When I first met him a few weeks ago, he told me things were going to be different around the building. His goal was to fix any problems that existed and begin doing some preventive maintenance to make sure there are no problems in the future. Of course, I doubted his sincerity given the bad service the building provided during the previous two years.
But he has proven to be a man of his word. In addition, he is a genuinely good guy.
Before leaving, he asked me: "What do you guys do again?" I gave him the standard elevator speech and saw from the blank stare and awkward smile that to a person outside of our industry, the standard answer doesn't work.
"It's like this," I continued, "We help clients figure out who they are, what they want to be, how their interests match up with their customers and prospects, and how they can achieve their goals. Then we help them get there."
"Huh," he replied with curiosity. Then he nodded and left the building.
There is a valuable lesson buried in this seemingly meaningless story. About three months ago, knowing that our Cleveland office lease expires later this year, we began reviewing our options. After all, though the space is phenomenal, the service sucks.
This is the same formula that dogs so many companies; I call it the inequity formula: Good product, bad service. Good service, mediocre product. Good product, bad price. Good service, bad delivery. Good product, bad distribution. And on and on. Of course the formula gets much more complicated by adding other variables like price, convenience and competition.
At the end of the day, while the best companies offer great products at a great price, make them convenient to acquire and back them with terrific service and warranties, there are all kinds of gradations that can still work. And it all depends very much on what prospective customers want and/or need. Sometimes price is secondary to convenience or performance. And sometimes price is everything.
Consider the whole green movement. Study after study shows that more and more consumers are willing to pay more money for environmentally safe products. Will it last? For a while. On the flipside, consumers are willing to drive miles out of their way to get the best price per gallon on their gas, regardless of the brand.
So, back to our lease. Here I am - ready to find new space - when the building hires a new property manager and a new maintenance crew. And slowly but surely I am changing my opinion about the brand. Suddenly I have phenomenal space and good service in a convenient location at a reasonable price. And as you might expect, rather than bashing the building I now find myself in the role of advocate. Well, maybe I am not an advocate yet, but at least I am not bashing the building.
Whether by design or accident, the building has righted its brand. In essence, they have changed who they are. And in the process, they have met the needs and wants of their tenants. MarkeTING 101.