Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: Help where you’re strong, find help where you’re not

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence dantu service

A strong referral may help more than heroic efforts.

It always amazes me how some companies try to delve into more than they probably should. For instance, in my other business, I have lots of competition, just like most of you have. I sell branded promotional items and corporate apparel to a variety of different industries. When people need a whatchamacallit, a thingamajig, or a doohicky, they come to me and I help them source it, brand it and they walk away happy.

In the past few years, some of the big box office stores have started to dabble in my type of business. This did lead to several of my customers going to try them out because they thought they were going to save a lot of money. The thought was that these are nationwide companies so they must be able to offer a better price. Every customer who approached them (that I know of) came back to me after with the same sort of responses.

“They don’t have a dedicated rep to work with us. It’s whoever is in the store and most can’t answer the most basic of questions. They have to call us back.”

“There isn’t that level of expertise that you offer us, Russ.”


“I ordered three jackets and four shirts and they shipped it in three different shipments and charged me freight three times. It cost me about 30 per cent more than what you charged me on my last order. I’ll never do that again!”

Occasionally, I, too, get asked if I can do something for my customer that really isn’t what I do. There are two thoughts on this:

Do it anyway because you don’t want to risk losing a customer if they go elsewhere.


Help them find someone who will take really good care of them.

I almost always opt for option two. I am secure enough with my customers that I believe we have a strong relationship and they won’t wander away. If they do, then maybe they aren’t the best customer to hold onto anyway.

When we help a customer solve a problem that we cannot, we are going that extra mile to ensure they find what they need. Secondly, we’re cementing our relationship just a little bit more by being willing to help them locate a source when there will be no revenue in it for us. Third, if we attempt to do something we usually don’t do, the chances of something going wrong and actually costing us more money than what we make is a big reality.

When we develop relationships with other businesses that compliment ours and we can refer business to them, they in turn, will want to reciprocate. I’ve seen it many times before. When we do something nice for people, eventually they want to do something nice for us. It’s called the Law of Reciprocity.

In your business, do you stretch yourself trying to work on projects for your customers that might be better off left for someone else? Do you find that it’s a huge hassle where all you end up with is a headache? If you answered yes to either question, I challenge you to develop a network of service professionals that complement your business and who you have no issues recommending to your customers that may need specific services you don’t offer. You just might be surprised how much additional business comes your way from the other suppliers once they see you passing referrals their way. And you’ll definitely keep your customers happy.

Remember, if you truly want to take care of your customers, stick to what you are good at.

Russ Dantu is at 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit

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