In the film “Five Easy Pieces” made famous by Jack Nicholson and his characters frustration with a system that was not working into what he believed life should be, there is a scene that makes all of us look at what we are faced with every day. That is people who are so busy following rules that they can’t get past the fact that sometimes we have to deviate from the norm so that we can get our jobs done and please our clients. The scene that is most infamous is when Bobby played by dear Jack is trying to order plain toast which is not on the menu and therefore the waitress who possesses all the charm of a rusty mace tells him that he cannot order plain toast as it is not on the menu. So our disenchanted lead character shares the following dialogue with the inflexible waitress.
Bobby: I’d like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.
Needless to say the waitress was not trying to be helpful and was so bound by rules that she had long ago lost interest in assisting the customer. Her inability to see that what he was asking was very possible was the crux of the situation. She represented order and the status quo to a person (Bobby) that was trying his best to break out of the status quo and the two collided in one of the most entertaining scenes of its time. Of course she could have brought him the toast that he wanted but she was determined to make sure that not only she followed the rules and conventions but that everyone else did as well. That she could not see beyond her own issues of structure and reliance on a process was beyond her scope and it played out very badly for everyone.
This scene shows itself in everyday life as we try our best to conform while remaining flexible in getting our jobs done.
As an example some real estate offices demand that the client come to their office first and then they can go see some homes. This could be for the sake of safety but it seems that by creating road blocks we are also creating reasons for someone not to want to work with us. We need to remember that the client is not interviewing for a job, we are interviewing for a job. And it is us that need to win the client over to the best of our ability.
If we have run their credit and we have a pre-qualification letter from a loan officer that we know there is no reason to make the client meet us at a destination that we determine. Our job is to provide service not to make rules for others to follow. Being a Maverick and blazing a different trail can set us apart from our contemporaries. We just need to see what works best for all parties and do those things that make the lives for everyone a little easier. We don’t want to be unsafe but we also don’t want to create tension from the very start. We realize this is a sales tactic that creates a climate that has the client following our direction which can be very helpful but if we are unable to be flexible this will not always serve us or them.
We also realize that there are other reasons for rules and some are great and should be followed but we also appreciate that good judgment and a dash of kindness go a long way in created loyal and repeat clients.
Go ahead and take a look at some of the rules that we follow that are very often just guidelines that we have made into rules over time which don’t serve us and the ones that don’t serve us well, through them out and we should create some new guidelines.