Wasting Time and Delivering a Hit on “Trust”


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It’s spring, and now is the time for the lawn service companies to line up customers so they can plan their season’s work and lay out their routes for delivering their weeding and fertilizer products. We get lots of calls and mail flyers soliciting our business.

Every year we get a call from a national firm, and since we have used them in the past with good results, and since they had a good deal for the entire summer, we decided to sign up with them. The deal was based on prepaying for the work and products they provided, which we agreed to.

So what’s my problem? I recently blogged (Making a Case for “Overhead”) about “the ‘money and time’ resources burned that’s attributed to everything a customer does – up to and after the buy – that isn’t related to using the purchase to achieve its intended goal,” i.e. customer overhead. What follows are three “minor” instances, from this company, which illustrate the kind of overhead I’m talking about.

First, at the conclusion of the transaction, which we prepaid, we were told we would receive an outline of what we bought and a receipt. Received the outline but no receipt. So, we had to call to see if we were mistaken about what was promised. We were not. But we had to take our time to ensure that they fulfilled their end of the proposed value proposition (ease of payment), thus taking away some of the value. It wasn’t a lot but it was “extra work” on our part, work we didn’t expect.

Next, about two weeks later, I get a phone call from the same company that has our business asking me whether or not I would like their service. I was confused. So I had to spend some time asking about the real reason for the call. It turned out it was really a sales call for what I had already purchased. When I told the caller that I was already a customer, he sounded surprised. He did apologize but, again, I used some of my time to set his company’s record straight, making sure we were in their system.

To top it all off, we just received, about a week later, a mailer from the same company letting me know that they had a great deal on lawn care. Wow! Two resells within a week! We threw it away. We thought we already had a good deal.

Three separate instances of time we had to spend – granted, a small amount – dealing with something that contributed nothing to the success of the transaction. “Overhead” on our part. Furthermore, it’s “overhead” on their part (could be a lot depending on whether we’re a rare case or not) because this “national” company wasted resources (people time, postage- twice, and marketing material) on three different occasions; resources that could have been applied to gaining new customers or reducing costs (to help keep their “deals” profitable) instead of adding “extra activity overhead” to their costs. Believe it not, I want my suppliers to be as successful as I hope they want me to be.

Finally, I wondered how valuable I really was to their business since it seems they have no record of my purchase, which I might have to spend more time checking on if the service isn’t delivered when expected. “Trust” has taken a hit.

There have been many examples of “overhead” written about on this blog site. The ones above are easily fixed with today’s technology – e.g. local CRM linked to national CRM. Are there any out there that aren’t as easy to fix?

Jonathan Narducci
CornerStone Cubed
Jonathan Narducci, owner of CornerStone Cubed, uses his more than 30 years of experience in business, management and quality systems to help clients design the execution eco-system they need to make initiatives work as intended using his Execution by Design Framework and Process.


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