The dog ate my Lego

I have two young daughters (ages four and seven) who love playing with Legos. I enjoy helping my girls with their building projects, but I decided to go all in and buy an adult Lego project for myself. At over $100, the grown-up Legos are serious business. It’s a high-end, premium product. (Disclaimer: The author does not have a financial interest or promotional relationship with companies or products mentioned in this article.)

Fast forward a few weeks and I’m working on a 3-D globe, made entirely out of Legos. I got about two-thirds of the way through the instructions when suddenly I noticed a small, but critical piece was missing. I couldn’t finish the globe without it.

At first, I thought the dog may have eaten it, or that one of the girls hijacked it. We looked all over the house and double-checked the box in which the globe came. But we couldn’t find the missing piece. I didn’t think Legos neglected to include that missing piece. It’s an extremely well-run Danish company and their quality control is second to none.

So, I called the local Lego store to see if they would sell me the missing piece without having to buy a whole new set. Based on my encounters with other consumer products companies since the pandemic, I expected a hassle. Even if they had the missing piece in stock (not likely), I assumed they would rake me over the coals for more money — plus shipping and handling charges after a three-week wait.

To my surprise, the friendly service rep said, “No problem. Just go to the back of your instruction manual, find the missing piece number, tell us what it is, and we’ll send it right over to you.” When I asked, “How much?” she just laughed and said, “No charge, or course.”

When it seems everyone you do business with these days is trying to squeeze a little extra profit from you, I was thrilled with my Lego experience. They didn’t accuse me of losing the piece or not checking the box it came in carefully enough. They just wanted a customer to be happy and to enjoy working on their Lego project.

So, I went to the Lego site, typed in my missing piece number and hit submit. A few seconds later I received a message informing me: “The piece is on its way. We hope you love the product. Call us if you need anything.”

Client relationship lessons from a toy maker

That got me thinking. Is a toy store offering a better experience than you are? While this could have been an opportunity for Legos to squeeze a customer like me, they know they’re the market leader with a well-earned reputation for quality. It’s a premium product and they charge accordingly. If they tried to squeeze me for some extra money, I would have been pretty irritated and never would have purchased another product from them. I’m sure they have already figured that out.

Instead, Legos gave me a great experience, which I’m more than happy to tell others about. If you don’t think I’m happy to share my customer experiences with others, see my recent column, “Find your client’s key lime pie.”

As CPAs, we should be asking ourselves: “What is our premium offering and how do we charge for it so clients don’t have to worry about the meter running every time they call us — and so we don’t have to worry about how to bill them?”

No one likes to get nickel-and-dimed, whether it’s the grocery store, the cable company, the car dealership or your CPA firm. The only firms nickel-and-diming clients are the ones cutting bare bones on their margins, so they have to charge for every little thing.

Most of your clients just want a single all-inclusive bill from you; they don’t want to be paying hourly fees or for a la carte services. By the same token, most CPAs I know would like to take a client call and not have to worry about billing them for it.

Lego Group’s slogan is “When only the best is good enough.” What should your slogan be?

As the old saying goes, you’ll never get fired for sending a client a $6,000 invoice, but there’s a good chance you’ll get fired for sending a $60 invoice. Legos sells plastic toys. If they can have a premium offering, so can you.

Have a better suggestion for client pricing? I’d love to hear from you.

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