May I share a confession, dear reader? I’m in love with brilliant ideas. I’m in awe when someone comes up with an idea—usually super simple—that (unbelievably) nobody had thought about before. Let me show you what I mean.
1. Brilliance on a Bridge
If you walked across the Pont des Arts, a famous bridge across the River Seine in Paris (a.k.a. “the city of romance”), you’d be surprised to see that its sides are covered in padlocks. And I don’t mean 10 or 20. I mean, it’s covered in thousands of “Love Padlocks.”
Some creative genius came up with the idea that lovers should immortalize their bond by attaching a padlock to the railing of the bridge, writing their names or initials on it, and throwing the key into the river below, so that nothing ever breaks their bond. The idea has traveled the world, and several other bridges are covered in the same manner.
Of course, entrepreneurs jumped on the bandwagon, and now sell padlocks, near the bridge and online. And judging by the thousands of locks, business must be booming.
It gets better: the total weight of the padlocks can reach such extravagant proportions, that City of Paris officials have to regularly remove them in order to preserve the integrity of the old metal bridge (built in 1804). Which means that more romantic lovers will keep buying more locks…
2. Cleverness at the Car Dealership
Leaving your car at a dealership can be a pain if you can’t put your life on hold or need to work for a living, and you need a vehicle. Even if your insurance plan includes a car rental, you still need transportation. If you’re lucky, a shuttle may take you there.
A much more convenient and creative idea is to have a car rental company inside the dealership. Drop off your car, walk a few feet and hop in a rental car. I’ve seen this at several dealerships and thought it was a simple but brilliant idea.
Similarly, I heard of a physical therapist who set up shop inside a fitness center in Australia. His idea was so successful that he soon opened 6 other centers!
3. Finesse at the Fast Food Joint
You’ve heard of the food pyramid. But have you heard of the food square? According to Taco Bell, you can combine melty, crunchy, spicy and grilled into one meal. Even better: Eager to help us pack on more calories, the fast food company invented the Fourth Meal, “between dinner and breakfast.”
You may be against junk food, but you’ve got to admire the creative marketing.
4. Smartness in School
To encourage kids to read, some schools have partnered with local family restaurants. If a student reads enough, (s)he gets rewarded with a coupon for a free kid’s meal.
Think about it. This is a brilliant move for the school. It’s a brilliant incentive for the kids. And it’s a brilliant strategy for the restaurants. Few elementary school kids drive a car. Most actually show up at restaurants with their parents—and sometimes their siblings—who will pay full price for their meals.
What can we learn from this?
Pay attention to excellent (or horrible) customer service as you live your life: at hotels, at upscale stores, at other healthcare practices. Study their tactics, tricks and strategies to wow clients, customers and patients. This is how someone came up with the idea of setting up a coffee machine in the waiting room. Or to provide coloring books for kids in waiting and exam rooms.
You could negotiate with a local restaurant a deal similar to the reading incentive. You could offer clients a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert at a local restaurant while they wait for their pets.
Or you could arrange for a free beverage at the local coffee place. Chances are, people will order pastry or cookies.
Or you could offer a pickup or delivery service for busy clients, or for clients who don’t drive.
There are countless other ways to impress clients.
He who wows clients, wins them over.
Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.