Les is More

By Beacon Staff

Last week, we talked about little things and how they can transform an experience. Recently, I had another little adventure that shows how impactful those little things can be.

As usual, it goes back to vehicles that revel in their ability to annoy me.

First, there’s junior’s car which needed tires. It’s not really his car, which is why I didn’t just tell him to deal with it. They were on my short list to deal with when I returned from Scout camp and of course, one goes flat while I’m gone.

Most Scout camps are remote enough that they get no cell service and there are no wireless hubs in campsites (thankfully) so there’s no way to catch me when I’m at camp unless it’s truly an emergency. Add to that, mom was also gone when the tire failed.

So there is junior, stuck at the local tire shop with one good tire, two bad tires with air and one really bad tire without air (yes, he thanked me, I could feel the love).

He doesn’t have enough cash to pay for tires, has a temporary problem getting to mom or dad and (thankfully), has no credit card.

Because they get it, Les Schwab Tires in Columbia Falls tires him up, gets a little cash, creates an account for the balance and sends him on his way in time to get to work without being late.

While I may nag at LesCorp occasionally because I think they leave money on the table, their behavior toward my son illustrates why I buy tires at Les Schwab – they do stuff that they don’t have to do.

Doing stuff you don’t have to do creates the difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer, even in a (supposedly) commodity business like tires, shocks and brakes. If you wonder about the difference between satisfied and loyal, consider whether you’d rather your spouse was satisfied or loyal.

Next vehicle, next problem

My trailer light wiring has a habit of disappearing after trips up the North Fork, usually getting yanked out from under my Suburban during an occasional off-road excursion. I needed working lights before Sunday when I have to tow the swim team scoring/timing trailer back from Shelby.

Driving back with no trailer lights over Marias Pass seemed like a bad idea, so I stopped into a RV sales and service place for a light wiring harness. I’m looking for the ones that just plug in. No cutting, no splicing and most importantly, no cussing at my car.

When I walked into the store, I didn’t see a soul. Assuming someone will see me, I dig around on the shelves to find what I need and a few minutes later I notice a guy walking out of the lunch room. I tell him what I want and when I need it (IE: *soon*).

Instead of looking up the item on the store computer, he spends 20 minutes digging through a paper catalog.

We find nothing.

Frustrated, he gives me the catalog. I look in the index under the brand name of the (wrong for my car) adapter from the store’s shelf.

The brand name is indexed. The item my car needs is on that page. After looking it up on the computer, he asks me if I want to order it because they don’t stock this type of item.

Mark bites tongue

Between 20 and 30 minutes have passed and I’m just now being told that the type of item we’re searching for isn’t even stocked. Hubboy.

Empty handed, I stop at the Columbia Falls NAPA. After a moment of looking around, someone asks if they can help me find something.

I tell him what I need and he searches the computer (innovative, eh?) for it, finding it almost immediately. Rather than simply pointing toward the front of the store and saying “They’re over there in the corner”, he goes to the shelf and gets it.

It’s as if this $19 purchase is their most important one ever.

And it is, because you are only as good as your last transaction.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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