Moving is a pain in the neck
Published 5:41 am Sunday, May 25, 2003
Have you ever heard the expression "A pain in the neck?" You might be more familiar with this version of the expression, " A pain in the – – -!" Either expression will nicely put into perspective my recent experience with moving from Natchez to Atmore. There have been few times in my life when I have been as frustrated as this past week. I was looking very forward to getting my family to Atmore, and after finally deciding on our house, I thought the hard part was over. Through all of the frustration, I walked away with one simple lesson. This lesson should be the "Golden Rule" of business.
It all started last Saturday morning in Natchez, I awoke to the sound of thunder, lightning and heavy rains. You guessed it, this was the day I was to rent a truck, pack up my house and begin moving. As the rain came down, I sat down and began to call the three different rental truck franchises that have locations in Natchez. I was looking for a 24-foot truck, which was hopefully going to be big enough to get all of our stuff into. Would you believe that there was not a 24-foot truck within a 100-mile radius of Natchez? I finally found a truck about 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon through the hotline of a national rental company. The company located a 24-foot truck in Baton Rouge that I would be able to pick up at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
At this point of the day the frustration is building and I was not very excited about having to drive 100 miles to pick up this truck. Also, keep in mind that these companies charge by the mile and this was going to be 200 additional miles that I had not planned for. But I was so happy to finally find a truck that I agreed to take it and gave the guy on the hotline my credit card information. While on the phone; I specifically asked this guy if he was sure that this dealer would be open on a Sunday morning. He said, "yes." Finding the truck energized me a bit and I then began to move some furniture downstairs and get some small packing done.
Sunday morning was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. I was feeling better, I would drive to Baton Rouge pick up the truck at 9 and be back before lunch and have the afternoon to begin loading the truck. I will give you one guess as to what I found when I arrived at the rental truck dealer location in Baton Rouge.
I found the truck, but there was no one there to rent it to me. The hours on the business read, "Closed on Sunday." I can honestly say that I had smoke coming out of my ears. I could not believe this was happening. I got on the phone with the hotline I had called on Saturday and told them what I had found. They were apologetic and said that a district manager over that area would call me within a couple of hours. He called, apologized and promised to find me a truck before lunch.
Around 11 a.m. he found a truck in Lafayette, Louisiana. After a blood pressure pill and my complexion changing through about five or six shades of red and purple, I told the guy to hold the truck. I jumped back on the Interstate and was now headed to Lafayette. When I arrived in Lafayette and did finally get the truck, the dealer gave me a 20 percent discount on the truck rental. On the way back to Natchez I looked down at the dash of the truck to find that the speedometer and many of the other gauges were not working. I just laughed and smiled to myself to keep from crying. After a three-hour drive I finally got back to Natchez. I was determined not to be defeated and that I would get started loading the truck despite being two days behind schedule.
We did finally get the truck loaded and did finally get to Atmore early Tuesday morning. The company that I rented the truck from gave me an additional 20 percent off when I turned the truck back in. I have received two calls from customer service, and one call from the district manager to make sure I got my family moved okay.
In business and in life mistakes are going to happen. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is what we do to correct those mistakes that make a difference. I believe it is the "golden rule" of business that if you make a mistake to correct it, and make it right as quickly as possible. Our customers are our lifeblood, they pay our salaries and make our cash registers ring. Take care of the people who take care of you or somebody else will. There is always someone out there waiting for you to stumble.
Despite it all, the adventure, mishaps included, was worth the result. I have my family here and now we can start working on making our home here, in Atmore.
Brian Giles is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org