Going the Extra Mile

A friend of mine had a son who worked one summer with a Class A baseball team. His job was to care for the visiting team’s locker room. Part of that job required him to provide their meal on game day, and he had to buy the meal. Each player was to tip him one dollar and the coaches and managers were to tip a little more. Not exactly a high paying job or one that many people would want, but he loved baseball and was seeking a job so it was a good fit.

I asked what was usually served for the visiting team’s meal in single-A ball and learned that in many clubhouses the team got a couple of loaves of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a knife. I understood why players wanted to advance as quickly as possible! However, this young man was clever and thought if he provided a better meal he might get more in tips. He thought he would buy a meat tray and test his theory. It worked. The increased tips more than made the difference in what he was paying for the better meals. After that season he went on to better employment, but he had learned an important lesson. Going the extra mile normally pays off.

This is true in every area of life. As a pastor I always challenged our church to attempt to do everything with excellence. Excellence is not the same as perfection. Perfection cannot always be achieved, but we can always strive towards excellence. Our church always shared Sunrise services with another smaller church in our area. The host church would provide breakfast after the service. The church we shared the service with always had donuts. When it was our turn to host our ladies prepared bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes and usually biscuits and gravy. Although the other church always commented on the difference between the meals, the next year they would have their donuts for us. Our ladies, and the entire church, took seriously my desire that we do everything with excellence. It only costs a little bit more to go the extra mile.

In my business I always stress to my team that we want to underpromise and overdeliver. We want to go the extra mile to serve our clients. We want people leaving as raving fans who want to tell everyone about the positive experience they had with us. We strive to treat everyone fairly and honestly and make their experience with us a positive one. We can only do that if we are willing to go the extra mile and deliver excellent service every single time.

For years I’ve told people it only costs a few cents more to go first-class, and I believe that. We are seeing a lot of brick-and-mortar stores closing these days. They claim they cannot compete with the large online businesses, and they probably can’t. But, if you notice, many can. We do not have a Nordstroms near us, but when I have the opportunity to shop in one I’m always amazed at the level of service they provide. I also notice the stores are usually full of people who are not just looking but spending their money. Being willing to go the extra mile has worked out very well for Nordstroms as it has for other businesses.

The question each of us needs to ask is are we willing to go the extra mile or are we satisfied to do the minimum that is required? Personally, I think if a person or organization isn’t willing to go the extra mile they shouldn’t get in the race at all.


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