How Clean Is Your Wastebasket?

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But if you can say something nice – DO!  – Lisa Ryan

It was my mom’s 70th birthday and I wanted to spend the day at the spa with her.  However, because of my speaking schedule, I did not have the time to book an appointment in advance.

If you’ve ever tried to book a spa appointment for a particular day, you know how difficult it can be, so imagine trying to book TWO same day spa appointments.  I was on the phone early, calling spas and telling the receptionist what I wanted.  Most of them practically laughed in my face, “Honey, we are booked up through the end of next month,” was the general reply.

Finally, I called one last number and Silvia picked up the phone.

I told her, “Today is my mom’s 70th birthday and I’d like to take her to the spa.”  Silvia replied, “We would love to create the perfect day for your mother.”  I said, “Well, I’d like to come with her, can you do two appointments?”  She answered, “Of course we can.”  I really wanted two facials, but because of the clinicians that they had working that day, we would have to have one facial and one massage – no problem, massage for mom, facial for me.

Then Silvia revealed, “We can even provide both services for each of you.”  By that time, Silvia had created such a high expectation for the day that I didn’t even ask the price, I just said, “Sign us up.”  With a single statement, Silvia doubled the amount of money I was going to spend at their spa.

Silvia greeted us at the door and led us into the “Relaxation Room.”  She directed my mother to a chair that already had a birthday balloon tied to it and a card signed by the staff.  She took off our shoes and put our feet up on the lounge chair.  She then brought my mom a tray with assorted goodies – grapes, cheese, crackers, cookies and chocolate.  As she offered my mother her tray, she said, “It is my pleasure and an honor to serve you.”  She then put together my tray and handed it to me in the same fashion.  Wow!

We did not carry our purse or take on or off our shoes all day.  The services were far beyond expectation and my mom said it was “the BEST birthday ever.”  Mission accomplished.  However, it wasn’t the amazing spa experience that had my mother and I talking on the way back to the car.

In the parking lot, my mother asked me, “Did you notice the bathroom?”  I exclaimed, “YES!”  Every single time my mother or I used the restroom, the wastebasket was empty.  It was perfectly clean.  The attention to detail was amazing and by taking care of everything, Silvia and the rest of the team created a day that was in a word – Perfect.

What does all of this have to do with your business?

1.  Think about how your phone is answered. Do you treat “silly questions” as if they truly are ridiculous, or do you look for a “Yes, and” solution to make the situation work for you and your potential client.  Smiling while answering the phone comes through to your client. Silvia’s enthusiasm started our experience off on a positive note.  You can find some great tips for phone etiquette from Salisbury University.

2.  How do you provide your service?  Do you consider it an “honor” to serve your clients?  Do you convey that in your tone of voice and come at your business from the place of a servant heart?  When Silvia first uttered, “It is my honor and a privilege to serve you,” I had no doubt in my mind that she meant every word. Richard Weylman offers his insight in his report, “The Honor of Serving Others”.

3.  What details are you missing?  Is there something you can do that is so simple and yet so unexpected that it leaves an indelible impression?  It may have taken Silvia three seconds to remove the paper towels from the waste basket between clients, yet that minor detail stood out above everything else.  It showed what an amazing experience they were able to create just by paying attention. In his article, “Pay Attention to the Details,” Harrison Barnes explores lots of ways in a variety of industry to make sure you are paying attention.

Take inventory of your thoughts, words, feelings and actions as you go through your day.  Your clients don’t need to know what kind of day you’re “really” having, all they need to do is experience the heart of a servant and the desire to take care of them in the best possible way – details included.

PS – Don’t underestimate the power of your thoughts, feelings and words. EVERYTHING you do makes an impression, whether it’s positive or negative.

(About the Author: Employee Engagement Expert and Motivational Speaker, Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She achieves this through personalized employee engagement and customer retention keynotes, workshops and seminars. She is the author of six books, and is featured in two films including the award-winning, “The Keeper of the Keys” with Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For more information, please connect with Lisa at her website: or email her at

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