Have you ever had such a good experience with a business that you have not only used them again and again, but have told other people about their products and services?
I travel quite a bit for business and frequently use taxis to get around. Out of interest I always ask taxi drivers the following question ‘how’s the taxi business treating them?’ The response in almost every case is quite negative, with most indicating that they don’t make enough money and there isn’t much work. Just recently I was in Sydney when I hopped into a cab to head to a meeting. It was about 11am. Along the way I asked my usual question, and the cab driver just looked at me and said ‘it’s very quiet today so I am finishing up and going home after I drop you off.’ After further probing I found out he started his shift at 6am, and that this was normal for him.
I had a second meeting to get to after finishing with the first one, and so I caught a taxi once again. This time however I didn’t need to ask how the taxi business was treating my driver. Within 30 seconds of getting in the cab I realised that I was sitting in the car of a professional driver. Two mobiles were stuck on the dashboard, with a third in the centre console. The driver was wearing a Bluetooth headset in each ear, and he had a thick pad of paper stuck on the right driver’s side door frame with a pen attached. The energy in the cab was amazing!
The phones were ringing every few minutes. The driver was taking bookings, scheduling drivers, rearranging schedules and staying in complete control of the situations that presented themselves. On occasion he would scribble an address or flight details onto the notepad.
In between all of the calls we talked. My driver, Isaac, has been a taxi driver for over 26years. He says for about 20 years he drove for someone else before venturing out on his own and buying his own cab. Over the years he has managed to build up his business so well that he no longer needs to hang around taxi ranks waiting for someone to jump into his car. He has a list of dedicated clientele, including large companies who only use his services to drive their staff around. In fact, he is now more like a private hire car driver than a taxi driver, as his car doesn’t even have one taxi badge on it (how I managed to hop into his car is another story….)! He has several drivers working for him, and he has also got a deal with another company that has over 700 taxis in their fleet. He said to me at one point: ‘Neither me nor my drivers are ever bored or waiting around for work to come in. We are always busy.’
It’s amazing how in the same industry on the exact same day two people with the same jobs have such an incredibly different take of the industry they are in. One is finding it slow, saying that times are tough. The other is so busy that he has had to expand his business to keep up with the demand.
Isaac hasn’t come up with some magical technique. Nor does he spend much money on advertising his business. The secret to his success is very simple and anyone with the right attitude can replicate such success.
From the moment I hopped in the cab to the moment I hopped out, I was made to feel ‘important’ and ‘comfortable’. The car was very clean and smelt nice. My driver was very well dressed, looked clean shaven and professional. No swear words came out of his mouth. His use of words and sentences had an air of courtesy about them and he was friendly and smiling whenever we talked. I used his business services again that evening when I needed to go back to the airport, and although this time I had a different driver, I had the same positive experience.
Whatever business you are in, the following advice is important if you wish to gain repeat business and build a hedge around your business that will enable you to ride through market downturns and fight your competitors:
‘Look after your customers and they will look after you’
Sounds simple and one would think that this is a no brainer? Amazingly though this is hardly the case. So many businesses treat customers like numbers. How many times have you received pathetic service? Not even a hello, a smile, or a nice word? I am not surprised that so many businesses don’t survive the times, just based on the amount of negative experiences I have had over the years. Customers simply take their money elsewhere. Yet if business owners just placed more energy into looking after their customers they would see increased repeat business, increased referrals and a higher chance of blocking competition from taking away their business. It is far more efficient and effective to sell to existing customers than having to rely on continually finding new ones.
Some of my tips for building client relationships:
- Set yourself apart from the pack. Do things differently and go the extra mile with your service.
- Take pride in yourself and your business. No matter what industry you are in – whether you own a recruitment agency, are a taxi driver or spend your days covered in dirt, cleaning yards, you can always take measures to take pride in you and your business.
- Act professionally, always be courteous, polite, greeting your customers with a smile.
- Communicate regularly and communicate effectively.
- Deliver what you promise. If you have told your customer that you will do something, then do it promptly. If your products are being sold with the premise that they can do something, make sure that it can deliver on that. Same goes for a services oriented business.
- Be honest and transparent. Don’t over-promise – if you can’t do something or don’t know something the customer asks, say so and get back to them. It’s better than making it all up and having your customer find out that you lied to them.
- Be energetic and enthusiastic! This will rub off on your team and your customer will see you in a positive light.
Like many things in life and business, it’s the little, simple things that people often push to the side, opting for complicated solutions when in fact the simple solution is quite often the best.