Every so often you encounter those special people who touch you in some unique way. They often are complete strangers with whom you share a brief encounter that lasts a lifetime. With social media, and that still includes email as well as Facebook, and that even more ancient technology the "telephone" you can establish a connection with people across time and space. This one started out as a small journey to New Castle, Delaware to buy a used car for Sade. The car had already been sold and we went away disappointed. I was especially disappointed because I thought I had established one of these connections, and was let down. Heather had promised to call me if the car sold to save us the 150 mile round trip, and failed to do so. What follows is the email thread we shared:
RE: 2014 Kia Forte - Carman Ford Lincoln
Heather Devich Add to contacts 5/23/16
To: FRANK L. MILLER
I am so glad that the time up here wasn't completely wasted! I am sure the gals loved clothes shopping and I hope that your daughter loves her new Sonata. I felt that I had to personally reach out to you and apologize. Like I said, if I were here, I would have made sure to at least give you a call if I had known that the car was sold that way you didn't come all the way up here. I know how excited the three of you were and when I got your email this morning, my heart was broken. I'm still very sorry, Frank. I loved working with you guys and I just wish there was something that I could personally do to make it right. I generally follow up with the guys down stairs if I know someone is coming to look at a particular car, that way it is not time, gas and money wasted on the customers end. Like I had told you on your voicemail, I happened to be in the hospital and I still feel incredibly bad about the situation. Thank you for accepting my apology. Keep me posted if you would like on how your daughter loves her new car! Tell her I said Congratulations, and also, if you could apologize to your wife and daughter for me, that would be great!
I hope to hear from you soon!
There are two kinds of relationships, personal and professional. Sometimes they are distinct and quite different; an educator can be lots of fun, drink and tell off color jokes in a social setting, but behind their desk in school....professional. In business relationships, sales people often use their social skills to develop a personal relationship with customers, while maintaining a professional distance. The fine line between being your "friend" and your "sales person" is an art that only the best salespeople can master. How can you come across as an ally, an advocate for your customer while trying to "sell" them something? The best salespeople are those who truly care about their customers, believe in their product line, and are determined to match the customer with the product. Your sincerity, and your apology went beyond expectations, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated how genuine you impressed me as being.
My wife can be the eternal pessimist at times, too often thinking the worst of people, while I tend to more optimistic, looking for the best in them. We make a great team, she keeps my head on straight and I soften her approach. While she insisted that CARMAN sold the car from under us to the "first person with money in hand", I argued that you would not have allowed this. I based this sentiment on the relationship we developed over the phone and in email communications. I remain steadfast in this impression, and thank you for efforts in reaching out to my family. I don't know how old you are (I'm guessing in your 20's) but I know your caring, your genuine sincerity will take you far. You will go far, and deservedly so. So...thanks for continuing to care, even AFTER we bought a car from your competitor, and for renewing my faith in my judgment about people. Thank you.
Heather Devich Add to contacts 5/26/16
To: FRANK L. MILLER
Your kind words mean so much to me, more than you will ever know. I actually cried reading this email! There are people you "meet" in life, even if its just for a short time, that will have a huge impact on you for your entire life. You Frank, are one of those people. You have been so kind to me even though things didn't work out with you buying a car here. I couldn't thank you more for being understanding with the situation. I apreciate your sincerity and tell Sade that to be on the look out in the mail soon! There will be a personal letter soon!
I hope that you guys have a great Memorial Day Weekend!