I started out by washing windows. I was young and the older ladies would tip me pretty well.
I remember asking my dad to teach me how to check the pressure in tires. I figured if I could just do that for people too then I would make more tips.
Dad made a phone call to the parts store down the street. They would deliver to us anytime we needed parts to fix a car. He asked them to send over a brand-new Milton tire pressure gauge.
Thirty minutes later, the gauge arrived and my dad walked me out to the drive as a customer pulled up to the pumps.
This was a common phrase that customers would yell out their windows when we would walk up to them. They were trained. And it was our cue to get to work.
My dad owned the last two full-service gas stations in Kansas City. We sold gas for a penny cheaper than the self-service gas station across the street. I still don’t know how we were able to do that and provide the full service that we did.
After watching my dad put the nozzle into the car and start the pump, he called me over to one of the tires. He handed me the Milton tire gauge and proceeded to teach me how to use the tool the proper way.
“Push the gauge onto the valve stem until you don’t hear any air escaping. This will ensure you get an accurate reading on the gauge.”
That day, my dad gave me the tool I needed to successfully check the pressure of tires.
On the same day, he also gave me the greatest tool for customer service.
“Aaron, the best way to make better tips is to stop thinking about them.”
I watched him walk up to the window, and talk to the customer, “Betty, that same tire that was low last week was low again today.” My dad has a memory like a hawk. Kept me out of a lot of trouble.
“I know you’re headed to the grocery store, could we drop you off and let you shop while we look at your tire?
Kelsie and I have a saying; it’s time tested and simple: People over profit.
Over and over again, we see it that when you become focused on people, profit becomes a byproduct. Notice that we didn’t say customers or employees or family. No, we said people. Because people are worth it. Your customer service, employee care, and family should not have to compete against each other. And none of them should have to compete with profit.
People over profit.
After Betty finished shopping, I will never forget her picking up her car, paying the tab, and pulling out a crisp $20 bill to give to my dad as a tip right before leaving.
Twenty dollars was a lot of money.
I watched my dad fold that $20 bill in half, look me in the eyes as he stashed it in his pocket, and ask,
“I bet you won’t forget who Betty is will you?”
Aaron & Kelsie
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