October 21, 2010

The Fred Factor in Real Life

One of my favorite books about outstanding service and making your customers enjoy a great experience is The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. The subtitle of this book is "How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."

Have you read it?

It's worth going out to Amazon.com or your local bookstore or library and checking it out. It's a quick fun read and has many tangible concepts that will be useful to you in whatever field you're in but certainly those of us in a "people business" like sales.

Have you ever experienced a "Fred" in real life?

I have experienced a "Fred" many times and they always seem to jump off the page like a character in one of those children's pop-up books. As someone who makes a great effort to be a "Fred" myself, I get excited when I run into a "Fred" in the real world. It's even more amazing when they actually are named "Fred."

I returned to Columbus late Tuesday evening from a few days away with some good friends. It was a great 48 hours of "building relationships, solving problems and having fun." When I travel, I park my car at the Thrifty Car Park just outside of Port Columbus International Airport. I've been a Thrifty Perks member there for a few years and they do a great job.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this "valet" service, you swing through the Thrifty parking lot and pick up a driver on your way out of town. They ride with you to the airport and then take your car back to Thrifty while you're away on vacation or business. Upon your return, you catch a shuttle from the terminal and they drive you to your waiting car back at the lot.

It's usually a pretty benign drive from the airport to the Thrifty lot. You grab your luggage, trod out to the shuttle pick up lot and maybe send a quick text home to let your loved ones know you're on your way. The driver arrives, tosses your luggage onto the rack and you head out to get your car.

The Fred Factor in Real Life

Something different happened the last two times I've been picked up and it was all Fred's fault. The shuttle driver's name was Fred Rohe. He pulled in to the waiting areas and opened the doors with a big smile and said "Welcome Home, folks!" He hustled down the steps and grabbed the waiting passengers luggage and ushered us on board. After confirming we had all called in our claim ticket to insure that our cars would be waiting for us upon arrival, he did something different then all the other "average shuttle drivers." He offered all his passengers a choice of candy.

Really not a huge offer by any means...but when was the last time a shuttle driver offered you even a smile let alone of choice of free, sweet, chocolaty goodness?

As we quickly pulled away from the terminal, he asked us how our trips were, filled us in on the days weather here in Columbus and provided us all with a quick forecast for what to expect with the next day's weather. I even joked with Fred that it's amazing he has time to drive a shuttle after a full day on the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. He was really excited to share his positive mental attitude with others.

Thanks Fred for making the short 5 minute drive to my car memorable. Plus, I got a minty fresh blast from my two mini York Peppermint Patties that gave me a much needed jolt of energy for my ride home to see the family.

May you all have a great week encountering many "Freds"...or just decide to be a "Fred" yourself.