Positive, Intentional, Well-Meaning Thought
Typically, I do not hide the fact that I work for a large, express tunnel, car wash company on social media. And again, typically, I do not hide the fact from my employer, that I write blogs on topics other than washing cars. Sometimes, these ventures are similar, but they never clash. Fortunately the values that I strive to promote are the same values found in the company I am helping to build. My hope is that my character is consistent, regardless of the proverbial “hat” I am wearing on any given day.
Car washing, and the layout of the wash where I began my car washing career, made it easy to preconceive a thought about a customer before meeting them. Before the first word is spoken, you know what kind of car they drive, how they are dressed, by virtue of parking stickers, where they work, and what they were willing to spend to keep their car clean. There is no intuition required. It is not a market strategy or an effort to collect customer data, it is just information presented and received. Early on, I began doing something for each person I met through my job.
A positive, intentional, well-meaning, thought. Every customer. Every time. No matter what I thought I might know about someone, or whether they deserved it, a positive, intentional, well-meaning, thought. It cost me nothing. The individual attention I had to give a customer when guiding them onto the track of the car wash afforded the opportunity. Nothing they would know about. Nothing I got paid extra to do.
It helped diffuse situations that involved customer concerns. It gave me the inclination to actively listen to their stories after they made it through the tunnel. It created friendships, that to this day, mean a great deal to me. Positive, intentional, well-meaning thought, created an atmosphere where customers felt welcome somehow, without really knowing why.
These days, my time is shared with my old site and others in the area. The company I currently work with bought this wash and others over two years ago. When I return, I always see someone I know. We always catch up like we went to high school together so many years ago. We know each others’ stories. We enjoy seeing each other again.
Some people say, “get to know your customer”, as if it were like reading them in a poker game, or “find their spending habits”, or (frightening) “track what apps they download on social media”. There is no secret to engaging with customers, but it is fast becoming a lost art. Read their mood, but in an effort to know how they are feeling. Find their spending habits, but in order to make sure they are buying what they need, verses what you want them to purchase. Look at the apps on their phone, but because they used those apps to show you pictures of their kids, grand kids, or vacations.
You may never meet a sales goal for the month with this practice. It may never win you great recognition from a magazine or chamber of commerce. There will be no immediate monetary reward for your efforts. But it will sustain your business in lean times. It will allow you honest feedback when you are in need of information. And when you return to a site after a year of having not been there 45 hours a week, it will bring you and your customers joy.
Joy is a commodity that, though not traded on Wall Street, is as valuable as anything sold.
This is not rocket science. If it were, we would have never made it to the moon. Is it too mushy for the business world? Perhaps. Does it belong on a LinkedIn article? Maybe not. Businesses that offer a quality service, at a fair price, will thrive. Businesses that truly know their customers, will thrive more. We cannot know a customer until we actually know a customer. Without a positive, intentional, well-meaning thought, we have no right to even begin to know our customers.