Up Your Business is an exclusive GEARS Magazine feature in which I share stories, insights, and reflections about real business and life challenges.
This month I have two unrelated experiences to share with you. Both contain great examples of service commitment… service to customers and service to mankind in general. As you read these brief true stories, look for the ideas you can apply in your business and in your life beyond business. Also consider what it means to have a “servant’s heart.”
First, let’s look at what it means to be committed. It’s like bacon-and-egg breakfast… the chicken was involved but the pig was committed. Okay, I know that’s an old joke and a bad attempt at humor, but you have to admit that it makes the point.
Now that we understand commitment, let’s look at the two stories.
COMMITMENT TO SERVING CUSTOMERS
This story begins on a Sunday afternoon in early May. I was preparing to leave the following morning to go up to our summer home in Prescott, Arizona.
I had obstructed the garage door track with a tall cabinet that I had moved to get to some of the things we were taking with us. At any rate, I forgot to move the cabinet back and unfortunately, the cabinet wasn’t blocking the safety sensor beam, so when I lowered the door, it bound up, popped out of the track, bent the track, and the door was stuck part way down on about a 20 degree angle.
I’m not very mechanical, but I knew that wasn’t a good thing. I couldn’t even get it to move up or down manually.
My first thought was that we’d need to delay our trip for a day or two until I could get a repair person out to repair or, in my mind, possibly replace the door track system itself. Remember, it’s a Sunday afternoon… actually by now, almost 6:00 PM.
Then I remembered my friend, John had replaced his garage door and spoke highly of the guy that did the job for him. He even gave me his business card saying, “This is the guy to call if you ever need garage door work done.” Of course, I did what most of us would do; I took the card and threw it away when I cleaned out my pockets.
So, I embarrassingly, I called John to get his name and phone number. John eagerly gave it to me and again told me about how pleased he was with his door.
His name is Brendan Hannon and he’s the owner of Spring King Garage Door Service. (I just noticed, “Service” is actually in his business name.) As it was Sunday, I fully expected to get voice mail or an answering service. Boy was I surprised when I heard, “Hi, this is Garage King. How can I help you?” Little did I know that I would actually get through to the Garage King himself.
When I explained what happened, he calmly said that he was in the middle of something, but that he could stop by our house later that evening. I was shocked enough that I asked if he realized it was a Sunday night. He said that it didn’t matter and he would come by if it was okay.
Okay with me? I was beside myself and didn’t even ask “How much?” Frankly, with John’s high recommendation, I wasn’t worried and really didn’t care how much as much as how soon.
Sure enough, within a couple hours, Brendan was ringing my doorbell and my dog was announcing the Garage Door King’s arrival. After a few cordialities, we went to the garage where he went straight to work diagnosing the damage.
Without a word, he started pushing and pulling on the track, removing rollers and freeing the door from its stuck condition. He quickly made the door operational, but he didn’t stop there. He ran the door up and down several times making adjustments each time until it was running perfectly again.
We still hadn’t talked about price, so to get that ball rolling, I said, “I’ll go inside to get my wallet while you write up the bill.” I expected the charges to be for a minimum service call, a tune-up, plus an after-hours charge.
I wasn’t expecting what he said next. “No, there’s no charge tonight. I just put it back on track and adjust a couple things. You didn’t even need any parts. You have an older door and you’ll need to replace it within a couple years. Just remember me when you do and give me a call. Thanks for calling me this time.” He even refused to accept a gratuity.
My wife and I were stunned, but she remembered that we had recently purchased a very nice ceramic Starbucks travel mug. She quickly filled it with ice and gave it to him along with a can of root beer before he drove away. He was so very appreciative, but not nearly as much as we were.
So I couldn’t wait to get on Yelp, Google Maps, and Facebook to rave about what had happened. And I couldn’t wait to tell you, too. By the way, if you go on Google, you’ll see that Spring King Garage Door Service, Chandler, AZ, has many more people than me who couldn’t wait to tell someone about Brendan, the Garage Door King.
COMMITMENT TO SERVING MANKIND
The second story is about someone you already know. We’re blessed to have him as a speaker at the Powertrain Expo and a regular contributor of business articles in GEARS Magazine. His name is Jim Cathcart. Some things you might not know about Jim are that he has addressed over 3,100 audiences worldwide and he’s published several books. His three bestselling books are:
• Relationship Selling will help anyone in our field to do a better job selling, but especially those of us in auto repair service. Jim credits this book with launching his speaking career.
• The Acorn Principle is a must-read for every businessperson. As the subtitle promises, find out how rich, full, and rewarding your life can be.
• The Self Motivation Handbook is Jim’s latest book. It will help you do what needs to be done… even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Jim’s acclaim and awards include career-related stuff, of course, but the list includes volunteer and humanitarian activities, as well. His accomplishments are too vast to include in this article, and he’s too humble to tell you himself.
But, if you visit his website, cathcart.com, you’ll be blown away with his service to tens of thousands of people with a servant’s heart. He is an example of what Jim’s friend and mentor, Zig Ziglar meant when he said, “If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere. You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
I recently visited the GEARS and ATRA IBO in Oxnard, California. Since Jim lives nearby, I had the good fortune to have dinner with him at one of his favorite restaurants, Casa Nostra… no it wasn’t a mob hangout, but it was a great Italian bistro.
I noticed that they treated him like royalty. He’s an important man in his “hood,” but he was noticeably kind and friendly to the owner and staff.
Jim had agreed to coach me on writing a book that I’ve been halfway committed to completing over the past several years. As if he read my mind, he handed me a signed copy of The Self Motivation Handbook. He followed that up with a couple hours of detailed action steps that I need to accomplish. He was very encouraging and extremely motivating. It was as if I was privately getting one of his patented motivational speeches!
Jim grabbed me by the ears and said, “Stop referring to yourself as retired or semi-retired. You’re a writer and a speaker. You’re not retired. In fact, as long as you have something relevant to say, you’re never retired.” Enough said. So one more time, I’m officially unretired.
Thank you Jim, for your guidance, kind help, gentle butt kicking and for all the service you’ve so generously provided around the world. You truly are committed to serving mankind.
By the way, just like Brendan with Spring King, Jim’s internet reviews are packed with compliments and praise reports. Apparently, Jim’s helped lots of people, and they couldn’t wait to tell someone about it!
HOW CAN YOU APPLY THIS?
Look for things you can start doing or, in some cases, stop doing to provide your customers with an experience that they can’t wait to share with someone.
I know you’ve heard this many times in a variety of versions. Maybe you’ve even tried, but you’ve run out of ideas. Maybe this will help. Stop looking inside your business and start looking outside your business.
In the past year, I’ve shared numerous examples of great customer service I’ve encountered in my life. I wrote about them because I thought you could implement them into your business in some creative fashion. If you keep your antenna up, you’ll find some too.
Here’s how you know when you’ve found one: The next time you find yourself telling someone about a great experience you had or feeling that you want tell someone, you just found one.
A word of caution, though: Once you get the hang of this, you’re going to have so many ideas that you’ll need to prioritize them. Don’t overwhelm your team and yourself by taking them all at one time. Do a great job of fully implementing each of them one idea at a time.
Before you know it, you’ll have customers who can’t wait to tell someone about you.
Share Your Stories
If you’ve personally experienced a weird or unusual customer dispute and wouldn’t mind sharing it to help your industry, please contact me. You just tell me the story and I’ll do all the heavy lifting to write it.
We can make it an article about you, or you may remain anonymous. The main thing is we want to share stories that will help others avoid similar problems. Call me at 480-773-3131 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Thom Tschetter has served our industry for nearly four decades as a management and sales educator. He owned a chain of award-winning transmission centers in Washington State for over 30 years.
He calls on over 30 years of experience as a speaker, writer, business consultant, and certified arbitrator for topics for this feature column.
Thom is always eager to help members of our industry and continues to be proactive in pursuing ways to improve your business and your life.