I was speaking with my brother yesterday about the column I wrote for the NCBR entitled Take advantage of service with a smile.  His was actually one of the businesses that I was thinking of when I wrote that, because I’ve seen the power of what he’s done.

He has a car restoration business in Denver, but has never done a bit of advertising in 40 years.  His company is visible, all right, but because he’s involved in a whole bunch of places where his target customers hang out: rallies, car shows, magazines, and so on.  But he gets his business by word of mouth, and the company known across the country as one of the premier businesses in its field.

He mentioned that there’s maybe half a dozen companies in the US that provide superb quality of service.  That’s it, that’s all that the market will support, because there’s a limited number of old British cars here.

Interestingly enough, there’s not much of a second tier of restoration companies, because you either have to be very good, or you can’t sustain a business over the long term.  It’s the personal relationships that keep customers over many years and decades.

So who’s the competition?  Well, those six top-tier companies don’t really compete strongly against each other; they’re more like a loose community of people who are all passionate about the same thing.

The competition is people who get rid of their old British cars because it’s just too much trouble to take care of them anymore.  The competition is the shrinkage of the overall market.

And what keeps the market from shrinking?  Delivering an experience that helps customers to stay passionate about keeping their cars and continuing to keep them running.

This is what great service looks like.