(Note: Before posting this, I showed a draft to other small business owners. The resounding response was: DON’T POST IT! So I sat on it for a day. It didn’t change my thoughts. We want to be open. Our site is about showing what we do and how we do it at Mobile Edge. I’m proud of my store and my guys. They are true professionals and like all of us, make a mistake from time to time. We can’t show you all the great things we do if we are going to sweep the mistakes under the carpet.)
Steve from New Jersey called us a few months back. He owns a 2011 BMW 550i XDrive and had just read a post on our site announcing that we now install remote starters in many BMWs. He told us how much he loved our site and even bought the e-book I wrote about remote car starters. After spending some time on the phone with us he said that we were the only shop he wanted to do the installation.
We gave Steve an estimated price and he left a deposit via credit card. We ordered the parts and blocked off the appointment. On Wednesday morning, he made the 90 minute drive to get to our store. We had Enterprise Rent-A-Car waiting for him and he was soon on his way back to New Jersey. This particular morning, our area was hit with freezing rain so the drive was less than desirable.
When we pulled the vehicle into the bay and prepped it for the installation, we noticed that the 2011 BMW 550i xDrive was not on the list of vehicles that are supported by the device we ordered. Concerned, we went to our database and discovered that the 2011 BMW 550i xDrive is not supported at all. No method or device that meets our standards is available which would allow us to install a remote starter in this vehicle.
It turns out that we made a sort of Freudian slip. When researching this project and ordering the parts, we typed in 2011 BMW X5. Probably the “XDrive” in the model had something to do this the slip-up. We take our time and we don’t make mistakes like this one. But there is a first time for everything and, in this case, that first time happened to a client from 100 miles away.
We were truly devastated. Myself and my guys were literally sick to our stomach about the situation. We get many clients from hundreds of miles away and we know just how important it is to manage these projects. We had an impromptu staff meeting to decide what needed to be done.
It turned out to be a short discussion. There was only one thing to do. We called the client and explained that we had completely dropped the ball. No excuses. We were careless. We let him down and wasted his valuable time. Bob volunteered to bring the vehicle back to his home in New Jersey. We offered to do whatever else we needed to happen to make the situation right. Thankfully, this client was very understanding. In his words “mistakes happen!” WOW…
Bob drove the vehicle back to New Jersey, filled it up with gas and delivered it to the client’s front door. Steve was, of all things, grateful! He thanked Bob for bringing the vehicle back and complimented us on our professionalism. When Bob got in the rental car to come back home, he found an envelope with his name on it. Inside were two $50 bills, 1 for Bob and 1 for Mike. On Bob’s was a sticky note that says “Bob, This too shall pass – It’s OK!, Steve.”
This started out as a textbook example of how to attract a client through what I call “Branding yourself as the expert.” When you brand yourself as the expert, you have an obligation to live up to that. In nearly every case, we do. In this case we failed.
Of course we refunded Steve’s deposit, paid for his rental and tolls and a full tank of gas. This situation cost us some money, a full day of shop time and a big hit to our ego and pride. From experience, I’ve learned that bad situations, when treated the right way, can usually turn into a valuable lesson. When I arrived at the shop today, I saw Steve’s sticky note behind the counter at one of our computer terminals. Going forward, this note will remind us to take an extra minute to be sure everything is in order and done properly, and that we are fortunate that we get to deal with good people…. Even when we make a mistake.