On the independent dealer: "They were super nice and pointed out another minor issue."
As I contemplated writing about the culture and strengths of an independent tire and auto service dealership, this story hit home, in more ways than one.
How is the culture and customer service at your shop? Is it strong enough and established enough to attract and retain a strong workforce?
Do you have established guidelines that dictate not only how you treat customers, but how other employees should and must be treated? Do you have a plan in place that offers advancement and higher pay for employees who excel?
Are you paying a fair wage, particularly in this "Help Wanted" age?
And do you market your ability to offer fair and honest service, many times, as in our case, that is superior to higher-cost auto dealerships?
It is certainly something to consider, especially in light of our story on Page 1.
Michael Vue's battle for his health — including his continuing recovery from a kidney transplant — should inspire everyone in our industry. The 27-year-old man returned to his job in general services at Sandy Blvd Point S in Portland, Ore., just three months after receiving a kidney from a cadaver.
But equally as impressive is the fact the store manager at Sandy Blvd Point S, Brett Baumgarte, jumped at the opportunity to hire Mr. Vue, even though Mr. Vue needed flexibility to accommodate dialysis three days a week for his then-worsening condition.
Mr. Baumgarte didn't see this applicant as a problem too difficult to tackle. Instead, he saw Mr. Vue as a solution for issues within his shop.
"So I knew he was going through all the these things, and he was still this positive young man," Mr. Baumgarte said. "We needed that. We needed that for the shop."
How would you or your hiring manager have approached a job candidate like Mr. Vue? Would you have taken a chance on hiring someone who needed such flexibility in his schedule?
This is how Mr. Baumgarte describes the influence Mr. Vue has had on his 12-person shop.
"He has been a voice for people that have been frustrated at times for certain things," Mr. Baumgarte said. "He will give his two cents, and they're quality two cents. They're understanding words ... maybe looking at it more positively."
He credits Mr. Vue for fostering a sense of togetherness at the shop.
"These are things he might not even realize that I see him in him, too," Mr. Baumgarte said. "There are ... attributes of him, that I see that have helped everything else."
The Michael Vues of our industry are one of the reasons that differentiate the independent tire dealer in the market. Seeking and cultivating employees who not only are fair and honest with customers, as my wife experienced, but also those who can make a positive impact within the shop are integral to its success.
Sandy Blvd Point S is the top-selling store within Mark Cushing's four-shop dealership.
It might be wise to heed the words of Mr. Baumgarte, describing his decision to hire Mr. Vue.
"Every shop I believe needs that. You need somebody with this type of person in it, and that's why I gave it a go. I knew he could do the job. You know what? If some things got in the way, he had to go do his appointments. That was fine with me."