Overhead Door Company

Got a problem with a garage door? Maybe you’re lucky enough to have Overhead Door in your town. In the past, the biggest problem I had with calling for help was figuring out who to call. Roto-Rooter solved that problem for me for plumbers. Overhead Door solved the same problem for my garage doors.

Much like Roto-Rooter, the person who answers the phone is nice, professional, empathetic and proficient in scheduling an appointment and getting a good description of the problem. The technician calls when he’s on his way. He’s professional, dressed well, congenial and knowledgeable. I turn him loose and he gets the job done and fixes the problem and also lubes up the door so that it’s nice and quiet. It’s amazing but simply offering quick service, nice and professional workers and doing the job right consistently is all it takes to set a company apart from its competition.

I asked the last Overhead Door tech how the company is managed, and much like the Roto-Rooter plumber, he told me that the company is selective in hiring and provides ample training to keep up with the technical and customer service sides of their jobs. Good to hear it.

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Two Men and a Truck Movers

Phenomenal service at a great price.

I recently moved. Not wanting to break the backs of my family, I called Two Men and a Truck to get a quote. They stepped me through some questions to determine how much I had to move and quoted a price of around $80 to show up and $95/hour for a two man crew.

That was the best money I’d spent in a long time. Everyone was professional, congenial and happy to help. The two man crew showed up a few minutes early before 8 am and got to work. They took extra care not to damage furniture or walls and to pack the items so as to not be damaged in transit. The move was only a mile, so it didn’t take long to get to the new address. They unloaded quickly and got everything into the right place and got some heavy pieces of furniture up the stairs like pros. They left the new house before 11 am with a very pleased customer.

As usual with well run companies, I received a call thanking me for my business and letting me know that I’d receive an anonymous feedback form in the mail and they’d much appreciate my feedback. Compare this to a painting company that wanted me to fill out the satisfaction survey while the guy stood right there.

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Roto Rooter Update

Since my first post on Roto-Rooter, I’ve called them several more times. Once to fix some work done my previous plumber, another time to get stuff hooked up in my new house and another time to fix a leak.

I can report they have consistently provided me with professional and pleasant service from the time I called to the end. They followed up to make sure I was happy with the service and asked for feedback. I asked one of the plumbers how they hire and train the employees, and he let me know that they are selective on who they hire and make sure they know the expected standards for working with customers.

I’ve used Roto-Rooter’s service as example in several presentations I’ve given on customer service and have heard positive feedback from the experiences of those I’ve presented to.

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Costco

I just saw a post about Costco on another blog and was reminded about how great a business I think it is. I’ve been a Costco member for six or seven years now. My only wish is that there was Costco closer than 15 miles away from my house.

As a business person, I appreciate Costco’s business model. I would describe the business model as low price, high inventory turnover on high quality, bulk products with good service. It takes care of its associates and has generally taken care of it’s shareholders.

As a customer, I adore Costco. It doesn’t carry everything I use, but it carries enough to make it worth my while to go out of my way once or twice a month to pick things up. I figure that the money I save on the cereal I buy there alone pays for a good chunk of the cost of membership. Throw in savings on paper towels, toilet paper, wine, beer, the occasional electronics purchase, ink cartridges for the printer, snack bars, multivitamins, diapers, diaper wipes, batteries, walnuts and a birthday/anniversary cake or two and membership more than pays for itself. On top of that, I get 2-4% of much of what I spend there rebated to me. That and savings on gas is icing on the cake.

Put that savings on top of the always friendly and helpful service and high quality merchandise and you got yourself the makings of a great business.

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McDonald’s Coffee?

I’m not a coffee snob. The Folger’s Classic Roast Half Caf that I brew in my home pot each morning serves the majority of my coffee needs. But, when I occassionally do want to spring for a storebought cup of coffee, I still can’t bring myself to place the order at McDonald’s.

I was excited a year ago when McDonald’s announced it was entering the premium coffee market. I thought it might be a great alternative to Starbucks. Then I went to try McDonald’s coffee when they were offering it for free.

I was shocked when I walked in and saw that they were brewing the coffee in the same exact pots that my company uses in our breakrooms. I just didn’t associate that with premium coffee.

Again, I’m not a coffee snob. For taste, coffee is coffee. I have a tough time distinguishing the taste of a Starbucks latte and Folgers with milk. But it dawned on my how important the other aspects of the experience were to me when I struggled to figure out why I was so adverse to paying $1.09 for McDonald’s coffee, but didn’t have much problem paying $1.45 for Starbucks brewed coffee, occasionally.

So, McDonald’s, do you want my occasional coffee business? What did it come down to? Replace the breakroom coffee pots with coffee urns. To me, the coffee urns look much more professional and more suited to hold “premium” coffee.

That’s it.

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Portillo’s Hot Dogs

Every time I visit the Chicago area, I make it a point to stop by Portillo’s Hot Dogs. The food is fabulous. The staff is always friendly and helpful and the place is always clean. The food prep areas are visible, so you know there’s no funny business.

They once gave me the wrong food. They quickly took it back, asked me what I wanted and had a manager refund me the difference with a very pleasant and responsive attitude. They apologized for the error, but didn’t dwell on it. They fixed it and made it right.

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Tree Trimming

A year ago I decided to have the big tree in my front yard trimmed. I called two companies. Both were doing work in my neighborhood. Both had nice looking trucks. Good first impression.

One company called me back in a few hours and scheduled a time to come out for an estimate the next day. He arrived on time. Was well groomed. Seemed very nice. Even had a “certified arborist” distinction. He gave me the estimate. $250.

I asked when he could do it. “Next week. We’re doing a bigger job up the street, we can do it that same day.” Okay. Let’s do it. Two days later I recieved an e-mail from his company with a confirmation on the trim date and another copy of the estimate. Keeping me in the loop. Good job.

Later on the day that I received the e-mail from the first guy, the second guy called me back. $200. It wasn’t a difficult decision. This guy sounded nice enough, but by not getting back to me as quickly I figured that time wasn’t of the essence to him. Who knew when he’d be able to trim my tree? I told him, “Thanks for getting back to me, but I’ve already scheduled work with another company.”

I felt no remorse for paying the first guy $50 more. There’s something to that old saying, “you get what you pay for.” Both these guys had nice trucks. Both probably did the same quality trim work. But, the timeliness of the response, the good personality, the “arborist” distinction and good communication with e-mail set the first guy apart.

Additionally, the name of the first guy’s company was a family name. The second guy had a generic name that was obviously chosen for it’s placement in the phone book. Given his lower price and desire to get work by being the first listed tree service in the phone book told me that this guy viewed his business as a commodity. He’s probably keeping himself busy. There are many people who are probably willing to sacrifice service quality to save a few bucks. But, this guy could probably make more money by working less if he did realize the value of higher quality service.

The first guy finished the job a day early and also removed a big pile of leaves that I had raked up and was intending to bag. Great customer service!

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What helps me like a business

Courtesy
Friendliness
When it’s obvious they know what they’re doing
Cleanliness
They make you feel that your business is welcome and appreciated
They are respectful of your time
They do their level best to please you

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Roto Rooter

I had a great experience with Roto Rooter recently. The wax ring on my toilet needed replacing and I didn’t have the time to figure it out.

I called a local guy that I’ve used in the past. Strike one. It was after 6 pm and he wasn’t answering. He didn’t even have a machine to take a message. The Roto Rooter ad was calling to me, “24 hours”. But, still, I waited until the next morning.

I called the local guy again. Strike two. Can’t get to me for 2 days. Ouch. I was having loyalty pains, but I said, “I’m sorry, I’d like it taken care of before that, I’m calling someone else.” “Ok” is all I heard from the other end of the line. Strike three.

“Hello, Roto Rooter, how may we help you?”
“OK, when would you like us to be there?”
“Anytime. We run 24 hours.”
“I can have someone there in about 2.5 hours.”
“Thank you very much.”

Larry arrived. Was very polite, knowledgeable and clean. He was conversational and was finished in about 40 minutes or so. Not bad. I figured it would have taken me several hours to figure out. He provided the estimate and I said, “Get to work.”

Some people may have balked at paying $164 to replace a $2 wax ring. I didn’t. I wasn’t paying for the wax ring. I was paying for the 2.5 hour arrival time. I was paying for someone who knew what they were doing. I was paying for the peace of mind of knowing the job was done right. I was paying for the friendly and clean service.

“That work has a 180 day guarantee on it.” My local guy probably has a guarantee too, but he never bothered to tell me about it. Simple things can set apart a client experience.

Roto Rooter, Keep up the good work. You earned a customer that’ll try you again. But, as you can see from above how quickly I ditched my local guy, it’s easy to lose us too. Perhaps my experience was a fluke. Let’s hope not.

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Great Businesses

When I was young I had several friends you liked to take things like toasters and alarm clocks apart to figure out how they worked. I was never really much interested in that. I was more interested in how businesses worked.

Drive through almost any town and you’ll see a wide array of businesses and sometimes it’s very easy to spot the great businesses from the the not-so-great businesses. I love great businesses and I’m not so fond of other types of business. Unfortunately, the percentage of great businesses appear small, so I have to deal with good or poor businesses often.

I thought it would be interesting to have a blog to write about great businesses and what makes them great. This is it.

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