Over-Delivering: An Important Principle

Today I was listening to someone speaking about the Science of Getting Rich which is a book I happen to know very well. When I originally came across it, I bought the CD to listen to it in my car and, as Wallace D Wattles suggested, I studied it for quite a period of time. By the way, it is a public domain book and you can get a copy in our free books section if you would like to read it for yourself – just click the link above.

There is no question that it is a very interesting book. I have recommended it to many people over the years because I realised that within the opening chapters he had touched on something very interesting. For me, it was his analysis of the causes of wealth that was so interesting. One by one, he discounted many things that you might naturally think might cause you to become wealthy. Things like: the right business, the right location, the right background, the right education, having talent, having a good start, having access to money and so on.

None of the above things are the causes of wealth, he argues, and he is convincing. Eventually, we get to the part where he reveals what is the cause of wealth and it turns out to be, according to Wattles, “doing things in a certain way.” Don’t be disappointed by this observation because it is quite profound. He points out that for every failed business in whatever field of endeavour you care to mention, there is another successful one doing essentially the same thing.

So it turns out to be not what you are doing so much as how you are doing it. Those who are succeeding are doing things in that “certain way” whether or not they know or understand it. There are many aspects to doing things in the certain way that Wattles covers in his book, but one key thing is to always commit to over-delivering. As he puts it, “to give each person more in use value than you take from them in cash value.”

Let me illustrate how this principle operates by telling you about someone I know personally who is using it most effectively. He is a builder and his name is Chris. He has built two extensions for us, on different houses, over the years. The first time we required the building work, he was one of three builders who quoted. It turned out that his price was the lowest. In fact, it was half the price of the highest quote.

Price is not always the best way of choosing anything because, with many things in life, you ultimately get what you pay for; we all know that. Often, cheap prices can mean inferior goods. But, in this case, we did not know anything else about the work of any of the builders. They all seemed professional enough and they were all pleasant people, so the decision eventually boiled down to the price and, on that basis, we found it difficult to not select him. That was how he, initially, he won the business.

Chris’ work turned out to be first class. He was there when he said he would be, he did what he said he was going to do and he charged what he said he would. In addition, he was a very tidy worker and he did a great job. We have recommended him to a number of friends as a result and, when we subsequently wanted an extension built at another house, we did not for one moment think about getting a competitive quote.

Chris is a great example of someone who is doing things in the “certain way” even though he has probably never heard of that book. The result is that he never needs to advertise and work continues to flow toward him. He could probably make more money if he raised his prices a little, but he loves his work and is very happy to always have a full order book.

As I said, that’s not the only principle in the book, but it is quite easy to see how a business like Chris’ will always flourish whilst the other businesses that originally quoted me for the same work, especially the one that wanted double, might struggle in the same economic climate. It is not just that by charging double they will get less business you understand; it is also that they will get a lot less referrals.

Just so you are absolutely clear about this, let me emphasise that Chris does not ask his customers for referrals; they do it voluntarily and they are very happy to make the recommendation. When I think about how many people I have personally referred to Chris, he has probably had a further three or four jobs as a result of my personal recommendations. Of course, when he does an excellent job for those friends, you know what they will do when their own friends want to find a builder don’t you?

So if you are in business of any kind, this is an important principle that you should think about very carefully. Hopefully, your product or service is already doing what you are promising and, hopefully, you do already have satisfied customers. But this principle involves going a lot further than satisfying your customers and, when you get this one thing right, your business will take off in the same way as Chris’ and for exactly the same reasons.

2 thoughts on “Over-Delivering: An Important Principle

  1. Geoff Aldridge

    I agree with the sentiment behind this article and the response about astounding your clients but do so with some reservation.

    I used to own and run an IT company and we often astounded our customers. Then at a user conference one of the biggest users made an observation. He said: “You guys need to be less perfect. You need to make some mistakes and be seen to struggle a bit and fix them. We are all so used to seeing you make this look so simple, it is hard for us to remember the value we are getting.”

    And that was from a customer!

    There is also another perspective that if you always over perform then that is the new standard and expectation of the customer. Obviously you cannot over perform incrementally forever.

    Here is another perspective:

    1) Say what you are going to do in both content and attitude.
    2) Do what you said you were going to do. If you make some mistakes in delivery, that’s life, fix them. Never make a mistake in attitude.
    3) Tell them what you did.
    4) Listen to the words but especially the body language of the customer. You will seldom be perfect and if you are listening you can always improve.

  2. len stevens

    Will, I cannot overdo my recommendation of what you say here. I am a trainer in many disciplines – and I always tell my students … “Don’t just PLEASE your customers … ASTOUND THEM!!” When I personally quote for a training assignment, I say in closing … “I deliver in Full Measure — Pressed Down — and Overflowing!” Works for me. Len.

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