Boots and Handshakes (six starters to better service)

Boots and Handshakes (six starters to better service) by Dwayne Castle

Several weeks ago I was headed to Africa for a mission trip and decided I needed a pair of cowboy boots. If I was going to be in a place known for snakes and spiders and creepy crawlies, it seemed like a wise choice. It turned out that another wise choice was going to The Boot Life in Mansfield, Ohio.

I was greeted by a man dressed in western wear and his name is Chris. I know his name because he met me at the door with a smile, a solid handshake and said “Hi, my name is Chris. Welcome to The Boot Life. What is your name?” 

What?! An actual handshake and introduction? That right there was a proper greeting. I was shocked since I can’t remember the last time someone approached me that way.

We live in such an impersonal world- “Take a number. We will be with you shortly. Next!”  I don’t want to take a number. I don’t want to BE a number. Chris made me feel like an individual.

I thought manners had gone the way of the vinyl record. Then I remembered reading that records are making a comeback. Oh, I hope that's the case with the handshake and greeting.

Now, that introduction alone was probably enough to cinch a sale and I hadn’t even seen what he had to offer. But then he asked me what I was looking for and took me straightaway to a nice selection of boots in various colors and styles. 

He picked a pair for me and I really liked them, but then I realized the leather bottoms were a little slick. I mentioned a mental-picture of myself slipping and falling into a pit of snakes while in Africa, à la Indiana Jones. Chris quickly grabbed a different pair, complete with rubberized sole. 

I walked around in them for a little bit and knew they were made for me. Then he took me to a rack of special boot socks. Extra long and cushy. Two pair. I don’t know if they were on sale or if he was just being generous, but he told me he was only charging me for one pair.

He rang me up and thanked me for coming in to his store and wished me well on my upcoming trip. He invited me to come back and if I ever need another pair, I certainly will. In the meantime, I'm telling everybody I know about my experience. 

This visit demonstrated exactly what the Relationally-Driven experience is about and I've listed below 6 pointers you can begin implementing today. 

1.    Smile when you greet a person. A genuine expression of joy that they came in the room has the amazing effect of making many a person feel welcome. Making someone else feel welcome often has the side-effect of making you feel good. 

2.    Shake hands. If fighters about to pulverize each other touch gloves as a show of respect, how much more so should it be for people about to have a friendly encounter? The connection made between two people during a well executed handshake can’t be overstated. Especially nowadays when they are so rare. 

3.    Introduce yourself. When Chris shook my hand and smiled, he told me his name was Chris. Having his name is much better than not. “Hey you, can I outrun a lion in these boots?” sounds much more awkward and ridiculous than asking my new friend Chris the same question. I have confidence that Chris values our new friendship and that he won’t mock me behind my back. Apparently I don’t need to outrun the lion, just the person beside me. 

4.    Get the customers name. This is a big deal. I am not just one more guy who walked through the door. I am an individual. I have value. By asking for my name, Chris acknowledged me as a person and not a number. It made our conversation more valuable to me because I know he saw more than my wallet.

5.    Listen to the customer. When I told him my concern about the first pair of boots, he didn’t try to justify why these would work, he took my concern and immediately responded with a solution, even though the solution caused me to spend less money.

6.    Be interested. I told him why I needed boots- I was going on a mission trip to Africa. He didn’t gloss over that. Chris acknowledged the importance of that to me. He asked questions and wished me well. When you are paying attention to even the smallest things a customer mentions, it matters. You are saying that their life matters to you and that adds value to your experience together.

Today I want to assure you that if you make these actions part of your lifestyle, enacting them with the people in your life, professionally AND personally, you will see positive changes all around you. You will improve this world, one encounter at a time.

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