That “Something Extra” You Offer to Make Customers Love You

Shep Hyken
Contributing Writer
Shepard Presentations

In the realm of business—and especially customer service—we often talk about how to differentiate yourself from your competition. It’s those companies that manage to stand out from the crowd that end up being successful. When I work with companies, I urge them to find what makes them unique and use it as a competitive advantage. It’s always a treat when I meet people who not only agree with my philosophies but take them a step further. That’s where Rodney Gaddis comes in.

I met Rodney at a conference where I was speaking about customer service. Rodney is in the very competitive field of lawn care as a Spring-Green franchisee, and he’s very successful. I asked him to share a little wisdom about his success and he immediately responded with the following:

Anyone can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but can they make it like your grandmother?

I smiled when he shared that witty nugget of wisdom. I knew exactly what he meant. Anyone can do what we do, so what do we do to make it special or maybe a little different so we stand out?

Almost all business is competitive in that most of us, and the organizations we work for, sell something that our customers can most likely buy from someone else. In some cases, the business sells a commodity. There is little, if any, differentiation from one company to the next. Often, the customer chooses one company over another because of their relationship with the salespeople or employees. Or, it may be that one store is more convenient than the other. And of course, price often plays a role in this “natural selection” as well. Despite all promising more or less the same thing, there will be differences between companies.

For instance, Rodney competes with national companies, such as TruGreen, in addition to many local competitors. They all promise their customers a lush green lawn devoid of weeds. But Rodney not only gets the business, he keeps the business, as evidenced by one of the lowest customer defection numbers in the industry.

His competition may be able to do a comparable job, but as Rodney says, anyone can make a grilled cheese sandwich. When you add the extras, like butter, salt and pepper, and even a little love… well, that’s what makes you stand out. Rodney stands out because he puts those “extras” into what he does every day. It’s about more than just doing a great job. It’s about the passion and love he puts into his profession. His customers can feel that. That’s what makes Rodney stand out to them over the competition. That’s what makes the grilled cheese… as good as your grandmother’s.

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