The sun was down, it was long past dinner and the doorbell announced there was someone at the front door. I looked at my watch. It was after seven o’clock, long past the time anyone would come knocking.
Lesley looked at me and I returned her look of perplexed curiosity. Neither of us was expecting anyone. I got up, walked to the kitchen counter, grabbed my mask, and headed to the front door. At the other end of the walkway, far more than six feet away stood Eddie, one of the pharmacy techs at PAX Pharmacy in Duarte, California.
He looked up as the door opened, wished Lesley and me a Happy Thanksgiving, and pointed to the white bag, stapled closed, leaning up against the door to the garage. It was a prescription I called in earlier that afternoon.
I discovered PAX Pharmacy when I needed several prescriptions filled early in my stem cell/bone marrow transplant. It was soon after I transitioned from being an inpatient to my release from the hospital and our three-month stay at a hotel in Azusa. PAX was recommended by the City of Hope and we soon discovered why.
Before we go any further, the City of Hope is more than fifty miles from my home. So is PAX. The two shortest routes take you through some of the most populated areas in Los Angeles and an incalculable number of pharmacies, including three within walking distance of our home.
In case you haven’t figured out where we’re going with all of this, let me help you out. This is not the first time I have benefited from the remarkable service PAX provides just about every time they are called upon, seemingly without effort. They are not part of a chain. You won’t find them in a Target, anchoring a shopping center, or in a grocery store. In fact, they are hidden on the first floor of the Santa Teresita Medical Building in Duarte.
In all honesty, you really have to look, or you’ll walk right past the pharmacy. I did! And, more than once.
What makes them truly exceptional is their commitment to their customers. A quality of service that is an integral part of their DNA. The kind that fails to recognize no as an answer.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve called them with seemingly impossible requests in the past only to have my prescriptions filled and delivered when needed. I recognize that kind of commitment. It was something we worked diligently to create and deliver throughout the more than fifty years we were in business. For all intent and purpose, it was a big part of my father’s legacy. Something he referred to simply as Red-Carpet Service and it manifested itself when we opened Cloverfield Richfield Service at the corner of Cloverfield Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway in the Fall of 1966.
You have to travel back in time to appreciate Red-Carpet Service and how it changed over time. It started when full service was the only kind of service available. A time when you had someone else fill up your car or truck. A time when you were greeted at the pump island by a service attendant who took your order, checked your oil, filled your tank, washed your front windshield, and took your money. Red Carpet Service went beyond that. Far beyond it.
When possible, two attendants approached the vehicle. After asking if they could check your under-hood fluid levels, they covered both front fenders with two red fender covers. All the fluids were checked. All the windows were washed—side, front, and back, and all four tires were checked. It was a level of service that wowed just about everyone that experienced it. A level of service that was truly remarkable. Re-markable in the sense it was truly worthy of attention. Striking. Worthy of a comment.
That quality of service carried forward as we transitioned from a full-service service station to an independent automotive repair shop. A quality of service that moved from Red-Carpet to Concierge. Service everyone here was proud of. Almost from the beginning, it included services generally found only at high-end dealerships. Services like pick-up and delivery, a full-service car wash, detailing and other appearance-related services, no or low-interest financing, and much, much more.
We prided ourselves on going far beyond the quality of service any of our competitors were either willing or able to provide. It was just one of the ways we chose to differentiate our shop from the more than one hundred other shops that were operating in our Southern California community of approximately 126,000 people.
It was that quality of service—our ability to differentiate our shop from all the others in our community—that kept our bays full and our business secure for more than thirty-seven years here in Simi. And, more than fourteen years before that, in Santa Monica.
Why write about this here and now? What makes this appropriate for the pandemic we are experiencing? I believe it is because exceptional customer service—truly rəˈmärkəb(ə)l customer service—will almost always reveal a path to success.
It will appeal to an entirely different group of clients—loyal and lifetime clients—who put service and value over price. Relationships and intimacy over purely transactional events.
PAX Pharmacy was and continues to be exceptional.
While in business, all of us at Cloverfield Richfield (later to become Cloverfield ARCO) and Schneider’s Automotive worked diligently to provide the highest level of quality service possible. It helped us to thrive over more than a half-century, surviving countless economic challenges.
The question has to be—What are you doing to wow your customers in the present to ensure your success in the future?