Let me explain what I mean by a guarantee, because most people immediately think of it like the warrantee you turn to when your new toaster breaks down. And that’s a form of guarantee “your new toaster will work for 12 months or we’ll replace it or give you your money back.”. However, guarantees don’t have to be about buying electrical goods.
I once asked a florist who was attending one of my seminars if he offered a guarantee to his customers and he said “no”. I asked him what would happen if I bought some flowers from him today… and tomorrow they were dead? He said “Well, that wouldn’t happen with our flowers, but if it did we would obviously replace them immediately.”. That sounded like a guarantee to me, and to everyone else, and to the florist himself – yet he wasn’t telling his customers. I asked what would happen if the other florist in the town put a sign in their window saying “Guarantee – our flowers will last at least 5 days or we’ll replace them free of charge”. He didn’t much like that… because it might imply to customers that their flowers were better than his.
What’s the purpose of a guarantee?
If you think about it, a guarantee is really just something to help your customers get over the fear of making a purchase. They won’t tell you, and they’re probably not even conscious of their fears, but they’re worried “what if I buy and then I don’t like it?”. Or “What if I buy here and find it cheaper down the road?”. Or “What if I buy it and when I get it home, I realise it’s the wrong size?”. And so on… The purpose of a guarantee is to remove or reduce the fear so that a customer will buy now. We don’t want them to go away and think about it, or see if it’s cheaper elsewhere, we want them to buy now!
I’ll bet that if you think about it, there’s an implied guarantee that you offer in your business – so what is it? What would happen if you boldly put it in writing on your website or on your shop window or your company vehicle? The main reason we don’t overtly offer a guarantee is our own fear! We worry that if we made a truly generous, no-strings guarantee, then lots of people would claim and it would cost us a fortune! But would it really? Actually very few people claim on guarantees that are offered in good faith and with a few obvious and reasonable exceptions.
When I first started running training workshops I offered a guarantee that if you applied what you learnt for at least three months and didn’t earn back more than the amount you’d paid – I’d give you your money back. Several people asked if I was crazy, because surely people would simply lie and ask for their money back! After a few months of no one claiming, someone asked “If you’re that confident, why do you even have the clauses?”. Ever since then, that’s exactly what I’ve done: “If you’re not completely satisfied, I’ll refund your money in full”. Sure enough, no one has ever claimed. I expect that one day someone will ask for their money back, and I’ll give it willingly. Even so, it will have cost a lot less than the sales I’ll have gained by offering the guarantee.
So here’s the question again – what guarantee do you implicitly give in your business, but don’t actually tell anyone? Turn it into a benefit by telling your prospective customers. Put it on your website. By all means add safety clauses to protect yourself, but after a while, you might want to remove some of those. If you’re confident of your offering, couldn’t you offer “Satisfaction or your money back?”.