Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lessons from a Cabbie

I spent a few days this week in Houston to attend the HP SMB Partner Advisory Council. Great meeting and more than ever I know why HTS is an HP partner and why I own stock in that company. Great company - they do get the channel - and they are going to dominate the marketplace in time. They have their act together, great people driving the bus, fantastic technology and a deep understanding of the need for a strong partner base with deep customer relationships. So good meetings and I feel proud to be a partner.

But the real learning for me happened after the meetings ended. The biggest learning of the time in Houston happened on my ride to the airport. Herb Charles was the cabbie that picked me up Monday afternoon at Hobby and drove me all the way up to north Houston. He runs an independent cab and treats his fares as clients. We had a delightful visit on the way up to the hotel, and when we arrived I asked if he would be willing to pick me up and take me back Wednesday. I don't do that with most cabbies - I am just glad to have survived the ride. So I called Herb in the morning and he agreed to be there at noon to grab me. He was there 15 minutes early and waiting when I hit the lobby. Now this is a regular cab driver – not a limo or town car guy. We talked about how he runs his business and the reality that a lot of his business comes from repeat customers which is far better than finding new ones. He said many people call him when they return to town, and most who travel do come back at some point. That is some forward thinking - long term - they will be back and he wants them to remember him. He has been hauling rides for 17 years and does pretty well. Much happier now that he paid $1.36 a gallon for gas this week, but the reality is that he understands customer service. When I dug a little deeper it quickly came to light that his success is all because he pays attention to the details. He talked to me about things of interest and made sure I was comfortable and happy with his service. He had business cards and a few things on there really stood out. Remember, Herb drives a cab, a Caravan to boot.

Prompt, professional and courteous service
Spacious, comfortable and immaculate
Appointments welcome

And he has an email address listed on his card – he gets his email on his phone, suggests his “clients” text him or email their schedules and he will reply with an appointment. This is a cab driver folks – he gets it. No he didn’t polish my shoes or hand me a newspaper or bottle of water, but he gave me a great ride, down to earth conversation and taught me something about life too. Herb demonstrates how taking care of the customer is always the way to grow your busienss and your future. Lessons from a cabbie - I learned some, or was reminded of them in a very real way today!

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