At Your Service: Lessons in lemonade
By Russ Dantu
There I was in the tiny hamlet of Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Sechelt is a short drive from Gibsons where the Beachcombers TV Series was filmed many years ago. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen. Lush, green trees, beautiful gardens, hummingbirds, and of course, the smell and sounds of the Pacific Ocean.
By Russ Dantu
I had just finished an amazing day spent with the family at a beach catching crabs, counting all the purple starfish and playing in the surprisingly warm inlet of Sergeants Bay. The weather was incredibly warm that day and we were heading home to get ready for supper.
As we approached the last turn to our home, I noticed two young kids sitting on the side of the road with a lemonade stand set up. I smiled as it brought back memories of when I was young doing the same thing.
As we drove closer, a young boy stepped into the road and held his hand up asking us to stop. I rolled down the window, “Hello sir! Sure is hot today. Would you be interested in a glass of ice cold, refreshing lemonade?” John couldn’t have been more than 10 years old and his sister, Suzie, at best was 8 (these are not their real names). They were both smiling away and it was impossible to say no even though we were less than half a block from our house and I had other ideas as to what kind of cold beverage I was seeking.
“You know, I think that might just hit the spot!” Both of their eyes lit up. “Great! We have small or large available today. A small glass costs 10 cents and a large costs 25 cents. What would be your pleasure?” I quickly placed our order and told him we’d park on the side of the road and walk back to get the lemonade. “No, sir. Please park there and enjoy the scenery. We’ll bring the drinks to you!”
A few minutes later, John and Suzie came up, smiled and handed us three large glasses of lemonade. John said, “There you go, sir. The finest lemonade in the area. I hope you enjoy!” Now, if you’ve ever visited a kids’ lemonade stand before, you’ll know that it’s usually warm and most of the time, way too sweet. This lemonade was ice cold and so refreshing. I asked, “Wow that was really good! What’s your secret?” John replied, “Well, we’ve been making it all summer. We test it out ourselves, on our friends, and our parents. We keep it on ice in a cooler and that seems to make it taste even better!”
Wow, I was impressed! Two young entrepreneurs who really seemed to care. When I asked them what they were going to do with all the money they made, the answer was quick. “We’re going to donate the proceeds to the local animal shelter.” I smiled and commended them on their lemonade and the fact they were donating the money.
So what can these young entrepreneurs teach us about running a business?
First, what a refreshing experience. In today’s society, we tend to stereotype young people as very poor at providing proper customer service. Here we had two young but very eager kids who knew exactly what good customer service means. Don’t just sell your product because it’s a way to make money, sell it because you believe in it. Are your employees just there to make money or do you spend the time training them so they actually believe in the product they are selling? Do your employees know what your mission, vision and values are and do they work them every day?
Secondly, these kids did something different. They brought the lemonade to us so we didn’t have to get out of the vehicle. What do you do differently than your competition that will give you the edge? It doesn’t always have to be expensive or elaborate. Studying our competitors to see what they do well and what they don’t do very well can give us clues as to what we can do to be different. Brainstorming with your employees can lead to some very interesting ideas on how to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Thirdly, give back to your community or local charities. It will make you feel good about doing so and your customers will notice it. The more you are active in your community or with a cause, the more you will be noticed. Do this for the right reasons and it will pay dividends in the end.
Leaving a sweet taste in your customers’ mouths will be refreshing for them too. Do it day in and day out and you will create raving, loyal fans.
Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. For more information, visit russdantu.com or email email@example.com.