Take the bull by the horns . . . in your approach to customer service.

By Chad Helton 

Recently I was lucky enough to get involved with Leadership Central Kentucky. This is an awesome group with a big focus on regionalism and improving Central Kentucky as a whole by having all of our counties work together for a common good. Each month we will be visiting a different county and learning more about an area we maybe didn’t know much about before. This month we visited Bourbon County, which, overall, was just a great day.

There are some truly wonderful things going on in Bourbon County and they have big, exciting plans for their community. One of our stops (one that I really wasn’t too excited about) was to the Paris Stockyard.

Not In a Million Years

I admit, stockyards are not something I had spent too many hours thinking about and certainly would have never thought about learning something about customer services from these folks. I have studied the Marriott, Chick-fil-A, the Apple Store and other businesses with great hiring practices and awesome training . . . but never once did a stockyard come to mind.

As we went in, had a delicious lunch, we started to learn about the business of running the stockyard. I was amazed . . . customer service kept coming up. Now, he wasn’t calling it customer service, he was just explaining what was important to their success at Paris Stockyard.

Apparently, there is a lot of competition in the stockyard business and there isn’t a shortage of stockyards for farmers to chose from in our region (sound familiar?). So, we learned what it takes to be the stockyard that farmers choose to do business with. Come to find out it is the EXACT same principles that we should be using in senior living.

The Right Vibe

He spoke about having the right personalities and big smiles where farmers were bringing in their cattle. He wants every farmer to be and feel welcomed by an appreciative staff. He had to shuffle some people around and even get rid of some folks who gave off a negative vibe. You never want your first impression to be a negative or complaining employee.

He went on to talk about the importance of treating every customer equally. No matter the size of the farm or the amount of money the stockyard stands to make off a farmer, they all get the same treatment without preference or favor. Even for his own personal cattle, he does himself no favors and refuses to cut any corners in the system that everyone else would’t get. This creates loyalty. Folks come back to him time after time because he treats everyone equally and no one comes into his stockyard and feels unimportant.

Creating Value

Also, and I found this so important, is that he keeps a good perspective on what they are charging farmers per transaction. As a cattle farmer himself, he realizes the thought process the farmer goes through when evaluating the fees of a stockyard and what is fair or not. He admits that they could probably make a little bit more per transaction but he is smart enough to know that he doesn’t need to do that.

Being fair in his pricing, he gets repeat business and new word-of-mouth customers. Where, if the farmers felt like they were being charged too much, they are more than likely going to start looking for a new stockyard.

I have always said that “customer service, is customer service” no matter where you are, but I didn’t realize how true that was until I met the Zig Ziglar of the stockyard world.

Hopefully, we can all model our styles after the Paris Stockyard!