November 15, 2022
today’s communication essential: is this business model even possible today?
The doorbell rang.
I almost didn’t answer it. I do that sometimes when working at home. But today I ran down after a minute and opened the door.
The person was starting to walk back down the walk. He paused, looked at me and said, “Hi, I’m out in the neighborhood introducing my company. I do the dirty things people don’t want to do.”
I wondered if I was being solicited by a hitman.
He went on to clarify. “I wash windows.”
Excellent. Sold. My wife had just told me a few days ago I needed to find someone to clean our windows. For her next trick, she will tell me I need to find someone to give us a million dollars.
I said, “Perfect timing.” He checked out the house, gave me a price, and we agreed on a time. Before he left, he thanked me and explained why he was starting this business. He loves talking to people. He loves helping people. And he loves cleaning windows – he wants to be the best at it. For those ‘Good to Great’ fans, the hedgehog concept personified was standing on my porch.
He said, “I just want to treat people right; hopefully, you’ll tell someone when I do a great job for you. My goal is to exceed your expectations.”
The next day, he was back to do the job. And he did just what he said he would do – exceeded expectations and cleaned windows. I also had him come in and take care of a few windows I couldn’t get clean. He did.
I joked and said, “Too bad you don’t do siding too.” He responded by saying he had a friend he was going to bring in down the road and asked if I wanted to meet him. Fast forward – his friend was scheduled to come out a few days later.
When he came, he did the front of the house then let me know doing the balance of the house would be a waste of time and money due to the way the siding was layered and the fact it wasn’t too dirty anyway. We walked around the house; he pointed out what he was talking about, and we agreed on a partial payment for the work he did. I thanked him for the work and his honesty, and he left.
That evening, the owner of the window cleaning company called me and said, “I’m bringing your money back tomorrow.” I said why…he did the job, did it for a fair price and explained himself. He said, “Because I didn’t exceed expectations. That’s my standard. I’m bringing your money back.
Now, so many thoughts went through my head. I wanted to let him know we were good; I appreciated the honesty, but the gentleman had communicated and did a fair job for a fair price. I wanted to tell him not to make a habit of giving money back as a business owner. I wanted to tell him if you’re going to tie your earnings to other people, you need to adjust your expectations.
But he was so adamant – so earnest – that I simply said thank you and I respect how you’re doing business.
Now, my question … as you read this … what would you have said? Why should he have to adjust his expectations? If that’s his standard, better to establish it now and stick to it, right.
Another question that was nagging at me: When was the last time you could honestly say you exceeded expectations? When was the last time you accepted anything less than ‘better than great’?
I’m glad I answered the door that day. Freshly cleaned windows AND a fresh perspective.