Honesty Is The Best Policy
by Scott Perry
| 2008/06/03 |
In the current market, we're all doing what we can to generate business for ourselves, and sometimes it's tempting to promise more than we can deliver. But in the long run, does it do more harm than good?
Blurbs from the Bossman ::
A while back, I received a search request in an email from a client that went something like this:
Can we have both of these by Tuesday? B Unless they are dirty searches, of course.
Attached were two 60-year title requests. Keep in mind, this request was sent after 5:00 PM on a Thursday afternoon, and I've just come in from being out in the field all day. Not wanting to make a promise I can't keep, I replied:
Hey, "Joe"! (not his real name)
Cutting it kind of close, but I'll do the best I can. I'll let you know if I run into any issues.
I figured this way, I had a little "wiggle room" in case one or both of these searches turns ugly. So, I get back to the office the following day to find this little missive in my "IN" box:
Three full days should not be cutting it close. If you would like, I could find someone else to do my searches. I know that you don't go to Armstrong everyday, but three days notice for a search should not be asking too much. Now I understand that some searches tend to be difficult and get more involved, but for the most part, three days should be more than ample time to complete a 60 year search.
Please let me know your thoughts on this, I have to have the information to my client within 4 days. Otherwise, the delay may cost me a client. This is not good for business, as you know. I hope that you can appreciate the situation that I am in, and try to work with me to achieve the goals of customer service that I have been requested to fulfill.
Thank you for your time,
Well, I think to myself, this puts me in a fine mood on a Friday afternoon. After resisting the temptation to put a .45 round through my computer monitor and muttering a few choice phrases about "Joe's" questionable parentage, I replied thus:
I must admit that I am taken somewhat aback by your response. Don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciate your business. What I don't appreciate is your tone or your threats. However, I shall take the occasion of your email to clarify a few points:
1) "Three full days should not be cutting it close."
When you originally approached me to engage my services, I informed you that the normal turnaround time for a 60 Year Title History is THREE-TO-FIVE BUSINESS DAYS. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, I have ALWAYS allowed ample time to complete ANY search, be it a Current Owner Search or a Sixty-Year Title History. At NO TIME will ANY deadline take precedence over a properly conducted and thorough search. I have worked too hard over the past six-and-a-half years at building my business’ reputation and earning the trust of my clients to risk losing it all because of a shoddy search, hastily completed to accommodate one company’s “rush” request.
2) "If you would like, I could find someone else to do my searches."
Do what you have to, "Joe", but don’t think that threatening me is going to get me to move any faster. It is very unprofessional. My clients keep coming back to me because they know they can depend on me! I produce a good quality product--I don't HAVE to beg for work. I know of no other abstractor in southwest Pennsylvania who offers the level of Customer Service and support that I do. When you have a question about any of my work, all you have to do is pick up the phone and I am available. I am constantly hearing horror stories from my clients who have been "blown off" by title searchers who do this work "part-time" or as a "hobby". Let's also not forget, you looked me up, not the other way around. Someone else recommended me to you, so I must be doing something right.
3) "I know that you don't go to Armstrong everyday, but three days notice for a search should not be asking too much."
I'm a little confused here, "Joe". Has there ever been an issue with me getting your searches back to you in a timely manner? If so, this is the first I’m hearing of it. A review of your Account History shows that we have never taken more that four days to return one of your searches. Oh, and FYI, I am SINGLE-HANDEDLY covering 13, (count 'em, THIRTEEN) counties, sometimes working 12- and 14-hour days and an occasional weekend here and there, and am pretty darn proud of my track record of being able to turn my clients' work around in a timely manner.
4) "Now I understand that some searches tend to be difficult and get more involved, but for the most part, three days should be more than ample time to complete a 60 year search."
Speaking strictly from a title searcher's point of view, I do think that asking for TWO sixty year searches in three days' time is, in fact, "cutting it kind of close", particularly in light of the fact that I will not have three full days in which to complete these searches. If you wanted me to move your work to the front of the line, I do offer expedited service for a premium of $25.00 per search.
5) "Please let me know your thoughts on this, I have to have the information to my client within 4 days. Otherwise, the delay may cost me a client. This is not good for business, as you know. I hope that you can appreciate the situation that I am in, and try to work with me to achieve the goals of customer service that I have been requested to fulfill."
My twelve-plus years of experience in this business has taught me what can and cannot be done; it has also taught me that promising something to a customer that I don't think I can (or that I know full well I can't) deliver is not good for business, either. As I indicated, I'll do the best I can. Please let me know if that will be good enough. Please bear in mind when placing future orders that normal turnaround for 40- and 60-Year Title Histories "will be" THREE-TO-FIVE BUSINESS DAYS.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to clarify my position. If you wish to reach me for comment, my contact information is below.
Scott L. Perry, President
Jireh Business Information Solutions, Inc.
724.863.7270 FAX 734.863.7271
I hear stories all the time from owners of firms who tell me that "so-and-so company promises they can turn a Current Owner around in 'x' time--can you match that?" Believe me, it's tempting to simply say "yes", but I truly don't think it's good practice to make promises without knowing whether or not I can deliver just to get business. I'd sooner be honest with myself and my clients and risk losing a deal than to compromise myself in that way.
But, that's just me.
and Ruminations of an Independent Title Examiner Living & Working in the "Steel Buckle of the Rust Belt."