WHY "the way it's always been done" WON'T CUT IT

by Kent Covington

Somebody once told me "If two people are exactly the same, one of them isn't necessary". The same is true in business. There is no way to convince a person to do business with you, rather than with a competitor, unless they can clearly see why you are different from the competition. If you want to stand out, you must begin thinking of status quo as your enemy. 

It can be hard to resist the gravity of normalcy; to NOT automatically do things the way they're typically done. Let's take for example an oil change center, a tire shop, or a full-service car wash. 

When you walk into the waiting area at one of these auto service centers, what do you see? Chances are it's cold tile flooring, florescent lights, a dozen or so stackable chairs, a pile of old magazines, a 20 inch television that never has anything on you're interested in seeing, and of course an old pot of coffee next to a stack of styrofoam cups. 

Why is this such an accurate description of nearly every auto service waiting area in the nation? Is it because everyone likes to read 2 year-old issues of Motor Trend while sitting in a scarcely padded chair, sipping stale coffee? Or is it because that's just the way it's done? 

That's the way all auto service waiting rooms look, right? Customers don't complain about it, so what is the problem? They don't complain about it because disappointment is the result of unmet expectations. Consumers have largely accepted the fact that 99% of auto service waiting areas look like this. They don't expect anything more, so they're not terribly disappointed with the experience. Does this mean they wouldn't respond if they were offered something better? 

If you want to stand out from the competition -if you want to build something exceptional- you must take a bird's eye view of your company and the general industry standards; and then challenge the status quo. Don't except business as usual. 

Start by asking the question "What do our customers expect"? 

If they get anything less than what they expect, you'll have a fire to put out. 

If they get exactly what they expect, you'll have content customers. 

If they get MORE than what they expect, you'll have loyal customers that will tell others about your store. 

Do everything the way it's always done within your industry; keep up with your competitors, and you'll probably be fine. But if you want to be more than "fine"... reject business as usual; force your competitors to keep up with YOU, and you will stand out from the crowd. 

Once you know exactly what it is that sets you apart from your competitors, it's time to tell your customers. Use your on-hold marketing, and all other marketing communications to teach them or remind them why and how YOUR company doesn't settle for the status quo. Remember, if two companies are the same, one of them isn't necessary. Make sure you're different. 

What can you begin doing this month to challenge the status quo and go beyond your customers' expectations?