The world is an interesting place. A decade or so ago, businesses were far less likely to worry about customer retention and long-term customer satisfaction. They had a product. You bought it. If something went wrong, they might replace it. They might not.
Sometimes you bought things that didn’t last long, but that was simply the cost of doing business. You might get mad, or in my Pap-pa’s case tell the whole family they could no longer patronize the business, but nothing ever really changed.
Those days are gone.
Thanks to the Internet and Everyday Joe’s prolific use of Twitter, Facebook and (yes, some people still use it) MySpace, word gets around much more quickly than it once did. People who could count their friends on one hand now boast 200+ “friends” on social networking sites. Girls who fought like feral cats in high school over every insignificant boy in town are now chatting each other up on an hourly basis from hundreds of miles away simply because these sites have reunited them as older, hopefully wiser adults.
Word gets around a lot faster than it once did. Word of mouth does not mean what you tell people in line at the grocery store or before Sunday School. By the time I can tell one person a story, I can post it on a social networking site and tell hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of people.
If you are a business, you have to embrace a new day’s way. Gone are the times when businesses could make someone mad and expect to never hear about it again. They have to be more diligent about customer service and accountability, and they have to make sure each person who comes in is treated with the utmost respect.
After all, you never know when Everyday Joe might moonlight as Blogger Joe.
So with those thoughts in mind, I would like to point out a business that is getting it right. If you’ve had a bad experience with this company, I’m sorry. Guess what? I, too, have had a bad experience with them, but it was many years ago, and things have thankfully changed.
I’m talking about Ryan Auto Group on Oliver Road in Monroe. If you’re someone who has had a bad experience, you’re probably rolling your eyes now or maybe you’ve stopped reading altogether and I’m just talking to myself. But if you’re still reading, all I can say is that I’m sorry you had a bad time, but I didn’t.
And because I’m one of those Blogger Joes, I’m spreading the word the best way I know how.
I bought a pre-owned Suburban about a month ago from Ryan Auto Group. It took everything I had to go on the lot even to look because I had stumbled down this trail with this company eight years ago. The salesman was perfectly nice and greeted both me and my (now ex) husband. But 99.9% of the time when I asked a question, he turned and answered my husband.
*Insert exasperatedly loud scream!* HOW RUDE!
Ultimately, we decided not to buy the car. I held onto that infuriation and applied it as my overall impression of the dealership. They employed this person, and they acted like they couldn’t have cared less when we changed our minds at the last minute.
So why would I care about giving them my business? Simply put, times change, and so do people.
I found a car on their pre-owned lot, and I emailed the salesman. He very professionally and courteously replied within 30 minutes, so I thought I would give things another whirl. Within the first minute of speaking on the phone, I put him on notice that I was probably his worst nightmare – a potential customer who knows just enough to be dangerous, wants a new car but doesn’t need one and will not take less than exactly what I want.
He never blinked or hesitated. I already liked this guy.
His name is Caleb Campbell, and no matter how many questions I threw his way, he answered. If he didn’t know, he admitted it but always found the answer. He wasn’t the stereotypical, pretentiously all-knowing salesperson who makes you feel greased up from his over-the-top, fake attention and pitch.
We got a great deal, and we have loved our car. That is, of course, until three weeks after we bought it and the back brakes started grinding. Had I not specifically asked about the condition of the brakes, the tires and a dozen other things, I would’ve been upset but would’ve been forced to accept the fact that once I drove it off the lot, the car and all its possible quirks became my problem.
But I did ask those questions and countless others, so I felt like it was Ryan’s responsibility to take care of the brakes.
To be honest, I expected to be met with resistance. According to what I knew of car dealerships, they were going to deny it was their problem, swear the brakes were fine when I bought the car and say that since three weeks had passed, there was nothing they could/would do. I spoke with sales manager Terry Day, and he told me to bring the car in so they could look at it.
Here we go, I thought. Let the runaround commence.
I dropped the car off around 9 a.m. the next morning, and the service rep said it would probably be 2 p.m. before they could get to it but that he would call as soon as the mechanic who originally inspected the car had a chance to look at it. At 1:30, I got a call to say that when they first checked out the car, the back brakes had been inspected on the outside but not on the inside, the mechanic was changing them now, and the car would be ready at 3 p.m.
At no charge to me.
And they would gladly send someone to my office to get me whenever was convenient.
What? Can this be true? No hassle. Superb, faster-than-predicted service. Courtesy and acknowledgement at every turn. This was not the Ryan Auto Group I had known eight years ago.
I will probably buy a car from them again when the need arises, but hopefully that won’t be for a long time. I’m quite proud of what I’ve got, and I’m proud to say I got such a great deal and wonderful service at Ryan Auto Group on Oliver Road in Monroe.
If you stop by there, ask for Caleb Campbell or go see Tim or Casey in Service. Maybe ask for Terry, the sales manager. Tell them you read a blog about how rockin’ awesome they are and thank them for understanding how to treat a customer.
And when you, too, leave Ryan – or any other business – on such a positive note, pass the word to all your “friends.” Maybe the others, who I will now describe as less-than-Ryan, will get on board.