What’s most important?

Yesterday, I spoke about how competence and character are necessary to build trust, and it made me think of a business relationship I have with someone that’s in one of the lowest-trust categories out there—auto mechanics.

Honest mechanics are hard to come by, and I have one.

Years ago, I was referred to my mechanic, Alan, by a friend that said he was trustworthy. My first visit left me a little concerned. I’d been accustomed to dealership service departments and floors you could eat off of. His shop was cluttered and dirty, and parts were everywhere. I tried him anyway because of the strong recommendation and was happy with the quality of his work and professionalism.

Time after time, we’ve taken our vehicles to him thinking there was something seriously wrong, and have left paying a bill in the $100 to $200 range breathing a sigh of relief it wasn’t something serious.

Because Allen is honest, he has a fair amount of long-term, loyal customers and does no marketing. His sign consists of several sheets of paper taped together.

No matter.

My family trusts him so much, when we take a vehicle to him, we seldom ask for an estimate. We know he’ll be fair.

Recently, our au pair’s Camry started making noises—expensive sounding noises. I dropped it off at Alan’s. Shortly later, he called me and informed me it was a timing belt, let me know what needed to be done, how much it would cost and how long it would take. The car was neglected and when all was said and done, it cost about $1,200.

I didn’t negotiate.

I didn’t ask questions.

And even though I hated spending the money, I handed him my debit card with a smile on my face.

Ashes of problem customers. You can say anything if your customers trust you.

The picture above was taken at Allen’s shop. I’m sure his customers laugh when they see it—you’ve never met a nicer guy. But he’s built up so much trust with his customers, he can say (or not say) just about anything and we’ll keep coming back.

As marketers, we spend a lot of our time getting to know the customer, massaging the message and the visuals and coming up with bold and brave ways to break through.

But given the above, shouldn’t we really be focusing on ways to communicate competence and character, as well?

Comment below to weigh in.

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If you are in the Seattle area and are interested in chatting with Allen, here’s his contact info:

Nielsen Enterprises
13237 NE 20th Street
Bellevue, WA 98005
(425) 643-4610

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