Thank you, Mar­shall

The Covington News - - Front page -

Once upon what seems a long time ago, Amer­ica’s ser­vice in­dus­try took a per­sonal, sin­cere in­ter­est in mak­ing cer­tain that cus­tomers were thor­oughly sat­is­fied. All across our land suc­cess­ful busi­nesses were op­er­ated by pro­fes­sion­als who cared enough to make sure the cus­tomer was gen­uinely pleased with the ser­vice pro­vided.

You don’t for­get folks like that. And when you meet some­one who goes that ex­tra mile, re­peat­edly mak­ing ab­so­lutely cer­tain ev­ery­thing is just right, you seek out that per­son the next time you need ser­vice. And you do so even if you’ve paid a lit­tle more for the ser­vices ren­dered.

That per­son, you see, earned your busi­ness. They demon­strated a con­cern for you, the cus­tomer, which ex­ceeded merely per­form­ing the ba­sic tasks re­quired. You left sat­is­fied with the work, but more im­por­tantly know­ing that you ac­tu­ally mat­tered to them.

In the end, we all want to know that we mat­ter. So the next time you need ser­vice, you re­turn to the per­son who let you know that you, and your busi­ness, mat­ter.

There are other fac­tors at play, for sure. Have you ever gone out for din­ner, per­haps to cel­e­brate a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, only to have the en­tire evening soured by inat­ten­tive or in­com­pe­tent wait staff? Even if the man­ager be­came aware of your dis­ap­point­ment and made an en­treaty to ap­pease your angst, will you re­turn to that em­po­rium the next time?

The bit­ter­ness of poor ser­vice lan­guishes long af­ter the sat­is­fac­tion of a per­ceived great deal fades, whereas qual­ity stands the test of time.

In fact, I’ll wa­ger that right now you can re­mem­ber from the days of your youth a store owner or bar­ber, a busi­ness­man or wait­ress, or per­haps a clerk in a re­tail store whom every­one in town re­garded as hon­est, cheer­ful, help­ful and car­ing. It’s been nearly half a cen­tury since I left my home town, but think­ing of such char­ac­ter­is­tics eas­ily brings half a dozen peo­ple, many now long gone, to mind.

Those folks were gen­uinely glad to see you when you called on their es­tab­lish­ment. They asked how you were do­ing, about your fam­ily, and ex­pressed real con­cern and of­fered real help if there was a need.

Those folks, the ones you’ve just stopped read­ing for a minute to think about, per­haps for the first time in years, are still with you, aren’t they? By their ac­tions, by their ex­am­ple, by go­ing the ex­tra mile, and by their gen­uine de­sire to pro­vide the best pos­si­ble ser­vice to your great­est sat­is­fac­tion, they made you into a lit­tle bit bet­ter per­son, didn’t they?

Four decades ago my wife and I set­tled here to raise our fam­ily. Over the years we’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate lo­cal en­trepreneurs who cling to the no­tion that go­ing the ex­tra mile for the cus­tomer earns his busi­ness and loy­alty.

And so it was that last week I was stunned to learn of the de­par­ture of a man from an es­tab­lish­ment I’ve helped sup­port since 1977. The lo­cal au­to­mo­bile deal­er­ship with which I’ve al­ways traded re­cently changed own­er­ship and has now parted ways with long­time ser­vice man­ager, Mar­shall Atha.

I’m still in a state of shock, frankly. I’ve bought a right fair num­ber of ve­hi­cles from that place, and the main rea­son I kept re­turn­ing was be­cause Mar­shall Atha and his ser­vice staff al­ways went the ex­tra mile to be cer­tain ev­ery­thing was as it should be.

When my chil­dren started driv­ing and even­tu­ally de­parted for far­away colleges in Kansas, South Carolina and In­di­ana, Mar­shall hooked me up on a first-name ba­sis with ser­vice man­agers for our ve­hi­cles in those col­lege towns. Af­ter the kids were set­tled in their dor­mi­to­ries, I vis­ited those deal­er­ships and re­minded the man­agers that Mar­shall Atha, whose ser­vice team won so many top cor­po­rate awards that the wall space in his tiny of­fice could not ac­com­mo­date them all, had rec­om­mended them to take care of “our” kids and “our” cars while they were there.

And you know what? They did.

Mar­shall Atha and his lovely wife, Dawn, are a credit to our town. They raised three great chil­dren, all of whom as adults are mak­ing this world a bet­ter place. When their youngest son, Wes­ley, a deputy sher­iff, was wounded in the line of duty, Mar­shall and Dawn turned that neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive by es­tab­lish­ing the fundrais­ing cam­paign that raised enough money to equip all our sher­iff’s per­son­nel with top-grade flak vests.

You see, go­ing that ex­tra mile for oth­ers is what Mar­shall Atha has al­ways been about. And qual­ity stands the test of time.

Thank you, Mar­shall, for do­ing right by your cus­tomers for all th­ese years. Loy­alty is earned, not granted, and as we mat­tered to you, so you mat­ter to us — to­day and al­ways.


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