It’s a sunny, Sunday afternoon and I’m walking through a scenic outdoor shopping area in Kansas City. We stroll past store-after-store and as we cross Brooks Brothers, I decide to walk in. As you’d expect, 20 feet into the store a salesperson approaches and I explain I’m “just looking”. (Completely unrelated note, how many times has he heard “Just looking…”? That’s gotta get old. He really needs to change his approach.)
While browsing around Brooks Brothers, I end up buying two pairs of dress pants. Nice pants, fair price, no big deal. A regular purchase and something I was happy with. Everything status quo.
Getting back home, I tried these pants on again and it was definite; they’d need some minor alternations done. Bring the hem up, take the waist in, let the thighs out. Again, status quo. Picking up my cell phone I Google and call a local men’s store, to ask if they’d alter these pairs of pants for me.
“Sorry sir, we don’t do alterations in store. But I can give you the person who does it for us.”
“Sure,” I respond, ready to get this done. “Who’s that? And what’s the number?”
“It’s (785) 843-xxxx and be sure to tell them we sent you. She’s done a great job for us for years.”
Fast forward a couple days and I’m in a nice woman’s home alteration room. She’s nice, professional and you can tell has done this for years, just like the men’s store said. She chalks a few lines, pins a couple others and I’m gone. Third time, status quo and everything’s good.
Where’s this headed?
A week later, I’m back at this nice woman’s home to get the pants and be on my way. Taking the two pairs of pants, I ask her, “How much do I owe you?”.
Seemingly without rhyme or reason, without calculation or reflection she responds, “$71.50”.
“$71.50? I just had the two pairs of pants, right?”
“Right. $35 apiece and a little extra for tax.”
I reach into my wallet, hand her $75 and tell her to keep the change. Then I walk out the front door and ask myself – what just happened? You’ll have to remember, I live in Kansas. Not New York, not San Francisco, not Chicago. Did she just charge me more because the pants were from a nice store? Did she notice a nice car I was driving? Was she in a bad mood and took it out on me? Or does she really charge $35 for every pair of pants and half hour’s work?
The point being…
This has zero to do about the money. It’s the principle. While I’d rather pay less than more, I understand quality comes at a premium. But the price I was charged was never communicated and wildly out of range with my expectations.
My question to you; do your clients ever feel that way?
- Step 1 – Status quo, they’re relatively happy (they “buy the pants”).
- Step 2 – Status quo, things move forward like they expect (they “need to get alterations”).
- Step 3 – Status quo, work happens, timelines are met, referrals are made (they “get fitted”).
- Step 4 – It blows up. Follow through is lacking, discomfort outweighs value, love is lost and client turn from lifelong fans to resentful antagonists (they “pay too much”).
There’s no happy ending to this story. I never went back to that tailor. I’ve never again set foot into that men’s store who made the referral. I’ll remember next time to ask how much something costs.
Make sure this never happens in your world. Clean up your processes from start to finish, and focus on the end as much as the beginning! Clients need and deserve that; otherwise they’ll never come back for more.