Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shop Small Please, Love, Me

Yeah, so stuff happens.

You know how suddenly after your car is out of warranty the dealership suddenly finds $80 squillion in repairs that have to be done right that second or your car will explode? Well that just happened to me recently and I'm not super happy about it. I wonder if they think we don't know they are complete shysters. In case you dealership people are reading my blog - newsflash - we know.

Anyway, that's actually not really related to my story but I needed to get it off my chest. I do feel better.

However, I did recently have an unwelcome, very expensive problem that I had to get fixed, and I decided to check out a new-ish auto repair place near me called Christian Brothers Automotive.

First, when I called, the guy answering the phone didn't put me on hold, but pulled up a schedule and asked me what would work for an appointment. After I got the smelling salts out, I made an appointment. He told me that I wouldn't want to wait there based on the repair I needed, but that they would drive me home and then come pick me up when my car was done.

I'm sorry if you just fainted. I almost did too.

So I popped over there at my appointed time and went into the business. Instead of the normal grubby, linoleum and fluorescent-light-and-burned-coffee hell that normally greets you, this place had couches and comfy chairs and was playing soothing music. Instead of doors slamming and intercom noise, there was calm and quiet and a nice man in nice clothes waiting to get my info.

Shortly after that, a very nice man in a nice car drove me and several other customers home to wait for our cars.

Sadly, they called me with bad news about a big expense. But instead of the normal ambiguous garbage, this guy told me how they get their pricing from their suppliers, what the cost of the parts were and what they were charging me. He gave me every conceivable option for what I could have repaired, and I told them to do the work.

When I picked up my car, my seat was in the same position I always have it in, my radio was on the same station, and my car was clean. As the service manager gave me my keys, he gently told me I was out of gas. I'm always out of gas, but it was nice of him to notice. Sometimes it comes in handy to be a long distance walker. I realize that some people find gas more important than I do, and I appreciated that.

But the real magic of this experience came two weeks, and then a month after my service.

Two weeks later, I got a hand written thank you card for my business from the owners.

Now THAT is nearly unheard of. But wait.

Last week, I got a phone call from them asking me how my car was performing and if I had any issues. I have NEVER in nearly 30 years of car repairs had that happen. As a matter of fact, I'm fairly sure one he-who-shall-not-be-named repair chain obliterates all customer records immediately after any repair just to guarantee they can never come in contact with you again.

I am so grateful for this stellar service. Even if it hadn't been going well with my car when I got the call, the call would still mean so much. 

So, I ask each of you, as we enter the holiday season, to do a little something for people like Neail & Patti Hand at Christian Brothers Automotive.

Shop small for Christmas. Buy your gifts locally from the people in your community when you can, and buy from small companies or individual sellers online - especially from our sole proprietor and small business friends in the crafting industry.

No one is ever going to call you from China and ask you how your xyz is working for you.

Since that small biz experience made me feel the Christmas spirit, I thought I should express that with this week's Color Throwdown!

When I first saw this combo, I really did think Christmas. Green and red, plus the blue of the night sky and the yellow of *the* star.

So this was my interpretation.
Stamps: Bright Christmas Paper: Crumb Cake, Whisper White Ink: Basic Blac, Real Red, Not Quite Navy, Daffodil Delight, Old Olive, Basic Black Accessories: Retire star punch, Basic Black Marker, Scissors, Foray Pencil eraser, ruler

To make the dots, I used a Foray pencil from Office Depot - the eraser part is white, so after I finished stamping with the eraser in one color, it was easy to see when I had cleaned it all off and could move to the next color. It won't work as well with darker erasers, especially when you're using red inks.

I just covered a quarter sheet with dots and then cut it into trees. I hand - well, with a ruler - drew the trunks :).

By winter wonderland, btw, I mean - here's to 70 and sunny for a few months. God bless Texas.



  1. Wow, what an amazing auto repair experience. They are actually one notch ABOVE my mechanic, which I didn't think was possible. We don't have comfy chairs, but he will pick up and drop off. They once spent 4 hours looking for the source of a noise, couldn't find it, and wouldn't charge me since they hadn't fixed anything. Love those guys.

    And I loooove that card! I need to work on CAS this Winter.

    wv: imiati

    I saw two Fiats today, and even though they are bigger than the Smart Car, they are still smaller than imiati.

    (okay, that's a stretch of the wv, but ...)

  2. You've won me with spotty dotty trees. I NEED to make some cards like that.

    I love great service.

  3. Lydia, love that story and so true about small businesses!! Glad to know there are wonderful repair shops out there, know any in Massachusetts? LOL. Wonderful card, too :) Love the eraser dots!! (BTW, I really tried to use "watoessi" in a sentence, but not tonight!)

  4. I love it~great testimony!
    Such a cool, trendy card...I love the dots technique! ;)

  5. Love your story! It is sad that customer service is almost a lost art; I'm glad you found a GREAT place to take your car for repairs! Love the polk dot trees, BTW!

  6. you should post your story on Yelp and send a copy of it to them. it will be so encouraging to them to know they're providing such legendary service.

    cute card too. think i might use this technique soon.

  7. It isn't fair! You already get to live in a super cool city like Austin. Now you have the world's most incredible and trustworthy car repair service too... I'm so jealous.

    P.S. - Love your dotty trees too!

  8. You've restored my faith in small businesses. In this economy, little touches mean alot. Love those trees and your card in general. So.... ahhhhhh......


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