Editorial – October 2013
Gather round the campfire: time for a horror story. My brother-in-law, Rob, is a carpenter, and therefore no stranger to construction sites and equipment. Recently, he rented a mini-excavator to dig footings for an extension he was putting on his cottage in southern Ontario.
By Patrick Flannery
Gather round the campfire: time for a horror story. My brother-in-law, Rob, is a carpenter, and therefore no stranger to construction sites and equipment. Recently, he rented a mini-excavator to dig footings for an extension he was putting on his cottage in southern Ontario. His experience tells us there is still work to do in this industry to bring the level of professionalism and service up to where it needs to be.
To start with, he got a phone call about two hours after the equipment was promised to tell him the driver was having trouble finding his place. His cottage is not far off a main road and within a 10-minute drive of small towns in both directions. One wonders just how lost a driver could possibly get in such an area, and what would prevent him from finding a phone to use if there was something wrong with his mobile. GPS, anyone?
Rob is familiar with construction equipment, but no expert. The “training” he received on how to operate the machine was barely sufficient to get him going. What happens when this rental store delivers equipment to people who have never touched it before?
Once he finally got going, having lost nearly half his day, it was not long before the machine blew a fuse. Finding no replacements anywhere in the machine, he called the store. “Oh, that happens all the time,” the counter man said. Wondering why there would not be a supply of spare fuses in the excavator if this was a common problem, Rob asked what he should do. “Do you smoke?” came the reply. Rob doesn’t, but the suggestion was going to be that he fake up a repair to the fuse with a bit of foil from a cigarette pack. Since that wasn’t an option, Rob had to wait while a new fuse was driven out. Thankfully, the driver was able to find the place this time.
A new fuse in place, Rob commenced digging. He found the machine very unstable and felt he was close to toppling forward several times. He finally got his hole done, but commented on this concern when he returned the machine. The response? “Bet you didn’t see these,” the driver quipped, and hit a button extending the support legs that were completely invisible to Rob underneath the machine. When I heard this, I thought Rob showed great restraint in not punching this individual in the nose at this point.
In telling you this story, I am not being fair. For every experience like this, hundreds of customers all over the country are receiving great customer service and getting their jobs done easier and faster thanks to their local rental stores. Maybe 90 per cent of this store’s customers go away thrilled. But life isn’t fair, and your service will always be judged by its worst example. We have all seen the surveys showing how many people a satisfied customer tells about their experience versus how many people a dissatisfied customer tells: the ratio is about one to 10.
The Canadian Rental Association gives rental operators Image Awards in an attempt to encourage its members to maintain a clean, attractive showroom. Maybe we need something similar to promote great service.