Four editions in, the industry has taught me much. You know what they say, E.T.I.H.A. (everything in the tire industry has an acronym).
The first week at Tire Business involved looking up a lot of acronyms. Now though, I can hold a conversation about a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system).
"Air pressure, am I right?" I'd say.
The bag of Halloween candy started full of variety but reached a 98% Whoppers point, and I gave up. I was thinking about this column, and asked myself, "What can someone new to the tire industry bring to insiders?"
How about an outsider's perspective?
Up until recently, my experience with tires had been from a consumer perspective: I have waited for someone else to fix them for me. That's not to say I don't have a pit-crew-like tire changing game. But I let the professionals do the work that requires a professional.
One thing I've learned from years of sitting in waiting rooms is that they all have at least one chair.
I once waited for my car to get fixed in a small hallway lit by one buzzing light bulb. There was a tiny window to the garage that was much too high to see through when sitting in the lone folding chair.
But that was an anomaly, which may or may not have left my car haunted. Most waiting rooms have a few more luxuries.
There's usually a pot of "all-day" coffee burning nearby — the watery kind of coffee meant to be consumed throughout the day and by the gallon.
TV is also a given. Though, you better like watching "Judge Judy," unless you can locate and decipher the remote.
Some places use marketing, some use a little common sense, some places listen to Chuck when he sticks his head into the conversation and says, "A popcorn machine would be classy."
But whatever the level of "professionalism," it's the thought that counts.
While, it definitely says something when a shop spends some real time and money on its waiting room, I mostly judge for the attempt. For a business, it can be an afterthought, especially when the real name of the game is speed.
People want their cars fixed in a timely manner at a fair price. If that's accomplished, then they will keep coming back, whether there's a cappuccino machine or not.
Consumers forget that it's people running these businesses, with lives and feelings, who work crazy hours. And while they would love for every aspect to be perfect in their shop, the main focus must be on the work.
So, if the waiting room is a little dirty, or the vending machine is empty save for the Andy Capp Hot Fries, I don't judge harshly. I enjoy some hot fries.
Really, all a good waiting room needs is a strong WiFi signal. We are living in the technology age. Consumers don't need entertainment, they brought it with them. They just need a good signal ... and a chair would be nice.
And, popcorn is pretty classy, too.
Have a great shop story to share? Email Managing Editor David Manley at [email protected]