Saturday, November 19, 2005

As a business matures, it should endeavor to maintain its level of service. Woo-hoo, don't I sound very Business Week here?

I visited the Avril car wash today ($20 inside and out, plus tips), a place where I've often made blog entries at the PC provided for customers to use while their cars are being washed. But today, the PC was nowhere to be found. In fact, the cashier was nowhere to be found, at least for five minutes after I arrived. This is odd, since Avril has for years been a hopping neighborhood establishment with excellent customer service and a good reputation for getting a car cleaner than most of us could on our own.

Now, I am an honest person, but it struck me how easy it would have been for someone to escape with a free car wash, no questions asked, since when a car wash is finished, you are supposed to just amble out there, get in, and drive away. For that matter, imagine how easy it would be for someone to steal your car!

Atlanta is a rapidly-growing area and has been for years, so I see this often -- a new business (restaurants are the most frequent culprit, it seems) starts up with a bang. The service is excellent, and the product is great, but over time, someone somewhere gets lazy, and the result is almost always a shutdown. Over the years, we've lost some great establishments to this tendency, many of which had no visible competition at the time.

Businesses need to become more aware of the continuity factor and how to keep track of things and, especially, people or the lack thereof. No matter how much we might fuss about red tape and paperwork, it seems that there is a time and a place for everything. I wish someone at Avril had asked if it was my car that I drove away -- of course, it was.