Does anyone really think service isn’t important? Is there too much focus on content and “engagement” and “stories” in social media? Probably not. But I do fear SM swirl causes many to overlook the importance of customer service and how brands need service now more than ever.
In the Western U.S. there is a tire retailer called Les Schwab. Mr. Schwab built his business around a brand that was supported by extraordinary service from eager employees and only offering products he would guarantee. Schwab held annual “meat sales” where customers who bought a new set of tires would get a few steaks to take home a grill. I’m not sure if Mr. Schwab is even still alive but his legacy lives on just as strong as ever.
I invested a small fortune in tires for our Honda SUV this week. This is at least the 3rd set of tires I have purchased from Les Schwab in the last ten years. They have included high performance sprt tires, SUV, and car tires.
Tire shops are commodity shops. Many carry the same tires and compete aggressively on price. I shopped at one local tire store and the sales staff was more aggressive than a timeshare hack in Hawaii. The place was filthy. The employees looked like they were working a “job” and didn’t seem particularly happy. I passed on their options.
I am sure many drivers are comfortable buying cheap or low priced tires. I refuse to skimp on the two most important safety features of a car – tires and brakes. Even so, I want to feel like I’m taken care of and respected and I can rely on an outlet with service I can trust. Les Schwab fits that bill.
Here are the my observations on how Les Schwab’s Model can work for your business:
Cleanliness – All Les Schwab outlets are spotless. The floors are shiny. There isn’t clutter anywhere.
Service with a Smile – I like how the service folks run to my car to ask me how they can help. Yes, they run to the car. This doesn’t happen all the time and it is copied now but some other outlets but all the same it makes me feel important.
Service with Knowledge – Today was given 5 options of tires to look at for my needs. I had a series of questions and the service rep patiently answered my questions. Even more important to me she asked me questions about how and where we drive. From there she provided recommendations with a hard sell.
Maintenance Service – Any customer who buys tires from Les Schwab can go to any outlet for maintenance problems and have them fixed for free. I even took one car into them to have them fix a flat on a tire I didn’t buy from them. They didn’t charge me even though they could/should have.
Quality Products – I am very satisfied with the quality of tires and wheels they offer! Many of the tires have 60K mile warranties, including the high performance sports tires!
Fair Price – Schwab’s prices are fair in my book. I know they aren’t the cheapest. But I am more than comfortable to pay that premium in order to be treated well.
Don’t overlook service with your business, especially with a commoditized offering. Service (or lack thereof) can build and maintain brand – or tear it down.