Sprinklers and the art of branding.

iStock_000000787440SmallJose and his brother are my sprinkler guys. Jose's English is passable but what he lacks in communication skills is over-compensated with incredible service. I am pretty sure Jose does not have formal business education and if I asked him about his "value proposition" he would give me a look that says "I'm busy. Do you have something for me to fix because talking does not make me money". Jose represents the forgotten art (and simplicity) of running a business. Or, what my father, and undoubtedly your father, knew many years ago. More on this a later. Jose has a cell phone and I text him when something is broken or needs an adjustment. My phone buzzes within minutes. Sometimes I forget to answer his text. He just shows up and asks "is everything OK?". Jose never ignored a returned text or told me he was too busy. If he doesn't have the part I know that he will just come back the next day. On a few occasions he even returned in the evening, worked under darkness or in a pouring rain. I never have to call, remind him or confirm, I can count on him to do whatever is necessary.

Some of you will question  Jose's above-and-beyond commitment - why can't it wait until tomorrow, or our working hours are nine to five, or our employees have a life too you know. Have you heard any of these lately? I thought so.

When Jose give me a bill I always add at least twenty five percent and often more.I can tell him how much I appreciate his service or how rare it is, but I know that my appreciation has to go beyond just words -Jose's way of servicing my account makes me feel special and appreciated. More importantly, I know that I can count on him. I return the favor by referring him to my neighbors and by always adding a 'performance bonus'.

You must be thinking....but you're wrong. He is a U.S. citizen and no, his prices are not low they are average.

What's his secret? Why is it so rare to come across a business that operates at this high and consistent level?

The truth is there is no secret. Jose's mission statement, if he ever wrote one, would read like this: "To provide outstanding and responsive service. To never compromise quality of parts or workmanship standards. To live up to the promise we make to provide value and consistent service and never ever take our customers for granted."

Jose's service level applies to any business and includes every aspect of what it takes to not only ensure survival but consistent and sustained growth. His way guarantees customer satisfaction and resulting repeat business that is driven by an unshakeable foundation of loyalty:

Responsive service

Quality

Value

Consistency

Above-and-beyond differentiation

If I ever decide to leave Jose it will not drive him to bankruptcy, but that's not the point is it? His way of handling my account shows how much I am valued as a customer.

Jose, my father and anyone who follows their model, achieve success because of personal integrity and by taking ownership of why they are in business-  consistently make good on the  promise they made to deliver value and experience that is worth repeating. The promise that regardless of the reason that brought you in, they will go out of their way to make you feel that it was the right decision. They accept the ultimate challenge -  to not to give customers a reason to ever change their mind.

What I admire about Jose, my father or other business owners like them is the simplicity by which they run their business.  We lose sight of this simplicity in our never-ending quest to outdo, outnumber or impress. We attach meaningless jargon to what we do like "a leader in ..." or lure customers using creative promotions that get them in the door but offer little or no value. Many businesses fail the consistency test - a repeatable experience every single time they serve.

The hype about branding overshadows the simple art of running a successful business. Meet Jose, my one and only sprinkler guy.