Last year I completed my first triathlon. If you’ve never competed in one of these, here’s how it works: you swim one mile, cycle 25 miles and run 6.25 miles – consecutively – in one day. My training lasted 16 weeks and managing my schedule required that I make a plan to give my all to both my work and my training. So, here’s my advice on how you can apply the same discipline to meeting your customer’s needs, because success is a long race we’re all in to win.
Choose Your Race Wisely
No matter if you are training or building a business, you must make sure you’re doing things as efficiently as you can. The first step is often the hardest, and that can be simply figuring out where to start. I enjoy what I do because I get to meet new people all the time and developing solutions for my customers is challenging. It’s exciting to make connections and see what might be lurking behind the warehouse door. The thrill is never knowing what form those challenges may take or how they might affect outcomes. Much like training, running a business requires focus. But, by laying the right groundwork, you can meet any challenge that comes your way.
At the beginning of your career, you’re building your business. You assess your customers’ needs and how you can deliver the best products or solutions. Training requires the same principle: what do I need to do today that will help me get the results I want later? When it comes to my customers, I ask questions to understand their business, discuss their needs, and eventually prescribe the optimal solution for their challenges. We conquer the challenge that’s ahead of us today, but always keep one eye on the future. Then, it’s time to knock on more doors because the race is never really done, and you can always find a new finish line to inspire you.
Most things worth doing take time and commitment. I remember one morning I woke at 2:00 a.m. to get to the fish market by 3:00 a.m. – on a day when I needed to train and make a 10:00 a.m. meeting. By 5:00 a.m., I had walked the entire market talking with prospective clients at more than 30 companies that use pallet jacks and forklifts. It was tiring, and I had to set multiple alarms to make it happen, but I made my meeting and got in my triathlon training. So, it just goes to show, sometimes what’s most important is meeting people at a time and place that works for them.
Be Persistent About Your Long-Term Goals
Today, some of my biggest customers are the result of tenacity. One day, I met the owners of a company who were not happy with their present service provider; the last time they called for forklift service, it took two days for their provider to even respond. Now I’ve learned never to make a customer wait because everyone’s time is valuable. Knowing how important customer service was to them, I suggested how we could help. Now, if she needs service, she knows she can call us anytime, and we’ll be there. This relationship continues to develop into a long-term partnership- which is our ultimate goal.
Finish the Race
Remember, when it comes to customer service, it’s a marathon (or triathlon), not a sprint. When you set realistic goals, take the challenge and make an effort, you will cross the finish line more often. I hope to see you there.
And although I’m a native New Yorker, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge how great an event the Boston Marathon is and offer my best wishes to all the runners! Go get em…