The other day I was talking with a client about what information needed to go on their website. When a potentially thorny issue was being discussed for inclusion on the site, I thought of the following true story.
There was a car wash in Decatur, Ill., where I used to live. When it first opened it was very popular. One day someone claimed their car was scratched by the brushes; in response the owner put up a sign: “Not responsible for scratches to your vehicle.” Soon someone claimed that the brushes bent their antenna; the owner put up another sign ‘”Not responsible for bent antennas.” Then, someone complained because the car wash was not able to remove a stain from one of the seats; the sign erected said, “Upholstery stain removal not guaranteed.”
Soon the car wash started losing business and after a few months was about to go into bankruptcy.
Another businessman purchased the car wash, removed all the signs and gave the place a fresh coat of paint. He erected a sign that said, “Best car wash in town – satisfaction guaranteed!” Soon he had lines going out to the street and all the business he could handle.
What was the difference?
Setting people’s expectations. The first owner created an expectation of problems – the second owner created an expectation of excellence.
The problems with antennas, scratches, and upholstery happened so infrequently, the owner was far better off solving those issues individually and setting the expectation of excellence for everyone that frequented his business.
How are you setting an expectation of excellence in your business or organization? Do you communicate a sense of professionalism and excellence in everything you do?
True excellence is something that is never achieved, but always pursued. However, an expectation of excellence can be clearly stated and effectively communicated.