[Life Back West] November 2014 – “Hardik”

Car crash

The Volvo died.

An early morning head-on collision on Divisadero Street with a driver scrambling through a light to get to their flight at SFO left my spouse shaken but otherwise well, and a car that had lasted for over two decades on its way to the junk heap.

While the car had a habit of not starting up at inopportune times  – I avoided driving it out of the area so I wouldn’t get stranded in someplace like Mountain View –  it will be missed.

Replacing the vehicle should have been easy: use the Consumer Reports membership website, solicit some guaranteed offers for a VW diesel or an equivalent Prius, sit back and then cut  a deal with six options or so in hand.

While all six dealers responded quickly to the initial Consumer Reports request via their auto respond emails,  follow-up from five of the six became quickly spotty afterwards.

Most dealers repeated emails they’d already sent, dealers asked what options I’d wanted even though I’d sent the information to them in two different mailings, or people asked me to drop by to talk even though I’d been clear that I wanted a price quote before I took their time (and mine) with a visit.

In the end we gave our business to Hardik Patel at Sunnyvale VW even though the VW dealer literally down the street, Royal Volvo/VW, had matched the offer. It was a family vote, and Hardik’s consistent follow-up, straightforward manner of dealing, and responsiveness got all three of the family’s votes. If our dog Porter could have voted it would have been 4 for 4.

Did Hardik do anything superhuman or “special?”

Not really; he did what he said he was going to do.  He “showed up.”

Woody Allen has said that 80% of success is showing up and it’s a pretty good rule for anyone to follow if you want to be successful.

It seems like such a low hurdle to cross but it turns out that it’s a high bar. Much of the time should you cross it you will be considered “exceptional.”

Why? Because most people, like the 5 of 6 car dealers, don’t.

They don’t do what they’ve said they will do, they don’t follow-up when they said they would, and they don’t listen to what you’re asking.

In the recent month I’ve encountered a blog designer I met (“I’d love to work with you: I’ll get you  a quote next week“), a mortgage loan broker (“I’ll get back to you this week“),  an educational organization (“We’ll circle back the first of November“) and a prospective client asking me to bid on a project (“We’ll let you know Monday“) who have all gone missing in action, with zilch for follow-up. They may be on Mars for all I know.

The old Volvo was much beloved before it started to intermittently fail.  The other people asking to do business won’t get that much slack. It’s not worth the aggravation.

It turns out, by the way, that Hardik is the #1 salesperson in the United States for Volkswagen and sells something like 50 cars a month. Given his work and work ethic – and the competition – it should be no surprise.

Think; simply showing up puts you on the path to being exceptional.

Ask Woody Allen. Or even better, ask Hardik Patel.


Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

Car crash. Photo credit: Wikipedia.




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