Below is my response to Steven Pearlstein’s column in the September 29th edition of the Washington Post. For those of you who missed it, the article was an attack on successful American business owners in the form of a satire on self-absorbed “entitlement.” Here is a link to the full column, and a brief excerpt follows: I am a job creator: A manifesto for the entitled by Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post I am a private-equity fund manager. I am the misunderstood superhero of American capitalism, single-handedly creating wealth and prosperity despite all the obstacles put in my way by employees, government and the media. I am a job creator and I am entitled. Matt Curry’s Response: Mr. Pearlstein, this is perhaps the most misguided and idiotic article I’ve ever read. You have obviousl ... read more
In order to better serve the needs of our customers we need to ask the proper questions– and get candid answers from them. This process might seem unnecessary or time-consuming to the consumer, but the information is critical to delivering great service and we try to make the “interview” as quick and painless as possible. First of course, we need the year, make and model of the vehicle. We need to know the “trim” package, i.e., is it an LX, EX or SE model. Wheel size sometimes matters and a VIN number is almost always required to price and locate the correct parts. But there are less obvious questions that need to be asked, such as, “How long do you plan on keeping the car?” This is important because the quality and price of parts differs wildly. For example, there are probably 10 different brake pads and rotors available for every application. We basically grade these parts from “A” to “C” ranges, with “A” being the best and “C” being the kind that yo ... read more
“How much does it cost to get my car fixed? Can you PLEASE give me a price NOW over the phone!” We get this call all the time. Everyone is in a hurry these days (including me!), and we just want to get the information, make the best decision, get it done and move on with our lives. “I need brakes on my car, how much will it cost,” asked the caller. Hmmm…Well that depends….. All cars are different and all drivers drive their cars differently. Need and cost can vary greatly depending our customers’ actual needs and what their expectations are. Here are the facts: There is no way any reputable auto repair facility can give a proper estimate over the telephone for brakes, exhaust, diagnostic repairs, A/C repairs or electrical repairs. It is simply impossible to know the condition of the vehicle or what it needs without looking at the vehicle. There are too many variables involved. The price between an Audi S4 or BMW 335i or a Honda Civic ... read more
There are a lot of perceptions of the auto service industry, some of them not so nice, like: ‘smoke and mirrors’ price quotes, stories of unnecessary repair work or taking advantage of an customer’s lack of understanding of something technical. Curry’s Auto Service handles over 4,000 customer transactions each month–each one is a chance to reinforce our reputation as an ethical company, but also introduces the risk that if we mishandle something, our reputation can be damaged. So we have a very heavy emphasis throughout the organization on ethical behavior and transparency. Not just an “ethics mission statement” posted in our offices and shop walls, but a comprehensive ethics policy that is regularly updated and communicated with our team. Policies are important for sure. But developing and maintaining an ethical culture goes beyond documentation and training. It must be a constant operational focus with real-world impact. Curry’s has successfully achieved customer ... read more
The conversation below is a great example of a super-simple solution to an everyday challenge that’s right under your nose. I love it when just a slight change in perspective can result in an elegant, rapid solution like this! Matt (working from home): “Hello, this is Matt.” Dianne (at Curry’s Auto Service HQ): “Hey Matt. We need a copy of that signed contract this morning .” Matt: “OK, I’ll bring it in by noon, is that ok?” Dianne: “Actually the vendor needs it no later than 11 am.” Matt (somewhat jokingly): “Jeez…picky aren’t they?” Dianne: “You can just scan and email it to me in the next couple hours.” Matt (to himself): “Darn, I still don’t know how to use my home scanner–I knew this would come back to bite me at some point.” Matt (to Dianne): “Dianne, not sure what to tell you, I think my scanner’s on the fritz.” Dianne (patiently): “Matt, do you have your smartphone handy?” Matt: “Of course, I don’t go anywhere without it.” Dianne ... read more
At Curry’s we try to emphasize with our team how critical it is to have a customer-focused perspective and how empathy is the key to having a great business. One of my themes to achieve the right mindset among the Curry’s team is that, “there’s always a way to say yes.” Here’s what I mean. If a customer describes a problem or has an issue, and you have too much of an internal or company-focused mindset, you immediately start thinking about what it means to YOU: how tricky the problem is for YOU to solve; how much time YOU are going to have to spend on it; which other people YOU are going to have to explain the situation to in order to resolve it. This attitude can result in employees picking and choosing what work they do or don’t want to take on based on how difficult they perceive it to be or how well-equipped they feel to tackle it. The bottom line is that they aren’t saying ‘yes’ enough of the time ... read more
Curry’s Auto Service is excited to have been honored as a Jefferson Awards winner at Washington Business Journal’s 2012 Corporate Philanthropy Awards. Click here to see photos. And here is some related coverage! Curry’s Auto Service repairs go beyond cars Premium content from Washington Business Journal by James Bach Date: Friday, March 2, 2012, 6:00am EST Matt Curry took a two-year hiatus from his Gainesville-based company, Curry’s Auto Service, Inc., to give back to his community. Click here to read the full article.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the annual gala for the National Federation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) at the Ritz Carlton on 22nd Street, NW in DC. After the event, I retired to the Ritz bar with several of my friends and associates to watch the Washington Capitals hockey game. (If it were Bennigan’s I’d just say “we went to the bar,” but at the Ritz you “retire” to the bar.) Suddenly we noticed that in a small hallway just off the bar a dark liquid began leaking from the ceiling–first just a drip, then a steady stream. After a moment or two we began to smell something terrible. (Because this is a family blog, I will spare you any further details on the liquid and stench as well as the somewhat crass comments made by some of my friends.) In short order, several folks from the Ritz maintenance and janitorial staff arrived to investigate and remediate the situation, and the bar manager scurried over to figure out what was going on. But my point isn’t abo ... read more