Customers for Life by Carl Sewell and Paul Brown

September 18, 2017 / BY / IN The best of books in 1 Page. Because you won’t read a book!

Carl Sewell shares the lessons learnt from transforming his Cadillac dealership, revealing the secret to getting customers to return again and again. What follows might seem a little idealistic but do it right and it can work wonders.

Ask your customers what they want and give it to them. Do not make assumptions, ask them and they will tell you exactly what they want. Get them to spend an extra 10 mins explaining what they really want. Use this information to serve them better. Underpromise and Overdeliver. Build buffers to make sure you always overdeliver.  If the customer asks for anything the answer is “Yes”. You can charge them or not but you always say yes. Be available all the time.

Build systems. Anything you do needs to be measured, compared and attributed. Make sure the person doing the work checks it and is responsible for a free rework if necessary. Builds ownership. Fire the inspectors and the Consumer relations department. Get the person delivering the service to be directly responsible for the relationship. Get it right the first time, if you falter apologise and fix it for free. Always overdeliver.

Selling is theatre and everything you do is judged. Care for the customers and the employees equally. Both are equally important. Keep everything clean. Obsess over every single detail from the lawns to the bathrooms. Everything adds to the impression being formed about you. Have clear signboards wherever necessary. If they don’t Name, Describe or Direct remove them.

The customer is almost always right. But sometimes you need to show them the door. Segment-Segment-Segment. You cannot serve every kind of customer profitably. Select the ones who’ll value your service and WOW them at every opportunity.

Build easy ways for customers to give feedback. This is the best source of information to fix the faults in your systems. Ask for feedback at every opportunity and thank them for it.

Hire Superstars. Save more by paying them more through partnership pay. The increase in efficiency definitely covers the increase in direct cost and the indirect costs saving are just the Icing on the cake.

Borrow from everywhere. Go looking for things to copy. There is no pride in reinventing the wheel. But you can definitely improve upon it. But, always pilot test them before mass rollout.

Leadership is performance. You cannot fake it. You have to actually genuinely care about the business, employees and the customers. If you don’t others can sense it. They’ll not be genuine after that. No amount of fliers or sessions can change the damage done by the wrong signals given out by the leader. If the boss is a crook you cannot expect the employees to be honest.

Four components that allow self-esteem to prosper. Sense of achievement, being cared about, power (autonomy) and ethics &Values.

Be nice. Build trust. Gain reputation and forge strong partnerships. Sometime you might have to trade with competition to get something the customer needs urgently. Do it in good faith and everyone wins.

Everything regardless of what you do has cycle time. Reduce it as much as possible. Look at the areas you are not adding value and start cutting from there. Any value of value add/cycle time >5% is great. Aim for that.

Recognize your Customer lifetime value and take decisions accordingly. You might lose a few bucks here and there but overall you’ll come out way ahead. Do All of this with the profit in mind or you aren’t going to be able to do it for long.