It’s ALL in the Details (Part 1 of 2)

What are the Details Saying About You? (Part 1 of 2)

How You’re Creating the BIGGEST Impression Even with the Smallest of Things

Recently, I was waiting to meet a client at a restaurant. While pecking away on my laptop, I noticed one employee jumping up and down near the wall. It turns out he was trying to see if there was any dust on the top ledge of the wall-mounted coat rack. Later, I saw this same gentleman removing wall decorations for dusting.

The folks at this restaurant must realize something most businesses completely miss – it’s all in the details. As a patron, when you see dust on decorations, ceiling fans, or even in restrooms, what do you “make true” (assume to be true) about that establishment? You see, every detail you notice – both consciously and unconsciously – goes into your mental bag of evidence. No matter how much or how little evidence you’ve collected, your first impression has already been formed about an establishment; an individual; a company.

This becomes your “truth.” It may not be THE truth, but it is your truth … which IS the truth … to you. This begs the question, what are your clients “making true” about you?

Stained Ceiling TileA friend who owns a business recently received some (very valuable) feedback from a client. It was all positive and generous comments and compliments about their overall experience and the products … then this client said, “… but have you noticed that you have a few stained ceiling tiles?”  My friend was left feeling like, Gee, lady! Couldn’t you have just told me how great everything was? Did you really have to spoil it by pointing out my stained ceiling tiles? When he shared this with me, I asked him to reconsider his knee-jerk take-it-personal reaction. There was great value in what that client was willing to share. I’ve noticed that most people won’t say anything … and wouldn’t you rather know? We should be grateful to clients who are willing to be honest and forthright with us about what they notice. Theyre catching something we should have already caught and giving us a chance to make good on it … before more people notice.

Most clients wouldn’t have said anything about the stained ceiling tiles. Why is that? Here are the two most common causes for such inaction:

1. Patrons assume, “This business owner must already know about the ceiling tiles and obviously it’s just not a priority – in fact, it’s probably more important to me than it is to him, so why even waste my breath?”

blink by Malcolm Gladwell2. Most patrons simply aren’t aware of their own awareness. In other words, they may have noticed it on an unconscious level — and it colors their experience — but they won’t mention it because it doesn’t really register. (For more on this phenomenon, read the book: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell.)

Lots of folks just won’t ever come back and equally as bad, they won’t even know why! What are the details saying about you? What could the details be costing you? In a recent article, we talked about “Creating an Experience” for clients, customers and guests. You’d better believe that an experience is comprised of many, many small details. You’ve already had prospective clients decide that they won’t be doing business with you and/or existing clients who’ve decided to no longer do business with you.

This costly decision usually is a result of some detail or series of details that led your client to make something true about you. Their truth (perception/observations) led them to make that decision and chances are very good that it has already cost you money in your business. Good news! There are many things you can do to prevent this from happening…

See:  4 tips for making the details work for you – instead of against you

Need an “Impeccability Audit” for your company and its processes? Contact Steve Dorfman HERE.


  1. I think about this all the time!

    If you’d like like to experience restaurant “perfection”, visit Sweet Water Tavern in Centreville, VA. They’re owned by a group called

    From the moment you walk in the door, to the second you leave (the parking lot), you experience the greatest feeling. The first time I experienced it, I walked out of there beaming with joy and SHARING THE EXPERIENCE WITH EVERYONE! All the employees showed utter dedication to professionalism mixed with…..ready for it…..friendliness. And yes, I am one of those people who notice the little(st) things.

    Steve, you’re absolutely correct. When I notice enough little things wrong or gross, I don’t return back to that place of business.

    For example, there is a restaurant in Gaithersburg, MD. This restaurant is really popular and always packed. However, if you sit outside on a hot day (like I did once), you can’t help but notice the overwhelming number of flys and mosquitos. Unfortunately, they don’t keep citronella candles on hand. I mean come on, even the servers swat as they walk.

    So, I asked our server where they keep their trash. Go figure, two dumpsters were directly behind the outside wall – right where I was sitting with my father. I can only imagine what that trash and covered outside dining area is like after a flash rain on a hot day. Gross!

    Thanks for bringing up this topic Steve.

    Another great blog. Can’t wait for the sequel. 🙂



  1. […] part one, we talked about taking notice of the details (large and small) that are ‘saying […]

  2. […] team) showing up for others? If you saw this ad (left) in the paper, what would you “make true” about the […]

  3. […] prospects see you arriving in a dirty car or visit your untidy office, what might they assume is true about […]

  4. […] their experience, every detail your clients notice – both consciously and unconsciously – helps form their opinion of […]

  5. […] Some of the biggest — and often overlooked — impression-makers are in the smallest of details. […]

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