Life lessons and a car wash


A while ago, I was driving home from the paint store with a gallon of paint on the passenger side floor. I was looking forward to the weekend project waiting for me at home. As I approached an intersection not far from the paint store, the driver of the car in the left turn lane changed his mind and abruptly swerved into the through lane, which I happened to be in. Because I was in his blind spot he moved quickly, which forced me to hit the brakes. The paint can tipped forward, the lid popped off and the paint spilled out.


I avoided the accident but now I had a mess to deal with. White paint was all over the dark gray interior.


Arriving home, I cleaned up as much as I could, but quickly realized this mess would not easily be cleaned up. I wasn’t sure there was enough elbow grease in the world to remove all the paint from the carpet.


I took the car to the car wash I pass on my way home each day. One of the owners told me he and his brother own and manage the place, which was started with help from their father. This was not the cheapest car wash in town, but it had a nice backstory and I thought I’d give these brothers a chance.


One brother examined my car and quoted me a reasonable price to remove the paint. I agreed, dropped it off the following morning and left it there all day. After work I picked it up, without a drop of paint to be seen. The brother told me he had three guys working in shifts for several hours scrubbing and removing the paint. He seriously underestimated the time it would take to complete the job, and therefore seriously undercharged me for it.


With experience, I’m sure the car wash brothers won’t be underestimating jobs like mine much longer. But that day, they honored their price with a smile. In exchange, I seriously over-tipped the guys who did the work, and took my car there for every subsequent car wash. This place earned my business, and I’ve shared the story with many friends in the area.


Service like this goes a long way with customers. I’ve met many remodelers who understand this, and also jump through hoops to satisfy their customers, just like the car wash brothers. Businesses with strong brands and visions of longevity are built on stories like my paint-can mishap. Run your business without this kind of service and integrity and it’s a much weaker foundation that supports you.  


Have you and your team had an opportunity to provide customer service like the car wash owners? If not, are you prepared to? Do you have a similar story to share? Share it in Qualified Remodeler’s LinkedIn group, or on our Facebook page. Or, send them to me at

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