It was Friday at 5:45 PM and I was driving in Baltimore’s rush hour traffic. I was on my way to Virginia to have dinner with a client before leading their strategy session the following morning. The sun was shining and all was going well until my tire pressure alert started to flash. “Oh great. Not this again,” I thought. The alert had been sensitive during the winter cold, so I assumed it was the same issue again. Wrong assumption. Ten minutes later, I started to smell that distinctive burnt tire odor. Because I was driving next to a bus, I assumed it was the bus. Wrong assumption again. I pulled over and saw my left rear tire had blown out its sidewalls. I was riding on the rim.
After checking to confirm I had a spare (though it was only a temporary spare), I immediately called for a tire repair service and then started calling tire stores near me. My temporary spare tire was not going to get me to Virginia. I’d need at least two new tires and possibly four. After several calls, it was not looking promising. The tire service I called said it’d be at least an hour for them to arrive because of their backlog. Most tire stores closed at 6 PM and those that did stay open until 8 PM, had no openings or didn’t have the tires I needed. It was looking like my vehicle would need to be towed, I’d be stuck in a hotel room in Maryland, and my vehicle would be left behind as I’d have to find alternative transportation to get me to my client’s retreat the following morning -- until I called Bill.
Bill is the Service Manager at the Merchant’s Tire & Auto store in Catonsville, Maryland. When I first called, Bill didn’t have the same brand of tires I needed nor did he have any openings for me that evening or the following morning. I was out of luck again - or so I assumed. As a good Samaritan changed my tire, I continued to call other tire stores, when I received a call. “Miss Liz?” “Yes” “This is Bill from Merchant Tire. If you come here tonight, we’ll help you out. I’ve got a technician who’s agreed to stay. We don’t have the same brand of tires you have, but we have others that will work well for you.” “But Bill, you’re 12 miles away. I won’t get to your store until almost 8 PM.” “We’ll wait. And, do not drive any faster than 50 mph on that temporary spare. Be safe.”
I arrived at the store at 7:45 PM. When I thanked Bill again for staying, he just shrugged and said, “It’s the right thing to do.” Kyle, the Service Technician, smiled, said he was happy to help, jumped in my vehicle and drove it into one of the bays. At 9:30 PM, I drove away feeling safe, secure, and good about the entire experience -- even though I had to buy four new tires. Why? I’d experienced good people doing ‘the right thing' for others. The good Samaritan had helped me out. Kyle could have easily said “No” when Bill asked him to stay. But he didn’t. Kyle stayed to help a customer. Bill could have easily dismissed me after our first call, but he didn’t. He came up with a solution that would ensure I was safe and could keep my commitment to my client. Bill and Kyle went out of their way to help a customer. They went out of their way to help me.
The following morning, I called Bill to thank him again. Obviously, he has caller ID because he answered with, “Hello Miss Liz.” “Thanks again to you and Kyle for helping me out last night. Did it cause any problems for you staying so late?” “Not at all. When I told Jack the Store Manager, about it, he said, it was the right thing to do. We were happy to help.”
What kind of leader are you? Are you a front-line leader like Kyle? Do you go above and beyond to help customers? Are you a leader like Bill? Do you look at your customers and see the bigger problems they’re facing: personal safety, being stranded, and potential negative client impacts versus simply needing new tires? Or, are you a Jack? A Store Manager who supports and encourages team members who do the right things - even if it means paying overtime?
Leadership is a mindset not a position. What kind of leader are you?
Copyright MMXVIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.