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The power of goodwill


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Old 02-23-2010, 10:27 AM
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Default The power of goodwill

From time to time we will talk on here about goodwill. In a recent post a member was asking how much he should charge an elderly customer to install a new mail box post.

Almost everyone on here jumped on and said do it for free. Why? Because they know the value of goodwill. They know because of that, word will get out and you will benefit from it.

In a recent Businessweek article an author talked about the benefit of goodwill when he wrote "A friend of mine, John, runs a landscaping business and often gives stuff away for free to his best customers. Sometimes he throws them a fall cleanup on the house. Or he has one of his guys fix a drainpipe or gutter at no extra charge. Of course, he always lets the customer know that he did the work at no charge. Now that's a good thing to advertise. Kind of like the free promotion those warm-hearted celebs got when they so graciously appeared on that Haiti fundraiser, during prime time, in front of hundreds of millions of potential buyers of their products. Good people. Good promotion.

For John, giving away stuff creates a lot of goodwill. And keeps his good customers coming back."

When you think about customer retention and how to get new customers, you gotta keep goodwill in mind.

What kinds of things do you do to create goodwill between you and your community?
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:29 PM
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Well for me, if there is an opportunity to show good will, without any major sacrifice, I do it.

The smallest thing I have done, would be to empty a customers bird bath of all the stale & most likely poisoned water from all of the nearby trees fallen debris. As soon as I put away my equipment, I came back & took a paper towel & scrubbed out all of the excess dirt.

Now I could have chosen not to do this, though I knew my customer was watching me from her window. And I had an opportunity to show her what I am capable of.

Showing her that I am human & care enough to do one simple yet odd task that most people would probably never even do, is in no way negative.

Sometimes doing things for free IS beneficial, the above wasn't a service, it was just a little something that takes 2 minutes.

Another thing that I have done, it was chainsaw day for me & one customer had hired me for a big job. When I was done I remembered another customer complaining about a small branch growing into his backyard deck. I passed by & cut it down for free, it took 5 minutes. My truck was full of branches anyway, why not make it count.

It was also the end of the day, so for me there was no rush. I mind as well use up all the fuel in the chainsaw before I put it away anyway.

The customer noticed & in return, I got a couple of beers off of him. (This is how it's done in Canada)
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:48 PM
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Here is an example:[which im sure a lot of you get]

You have like 10-15 yards to mow that day of all various sizes. Your customer comes out after you are starting to load up and go to the next job and say, hey can you do...... Without, any notice in advance at all. It takes you maybe 5 minutes. whatever, you don't think nothing of it and your just helping them out. The next week you come by and the same thing happens. Only this time it takes you 20-30 min. to do. Now all of a sudden your lawn boy/handy man. Should you tell your customers if they want certain projects to done to call you in advance so you can slip it in at the end of the week or something since your main job is first and foremost to get your list of jobs knocked out? How would you deal with this in your schedule?
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:29 PM
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Another thing that worries me, is customers taking advantage of your generosity.

If you do something one time, what's to stop them from expecting it done again, or even asking?

how do you say "no!" without seeming like an awful person.

Even if it's a simple chore, it's still a pain in the arse.

If my customer expects me to clean her bird bath (that sounds funny) and asks me to do it all the time, honestly I would start to hate my job no matter if it took me a few seconds.

We all need a way to say, "No, I do not want to give up 1 second of my life for you for free" without sounding cold.

Just because something is easy, doesn't mean we always want to do it.

On garbage day, I'll walk my customers garbage cans back to their garage door. Though maybe after awhile I wouldn't want to.

Which brings up this theory.

If you give someone something for free one time, they love you. If you aren't able to continue doing something for free, they will hate you.
Don't do anything nice, unless you plan on doing it forever. Once you stop, they have a reason not to like you. So why bother being nice at all?

I had this problem before if you guys remember.

I offered to trim a hedge for free because the client didn't want to pay for it, I just told the guy it'll be on my watch later on in the season.

The guy fired me after a few months because he didn't feel like waiting till then.

What an idiot, it's not like he went out & hired a company to do it WHEN HE WANTED, he just didn't have it done. The logical thing to do, would be to offer to pay me like any normal person, so that he can have some say on when it gets done.


All in all, goodwill tasks should be done with caution. Doing something nice can backfire in the worst of ways.

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Old 02-24-2010, 10:31 AM
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Should you tell your customers if they want certain projects to done to call you in advance so you can slip it in at the end of the week or something since your main job is first and foremost to get your list of jobs knocked out? How would you deal with this in your schedule?
That is very interesting. It does make you wonder what is goodwill and then what is a new weekly service the customer is requiring you to do.

I would think that the way you worded it sounded like an additional service.

I think how to determine this would come down to how do you feel about it. Do you feel you are helping and they really appreciated it? Or do you feel like they are taking advantage of you?

Do you ever get that vibe either way and would getting either of those vibes help you decide how to handle it?
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