Professionalism in the Workplace

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It’s always fun to work on nice things in the shop.  Take, for instance, these HED Wheels above.  One is a disc rear wheel, the other is a tri-spoke rear wheel.  Both are very expensive, aerodynamic upgrades for a time-trial or triathlon bike, and are very rare to see in most bike shops on a daily basis.  The wheels were in the shop today to switch axles and overhaul the hubs, a pretty simple task.

I disassembled both hubs to find there was some writing behind the freehub bodies, on the aluminum surface that the carbon is bonded to.  It was not etching, like you may find from a machine shop, indicating a lot number or technical specification.  It was just a couple of stupid sayings, which made no sense to me, but were obviously written by the last mechanic that had done the same procedure on the wheels.

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The writing on the hubs was not a structural or mechanical integrity issue, but rather a professional integrity issue.  The writing was put there, thinking that no other mechanic or the owner of the wheels would ever see it.  Well… I saw it, and I take issue with it.

If I took my bike to a bike shop, I would want the mechanic that repaired my bike to treat my bike like it is a prized possession.  It is, after all, MY prized possession, that I spent my hard-earned money on.  Going into a bike shop, the customer has a certain level of trust in the bike mechanic, and from the time they drop off their repair, they believe that the mechanic will do the absolute best job possible, with great attention to detail, and care for the bike.

That was not done in this situation.  Was the repair completed by the last shop it was serviced at?  Sure.  Was it done with care and detail?  Absolutely not.  No professional bike mechanic, in my opinion, takes a Sharpie to someone else’s property without their permission.  Regardless of what it said, whether the customer would never know, or whether or not it affected the performance of the wheels, drawing on someone else’s property like this is childish and disrespectful.

I probably sound like I’m going off the deep end with this one, but I can’t help but feel that if a mechanic doesn’t take the work they are paid to do to your bike seriously, even in little matters like this, would they really provide you a proper level of customer service if you were in a bind?  I’ll say it again… working in a bike shop is less about bikes, and more about developing and maintaining relationships with people.  If you conduct yourself in a professional manner and provide a premium service, it will be recognized and you will have a loyal, repeat customer.  Act like a fool and treat customer badly, and they will pick up on it… and will find another place to have their bike serviced.

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I’m not sure why the customer that owns these wheels started bringing them to our shop to service them.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because he found the writing behind the freehubs on his wheels.  Maybe it was because he and I developed a working relationship, and he is more comfortable bringing his bikes to me for service than to take them to another shop, which I know is a shorter drive from his home.  I appreciate that he values the work I do, and I appreciate his business.

The Sharpie musings of the last mechanic came off the aluminum really easy with some light rubbing with a bit of steel wool, and it didn’t enhance or detract from the performance in any way.  But in case this customer takes his wheels to any another shop for service, I can rest assured that there is no mistaking that the repair was done properly and professionally… and that they won’t have anything to write a blog post about.

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