You know you do it.  You walk up to the cashier in your friendly neighborhood Wal-mart and initiate conversation in the simplest way possible: "Hi, how are you?"  You then think to yourself, "I hope they're doing good....I mean if they weren't they wouldn't really tell me, would they?....Cause gosh, if they aren't doing good I will (insert your own feelings here) feel really bad, not care at all, not know what to say...."

And of course, they always say "fine" or something similar.  But not this time, no the Wal-mart cashier just had to tell me the truth, so here it goes..(brace yourself). And I quote:

Cashier: I could be better

Me: Wow!, how come?

Cashier: I've had a really bad sinus infection for 2 months

Me: Can you throw in a case of that hand sanitizer right there?

No, I'm not kidding. Then there's the one at the other Wal-mart that always manages to tell my Assistant about her latest woes of being middle-aged and single and how the last guy dumped her, ran off, got a sinus infection, whatever.

My question is this: How in the world do these people make it to the front lines of the local Wal-mart? No, seriously! I've seen MUCH better qualified employees stacking pallets at 3 AM.

The answer is simple: The Wal-marts of the world aren't committed to creating 'Raving Fans.' They are barely committed to creating 'satisfied customers.' A satisfied customer, of course, is someone who isn't happy or sad about the business transaction, they just..."are"....they're neutral I guess.

Ken Blanchard writes about this topic in one of the best books I've EVER read, conveniently titled "Raving Fans." Blanchard discusses the fact that most businesses are just aiming for satisfied customers, but that satisfied customers aren't good enough!  We are trying to implement these concepts into our real estate practice, and it ain't easy. I have started the process of asking myself questions like, "what are we doing for our clients that is memorable?"  Sometimes I have no answer for myself of course.

What do you think? When was the last time you transacted business with someone or some business that made a "Raving Fan" out of you? Where the experience was so good that you would tell all of your friends about it? What about the opposite? Think about how often you have a mediocore restaurant experience and your reply to the Manager who asks how everything was is "fine." Is 'fine' good enough?

What about in your own business? Ask yourself: "Am I looking for 'satisfied customers' or 'loyal fans'?"

I'd love to hear your stories. In the meantime I've gotta go back to Wal-mart and pickup some Mucinex and hand sanitizer....