Let’s Celebrate

On his blog post the other day Louis was bragging about our Approved Auto Sales car lots hitting three out of four specific goals we set for them for the month of July.  Actually, after the final tally it turned out that the Approved Auto team hit all four of the goals laid before them for July.  In appreciation for their hard work the Approved staff was treated to breakfast last Tuesday morning during a meeting that not only capped off a successful month but also helped to kick off what we expect to be another great month.

Thanks to the entire gang at Approved Auto Sales!  —  Luke

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  Larry Elder

Pictured L to R - Janie Bates-Fulton office, Kim Woods and Chantel Williams-Aberdeen office, Laken Graham, Amy Alexander and Misha Comer-Fulton office, Joe McCullar, Randy Arbuckle, Zack Jones-Service Department, Louis Lee-Fulton office, Andy Moore, Chris McMillen and Andrew Alexander-Service Department
Pictured L to R – Janie Bates-Fulton office, Kim Woods and Chantel Williams-Aberdeen office, Laken Graham, Amy Alexander and Misha Comer-Fulton office, Joe McCullar, Randy Arbuckle, Zack Jones-Service Department, Louis Lee-Fulton office, Andy Moore, Chris McMillen and Andrew Alexander-Service Department
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A Bunch of Dogs

Over the past few years we have always had one particular office that we could count on to have a spectacularly successful Customer Appreciation Day.  And for that office, this year was no different.  Just the other day, the Okolona office held it’s annual Customer Appreciation Day and gave away a whopping 672 hot dogs.  That is a lot of happy eaters . . . and hundreds of satisfied customers.  Thanks to Felicia and Erin for the hard work they did on making their special day so overwhelmingly popular with the community.  Thanks also to Lynn Murphree from the Amory office for jumping in and helping the ladies in Okolona.

“In order to succeed, your desire for success must be stronger than your fear of failure.”  Bill Cosby

PS– Thanks to Janna Tolar for passing along the great news about Okolona’s CAD. . . Luke

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A Golden Milestone

The employees at the Fulton office presented Mom and Dad (Mr. Larry and Mrs. Delois)  with a beautiful and tasty cake in honor of their celebrating fifty years of marital bliss.  Congratulations on a great life together and may the coming years be just as golden!  Join me in wishing them a Happy Fiftieth Anniversary. . . and a Happy Birthday to Dad tomorrow. — Luke

 

50cake

 

“Where there is love there is life.”  Ghandi

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Points to Ponder

When I was a little kid my grandmother “took in” the Reader’s Digest.  I always enjoyed reading it because the short articles, jokes and quotes made it perfect for an energetic kid with a short attention span.  One of my favorite sections was entitled “Points to Ponder” and included several thought provoking quotes.  I think that is where I got my love of quotes.  I hope you appreciate these as much as I do.  —Luke

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”  Mark Twain

“Great achievement is usually the result of great sacrifice, and never the result of selfishness.”  Napoleon Hill

“My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake.”  Aristotle

“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.”  Helen Keller

“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”  Vince Lombardi

“Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death.”  Ayn Rand

“Man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.”  Abdul Kalam

“Outside of a dog a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it is too dark to read.”  Groucho Marx 

 

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Enjoyable Day

I wanted to piggy back on Louis’s post from this past Monday by thanking all of those who were able to attend the employee outing this past weekend at Geyser Falls.  Personally, I think it was one of our most fun since we started having the annual event over ten years ago.

I especially want to thank Janna and Kim for putting the day together for everybody.  Much more work goes into making such events possible than many people recognize.  It takes a lot of effort to make large productions look so effortless!

As was mentioned in my brief speech last Saturday, it takes great employees to build a great company.   I am thankful to have the human resources we need to continue building a bigger and better company.  —   Luke

“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.”  Doug Firebough

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Under New Management?

One of my favorite hobbies over the last few years has been running.  If the weather is right then odds are you will find me on the local track or attending some running event in the area.  My chosen hobby has led me to become one of the more frequent customers of the local sports apparel businesses in the area.  After a trip to one over the weekend I couldn’t help but wonder if it was under new management.

I mainly deal with two sporting goods stores in the area.  One is a locally owned business where I buy my shoes and really anything else I can find there but this store is limited in selection.   Due to the limited selection at the local store I also shop at a big box sporting goods store that has a huge selection of running apparel.  And until this past weekend it has had some of the worst customer service around.

I had been highly critical of this big box retailer, especially the lack of staff attention.  Until recently it was possible to spend upwards of an hour in the store without ever being acknowledged by a “team member”.  Most of the time the “team” was huddled up discussing the latest store gossip.  However, this past weekend it was much different.

In my trip this past weekend to the big box sporting goods store my goal was to buy a pair of shorts and nothing more.  After picking out a new pair of running shorts I decided to make a loop around the store to kill a little time and also see what was new.  To my surprise and amazement I was approached by five team members and asked if I needed assistance.  What was even more impressive was that the staff actually went out of their way to speak to me.  It wasn’t the old “within three feet and eye contact rule”.  Now, each time I was approached I told them that I was “just looking” but it made me much happier be in their store knowing they seemed to appreciate my business.

In the past, each time I was at the register at the big box store I would usually be shaking my head and gritting my teeth wondering why I was spending money with someone with such awful customer service.  But not this last time.  I actually had a smile on my face.

The moral of the story here is to make sure you do your best to put a smile on your customers’ faces.  Make sure they know they are appreciated.

Have a great week. — Luke

“Consumers are statistics.  Customers are people.”  Stanley Marcus-Chairman of Neiman Marcus

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Taken for Granted?

In our manager’s meetings we often discuss the importance of telling our customers how much we appreciate their business.  As we’ve said, our customers are just like you and me. . . they want to do business with people who actually appreciate it.  It is funny though how some businesses tend to overlook their very best customers.

Being a fan of great customer service, I am keenly aware of the treatment I receive when visiting any retail or service business and I have found that many businesses make a common error.  They take long time customers for granted.

For example, I have seen waitresses at some of my favorite restaurants who become so comfortable and friendly with the regulars that they truly treat them like “family”.  The pleasantries and niceties expected of a seasoned wait person are all but forgotten when dealing with long time customers.  Often it is the best customers who are treated like family. . . like a little brother.

I have also witnessed retail establishments who take for granted some of their better customers.  The retailers feel that since certain customers have been doing business with them for several years then they can count on their business for several more.  Some businesses focus so much energy on bringing in new business that they forget to take care of the old business that made them successful in the first place.

Whenever I get the feeling that a store is taking my business for granted I do my best to take a long break from shopping with them.  It’s really funny how I can frequent a business once a week and get mediocre service but if I skip a few months and go back I get the best service in the world.

The point of today’s blog post is this — make sure you never take any customer’s business for granted.  Treat each and every customer like it is your first time dealing with them and you are trying to make the right first impression.  And finally, take a moment to give your best customers a special “Thank you”.

Have a great weekend.  — Luke

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect of towards others.”  Dalai Lama

 

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Who Stands Out?

If you have attended any of our Managers’ Meetings in the past you should know how important the topic of customer service is to our company.  As always, in the meeting scheduled for May 22, we plan on discussing and exploring how we can better serve our customers.  In preparation for the upcoming meeting we have an assignment for all managers.  The good news for the managers is that we strongly encourage you to share the responsibility of this assignment with assistant managers and CSR’s so that your whole office can collaborate on this effort.

For the meeting, we ask that each office manager discuss with their employees what businesses they frequent that has truly outstanding customer service.  After everyone in each office has weighed in on who they think are top notch customer oriented businesses the manager needs to decide which business will be submitted as their particular office’s favorite.

During the customer service segment of our meeting we will briefly discuss the businesses that were turned in by the offices and the traits they all seem to share.  As part of the assignment the office managers need to come to the meeting prepared to point out what makes the business their office submitted stand out among its competitors.

Please submit your office’s selection to JonJon at jonjons@meincorp.com no later than noon this coming Friday, May 17.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the meeting next week! — Luke

“Your customers are responsible for your company’s reason for existing.”  Marilynn Suttle

 

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An Afternoon with Duck Dynasty

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It is great when we have a chance to do something good for charity and to also do a little something special for our employees.  Just recently an opportunity has arisen to do just that here at MEI.

A local charity in Fulton, April’s Angels, is raising money for a new school playground that will be handicapped accessible so that all the school kids will get to enjoy it.  It is an expensive investment so the group is hard at work raising money which is where the exciting part comes in for some lucky employees.

Reality TV star and Duck Commander CEO, Willie Robertson, will be visiting Fulton, MS with his wife Korie and their children on the afternoon of June 30 to put on a faith based program tailored to “kids of all ages”.  Our company is helping sponsor the event and is also purchasing twenty of the best tickets available to give away to ten employees who will have their name pulled in a drawing to take place this coming Friday morning May 10.  The drawing will take place at the Fulton office and it will be recorded and posted to the blog at 9:00 am so be watching to see if you win.

Here is what you need to do if you want a chance to win two tickets.  Please let your store supervisor know you are interested no later than 11:00 Thursday morning.  Money Matters offices please let your area managers know, Kwik Sak please let Jana know, the shop guys can let Zack know and so on.  Since this is something special for employees we ask that you only enter if you or your immediate family (kids, grand kids etc.) will use the tickets. 

Good luck to all who choose to enter the drawing! — Luke

“That’s a fact, Jack!”  Si Robertson

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Term of the Day

If you have worked in our company for long then you should know the emphasis our organization places on providing great customer service.  In our quarterly manager meetings we head up every agenda with the topic.  On our company blog we routinely stress the powerful benefits of superior customer service.  And, hopefully your managers and area managers drill the importance of customer service immediately after your hiring.

I was scanning through some business websites the other day and someone had posted the Wikipedia definition of customer service.  As soon as I read it I knew I had my blog post for today.

Taken from Wikipedia:

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. According to Turban et al. (2002), “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”

The importance of customer service may vary by product or service, industry and customer. The perception of success of such interactions will be dependent on employees “who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest,” according to Micah Solomon. From the point of view of an overall sales process engineering effort, customer service plays an important role in an organization’s ability to generate income and revenue. From that perspective, customer service should be included as part of an overall approach to systematic improvement. A customer service experience can change the entire perception a customer has of the organization.

Just in case you missed it, I would reread the last sentence again.  Have a great week everybody! — Luke

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”  Chinese Proverb

 

 

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