You Owe Me Another One!

Six more ways to effectively leverage the law of reciprocity and improve just about every dimension of dealership life.

Last time we concentrated on the immutable and undisputable power of reciprocity as an element of change for your store. Whether it is with customers or coworkers, the concept works the same way!

When someone invites you to their party, you feel it is important to invite them to yours, right? Guess what? That’s the law of reciprocity at work. We looked at five ways for you to give something to customers and coworkers that would enable you to effectively leverage the law of reciprocity to improve just about every dimension of dealership life.

Here are six more biggies that can serve as true catalysts for you (you can thank me later):

1) Engage in mentoring: Mentoring is the act of developing others. All too often in our modern business lives mentoring is a lost art. Sometimes it seems that we are so busy trying to get our own tasks done that we don’t take the time to develop others. This, in my humble opinion, is a simmering problem and will contribute to the decline of the business.

Do you know something about the powersports business that others in the dealership don’t? Show them how to do it! Spread the tribal knowledge and that knowledge will come back to benefit you.

I have been fortunate to have been helped by many mentors during my almost two decades in the motorcycle business. If any of those people ever call and need something, we make it a reality, right now! Why? Because I owe them.

2) Compliment good work: Everyone likes to hear when they do something well. Don’t keep it to yourself — if someone has legitimately done something well, tell them! This is also a great way to repair damaged relationships. What’s the best way to get a chip off someone’s shoulder? Let them take a bow.

Of course you should only do this if in fact the compliment is coming from a place of legitimacy and authenticity. There are names for people who use compliments for nothing other than the sake of manipulation. Fortunately none of those nasty names will make it past the hawk-like censors here at MPN.

3) Listen attentively: Here’s a news flash: multi-tasking doesn’t work! A study done at the University of California found that professionals were only able to work for about 11 minutes before being distracted. What’s worse, it then took them 25 minutes to return to the primary task.

Some studies even suggest that constant exposure to e-mails and text messages temporarily lowers a person’s overall IQ by as much as 10 points! Oh boy … in this case I know a certain editor who is definitely coming up a few points shy of the village idiot on the IQ scale. I’m just not sure if it is a temporary phenomenon because a smarter editor would have caught this little jab. (Editor’s note: don’t worry Mark, I have a little reciprocity of my own in mind!)

Have you ever called someone on the phone and heard them typing in the background? Or talked to someone while they are looking at a piece of reading material? You know when someone isn’t tuned in to you. Not the best approach, to say the least.

If you have a customer or coworker speaking with you, give them your undivided attention. They will appreciate it and will return the favor for you.

4) Be cheerful: Face it, no one wants to hang around a brooding or complaining person. Want to have people around you that are fun and upbeat? Be fun and upbeat yourself and others will reciprocate (there’s that word again)!

5) Spend some time with people: People aren’t like tasks on a to-do list. You can’t dispatch of them quickly and expect not to have repercussions. Be too abrupt with people and it will come back to haunt you. You don’t have to spend all day chit-chatting, but you can’t be too terse, either.

Calling a dealership one day I experienced this little exchange:

"Service, this is Bob."

I replied, "Hi Bob, This is Mark Rodgers. How are you do today?"

"Fine," he said, "How are you?"


"Well now that we have that out of the way," he answered dripping with condescension, "Whaddaya want?"

I have news for you, Bob. On this planet, normal people exchange basic pleasantries. Be too abrupt and most people will resent it. I know I did.

6) Give referrals: Be genuinely interested in your customers and find out what they do and what they have going on. You’d be amazed at what can happen. You may find out that one customer is selling a house and another is looking for a house. Put them together. You’re not taking responsibility for the sale or condition or anything, you’re merely passing along some information.

If someone is looking for a painter and another customer you know has a painting business put them together, or if … well, you get the picture.

The Law Of Reciprocity And The Concept Of Concessions

The rule of reciprocity also applies to the concept of concessions. Here’s a quick quiz: If you have two offers to make to a customer, which do you present first, the less expensive one or the more expensive offering?

The correct answer — and by the way, the research is quite clear on this — is the more expensive offering. Say what?

If you offer the more expensive item first, the customer may just take it — how’s that for the frosting on the beer mug? If they say no, then you can always retreat within your offer and suggest the less expensive option. In this manner, you’ve radically increased the chance that the customer will take that item.

Why? Because the customer will feel bad at saying no to your first option, so they will want to reciprocate and do something for you by taking you up on your second offer.

You Owe Me

Very often we fumble away our influence opportunities. Have you ever done a favor for someone in your dealership and then had that person come back to you and say thank you?

You probably replied with, "Sure no problem, just part of the job."

Well if you did, you just fumbled away a golden opportunity to keep the wheels of social exchange moving.

Contrary to the title of this article, what you don’t want to say is, "you owe me another one!" That will do nothing but create resistance and resentment.

But don’t just say, "No problem" and shrug it off. Instead, try this approach:

Coworker: "Thank you so much for helping me out on that project."

You: "No problem! Because I know if the situation were reversed, you would have done the same for me.

Just like that you have put one in the bank and earned yourself a chit — an informal influence deposit in the bank of reciprocity. Come to think of it, you just may owe me another one for divulging the power of reciprocity and the corollary of concessions! Just kidding — we already covered the concept of dealing with attempted manipulations by Machiavellian types — remember?

Society is a series of give and take interactions. That’s just the way people work. It’s not manipulative if you are coming from a place of authenticity and are genuinely trying to help and give an advantage to others.

So go and see how many people you can help today, because your performance matters.

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