A Younger Man’s Eyes…

Written by mitch. Posted in Blog, Personal

I was sitting at my desk lamenting the fact I haven’t been able to write in weeks: analyzing the interruptions, cataloguing the distractions. I’m sure I looked pathetic to anyone peering into the office, having fallen prey to a a host of demons who refused to be cast out upon the blank page staring back at me.

Well, excuses are like bellybuttons… with everybody having at least one. The problem was I had more than my share and all of them were legitimate: challenges at the shop, an industry Summit in Las Vegas, preparing to sponsor a community event and the ever-present “To Do” list growing ever larger every day.

I needed to get something going. But, I was stuck. Paralyzed! So, I did what most people do when frustration becomes unbearable anxiety… I opened my inbox and started wading through my emails.

mitchFeb12  002There’s something therapeutic about deleting emails. It may be a little like eating Chinese food where you eat something only to find yourself hungry again a half hour later. But, deleting emails actually feels like you’re accomplishing something even if it’s an illusion: even knowing there will be just as many to delete tomorrow!

I was in “The Zone,” ripping through email after countless email trying to sell me something or get me to buy something or just trying to prevent me from doing something meaningful when I literally had to knock my finger off the ‘delete’ key before it was too late. It was an email from an old friend. One of the very first people I met in L.A. when we moved here from New York what feels like a million years ago.

His nickname was “Animal,” which pretty much says it all… especially, when you realize Sesame Street and the Muppets hadn’t aired yet. He introduced me to the third Musketeer; or, maybe it was the other way around… I’m not sure any more. But, I am sure the three of us we were inseparable for our last two years of High School.My beautiful picture

Dave had evidently stumbled across some old pictures: some really old pictures of the three of us just after graduation and had attached them to the email I almost deleted, alongside a mug shot of each of us and the way we look today.

There are truckloads of clichés to describe the impact of an email like that, an email that forces you back in time and then drops you mercilessly into the present. There are countless ways to convey what it’s like to confront those three strangers: what it’s like to find them staring at you with a younger man’s eyes.

It’s especially difficult when Los Angeles was the last place on earth you wanted to be the summer of your sixteenth birthday: when you remember just how angry, miserable and unhappy you were and how hard you tried to ensure everyone around you had a chance to react to those same emotions.

I’ve told almost everyone I know how much I hated everything about L.A. for the first four or five years I was here. And, yet, I couldn’t stop smiling: smiling so hard my face hurt!

Could it have been that bad? Sure felt that way while I was stumbling through it…

And, yet, I was smiling… I’m still smiling!

I’m smiling because all I can think of is how much fun we had and how much trouble we got into: cruising Sunset Blvd, fighting side-by-side, evading L.A.’s finest while they chased us through Park La Brea, driving to Palm Springs for coffee and then home again – the same night, street racing and John-John telling the cop standing at his window –  ticket book open – that he’d like a hamburger, fries and a coke (Yes, someone really did that before it found its way into the movies!)!

All I could think of was how these two guys were always there and always there for me. That, and how important the kind of unconditional friendship outlaws and outcasts seem to have in High School was to someone feeling as isolated, alone and vulnerable as I did then.

They kept me sane and safe… Well, sane, anyway. And, I’d like to think I helped do the same for them.

So, thank you, Animal. Thanks for a trip back in time, however brief. Thanks for the memories and thanks for your unconditional friendship when we were kids. You never will know just how much it meant or how important it was.

And, John-John, I’ll stand back-to-back with you anywhere and at any time… I’ll even ride along the next time you want to play “Paper Thin,” and that’s saying a lot.

I’m not sure you can look ahead at life through a younger man’s eyes, but you can certainly look back into those eyes and see the seeds of who you are and how you got here. That, and the reflection of two great friends looking back at me…

Under Promise…

Written by mitch. Posted in Blog, Consumer, General Community, Repair Community

IMG_0835

Every once in a while my MacBook Pro has a bit of a breakdown and demands a little love…

It could be the result of schlepping it back and forth between my home office and the shop every day: stuffing it into my backpack, dragging IMG_0836it out to the car, throwing it (Not literally, of course…) into the trunk, pulling it out of the backpack and then reversing the whole process every night, five or six times a week. Or, it could be the three or four hours a night I’m chained to it – like a Roman Galley Slave – asking far more from it than any notebook computer was ever designed to give…

I don’t know…

All I do know is that whenever that happens, I can always count on the friendly (And, knowledgeable…) folks on the AppleCare telephone hotline as my first line of defense. And, quite frankly, they have never let me down.

In fact, in the two-and-a-half years I’ve had my computer I’ve never had to bring my Mac back (to the Apple store) for anything. This time it was apparent we wouldn’t be able to ‘fix’ the problem remotely. And, while I recognized the need for that next level of help, I wasn’t prepared for what turned out to be an absolutely delightful experience!

Delightful? Really…simivalley_hero

If you’re in a service business and would like to take a Master’s Course in Customer Care, head to your nearest Apple Store! You won’t be disappointed…  In my opinion, there isn’t anything else like it anywhere… The quality of service and level of care are unparalleled!

I don’t know how Apple recruits their employees or how they ultimately became part of the Apple family, but I’m sure glad they’ve figured it out and they’re there. I’m glad they’re there, jealous none of them have considered a career in automotive service and disappointed I haven’t been able to recruit any of them to work for me!

My computer’s hard drive failed, which isn’t something most people would look forward to. It’s annoying, unscheduled, time consuming, inconvenient and generally an ‘out of budget’ expense.

However, having already lost a hard drive once before, I was more than prepared this time. I had a backup. Two of them, in fact: one on site and one off.  I was current with most of my work and had another computer available. More than that, I still had “time and mileage” left on the extended warranty I purchased when I purchased my computer.

Nevertheless, my anxiety level was high. I was still anticipating a problem. Bringing your computer is too much like bringing your car in for service for things to go smoothly! And, yet, there were no problems.

I went online and made an appointment for 3:00 PM that afternoon. It was easy and the appointment was confirmed almost immediately. I got to the store a few minutes early, was greeted at the door and escorted to the Genius Bar at the back of the store. My technician appeared almost instantly and introduced himself. He ran a few tests, explained what he was doing and why he was doing it and then explained my options when “FAILED!” screamed across the screen confirming our worst fears.

I was told the computer needed a hard drive and that I would be able to pick it up mid-afternoon the following day after the repairs were completed and the quality control checks had been run. I received a call three-and-a-half hours later informing me my computer was ready for pick-up!

The technician insisted I boot up the computer while he was there. It looked brand new. The aluminum shell as immaculate, the screen perfectly clean and it behaved flawlessly. I went home, set the backup to restore itself overnight, woke up the next morning and got to work!

Everyone I dealt with, whether over the phone or in person at the store was cordial, competent and appeared genuinely interested in exceeding my expectations.

They did what all great service providers do because they know what all great service providers know.

They know how to successfully manage a client’s expectations by under-promising and over-delivering.

I was prepared to pick up my computer the following afternoon. It was ready a few hours after I dropped it off. I was prepared to pay at least a few dollars for the repair, warranted or not. There was no charge. And, I was prepared to deal with the smudges and the scratches sure to accompany opening the computer up and then putting it back together again. There were no scratches or smudges. The computer was returned cleaner and in better condition than it had been prior to drop it off.

Was I satisfied with the service I received? Oh, yeah!

And, just how likely am I to consider another Mac when this one finally does fail? You tell me…

Tell me how can we bring that kind of an experience home to our clients: how we can incorporate that kind of exceptional service into the daily operations of your shop or mine?

Tell me how anyone can…