My brother came to visit from Amsterdam for a couple of weeks; first a trip to SXSW, before a week in NYC.
Two places with plenty in common: teeming with energy; recognised by acronyms; and holding firm at 30 degrees (albeit one in Celsius, the other in Fahrenheit).
Plan A was rapidly scuppered. SXSW teetered on the precipice before being exited stage left by the city government on the Friday before doors opened.
Plan B remained open – we could still visit Austin. Almost immediately our accommodation canceled. Understandable.
We were into Plan C: change the flight to clip the time in Austin back to a few days. Too risky. Sunk cost. Write it off.
Plan D. Explore New York State – go up the Hudson River, head upstate; visit Long Island, take in the brisk beach air.
You can probably see the pattern.
Before Plan D, E, F and G came and went (as did he – back to Amsterdam 7 days early), we rented a car.
Renting a car in Manhattan is a notorious game. Limited space, high demand, increased scarcity, price gouging, Thursday night arbitrage.
Of course, head out to the airport and the price drops by 50%. Venture to the suburbs and you’ll save yourself more than just the train ticket.
Airports no-go. A booking in Westchester was quickly abandoned; the slow train from Grand Central into the state’s virus epicentre was not sensible.
And so back to Manhattan. A special place with special prices.
Location, location, location. Proximity was everything. Enter Enterprise in Greenwich Village.
We could get out of dodge. Escape to the woods. Or, we’d have a car to go to the supermarket at least.
One saving grace – on a longer-term booking the pro-rata price felt like slightly less of a skewering. Booked.
On collection, the Enterprise team were, unsurprisingly, a little nervous.
Yet their service was friendly, supportive, and efficient. They even were clear on the insurance options (often another skewering opportunity).
The best bit? Inspection.
Part of the ritual of renting a car is the walk-around: the inspection for defects, chips, scratches, and bumps.
Woe betide the hirer who doesn’t spot the little nick above the wheel arch or the bit of glass that’s been pinged out of the windscreen. It’ll cost you.
The less scrupulous rental companies don’t make it clear what constitutes damage and what doesn’t.
The least scrupulous deliberately rush you, deflect, or blind you with technical jargon in order to score an easy financial win.
Instead, Enterprise applied a simple but highly effective method to help make the inspection process less anxiety-inducing.
Just look for the dollar bill or the golf ball.
Anything smaller, the team at Enterprise doesn’t mind.
Forget about it. Wear and tear. That’s on us, not you. It’s just a cost of doing business. We recognise there are costs we can absorb to make things better for our customers.
See a scratch that’s wider than a dollar bill or a dent the size of a golf ball, let us know. We’ll help too. When any of us find one, we’ll just tap the diagram on the tablet to highlight it. Done.
Just about everyone knows what dollar bills and golf balls look like. It’s pretty easy to make an estimation of their sizes. Of course, it’s not an exact science – but then it doesn’t need to be. It’s easily good enough.
No more double-talking, or being taken advantage of. A heuristic that’s accessible and inclusive; so simple that kids could do it. It can even be, just like golf, a game. Hey kids, Mum and Dad will give you a dollar if you can find all the golf balls.
The walk-around goes from a gouge to a walk in the park.
It’s a positive part of the experience. It’s all part of the game, but we’re not getting gamed.
What does this seemingly tiny change in thinking do for us as entrepreneurs?
We get happier and more relaxed customers.
We have employees who can focus on the things that matter.
Our business doesn’t need to take the stance of being one that nickels and dimes, second guesses, or places their focus on accentuating the negative.
It even gives us and our customer a new lexicon, some shared language. A more inclusive and accessible way of talking about what we do. A way for others to talk about what we do.
Which is what I’ve just done in this blog post.
Well worth a dollar for any enterprise.