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Chris LoCurto

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July 19, 2011

How to retain your customers

If you’re anything like me, you love great customer service. There’s no feeling like leaving a business when you have been taken care of. It sticks with you all day, and you can’t help but let others know.

Recently, I had one of those experiences. I’ve been taking my cars to Christian Brothers Automotive for a couple of years now. Mainly because they do a great job, but also because of their customer service. I feel like I can trust them to do high quality work, and they won’t take advantage of me. A trait you don’t find in a lot of auto repair places.

This past week I had an issue where a clip on one of my brakes was cutting into the back side of my rim. How fun would it be if it to cut all the way through the rim on the freeway? So I took it to CBA, explained my situation, and Marvin told me he would get right on it. I needed a ride back to work, and their normal driver was already taking someone else. Yep, they actually have a car service that will pick you up or drop you off.

Since the regular guy was out, the owner, Darleen Reese, jumped in to give me a ride. Now, there’s a whole other post right there about how, as an owner, you have to be willing to do what you ask others to do. In fact, I just so happened to write about it in Exclusive – Dave Ramsey Unloading Trucks!

Now, I have a high appreciation for women succeeding in business. So the drive back gave me a great opportunity to “interview” Darleen without her knowing. :-O Here’s some of our discussion:

CLo: How do you like running an auto shop?

DR: You know, it’s difficult from time to time trying to make sure nothing goes wrong in the shop. So it’s a lot of work. And I’m not the kind of leader who just sits in her office waiting for something to happen. I’m in the shop with the guys doing whatever is needed. What really drives me is I love to take care of people. Like when someone on a trip has a breakdown, and they call not knowing what to do. Being able to help them and take care of them excites me.

CLo: For years I have helped women not get taken advantage of at a repair place because it is so common. And with most women, getting your car fixed is intimidating. I bet women feel safe coming to your shop?

DR: Oh yeah. They see that I’m there, and you can see them relax. Once, a guy came into the shop and said, “I purposefully sent my wife in the other day to see how you would treat her. You took such good care of her and didn’t take advantage of her that I’m going to use you to work on my car.”

CLo: HAHA…that HAS to feel good!

DR: It really does.

CLo: By the way, I talk about you guys each time I teach EntreLeadership. Now you’ve given me more material.

DR: Oh! Well thanks! I’m glad I could help.

And that is why Darleen continues to receive my loyalty. Not just because they do a great job with my vehicles, but for the simple fact that what they do is bigger than themselves. They don’t just turn a wrench; they protect the single mom who knows very little about cars.

Question: Where have you seen this kind of customer service?

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  • http://lgthaxton.wordpress.com Louise Thaxton

    I have shopped at a local department store for years and I always head to one salesperson – “Olga”. Olga goes above and beyond what others would do – whether I am “just looking”, purchasing or returning. She even has things put back for me – so when I go in – she says “I put this back for you – I knew you would like it!” And I always do!

  • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

    June 1998 – i had just graduated from college, and had an interview for my first ‘real’ job. I’d spent the previous 3 years, working 2 or 3 jobs at once to be able to pay for college, which meant that my social life (the little there was, was conducted on the phone).

    The kind of jobs i worked called for jeans and T-shirts, but this being the real deal, i had to dress the part. I had no experience with corporate America, and had no idea where to go shopping for business attire especially since the few friends i had at the time were in the same boat as me. In other words i was completely lost!.

    I shopped all Sunday afternoon, and i finally got to the last store on my trip feeeling pretty desperate. After trying everything they had at the store (felt that way),i recall sitting down on one of the benches outside the changing room, thinking that i would never be able to find something to wear, meaning i wouldn’t get that job, which meant i would never work…..you get the drift.

    Finally one of the sales ladies came over and offered to help. I thought she was trying to get rid of me, since it was almost closing time, but she actually meant it. I explained my situation to her, and she took one look at me, and promised me that she could help me. To cut a long story short, she closed the store and worked with me for another hour and a half, allowing me to walk out of that store with my first coordinated business outfit (It doesn’t fit any more, but i’m hanging onto it).

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Wow!!! Now THAT’S great customer service!!! That’s someone I would hire!!

  • http://millionsofmyles.com millionsofmyles

    A great post. Austomotive Customer Service is a great passion of mine, something i quite often blog about.

    A great leader as well will always do what is needed to get it done. It’s great to see Darleen taking such an active role.

    Great customer service wins our hearts every time.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You’re absolutely correct!

  • Chris Johnston

    When I was very young, I worked as a grill cook at a country club. Sometimes we’d get slammed if we were doing an outing or hosting a tournament and when we did, the owner would come and pitch in.

    He never grumped about me getting behind or if you want it done right you got to do it yourself. Never. He just said I’ll help you with “this” and did it. When he was no longer needed,to help with the rush he would look at me, smile and say “Thanks, you got us through the rush.”

    40 years later, that still means a lot to me.

    There’s a special magic that happens when an owner gets involved, pitches in or goes the extra mile with style, grace and dignity. .

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Wow! That is do counter cultural of what a “great leader” is. Not the pitching in, the understanding that team members get swamped, and you don’t have to rip their heads off for getting behind. And the compliment is outstanding. What a guy! Did you ever talk to him later on in life?

      • Chris Johnston

        Several years later yes I did have the chance to chat with him, Still a nice guy. He had moved on to another company wholesaling produce to restaurants. He passed away about two years ago. He was in his 90’s.when he passed away.

  • http://twitter.com/tbric Tom Brichacek

    That is the way to do business. We have a local car repair shop that operates the same way. My wife goes there and doesn’t feel pressured at all. We try to operate the same way. Go the extra mile to make our customers happy and to keep them coming back.

    Keep up the good work Chris. I can’t wait until I save up enough to attend the Entreleadership training!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Tom. You will love it!

  • Marianna

    I love CBA. Even though I have paid just a little more for service repairs there in the past, I believe that it was worth it. Just another reason to not always go with the cheapest business in town. Great post.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I totally agree. Which should be a word of wisdom to those who are only trying to be the cheapest.

  • JosephDiego

    Want to see me come back, be nice. I pay extra for my cable service, why? customer service is wonderful.
    Automotive shops you have to be careful, but the meanest people are auto parts. OMG…Thanks for a great post.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Joseph!