With every brightly colored leaf that falls, my anxiety rises. Each coppery leaf looks to me like a bright, shiny penny… and even if we paid just one red cent to remove each leaf, nut and twig that falls, the Fall cleanup on our wooded acre would still cost a pretty penny. If you listen closely, you can hear a soft “Cha ching!” as each leaf lands.
This year we have Hank working on our yard like a meticulous machine. He’s a rare find, someone who actually sweeps behind planters and pulls weeds without being asked – he does what we would do, if we had the time or inclination. He works intently, relentlessly, thoughtfully, diligently. When I go out to talk to him, he leans on his rake and gives me his attention just as fully as he gave it to the task at hand. I can’t help but compare Hank to the erstwhile dishwasher repairman, who talked loudly on his Bluetooth about his upcoming band gigs while sprawled on my kitchen floor.
Last week Hank and I talked about the mounting leaves and the mounting bill. I told him about my fears of spending our entire holiday budget to haul away leaves. He told me about his plan to alternate mowing and blowing every week to keep the mess to a manageable minimum.
The very next day, I got a letter in the mail from Hank. We get a lot of letters from Hank. He sends us thank you letters and birthday cards and notes about new services and ideas for our yard, which make his handwritten invoices a bit easier to bear. He began by thanking us for our recent payment (made easier by the self-addressed stamped payment envelope Hank always includes). He reiterated his plan and explained how he would keep our overall costs down while keeping our yard up. He even told us he had found a better source for mulch that would lower our costs next spring. “If you would prefer the Fall service to be different than this plan, just let me know,” he concluded. His letter was not self-promotional or self-aggrandizing, and he didn’t lower his price at all: he justified it.
Ms. Jones comes to your store with a problem. She’s looking forward to solving it, but she knows it comes with a price. She’s investing time, money and the next dozen years of living with your solution. How do you reassure her that she’s made the right choice? That you know her fears? That she still has options? That you’re looking out for her best interests? That you care about her? That you’ll make her happy? That everything will be OK? Take the time to email, write or call one customer this week with a reassuring word, and .
I still hate spending money on the yard, but this Ms. Jones loves Hank.
The “Word of the Week” is written by Amy Lively of The Lively Merchant, R&A’s partner in providing these thought-provoking weekly witticisms.