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We Could Rescue the Dog, But Not This Business

Posted by Bill Lee on May 4, 2010 at 02:05 PM

You either love customers or not, but you can't fake it. 

Recently I came across a stray dog as I was just starting a bike ride on lovely Katy Trail near downtown Dallas. I'd snuck out from work for a quick ride and was in a bit of a rush to get done, but I'm also a hopeless dog lover (HDL). So I stopped and began the arduous task of trying to coax a scared and skittish dog to get close enough to secure him, get the info off his collar and call his undoubtedly frantic owner.

 Before too long I was joined by three other fellow HDLs, and the dance began in earnest with a very hard to get pooch. What does that have to do with customers or a business? 

As luck would have it, we wound up in the parking lot of  a local  small fitness center just off the trail. I'd seen it before, and in fact was kind of interested in it since I live close by, but had never checked it out. Before too long, someone looking like the owner or manager showed up, parked his car, walked across the lot with cell phone in ear, and right through the middle of our "net" around the dog. He glanced at the dog, glanced at us and just kept on walking. Didn't say a word.  

A few minutes later he stepped outside again, glanced at us,  and proceeded to do the cell phone thing again. He didn't ask what was going on (it was obvious), didn't ask if he could be of any help, didn't even acknowldge our presence though he clearly saw us.

Think of that. Here are four prime prospects for his business. Three things were obvious . We work out (we were all in some form of work out gear).  We live nearby (or at least regard the area as a convenient place to come for a workout). We wanted to help out the dog. But he was too busy with his cell phone (calling prospects?!) to bother with us. 

Had he simply expressed concern and support, offered to make a phone call, asked if we'd like  some water--anything--he'd have had at least one hot prospect (me) wanting to know more about his facility when it was all over. But I would guess that all he saw was a mangy dog and a bunch of idiots with nothing better to do. 

It seems to me that either you like people and have predisposition to helping them out, or you don't. And if you don't, it's hard to turn that off and on just because someone had the label of "customer" or "prospct" stamped on their forehead. Despite its stellar location, with hundreds of fitness concious people jogging or riding by it daily, I give his business 8 to 12 months max. 

Oh, as for the pooch, a nice lady from the office building behind his facility saw what was going on and brought us some doggie treats she kept around for her own dogs.  Thanks to the treats, we reeled the dog in, got hold of his collar and got the phone number off his tag, and called his owner, who came running like the wind from more than a mile away. Owner and pooch reunited. Come to think of it, she was pretty fit too--yet another lost prospect for our callous fitness facility guy.

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