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An apology’s not enough

Saturday’s MINE! It’s the one day when I get to catch up with friends, work on projects around the house, weed the garden and take a nap.

My bride is traveling, so I volunteered to drop her car at Toyota Carlsbad for maintenance. My strategy: run a few errands around town while the work was taking place.

As I’m alone this weekend, I planned to get home on their shuttle, then return once the work was completed. In the interim, I’d do my chores in my own car.

Only Toyota has eliminated their courtesy shuttle as a cost-savings measure.

For years, a courtesy shuttle has been standard at car dealerships. Even independent fix-it shops offer a ride home so you’re not stuck in their waiting room for countless hours.

But you know what happens when you assume …

Confronted with the prospect of wasting a gorgeous Saturday sitting at a car dealership, I complained. The service manager’s response: “That’s our policy. I’m sorry.”

Guess what “That’s our policy” does to an obviously irate customer asking for something every other dealer does? Paraphrasing Dale Carnegie, this is NOT how to make friends and influence people.

True, I can get an Uber to get home. The few dollars I’ll spend getting home and returning later won’t change my life.

And I know the quality, results and price of the repair service itself are the most important issues today.

But that’s beside the point. There are certain expectations customers come into any situation with, and you ignore them at your peril. Having coffee in the waiting room was once nice; now it’s mandatory.

And realize that even if you’re not delivering these value-added items, your competition is.

Maybe Toyota doesn’t care. We’re not their biggest customer, and they may figure it’s no great loss if we leave.

But our car may need real service one day. Today’s incident encourages me to consider who else can service our needs.

If you’re looking to grow your own business, examine what competitors aren’t doing. Providing that little extra service might be just enough to get your foot in the door.

Because assuming another repair shop can do the same work for the same price AND still offer the shuttle, they might just steal away my business.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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