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“Wow – I didn’t expect that!” Could there be any words more pleasing to our ears than those from our customers? I stopped in for dinner at an Applebee’s in Dalton, Ga. last week. When the waitress brought my onion rings appetizer, she said, “I’ve given you some southwest sauce on the side. It doesn’t come with the onion rings but I love them dipped in it so I thought you might enjoy trying it!”

Wow – I didn’t expect that! Moreover, she was right – it was a great taste. But, what really impressed me was her initiative to go beyond good service and make my order something special. Would I go there again? What do you think?

I keep my boat at Loggerhead Club & Marina in St. Petersburg, Fla. The other day I noticed a chip in the gelcoat I hadn’t seen before. By its location, it could have been from something I hit while running. But, it also could have been caused by the forklift operator putting the boat into the rack storage building. The Harbormaster, Braden Thurber, came over and asked what I was looking at. I pointed it out and said it could have been from something I hit while running or it could have been the forklift. “No way of knowing for sure,” I told him. He said, "No matter - since it is possible we did that, we’ll see that it’s taken care of.”

Wow – I didn’t expect that! A couple of days later, the chip was gone and the area was perfectly color matched. My annual storage contract is up this month. Will I renew? What do you think?

My youngest daughter’s wedding reception was at the “W” City Center in Chicago earlier this month. If you book such an event there, you get to choose something from a special list cleverly called the “Vow Wows.” It includes a good variety ranging from the bridal suite to reception upgrades. Wow - we didn’t expect that! We booked.

A macerator pump quit on my boat last week. I took it out and drove to the West Marine store for a replacement. My luck – they didn’t have that Shurflo model, nor did it even show in the computer because, unlike the other models, mine had an odd 90 degree intake. Over came assistant manager, Roy Stringfellow (also a broker at Edwards Yacht Sales.) After studying the problem, he brought out a “straight” Shurflo and told me I should be able to swap the housings and be back in business. “Better, yet,” he said, “let me do that for you right here.”

Wow – I didn’t expect that! He grabbed his tool kit, disassembled both housings, refit the old with the new and, when I asked how much for the service, he simply smiled and said, “My pleasure to do it for you.” Will I become a regular customer there? What do you think?

Shouldn’t every employee in our dealerships be encouraged to look for a way to create the WOW Factor – to impact the customer in an unexpected way? And, it doesn’t matter where they work. It can be something very simple as evidenced in the story of Johnny, the Grocery Store Bagger, often told by authors/speakers Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz. Use the following link to get to Johnny’s inspirational story: www.stservicemovie.com ?

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