Tag Archives: evangelists

Own it

Last week I wrote about the importance of taking ownership of mistakes.  The very next night I experienced first hand what this looks like and felt compelled to share the story here.  My mom and I were in the mood for margaritas, so despite previous experiences that weren’t so hot, we loaded the family up and headed to the local Jose Peppers for some yummy queso and 2 for $8 margaritas.  Margarita.0.0There was a pretty long wait, but we were finally seated and our server came over to take our drink orders.  He started by informing my mom that they carry Pepsi products.  She told him she was more interested in the “margarita products” to which he responded, “If you would have let me finish my sentence, I would have gotten to that.”  Ok.  Not off to the best start, but we are patient people and decided to let this rude comment slide.  But for the next half hour or so, more and more things were happening.  None of us received waters, despite our server making a big deal that “anyone who orders alcoholic beverages automatically gets waters, so don’t bother ordering them.”  Our boys were so thirsty and we had to ask a different server to bring their waters!  It was such a busy night, and as a former server, I completely understand when you are running all over the place taking care of all of your tables and sometimes forget about drinks.  But our server was never running, or even walking fast; on the contrary, he was walking so slow and it seemed he only had our table and one other so he wasn’t that busy.  In fact, at one point when we were ready to order more drinks, he sauntered to the table next to ours to pick up the ticket and check out what tip was left, but didn’t even glance our direction to make sure we were ok.  My food arrived before anyone else’s, which is fine, but after 10 minutes when I was still the only one with food, we were getting a little frustrated.  What pushed us over the edge was when our server brought our check before the food! We finally decided to speak to the manager and let him know what had been happening.  He did not seem that concerned while my husband was speaking to him, so we figured it was a lost cause and we would just not return to the restaurant.  However, within about 3 minutes, everything changed.  The manager returned to the table and introduced us to a new server.  The young man (who we had noticed was already pretty busy) truly did an amazing job of making the remainder of our experience pleasant.  With the help of the manager, he got all of our food out, drinks ordered and delivered, all with a positive attitude and pleasant demeanor, despite the pressure he was under from all of his other tables.  We were so impressed with the way the situation was handled, and will definitely return again soon!

This is such a perfect example of taking ownership of a negative situation.  Rather than simply saying “I’ll talk to him” and giving us a free dessert (which they did anyway, by the way!), we were given a new server and the opportunity to change our experience from negative to positive.  They could have treated us like we were wrong to expect more on such a busy night, but instead they treated us like we deserved to have a great meal and conversation beyond complaining about our server.

Negative situations do not have to define your business; by taking control of the situation and turning it into a positive, you can create customers and evangelists for life!


Honesty in sales SHOULD be the norm

When you work in retail, or any service industry, it is easy to forget why you are there.  In high school, I worked at Victoria’s Secret.  It was a fun job, but like most retail locations, it did become a little repetitive.  Day after day, I refolded the same table of underwear that people continuously destroyed.  Occasionally I had the pleasure of helping a man who was looking for – it pains me to even type this word – “panties” (ick!) for his wife.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved helping those men!  Especially the older ones; it made me feel happy that the love was still alive after many years of marriage.  But since I brought it up, here is a public service announcement: Men, please, I beg you – do NOT use the “p” word.  It is gross.  But I digress.  The point is, I would at times forget that the reason I was working there was to help people with their shopping and make sales.  I’ve never been great at sales; I actually realized that at VS when a young college student came in looking for a teddy for a gag gift.  I could not stomach selling him a $75 piece of lingerie for a GAG when the man could have gone to Walmart to get something for ten!  I also had the “pleasure” of working at a for-profit university as an admissions advisor, which can be translated into “high-pressure sales” advisor.  Once again, I found myself sending people away to the community college down the road to receive the same degree at a much, much, MUCH lower price.  Probably not what my employers were hoping for, but while my sales skills were lacking, at least I can sleep at night knowing that I was truly helping the customers.  That is not something that can be said for all sales associates.  Often, you will find someone utilizing hard-core sales techniques without the best interest of the customer in mind.  Think about your experiences at car dealerships – most of mine have involved this kind of salesman.

Many commission-based sales jobs will cause the salesmen and women to feel added pressure to seal the deal, which may in turn force them to lose sight of the full purpose, helping customers and making the sale.

Chances are, if you are looking out for the best interests of your customer, that sale will make itself because people are far more likely to purchase from someone they can trust.  And if they trust you, then they will most likely return again and again!  So remember your customers, and remember to do the best you can for them.  This is key to building a loyal client base!


Nickel and diming

I love fall.  I love everything about fall.  I love the changing temperatures, the changing colors; I love going to wineries and and I love apple cider.  I love pumpkins, and pumpkin flavors (to an extent)!  Should I go on?  Ok, I will.  I love carving pumpkins and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”  When I was a kid, we had a scarecrow making party at our house each year – I plan to reinstate that with my boys!  I love having people over on Halloween for mulled wine and Halloween snacks.  I love wearing flannel shirts and leggings and boots.  And I love going to the pumpkin patch!!

This year, we had the pleasure of attending a family fun day at a new pumpkin patch in our area, hosted by our wonderful realtor Megan Irvine.  We tried to go to this pumpkin patch last year on Halloween, but unfortunately it was too muddy, so we sadly had to spend all our time at the adjoining winery.

Image result for funny wine

However, while the adults were pleased with this turn of events, we did have two toddlers all dressed up in their Charlie Brown and Lucy costumes ready to pick out pumpkins, so the kind owner of the patch/winery brought a few pumpkins over to choose from.  That act of kindness plus the added bonus of a winery visit made us so excited to return again this year, and we were not disappointed.  KC Pumpkin Patch is not just pumpkins – KC Pumpkin Patch has slides; it has miniature zip lines; there is a giant bounce pad; a haunted house; a maize maze; a little store with yummy treats and fall decorations, and a ton of places for kids of all ages to put their faces and pretend to be fun characters.



One of the greatest and most surprising aspects of this pumpkin patch is when you walk in the door, you pay one fee, then most everything else there is included!  When we saw the giant bounce pad (it looked like so much fun, many parents asked if they could play but sadly, we were not allowed), I just assumed that there would be a nominal fee to play.  But there wasn’t – nor was there any fee for the slides or zip lines, the maize maze was included and so were the tractor and train rides!  We become so accustomed to paying $2 here, $.50 there that we almost forget how much it can affect our wallets, and when the kids are giving you those sweet, puppy-dog eyes, it’s pretty hard to say no!  The pumpkin patch was giving out $2 off coupons for the winery as we left, so after a little arm twisting, we headed that way.  At the winery, there were also fun things for the kids to do which is a great touch!  We also had the pleasure of speaking with the owner, where we expressed our gratitude for the wonderful experience, and also commented about how much we appreciated the included activities.  He explained that when they set everything up, they really thought about it from the point of view of parents – they wanted to create a fun, family atmosphere that everyone could enjoy.  They certainly accomplished that goal!

Royal Services is similar in they way they handle their business.  They include as much as they possibly  can on the front end instead of using low prices to get people in the door and then hammering them with change orders and additional costs.  Just like the pumpkin patch, this up front approach ends up saving you money in the end, making for a stress-free and enjoyable experience that everyone can appreciate.


Not another sales presentation…

My husband, two boys and I made the 3 hour 15 minute trip south to Branson for Labor Day weekend this year. We have visited the town on several occasions and keep returning as there are lots of things to do, it’s a relatively short drive from our home in Kansas City, and we really enjoy being at an exceptional resort that is well maintained and has plenty of activities available to entertain all members of the family.  We love that we own a timeshare with Wyndham and can experience a weekend getaway at a moment’s notice without worrying about a dirty room, poor service or an unsafe location.  However, while we are owners and not required to attend sales presentations, they offer many incentives for us to listen to a speech for an “hour” during our vacation, and despite almost every single experience being negative, we continue to get sucked in time and time again.



This article about timeshare presentations is hilarious if you don’t mind a little bit of language.  My favorite sentence:
“Will, our sales associate, came over and met with us. He was a gangly, mid-20’s asshat from Dallas who looked like he was cut out from a business casual ad with dork scissors.”

And for even more hilarity, check this one out:

“I said hell yes I’d like to take just one hour of my time to hear about an exciting way I could save money on future vacations. I mean, it sounded pretty awesome to me,” Jones said.

The promised one hour presentation turned into a two and a half hour adventure once Jones arrived at the all inclusive Global Sun Grand Resort. Jones expressed gratitude that she would be privileged with more time in the company of such esteemed individuals.


On our first Wyndham vacation together, we went to Las Vegas and had an amazing time.  The incentive to sit with a sales representative and listen to his schpeel was a meal at a nice restaurant, so we thought “Why not?”  It was actually a great experience, the man did not try to sell us anything, simply educated us about new locations we could visit, as promised when we made the appointment.  After that, our experiences have all gone downhill.  Again and again, we check into our room and are offered something seemingly awesome – a one hour meeting in exchange for dinner certificates, Visa gift cards, sometimes with a meal included at the meeting, sometimes all of the above.  Again and again we tell the person that no, we will not attend because the one hour meeting always ends up being two or more hours and we do not want to spend that much time of our vacation being sold to when we most certainly will not be buying anything.  Which prompts them to say “Oh no!  We promise it will only be ONE hour, and the purpose of this meeting is to teach you about something new and awesome that you don’t already know about!  No selling involved!”  Inevitably, we agree because their offer seems too good to pass up on.  And inevitably, we leave feeling angry and saying “NEVER AGAIN! NEVER!”  Labor Day was no different.  As current timeshare owners, our experiences are not as bad as what was portrayed on the famous episode of South Park, where the characters are held at gunpoint during their presentation.  However, sales people will be sales people, therefore we get to experience a little of the cliché pressure whenever we choose to attend.


We arrived at the meeting with the boys in tow (they wouldn’t allow just one spouse to attend this “educational” meeting about website reservations – that should have been our first red flag).  The young man who sat us down at his desk was very new to the game.  He was trying to play it cool, low pressure, just shooting the breeze until the required hour was up.  I mentioned the website changes we were supposed to learn about and he had no idea what I was talking about (red flag number 2, ignored). We did learn a lot about his life, and he about ours.  We shared laughs and told horror stories about our past sales meetings.  As we were closing in on an hour, the boys were beginning to get restless, I was getting extremely warm and my husband was trying to wrap things up.  Just as we thought we were about to be dismissed to collect our gifts, he mentioned something about a VIP package; upon seeing the blank looks on our faces he immediately realized he probably should have been doing his job the whole time.  He left the table to get a senior representative and that is where things went sour.  Our first guy bailed, and the new guy began the hard sell.  When my husband pointed out we had been there an hour and were ready to go, without purchasing anything new, the man completely ignored him.  When we pointed out our fussy children ready for naps, we were again ignored.  Finally my husband got stern and told the man that we were leaving.

As we left, we discussed how little the operations and sales teams worked together.  There is clearly no communication, and while they have different intermediate goals in mind, would it not suit them to work together on the ultimate goal, bringing people back to your place of business, and creating evangelists at the same time?  Ironically, one of the things the salesman was “educating” us on was the four things that Wyndham owners have requested to change – one of those was the sales meetings.  Yet there we were, in another sales meeting.

I did call to complain, and they did send us a fruit basket.  Very nice, and much appreciated (#harryanddavid #yesplease).  But when will enough be enough?  When we will we wise up and stop attending the meetings?  And when will Wyndham wise up and think about what their current customers want, as well as potential future customers?



The danger of casting judgement

As a retail owner, manager or employee you get to know the people who frequent your store, and the type of people you can expect to shop there.  If you work at Forever 21, you would not expect to see an elderly man browsing your racks, just like it would be surprising to see a teenage girl shopping at Brooks Brothers.  But is that to say they can’t, or should be looked upon differently for being there?  Maybe the man is looking for a shirt for his granddaughter; maybe the girl is shopping for a tie for Father’s Day.  I bring this up because when I occasionally have to make a visit to an atypical store, I sometimes feel uncomfortable upon walking in, but always appreciate when I am treated as though I belong there and am given the help that I so obviously need.  I recently painted a few rooms in my home and although I considered shopping for paint at a big box store, I remembered the last couple of times I looked for paint there and the negative experiences I had.  Somehow in the 21st century, the employees who “helped” me still acted as though a woman does not belong in a hardware store.  I was treated as though I were someone with silly requests, and they were too bored to bother fulfilling them.  So instead, I made the decision to pay a little extra and go to my favorite hardware store, Westlake Ace Hardware.  When I go into this store, I am immediately greeted and treated with respect.  When I select my paint color and inevitably have to return for adjustments to be made, the associates working with me have always been patient and made it very clear that they will go back as many times as I need to get the perfect color.  On the rare occasion I need to visit a hardware store for reasons other than painting or planting, I know that there is no way I will be left searching up and down aisles for what I need, which is what seems to happen at bigger stores.  At Ace, someone always finds me and offers to help.  When I leave, I feel satisfied and usually always have a smile on my face due to the friendly nature of the employees.

Next time you are at your retail location and someone walks in who doesn’t look like they belong, don’t let this happen to you:

Instead, treat everyone who walks in the door with respect, you never know how you can impact their day!


Mission: Possible

I recently wrote about the wonderful experience my husband and I shared on our honeymoon in Mexico.  We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, where gratuity was included with our fee, however we received such wonderful service that we felt compelled to tip anyway – especially because the service we received was not based on the tradition of receiving gratuity.  From what we could see this service stemmed from excellent training and a genuine love of the hospitality industry.  I wrote about our disappointment upon returning to the “real world,” where bored high-schoolers expect a 20% tip, no matter how much attention they give their tables or how friendly they are.  Four years later, we still reference our time in Mexico when we go out to eat.  We have had a handful of servers that we felt were “Mexico worthy,” and have made sure to tip extra to show our appreciation.  However, for the most part we have encountered service workers who are entitled and for lack of a better word, lazy.  Not necessarily because they are sitting down on the job, but because they are so very clearly not trying; not trying to give us a positive experience, not trying to be friendly, and not trying to make us want to come back.

Recently, we had one of the worst servers we have ever encountered.  We discussed her lack of enthusiasm and skill all the way home, and it led us to thinking about the key pillars that Royal Services has included in their mission statement.  The acronym OPTIC stands for Ownership, Professionalism, Tenacity, Innovation and Collaboration.  These pillars are perfect for the service that Royal provides to its partners, but they can also relate to a wide array of different companies and careers.  In the case of this server, we will call her Rhonda, we felt that she epitomized the exact opposite of each of these pillars.

Ownership: Assume accountability for completion of all steps in the customer engagement relationship. Ensure the best outcome for our clients through planning, execution, and sharing lessons learned.  The part that stands out to me in this step is ensuring the best outcome for clients.  In the sense of being a restaurant customer, we were, in effect, Rhonda’s clients.  She did not go out of her way to ensure a good outcome for us, as a good outcome would mean we would be counting down the minutes until we could return!  Rather, Rhonda actually did her best to ensure that we had a negative experience by acting irritated and grouchy with us through our entire meal.

Professionalism: Effectively communicate and educate our clients to achieve our common goals. To be viewed as knowledgeable within the many trades and customer specific tasks in which we manage through continuous programmatic learning.  Rhonda did not come across as knowledgeable about the menu, the restaurant or its guests.  We arrived at the restaurant at 1:30 and I ordered the very yummy bottomless mimosa special with my brunch.  Rhonda informed me in a very bored and annoyed voice that the deal ended at 2:30 so I probably shouldn’t get it.  I was so taken aback by someone in the service/sales industry turning down a sale that I agreed with her.  But then I thought, that’s a full hour!  That’s plenty of time!  When I found her and placed my order, she still acted as though I was making a mistake.  Surely her boss would not be happy to know that she was turning down business!  And if she was truly looking out for my best interests, she did not do a very good job of communicating that to me.

Tenacity: Develop a mindset and communications dynamic that strives for excellence that flows through to our customers, vendors, and the Royal team.  Again, the communication we received from Rhonda was unenthusiastic and certainly did not show us that she was striving for excellence.  In fact, we wondered a few times why she was in this business in the first place, as she certainly did not seem to enjoy it very much!

Innovation: Strive for creative, cost-effective solutions in a constantly changing world, emphasizing technological improvement and environmental awareness.  Now, I cannot 100% assert that Rhonda does not embrace this pillar at her place of work.  However, based on my experience with her, I think it’s safe to assume that she is not going out of her way to think of creative ways to save the restaurant money.  Unless of course she took one look at me and realized that if anyone could take full advantage of bottomless mimosas, it was me, and she knew that it would be more cost-effective if I did not in fact order it.

Collaboration: Maintain a free flow of knowledge and information through honest discourse and open dialog. Share and implement best practices for the betterment of the client and Royal team. This brunch was an opportunity for my family to get together with my elderly grandmother, and unfortunately while we waited for our food she began getting very lightheaded, probably due to hunger.  I was able to fish out a couple of packs of fruit snacks from the diaper bag to hold her over, but just before the food arrived my dad was getting ready to take her home.  Luckily Rhonda arrived and began placing our plates on the table (after complaining a few times about the fact that we had changed seats), and what do you know but my grandma’s food was not with the rest!  Of all people to have to wait even longer for her food, and to be served last!  We all started handing her food from our plates while Rhonda took her time going back to the kitchen for the last plate.  If Rhonda had made any effort to communicate and converse with our table, she could have had an opportunity to go above and beyond and order my grandmother’s food on the fly.  That would have been so impressive and thoughtful, exactly what you would like to see in a server.

Obviously, these pillars were not created for the restaurant industry.  However, you can see how they can be applied to a variety of vocations and are useful to keep in mind as you are working with customers, clients and partners.  There is a reason that Royal has clients who have stayed by their side for over 20 years, and their mission statement and their commitment to living up to that mission statement are a big part of that.  Have you worked for a company with an excellent mission statement?  How has that inspired you to go above and beyond at your job?  Leave us some comments below!


Building and Maintaining Relationships

Developing quality relationships with clients is an essential part of business, as those relationships will most likely lead to many more in the future.  But what do you do when your business is complete?  Many businesses maintain open lines of communication and high quality customer service right up until the work is complete and the bill is paid.  After that, they spend their time looking for the next customer to make the next sale and the next dollar.  But wouldn’t it be easier to let your past clients do that work for you?


My husband and I purchased a new home just over a year ago, and we had the absolute pleasure of working with Megan Irvine, a realtor with Reece and Nichols.  Megan is a former teacher who won us over on our initial meeting with her highly informative, but very low-pressure style.  We immediately connected and were so excited for the journey with her!  She did not disappoint and we are now living in the home of our dreams.  At one point during the process we made an offer on a different house, and I lay awake the entire night feeling that we made a terrible mistake.  I called Megan in the morning and apologized profusely, but she eased my mind explaining that she would do whatever it took to get us into the perfect house – after all, she would be visiting us and wanted to visit us at a house that we loved!  I took that comment with a grain of salt, but appreciated her kindness and we moved on to other houses.  However, we have come to realize that Megan was not just saying what it took to make us happy.  She truly has continued to be a part of our lives despite already completing the task at hand.  Just about every month, we have a special gift on our doorstep from Megan and her team, like the one pictured below.  She has hosted gatherings at her home for past and present clients, and has also attended birthday parties and celebrations at our home for our children.  We truly consider Megan a part of the family and would of course recommend her to anyone who needs a realtor!  It is no surprise the Megan and her team won awards for their amazing service to the 96 families they moved in 2015!


This Valentine’s Day, remember the importance of relationships.  Maintaining relationships with past clients can develop into lasting friendships, but can also reduce your workload when they do a large part of your marketing for you by acting as evangelists for your company!  For more ideas, check out these 6 steps for building lasting relationships with clients.

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