Oil ChangeI’m sitting in the waiting room of a major oil change shop.  That’s not special, but the reason WHY I‘m in this one is.  I normally go to a different oil change shop but today when I arrived there shortly after 8:00 am, there was no one there.  Now the hours were listed as opening at 8:00 am.  But no one was about.  And since I needed to get the oil changed (300 miles past due because we had been on a short-notice trip and my wife has a 10:00 am appointment) I went to the next closest oil change shop which was already open and doing business.

A common and important dictum of business is to under promise and over deliver.  And most customers don’t leave a company because of the product quality but service quality.

And what is the promise of oil change shops?  We get you in, and out, quick without the hassle of doing it yourself.

I really needed it quick, but when you’re not open when you say you’ll be open, you broken the promise.

Back when I was working for someone else, I would always make a point of arriving early.  First, because good things happen when you’re early – you’re not rushed; you get the good parking spot; you get some quiet time before the day’s crisis, etc.  Second, you available to take advantage of the opportunities that arise because someone else shows up early – you’re the one that they will associate with without competition from anyone else.  Third, you establish the reputation of being the one who’s ready to go before anyone else.  Lastly, serendipity happens when you show up early.

I know that the oil change shop probably gets a customer exactly at 8:00 am once in a blue month – but that’s still one customer.  And the success of a business depends on one customer – at a time.  And failure comes from a thousand customers disappointed – one at a time.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.