Les Schwab Revives Old School ‘Customer’ Service Standards

“Well done is better than well said.” – Ben Franklin

Eleven years ago I moved to Portland for a job and found myself exploring the westside suburbs looking for housing. As I was driving through Tigard on Hwy 99 I suddenly hear a loud “tap, tap, tap” coming from the front passenger tire.  Luckily, I spot the large Yellow, Red and Black Les Schwab sign and roll in seeking assistance with my tiresome tapping tire, praying they are not going to try and con me in to buying two new tires which typically has been my experience with any type of auto repair shop, and, I was solo this time.  A woman with no Man-Stand-In to ensure they don’t take this woman to the rubber cleaners.

Turns out I inadvertently ran over a railroad nail and was informed they could actually plug the offending culprit and was told my tire would be as good as new.  Perhaps, they suggested, I might kill some time reading in their waiting room as the repair would only take about 15 minutes.  Groovy, I think to myself, give my feet some time to dry out and I always pack a good book for emergencies like this.

Fifteen minutes to the second a stout and suspiciously clean-looking, optimistic technician appears waving my keys around as if I’m driving the lead float in the Rose Parade declaring “she’s ready to roll!”….tire humor, no doubt.  Smirk-smiling I reach for my wallet asking what I owed for the repair and I could have sworn I heard him say ‘Oh, nothing’?  “Oh nothing my damp left foot, what’s the catch?” I queried.  “Les Schwab is grateful you thought to stop in and ask for our help.  There is no charge for today’s service.  We hope that in the future you will return to Les Schwab for your tire repair needs.” Mr. Clean chimes back.

My mother’s voice echoed in my head “Julie, shut your mouth before a fly takes up residence” because I’m 98% sure my mouth gaped open a good five seconds before I was able to fully compose myself “Wow, that’s terrific.  Let me give you a tip.” “Ma’am, we don’t work off tips, this is a tire store.”  Red faced I make my exit, and don’t visit them again for another two years – although I retell this story to any non-Oregonian who will listen, and here I am, spouting it off again.

Over the past 11 years I have purchased new tires, snow tires, received free snow chains, aligned and balanced wheels and observed with utter amazement Les Schwab’s consistent demonstration in their commitment to all customers, big and small.   Seven years later I witnessed them helping out a struggling young man who drove in with an older car (one we might call “a beater”).  He could only afford a used tire, and it had to be under $50.00, his total cash in hand.  The Les Schwab team not only called around to find a used tire that would meet his needs, they threw in a comparable second (albeit used) tire, so he would be “balanced”…all for $43.78.  Additionally, they treated this young man with the grace, charm and respect one might assume would be reserved for the “newer car” crowd, or those with more than $50.00 in their pocket.

Last year I replaced my Man-Stand-In with a real life husband (who also restores classic cars) and in seeking tire sales he insisted we take our car to Costco since their price beat Les Schwab’s by a whopping $22.00.  Real husbands, unlike the Stand-In kind, like to take control with the car repair stuff and I’m usually OK with that.  Unfortunately for real-life-man I had been having a 9 year emotional affair with several of the Les Schwab services centers so there was no way I was not going to honor them with the same level of loyalty they extended to me.

Loyalty is not purchased, it’s earned.  Give something away, it will come back.  Call back when you say you will.  Treat small fish as if they are big fish.  Say “Thank You, Come Again”, and actually mean it.  Let your customers taste, touch, feel and hear you.  All prospects are potential customers.  Customers are always listening, question is, are you?

3 Responses to “Les Schwab Revives Old School ‘Customer’ Service Standards”
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  3. Dave Niskala says:

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