Immolate the Masters

Correction: imitate the masters.
I got a pair sandals back in the mail. The sandals have a lifetime warranty on straps. Piper Sandals. Swear by them things. Swore at them, too, last fall, when the strap on the good pair broke.

I own two pair, one set of slip-ons, good for air-travel, beaches and boats, and a studier pair of originals, for heavy-duty walking. Last summer’s tan lines are all but faded now, but before the summer walking season (November/December) was over, the strap broke, and I was running out of money before I ran out of year.

I looked on their website, and the offer is “straps replaced for free,” so I sent the sandals in, when I realized I was only going to pay shipping. Sure, works for me. I slipped on the slip-on pair, and waited. Usually takes about six weeks. Took almost eight weeks, but who’s counting?

The sandals appear brand new. New soles. New straps and a stronger strap design, sort of proof that the Piper family did improve on an already good product.

I’ve written about these sandals before, as it is both a perfect footwear (for me) and, even better, a good design for business. Part of it involves following passion, but also following a simple plan. One product. A single design. Size to fit, but still, only one pattern. It was 20, 25 years before they added the second style, the slip-on. In the new millennium, they added colors, too. Big step forward, from basic black or brown strap, as the only option.

It’s all about doing one thing, one product, one item, one task, do on thing well. The rest should look after itself.

My straps were replaced for free, and new soles, too, although, I didn’t ask for that, nor did I pay for it.

There was a handwritten note included with the sandals. About the size of a bookmark. In the past, I’ve cherished these notes, as the handwritten part is soon to be an arcane art. Handwriting looks the same as the patriarch’s but it’s been two years since I last saw one of these notes, and it wasn’t signed “Dave,” it was signed “the Piper family,” which might be a nice touch. I’m unsure as I haven’t had personal interaction with them in half a dozen years.

I’ll pass the busy booth at the Pecan Street Festival, but I’m nothing more than another smiling person in the crowd.

The entire interaction is an example of customer service done right.

That particular pair of sandals has been through at least a half-dozen soles by now, and at more than $50 each time? Adds up. I’d like to think of it as frequent flyer miles, although, I don’t frequently fly too much these days.

I recall the first time I dropped off a pair of sandals to be repaired, probably a similar injury, and I bought a pair of the slip-ons, as back-up. Back-up is always good. The patriarch runs, this was for real, a garage-based business. Sandals are made, by hand, in his garage. Apparently, it’s now the whole family, but who’s to argue with success?

Do one thing, that you love, and see where it takes you? Is that the message?

I liked the superlative customer service. I want to be that good.

“Walk Well.”

About the author: Born and raised in East Texas, Kramer Wetzel, settled in a South Austin trailer park before trailer parks were cool. He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sarah Jan 25, 2010 @ 13:31

    “Buddha taught that serving others is our true work….for it is through serving others that we overcome our own natural self-centeredness….when we turn our attention to the needs of others, we find happiness and we’re freed from our own endless wanting.
    Customer service is the purest kind of Right Livelihood. And Right Livelihood is central to Buddha’s path.” I’m sure Marcus Aurelius has something similar to say.

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