When you don't have to

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Yesterday I wrote that we are treated best as a customer, employee, or neighbor when we first join or when we are about to leave.

Why don’t people treat their existing customers or employees better? These are the folks that have been hardworking and loyal and have kept the company’s best interests in mind. Why not treat them better?

My answer was and is: because they don’t have to.

And that’s why I value, respect, and have a huge amount of loyalty when I find a company or a person who does.

I do most of my teaching/training through Mike and Nicole at Pragmatic Studios. I don’t have to. I own the material that I create and co-own the material that I create with others. I have the explicit right to teach programming iOS or programming Lion without getting their permission. And yet, when someone contacts me, I always check with Mike and Nicole to see if they’d like to be involved. I always explain to the person contacting me that Mike and Nicole treat me so well that my preference is to work through them.

We have each done quite well through this partnership and could certainly be happy if it was just a business relationship. We could just send formal business letters back and forth and still have a lot of success. When we think of a business relationship, we often concentrate on the word business. I find things go better when we also pay attention to the relationship. That’s the way it is with Mike and Nicole.

They don’t have to treat me as well as they do — and yet they do.

When I teach a public class for them, they pay me before I get on the plane to fly home.

No one does that.

I don’t have to invoice them and wait thirty days. I don’t have to remind them that I haven’t been paid for this or that. I leave the gig with the check in my pocket.

With private training, I get an email the moment they get paid and a check in the mail a day or two later. Again, they could sit on the money for a while but they don’t.

But it’s not just about money. They check that everything is going alright whether I’m teaching a public class or a private class. How’s the hotel? The classroom? How did the first day go? Is there anything they can do to make things better. Last year we were in a hotel outside of DC when a freak snow storm arose. It took some of our students ten hours to drive fifteen miles home and they weren’t able to get in the next day. Mike and Nicole arranged to have a video and audio feed so they could keep up with our class remotely.

They make sure the students get the most out of the class. They don’t wait until the students are leaving or considering the next purchase to super serve them. They check to make sure the students are getting what they need out of the class, the accommodations, whatever it is that might need attention.

Treat people well — even when you don’t have to. It will quickly come naturally to you and will be a huge differentiator.