I had a flat tyre last week. This was not good news. But fortunately it happened when my car was stationary. Or at least it was spotted when my car was stationary. I drove to work on Wednesday – enjoying the late Autumn sunshine – and left my car in a space near to my office building. Happy. Carefree. About my car at least.
My problem was spotted mid-afternoon by a couple of colleagues walking past my car. When I went down to look for myself the tyre was flat. Completely. Evidently I had driven over a screwdriver head which had embedded itself. Fortunately we were able to inflate the tyre and I decided to get to the nearest repair shop as quickly as possible before the slow puncture released all the air again.
As I drove I felt worried whether the tyre would deflate more rapidly (it didn’t) and felt relieved that the tyre was spotted whilst it was still daylight and whilst the repair shop was still open. I have had tyres repaired before – 5 minutes, low cost.
I hadn’t ever been to this repair shop before…but it was a national chain and I’ve used other branches for repairs. They even had a decent coffee machine in the waiting area, where I sat and sent emails apologising for the abrupt cancellation of my meetings.
The moment came a few minutes later. The technician spoke with the manager. The manager looked up and beckoned me over. The puncture had happened at ‘an angle’ and the tyre (only 3 months old) could not be repaired. I would need a new one – 24 hours, high cost.
This moment was not a moment of disappointment. Rather it was a moment of truth. Did I believe (or did I want to believe) the story I was hearing. A puncture? At an angle! What did that mean? A new tyre beyond repair…really? The moment involved me doubting what I was hearing and wondering if I was being taken (metaphorically) for a ride.
Tyres is big business. Repairing and replacing tyres is all about cars and customers. But it is a business. And a new tyre generates more profit than an old repair. They knew I had come from work. They knew I was desperate to sort my car and eager to get back. Do I trust (and order the replacement) or do I test (and get a second opinion)?
I paused and I thought. I had never been in this workshop before. But I had used the chain before. Lots of times. So what was my experience? It had always been good. Very good. The other workshops had always been honest. Very helpful. Really efficient. I was confident I had only ever had good advice.
And I realised that whilst I sat, sipped, emailed and waited, the manager had engaged with three or four other customers in person or by phone. And each time he had reminded me exactly of the managers in the other workshops in which I had waited.
So I trusted. I trusted a team I had never met before based on my experience of their colleagues…colleagues they had never met.
The new tyre arrived the next day exactly when they said it would. They checked my other tyres (all OK) and my exhaust. All OK. They offered me another coffee. The old tyre (if I wanted it). And even apologised again.
I knew I had to say something before I left. I thanked the technician and I took a moment to explain to the Manager about their ‘trust transfer’.
He smiled. “We know”. He said.