Since the beginning of the year, I have been self employed. This means I am not only responsible for 100% of the income coming in, but also how I spend my days. Some days I work 2 hours, other times it’s 14 hours. But ultimately I am responsible.
I love the freedom this provides me and how I have the ability to dictate how I spend my time.
And below, you’re going to see exactly why.
Late last week I found myself (as I often seem to these days) over in the Inner Eastern suburb of Richmond for a couple of appointments. I also needed to grab a tie for a friends ‘black tie’ 40th birthday that night, (more on this later), so it made sense to kill three birds in one stone.
Usually I would ride my bike, but on this particular day, the weather was terrible…(typical Melbourne after all). So I took the ‘nice’ GTi. (the only thing white on this car is the be nice. sticker….#murdered lol).
I got to Richmond, but first things first though…you can’t possibly function without fuel in the body, right? I decided to grab a bite to eat.
I’d been to a cafe called ‘Lucky Penny’ a couple of times for a coffee, but never for food. I thought I’d give it a try because of the funky vibe and friendly staff on the times I had been there for coffee.
The menu was pretty cool. Typical Melbourne cafe style. Although, I must admit a few of the ingredients I wasn’t really sure of (celeriac mash, blood orange vodka salmon? :S). However the staff were quick to assure me of the deliciousness. I thought…why not? Let’s do it.
I was not disappointed.
After the meal, the waitress came over, and asked me how it was? “One of the best meals I’ve had in a long while…!” To which she replied how it was also her favourite dish on the menu. We then had a quick chat for a bit and decided on the collective rating of 9/10 for the dish. Some good laughs followed after I explained I am a very harsh critic and rarely give out a 9….(plus who do I think I am…Matt Preston? haha)
What I want to highlight here though, is the simple conversation above brightened my customer experience and has virtually guaranteed repeat business.
She could have just as easily cleared the plate, said thank-you and walked off without saying anything further (a regular occurrence for a lot of places). But instead, she offered a quick friendly chat, which in turn has lead to this story, my repeat business, and the positive PR that this story will bring.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure of her name so I can’t personally reference her in this article…regardless, thank-you to the great staff at Lucky Penny!
So after I finished up, it was nearly time to head to the hair dresser (around 25 minutes until the appointment). Whenever it rains in Melbourne, our drivers seem to get (even more) crazy, so even though it was only 1km up the road, I anticipated about a 15 minute drive to get there and find a park.
Plenty of time, right?
Well it would have been, but as I was walking back to the car, I realised that a 40th party I was heading to that night was ‘Black Tie’. The problem? I didn’t have a black tie. In fact, since I left the corporate world 4 years ago, I gave away most of my ties to the Salvo’s. (“I’ll never need these again”. Oops.)
Luckily, on the way back to the car, I walked right past a little store called, “Bell and Barnett”. I dropped in, and thought I’ll just grab quickly something as I only have a couple of minutes.
I was immediately greeted by a very friendly lady who introduced herself, extended a handshake and asked if she could help me with what I was looking for.
Her name was Joanna,. My guess is early Late 30’s/Early 40’s, with an obvious pride in her appearance (I mean she had a Chanel belt on…), and a very bubbly personality.
I explained that I was after a bow-tie but that I only had a couple of minutes.
I saw the large selection, but it was becoming increasingly evident that time was running out. I mentioned to her that I didn’t have much time, to which she responded that it was all good and virtually pushed me out of the store to make sure I wasn’t late for my hair appointment. I said to her “I’ll come back after my haircut and meeting” (which I assume she would hear a lot…the old “I’ll be back”…right?). I was sincere in my comments…and genuinely was going to, but imagine how many times shop keepers hear that?
Joanna responded: “Oh I know you will…see you soon, Hayden”.
This solidified in my mind that I would be coming back. It was so refreshing that she actually used my name, rather than the oft used: “Mate” (translation: sorry forgot your name).
At this point I headed to the car, drove to the hair appointment and what do you know, another nice encounter was about to occur.
It was the second time I had been to ‘Manhor Hairdressers’…Well actually Facebook tells me it’s called a ‘Grooming Lounge’. however…I just call it a hairdresser.
Anyway, I parked the car and ran a couple of blocks to the appointment (I actually hate being late, and given the rain…there was literally no parks close to the place).
I made it just in time for my appointment with ‘Josie’. I’ve always found the experience of being at the hairdressers an interesting thing. I would think they must get so bored with talking all day.
I’ve had a lot of haircuts by a lot of different hairdressers, and only until the last couple of years have I decided that the conversations should indeed be a two way street…I should provide some fuel for conversation.
But instead of talking about things I like, I tend to ask questions about what they like and see if I can find some common ground…much better than just one sided conversation on topics only I enjoy. We talked about how long Josie had been working there, what her careers were before hairdressing, what her preferred ‘title’ was for her profession, and even ended up getting onto the topic of books too.
The 40 minutes flew by, and now I had to take off for my meeting. I said goodbye, thanked her for the good chats and ran back to the car. (yes I hate being late that much.)
For those of you who are regular readers…you’ll know one of my favourite cafe’s is, Pillar of Salt. So where do you think I asked for the meeting to be held? 😉
Everything went very well and I connected with a great new contact and friendly bloke named, Adam. (who I’d sent an cold email to a week or so back for a possible partnership in an event I am hosting. It’s amazing what is possible when you reach out first).
An hour or so later, the meeting was over and I need to go back and get that bow-tie…
I had more time now, so was more relaxed and knew I would have be able to make a proper decision. As soon as I walked through the door, I said with a big smile: “You didn’t think I’d be back…did you Jo”.
“Oh Hayden, My customers ALWAYS come back”.
+10 points for remembering my name, and +10 more for having a consistent friendly attitude.
I asked what the ‘come back’ rate is from people who say they are going to, and then actually do…to which she took an educated guess at around 95%.
She asked me what colour my suit was, what colour my shirt was and then picked out half a dozen options for me while holding it up to a suit/shirt combination as mine.
Joanna was exceptional at her job. Her focus was solely on me as the customer and MY NEEDS. Too often I find sales people are much more interested in hitting their daily targets and up-selling their customers. They don’t realise, when they don’t actually focus on the customer’s needs…there will be no customer!
I told her that I thought she was exceptional at her job and explained about my whole ‘be nice.’ movement. She was delighted at my feedback, and then showed me a string of emails from happy customers who also had similar experiences. This was not bragging. This was real feedback from real people.
I finished up, gave her a few nice stickers (yes I nearly always carry some on me lol) and mentioned I would be writing her a story on my blog about her exceptional service.
It was a really nice day and highlights to me how nice people can be when you carry the right attitude.
Thanks for reading.
And remember, be nice.
Because the world needs more nice.