Stay tuned for a story of empathy, failure, and personal redemption.
This is the CX Storytime tale of…. The Bird and the Baggage
Alone, at the end of the driveway sits Don.
A half-sipped glass of beer in hand, a satisfied smirk on his face and the strength of a white plastic lawnchair keeping him up. It’s not every day a man loses 3 tons of weight.
Don didn’t have that smile on his face just a few hours before. Earlier that day, he was tasked with finally doing a job he hadn’t done for the better part of a decade.
That job? Remove a mold-consumed 1989 Jeep Cherokee and an inert 2000 Chevrolet M Series. Much like the grass and the trees, both had become fixtures on his front lawn. Constant reminders of lofty goals that he had failed at.
Don had had every intention of fixing these vehicles. He loved them both. Loved the look of them. Loved driving them. But that was years ago. In that time, his wife Terrah grew frustrated he would never address the problem.
Fix’em. Sell’em. Or Tow’em. Pick one.
None of which seemed to be something Don would actually do. And that ate at him. But so sit there they did.
A constant reminder of frustration and failure.
But today, after weeks and weeks of exasperated back and forth between the couple, Don finally picked up the phone and called Dirty Bird Scrap Car and Truck Removal. It was a company he had no experience with but had come highly recommended by a close friend.
They’d be there tomorrow. And so they were.
Creeping down the long drive way came a shiny black flatbead truck. You’d call it a midnight black if it didn’t shine so brightly from its finish.
The truck slowly came to a stop and a young man popped out. An immediate response would be, “he’s too young to be the owner.” But there he was, Lorne, the proprietor of Dirty Bird.
Don met him in front of the house, almost mathmatically between the two dead vehicles and his visitor. He immediately shook Lorne’s hand. They quickly got into a rhymn of talking, about Lorne’s work, about Don’s personal history with the vehicles and about what would be done with the wagoneer and sedan once Dirty Bird had them.
Don didn’t remember much of the specifics of that conversation but two moments continue to echo in his memory that he will repeat long after this day.
The first, was after he had surprisingly shared the painful history of neglecting these two vehicles which led to Lorne being there. Don wasn’t one to open up naturally, yet here he was blathering away.
Lorne’s response, “Don’t worry about it. I hear this all the time. I’m not in the car removal business. We remove emotional baggage.”
He went on to illustrate he helps relationships. Going on to say, “The guy wants to fix them, the lady wants them gone. The guy feels like a failure because he hasn’t done what he said he would do. The woman is getting frustrated that nothing has happened. The scrap is a physical representation of a road block in the relationship. And I’m here to remove it.”
The second moment came soon after when Don asked Lorne, “How big is your business?”
Lorne’s response was matter of fact, “I have two trucks. I drive both of them.”
Lorne explains that it is very difficult to find staff that fit his values and philosophies. And he wants to find the right fit for his company before he hires anyone.
Soon after their talk, Lorne was up and working. Connecting the moldy old Wagonner to his Dirty Bird flatbed and hauling it up to take it to its new home. Same with the Chevy.
And then, a sharing of credit card information, another handshake and he was gone. With 3 tons of scrap metal emotional baggage off the shoulders of Don. “They were amazing, just amazing,” were the words from Don’s mouth.
Understand that Don is a tough nut. He doesn’t like a lot of people. And when I say a lot of people, I mean most everybody he’s ever met. But here he was bragging about a scrap removal company and its owner.
When he talks about this experience, it’s not just about finally removing the burden of these two vehicles but rather the freedom and lightness he feels letting them go.
And he tells anyone that will listen. And Terrah is pretty happy too.
Friend Filter: How this is Perceived by Customers
Now, from the filter of building or breaking a friendship with your customers
How would this experience be perceived?
Have you ever met someone you immediately had a connection with? It didn’t make sense really and it didn’t feel it had to. It didn’t matter how long you’d known each other or how you met, you felt this kinship where they got you and you got them. This was the feeling Don had after Lorne spoke of removing his emotional baggage. “YES! Exactly!” is what Don said and felt. He felt he was understood, not judged or just another customer.
A true “you complete me” moment of connection to build a relationship from.
What Worked or Didn’t (operations, tactics)
What Can We Learn From the Story
- Understanding The Problems You Solve – Lorne couldn’t have stuck to the mechanics of what his business did. They two scrap metal. But that does get to the pain point they fix. By communicating as “removing emotional baggage”, they have a better understanding in their role of helping others.
- Sticking to your Values – When your philosophy is as emotional as “scrap therapy”, it’s important that your staff believe what you believe. If they don’t share your company values, how can they best represet and champion the business? Spoiler: they pretty much can’t. Define a strong vision, mission and core values and treat them like they matter. They do.
Morale of the Story
In honour of Dirty Bird owner Lorne understanding his customer, their pain and the values of his organization, “To thine own self be true” is the morale of this story.
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