The Lizard and the Window Washer

February 11, 2022

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The sun was shining as I parked my company car next to a window washer’s truck on the main street of a small midwestern town. I was calling on a prospect whose office was above a downtown retail store. My visit was productive; after an hour I left in good spirits but was surprised to find overcast skies and drizzling rain outside. I quickly hopped in my car. For some reason my backup sensor went crazy when I shifted into reverse, but I could worry about that later.

Turning on my windshield wipers I noticed a piece of paper under the wiper blade. I pulled under the canopy of a gas station and retrieved the scrap. It was a note from the window washer who had been parked next to me.

In his hurry to leave when the rain began, he had hit my car. With a sinking feeling I stepped out to survey the damage. Sure enough, the left rear corner was smashed, the lights broken, and the backup sensor was dangling from the crumpled bumper, causing it to sound whenever I shifted into reverse. 

I dropped the car at the body shop next door to my office and called the number on the note. The window washer gave me his insurance company and policy number. My next call was to my business insurance broker.

“Look,” he said. “I know you prefer me to handle everything, but it would be better for you to submit the claim directly to his insurance carrier. That way your insurance company won’t even know about it.”

I have no time for such hassles and told my broker so.

“It’s really easy,” he countered. “Just go to their website and fill in the form.”

I pay him for advice, so I decided to give it a try, although I’m an old-fashioned guy who has always assumed that an internet-based insurer with a comedian lizard frontman must be a fly-by-night operation.

My broker was right. The website was quite user friendly, the proper form easy to locate and simple to fill out. I soon received a phone call from a live claims adjuster, who stayed on the case throughout the process. The claim was approved and paid promptly, and he personally followed up to verify my satisfaction.

My opinion about the lizard’s company turned around 180º. When my personal insurance came up for renewal (three kids with four cars between us) I reached out. The rates from the lizard (actually a gecko) were significantly lower than my current premium. I already knew their service to be impeccable, so there was no reason not to move my policy.

But wait, there’s more. My mid-century modern house is mostly windows, which need washing. I called, you guessed it, the window washer. Crazy? Not at all. I had his number. He had already demonstrated his honesty and integrity.

Whenever a customer called about a problem with a job, Gary Glaser, former sales manager at Bindagraphics in Baltimore, Md., used to say: jackpot! Crazy? Not at all. His point was that when everything goes smoothly people rarely notice. It is simply what they expect.

It is when things go wrong clients stand up and take notice. Blow it, and you’ve not only lost a customer, but in today’s world you’ll be publicly tarred and feathered on social media. Handle it well and you’ve made a friend for life.