“Our Customers Have An Urgency”
(3 Lessons from a tiny repair shop)
Austin, Texas in the late 1990’s was a dreamtime of economic growth and progress. As a minister serving a church in Austin, I learned lessons from things & people both big and small. Here’s three lessons learned from a small thing.
My ’86 Chevy was old, with an annoying electrical short somewhere behind the dashboard. Spying a sign for an automotive electrical repair shop, I wheeled in to check the problem. The parking lot was tiny, as was the old building. I was enchanted by a phrase written under the name of the establishment ; “we must be quick, our customers have an urgency”.
The business was a one-person operation. In broken English, with an accent I can’t place, the serene old gentleman who owned the shop asked about my problem. He listened, nodded and said “Yes, I know your trouble, you wait, I fix it. One hundred dollars”. Frankly, I was relieved. I had imagined a bill twice or three times that amount. It was worth it.
He let me stand and watch. With sharp eyes he examined the underside of the dash, moved some wires, replaced some tiny parts. Surveying his wall of tools he selected a long piece of wire with a hook at the end. It was clear this was his most-used tool. Inserting it under the dashboard he gently moved, prodded, extended and coaxed. In 15 minutes, he said “you are ready”. I have no idea if this was a good deal or not, what the problem was, or how he did it. I don’t care. I got what I wanted at a reasonable price and this guy was FAST! When I asked about his sign, he replied “Yes, my customers have an urgency, so I have an urgency too!”
Here are some of the lessons learned:
1) We all deal with people, I do so in a church setting, you may do so in a business or educational setting. The people we deal with have an “urgency” of some kind. They have a problem, or an issue, a need, a struggle, or a desire. It is very real and pressing to them. Our best work happens when we understand this and treat each person with respect. Our best work happens when we KNOW our people and what their urgencies are.
2) You and I have an urgency. I certainly do, there are things I want to achieve in my ministry and family and personal life. You have urgencies too. We best serve God, ourselves and others when we clearly know and understand what our own urgencies are. This self-examination may take us out of our comfort zone, but in my opinion the only alternative is to drift through life.
3) We have to know our work, know our craft. We always need to be students of our work, students of our craft. We must be teachable; willing to grow and become both efficient (do things right) and effective (do the right things). Our knowledge, skills, and values are precious and, honed over time, become invaluable in dealing with “urgencies”.
That’s it, thanks for reading, pray we learn all the lessons we can, because there is always an urgency.