It’s great to meet people who lead their field.
You spot them by their ideas.
If your business suffers customers who show up late (or not at all) you may like this story.
I never know where my next blog post will come from: smart ideas reside in the most unusual places.
So I was delighted when Philippe* my hairdresser described the stylish way he handled a perpetually tardy client.
Ada* was a nice lady who had a monthly cut and colour.
The problem was, each month she arrived a little later for her appointment.
It was always parking or traffic, or some other excuse.
Philippe bore it for a while, then mentioned in passing a few times that tardiness wasn’t ideal for his salon.
Each time, Ada said she:
- Understood perfectly.
- Was sorry, sorry, sorry!
- Would never be late again.
Last December, late for her 1 pm appointment, Ada rang to say she was just round the corner.
Ten minutes passed. Forty. Fifty.
Then Philippe saw Eve* (his 2 pm client) arrive and park.
RIGHT! he fumed, Enough is ENOUGH!
A full hour after phoning, Ada bustled in – spouting parking and traffic and sorry sorry sorry.
She flew to her usual basin and reclined for her wash.
In a calm, quiet voice, Philippe said:
Ada; could you please come to the counter?
Perplexed, Ada did as bid.
Ada, it’s a full hour since your appointment. I can still do your hair now, but on one condition.
Do you see that lady getting out of her car?
That’s Eve. Her appointment starts now.
Yes, but … but I’m a very good customer. What about ME?
So is Eve, Ada. You’re both good customers. But Eve is on time – and about to walk in. I will do your hair today, if you can explain to Eve why you were late and why she should wait for me to spend her appointment time with you.
Ada declined and Phillipe quickly found another salon to do her hair later that day.
Next month, Ada was back.
But when she tried to make light of her lesson, Philippe said he’d felt disrespected by the situation and that his time was just as valuable as hers.
He then carefully explained that mutual respect underpinned his thriving business, with clients who’d come to him as children, now bringing their kids.
Ada has not been late again.
Never Too Late
Awed and enlightened by Phillipe’s anecdote, I asked if I could use it.
He graciously agreed.
I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, so I’m always happy to gain a new tool.
And I think this one’s a ripper.
To bend a recalcitrant client to your will without offending them or losing their custom is a rare feat.
I warmly invite your tales of client tardiness (or other unreasonableness) that we may learn your elegant solutions thereto.
* For the purposes of this discussion.
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire