Sharon Koehler

Marketing Maven

I am a NASCAR fan. And, better yet, I am a NASCAR fan in a town that gets two NASCAR races a year.  I have season tickets or “renewable tickets” as they are now called. I go with the same set of friends every race. We sit in the same seats every race – and we have great seats! We know everyone around us because we’ve all been in these same seats every race, and a good time is had by all. Everything has been fine for years until one day late last summer.

It was 5 days before the race. I realized I had not seen the customary e-mail announcing that I could now print my tickets, so I called the ticket people.

A very nice, helpful woman answered my call and explained that there was now a new system in place and that the tickets were delivered to my track account.  All I had to do was log in to my account and print them. “Easy enough,” I thought while I thanked her and got off the phone. I logged into my account and low and behold NO TICKETS!

 I called back and explained my plight to a nice, polite gentleman.  He went into my account and said, “I see them. They are right there.” I was happy he could see them but I explained to him that I, as the ticket purchaser, COULD NOT see them! He verified everything: my name, address, phone number, my email address and account number.  He said that he would just go ahead and send me an email with a direct link to my tickets and I could print them that way. He assured me it would take me about 30 minutes to get it. I was feeling confident when I got off the phone, but when I checked an hour later, no email. 2 hours later, no email. And then it was too late to call back. 

Now it’s 4 days before the Sprint Cup race. I call again. I explain my situation again. I get asked the same questions again. They verify everything again. I even got an apology for the e-mail not being sent. They sent me one right then with a link, etc, etc., and I think I am 30 minutes away from being golden. Well, not really, as I find out. 

To make a long story short, over the course of 3 days I made 19 separate phone calls. I talked to 14 different people, which resulted in absolutely SQUAT in the way of tickets.

It’s 2 days before the big race and there are still no tickets. I don’t mind saying that my friends are beginning to doubt my resolve on this issue. 

I was due to call a particular supervisor back at 1pm and I did. She was on the phone, so a polite lady from the phone answering pool did her job and asked if she could help me. I said no, I was waiting for the supervisor. I was on hold for a bit and she came back and asked me again. I said no again, but this time she said she could tell by my tone that I had a problem. She asked for the opportunity to help me while I waited. So I once more explained it all and added that 14 people and 19 phone calls had happened before her, and I was sure she could not help. 

She went to my account and started to verify everything with me again. But she did it differently than anyone else. She spelled every word letter by letter. 

Sharon became S-H-A-R-O-N. She did that for my whole account, and lo and behold, she found the problem. Someone had left the “A” out of Gmail when they set up my new account. All those emails and links they said they were sending? Well, they actually had been sent - they just bounced back as undeliverable ( and someone in their IT department should have noticed). Everyone that was verifying my information was reading Gmail even though it actually said Gmil. She corrected it and waited on the phone with me while I logged into my account, found my tickets and printed them. She was my hero!

My point to all this is: it’s the details that can and will kill your profit. The track wasted a lot of time and money paying people to help me and provide me with what was eventually good customer service. Without paying attention to detail, It can happen to you too, and very easily.

Let’s say that someone accidentally writes an address down wrong, reverses a couple of numbers, and that carries through the paperwork and the directions. Your template person figures it out first because he shows up at the wrong house. 

Embarrassed, he calls the customer, gets the right address written down on his template paperwork and carries on…forgetting he also needs to change the original MapQuest directions. 

Now, your installers are trying to get out the door. They look at the original paperwork, see the MapQuest directions and head out, once again showing up at the wrong house. They call the office because no one is home. The office calls the customer, who is home – and your team is at the wrong house! The team finally gets to the right house and apologizes, starts work, but this delay makes them late to their second install.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal but at least seven people have had their time wasted – at least four of whom are getting paid by the company. Not to mention the extra wear and tear on the truck, and wasted gas.

When there’s a problem on the jobsite, or a top is simply cut 1/2 inch wrong, everything grinds to a halt! How much profit did you have in the job?  Well… not anymore!

We all know that you can’t stop all mistakes and accidents. Despite your best efforts, things are going to happen. But if you take a few extra minutes to verify information, question things you are unsure of and double- check measurements, machines and loads, you can save yourself some headaches and some dollars. It’s a win – win!

Sharon Koehler is a 10-year veteran of the stone industry. Currently she is the head of marketing for Artistic Stone Design in Richmond, Virginia and has been a regular contributor to various trade magazines for several years. Send your thoughts or comments on this article to .