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Real estate lessons in customer service from Jimmy John’s delivery

Simple ordering

We ordered Jimmy John’s for dinner at our house tonight (don’t be impressed, it’s actually not a rare occurrence). We ordered online and it knew who I was, what my last order was and my credit card number so in under ten seconds, I submitted my order. Their motto is freaky fast and they mean it.

When you order pizza, you expect an hour wait. When you order Jimmy John’s, it’s so freaky fast, it’s literally like ten minutes. But when it takes longer, you can’t get angry, right?

Minute 11

Literally eleven minutes after we ordered, we got a call. “This is the manager of Jimmy John’s and we wanted to apologize.” Okay, for what? “Our online ordering system prints out all orders and apparently went down. We had no idea. We wanted to let you know that corporate just called us and our driver is on the way now.”

Corporate called? Apparently, their corporate office called because they got a red flag on an order (ours) that hadn’t left within the ten minute marker. “Seriously,” we told them, “that is so nice you called, we really appreciate it. You’re still freaky fast, so don’t sweat it. Tell your driver to take his time, no one’s dying of starvation.”

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The manager seemed sincerely embarrassed. He apologized three more times and we told him it was okay and within seconds there was a knock on the door. Jimmy John’s didn’t offer to pay for our meal, they didn’t offer a discount next time, they simply apologized and we felt that it was above and beyond what we were used to anyhow.

The driver was also extremely apologetic and told me not to worry about a tip (uh duh, you’re still getting tipped) and he literally ran back to his car after delivering our order.

But guess what? It was still freaky fast as they promised. In the time it would have taken to order and receive a pizza, we had already eaten Jimmy John’s and put the dishes up.

To top things off, they threw in a giant cookie. What a ribbon on top. We weren’t even upset and we got a cookie without the driver saying “oh you got a cookie, pat me on the back,” it just was what it was. I was sincerely touched at such a tiny gesture in an era where the customer is never right.

How Realtors can be like Jimmy John’s

First, assume that consumers are upset when you’re not perfect. Even if they say they aren’t and you KNOW you didn’t live up to your potential, treat them with the apology and courtesy as if they are upset.

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Apologize. Sincerely. You know when the fast food manager who hates their life approaches your table after you’ve found a human skull in your burrito and just says “oh uh, sorry. Want me to pick that out for you?” as they slump back to the back exit to smoke while you fume in anger? Don’t be that guy. Apologize for any infraction no matter how small.

Throw in a cookie. Even when you’ve already gone above and beyond, do that extra thing that will make consumers happy. This doesn’t just apply to when you’ve wronged someone but at all times. Give the most memorable move in gift and don’t put your logo on it, buy a keg for the housewarming party, give a gift certificate to a busy mom who is struggling to prep a house for listing, or throw in a cookie. Go the extra mile. Be so memorable that like Jimmy John’s, people feel compelled to tell everyone they know about their experience with you (just like I’m doing right here, right now).

Be freaky fast, faster than your competitor. Even if your client doesn’t know how slow (or unethical or lazy or ignorant) your competitor is, push yourself as if they’re constantly comparing. Jimmy John’s compares themselves to themselves which is what pushes them to be freaky fast and let us order and eat dinner in the time it takes to get a pizza in Pizza Hut’s oven.

Hustle. It’s pretty self explanatory, but when your competitor shuts off the lights at 5pm, turn yours off at 9pm. When your competitor brags of a 30 day average DOM for a listing, shoot for 27. When your competitor tweets that they got a listing, go blog about the complexities of your subdivision and three stats that all area listing clients should know. Hustle.

What are YOU doing that makes you like Jimmy John’s or what CAN you change to throw in that cookie?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Ben Goheen

    April 29, 2011 at 2:39 am

    finding a human skull in my burrito is the WORST

  2. Liz Benitez

    April 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I love being able to offer clients more than they expect. Really I am just real with them. But what I really want to know is how can I get some freaky fast Jimmy John's here in Southern Maryland 😀

  3. Randy Pereira

    April 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Nice Post!.. There is always a lot we can learn from others.. Thx.

  4. Ben Fisher

    May 4, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Love this post. It's actually not difficult to take this approach to your clients. Many are just lazy (myself included sometimes).

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