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Identify and Eliminate Customer Complacency That Costs You Profitabale Growth

Jan 21, 2008
I have always found that the world pretty neatly divides itself into those who understand and act on optimizing performance of almost everything they come into contact with . . . and those who ignore optimization. Maintaining automobile and motorcycle tire pressures is a good example.

Keep your tires at the right pressure and you gain advantages: The ride is smoother; your brakes work better; you are less likely to have a blowout; fuel economy is better; and the tires last longer. Many filling stations offer free air to inflate your tires. Invest about a dollar into an air pressure gauge, and you have everything you need to benefit.

It will help, though, if you remember that air pressure varies with altitude and temperature. You will need to deflate tires when you suddenly encounter hot days in the mountains and inflate tires when you experience cold days at sea level.

How much time will it take? You will probably spend less than 15 minutes a year unless you have a leaky tire. Yet most people can be observed to be driving around with tires that are over- or underinflated.

Why? The sources of this harmful complacency are many. Some older drivers grew up during a time when almost every filling station would check and automatically adjust tire pressure. Having enjoyed that benefit, these drivers unconsciously rely on automobile service people to do the same today.

Some places where you have your oil changed will do this automatically . . . and some will not. Such drivers are assuming that all such service organizations do. Wrong!

Other drivers grew up in families where one person in the family took care of all mechanical aspects of cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Then these drivers married spouses who had the same history. Neither spouse takes care of mechanical issues until the vehicle literally won't move.

Some drivers feel so rich that they would rather wear out tires than take care of them. It's psychologically easier for these people to think about buying new tires than tire care.

Interestingly, the time it takes to pick out and purchase tires and retorque the lug nuts on a new set of tires is usually longer than just keeping the proper pressure.

But if you purchase or lease a new car every year, it's not a problem. The depreciation cost of such rapid trade-ins often amounts to over a third of an average person's annual income. If the main reason you change cars is to avoid vehicle maintenance, that's an expensive way to save time. You could save enough money to enjoy the equivalent of paying yourself several thousand dollars an hour to provide or buy the services you need.

Some drivers avoid checking tire pressure because they are fastidious about their clothing and cleanliness. Unless you keep some hand cleanser in your car and are careful when you kneel to check the tires, you can definitely pick up a little grime. As a result, many people check and inflate tires when they have on their old clothes while doing errands. But those who are concerned about their appearance at all times will just avoid the whole thing.

Some drivers are just unaware. What tires? "My tires work just fine," replies the oblivious driver when asked about tire pressure on her virtually flat tires.

The basic problem in each case is that the person doesn't know or care enough about the potential benefits of proper tire pressure to do something about it. One of the major limitations of the human brain is that it has a hard time accurately imagining anything that hasn't been experienced yet.

If you have ever had a tire blowout at high speed, you definitely will go to some effort to avoid another one. But if you haven't had such a blowout, you assume that it won't happen and that it won't be that bad if it does.

If you do have a blowout due to improper inflation, you will probably assume that your tire vendor sold you a bad tire and start thinking about contacting a lawyer. It will probably never occur to you that your failure to maintain the proper tire pressure was the primary cause of the blowout.

What's missing? In each case, those who are knowledgeable and can easily provide the needed service should educate and encourage drivers to take care of tire pressure. Oil-change providers are the obvious place for this educating to occur . . . assuming that you are dealing with drivers who change their oil. Some people ignore even that necessity.

But the places that tout such oil change services often charge 50 to 75 percent more than places that don't mention that they check and adjust tire pressure. The inexpensive providers could probably eliminate the expensive competitors with a prominently advertised maintenance-checking program that adds little extra cost.

Here are questions designed to help you identify the major sources of customer complacency about your organization and its offerings:

-In what costly or harmful ways do beneficiaries and customers misuse your offerings?

-What bad assumptions are customers and beneficiaries making about your offerings?

-What valuable attributes of your offerings are beneficiaries and customers ignoring?

-Why are customers and beneficiaries ignoring those valuable attributes?

-What are inexpensive ways to educate and encourage beneficiaries and customers to overcome these sources of complacency?
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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