There is a car dealer who dominates his market. Not only is he number one, but it takes the next four car dealers combined to equal his market share in the metro area where he competes.
He is the third generation to lead the company and is invariably described as being “quietly charming” when the business press comes to do a profile. In fact, employees at his dealerships have only heard him raise his voice one time in all the years he’s worked there.
Some background is needed to explain what happened.
Car dealer lots are congested—and busy—places. Not only are there a lot of cars, a great deal of them are constantly in motion as they are rotated to the showroom, brought around for a customer to see, or taken in for service.
Well, not surprisingly, a lot of fender-benders, and sometimes worse occur. At a dealership, that is not a big deal. They own a body shop after all.
But common sense and respect for a customer demands you tell people that the car got dinged if it is one they are interested in (or even worse, one they had brought in for service or have decided that they wanted to buy.)
Well, one day when I was visiting, a top-of-line model that someone had just bought was damaged a corner of the back bumper got mangled—while the employees were preparing it for delivery to the customer. Repairs were made well before the buyer showed up. The customer drove off the lot happy, never knowing what had happened. No one told him and you couldn’t tell the car had been damaged simply by look at it.
When the car dealer learned what had happened, he went what can only be described as ballistic.
He gathered every employee who wasn’t with a customer and he has several hundred people working for him behind the showroom, explained what had happened and literally yelled using language most of them didn’t know he knew - about 'this was NOT how his company did business'.
He explained that every customer was to be informed every time their car was damaged, no matter how minor.
If the customer thought the repair was sufficient, fine. But if they wanted a credit or a different car, if they were buying a new one - then the employees were going to make them happy. Period.
That was 10 years ago, and there has not been a problem with this since.
This story has many lessons. A lesson on customer delight, customer service, leadership, entrepreneurship. But the most important part in any business, more so in services business is dealing with customers with utmost respect and integrity.