The Blue Kite Blog

What a Small Town Mechanic Can Teach You About Customer Loyalty

By | May 28, 2013

A couple of years ago, Harry Meyer, the beloved mechanic in my tiny hometown experienced a crisis in his business.

Someone had reported Harry to the EPA for the large stacks of tractor tires lined up near his gas station and shop. Apparently, he was not following the regulations for disposing of these materials.

This wasn’t the first time someone reported him. But, it was about to be the last. Between the fines and everything that needed to be done to fix the issues, Harry was contemplating closing his shop.

But, then something wonderful happened.

When the community heard Harry might shut down his business, they rallied together to help Harry dispose of the tires and get everything cleaned up at his shop. The community also held an appreciation dinner where hundreds of people came out to show their support for Harry. (For a town of only 250 people, that was a huge turnout.)

As a result, Meyer Oil was saved. And, Harry realized that his supporters were much stronger than the individual who kept threatening his business.

The importance of customer loyalty and community

This story proves the importance of building a loyal community of support. Meyer Oil would not have been saved if the community did not believe in Harry Meyer and the valuable service his shop provides.

You don’t fight to save a business you like. You rally together to save a business that you love. A business that you’re passionate about. A business that’s irreplaceable.

Meyer Oil encompasses all of those things.

Does yours?

In other words, if your business closed tomorrow, what, if anything, would people miss?

If you’re struggling to come up with an answer, it might be time to step back and think about what makes your business valuable to your clients and customers.

Creating an Irreplaceable Business

The reason why customers rallied behind Meyer Oil is because they couldn’t imagine life without it.  Let’s take a look at what makes Meyer Oil so special so you can better understand what makes a business truly irreplaceable.

1. Create a memorable experience.

Meyer Oil is the only gas station I’ve seen that fills up your car for you and cleans your windshield while you wait.

And even though he’s covered in grease and dirt, Harry always comes out to the fuel pump with a smile.  He’s never too busy to stop what he’s doing and fill up your car. He’s always happy to see you and he gladly chats with you while you wait.

It’s those little things that make stopping at Meyer Oil a true pleasure. Read this story from someone who was passing through Blackburn and stopped at the shop. She was blown away.  As Harry said, “that’s what we do here.”

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The lesson: Daring to be different to create a positive experience for customers definitely pays off. Think about how you can add your own unique twist to what you do. How can you delight and surprise customers to give them a memorable experience? What can you do to “wow” your customers?

2. Go above and beyond the call of duty.

Several years ago, my husband and I were driving back to our home in Indiana after visiting my parents. We got about an hour away from my parent’s house and had some serious car trouble.

It was a Sunday. There was nothing open nearby and it was clear we weren’t going to make the rest of our 7-hour trip home unless we got some car help.

I called my parents and they called Harry Meyer. Harry told us to bring the car back home and he would fix it. He spent a couple of hours working on our car and got us back up and running so we could travel safely home.

Almost every person in the community has similar stories about how Harry has come to the rescue in a time of need or gone way beyond the call of duty.

THAT, my friends, is what remarkable customer service looks like.

The lesson: When you care about customers and truly put their needs first (especially when you’re willing to go way beyond the call of duty), you build an incredible amount of customer loyalty. Having that trust and loyalty not only breeds repeat business, but also a community who is willing to stand up and fight for you.

 3. Reliable, quality service.

On top of all the little things I mentioned, perhaps the biggest differentiator is that Harry is a mechanic you can trust. You know Harry’s going to work hard to find the problem with your vehicle. He’s not going to take you for a ride and charge you just to diagnose the problem – he wants to fix it.

The entire farming community relies on him not just to repair vehicles, but to service tractors and machinery and provide gas and diesel out on the farms.

The prospect of Harry closing his shop left all the farm community wondering “Who’s going to help me keep my machinery running?”

The lesson: You can do everything right, but if the quality of your service isn’t up to snuff, your business will falter. Committing to excellence and being the best in your industry will help you stand out among the crowd.

What do you think makes a business irreplaceable? What lessons did you learn from this story?

Image credit: Alan Hudson Photography

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