What is your cookies and milk?
Last month while traveling back from Idaho without an advance reservation, I checked in at the front counter of the Rugged Country Lodge in Pendleton, Oregon. I had put in a long day, starting with an early breakfast meeting in Rexburg, Idaho, a mid-day meeting in Boise, and a dinner meeting in La Grande. All I wanted now was a good night’s sleep.
The Rugged Country Lodge is a little hotel near exit 213 on the east side as you enter town. The first thing I noticed when I pulled in was the fresh paint and nice flowers planted around the parking lot. When I walked inside, the irresistible aroma of freshly baked cookies wafted through the lobby. I was greeted warmly by Gordon, the gentleman at the registration desk. After inquiring about the rate and asking to see a room, he and I continued our repartee. Gordon offered me fresh fruit, and milk to go with the cookies. Though I seldom eat cookies and never drink milk, I couldn’t resist. What a treat! Gordon told me his son has owned the hotel for a couple of years. A year ago when the Wildhorse Resort & Casino opened their new property with 500 rooms at the next exit east, it dramatically impacted their business. We talked a little longer. I yawned embarrassingly, excused myself, and went back to my room.
The next morning, after enjoying their complimentary breakfast, I walked down to the office to check out. Gordon greeted me by name. “Good morning, Larry. Did you get a good rest?”
If I’m ever in Pendleton again near bed time, I will stay at the Rugged Country Lodge, not because it’s fancy, not because it’s cheap - because of their extraordinary customer service. It was genuine, warm, and most important of all, remembering my name the next morning – a genuine expression of interest in me.
Whether you have had another hotel built nearby with 500 rooms or not, I guaranty you have a competitor of one kind or another chasing you. You must distinguish yourself by providing a superior customer experience or you will end up selling to your competitor or worse, hanging up a closed sign. There are no other choices.
So what are the extra mile, extra value services you can provide which will give your clients the feeling of being special without eroding your profits? In other words, what’s the hot freshly baked cookies, cold milk and fresh fruit for your clients? People who could tell you are not that far away; in your service department, your delivery people, your internal customer service team – all you have to do is ask. You could go direct and ask your customers. You may be amazed at how little is required for you to add that special value which will give you a competitive advantage. Ask your team the question, “How can we serve our customers at ever higher levels to earn their business today and their repeat business tomorrow?”
The Southwest Washington Contractor’s Association is sponsoring the first ever open enrollment Leadership Development Lab (LDL) in Clark County! For more info, call us at (503) 625-1867.
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