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How to Finesse Your Way into Receiving Good Service Anywhere

Truthfully, I could probably make this post even shorter than the headline/title above.  However, since I get paid by the word (don't I wish), I would like to make this point very clearly.  I'll give you the two-word answer to this topic at the end of the post.

During our recent trip to Houston, we got on the road later than expected, so I had to plan on picking up my rental car at a different location which was open later, until 7pm.  I spoke with the manager and he was very nonchalant about things.  I didn't get the feeling that he much cared whether or not I got a car that night or not.  Since we have three young kids, my wife needed to have a vehicle of her own so that she wouldn't be stranded at our in-laws' house with them for an entire day.

Traffic was pretty heavy, but we made it to the rental car place at about 6:45 or so.  It was small, and attached to a dealership, so I could see their entire inventory of vehicles just outside the office door.  I had reserved a "full-size" car, and the manager told me he would "try" to get me something good-sized, but there were no guarantees.  So, what was sitting there? What were my two options?


1. Small green compact car


2. Black Jeep Cherokee


I knew it was time to turn on the charm.  I entered the office, which turned out to be a room about 6 feet by 8 feet, complete with two very uncomfortable chairs which I suppose constituted the waiting area.  There was a very stressed-out looking man with his tie off who looked like he would rather be anywhere but there.  I waited patiently while he finished his computer work, then turned to greet me. 

This was make-or-break time.

ME: Hi, I'm Jason Crouch.  We spoke a little earlier on the phone.   Are you Reggie?

REGGIE: Yes, that's me.  How you doin'?

ME: Good, good.  I'm glad to have made it on time.  You're my new hero! 

REGGIE (laughing): Well, I'm glad we could help. 

ME: You know, I used to run a rental car office myself years ago.  It was located in a body shop.  Long hours, huh?  I remember hating inventory, because I had to work so darn late.

REGGIE: Is that right?  Well, I have been here since before 7am.  Let's see....

As he turned away to look at the keys on the board behind him, I knew this was the critical moment.  Would I be taking the dream, or the dud?

REGGIE: Tell you what, I've got a free upgrade for you tonight. 

ME (feigning surprise): Really?  That's great!  What do you have?

REGGIE: You see that Jeep Cherokee?  That's yours.

ME: That will be perfect!  Thanks so much for your help.  I really appreciate it.


So, what can we all learn from my experience with Reggie a few weeks ago?

  • BE NICE! (that was the answer I promised you above)

  • Throw out a compliment or two.  It won't kill you to do so.  Calling Reggie a "hero" was not just an ego stroke - it was the truth!

  • Remember the magic words that you learned in Kindergarten?  They still work today.  Everyone likes to hear "thank you" and to feel truly appreciated.

  • Treat people like human beings, not servants.  Even if they are in a service-oriented business (aren't we all?), they are likely just trying to get through the day and they probably mean well.

  • Be observant.  I knew that Reggie was stressed out and tired as soon as I walked in.  This may seem like common sense to some of you, but it's not as natural for everyone.

  • Find a common connection, if possible.  I brought up the fact that I had managed a rental car location to demonstrate that I knew EXACTLY what he was feeling.  Again, it was the truth!  Don't manufacture this.

  • If all else fails, PRAY! 


During my two-minute conversation with Reggie, I managed to hit all six of these points.  I didn't have a list in my mind - the list actually came to me tonight.  I hope this comes in handy for you with clients, or waitstaff in restaurants, or with anyone you deal with during the course of your day.

Thanks for reading!

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