Archive | June, 2013

True Stories: Leonard the Shoe Doctor

20 Jun

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This is a true story about what happened when I did not trust someone that I had been doing business with for over a year.  Trust is always a factor in business, especially after it has been earned.

I dress well in my own signature style and usually have good relationships with tailors, dry-cleaners, groomers and lately Leonard, the Shoe Doctor.

The handle broke on my handcrafted leather bag.  One might say that it was a gift from an ex but I feel that I earned it.  It’s traveled most of the continent and taken a beating.  Clutching it as I fumbled in the rain I saw Leonard, “The Shoe Doctor” as he is known throughout the busy underground of Downtown Dallas.  Executives drop off their shoes, purses and leather goods to him first thing in the morning and he gives them quality care as not to rush your lunch time.  He personally delivers them to the office when ready.  He saw my bag and pretty much started finishing my sentences for me.  Assured the cost would not be much, he could probably have it repaired, cleaned and better than new in no time.  He agreed to meet me at my office so I could empty the contents.

Normally I pay and tip Leonard in cash, and even now I’m not sure he takes anything else.  From his advertised prices and our conversation I was confident the cash I had on me was more than enough.  However we always discuss price on his turf, and now here we were at my office door.  The price he said sounded to me like I could cover it and give a substantial tip.  Leonard looked at me funny and said the prices again and I pulled out the calculator on my phone and showed him what that added up to.  Leonard was still puzzled.  Things were awkward.  He then explained to me the repair price wasn’t the total price, and that I needed 2 repairs.  One for each place the handle connected.  One was broken but the other was literally “hanging by a thread”.

Be Prepared” is one of many mottos I follow.  As I pulled out my Backup Benjamin I had a feeling that I was being hustled, ironically in front of the big torch of the bureau on my door.  It was my turn to look at Leonard funny in what quite literally was a “moment of truth”.  It was at that moment that I made the decision that I think most people I talk to every day make.  I gave him the money and tried to justify the action to myself.

As I sat back at my desk I realized that many people are not confrontational when they feel they are being scammed or hustled.  They don’t say “STOP!  I don’t trust you.”  People are much more likely to tell someone “I can’t afford it” or “Not right now” than they are to say “I don’t trust you”.  I was pretty sure I was scammed and I started paying extra close attention to my behavior.  I can sum them up in 4 actions that all start with the letter D as in DUH!

DENY  First thing I started doing was justifying it to myself.  “Not me.”  Rationalizing to myself and quite frankly if it was not part of my job to educate people I might have somehow made it my fault or dismissed it as a misunderstanding.

DECLARE:  They say someone that has a bad experience is more likely to talk about it than if they experienced something good.  I did not even realize that I was talking about it, but a colleague asked what was wrong.  Next thing I know people that I did not think could even be listening are sharing their advice on the matter.

DIG:  I start researching comparative costs.  I investigated online and do not find a website, a bbb listing or anything else on him so I walked down to his sign where I take a picture of this published prices with my phone.

DECIDE:  Just as I thought I had all the information I was just hoping to get my bag back and then have to find someone new when I thought “Wait, what do I have to lose by telling him exactly how this went down from my perspective?”  So I decided to give it a try.

Part of my job is educating the business and the public on how to spot a scam and what to do if you find yourself caught up in one.  Every day a business owner swears to me that they do not have such a problem.  It is funny to think that someone would have that awkward conversation of how much they do not trust you..  Typically they just tell you they went in another direction when you follow up and make it as if it were about something else.

So I proceeded to have that awkward conversation with Leonard and in the long run we are both better for it.  Naturally he was initially offended, and I think that anticipated reaction might be why most people shy away from such confrontation.  I presented the scenario and even showed him the pictures of his advertisement and evidence as to why I felt misled.

Leonard explained his side and I had to admit that I might have misunderstood.  When he went into the detail of the process of the repair, cleaning and treating and by the end of it I felt as though I should give him more money.  He also found the advertisement and showed me it was almost 10 years old and he was having the sign updated and until it could be he covered up the parts that were no longer true.

I felt so much better and Leonard says he does too.  He said he stayed up thinking about it and after he explained his side of the story I have so much more respect for the work that he does.  I have a new appreciation for the value and he got some honest feedback that might help him win the trust of clients he may never have known were even needing his services.

A very interesting thing I learned about myself was that even though I like to think of myself as a brave soul who is not afraid to stand up for what is right, I found myself trying to avoid the conflict just like I think many people do.  Also, because one of the things I enjoy most about my job is to helping more and more people do the right thing because after all, if more people lead by example, that many more will follow.

Thank you Leonard for taking care of my shoes, my bag and helping me learn an important lesson in the process.
ts-shoedoctorbag

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Good Q&A-Better Answers

3 Jun

I am fortunate to talk to hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs (artrepreneurs) a day and with my job as District Manager.  I hope to update this as I hear great answers from Accredited Businesses.

Good Questions-Better Answers

 

Q- What do you think is the most important factor in choosing a business?
A- Price and convenience.
Better Answer- You get what you pay for and learned that “cheap” often ends up being the most expensive so I choose those with trusted reputations for quality work at a fair price.  Lowest price is not always the “best price”.

 

Q- If everybody says they do the best work, then how do I know who is telling the truth?
A- Give me a try to see for yourself?
Better Answer- One of the reasons I am proud to carry the Torch is it substantiates my excellent reputation, claims and advertising by an organization that is the leader in marketplace trust for over 100 years.  Claims and promises are nothing without a reliable source to back them up.

 

Q- What does it mean to be an “Accredited Business”?
A- It means we made the grade A+!
Better Answer- The Bureau is an ethics organization reporting on the Good, The Bad and The Ugly of millions of businesses.  An Accredited Business has earned a verified reputation which must be maintained in order to carry the torch as they are continually and voluntarily Screened, Approved, Monitored and also sign an agreement to never have unresolved complaints.

 

Q- How do I know I can trust you?
A- Guess you’re gonna have to take a chance.
Better Answer- Studies show people avoid admitting they do not trust you.  They might say “I can’t afford it right now” or “Maybe later” or ask for time to do research.  When they follow up they went in “another direction”.  In order to carry the torch logo the same Bureau you see in the media thousands of times busting and investigating the bad operators look into and verify all of my reliability factors on an ongoing basis say they trust me to use their name and brand.

 I stand behind the Torch