Perhaps I should start this discussion with what we aren’t. We aren’t some big conglomerate with offices in all 50 states churning out catalogs and press releases every few days. You won’t read about our accounting scandals in the financial newspapers, or hear about our insider trading in the local news. One of my “pet peeves” on the web are people who hide behind the facade of a supposedly large business; I call it the “OUR” symptom. They talk about OUR website, OUR business; OUR corporate culture – while many times it is actually one person working with a laptop on his kitchen table, with no background in the service business, that hasn’t a clue about how the equipment works that he sells, let alone what would be better for his customer’s needs.
My father owned and operated a carpet cleaning business for over 30 years. I couldn’t count the number of times he “talked himself out of business” by recommending that a customer replace their worn out carpet instead of him cleaning it, or by telling a customer to have their furniture reupholstered or replaced instead of cleaning it because of some stains that he knew wouldn’t come out. When I was young, I couldn’t understand why he did that; all I could see was that he was taking money out of his pocket. When I complained to him about this (because teenagers always know more than their parents…), he simply said that he told them what he would have wanted to have been told. He never called it the “Golden Rule” or his “corporate philosophy”; he just thought it was common sense. As I got older and got out in the “real world” away from my parents, and saw how other businesses (both small & very large), didn’t follow that common sense, I understood how smart he really was. You see, he didn’t just have customers; he had what Ken Blanchard (writer of the “One Minute Manager” book series) called “Raving Fans“. When he passed away, years after he retired from his business, I was amazed at the number of his former customers who attended his funeral and said such nice things to our family.
Another influence in my life that affects my business philosophy to this day happened not long after I finished school and was out on my own. I began having problems with my car’s automatic transmission; it didn’t seem to want to shift correctly anymore. I had no choice but to take it to the local transmission shop. I probably don’t have to tell you that transmission shops aren’t universally known for their fair dealings, at least in my part of the country, so I was expecting the worst. When I arrived, the owner stopped what he was doing and asked me what was wrong. I told him, and he said to get in and let’s take the car for a test drive. Sure enough, the car didn’t shift out of first gear until about 30 mph. I just knew I was looking at a $3,000 repair bill, money I didn’t have . The owner didn’t say much during the drive; when we got back to his shop, he told me to drive it into one of the bays. He got out, went over to the toolbox, got a 3/8″ wrench, raised the car on the lift, and made two small turns with the wrench. He looked over at me and said that should take care of the problem! I took the car back out, and it worked perfectly! I came back and almost hugged the guy! When I asked him how much I owed him, he just shrugged and said to keep him in mind if I needed anything else! I did, and in the next few years, I probably told 20 people about what happened when they were having transmission trouble.
There are two “sayings” I have always liked, and they both pretty much mean the same thing. Zig Ziglar was fond of saying that “You can have everything you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want“. Dave Ramsey has often said that “If I can just help enough people, I won’t have to worry about money again“. To me, what those quotes mean is that if you can help solve other folks’ problems as cheaply as possible (instead of selling them something that they don’t need), they will appreciate the effort, and when they need something else in the future, they will most likely turn to you for help again. We really try our best to help them solve their problems as cheaply as possible. If that means selling a part instead of a new piece of equipment, we are glad to do that. If we sell a part for a lift chair today, and that transaction was handled to their satisfaction, they may buy something else from us next month. As the testimonials we receive can attest, it certainly has worked well for us so far, and we don’t plan on changing anything. We appreciate your business, and we will do our very best to help in any way possible.