According to legendary Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” As creative with a quote as he was calling a game, the Yankees’ catcher knew that on the baseball field, there is only one way to win: keep turning left at the bases.
In life, the mileposts may not be so clearly defined, but the roadmap to success often means being sure you know where you want to end up before you leave home.
Craig Popp, owner of First Tire & Automotive in the greater Houston area, says he’s proud to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of his first shop, but success isn’t entirely of his own doing. In my interview with Popp for this month’s cover story (you can read the complete story HERE), he indicated to me that he knows his four full-service tire and repair shops in Sugar Land and Katy, TX, haven’t achieved the level of success they enjoy because he has demanded it; it’s because he expects it.
“I think success is always about setting expectations and goals for your people,” Popp says. “Then, it’s about giving them all the tools in their toolboxes to do the job right.”
That toolbox may be literal, as in the shop areas at each of his locations, or metaphorical, as in providing the resources his service advisors need to take care of each customer, one customer at a time.
Popp says he doesn’t expect his team to be aggressive closers. “Don’t be a salesperson – we want to have that conversation with the customer, to make them feel comfortable with their repair decision. Sometimes, we worry that if a customer hears too much about what’s wrong with their car, they won’t have anything done. Well, as much as we would like to do the big, old repair, sometimes it’s not in the customer’s best interest.”
Popp says his customers appreciate the honesty. “We present the whole picture because you don’t know where the customer is in life. Sometimes they want to fix it all; sometimes the best decision is to get a different car.”
Popp says his best advice is to give the whole picture and help guide customers to the best solution to fit their individual needs.
“That’s how we built our business,” Popp explains. “One customer at a time, by doing a good job, being there and creating an environment where they’re comfortable and [we’re] building the trust with the customers. There’s nothing more trusting than when a customer comes in and throws the keys on the counter and says, ‘Fix it. Don’t call me until it’s done.’”
And speaking of exceeding customer expectations, a tip of the ShopOwner hat to Jerry Kessler and his team at Jerrell’s Exxon in Hinton, WV. While traveling the Country Roads of West Virginia last month, my Silverado’s TPMS sensor suddenly indicated a flat front tire. The sensors hadn’t relearned following a recent tire rotation and the flat tire was, in fact, on the rear.
Jerry was able to repair the tire professionally, update all of my TPMS positions and get me back on the road in minutes. And, even though his new issue of ShopOwner was sitting on his desk, it was obvious that he didn’t offer this level of service because of my photo over there; he did it just like he would for all of his customers.
Do you have customer service techniques that are helping you achieve the success you mapped out when you started on this journey? Share them with me at [email protected]
And, in the meantime, keep turning left.