My car dealer hosts an annual summer symphony concert in a park-like setting.
Typically, this happens around the 4th of July, so the theme is patriotic, and you can bring a picnic, refreshments, and sit at a nicely trimmed table in comfort.
When you arrive in the parking lot, you see about a dozen cars displayed tastefully.
Typically, there will be a Rolls-Royce, a Jaguar, an Audi, and a Mercedes, representing just some of the nameplates this dealership offers.
Over the course of nine years I’ve leased two cars from them, and I’ve had another three serviced at their garages. So, all of this business earned me “VIP” status.
But the last few years, mysteriously, I’ve been left off the concert list.
Last summer, I was forced to phone, at the last minute, to find out where my invitation was, and this year, busy with other things, the event slipped my mind until, by sheer coincidence, I just happened to be relaxing at the annual venue when a security guy informed me that the dealership’s concert was scheduled to begin, imminently.
I was asked to leave.
Imagine how surprised I was to walk toward the parking lot and to spot the typical array of shiny cars on display.
Seeing the concertgoers arrive, some of whom were festively dressed, anticipating a nice evening under the stars, I was starkly aware of the fact that I had been left off the list, again, for whatever reason.
I didn’t know exactly how to feel about it.
Of course, being in customer service training, and being an internationally known sales speaker, my first thought was, “Gosh they’re stupid!”
If a customer is used to receiving a perk, year after year, attending a nice event, it becomes part of his routine, and like a family outing, it’s something he counts on. If it doesn’t happen, there’s a little hole in his soul where that lovely ritual used to be.
My next thought was to take this as a personal slight.
Somehow, I didn’t rate, anymore. I went from a VIP to a VUP; a Very Unimportant Person, someone who could be dismissed without notice or even a word of explanation or apology.
And of course, my third thought calculated how much money their foolishness was going to cost them, as I resolved to take my business elsewhere.
In terms of gross profit, I would peg it at $50,000, and perhaps it's a lot more.
My hunch is I’m not the only one who didn’t make the cut, who was more than a little peeved. Were there 50 or 100 others like me?
You can estimate the potential dollar losses for yourself.
Compounding the mystery is the fact that there is ample space at this venue for more tables, and there is nothing to preclude the dealership from adding them, or even several rows of folding chairs.
So this seems to be oddly irrational behavior, until you remind yourself that after all, this is a car dealership to the bone, and though I try to eschew stereotypes, beneath its carefully orchestrated aura of civility is an uncouth reality that the nicest evening of music can’t dispel.
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 850 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered “The Gold Standard"-the foremost expert in sales development, customer service, and telephone effectiveness. Top-rated as a speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the globe and the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: email@example.com .