I paid Mrs. Lim for my dry cleaning and as she thanked me she reached under the counter, pulled out a plastic bag that said “Merry Christmas” and handed it to me. Inside was a lint roller that also said Merry Christmas. I paused and thanked her. “Thank you so much Mrs. Lim, and Merry Christmas to you”. I was touched. As I walked out I noticed I was a little choked up and by the time I was in my car driving away my eyes briefly watered up. Wow! If you own a shop or run a business this is how you want your customers to feel as they drive away – appreciated and touched.
This small gesture from a merchant I see once a week had an impact on me. It reminded me of why I drive out of my way to have my dry cleaning done by Lim’s Cleaners. This small family run business doesn’t have a lot of margin in their services and it’s hard to make ends meet. I know because I’ve talked about this with Mrs. Lim in the past. She says, “it’s hard at times but we do our best”. Their “best” is pretty darn good… Mrs. Lim’s demeanor is serious but friendly. Both she and her husband communicate, through their body language, a sense of urgency in serving and meeting their customer’s needs. They understand that the stop into their cleaning business is not for fun or entertainment. They understand that people are usually in a hurry to get to the next errand. They understand that customers are anxious to get home after a long day at the office or frustrating drive in traffic. They understand that we expect a quality service. They understand that it is important to live up to our expectations and that they deliver on their commitments. The Lim’s understand, period.
I recall one day when I was just about to drive off Mrs. Lim came running out to my car and handed me a slip of paper. It was in the front pocket of one of the shirts I had dropped off. The information on the paper was meaningless but Mrs. Lim didn’t know that. All she knew is that it might be important and she made sure to catch me before I left. I love the way Mr. Lim comes around the counter to the front and hands my cloths to me. Just like the salesperson at Nordstrom when I buy a shirt or pair of slacks. Daryl, my “guy” at Nordstrom’s would be glad to know that the level of service he delivers when handing me my new slacks in front of his counter is repeated a couple of times of month for the same pair of slacks when they are dry cleaned by Lims. Lims and Nordy’s – what a great duo!
So yeah, I was really touched today when I received what may turn out to be one of the best gifts this Christmas season. No, not the lint roller, although those are pretty cool to have around especially when you own a cat. I’m referring to the gesture from Mrs. Lim that said, “Thanks for your business and loyalty; we know that it’s repeat business from customers like you that pay our bills and feed our children; we are committed to living up to your expectations”. Small gesture, giant results.
So dear small and large business owners. Here’s a Christmas wish list from your customers:
- know who I am
- understand my needs
- strive to exceed my expectations
- recognize me for my patronage
And small and large business owners, as a stocking stuffer be a little more Lim-like or next year you go on the naughty list.