Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tool Time Tango

Good, thoughtful customer service is a skill that can make old clients remember why they loved you and wonder how they ever could have forgotten about your excellent business.  A bad or even indifferent salesperson watches money flowing through their fingertips without a clue that they did anything wrong.  Every small service that we can offer a potential client goes a long way towards developing a loyalty that we might not see signs of right away, but which has long lasting effects. 

I offer a small array of tools and supplies as a convenience for students who take my classes and have needed to replace my stock of clay rollers for months.  While I was recovering from my foot surgery, my local OSH remodeled and got rid of a circular saw they used to use to cut 5 foot pieces of PVC pipe into shorter lengths for me.  I asked a salesman I'd dealt with before if he had any suggestions and he just looked at me blankly and uttered a mumbled Uh-uh.  

The guy at the small neighborhood hardware store down the block seemed put out that I'd even suggest that he take the time to cut my pipe, even though there wasn't another customer in the store and he was reading the paper. Home Depot just said they didn't have a saw and sent me on my way.  

Then my friend Paige reminded me about B & B Hardware.  A relatively large, very fabulous neighborhood hardware store in a neighboring neighborhood.  A mile away.  I don't think of them often enough, probably because every time I  go in I find some treasure of a tool that I know I don't need - but want desperately.  I took a number and waited in line.  They're always jammed with people.  When it was my turn, I explained what I wanted - a bunch of PVC pipe cut into 6 inch lengths.  The salesman explained that they had a policy of one or two cuts free, but .50 per cut over that.  Oh well.  I turned around to leave when he said they had a tool called a Ratcheting PVC Pipe Cutter that was really easy to use.  He took me into the back room, showed me what he was talking about and let me use the store's tool so I could see if I liked it. Boy did I!  It cut like a dream, didn't create a lot of debris that I'd have to strip off the end of the pipe and vacuum up off the floor and was only about $14.00.  A real bargain considering the frustration I'd been dealing with for a week. He cut two 10 foot lengths of pipe in half for free (so they'd fit in the car) and away I went.  A happy camper.

I got home, cut the four 5 foot lengths myself and not only felt a sense of accomplishment, but a gratifying ache in my right hand from the bonus workout.  Using this tool is exactly like using one of those grip and release hand exercisers that are recommended by physical therapists.

So a salesman who was willing to do a little detective work to find out what it was I actually needed to accomplish and really wanted to help me succeed in my task not only made my day, but developed a loyal customer for life.


Catherine said...

Thanks, I may have to go get me one of those things.


Christine Ritchey said...

You've made me homesick for my favorite hardware store in the world, Elliott's Hardware in Dallas. This place even sells horse tack! The salespeople are all older, retired people who made their livings as plumbers, electricians, etc., so they know whereof they speak. And they'll cheerfully cut anything you want to any size you want! This place is so wonderful that grooms-to-be have started registering for wedding gifts there. Heck, sometimes it will be the only place a bride and groom will register, period! It's a little slice of hardware heaven. *sigh*