Care like the tire man

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz
It wasn't the worst start I've ever had, but it wasn't good. My wife woke up sick and my dog woke up whining, or maybe it was the other way around. It's all such a blur. Overnight, the weather had turned from tolerable to pseudo-Siberian, and the world was laminated in ice, as was my mood.

But the last straw, the one that broke that poor, mythical camel's back, was the flat tire. It was pancake flat. Flatter than the Earth used to be. Flatter than an “American Idol” contestant. And by the time I got the wounded vehicle to my local Les Schwab tire store, it's safe to say my disposition was unimproved.

But here's the thing about those people — they've got customer care down to a science. Before I had even stopped the car, a cheerful, uniformed professional was already running, literally, to see what I needed. As I consumed mass quantities of complimentary coffee and popcorn, he pulled out the nail and healed the tire, all for free, and quickly sent me on my now-merry way.

It feels odd to admit the trajectory of my day was changed by a trivial interaction with a massive tire franchise, but it truly was. Taking great care of customers is clearly woven into the company culture, and employees have embraced the concept whole-heartedly. As a result, service excellence has become synonymous with the brand.

So here's what I'm thinking. A lot of times, people entering a long-term care setting are having a horrible day, maybe even their worst ever. But when they desperately need, crave and deserve a Les Schwab kind of experience, the treatment they get is too often, well, flat. And that's not only wrong, but bad for business.

I believe there's always a niche and reward for an organization that makes compassion and service a priority, and proves it in every interaction, every day. From a resident's bedside to the dining room, from admission to rehab, the formula is simple — just care like you're selling tires. 

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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.