335 The Secret to a Successful Upscale Business – John DiJulius

What you will hear in our discussion with John DiJulius:

  • How to Profit from Sharing Your Life Experience
  • How to Become a Successful Consultant
  • The Secret to a Successful Upscale Business
  • “Great Customer Service Can Make Price Irrelevant” – John Dijulius
  • The Path to a Successful Speaker and Consultant

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More about our featured guest John DiJulius

International consultant and best-selling author of three Customer service books, his latest book, The Customer Service Revolution (Greenleaf Books 2015), instantly hit #1 on Amazon. John works with world class companies like The Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Nestlé, Marriott Hotels, PwC, Cheesecake Factory, Progressive Insurance, Harley Davidson, Chick-fil-A, and many more.

John isn’t just talking about it, he lives it, as a very successful entrepreneur of two businesses. John Robert’s Spa, a chain of upscale Cleveland locations, has been repeatedly named one of the top 20 salons in America; and The DiJulius Group, a consulting firm focused on changing the world by creating a Customer service revolution. John will demonstrate how we can make our Customer service our single biggest competitive advantage and make price irrelevant!


Full Transcript

[00:01] Joel: As promised, author of three amazing must have business and customer service books. Number one, Secret Service. Number two, What's the Secret? And then of course, his number one Amazon best selling book, he and his team were kind enough to send us two autographed copies of the book. Wow! Amazing book. It's called “The Customer Service Revolution”. And of course, our guest is the amazing John DiJulius. John, this is the first time we've had you on ReLaunch. Welcome to the show sir.

[00:34] John DiJulius: I'm excited. I've been waiting for the invite.

[00:36] Joel: [laughter] Well, we've been waiting to have you on and you know what? You were at Social Media Marketing World 2015, and that's where I first met some people that were in your team and I just knew that I had to have you on this show and welcome to today's episode. And getting right in to it John, this show, it's highly practical because it is all about the Relaunch and specifically how you did it. And while we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our lives, I do normally asks our guest to zero in on a Relaunch that has been the most transformational for them and then we just unfold the story from there. And we'll do that with you here in just a few minutes if that's okay but first, wanna start off the show with a quick piece of take-away gold if you will.

[01:27] Joel: Now John, you work with companies and brands that we pretty much all would recognize. There's Ritz Carlton, there's Lexus, there's Starbucks, there's Cheesecake Factory, and there's also Chick-fil-A. You work with them, helping them to transform their culture into one that provides a better customer experience. And what… I'm just curious, quick piece of gold here, what would you say is the most often ignored or maybe the most… Or the unknown ingredient? Yeah, that's probably a good way to put it, that's needed to deliver a top level customer service. There's just kind of wasn't being met? Or hasn't been met?

[02:09] John DiJulius: Great question. And my whole foundation about all our teachings in methodology, all comes around service aptitude. And how good any company, brand, location, customer service is based on the service aptitude. From the CEO down to the dish washer, to the new employee that is starting next week. And here is the key, none of us, me, you, no one listening, had high service aptitude when we graduated from school and entered the work world. That's the problem. Most people think it's innate. Service aptitude comes from three primary places. Previous life experiences, so if you think about that. We didn't grow up driving Mercedes Benz, when we turn 16, flying first class, staying at five star resorts, yet most leaders managers expect their employees to give that type of experience to their type of clients, guests, tenants, customers, whenever they may call them. It's not practical.

[03:06] John DiJulius: The second place is previous work experiences. And if you are not hiring people directly from Nordstrom, Chick-fil-A, Ritz Carlton, they've worked for someone that wasn't world class and they may have been brainwashed to be suspicious and paranoid, instead of naïve and trusting. The third place, service aptitude gets shaped, is the only one that we can control as business leaders and that's current work experiences. So to put a bow on it, this is really important, it is not your employees responsibility to have high service aptitude, it is the companies that give it to them right? The employees will not have high service aptitude when they get to you.

[03:48] Joel: Thank you so much for just quickly nut-shelling that for us. I think about myself driving home and going through the Chick-fil-A drive thru and what's the last thing that they say or it's either the last thing or the first thing that they say, but, “It's my pleasure.”

[04:08] John DiJulius: Right.

[04:09] Joel: And I can remember that. I don't remember anything else that happens during that transaction, but I remember them saying, “It's my pleasure.” Because who else says that? Go ahead Pei.

[04:18] Pei: Right. And I remember you and your buddy, two of you sometimes kinda have this discussion of customer service and you always say, “No. It's always on the leadership.”

[04:34] Joel: I always say it's on the leadership.

[04:35] Pei: Yeah. ‘Cause he says, “Well you know? It's the hiring the employees.” But you say, “No. It's always the management.”

[04:43] Joel: It would be easy to point the finger at… Well, “He didn't do this or she didn't do that.” But the responsibility falls on the shoulder of the manager or the leader. Anyway, that's always on my take on this. Sounds like John and I are going to be on the same page. That means we are going to have a wonderful conversation. Let's get into it right now. Talking about John's relaunch. Appreciate the quick nuggets there. If we back up and talk about the relaunch, now you said that you started some of your businesses too if I remember correctly kind of in the pre-show chat that happened by accident. So are those the ones that we need to talk about today or is there something else on your mind today John?

[05:23] John DiJulius: I've had… My whole life has been a Relaunch. And I would love to tell you that there was a plan and I knew from day one that I was gonna do this, this, this, and it hasn't been. That's why I speak to college graduates, and tell them, I think it's unfair that we ask 21-year-old kids to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. The whole major thing it's pretty tough. So back in my day when I graduated from college, I had a marketing degree, and I was driving a truck for UPS and it was great money at that time back in 1989. I was making $45,000 a year which was crazy, double what I can get with my marketing degree. But every day I drove to work and said in 29 more years, three months and two days, I can retire.

[06:12] Joel: Wow.

[06:13] John DiJulius: And I wanted to get old as fast as I could. It never haunted me that what were they gonna put on my tombstone that he delivered packages very fast and on time. UPS was a great job. It just wasn't… I knew it wasn't my life's work. And so, I met my soon to be wife at that time and we got married and she was a successful hairdresser, so I figured I'd open a salon for her, and then it would hopefully take off, give me the freedom to quit UPS and explore. I had to own my own business, but I had no discernible skill, other than I loved sports, but at 5'6″ I certainly wasn't going to make any money in sports.

[06:57] Joel: Amen, brother.


[06:58] John DiJulius: Right. So, we failed. We almost went out of business the first month we opened the salon 'cause we had no idea what we were doing. My wife was this wonderful hairdresser, charged a lot, could make it rain, but… So, I had to jump in and help and all of a sudden I found a passion for making an experience where no one else was prior in the salon industry and then it just started exploding. We're knocking down doors and knocking down walls, and opening up new locations. And all of a sudden people started asking me to speak in this beauty industry because the beauty industry hadn't seen the growth and probably the business systems before. It was just great chefs opening restaurants. Great landscapers opening up landscaping.

[07:44] Pei: Right.

[07:45] John DiJulius: So, I thought “Oh, that'd be cool. I'll speak a little bit.” I enjoyed it. And so as we were growing the salons, I'm that key note… I'm sorry, I'm that breakout speaker, downstairs, down the hall in the dungeon where I belonged. Then you'd have great speakers like Tom Peters, and Michael Gerber and those types on main stage. And I'd watch them and I'd be like “Wow. I kinda wanna do this.” And I'd go up to these speakers, and as you know Joel, they couldn't have been more generous, seriously. They took me seriously.

[08:17] Joel: Oh yeah. Oh my gosh yes.

[08:19] John DiJulius: And they told me if you want to be a speaker, and they gave me advice. And one of it is to write your first book. So in 2003, my first book came out and… January 2003, I was a salon owner that spoke a little bit, all in the beauty industry. And then, the book came out that January and overnight I became a speaker that owned a salon. And again did not think it was gonna go anywhere. Just it was fun. And all of the sudden I started getting hired by Starbucks, and Chick-fil-A and the Ritz. And I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore, and I was learning more from working with them than I was probably sharing with them. But it just took hold and now 12 years later we have a big consulting firm that, well this is what we do.

[09:12] Joel: Very cool. Appreciate you sharing that with us, John. Something you said about when you were working with your wife or when you were leaving UPS, you said that you knew you needed to own a business. Now how did you know that? Is that just something that was always coursing through your veins, or is it that you just got fed up with punching a clock or… I'm trying to… Help me understand that.

[09:39] John DiJulius: I'm assuming… I've never talked, but I'm assuming every born entrepreneur has this. I don't know. When I was in college, after I flunked out, and I came back, I remember I was…

[09:51] Joel: Hey, what, hold on. What was your GPA when you flunked out? Because I had a pretty low one. I'm wondering if yours was lower than mine? As I worked myself back…

[09:59] John DiJulius: Well, it was 1.6, you need to get back in. That's why I flunked out but I have a treacherous past. I was ADD and LD, request to repeat every grade from 1st to 12th, suspended, not accepted at the high school which my older brothers attended, graduated dead last from high school, then flunked out of college. So, I'm not sure. I didn't want to tell you that cause I didn't think you'd want to have me on your…

[10:28] Joel: I'm still on the fence with it but, just two guys talking.

[10:32] Pei: We haven't published this show yet.

[10:33] Joel: Just two guys talking, yeah.

[10:35] John DiJulius: Right.

[10:36] Joel: We can edit out… Smoke and mirrors can fix anything John.

[10:39] John DiJulius: Right, listen, you probably took me off the air 10 minutes ago and we're… You're just making me feel like we're still doing it.

[10:46] Joel: Hey, try to beat… I was at a 0.8 something at my wonderful Texas Tech University, but I worked myself back into graduating and yeah, I don't remember what my final GPA was, but it was lower than John's so there you go.

[11:05] John DiJulius: Right. I'm just living proof, as you are, that passion will overcompensate, a lot of deficiencies. I tell people all the time, it won't be hard to find people smarter than me, better genetics, higher wealth that they came from, higher degrees. But you won't find too many people that have the passion for what they do that I and you have and that'll kick a lot of other things around. So that was it. That's back to how I got in business. All I remember is my second tour of college, I used… I looked at everything and I couldn't just look at an experience and wonder why. I was always picking it apart. And then I started getting… I literally would loose sleep in college thinking “What am I gonna do?”

[12:00] John DiJulius: I don't wanna work for someone. I wanna create something. And I didn't have any measurable skills, at the time except for a brain that just constantly worked. And the only thing I liked was sports, and now like I said sports doesn't play. I thought I going to open a sporting goods store, someday. That's the only thing I could think of. And so by accident I found, I stumbled onto my wife's and just saw all these opportunities that no one else was doing, and then between her technical piece… Typically as you guys know in any of these businesses again, the artist, the landscaper, the chef, whoever, that pendulum is swung so far over to the technical side…

[12:43] Pei: Yes. Yes.

[12:44] John DiJulius: But there's not any business side. So by having us, we kept the pendulum in the middle, because I was trying to pull it to be customer service and business, and she didn't allow me to just have that. She had it as the artistic side. So that worked for us. That worked and our fast growth without spending any money on advertising, started getting local and national attention.

[13:08] Pei: I love that and I think… I'm sure a lot of people know Michael Gerber's E-Myth. He… Or many people mention if you open a business actually it's best that you don't know how to do it, the actual technique, so you work on the business.

[13:27] Joel: Right, 'cause if you're the baker and you try to open it, you're going to spend all your day baking in the business, so to speak.

[13:34] Pei: So that's awesome. Two of you worked out that you took care of the business bit. I'm curious, John, that, where did that business or customer service bug, actually, how did that come to you?

[13:50] Joel: Good question.

[13:52] Pei: Was there a pattern in your life?

[13:55] John DiJulius: [13:56] ____ Actually, it was out of necessity. When we opened, we almost ran out of business, we had no money. We're a just typical starter, and have no idea what we're doing. We can't advertise. We can't… And there is… Like every city there is literally 50 salons up and down the street within a couple miles.

[14:14] Joel: Right.

[14:14] John DiJulius: So, how are we gonna be any different? “Hey, we've got really good hairdressers!” Yeah, sure you do. So does everyone else. And so, the one thing I was like what if we provided an experience because like a lot of businesses, the beauty industry was not known for taking care of the customers. So, that's where I saw… And another thing, I wrote a book by accident, because I started reading every customer service book I could get my hand on, and I was like, “Why is it so rare that we experience, in all walks of life, good customer experience, exceptional customer experience.” So, I was trying to crack the code. And my frustration from reading books and watching some customer service speakers back in the early '90s was they would all told me that warm and fuzzy story of how the Nordstrom's clerk, ran down to Macy's, bought you the shoes, bring it to you.

[15:05] John DiJulius: But they didn't tell me how you got her to do that, and how I could get every employee on my staff to do it. So that's what was my frustration of, I wanna know the why. I don't want to hear the warm and fuzzy stories. I wanna get… How do I get Joel to think like that even when I'm not there tomorrow. And so, I started writing a book, because it's kind of about a necessity. And so, I started interviewing and studying the Disney, the Ritz-Carlton, and I basically was trying to answer the question, how can Disney, Nordstrom and the Ritz-Carlton's of the world get 50,000 employees to do this, while so many of us mom and pops struggle with a team of five or 15? And that's really where it all came from, is I needed to solve the answer. Obviously when we think we've solved the answer, we learn it best.

[15:51] Joel: Let me ask you a quick question, John. I know you've got something to say, maybe you can weave it together with this answer: What did you get from writing your book, “The Customer Service Revolution.”

[16:05] John DiJulius: You know, it's “the teacher always learns the most.”

[16:09] Joel: Yes.

[16:09] John DiJulius: So having the ability… The one thing I had early on, I don't know why, and I bet you it's a commonality in a lot of your successful people listening, have, and if they don't, then they need to get over it. I had this kind of silly lack of fear of contacting people. I would call up CEOs and bestselling authors when I had no business calling them, and every time they couldn't have been more generous. I'm speaking fast-track, knowing I only had 10 seconds before they blow me off, and these people would just say “Slow down, slow down. Take as much time as you need.” They didn't know me. So, one, I just found out there's a commonality with successful people. They shared. And then I would… So, I was very inquisitive and for some reason I was, for a lack of a better word, pretty ballsy, and I'd get through it, and I just learned. So, I didn't just… Doing “The Customer Service Revolution” what you have to do in any, when you're an expert, is study the best in class. And then, you start seeing a commonality of what they have in common, and then you duplicate it. Success leaves clues, right? And if I ever get called for being brilliant… If you copy one thing from one person, it's called plagiarism. If you copy 50, it's called research. And I'm the greatest researcher there is, right?

[17:43] Joel: Right, right. You know, I love what you just shared because one of the things that I constantly remind our podcasting and our other students that, successful people, they want to help. A lot of times people have this block of, well Gosh, why would he wanna talk to me, or why would she wanna talk to me. And I asked the same question, “Well, why would they?” Because they want to serve, they want to give. Go ahead, Pei.

[18:11] Pei: Yeah, one of our mentors, Joe Calloway…

[18:13] Joel: I knew this story was coming.

[18:14] Pei: Yeah. Yeah.

[18:17] John DiJulius: Listen, Joe is one of those people I'm talking about.

[18:19] Joel: Yes.

[18:20] John DiJulius: Joe didn't know me. I was one of these stalkers, after he spoke, and called him, and now we're best friends. He's featured me in his book, he's spoken at my event twice, and I'm telling you, just his generosity in giving me advice when he didn't know me from Adam, and didn't know if I would use his advice, or just walk away, Joe is world class.

[18:43] Joel: I gotta tell you my Calloway story, real quick, can I?

[18:46] John DiJulius: Please.

[18:48] Joel: Well, when I first met Joe, this was several years ago, as I was getting ready to launch my latest book, “Finding your Voice,” which, that hit number one on Amazon, as well, like yours. But I asked Joe, I said, “Hey Joe, how do I… ” This was before we became tight, kind of like where we are today. I said, “Joe, how do I tactfully and diplomatically… ” Like those words go together. ” How do I tactfully and diplomatically ask people that have been on my show, influencers, people with a platform and audience, how do I ask them to help promote my book, or to ask people to support me and my book, and things of that nature?” And then I thought about it, and I thought how ridiculous that question sounded. And I said, “Hey Joe, do I even need to be tactful and diplomatic?” And immediately, immediately, Joe said, “No, you need to be crystal clear with what you want people to do for you, and you know what, Joel, they will.” And then I said, ‘Yeah, but Joe, how come? Why would someone help me, an unknown author at the time, do this?” And Joe very clearly, and this isn't gonna surprise you, John. He said, “Because the people that are now successful, at one time asked for help when nobody knew who they were. And they understand.”

[20:13] John DiJulius: Right. And that's Joe, and there's another thing to it. People love to help.

[20:17] Joel: Oh yeah.

[20:18] Pei: And I though, if you call up and ask me for my help, absolutely I'm gonna to try to do even more than you expected. If you call up and dance around, and I feel like there's a hidden agenda, I'll get… I'll try to get out of it, and cut it off, because I feel like you're blowing smoke, hoping to get some. So, that's one of my key initiatives personally, is give more. These two words I'd love to get tattooed on my forehead, if it wouldn't look so silly. And basically, if you went to the dictionary and looked up ‘give more,' Joe Calloway would be up…

[20:52] Joel: I agree.

[20:53] John DiJulius: There. A picture of him, and so many people we know. And give more to me is, the deal is, the agreement is, our contract says, “You're gonna do A, B and C, and if you do, I'll do X, Y and Z.” But most people are cynical, and nervous, and so we wait 'till you do A, B and C, and once you do, we execute ours. What I try to teach myself, my family, and my staff, is do X, Y, and Z first, throw in W, and don't keep score, and don't have a good memory. Don't remember three years ago when someone didn't. Don't let that ruin it. And that's at work, that's with your clients. That means, if you borrow someone's pickup truck to move furniture, you give him that pickup truck cleaner, and with more gas, than they gave it to you. And I always say, “Giving more is one of the most selfish things that you could do, because the way it comes back to you.”

[21:47] Joel: John DiJulius our guest today, on the Joe Calloway Love Fest.


[21:55] Joel: Well, we love Joe, and thank you so much for sharing those stories with us, John. I wanna come in for a landing here, in just a few minutes, but I've got to get into this book, “The Customer Service Revolution.” Now, our audience is made up of a diverse group of authors, of podcasters, of content creators, people that are relaunching into that next phase and that next chapter in their life. What do people, just a handful of tips, if you would, quickly, of what do people need to understand about creating their own customer service revolution, in their own existing business, or their future business?

[22:37] Pei: Well, a customer service revolution isn't a rally cry we do once a year. We need executive sponsorship, and that means the top-down, they have drew a line in the sand, and say, “This is what we're gonna stand for.” Every world class customer service company that you can think of, and while there's not that many, you can see why. They're leaders, from Walt Disney to Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, to Howard Schultz to Tony Hsieh, to Dan Cathy, they're OCD about the customer service, and it's not going… And every time they talk, you can read an interview, watch a video, what the topic is, they bring it back to how it affects the customer experience. So, basically, we have a definition for a customer service revolution: It's a radical overthrow of conventional business mentality, to design to transform what employees and customers experience. The shift produces a culture that permeates into people's personal lives, at home, and in the community, which in turn provides the businesses with higher sales, morale, and brand loyalty. And thus, my favorite saying ever, “Making price irrelevant.” I love that. That's all we do, that's what we try to do with every company we work with, and you can make price irrelevant. I'll end with this, it doesn't mean you could double your fee.

[24:00] John DiJulius: Or even raise them 30% and not lose existing customers, but what it does mean is based on the experience, your group, your company consistently delivers, your customers have no idea what your competition charges. And that's what making price irrelevant is. We all are price-sensitive, but we all have a few businesses that we're so loyal to that if I asked you, “Joel, you always talk about your handyman. Alright, well, how much does he charge 'cause mine charges me $60 an hour?” You might say, “John, I'm embarrassed to say, I have no idea, nor do I care.”

[24:38] Pei: Oh, that's the truth.

[24:40] Joel: And that's exactly true 'cause…

[24:41] Pei: Yeah, Barry…

[24:42] Joel: We love Barry. We would pretty much give Barry a check for whatever he asked for.

[24:47] Pei: At the end of the day, we didn't ask, “Okay, how many hours? What did you do?” He said, “This is how much.” We said, “Great.”

[24:54] Joel: He comes to my studio, hands me the invoice, and he'll leave with a check. Simple as that. No questions asked, 'cause he delivers.

[25:03] John DiJulius: Right, but there's other things that you guys are shopping in your business or personal lives to the lowest bidder, right? And we're all like that. I've been the idiot that drives three extra miles to save 50 cents on something, not realizing I just lost in the exchange. So making price irrelevant, becoming the brand that customers can't live without, that's what it's about.

[25:26] Joel: Absolutely. Speaking with John DiJulius. John DiJulius, Of course, we'll have the social media links and all of the hotspots and the go-to places including the links to his books including “Customer Service Revolution” in the show notes that accompany this episode. Pei, you have final words?

[25:45] Pei: And that's joelboggess.com/335.

[25:49] Joel: Again, joelboggess.com/335. John, you're welcome back here on ReLaunch any time. We wish you all the very best in your speaking, in your consulting business, and also in your spa business with your wife. Exciting things going on, John. Thank you so much for your time today.

[26:12] Joel: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

[26:14] Pei: All the best.

Connect with John on Twitter, Facebook and his website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

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