The Extra Mile

     It has been said that there are no traffic jambs on the extra mile because so few elect to travel there.

     Not long ago Barb and I were dining at a local restaurant with my son and his wife when all of a sudden the manager showed up with a luscious dessert for the four of us.  It was on the house, he indicated, having learned we were there to celebrate Barb’s birthday.  A short while later the waiter brought out our bill, and – to our surprise – $40 had been deducted from the total!  “The manager wanted you to have that,” he stated.  Needless to say, we will certainly patronize that place again!
     Outside of that instance I had to think long and hard as to whether I had ever been the recipient of something extra like that, over-and-above what was expected, and I couldn’t recall another occasion.  I even asked Barb, and she couldn’t think of one either.  I believe that’s because there are not many willing to go beyond the norm.  In fact, these days you have to check to make sure you’re getting what you paid for to begin with!
     What do I mean by the “extra mile”?  It is a valuable principle that derives from a statement made by the world’s greatest teacher, Jesus Christ, who said,
          “Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matthew 4:41). 
     In other words,   do more than you are required to do.  Anyone can do what they are supposed to do, but it the rare person or company that goes a step further and does more than is expected of them.  It is the difference between average and excellent, the good and the great. 
     Of course there are risks involved.  One such hazard is the person who takes advantage of your generosity, expecting more from you than you are willing or able to give.  After all, even the smallest gestures have costs associated with them.  Another is the individual or entity who compels you to go two or three miles – what do you do then?
     I have to admit there have been times when I have retracted from applying this principle for these very reasons.  In the long run, however, I am convinced that it is the little things that add value to your organization, that keep customers coming back. 
     Pastor and author Dave Williams recently stated that “the second mile is short compared to the benefits at the end of that mile.”  The truth is that there will never be any want of opportunity for the company that is committed to exceeding expectations.  These are the businesses that will thrive regardless of economic conditions.  Some companies will cut corners and at the same time try and make you think you got what you paid for.  Others will simply deliver on their promises.  A few others, however, will go above and beyond the call of duty, adding that small extra touch that makes you want to call on them again and again.
     I want my company to be one of the latter.   

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January 2010

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