What fuels me to help your business...
I walked down the dimly lit corridor. Stacks of returnable Miller Lite & Point glass bottle cases to my left, empty French & German wine boxes ready to be re-used to my right, & a lifelong business lesson ahead of me.
Not exactly the typical classroom for a teenager. But then again, this wasn't B-school at Stanford.
Instead of a book, my father handed me an empty beer flat to work with. (For those not in the beer industry, basically, if you took a box cutter, removed ¾ of a box & left it open-faced).
Lessons in business reality had begun and it didn't require a screen or a Wi-Fi password.
“We need to clean up the parking lot," my father stated. My dad handed me a beer flat & we headed outside on a mission.
“You see all of these cigarette butts? You need to pick them up.” My father explained.
Just in case I wasn’t familiar with the ample evidence of people littering, my father reached down & started tossing cigarette butts into the beer box. (His instructions were always demonstrated first, for even basic tasks. There’s probably a communication lesson in there as well; show, don’t tell, when you need someone's help to accomplish a task).
I’d pick an area, scan the asphalt, and then confiscate the remains of people’s rudeness.
At that point in time, honestly, the lesson didn't fully sink in. I was just picking up cigarettes & trash, right?
It wasn't until years later, reflecting back, when I learned the true value of so many summer days spent working in the parking lot of my family's store.
Perhaps you smoke. Maybe, you do not. Regardless, cigarette butts on the ground are irrelevant, right? What does it matter? They’re so small and insignificant. No one even thinks about cigarette butts.
Except, people like me do.
More importantly, your customers do.
Unique products, top-notch service, competitive pricing, well-stocked inventory, finding leads, attracting visitors to your store, etc... don’t get me wrong...all of these are extremely important.
However, it's so important to:
Demonstrate you actually care about your customers, especially, not just when you’re asking them to buy.
It takes a sustained effort across numerous areas to provide a good customer experience. There's never just one silver bullet that solves everything.
Here’s the thing.
My dad taught me that you need to earn each customer’s business at every step. Like from the moment they pull into the parking lot & step out of their just freshly washed & waxed car to long-after they’ve arrived home & are relaxing on their patio with friends & family.
The details matter. Especially...your customers' time!
A clean parking lot demonstrates attention to detail & concern for customers. It shows customers from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, they’re respected & cared for.
If the parking lot isn’t clean, customers will notice.
You’ll already begin from a negative place.
Furthermore, if your parking lot is really horrible, they literally may never make it through the front door. They might get back into their car and leave (or even worse, have to call a tow-truck).
At that point, even if you have 11 cases of 1986 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, have an amazing sales staff inside, & received high praise from Wine Spectator Magazine...
It doesn’t matter.
Most likely, you’ll simply not see them...ever again.
They might have been ready to buy with cash or a card in-hand. They might have been ecstatic about how your products could solve their problems. They may even have been really excited about it, eagerly anticipating being able to tell all of their friends about your business.
Out of all the numerous options available to them, they chose your business.
But it's a waste, if you don’t think about & value their experience in the parking lot.
Instead of providing them with excitement & joy, you’ve actually created a problem.
Now, you’re no longer providing solutions, you’re actually creating problems for your customers.
Do customers want to do business with someone that creates problems for them?
Regardless if it's your website or your parking lot, we understand it should never create problems for your customers.
Whether it's cigarette butts...technical bugs...or other areas of friction, they need to be cleaned up...today!
Now, let's grab that beer flat & let’s start looking for some solutions.