The Benefits of Routine (or Why Being Boring Has Its Upsides)

Being boring can be a huge advantage.
Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #524

Soon enough, Courtney knows when you walk in that you're going to want your special order of a super-avocado crepe with extra avocado, two eggs substituted for the cheese, plus salmon. And to drink, an iced-tea lemonade with black tea and no ice. Oh, yeah, and you have a 10% discount card that you bought at a fund-raiser for a local high school.

You no longer have to go through the effort of trying to explain all that every time. Courtney knows. And soon enough, new employees are given your special order on a slip of paper for reference. And then they even teach you how it needs to be entered into the cash register. In case one of the new people makes a mistake, you can tell them how to do it correctly. And when one day you order a slightly different order, the cook (whose name is "Bam," because of course you're on a first-name basis) comes out to your table to make sure you intended the change.

Every single bit of this is true.

You Get Privileged Status

"You're #1!" Who doesn't like to hear that? I am member 175 of my local bookstore's frequent purchaser program. Each purchase gets me points, and every 100 points turns into a free money-off coupon. One day I came in to buy some books with my saved coupons. They looked at how many I had and we quickly determined I had spent more money at the store than anyone.

While checking me out, they asked, "Is there anything else we can do for you?" I jokingly replied, "If I'm the #1 customer, how about giving me frequent purchaser ID #1." It turns out it was available. At my next visit, they informed me that now, I'm #1.

It may not seem like much, but it makes me super-memorable to every new employee. Since everyone knows me, I get great treatment. When searching for dotted Moleskine notebooks, they brought me to the secret order desk in the mysterious Back Room, where we could browse the wholesale catalog together.

If you're a frequent buyer somewhere, make sure they know. And make sure they know your name. And make sure you know theirs. Pretty soon, you just might be able to browse their wholesale catalog together in the mysterious Back Room. James Bond, eat your heart out.

There's Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

When Intern MG and I were working together, we would be boring for lunch at Arty Dent's Sandwich Shop every day. He'd get some ridiculously healthy something-or-other. I'd get a mediterranean sandwich. We came in so often that they made the pair of us Customer of the Month. That was good for a free sandwich every week. And until the day they knocked down that restaurant to make room for the new freeway, the manager would always give me a fountain drink for free. "You're in here so much that I'd be a fool not to reward our best customer."

While the vast, faceless corporations just want to suck you dry of every cent you've ever made, the people who work for them are still human (most of the time). But you have to go first. Embrace your inner bore, and make your regular errands and outings routine. Order the same order, sit at the same table, show up at the same time. You'll gradually bond with the humans who make up the corporations, and those humans can expedite your life, a lot. Then when you walk in, they can start preparing your special order, while the more interesting (but only-occasional) shoppers look on in envy.

I'm Stever Robbins. If you have projects that are stalled or taking too long, check out my "Get-it-Done Groups" accountability groups. Learn more at http://SteverRobbins.com.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.