In 1973, at the age of 46, Bob Farrell sold his 55-store ice cream business, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors, and became a motivational speaker. Some time before that date, he had received a letter from a customer who was very disappointed. She had asked for an extra pickle with her meal at one of his stores, and had been charged for it.
Farrell promptly sent the woman an apology and began teaching his staff to “Give ‘em the pickle!” Bob died last year at the age of 87 — but to the very last, the former ice cream king was talking about this principle.
Farrell defined “pickles” as those extra-special things you can do to make customers happy. In one business, it may be walking a customer over to an item she’s looking for rather than just pointing. In another, it may be a handwritten “thank you” note in every order shipped. The trick in any practice or service business is figuring out what the particular pickle is for your particular clients, and then to make sure they each get one as often as possible.
Farrell’s Pickle Principle contains four main concepts:
- Service: Farrell said serving others must be your number one priority. You work in a noble profession — whatever profession it is — so be proud of what you do and where you work.
- Attitude: Every day you get to choose your attitude. How you think about your clients is how you will treat them. “In a way, you’re in show business,” Farrell told his audience, “so play the part!”
- Consistency: Clients return because they like what happened the last time. Set high service standards and live them every day. Tea on a silver platter twice — but not the third time — can rattle a client.
- Teamwork: If you’re working with a team, commit to providing service together. Look for ways to make each other look good while you’re serving your clients.
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