I was recently staying in a hotel in Port Huron, Michigan as I was a keynote speaker at a local event. During a break, I see this woman who looks like she works there, but she’s around 70 and carrying a case of soda, clearly struggling.
I went to her and offered to help, but she attempted to dismiss me by saying, “Thanks so much, but I’m going downstairs.” In other words, even though she was having a difficult time, the weight of the case obviously more than she could easily move around herself, she was going to give me an excuse, essentially letting me off the hook in the event that my offer wasn’t genuine.
In an effort to convince her that I truly did want to help her out, I shared with her how not only do I like to assist others, but it was almost a necessity. “I’m one of four boys,” I explained, “and if my mother knew I didn’t run to help you, she’d hit me upside the head.”
Seemingly satisfied that I was being true, the woman eventually let me take the case downstairs, into the caverns of hotel, and put it where it belonged. I’d barely set it on the ground when she began to thank me for all of my help. Now, from beginning to end, this entire experience took a grand total of about two minutes, yet there she was acting like it was this huge deal.
In honesty, it kind of was a big deal because it left both of us feeling good. She felt good because she got help without having to feel guilty about it (no boy should ever be put in a position that dishonors his mom) and I got to feel good about myself because I helped someone. So, what’s my point?
When you go the extra mile, everyone wins. When you do something nice for someone else, something you wouldn’t have ordinarily done in your course of business, the other person gets some much needed (and usually super appreciated) help and you get to feel good because you were able to provide him or her just a little bit of unexpected joy. This is true personally and in business.
In fact, take a minute right now and think about the businesses you typically interact with—your bank, your regular supermarket, the gas station you normally stop at, or even your favorite restaurant—and think about how you feel when they do something special for you, something you didn’t expect. Feels good, right?
That’s the same type of feeling you want your clients to get when they’ve done business with you. You want them to be so impressed with your willingness to go the extra mile that they simply can’t think of doing business with anyone else. And they’ll refer all of their friends and colleagues your way because they know that you’re willing to do what needs to be done, even if it isn’t something you ordinarily do.
This can be accomplished a number of ways, not all of which have to be grand gestures either. For instance, maybe you know that one of your clients has an issue in an area that you don’t cover, yet you know someone good who does. So, you give them that person’s name and number or even make the introduction yourself. Even something as small as this shows that you care about them on an individual level, which is the one thing that will bring them back to you over and over again.
Put simply, going the extra mile may mean you do a little more walking, but both you and your business will be fitter because of it.