Thursday, July 18, 2013

RESPOND, instead of REACT, to obtain the best end result.

I had an experience over the past couple of days with a "less than desirable" website inquiry in regard to providing my services and ultimately, a sale. I thought it was worthy of mention, and so I am sharing it with the masses to prove a point that you can maintain your temperment and integrity with a little self-dicipline, and that it always pays off in the long run.

Going back a few days from today, I started receiving text messages from my web form notification to my cellphone, that I had a customer inquiring about buying a Flatbed Body for a Pickup Truck. That's exciting to me every time I get a notification, proving all my time and efforts (and other's time for that matter,) has started to show fruit from all the work put into developing a website and getting connected with social medias. I can not count the hours I have invested into all that, but that's what it takes. Momma didn't say it was gonna be easy...

The first day started off with emailing back and forth several times, various information requested by both of us to get an idea what we needed from each other to determine a price. Measurements, sizes, etc. are critical when making a decision to purchase the right Flatbed Body, for proper installation. That was OK, but I learned eventually, you need to make a telephone call and get a "feel" for the customer on the other end. This took place over the course of 3 consecutive days, and it looked as if I had a solid sale towards the end of the many emails and text messages....but it turned sour unfortunately.

I called this customer early on 7/17/13 to get the ball rolling. Maybe I shouldn't have; emailing was much more pleasant. The first thing that was mentioned to me was, that I "didn't return the last email message yesterday..." but that was a false accusation. I return EVERY SINGLE ONE, regardless. You can't sell something if you don't communicate right to the end. I don't know why he never received the last transmission, but we all know how cell phone service can be, and maybe that was the problem...? can't really say for sure, but I sure don't ignore any inquiries about my business, that's a fact.

Then, he started into me about how my price "went up" with the last few emails. I defended myself by stating "I quoted the price as you gave me the specifications you wanted," but I did make a mistake and re-adjusted it back to what he expected originally.(I thought he requested an additional gooseneck ball hitch option, so I had to add $150.00 to the original quote.) We all make mistakes. Next, he's wanting things that aren't offered with these stock, streamlined bodies we carry such as rear lights, tow hitches, etc. Our Flatbeds are built in Oklahoma, and we refined our ordered/inventoried bodies down to keep the costs as low as they can be for the majority of customers who just want a new body without all the excess cost of accessories. It's cost prohibitive to order a single body, due to the high cost of freight per body. About every 90 days, we have a shipment of between 30-40 bodies come in on a tractor trailer, and they are built to spec. based on years of learning what and what not to offer.

Lighting is a bit of a  problem. We offer clearance lighting only; any rear tail lights and/or utility lighting has to be added after the purchase. Reason being...we never know who's buying a body from us. Municipalities use specific style lighting such as LED (light emitting diodes,) and strobes lighting for safety, and the normal truck owner doesn't necessarily need that fancy lighting for every day use. So we emphasize that lighting is not included other than rear clearance, license plate, and front corner lights only. They are still "plug & play", all pre-wired, which is an advantage.

Another factor is, some folks like round, incandescent bulbs mounted in rubber grommets, some like oval, some like to mount pre-built lighting boxes in the rear aprons, etc. So there's so many options, how do you offer something like this? Unfortunately, we can't, unless we do the installation ourselves, then we can certainly discuss the options and give the customer exactly what he or she desires. Well, I was getting "beat up" verbally yesterday over this issue by this customer, and I must admit, human nature started to take a foothold with me as he went on and on about how "other" dealers offer much better options, and that all he really needed to do was to drive to another state (not going to mention which one, but it's about 200 miles one way,) to buy one down there, but I was closer, so he would rather use me.

The guy kept "poking the bear", saying I shouldn't say one thing and do another...and I should answer my customer's emails all the time...all the things I went out of my way to do I DID, but this dude was just getting a bit obnoxious and was kind of proud of himself as I detected.

In the past couple of months, I'll bet I spent 5-6 hours of my time pricing, figuring, quoting prices over the internet for people that once they got all the information they needed, vanished into thin air. Heck, I even recently ordered a special body for a customer without getting a deposit, (very, very bad mistake,) as I felt he was sincere about buying it, and he changed his mind. Now I have a nice, brand new body for sale here awaiting some other customer that will eventually show up of course, but it was another lesson learned on my part. I call it "the Stupid Tax", or more mildly, "The Cost of Doing Business".

At the tail end of this abrasive individual's conversation, it ended with "I'll call you back in a couple hours with the measurements", was his last words. I repeat, LAST, lol. I never heard back from him, and to be perfectly honest, I couldn't be happier.

The message here is simple. I could have "flown off the handle" very easily after the first couple of "verbal assaults" from this joker acting like he was some sort of elite individual insisting that I did everything wrong...but I remembered a verse I read in a very informative book one time, that stated " be kind to your enemy, it will be like pouring hot coals on his head", to paraphrase it the best I can. At the highest point of this very non-productive phone call, I implimented that very strategy. I remained calm, steadfast, and professional throughout the whole ordeal, (deep down inside I admit, I wanted to push the "punch-through-the-phone button"...,) but I maintained my dignity. (And if I were to admit it, I pictured pouring a 5 gallon pail of hot coals on this joker's head, lol.)

In the end, I didn't make a sale. But, I gained something much more valuable; I learned how to "respond, rather than react"...Worth 100 fold more than a few dollars depositied into some account.

Just some information I thought the nice folks out there that strive for the best possible customer service they can give and when they do, it usually pays dividends in time, even if it's months down the road. I recently had another customer call that was at the totally opposite end of the solar system than this "featured customer" I have written about here, commend me for my customer service and that was a nice comment to receive. Those outweigh and delete the negative ones fortunately.

So the next time you feel like the bear's getting mad in YOU...remember to picture the opposing person hopping around trying to put his hair out from the hot coals....!
Thanks to the people of for the opportunity to share some thoughts.

Have a great day!

Tom at Iron Mountain Iron & equipment, llc


kornkountrytreasures said...

Tommy, as usual you did a fantastic job!! Thank you for reminding us that there are going to be some "bears" out there. That's part of business . . . and how to respond!! Love it!!

chateycathey said...

You crack me up Tommy. Great post and smart advice. Doing business with some people is often mind boggling and you handled it very well. Good going.

Tom Szirbik,Sr. said...

Thank both of you ladies, for keeping me encouraged to continue sharing this stuff that we all go through.

I still am slightly "perturbed" (for lack of a better term,) at this unique individual that tried to make me look bad. It often reflects the plaintiff's personality however, when they try and drag you down to their level. I didn't let that happen, so I simply won that one-sided battle, hahahaha.
He probably even looks like
Lesson learned for me is two fold: Stop communicating online, get on the phone to "feel them out" verbally, and: hold back on the rebuttles. The person initiating the fight will simply self-destruct eventually and you'll come out on top. Always remember, they called on YOU, because YOU have the cookie...and they want a bite to. Let them reveal their character and go from there. Might be a good deal, might be a dud...either way, maintain an even temperment through to the end, and you'll come out victorious no matter if you exchange currency or not. That way, YOU won't have a sour puss on like Walter at the end. Imagine carrying that face around all day...YIKES!...