For 15 years, I’ve been getting my cars’ oil changed at a little shop near my home. It’s not one of those 10-minute lube places; but while they do all kinds of car repair, they’ve always specialized in oil changes and related services. Without exception, every visit has been attended by the manager, a fellow named Tim. I had begun to think the guy never takes a day off, or a vacation.
The first time I went, in 1996, Tim took down all manner of information on me, my car, and my fluid preferences. Since then, he’s always greeted me, “Hello, Mr. Hadden,” and then without my needing to tell him or his staff anything at all, serviced my car, and handed me the keys a half-hour or so later.
Today, there was no Tim. “Oh, great,” I thought. “I’m going to have to tell them my name, and I hope they’ve got everything on file, so I don’t have to go through all that again.”
Instead, the counter attendant, who saw me drive up, said, “Thank you. Have a seat in the lobby, and we’ll have you out of here in a half-hour or so.” I kept thinking, “But aren’t you going to ask me my name, or what I want done, or what kind of oil I like?” I fired up my laptop, answered some emails, and 30 minutes later, he said, “Mr. Hadden, you’re ready.”
So I asked, “How did you know me? And how did you know my car? And where’s Tim?”
“Tim’s on vacation,” he said. “We plugged in your license plate number, and I saw that you’ve been coming here since 1996. You’ve had this car since ’08, and I see the kinds of fluids we’ve been using in it. And it looks like your wife’s car should be due for an oil change pretty soon.”
For years, Bill and I have been saying, in books, speeches, and seminars, “Forget about ‘empowering’ people; instead, ‘enable’ them to do their best work, and their job satisfaction will go through the roof.”
Pro-Lube, on Library Road in Jacksonville, has done just that. I expect (and receive) this from Kimpton Hotels, for example. But from my neighborhood lube joint? It really is like the theme from “Cheers” suggests, that people like to go “where everybody knows your name.”
Meanwhile, my cable company makes me punch in my phone number twice, and when I finally get a human being on the line (in about the same amount of time as it takes to get my oil changed), that person asks me, again, for my phone number.
The point is simple. Good leaders are constantly looking for ways, through their systems, policies, and procedures, to make their people look good in the eyes of customers.
Right now, stop and figure out a way to this for your business.
Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by creating a great place to work. He and Bill are the authors of the acclaimed business classic Contented Cows Give Better Milk, and Contented Cows MOOve Faster, and the brand new book Rebooting Leadership. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.