Gaspedal There are good surprises and then there are bad surprises.

On Saturday evening, my daughter and I were driving towards home when all of a sudden, my foot could not find the gas pedal.  It was gone.  I stomped and wiggled my foot all over the floor of my truck….but no gas pedal. 

We coasted over into a left turn lane, I threw the truck in park and hopped out.  My gas pedal was still there…but just sitting limply on the floor.

We weren’t going anywhere.  Bad surprise.

Long story short…tow truck. Repair place. Rental car.  Snapped cable from pedal to engine.  Empty wallet. 

When I picked up the truck on Monday night, I noticed that something was different.  The seat belt on my side had developed a snag which turned into a vertical tear, along the seat belt.  Which meant that it caught on the seat belt latch, every time I buckled up.  It was annoying.

But, while the repair place had my truck and was replacing the gas pedal cable, they had "re-strung" my seat belt, so the tear didn’t catch any more.  They didn’t charge me for it.  They didn’t even mention they’d done it.

Good surprise.

Suddenly, I felt a whole lot better about the empty wallet.  They’d done something special for me.  Something they didn’t have to do.  That’s the beauty of surprises…they make us feel noticed and valued.

How often do you do that for your clients?  Do a little something extra?  Put a note in a bill saying that you aren’t charging them for something,  send dessert over to their table, let the ride run a wee bit longer?

Toby Bloomberg e-mailed me a couple days ago and asked me for a tip on building great client relationships.  I said…"surprise them…give them a little more than what they expected or paid for."

Good surprises, like my seat belt are great fodder for passionate, genuine word of mouth.  Give your clients a reason to tell stories about you.

By the way….Toby asked many a marketer this question.  She’s compiled all the answers for us and there’s plenty to think about. Check it out.

Related posts:

Are you boring your customers?
Surprise! (Marketing lesson from Walt)
Turn things upside down!

8 comments on “Surprise!

  1. Toby says:

    Drew – Glad to hear that your ‘surprise’ had a happy ending. Thanks for my surprise .. the nice shout out to the ideas from 62 marketers on how to build biz relationships.

  2. Toby,

    It’s a great read…and was a great idea. Don’t you love what we can create when we ask each other for a little assistance?


  3. Scott says:

    As you know, yesterday was our Bartlesville Marketing Assoc meeting, and boy, did you surprise us. It’s nice to see you put your money where your mouth is. The surprise came when you had everyone turn in business cards for a drawing for your book as well as giving everyone in the group access to your slides for future reference. Not only did we get what we expected, you surprised us with even more. And if that wasn’t enough, we hid M&Ms under everyones chair (it was Valentines Day) and, like Oprah, let everyone know they had a small surprise under their chair. I agree that surprises are fun and they are good for business.

  4. Drew – I offer free teleseminars to people who want to write and sell articles and ebooks. There are always people who come on these free calls and then do not sign up for my courses. If they write to me at least once and express interest in what I do, I ‘gift’ them my next course. It is a nice surprise for them and I have an additional student to interect with. It is a win-win and I believe I am building a business filled with raving fans.

  5. Eamon says:

    Never really though of that before. V. useful way of offering value add (plus it just breaks up the routine of the day for your client a bit).

  6. Scott,

    I had a great time with your group. It’s always fun to speak to people who really want to dig in and ‘get it.”

    Thanks for the invitation!


  7. Connie,

    That sounds like a great way to build your business. How often do those “gifted” students then go on to take another course and pay for it?


  8. Cam,

    When you think about it — our cars are often like our second homes we’re in them so much.

    So it is a very personal gift, to tidy or improve our home on wheels. Very noticeable and I would guess, something most people talk about.

    When they cleaned out your car — did you tell people about it?


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