Do You Kill Your Customers with Kindness?

Everyone has a bad day now and again—some more regularly than others. But do you let that bad day impact your customers? At lunch, I almost always run out for a little while, even if it’s just 20 minutes, to take a short break and grab some food. It gives my brain a chance to unwind for a little bit. There are some fast food restaurants I frequent more often than others. Why? Because their staff is nicer and their food is more likely to match my expectations.

On a break a few weeks ago, I stopped by a local burger drive-thru for the first time in months. I wanted to take advantage of their chicken nugget deal. When I pulled through the drive thru, I requested that they make the chicken nuggets fresh. Their response caught me off guard. “They are fresh,” I was told. I’m glad they are this time, but last time I ordered nuggets from this restaurant, they were not fresh. If I had not been so hungry, I would not have eaten them. My stomach felt a bit queasy afterward, too. Am I likely to go back again soon after my most recent visit? Probably not.

Have you ever received food from a restaurant that you were sure has been sitting under the hot lamps a while? Where you could tell they just didn’t care what they were serving you, it just felt like they wanted your money and for you to leave? Perhaps the cashier could have instead said, “I’ll make sure they are fresh for you.” Perhaps, it’s just me … but these two statements seem to come across differently. One says I care … the other does not.

My usual lunchtime haunt is Chick-fil-a. Why? Their staff is always friendly and thanks me for my business. When I go there at lunchtime, I know there will be a line. I usually time it so I go early enough to beat the line … or else, their parking lot looks like a bad traffic jam, with people waiting it out for their chicken sandwiches. It is still a fast-food restaurant. Their food is not the healthiest option in the world … but their parking lot is always full. There are headlines about other fast-food companies struggling with revenue, but this headline rarely seems associated with Chick-fil-a. Why? They take the time to care about their customers and their employees. It shows—both in their locations and their profits. At least that’s my take.

When it comes to automotive glass repair and replacement, few customers understand what is involved. I know I did not the first time I had my windshield replaced. I was happy to go with the cheapest company as no one took the time to explain the importance of safety and the role a windshield plays in the structure of a vehicle. If someone had explained why their company might cost a little more and why it’s worth it, I would have been much more likely to choose them over going with the cheapest price. The same holds true today. I’ll spend more when I know the experience and service is reliable.

Maybe you are having a bad day where a part you ordered came in broken and the weather is bad. Are you able to push that to the side when a customer calls? Do you focus on explaining the replacement process and why it is important they choose your company even if a replacement costs a bit more with you? Do you stress to your possible customer the importance of safety and installing the windshield properly? Do you take the time to answer their questions? When your technicians arrive onsite, do they greet the customer with a smile? When the customer pulls up to your shop, does your front staff greet them kindly? Are they approachable if a customer has a question? If you ensure a customer knows you appreciate her business, she is much more likely to return. We all have routines, whether it’s where we go for lunch, which mechanic we use … or where we go for a windshield replacement. If you kill them with kindness, they are more likely to return.

Here’s the Motown Skinny on Four Aluminum Models

The flat windshield and lack of other glass gives this Mercedes-Benz concept a unique look.

The flat windshield and lack of other glass gives this Mercedes-Benz concept a unique look.

Want a glimpse of the Mercedes-Benz “autonomous” F 015? We got it. How about an up-close-and-personal with Ford’s aluminum-bodied F-150? We did it. Are you curious about the all-aluminum Audi TT? That model captured our attention, too.

The Detroit Cobo Center was stuffed with the best models the automakers had to offer and onlookers came out in droves Wednesday for the North American International Auto Show. Several of the new vehicles on display are likely to send ripples cascading through the AGRR industry as company owners prepare for the onslaught of changes these vehicles will bring.

The first model to catch our eye was one that has been making headlines around the world. It was the Mercedes-Benz driverless concept—the F 015. The vehicle appears to have a sleek, flat windshield, but not much else in the way of glass.

“Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society. The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, in a company statement.

The vehicle features lounge chairs that allow a face-to-face seat configuration. In order to make getting in and out of the car easier, the electric powered seats also swing outward by 30 degrees as soon as the doors are opened, according to officials. The driver and front-seat passenger can swing their seats around to the front for manual driving. The steering wheel extends automatically from the dashboard.

“New materials and structures were used to develop the highly efficient ‘Smart Body Structure (SBS)’ of the F 015. By cleverly combining carbon-fiber- reinforced plastic (CFRP), aluminum and high-strength steels in a way that matches the varying requirements exactly, the lightweight engineering experts were able to make the bodyshell 40 percent lighter compared with today’s production vehicles,” according to a company statement.

The Ford F-150 features an aluminum body to reduce weight and improve fuel capacity

Ford was also present in full force with its new F-150 aluminum-bodied vehicle. To the average eye, the pickup might not appear that different from its predecessors, but for those who will replace the vehicle’s glass, the change is important to keep top of mind. The automaker’s switch to all aluminum is primarily for weight reduction and fuel efficiency, according to officials on-site.

But will the all-aluminum idea become the norm? Ford’s president of the Americas said likely not.

“One of the big benefits you get from light-weighting … you can tow more and haul more,” Joe Hinrichs said while speaking at the Automotive News World Congress, according to a report. “You don’t get those same benefits to a customer on the car side. Truck buyers will pay for more capability, car buyers will pay for better fuel economy, but there’s other ways to get fuel economy in a car without the need to provide more capability. I don’t think we’ll see a dramatic increase in all-aluminum cars.”

But aluminum has been around for years, showing up in hoods, roofs and back decks. And it has certainly appeared in Audi’s model lineup. The automaker’s TT is all-aluminum.

“ASF aluminum construction helps provide exceptional rigidity, lightweight design that helps provide excellent performance and efficiency,” according to a company statement.

An on-site Audi representative in Detroit called it “aircraft grade aluminum.” He noted it is what is used in jets.

The 2015 Subaru Outback also captured our attention for the automaker’s use of aluminum in the A pillar and the new placement of the outside mirrors. The A, B and C pillars were switched to aluminum, which allows them to be smaller, making room for more glass, an on-site product representative explained. This allows for more visibility, but the aluminum does not compromise the pillars’ strength. A small, triangular sidelite was also added, he noted. Meanwhile, the mirrors were moved to the doors.

In the 2015 Subaru Outback, designers shifted the outside mirrors to the door and added a small triangular sidelite.

“The 2015 Outback’s windshield is more raked, pulled forward 2 inches at the base. The new windshield angle, higher seating hip points, new front partition windows and door-mounted side view mirrors help improve visibility,” according to a company statement.

“An aluminum hood reduces weight over the front wheels, which helps enhance steering response,” officials said in the statement.