A story about one that didn't get away: Last Aug. 11, Richard Louis-Seize, president of Argenteuil Tires Inc. near Montreal, went cod fishing with a few friends, as he does every year for his vacation. His ``ordeal'' was reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway's ``The Old Man and the Sea,'' in which a fish is caught but is too big to fit into the old guy's small boat.
Instead of a few cods, Mr. Louis-Seize hooked a 344-pound halibut! Undaunted, the determined 83-year-old dealer began reeling in the monster, which took several hours to land. It made for a great fish story-the kind of which TV movies are made!
Carrot and the stick
Want a strong dealer association? Recruit. The Kansas Tire Dealers Association (KTDA) found a hare-brained way to do that-and have a few laughs.
Last November, as some board members arrived at the KTDA office in Topeka to conduct a phone calling campaign, they were told about the contest they would participate in, called the ``Grand Bunny-Off.''
The KTDA's Treadmarks newsletter said a ``pregnant, pygmy bunny'' was introduced as the prize for the recruiter getting the fewest new members. Each drew a playing card; the one with the highest card started with the bunny.
When a new member committed, the recruiter passed on ownership of the bunny.
Rather than upset the expectant hare, a carrot was passed. ``You should have seen those `adults' running back and forth yielding the carrot to the next reluctant caller,'' Treadmarks said.
So who ended up being stuck with momma? ``The joke was really on them,'' the newsletter noted. ``In actuality, it was a normal, young male rabbit that had to be returned to the pet store by closing!''
Up close and personal
Remember the line from the old Texaco Inc. jingle? ``You can trust your car to the man who wears the star. The big, bright Texaco star.''
South Trail Tire Co., in Sarasota County, Fla., has a catchy tag line in its newspaper ads: ``If you don't know tires, know your tire dealer.'' And trust him?
Grab your boots, shovels
Independent tire dealers seem to be getting ``deeper'' into auto service. But few probably refer to it as colorfully as the following, reported in Automotive News.
Rich Thomas, executive vice president and general manager of the Acura Division, said ``the automobile service business is like a big pile of manure. It's better to be at the top of the heap than in the middle. But it's still a pile of manure.''...Sounds like B.S. to us. When he was brought into Xerox Corp.'s Cleveland office in 1987 to whip it into shape, then-33-year-old Frank Pacetta found a dispirited staff and district sales-at $56 million-near the bottom of the corporation's barrel, said a Cleveland Plain Dealer article.
In the first year he arrived, the office went from 60th of 67 U.S. sales districts to fourth. And in four years, its sales skyrocketed to more than $100 million.
His secret? Rispetto, the Italian word for ``respect,'' Mr. Pacetta said. Respect for customers-and for self. A number of his business ``secrets'' have been compiled in his book, Don't Fire Them, Fire Them Up...A Maverick's Guide to Motivating Yourself and Your Team.
Among his ``rules for success'':
Never say ``no'' to a customer-everything is negotiable.
Make customers feel good about you, not just your product.
Meet customer requirements, even if it means fighting your own bureaucracy.
Do things for customers that you don't get paid for.
Know your competitor's products better than your competitor does.
When it comes time to go home, make one more telephone call.
Finally, if you stay in the shower too long in the morning because you don't look forward to work, find another job. Speaking of Xerox Corp., if the word ``xenophobic'' means a fear of foreigners or strangers, does xerophobic mean a fear of reproduction? Sounds conceivable.