Les Schwab Tires: Business Execution Hall of Fame

March 14, 2009

I’ve long been a fan of Les Schwab Tires since becoming a customer in Reno 4 years ago.  Perhaps it was the free tire rotations, the free fixing of flats, even though I had spent no money with them at that point.

Since then, Les Schwab Tires is my single source for anything related to tires, shocks, alignments, etc.

This morning, I decided that I needed the alignment checked on my SUV.  Where to go?  A few miles to the firm I grew up using in Santa Clara or drive about 15 miles to the Fremont Les Schwab?  The answer was easy.  I drove to Les Schwab.

I asked that they check the alignment,  rotate the tires and check the inflation and tell me if they thought my shocks were in proper working order.  I told them I had not been happy with the ride for several months.

  • To my surprise, I was told that I had arrived with 2 flat tires–both had foreign objects in them.  Price to fix?  $0.
  • The shocks needed to be replaced.  No big surprise.  California’s roads beat the heck of them.    You see, I replaced them 35,000 miles ago at a Les Schwab and, much to my surprise, they came with a lifetime, unconditional warranty.  They aren’t even charging me labor to replace them. Price to fix?  $0.  [By the way, Les Schwab told me about the warranty–I had no idea. They could have charged about $275 to replace the shocks and I would have never known the difference.]
  • The alignment was out.  Price to fix?  Less than $60.

Tires and shocks are a commodity business by any standard.  Many firms are in highly-commoditized businesses.  Les Schwab is a stand out in its industry.  What is your business doing to stand out in yours?

Les Schwab continues to exceed my expectations.  And, for that, I put them in my Business Execution Hall of Fame.   Congratulations!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com


Restaurant labels wait staff as “trainees”

March 5, 2009

I took the family to dinner in San Jose’s Japan Town last week.  As luck would have it, I ended up taking them the very first restaurant I ever ate at in Japan Town several decades ago.

My comfort level faded once we sat down.  About half the female wait staff were wearing brightly-colored construction paper tags about 7″ wide and 3″ tall with hand-printed, black printing declaring that they were a “TRAINEE.”  No name on the tag; just “Trainee.”

One “trainee” was able to work alone and seemed to do very well at servicing her customers.  I wondered how long she had been a “trainee” and how much longer she’d have to wear that preposterous label.

Why did I need to be warned that the woman accompanying our waitress was a “trainee?”  This was a restaurant; the person was a waiter.  The trainees weren’t operating a nuclear reactor, they weren’t doing surgery, they weren’t creating a safety hazard,  and I never once felt in danger nor did I fear for my family.

It just seemed over the top.  And, I felt it denigrated the young women who were working there.

Customers don’t need to be warned that the wait staff is new.  If the wait staff feels the need to tell the customer that they are new, that’s one thing.

I’m not going to name the restaurant. In this challenging economy, I don’t want to undermine any hard-working group of people and a business owner. I plan to send them this posting in the hope that they will do something about it.

The owner needs to think about what message he’s sending his customers and, more importantly, his employees.  I, for one, wondered if this guy was having trouble keeping his hired help.  After all, at least half the staff was adorned with the “trainee” label.  This is a mature restaurant.  Something doesn’t add up.

For this ill-advised practice, I award this restaurant the Business Execution Hall of Shame.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com