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$2.00 a Slice!!

You would think that $2.00 a slice refers to buying pizza by the slice…but in this case, I’m referring to slicing a piece of paper. One piece of paper.

Doing business with me has its pros and cons. Because I’m an older, sometimes crotchety businessman, I appreciate good business when I experience it. I can be a good tipper and very personable when I’m out buying things.

As a writer, I’m always looking for a story to share, good or bad. The “real world” is filled with great experiences, which is why I rarely lack for content to share.

Recently, I was looking to laminate some 2” x 2” colored squares with the logo for a microphone flag I use for doing interviews at industry events.

It’s a simple project, really. The colored logos are ganged on a sheet. The sheet gets laminated and the squares get cut so they can be affixed to the microphone flag. It’s not difficult to do, but I’m not great with scissors so I headed to an office supply type store to help with the cutting.

I discovered a few places that charge $2.00 a slice, regardless of how simple it is. I’m not cheap …but calculating the “slices” needed on one sheet to get 2” squares…at $2.00 a slice it came out to be pretty pricey.

Taking this on as a case study in customer service…I set out to see what business might go the extra mile. These types of stores are everywhere in our community, so It was easy to stop places as I was cruising through town.

Staples, the office store where I have a rewards card was the first stop. I like Staples, it’s close to my home, and because my Lakers, as terrible as they are these days, play in the Staples Center. I got the $2 a slice quote from the nice clerk who held the company line on price when I told her that seemed a bit high. She pointed me to a large cutter at the table to do it myself. I asked if anyone could assist me since I didn’t really know what I was doing. There was no interest in helping me, so I left.

Since I’ve had other office supply stores help me with cutting, I figured I would try elsewhere.

Next up was Kinko’s, a well-known company that offers all kinds of business services, including what I needed. The Kinko’s price was $1.50 a slice. I asked why it cost so much to simply drop a blade on one sheet of paper? The answer was surprising.

I was told there is a high risk of making a mistake, so they price it high to cover the cost of reprinting the job. Clarifying this, I asked, “So you overcharge the client to cover the cost of a mistake you think you will make?” I’m paying more, because you are not confident you can do the job right. Do I understand that correctly?” He responded, “Yes, that’s pretty much it,” laughing a bit. Amazing! So I moved on.

When I went into Office Max, staff at the entrance warmly greeted me, asking if I needed any help. I was directed to the Impress Service Center where I met Patrick, someone who “got it”.

Patrick was very helpful showing me a good way to mount the squares on the microphone flags. He offered to cut the squares and charged me a nominal fee to cut the one sheet, noting that it just took a couple minutes. I shared my horror stories about what others wanted to charge to do this simple job. He explained that they are here to help and want customers to come back.

Every city is filled with places we can get something like this done. In our town we have three Staples stores, an Office Depot, two Kinko’s and this Office Max store that I have come to appreciate after this experience.

In our industry there are many suppliers and distributors, but what distinguishes one from the other? As illustrated in this case, the difference can be going the extra mile to be of service, even when it doesn’t seem like the order is worth the effort.

That can also include using the abilities you have to help your client. A seasoned supplier or distributor can offer promotional marketing suggestions or a decorating method that someone else might not be aware of. Doing what you can to offer exceptional service will give you a competitive advantage.

In helping me with my small project, Patrick’s goal was to keep customers coming back and he has succeeded in doing that. As it turns out, we needed a couple office office chairs and a new color printer. Office Max earned that business and there will be more coming.

2.00 a slice. Cut correctly, it can help you get your slice of the business pie.

© 2014 Jeff Solomon, MAS


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