been incredibly busy and I had a mountain of things to do. Then at about 10 am, I noticed the heat never came on and it was now 62 in the house. It wasn’t long before I discovered the reason. We were out of oil, darn. I call up the oil company and schedule a delivery. The lady on the phone schedules the delivery for the next day. I then ask if it’s possible to deliver that day because I’m completely out of oil. She offered no guarantees, but said she’d call the driver and see if he had enough oil in the truck to be able to come that day. I thanked her, turned on my space heater and hoped for the best.
Wouldn’t you know, not 5 minutes later, the oil truck pulls up in my driveway. I was so glad to see my oil guy. The driver was a gristly old man with a long beard who looked like he should have been long retired. I conveyed my joy to see him and thanked him for coming. He gave me a big dentureless smile and the first things out of his mouth were “We like to take care of our good customers.” Now, I don’t know if he was just saying that, but I do know that if I had an outstanding balance with them, not only would they not deliver oil to me, but they would probably wait for the check to clear before okaying the delivery guy. In less than a 1/2 hour after discovering I was out of oil, the heat was on in my house again and all was well in the world.
This made me think how important it is to remember the basics of being a good customer to a local business, be it your dentist, hairdresser, daycare provider, landlord, or any other person you rely on regularly for goods and services.
Here are some reminders of important things that you should do if you want to be a good customer:
- Pay your Bills Promptly – Getting paid for the goods or services you receive is a given. This is by far the most important aspect of being a good customer. We always pay the oil people on the spot with a check that never bounces. There is no credit card transaction fee, no waiting for payment. We are the perfect customer in that regard.
- Use the Same Person Loyally – If someone provides good service at a reasonable price, then give them repeat business.
- Be nice to the staff – People are more likely to treat you nicely and go the extra mile for you if you are nice to them. It takes just a minute to thank a person and that can go a long way.
- Show up on Time and/or Show up Period – For example, if you blow off your hairdresser at the last minute then he/she loses that spot where they could have earned some money. Periodic cancellations happen to everyone but don’t be a routine offender. Your sole actions could be costing a person hundreds of dollars of lost income. How would you feel if someone was taking money out of your pocket and you were getting nothing in return? Probably not that great.
- Word of Mouth Recommendations - Send other customers there and tell them to mention your name.
I can’t stress how important it is to pay your bills. There are so many people who put off the small businesses til last because they know that they have more leeway with payment. Your dentist won’t send you to a collection agency as fast as someone else will but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a staff to pay and a practice with expensive equipment to maintain.
If you’re having a tough time with finances, then at least try to pay something as a sign of good faith that you do have intentions of paying them back eventually, even if it’s just $5 at a time.
Also remember that businesses are run by everyday people and if you make their lives miserable in one way or another, then they’re less likely to want to go the extra mile for you in return. This is the second time in a month that being a good customer has led to getting exceptional service and I think it’s something we all need to be more mindful of when we have our day to day transactions with small business people.
For anyone that’s in sales or has a small business of their own, let me know if I missed any big tips. Thanks for listening.