Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What I Learned from a Dead Gas Station

I first pulled up to this full-service gas station about 3 years ago.  I have always pumped my own gas, so I half expected a team of guys in grey jumpsuits to jump to action and wash my windows, check the tire pressure, and fill 'er up. 

The closed gas station. 

An Unpleasant Experience 
It was a dark, early morning, and I immediately felt out of place. I pulled up to the pump and sat in my car, expecting to see the jumpsuit guys come running. After a few minutes of non-action, I hesitantly got out to pump my own gas. As I moved around my truck to the pump, a mustached man in a dark coat appeared behind the pump, which totally unnerved me.

He blandly asked if I needed service, and after a combination of gas pumping and awkward small talk, followed by an inordinately long wait while he ran my credit card, I pulled away and on to work.

Never Went Back
I never returned to the gas station. Whenever I thought of going there, I had this vague feeling that it would be uncomfortable. From then on I pumped my own gas for 3 cent per gallon more at the station across the street. I am a supporter of small businesses, and I always had a vague hope that this little gas station would succeed against the larger station.

But I never returned to the station because of that first uncomfortable experience. And a couple of years later, that station closed its doors for good.

The closed gas station.

What I Learned
How a person feels about an organization or experience is jugular. If a you feel uncomfortable with a person, then you will be much less likely to interact with or do business with them. There are a few things the mustache guy could have done that would have put me at ease and made it more likely that I would return, and I definitely recommend using these with customers and associates:
  1. Be professional- The clothes you wear and the language you use is absolutely critical. Look the part and act the part. 
  2. Be positive- Engage with others in a positive way. Smile!
  3. Execute your work - At the same time, do your work efficiently and effectively so that you are not wasting anyone's time.
  4. Teach - Respectfully help people know what you are doing and what they can do to be successful. This puts them at ease and helps them to know what is expected.

What do you think? Anything you would add to the list?
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