Imagine getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go work out. You’re not really in shape but you’re not too bad but you want what the boot camp owners are advertising: lose inches, shed weight, get firm, and build sexy muscles. You get out of your nice, warm, cozy bed to suit up and go out into the darkness.
At the boot camp, you realize that although you are not the slowest, you are in the group of middles — middle aged and middle ability. You are being taught by a young and fit “hardbody.” She makes you run which is something you hate but you’re too much of a people pleaser to do anything about it except run. After all, you paid to have this young woman tell you what to do.
You are running around in the dark at a local park with a bunch of women you don’t know, and she says to you as you pass by, “Keep going, Betty!”
And you pant, “My name is Cathie.”
You go around again and she says, “Step it up, Charlene!”
And you reply again with a little impatience, “My name is Cathie.”
The third time is the charm, you think, because the instructor has now been told your name a combined total of three times.
Holding your breath, you run past her again, and she says, “Faster, Wanda!”
And you reply with a less-than-patient voice because it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and you’re running, “My NAME is Cathie!”
The instructor replies with, “Yeah, whatever. I have 20 people to remember and you’re just one of ’em.”
I don’t know about you but I would rather have someone say something positive as I run by than use a wrong name to address me. Now, I know that the instructor thought she was using the right name but if she truly felt she had too many names to remember, then she should have used her self-awareness to keep a positive tone and skip the name part until she was confident she had them all down.
The lesson in this is, if you’re a small business owner and you’re sending people out in your place to be the face of your business, you may want to train them on how you want them to treat your customers. Never assume that they know what to do with people out of their generation especially if your business is targeting a specific one.
People in my generation want to be treated with respect and kindness. Heck, which generation doesn’t want this??
I eventually hurt my back badly at the boot camp three weeks into my torture of duty and couldn’t attend for a while. I asked the boot camp owner if she would be willing to transfer my remaining classes to a new month — I was only going three days per week and what I was asking for was to add a fourth day for three weeks of a new month.
She wouldn’t work with me. Remember, I was only one more body at an in-progress boot camp and all I wanted was what I had already paid for but she wouldn’t budge.
I never went back to that boot camp and told as many people as I could about my bad experience. I won’t name the name here because the boot camp has new owners and it appears the new owner is more enthusiastic and professional, and I wouldn’t want to penalize her for the former owner’s mistakes.
Bottom line is, when you have a small business, make sure all your employees are on the same page about how to treat clients and customers. Also know that even when you have rules when it comes to a sale, it is advantageous at times to be flexible with those rules with good customers.
What is a good customer? One who is willing to come back.
When the owner decided not to do the right thing (in my opinion), she not only lost the $99 I was paying her but all the future business from the women I told about her camp. In an area where there’s many boot camps from which to choose, her biggest mistake was not looking at the big picture and only focusing on following the rules she wrote. The owner could have had her biggest fan promoting her through word of mouth advertising; however, she decided that her rules trumped good business sense.
I found a new boot camp to attend — it’s smaller and it’s much closer to my home, and although the instructor sometimes uses someone else’s name when she’s calling on me to work harder, she immediately apologizes and uses my correct name. I think that’s the right way to create a customer for life.