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What I’ve Learned from German Landlords About Marketing, Customer Service and Other Stuff

Future German landlords

In two weeks, my husband, two kids and I are leaving for a trip to Germany. A trip I planned way too far in advance and had to reschedule due to an unforeseen AAU basketball tournament my son had to play in, and a required college statistics course my daughter is taking while home for the summer. (She was supposed to take the Summer I session. She enrolled in the Summer II session. Ah, well.)

What does all this have to do with German landlords?

In rescheduling our trip, I was forced to re-book our accommodations. Accommodations that took me forever to book in the first place because I have this affliction called: I-can’t-make-up-my-mind. And once I do, I might change it because I also have the dual affliction of: I-have-a-hard-time-committing.

Being one who can’t make up her mind and has a hard time committing, I drove landlords of small vacation rentals all over Germany cuh-razy with e-mails asking about this and that: walking distance to the city centre, laundry facilities (most apartments have washers, few have dryers), inquiring about sleeping arrangements (ick and weird if two opposite-gendered teen siblings have to share a bed, likely to be small), blah-blah. I’ll be surprised if they don’t ban me from entering the country once we touch down at Frankfurt International Airport, the airport we will fly out of one week later unless they send me back to the good ol’ U.S. of A. – stat!

Anyway.

I finally settled on two locations, Heidelberg (home of the oldest university in Germany) and Nuremberg (90 percent of which was destroyed in WWII). We will stay three nights in each city.

In the course of settling in on the two vacation rentals – one, a tiny apartment; the other, a tiny apartment with a balcony – I had many, many questions, which resulted in numerous and potentially irritating e-mails from me to two separate landlords: Erika and Gisela. (Kind of sounds like Hansel and Gretel.)

You would never know it, though. That I’d irritated either one, that is. They answered my e-mails promptly and in great detail, but not so great I got bored reading them.

I felt like I’d acquired two new best friends.

Anyway.

What makes me link their behavior to good marketing, customer service and all that other stuff?

Personalized attention.

Knowledge.

Humor.

Photos of the washing machine in sparkling clean bathroom.

They did not judge me when I said we were going to rent a car even though all those people on Trip Adviser thought I was nuts: train travel in Germany, as they repeatedly insisted, is highly efficient.

I like to think I’m no high-maintenance diva, but the landlords’ fine treatment made me all predisposed to them and their tiny apartments.

So: for anyone who is trying to market something – a book, medical-grade skin care products, graphic arts services, software, organic kumkwats, whatevuh – treating people well, putting their anxieties at ease, making them feel completely normal for renting a car even though German trains zip along at 1000 MPH, apparently! – well, let’s just say these are the kinds of things that go a long way toward making a sale.

Now. In the spirit of “when in Rome” I suppose I should say something in German.

Danke für das Lesen.

Thank-you for reading.

What have you  learned about marketing, salesmanship, customer service, what-have-you from German landlords…or…er…an atypical client/vendor experience? Huh? Do tell!

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August 2, 2012 - 11:33 pm

Kerrie McLoughlin - Yippee! I was born in Frankfurt and am dying to take my family there. Have fun!

August 3, 2012 - 12:59 pm

Cindy L - What an opportunity for you and your family — I bet you’ll have a grand time and many things to write about! Can’t wait to hear about your new adventures!

August 3, 2012 - 6:14 pm

karen - This comment has been removed by the author.

August 3, 2012 - 6:15 pm

karen - Thanks for another amusing read, Pam! And a great take-away from your experience.

I’m reading very good book right now that touches on customer service, etc. It’s called Design is a Job. The author is a web designer, but the points carry over to other occupations as well. I’m finding it immensely helpful. http://www.abookapart.com/products/design-is-a-job/

Hope you have a great time on this epic vacation, and be prepared to put your petal to the metal, they drive really fast over there!

August 3, 2012 - 7:39 pm

Pam Houghton - Thanks, Kerrie. Hopefully, you WILL get there some day with your family. 🙂

August 3, 2012 - 7:40 pm

Pam Houghton - Thanks, Cindy!

August 3, 2012 - 7:43 pm

Pam Houghton - Karen McClinchey, is that you? Yay! 🙂 Thanks for the book recommendation – I’ll have to check it out. Sounds like you have experience driving in Germany – thanks for the tip!

August 3, 2012 - 10:39 pm

karen - yes, it’s me, and oops that should be pedal not petal. i was driven from poland to germany by a german native. the speed he was driving took some getting used to! another surprise were the prostitutes peppered just off of the autobahn next to the black forest. my husband is from poland, and my in-laws treated us to a trip about ten years ago.

August 4, 2012 - 1:39 pm

Pam Houghton - Neat trip, Karen. Hopefully, we can keep up with the natives…think I’ll let my husband do the driving though. We need to catch up…I’d love to hear what you are doing with your graphic arts business.

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