Category Archives: Inside the Shop

A Customer Service Parable

I was almost peeing my pants. But in a good way. Charged. Chuffed. Over the moon.

I had been spending months on a particularly nagging faulty brake light problem on my ’66 VW Beetle. I won’t spell out all the details here because it’s beside my point, but assume I tried a buttload of stuff. Ground wires and contact plates, that sort of thing. Finally! I nailed down the problem to a broken bulb filament. Yeah, dumb, okay. Let’s not point fingers.

But there I was in my garage with only one thing standing between me and working brake lights. New bulbs. So I raced (different car) to the local auto parts store. Never mind the half-made dinner I had in the pot. I was solving this now.

I almost tore the door off the hinges getting inside the store and made a crazy dash to the bulb section, shoving aside old ladies and unattended children. At last I found my Precious!

With greasy, trembling hands I approached the counter, where no less than five AutoZone nameless auto store employees stood staring at me. No other customers were in sight. As my electrified Beetle-fixing body held out the Precious, three of the employees turned away. Wait, what? Ok, whatever. I’ll find someone else. I turned to what appeared to be the manager, who was looking at me but listening to another employee complain about her schedule. It’s ok, you’re here now, I told myself. You have the Precious. Patience.

After about a minute of patience learning intimate details of the employee’s personal life, aches and pains, I placed the Precious on the counter. Maybe that was the secret code for let me give you my money. The manager glanced over and growled, “Cash or Charge?” “Cash,” I squeaked out.

Without a glance at me, the employee grabbed the Precious and continued to talk to the manager… for another minute. The manager seemed powerless in the grip of this employee’s whining diatribe. The other employees kind of meandered about, whistling at the ceiling.

That was it for me. I walked straight out the door (without the Precious), stepping over the old lady I had earlier pushed aside. There was another auto parts store only a half block away. I found my bulbs (New Precious) and they cheerfully took my money.

Now, I realize that in the first store, my patience was thinner than plastic wrap. Two minutes as an eternity is relative. I have waited much longer for more important things without losing my mind. In fact, I probably waited in line just as long at store number two. The difference is relative. At the second store, the person behind the counter made me feel like I was welcome, and was actually busy helping another customer. Huge difference.

Whether your business is online, inside a store, or a booth at weekend markets, the most important thing you can do is make people feel welcome. Even if you don’t have what they want, even if you ultimately don’t make a sale with that person, the feeling they take away is the most important thing you can offer. Make them feel good, they will likely be back. Make them feel ignored or less than welcome, and they will likely not return, ever. And either way, they will be telling their friends about you.

I believe that business succeeds in the long term. The short term is what you’ve just sold and that might put food on the table for a day. The long term is the goodwill you give away that will eventually put food on the table for years.

Honoring Fellow Veterans

Did you know that we are a veteran-owned business? D.J. served in Desert Storm, loading cargo planes with supplies, helicopters, Hummers, satellites, food and even people! If you’re a veteran, we give you 10% off your orders, always (this also applies to active duty U.S. military). It’s our way of honoring your service. Continue Reading

We take care of our veterans and active duty U.S. military!

It’s true! We offer a 10% discount to all veterans and active duty members of the US military. That includes #trans military members no matter what 45 says. All you need to do is show proof of service when you’re making your order and you get the discount. Easy! #TransMilitaryBan #transmilitary#veterans #activeduty #tshirts#customtshirts Continue Reading

Shani Rose tour tees

Smart people ask questions! Shani Rose tour tees

Client: Shani Rose, Singer/Songwriter Printed by: D.J. Like many of our clients, Shani came to us with tons of questions. It’s what we live for. When someone asks a lot of questions about t-shirts before they order, research shows they’re 123% happier with their shirts than those who asked no questions, or asked questions about organic peanut butter (which we’ll… Continue Reading

Threads for Love tees

Threads for Love tees

Client: Renee Willoughby, Threads for Love Printed by: D.J. Music to Print by: 80s playlist on Google Play Snacks Consumed: Water. But I just had Jenni’s amazing lentil loaf for lunch, thanks. We love printing for Renee’s vegan apparel line. She always chooses the best shirts, which may have something to do with her fashion industry background. When she originally approached us… Continue Reading

El Cochinito tees

El Cochinito tees

Client: Daniel Navarro, El Cochinito Printed by: D.J. Music to Print by: Beastie Boys, License to Ill; The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper; 80s playlist on Spotify Snacks Consumed: Starburst and natural orange soda These 3-color tees were fun to print. There’s a challenge to separating colors in any logo, but this one had lots of great detail. It was originally created… Continue Reading

Standing Rock tees

Standing Rock tees

Client: Claire Bryett Andrew for Topanga Stands with Standing Rock Printed by: D.J. Music to Print by: R.E.M. Life’s Rich Pageant and Monster Snacks Consumed: Skittles & water We worked with Claire to raise funds for the people fighting for Standing Rock in North Dakota. All from the t-shirt sales will go directly to Standing Rock to help them… Continue Reading

Sparky’s T-shirt Review: Bella+Canvas 3001 Unisex

Sparky’s T-shirt Review: Bella+Canvas 3001 Unisex

You can have my shirt when you pry it off my cold, dead torso. That’s how strongly I feel about the Bella+Canvas 3001 Unisex tee. In fact, it’s our go-to shirt for screen printing. Here’s Bella’s description of this awesome tee: This updated unisex essential fits like a well-loved favorite, featuring a crew neck, short sleeves… Continue Reading

All images and text are © Sparky Firepants • Privacy Policy