“When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now…” That’s how Paul McCartney started his song, When I’m 64.
I’d revise it to read, “…any moment now!” I turned 64 some years ago and I remember it well. It was a rite of passage because of the song, much like 1984 was after reading George Orwell’s novel of the same name.
64 isn’t just significant because of Social Security implications; it’s also a notable life turning point. At the beginning of the 20th Century, life expectancy at birth in the USA was about 45 years.
When Social Security was instituted on August 14, 1935, it was intended only for the primary worker and not families or survivors. They were betting that anyone who made it to 65 would be really old and not likely to be receiving benefits for long. It was an easy bet to make.
Ernest Ackerman was the first person to receive SS benefits. He got a payment of 17 cents in January 1937. This was a one-time, lump-sum payout. Monthly payouts didn’t begin till later years. Wow!
Today life expectancy in the USA is closer to 80 years and many are living well beyond 100. Advances in health care and science make it likely that 100 will be ever more common as years go on. So what does that have to do with transmissions? Nothing… and then again, a lot.
When I was younger, my transmission allowed me to do my own shifting. Today almost everyone drives an automatic. Even the die-hard standard tranny fans are often paddle-shifting happily in their newer cars and in some motorcycles.
As life goes on, the Baby Boomers keep getting older. Estimates show that about 10,000 people in the USA turn 64 every single day!
The leading edge of the Baby Boom (78 million of us born between 1946 and 1964) is now well past 70. These people expect different features in their cars, and need them, too. They want larger type on the dashboard and gauges. They want to be able to get in and out of the car more easily. And they sure want shifting to be a non-issue: smooth and reliable.
They also want to be treated differently than they did as youngsters.
Hilda: “It sure is windy today!”
Elmer: “No, I think it’s Thursday.”
Maude: “Me too, let’s get a drink!”
Somewhere around age 45, our eyes start adjusting and reading glasses become a necessity rather than a convenience. Hearing takes a hit as we get closer to 60+. At first, it’s just when there’s a lot of background noise, like in a transmission shop. Then it progresses.
What that means to you and me is that we need to be more precise when communicating with our older clientele. We need to speak more clearly, pause more often to be sure they heard us accurately, and do our chatting away from the noises of the shop. Step around the corner of the building or into the office.
I’m not referring to talking louder to old people. That’s just rude. I’m talking about being more courteous and understanding about how we connect with our older customers.
With the oldest of our clients, we probably should assume that we need to get their attention before we start talking. Sometimes you can be two paragraphs into a description of the transmission issues before they even realize you’re talking to them.
We should also consciously avoid showing impatience when we need to repeat a description. The jokes we’ve all heard about hearing have a basis in fact, but the jokes aren’t very respectful, and we must be.
By the way, older doesn’t mean stupid or out of touch. Some of our clients, who have or need hearing aids, are wealthy, successful, intelligent, and just downright cool! Take a look around at the next car show and see what color the hair is on most folks (gray). Then notice how many people can easily hear you and how many can see details acutely.
They’re still active, engaged, and vital, but their tools have dulled a bit. So give them a break and be a better speaker, a more empathetic listener, and a good student. Many of them can teach you valuable things, even at the ripe old age of 64… or older.
Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is a strategic advisor to ATRA and a longtime contributor to GEARS Magazine. As a professional speaker and business advisor, he helps people see the deeper meaning in their business and find quicker, more lasting ways to make business and personal problems go away. Contact him at email@example.com and visit his web site Cathcart.com for free videos, articles, and resources.