The Simpson Desert is 176,500 square kilometres of barren landscape. Many years ago I rode a mountain bike across this desert—not really a smart thing to do, I admit. Five days of riding from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The last thing I wanted to happen in this process was for my bike to fail me. There was enough risk of my body doing just that, so I figured I needed to minimise the possibility of mechanical failure.

I visited a bike shop and ordered the best mountain bike I could buy. Over the months and months of training, I ordered additional wheels and many sets of tyres and an array of accessories. I wanted to be completely kitted up and ready to go. I had several services performed on my bike to make sure it was in superb condition.

The reaction from the bike shop owner each time I walked into the store intrigued me. He would discount! I didn’t ask for it. I wasn’t shopping around. I didn’t complain about pricing. I needed the absolute best equipment and advice—my survival in the desert was my primary objective.

I would estimate that the bicycle shop left over $1000 sitting on the table during their transactions with me. I was just one customer. They were doing it to be nice and because they thought of me as a good customer.

As nice as that sounds, I was quite happy to pay the normal price. If they really wanted to look after me, they could have offered some additional value to my process—maybe some training tips or some help with research. The irony of it is that in being nice to look after me, I have lost confidence in the store! When I asked for a complete service of my bike—asking them to go over everything—they did the job and charged me $20. I argued that I should be paying more, but that was what they were happy to charge. I am now wondering if I should start to use another bicycle shop that will give me higher levels of service and not worry about the dollars.

Clients remember the level of service long after they forget the price.

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