Raising The Bar!

Jim Hinshaw
Contributing Writer
Improvement Professional, President & Sales

May and I had a tough week last week.  Had a “suspicious” spot on my neck, dermatologist removed said growth, went to pathology for testing.  Came back Melanoma, so off I went to surgeon.  Ended up with a huge hole in the back of my neck, took plastic surgeon an hour to close up.  Got several stiches, a couple of which broke loose 4 days later, but this isn’t about my surgery.  It was just a way to get you to wear sun screen, cover up folks!  I actually said to the doctor, sort of a whine, “but I wear sunscreen every day”.  His reply, did you 45 years ago?

Here is where our week got tougher.  We are heading out to lunch after my surgery.  I will use real company names for those of you familiar with Phoenix.  Going to Café Rio, great Mexican food, and it was Taco Tuesday!  Sitting in front of Earnhardt Cadillac, in right hand lane, waiting for traffic lite at Hayden.  An auto transport truck pulls out of the street next to Earnhardt, cuts it too close, clips our rear bumper.  Happened fast, and it may be that he did not know he hit us, those rigs are huge and lots of noise going on, he was empty.  So we sat there, he pulled over three lanes, went up Hayden road, before we could move at all.  When we did move, were not sure what to do.  No way to chase him, he was three lanes over, we decided to head into Earnhardt and see who he was.

Met Don Tracy in the showroom, asked how he could help.  Told him my tale of woe, how we had been hit, damage was not bad, still drivable, but ruined bumper and rear quarter panel.  Asked him if they had gotten a delivery that hour by __________  transport.  Blacked out the name, since there is an ongoing investigation, etc.  Don checked in the back, said they had not received any cars since the night before.  Right Honda is next door, we went across the street to see if they had gotten any deliveries that morning.  I met a guy named Fargo, he and I walked all over the back lot, he did not see any that had just come in.  Here is where it gets interesting, and the bar is raised in customer service.  When I got back to the Honda showroom, my wife was gone!  Did not see her or our car anywhere.  Unsettling, to say the least.  I called her, she said I am right here in the showroom, where are you?  Now I am really confused, the Honda showroom is about 1000 square feet, they are remodeling it as we speak.  So not much room for my wife to hid.  I said I am in the showroom, but I am not seeing you.  She said she was in the Cadillac showroom!

Don had talked to another guy about the car delivery, which showed being delivered the night before.  The manager said actually they did not take delivery that night, told the trucker to come back that morning.  Additional paperwork showed he had dropped off that car 1 hour ago!  Bingo!  So now I am confused, how did May get this information, no one had her cell number.  She said Don had heard us say we were going to Honda, had the initiative to drive over, found May in our car based on the description I had given him, told her he had the paperwork, she went over thinking I had gone back, and had sent him over.  Amazing.  He took it on himself to keep researching, and then made a trip over to the Honda store, found my wife, brought her back.  Using his paperwork, we got the trucker’s name and numbers, which matched the name I had seen on his rig, but did not get phone numbers, etc.

We tracked him down, got police report started, got our insurance claim filed, all moved quickly after we got that elusive trucker’s name.  While we were waiting, we had bagels and popcorn and bottles of water, all from the Cadillac commissary.  Remember, we are not customers, we are survivors of an accident.  I went into General Manager’s office, thanked him for letting us use his showroom as a meeting room and office while we called police and insurance company.  He said that was no problem, we hope that if you come in again, it will not be because you were hit near our building but want to look at some vehicles.  We will.

Now, several things that come to mind from this situation.  First, everyone has a plan until they get hit in the nose (a quote from Mike Tyson).  We should have stopped, gotten out and asked the car behind us if they would give us name, etc to act as a witness.  Because when we first called the trucking company, he told me his driver did not hit us.  After the police came, saw the car damage, saw the scene of the accident, it was his conclusion that we were hit.  Then when we had a bill of lading with that truck info and time of delivery, it became obvious, called transport company again, they then wanted to handle the repairs without insurance being involved.  We had filed already, so that would not happen.  Second, this happened 1 hour after my surgery, not the best time for an accident.  So by now the numbness had worn off, one of the last things I wanted to do was to wait out in 90 degrees in the sun for help to arrive.  So be aware, everyone you meet is going thru something, give them a break, help them as best you can.

Lastly, Don raised the bar by not going back to his normal morning, he kept engaged in our problem.  When he realized that a car that had first been reported as delivered the night before, but had been refused due to late arrival, he found the corrected paperwork, located my wife, brought us back to this showroom and helped us for the next hour.  Remember, this is not a sales problem.  On the other hand, if a guy will work this hard for someone who is not his customer, he will probably move mountains for a customer who has actually purchased from him.

What is my message today?  Have you equipped your team, both office and field to help in any way they can?  Are they able to spot opportunities that may not be in their realm of responsibility and still get involved?  I see on FaceBook those stories of techs who have helped change tires, rescue cats out of trees, office staff who have stayed on the line with customers who had medical issues and summoned help, reached out to family for someone going thru a tough time, these are the events that define us as true “service companies”.

One final note, police dispatcher asked why we did not call 911 when we were hit.  Told her no one was hurt, was not an emergency.  She said they could have set out an alert to look for the transport, possibly stop him before he fled the area.  Good advice.  They can help in many ways, and the Scottsdale Policeman who came to our car was amazing, got all the details, and has followed up with reports from his investigation with the trucking company.

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