I was heading out of town for the day and wanted to have some extra cash in my pocket. So, when I left my office, I grabbed a check that a business associate had made out directly to me as a reimbursement. Since I was driving by the bank he uses, I figured I would quickly stop in and cash the check. And that's when I learned something I didn't know.

I was the first person in the bank that morning, and standing there were four smiling tellers, all announcing they could help me. I approached one of them and handed her the check and my license. Upbeat and perky, she asked, "Do you have an account with us?"

"No," I answered.

"Do you have a credit card with us?" she inquired.

"No," again.

"Do you do business with us in any way?" the cheerful young lady wanted to know.

"Nothing at all," I replied, wondering why she was so inquisitive.

"Well, then I’m afraid we are going to have to charge you $6.00," she informed me.

So there you have it. For the privilege of cashing the check, I had to pay $6.00 -- a check drawn on that bank … a check made out directly to me. She politely informed me that it is customary to do so.

Customary it may be, but I never knew about this policy. I would normally deposit the check in my bank and simply withdraw cash. But today I learned something new, and I think it's kind of absurd. Charge my business associate, if you want. But why penalize me?

So why am I writing this little rant? It's because, as a marketing coach and business advisor, I want you to think about the perception people have when they come into contact with your company, your employees, your web site, your marketing collateral, your policies -- anything to do with your business. Do they reinforce the image and brand that you are trying to promote? Do they undermine you? You need to know the answers.

To get the answers, ask your clients. Be specific, and they'll tell you. If the answers are not specific enough, follow up with more questions. You can also hire a mystery shopper to interact with the various aspects of your company. You'll get a complete report. Be sure to read it.

To be most profitable, you need to not only be efficient, but you also need to be effective. If you are causing people to scratch their heads in wonderment, or even worse have them leave with a bad impression, then you are going to lose clients and prospects. Let's face it; there's no reason to fill up the bucket with new clients if others drip out the hole in the bottom.

Oh yes, one more thing. As I was counting the money at the teller's window, she said, "Well, now that you have been here, maybe you'll think about opening an account."

Not going to happen!

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of 101 Ways to Attract More Clients at =>