Book Reviews Motivate

The Most Expensive Book I Have Ever Bought


Written By: Erica Brown

Several years ago a good friend of mine suggested I buy the book “How The Best Get Better,” by Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan. So I jumped over to Amazon. com and was a little surprised to see the book cost $35, but my friend recommended it and I love books so I hit the one click and ordered it. A few days later I was shocked when I opened up the box from Amazon and realized that it was a small format book and only 30 pages long, with big type, lots of pictures and a few blank pages. The only thing worse would have been if it were a pop-up book. But I spent the money so I sat down and started to look through the table of contents. Immediately one of the chapters caught my attention, it was entitled: The Four Habits of Referability. I quickly flipped the pages to get to that chapter and here it said…

• Show up on time
• Do what you say you will do
• Finish what you start
• Say please and thank you

I could not believe what I was reading; this was so simplistic as to be offensive…until I thought about it for a few minutes realized this is one of the most powerful lists I’ve ever seen. At the time I was reading Dan’s book my wife and I owned three companies together and were in the middle of building a custom home. I went to my wife and asked her this question, “Out of all the vendors we deal with in all of our businesses and everyone that’s climbing all over our property right now, can you name one that consistently shows up on time, does exactly what they say you will do, finishes everything they start, always says please and thank you?” Her immediate answer was NO. This list is not simplistic – it’s pure genius. So let’s go into it in a little bit more depth with some added commentary from me.

1. Show up on time
To me this is simply professional courtesy, respect and reliability. If you do not respect my time and the business that I’m giving you, then there’s no reason in the world that I would refer you to someone else and allow you to treat them that way too. One of my first managers taught me a great phrase, “10 minutes early as five minutes late.” People who garner lots of referrals are highly respectful of their customer’s time.

2. Do what you say you will do
This is all about integrity, honesty and credibility. If you want to get people to refer you to their friends, family and colleagues then you absolutely MUST always deliver on your promises. Customers today have a lot of choices, they can probably buy what you sell from dozens of other businesses, likely at a competitive or lower price, so what differentiates one business from another? Their values, customer service levels, relationships with their customers and a large part how much the customer trusts you. Failed to do what you say you will do and you will destroy any hope of building strong customer trust.

3. Finish what you start
A lot of projects start with fanfare and fireworks only to end up in contention and anger when they are never fully completed. Businesses that enjoy high levels of referrals are the ones who start strong and finish strong, delivering what they promised on time, correctly and on budget. It is only when I know that your business is highly reliable that I’m willing to refer you to my closest friends and colleagues because I know they will be pleased with the entire process of doing business with you.

4. Say “Please” and “Thank you”
This is what I would consider professional courtesy and simply good customer service. It seems like a no-brainer, but I am constantly surprised by how often I will give someone a very large business project and not receive even the slightest courtesy of a “Thank You” or “we greatly appreciate your business.” Buy some super nice note cards and set aside 15 minutes of the end of every day to write thank you cards to your best customers, almost nobody else on the face of the earth does this and it will differentiate you in a positive way.

**And then I added a fifth…

5. Give a little bit more than they expect
Not a ton more, because that would likely kill your profitability and drive you in to bankruptcy, the goal is to consistently deliver just a little bit more than your customer expects. How you do this? By becoming an expert at managing customer expectations so that you know you can always slightly exceed the very clear and specific expectations you have set.

What these five habits demonstrate are competence, professionalism and respect. I cannot possibly think of three more important things to demonstrate to a client than competence, professionalism and respect. If you do these five things every time, with every customer, you will have tons of high quality referrals. Thanks Dan Sullivan!

JOHN SPENCE has been recognized as one of America’s top 100 business thought leaders and as one of the top 500 leadership development experts in the world. He is the author of four books on business and life success. www.johnspence.com

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