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My wife (Lynn) and I took the kids (Paige, Austin) to New York City for a family vacation this summer. We did all the typical stuff. Statues, Museums, Ballparks, all of it. The Books enjoyed the city and we've been sharing "big city stories" with our friends and family ever since. Of all the things we did, and we did lots, the thing that sticks in my memory the most is a taxi-cab ride we took through central park. Yes, through the park. The taxi wasn't a real taxi but one of those little bikes with the seat on the back - a Rickshaw.
The ride was OK but the guy pedaling was amazing. He wasn't amazing because he was pumping a family of four around the park on a little bike, five people counting him! He wasn't amazing because he smiled, and laughed, and entertained us the entire time. And he wasn't amazing because he spewed neat facts about the park for three hours. He was amazing because he had a LINE of people waiting to take a ride from him. There were other taxi's sitting empty, everyone was waiting for him. In fact, we headed to the park to get a ride on his little taxi because of a referral from the people we were staying with. They said: "it's hard to explain, you just have to do it." This guy had raving fans all over New York, all sending him customers.
We all know the importance of referral business. We all know how profitable it is. But, almost none of us do anything about it. Yeah, we try to treat our customers with respect and yes we ask for their support. But really, do you stand out? Are you any different than the next guy? I would bet not. I would bet that you are a regular-Joe. You are surely nice enough, knowledgeable enough and generally fine to do business with. But, I would also bet that you are forgettable. Most of us are.
At this point, you are probably wondering what this taxi-pedaling mad-man did that was so different, so great, so UNFORGETTABLE. Like my friends say, it's hard to explain. You just have to experience it for yourself. I'm not sure if it was the mints he offered us, the cold water (it was like 90 degrees out that day) he fetched for us, or the little boom-box he had rigged up in his little machine that played our kind of music. It could have been that he peddled and peddled and peddled some more without ever complaining. It could have been that he told us the "inside story" about Central Park that only a Jamaican cabby could know. Or it could be that he CALLED MY CELL three hours after our ride to make sure we enjoyed the trip and asked me to tell our friends to wait for him if they want a ride. What I am sure of is that I will never forget that little ride and if I ever return to NY I will certainly look him up.
More about the taxi-peddling maniac. He didn't speak much english, he was like 5 foot nothin' and maybe a buck fifty-five. He was one small dude with one giant goal. He was trying to earn as much money as he could before the summer ended to send home to his family in Jamaica because they have no work. He meant ALL his family. He's supporting Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Brothers, Sisters, Mothers and Fathers with his little business. He asked me for a hundred bucks after three hours work. I gave him $150! Call me gullable, call me naive, doesn't matter - it was one awesome ride.
Set yourself apart, be different, be unforgettable. Treat your customers with such amazing and genuine concern that they become raving fans. It's not hard to do. Be creative, don't be bashful. If your customers can't brag about you, who can? If you think you have to "give it away" - think about the taxi-peddler. If you think your customers won't return, think about the taxi-peddler. If you think you have it rough, think about the taxi-peddler. You can do this, but only if you NEED to.