I’m of the opinion that in business, there are good decisions and bad decisions, but there are no little decisions. That’s to say every decision should be taken seriously, no matter who’s making it.
You might remember my post from a couple of months ago about my flight to Indianapolis on a well-known carrier. In that situation, it was the flawed decision of an inflexible baggage handler that created a frustrating situation for me and resulted in an unhappy Twitter post that got little more than a “Sorry” from the carrier. Though I got a reasonable explanation on my trip home from another baggage handler about what happened, it just said to me that everyone in an organization is a decision-maker, customer-facing or not, and individual choices are powerful.
Here’s another recent example. I’m thinking about a new car, and I want to get a hybrid, due to high gas prices and a desire to be more environmentally conscious. I’ve visited a number of local dealerships, and have found that it’s hard to test-drive a hybrid car because they are apparently quite popular.
On a recent Wednesday evening, I stopped at the last dealer on my list, introduced myself to a salesperson and asked about their hybrid offer. While nice, this person told me they didn’t have any hybrids on the lot, which wasn’t a surprise, frankly. In lieu of that, I asked for some literature, which he said they didn’t have either.
Really? We continued talking at his desk, and then he seemed to “remember” where there might be some extra literature. Sure enough, he returned with a booklet, but as an added bonus, it turns out there were a few hybrid models out back of which he wasn’t aware. Again – really?
So we took a test drive, and I was satisfied with the car and how it handled, though I emphasized before we even got in that I wasn’t going to be in a position to buy a car for another six months. Despite that, I got a few nudges, the typical, “If you wanna drive it off the lot tonight …”
I went home, planning to review the literature over the next couple of weeks. That’s when the follow-up calls began (date and time stamps courtesy of my cellphone):
- Thursday, 2:31 p.m.
- Friday, 1:43 p.m.
- Friday, 6:19 p.m.
- Saturday, 11:29 a.m.
That last call was significant, because the salesperson I had talked to Wednesday called me just to let me know that once those few hybrids on the lot were sold, the dealership wouldn’t have any more for the rest of the calendar year, due to shipment issues getting the hybrid systems from Japan. Odd, because this was a Big Three dealership – I didn’t know this American automaker imported hybrid systems from offshore. In fact, I was so struck by this that I made an anonymous call a few days later to find out if that was true. It apparently was.
But by now, I’m a confused consumer who feels like he’s getting the run-around – first, the dealership doesn’t have literature, nor a vehicle on the lot, but suddenly they do, and I better act fast, lest I miss out? It just seemed so poorly handled that I crossed this dealer off my list – even though it’s well known in my area. Their commercials are pervasive, but do little but to remind me of my questionable experience and reinforce my lack of desire to return.
See how it all works together? But I firmly feel the opposite can happen, too – astute decision-making equates to a good experience and when a commercial or ad is seen, it only reinforces that experience.
And where does astute decision-making come from? Yes, individual personality is key, but so is strong leadership. This salesperson has superiors whose role is not only to supervise, but shape and mold their charges so they have the autonomy to make individual decisions that not only best serve the dealership’s local brand, but the automaker’s brand as well.