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VOL. 36 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 23, 2012

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit …

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For many years, I paid little attention to the shoes I bought. I typically purchased name-brand shoes – assuming that within reason, shoes were shoes and that I didn’t need to spend much time and effort on shoe selection.

During a business trip to Philadelphia, while walking to my hotel in a light rain, I noticed that one foot felt soggy. I looked and – sure enough – there was a hole in the bottom of my shoe. I was near a shopping mall, so I went to a shoe store, asked for a specific name brand in my size and expected to be out in a few minutes with my shoe problem solved. However, as I soon found out, my shoe purchase was not going to be so simple. For the first time in my life, I encountered a professional shoe salesman.

He looked at my shoes, noticed some unusual wear patterns and asked me about my feet and how they felt. He measured much more carefully than anyone had before. He asked a lot about my past experiences with shoes.

After all of this, he went into the back of the store and brought out a pair of shoes that were a different size than I usually wore, and were also more than twice as expensive as the shoes I usually bought. I was bracing to tell him to bring me the size and the price range that I requested.

But then I slipped my feet into the shoes, he laced them up and I took them for a test walk around the store – and had an honest-to-goodness, genuine, unexpected footwear epiphany!

My feet were in heaven. I bought the shoes.

For the next two weeks, I was amazed; the comfort was incredible and lasting. And as for the fact that they were twice the price I had been paying – they lasted more than four times longer. You do the math.

I quickly applied this lesson to other areas of my life, checking out where things just didn’t fit as well as they should. I decided to end as many compromises as possible, and to spend the extra time, money or effort required to surround myself with things that “fit.”

I’m not suggesting that something twice as expensive is always better. I am suggesting that you take the time to find out what really fits your lifestyle and find a way to get it, regardless of the cost in time, money or effort. And then make sure you are doing the same thing for your customers.

How many times have you or one of your customers made compromises when it comes to an important purchase and then had to unwind the purchase to get what you really wanted in the first place? And of course, the unwinding process usually makes the overall cost of getting what you really wanted much higher in the long run.

If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t buy it and don’t sell it.

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through dmetraining.com.

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