ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Proven Strategies on Service and Life

With all the change and turmoil taking place in the world today, the only sure bet is that what worked six months ago may not be a viable strategy today.

Between the financial problems facing some large companies, the impact on staffing from recent military activities, and the general economic funk we have experienced for the last few years, it takes some real creativity to continue to provide outstanding service and value to our customers.
Here are two examples that clearly illustrate this point.

Pizza Anyone?
Some companies sell products that are so special and unique that they almost sell themselves. Other companies sell commodity items that are so commonplace that they’re practically boring.

Pizza could be classified as commonplace. Large pizza chains have used a variety of advertising and marketing campaigns to distinguish themselves from the pack. Domino’s had a guaranteed delivery time. Little Caesar’s offered two pizzas for the price of one. Papa John’s claimed that better ingredients make a better pizza.

Does this kind of branding help sell more pizzas? It’s kind of hard to answer that question definitively since there are many other factors that affect gross sales.

A client of ours told us about a small pizza shop in Holidaysburg, PA, which has a unique approach that has shown measurable success. Once a week they show up at my client’s building at lunchtime with 10 pizzas. Nobody ordered these pizzas; they just bring them. When word gets out throughout the building that there are pizzas for sale in the lobby, they are all sold. All 10 pizzas. Every week.

I don’t know this for fact, but I would bet money that they do this on different days for different offices in the area.

This pizza shop demonstrates extremely well that you can’t just wait for business to come to you; sometimes you have to go out and stir things up a bit. Their innovative method for creating demand—bringing hot fresh pizzas into a building of hungry employees at lunchtime—yields measurable results, week after week.

Look at your own organization. Are there ways that you could create demand for your products or services by making them more available to potential customers?

“Right Here!”
Entire MBA courses are dedicated to the topic of attracting and retaining new business, but sometimes the simplest approaches are the most effective.

Last week, I was traveling through the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on my way to deliver a program at a conference in Philadelphia. Because I had some time on my layover and my shoes were a bit dirty, I figured I would take a few minutes and get a shoeshine.

The shoeshine attendant was a young guy, pleasant enough, and he chatted with me as he worked on my shoes. As he was finishing up, I saw him casually scan the people passing by, but I wasn’t quite sure what he was looking for.

Suddenly, as a well-dressed man walked by, he shouted, “Right here!”

The man turned around, looking puzzled, and said, “Excuse me?”

The attendant replied, “You looked a bit lost, so I figured you were looking for me.”

It took a second as the man looked at the attendant, then peered down at his shoes. He hesitated for a moment, and then said, “But you have someone in the chair already.”

“No,” came the reply, “we’re just finishing up.”

“OK, then, ” said the man, and he headed over to the chair as I stepped out and paid the attendant.
I didn’t have time to stay around and watch, but I suspect this young man had a steady stream of customers all morning long. And what was his marketing strategy? He simply asked for the business.

So many times we develop elaborate and complicated strategies to develop and grow our businesses. But we can all gain wisdom from the shoeshine attendant who simplified his sales and marketing approach to the basics: identify potential customers and ask for the business.

Look at your own approaches and see if you can incorporate these fundamental ideas in a unique and creative way to make your own organization shine!

Developing Your Own Creative Approach
It doesn’t really matter what you’re selling, whether it’s a shoeshine, a computer system, or a pizza. It’s important to remember that a little creativity can go a long way toward giving you the edge you need to remain competitive.

All you need is a clear understanding of your mission, an innovative approach, and the perseverance to see your strategy through to completion.

A nationally recognized customer service expert, author, and trainer, RON ROSENBERG, CSP, recently founded, a Web site dedicated to helping people get the service they deserve and to teaching companies how to provide it. He has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Smart Money, and Real Simple and has appeared as a guest on nationally syndicated radio shows including “Dateline Washington” and the “Gary Nolan Show.” For more information, visit his Web site at .

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