It’s amazing how often I come across people and organizations, big and small, who do not put in a modest effort at going the extra mile. In a sea of mediocre to decent businesses, it isn’t that hard to stand out. It’s about details, pride in your work and follow through.

A few months ago, my parents moved into a new home, which they built for them. It’s a major milestone in their life, one they have worked many years for. This is true for the vast majority of people who build a home. It’s a special thing.

A Gift for My Parents

When the process began, my brothers and I kicked a plan into action. A couple of times a month, my brother would visit the construction site and take some pictures. Over the next 9 months, he visited the house at least 17 times, careful to do so on days where the crew was absent and my parents were not at the house. With the addition of two more shoots after the house was done, he amassed 236 photos.

I then sat down and sorted through the photos, creating a coffee table-worthy photo book that we had printed and then presented to our parents on their anniversary as a surprise. At the end of the process, it was 11 months in the making – and well worth it.

Thoughtful – and Shrewd – Businesses Will Do This

But what if the home builder did this? I mean, they wouldn’t have to take hundreds of photos. Take a few pictures every couple of weeks. They have to come to the house, anyway. Then, after it’s done, throw them in a simple photo book and present it to the clients. It might cost them $50-$100 depending on how nice they wanted it to be. It might take 4-6 hours of someone’s time to put it together.

I’m sure some home builders do this. They have to. It makes too much sense. For those that don’t, what a missed opportunity, where you don’t fully understand and appreciate how big a moment this can be in someone’s life. It would be a nice, thoughtful gift that pretty much any home buyer would appreciate.

And, oh yeah, it’s a lead generator. Because when they show people their nice new house that they love, they will pull out that photo book, which will have your logo on it.

The Barrier is (Sometimes) Low

Forget thoughtful gifts, how about calling people back? My friend Brandon and my Dad were both looking for a landscaping company around the same time this year. They didn’t have trouble choosing someone – they had trouble getting anyone to even call them back. Which is incredible. You know there is a serious lack of local competition where responding to a phone call would make you a standout.

This applies equally well to community. Though there are a large number of people who manage their communities with great care, there are plenty who don’t do simple things, like informing people when a post is removed, responding to member questions in a timely manner or offering random kind encouragement to members who deserve it.

It is these things that allow me, and you, to standout. Over the years, I have had many members tell me how they aren’t used to the punctual, forthright, direct, honest way that we do things. They aren’t used to being told their post was removed and why. They aren’t used to someone taking the time to explain a decision to them. They aren’t used to being recognized at random for great contributions.

They are used to people who don’t put in the effort. You don’t want to be that person because that makes you more vulnerable than you otherwise would be. The crazy thing is that the effort isn’t really that difficult. It’s just a matter of caring enough to do it – taking enough pride in your work to do it. Being exceptional means standing out from the crowd. In some cases, that takes a lot of work. In others, you’d be surprised by just how little you have to do to go the extra distance for your members.