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Why I Love Alamo

After my (ahem) review of my Thrifty in New Mexico, I thought I should pass along a completely different experience that I had at Alamo in Atlanta.

As I was standing in line, a manager came up to the man in front of me, shook his hand and started chatting. I assumed that they were acquaintances and didn’t give it another thought. That is, until he turned to me, reached out to shake my hand and say hello in a very friendly and sincere way.

He saw that I had a reservation printout in my hand and asked if I would like to use the kiosk (just like those you check in at the airport with). I went to the kiosk, breezed through the process in about two minutes, then asked for directions to the cars.

Again, in a very friendly, non-phony way, Nathan Woods (I was so impressed I asked for his name) directed me.  As I entered the garage, another employee greeted me with great enthusiasm and directed me to exactly where I would find cars in the class I had selected.

I walked past all the Jeep Liberty’s : and chose a Hyundai Santa. I jumped in the immaculate car, drove to the exit gate, was quickly and courteously processed through and I was on my way.

Thank you, Alamo, and thank you, Nathan Woods, for respecting me as a customer and a person. It restored my faith in business and in the power of individuals to make each other’s day just a little bit better by making a mundane business transaction a great, human experience.

I have used Alamo a lot in the past but somehow had gotten away from choosing them, probably because I have focused on the lowest price, not the best value.

This experience taught me the cost of saving a few bucks. Whatever extra Alamo cost, it was worth it to be able move through quickly and easily through the rental process while dealing with such friendly, helpful people. Alamo will be my choice going forward.

Perceived value is just important to contractors. Once you deliver the work, you have to work to deliver the intangibles that create value and happy customers. They’ll not only return when they need your services, but they’ll tell others how good you are.

Why I Hate Thrifty

I hate Thrifty. No two ways about it.

I recently took my first family vacation with my wife and toddler. Because I have only flown once with my now two-year old, this trip caused me no little anxiety and I did a lot of pre-planning to try and get it right.

When it came to the rental car that we’d be using for eight days, I used the Travelocity feature and got the lowest price for the class of car I needed for the dirt roads in North Central New Mexico, a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

We began our trek and everything went great all the way to Albuquerque. At the car rental counter my son was running around joyfully (with my wife hovering close by) while I waited to deal with the car.

I wait patiently in line. When I finally get to the counter, fully expecting to get my Grand Cherokee, I’m told they don’t have my Cherokee but they do have a Jeep Liberty.

My comment, “Isn’t that smaller?”

His answer, “It’s built on the same frame.” A non-answer if I ever heard one!

He then said, “Well, how many people do you have, five?”

First, that’s none of his business. Second, that’s not the point! The point is that I was promised a Grand Cherokee or similar size vehicle and no amount of “lip judo” is going to convince me that getting a smaller one is going to be a positive experience for me. 

Well, I thought, at least the smaller Liberty would be cheaper. 

Nope. The two are the same price. But the only other choice was a minivan, which, of course, was no choice at all.

In reality, that’s not much different from any other car rental company. Some are better than others, of course, but they all operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Like airlines, they overbook to cover the inevitably high number of no-shows.

That’s not why I hate Thrifty.

I hate Thrifty not just because I was essentially made to pay more for less, but because I was left with the distinct impression that they didn’t care how I felt. In fact, I got the feeling that this is the way Thrifty does business, that it’s an acceptable way to do business, and that I was being unreasonable for expecting them to deliver what they promised.

Well, there are plenty of other car rental companies out there that will be more than happy to take my money. Thrifty, I’m voting with my feet.

How many of your customers hate you? How many are voting against you with their feet? And what are they saying about you to others?

There’s only one way to know: Ask them!

If you’d like a free, amazingly easy-to-use tool to get the kind of feedback that will prevent your company from becoming a Thrifty, just send me an email.

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