Love that Grows

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life – Deborah.  On 04/22/10 we celebrate 21 fun years of marriage. For me I can truly say she is my best friend and soul mate. I am grateful and blessed that she loves me and continues to put  up with me.

Thinking back on our wedding day I was struck with the thought of how many of the important things surrounding our wedding day that have changed over those 21 years:

  • Ausley Farmhouse where we had our rehearsal dinner is long gone and now the Buckhead subdivision in Tallahassee.
  • The church we got married in has been converted into special school for arts & sciences.
  • The ballroom where we had our reception has changed ownership several times.
  • The hotel where we spent our wedding night has been sold and renovated to become the Hotel Duval.      

If you look at our wedding picture, for me I have less hair and a few more pounds. As for Deborah, she is more beautiful.

What has also changed is our love for one another – it has grown to a special place that we both hold dear. We know what each other is thinking, we finish each others’ sentences and we definitely understand each others’ non-verbal communication.

As  individuals, we are no more special than anyone else; as a couple we are blessed beyond measure and our love for one another continues to grow. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart – you make loving fun!


Flooded with Customer Service

Keith McNeill PlumbingWhere do you expect to receive the very best customer service? When asked that question, most people would likely respond a five star restaurant or hotel. For me, the most extraordinary customer service I have recently experienced came from a Tallahassee plumbing company, Keith McNeill Plumbing.

Needing a plumber for a house call is not typically described as a pleasant experience, but the personal and complete customer service I received was positively memorable. Starting with the call to office; I was greeted by name and asked when it would be convenient for me to have the visit scheduled, followed by an offer of a 20 minute advance notification call to my cell to allow my travel time from my office.

Like clockwork 20 minutes before the appointed time, I received the call from Keith McNeill’s office staff to notify me that the technician, Nathan, would be at our home at 2:00. When I pulled in the driveway, I was greeted by a clean cut, smiling plumber who extended his hand introducing himself as Nathan and he began to review the planned repairs.

I had called for two specific items, one of which I thought would be a minor repair and the other request which I anticipated to be more extensive. As I walked Nathan through the house, he was greeted by and quickly befriended our Shih Tzu, Bailey. Nathan took less than a minute to fix a small issue in a hallway bathroom. I then showed him the bigger concern where water leaked from the bottom of the toilet in the master bathroom. After a minute of exploration Nathan identified the source as small leak in a flex hose; another quick repair for what I thought was a major problem.

Having quickly resolved the two requests, he asked if there was anything else I would like to have him look at while he was here. I took advantage of the time and asked a couple of questions about a proposed sink replacement in the kitchen. Nathan asked what we had in mind, offered some related suggestions, took quick measurements, called his parts supplier, gave me an estimate and told me he was scheduled to be back in our neighborhood the next week and the replacement could be done at that time if we were ready. 

As he was writing up our ticket, he offered us a special discount for a residential promotion the company was offering. He also reviewed the invoice with me to see if I had any questions.  He then thanked me for calling Keith McNeill Plumbing and left me a postage paid evaluation card regarding the service call. A handshake and smile completed a very pleasant plumbing repair experience.

Already pleased with the plumbing repair, I was further impressed when two days later, I received a hand written card from Chase McNeill thanking us for our patronage, following up on the status of the repair and requesting us to keep Keith McNeill Plumbing in mind for any referrals.

So here I am, happy to make an intro to and giving Keith McNeill Plumbing a five-star rating for plumbing service in Tallahassee. The true measurement of excellent customer service is the unsolicited accolades from an impressed client/customer. Total teamwork from Keith McNeill Plumbing for the customer service win!

It Takes Two Baby…It Takes Two

It takes two baby…it takes two baby…to make a dream come true.

Motown legend, Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston recorded this hit back in late 1966. It has remained popular through remakes by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas in ’67 and by Rod Stewart & Tina Turner in ’90. The tune remains a classic today.

The lyrics may be truer than ever when you think about mixing social/new media channels with traditional media resources. This struck me right in the eye at a Starbucks shop in a Target store in Tallahassee recently.

Caught my attention.

Caught my attention.

As I was adding Half & Half to my tall Pike, I had an on-the-spot social media “aha moment.” Starbucks has successfully blended the use of traditional collateral material along with a strong integration of social media to get multiple messages to consumers. Innovative new methods of delivery mixed with traditional media resources have successfully reinforced their brand and message – why else would you find multiple Starbucks brochures in a Target store or see @Starbucks posting on Twitter, having a corporate presence on Facebook or posting commercials on YouTube.

Today there are too many folks with a personal computer who are claiming to be social media experts. The truth is that your brand identity benefits most from professional expertise and know-how of the optimal use of traditional media resources with new/social media channels. Two types of media combined to gain consumer attention; making a dream of delivering billions of cups of brand-name java into a household name. Like Marvin & Kim have been singing for decades…it takes two baby, it takes two, to make a dream come true.

Losing a Faithful Friend

Jan '94

Jan '94

Do you believe dogs are man’s best friend?

This past week we lost one of our beloved family members, Hunter Abigail, our West Highland White Terrier (Westie.) For 15.5 years she had been a loving faithful friend.

Having a puppy from 8 weeks old is not much different than raising another child. Bred from championship stock, she was born in Ft. Walton Beach in a litter of 6 pups. In fact she had a brother, Rocky, who also lived in Tallahassee. Whether it was hanging out on porch or pool deck, traveling for the holidays or being chased by the children, she was great.

Hunter had a great veterinarian, Dr. Tom Davis, from the South Monroe Animal Hospital in Tallahassee, who affectionately referred to her as a “show girl.” This week Dr. Tom was right there with her as she passed away and he was a saint through out all of her days of care.

Hunter Abigail

Hunter Abigail

No doubt we are dog lovers; Hunter was easy to love. Over 15 + years of being a faithful friend, there was never a day of regret of being her buddy. Hunter Abigail you will be missed.

Communication + Teamwork = Great Taste

If you ever have the opportunity to dine at one of Ted Turner’s restaurants, Ted’s Montana Grill, be sure to request the best seat in the house – at the bar on the end in front of the grill and food prep area. My wife and I have found that not only do you get seated much quicker, you get to meet some of most friendly and talented staff in the restaurant business.

Dining while seated at the bar in Ted’s Tallahassee location also afforded us the occassion to witness how constant communication and teamwork combined to turn out a great product, in this case great food. Working furiously in a small cramped area with the heat cranking from the grill, steamer, ovens and fryer, this talented team continuously multi-tasked through a variety of orders, each of which was handled in an quick orderly process. To those seated at tables, they just realized it did not take long to get good food served fresh and fast.
What we saw and enjoyed with our meal was an organized team that communicated in normal tones with all of their co-workers and that team members jumped in and helped one another without being asked and without gripping or complaining. We got to be eyewitnesses to working examples of good communication and true teamwork.
A quality product produced in short order through the right recipe of communication and teamwork…add the special touch of fresh strawberry shortcake and you’ve created satisfied customers.

A bite of the Apple

I was one of the fortunate 07/11, day of debut purchasers of an iPhone. As a confirmed BlackBerry user for six years with a PC on my desktop, this was a big day. After two weeks of use, I have become a solid convert. That may not sound unusual but here is the rest of the story.

iPhone 3GiPhone 3G

After waiting two hours in line to purchase my iPhone, my time with the clerk took longer than most everyone around me as she could not get the unit to complete the initial sync. Still euphoric for having one of the first 3G black 16GB units I tried to get some regular work done throughout the day. Looking through the accessories, I noticed I did not get the additional case I had purchased in my bag from the store. As my iPhone and I were getting accustomed to one another , I noticed the unit quickly went from warm to hot and the battery was draining in less than two hours with limited use. After taking forever for my new iPhone to get recharged, I headed back to the local AT&T store in Tallahassee. The helpful chaps there said I had to call AppleCare to get service or support and gladly handed me the case that was left out without question.



On my fourth day of iPhone ownership, AT&T gave me a “courtesy call” noticing I had accumulated over $1,200 in data charges since 07/11. They called to make sure I had the correct plan set up for my iPhone and after catching my breath, I assured them repeatedly I had selected the unlimited data plan. Great call on their part to not send a loyal customer to an early grave.

My dealings with AppleCare on the battery issue the following day were equally as satisfying. They first offered for me to send my iPhone to have them repair and return it; quickly amending their offer to send a replacement and I was to send my original back within a certain time frame. My new iPhone arrived next day delivery with complete instructions and everything for an easy return of my original.

A wait in line, slow checkout, missing merchandise, major billing error and product replacement all within four days – this sounds like a monumental opportunity to rant, complain and bad mouth on a blog.

Much to the contrary. AT&T and AppleCare are the Ritz Carlton of wireless providers and devices. Both are major corporate entities that took time to listen, resolve a billing issue and replace a product in a prompt, polite and responsible manner.

Any one of these issues could have damaged or destroyed a loyal customer relationship; instead they built and solidified customer loyalty. Imagine going through this and still telling everyone these are great customer service companies – they are! Oh by the way, my new iPhone 3G is functional and fun!