Saturday, January 17, 2015

How to gain and lose a customer

I had an interesting turn of events this AM. So much so, I thought it would be a great way to make my first post of 2015. I’ll get to the aforementioned events, but first.. the back story.

A little over 2 weeks ago, I was driving along in my car and had a thought pop in my head: “I haven’t had to change a flat tire in a really long time.”  Don’t ask me why I had that thought.. I have no idea where most of the ramblings that are going on up there come from.  I don’t recall driving by someone changing a flat, or talking to someone who had done so.. it just.. popped in my head.  Well.. the following week.. GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?

True story, not a week later and while on my way to work in single digit temperatures, I here the “wump, wump wump” sound as I start to slow down towards a stop sign.  Pulling into a nearby gas station and fearing the worst, I took a jaunt around the front of the car and see my tire all ugly and misshapen (like me!). Summoning my inner-man, I took a brief look at the car manual, jacked up the car and put the donut on.  Actually, I wish it went this smoothly.  It took me 15 minutes just to get the car jacked up, the lug nuts wouldn’t pop off, and a kind.. and burly.. gentleman had to show me how to kick the loosened tire out of the wheel well.  However.. I learned something!

rustyscrew The remainder of the week was too hectic for me to get out and get the tire changed, so I decided to wait until the weekend to take care of the issue.  I gave my local tire\repair shop a call on Friday (yesterday) afternoon and explained the issue.  They said it would be no problem, come in as early as I want.  So, this morning I did just that and got there around the time they opened.  Roughly an hour later they summoned me to the front desk, showed me “the culprit” – a broken off rusted screw that was jammed into the tire – and told me the best news of all – NO CHARGE!

I was taken aback.  Honestly, when’s the last time you had gone somewhere for any service, and wasn’t charged at least a “service fee” of some sort?

Even better, the company’s policy is a “free fluid check”. I brought the car into the shop for a flat and they patched the tire, mounted it, and checked a bunch of other items in the car… all for no charge.

I had two items on my list as I got up this morning, take care of my tire, and get a haircut.  I jumped into the car and took a 15 minute ride across town to where I’ve been getting my haircut the past few years. 

I’m kind of weird.  I suppose we all are in some regards, but I just don’t like change… and that makes me weird about certain things.  I’ll drive the same route to the mall that I took with my dad as a kid. I wear the same rotation of clothes to work every day.  If I go somewhere to get a haircut, I like knowing that I can go back later and they’ll remember how short I typically like my hair. 

When I got a new job a few years back, it was inconvenient for me to use the barber I had always used, so I found another place closer to home.  I’ve been going there for over 2 years now, but the woman there never remembers how short I like my hair – I always get the question “what number?” for the clipper settings. She’s always pre-occupied with her dog that she brings to work.  Her friends are always stopping by and lurking around.  Still.. I’m weird.. I found a place for a haircut and that’s where I’ll continue to go. 

howtomop This AM as I pull up for to the shop, I see her locking the door to  a walk and have a cigarette.  She looks at my car, checks the door once more, and then takes a walk. As I waited in my car for roughly ten minutes I started to ask myself “Why do I even come here?” and “Why am I waiting?”  All of this off the heels of having one of the better customer service experiences I’ve had in a very long time, I now feel like I’m wasting my time. I mean.. I’ve seen this woman on several occasions.. she’s cut my hair! What are the odds I’m showing up at her shop, with a mop on my head, and I’m not there trying to get a haircut?

Today was just one of those examples that show how the little things can really help earn you business.  A customer friendly policy at my auto shop didn’t bring me back there.. I didn’t even know it existed.  But now I guarantee you I go back there many more times.  Meanwhile, if anyone knows a good barber who wants a loyal and well tipping customer.. I know of someone who’s in the market…

* Forgive my gratuitous linkage to, but for anyone who lives in my area.. and for the great services I received today… I feel providing some linkage to their website is the least I can do…

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