I Had a Dream.

February 16, 2006 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

by Aaron Flett

I’ve been busy writing software still so here’s a little something from a Guest Writer named Aaron Flett. I enjoyed it and you should too.

Last night I had a dream I was working in a pizza restaurant, taking orders over the phone for delivery. I used to work at a pizza joint after high school, so maybe it was just some sort of nocturnal regression of a crappy job I once had. In this dream, I took an order for a large pizza from a customer. The order started out fine. I answered the phone by thanking the customer for choosing our high quality pizza parlor, the customer seemed courteous and friendly enough. I asked what he would like. The customer was very concise with his order. “I would like a large pizza with pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms and extra cheese. I would like that for delivery.” I told him that his cost would be $22.50 plus a $4.00 delivery charge, and that it would take us between forty five minutes and an hour to make his pizza and deliver it to him. This is where the dream gets weird. Normally at this point a customer says “Thank you” and hangs up. Not this time.

First, this customer asked why the pizza will cost $22.50. A fair question I suppose. I explained to him that a large pizza cost $12.50 and each additional topping is a cost of $2.50. He told me that a large pizza down the street, at another pizza place he goes to, only costs him $10.00. He says they don’t charge for extra cheese and additional toppings are only $1.50. Because of this he said he was only going to pay me $14.50 for our pizza.

I tried to explain that we use only the best ingredients and our employees are highly experienced pizza makers. I know from our customers who have purchased pizzas from the pizzeria down the street, and from employees who have worked there, that their pizzas do not taste as good as ours. I also know that they use substandard ingredients and hire less experienced workers at a lower pay to save money. The customer said that shouldn’t matter because it was our choice to use the more expensive ingredients. All he was willing to pay is what Pizza Hack down the street charges. I told him he was free to eat at Pizza Hack, but I felt that he would be much happier with our pizza. The customer admitted that may be true but if he pays $22.50 for a pizza his wife will be very upset with him, and he will never be able to order pizzas again.

I reminded him that there is also a $4.00 delivery charge that he’ll need to pay. He told me that he doesn’t pay for that, and that we are the only ones who charge for it. I tried to explain these charges are necessary because, after all, we have to pay the delivery driver, the topping vendor and the cook who has to install the toppings on the pizza. The customer tried to tell me that those charges are not standard and customary.

He gave me the names of three other pizza places that would sell him a pizza for $14.50. Two of them may sell him a pizza at that price, but I know those establishments well. The quality of their pizza is awful. I can tell you I would not eat there if the pizzas cost $5.00. I knew he was a lying about the third place he mentioned because my best friend works there and he would not sell a comparable pizza for $14.50. Rather than arguing this point, I gave him the name of three pizza places that have similar charges as our quality pizzeria.

I was getting frustrated because I was spending so much time trying to convince this customer that our charges were fair and reasonable in our market place. He was getting frustrated because his wife was mad at him for not getting the order done fast enough and at a deep enough discount. I asked to speak to his wife hoping that maybe I could logically explain why the pizza cost $22.50. Immediately, she set in by saying that she doesn’t understand what the problem is and we are just trying to overcharge them. She stated that she has been ordering pizzas for years and knows how much it costs. I asked her how many pizzas she had made. The answer was as expected, none. The wife then tried to strong arm me by saying she would tell people not to eat at our restaurant.

I told the customer I could only sell the pizza at the price I had quoted if our company was to maintain a fair profit margin. I asked if she would still like this pizza even at this price. She said yes, “Could we have it there in 30 minutes?”

I told her “We’ll do our best to get the pizza there as fast as possible. I can not make any guarantees. Our usual delivery time is forty five minutes to an hour, but, we’ll do the best we can.”

The pizza showed up at their door in 38 minutes, seven minutes sooner than our typical delivery time. The customers seemed upset and felt they should get a free soda. The delivery driver had to explain that we do not make guarantees and it is not our policy to give away free sodas, because it hadn’t arrived within thirty minutes. When they handed the check to the delivery driver it was for the amount of $14.50. Confused, the driver asked about the balance. “We’ll send you a check for the rest” was their response. It took my boss several phone calls and the better part of a month to get a check from them that was $4.00 short.

I woke up in a cold sweat. I am glad that it was all a dream. Could you imagine working at place where things happen like that?

Aaron Flett has been in the industry for about 14 years. He started out in restoration, then became a painter and eventually bought his own shop where he fought for respect from the insurers for 6 years. He is currently an Estimator at Hinshaw’s Autobody in Auburn, Washington. You can reach him at f8grand@aol.com. Or just leave a comment here.

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7 Comments on I Had a Dream.

  1. A bad dream on Thu, 16th Feb 2006 10:04 am
  2. It all sounds like our daily lives except, the insurance company tells them that you are too high and you never see or hear from the customer again. Nice twist. It should be illegal and probably is but none enforces the law so here we sit. One job in the shop waiting for an adjuster who does not care about shit.

  3. gtolovedaddy on Thu, 16th Feb 2006 10:49 am
  4. WHEW MY blood presure went up just reading the story.
    The bad thing is here in the body shop world we cant seem to wake up

  5. So funny but also so sad on Thu, 16th Feb 2006 11:10 am
  6. What a great story. I remember an Allstate appraiser that used to say if we were a pizza place he would stop here everyday since we were so quality conscious. Of course he steered everything he could away from our shop. We used to tell him "he would be to cheap to pay for a good pizza". The good news is that he got fired for some dirty laundry and he purchased a shop and went broke.

  7. The all-too familiar night mare on Thu, 16th Feb 2006 3:51 pm
  8. It would be funny if it werent so true. Sadly, unlike your pizza customers who can choose to eat crap for less, many insured are being fed crap, unknowingly, and still paying the "middle-man"(insur company)top quality premiums. I once had a customer tell his insurance agent that he never paid his policy with aftermarket money. Enough said.

  9. United we stand on Thu, 16th Feb 2006 5:06 pm
  10. We can thank being being suckered into DRP arrangements & some of us partnering with the insurers to speed up claims & increase volumn blah blah blah. We got rid of all our DRPs a long time ago and our bottom line gets better every year. Quality always wins. Wait till you see the new State Farm criteria agreement. Any shop who signs that can kiss their collective asses goodbye.

  11. Know What He's Talking About on Mon, 20th Feb 2006 10:33 pm
  12. Get this guy to write more often. I like his take on things.

  13. Aaron Flett on Tue, 28th Nov 2006 2:15 pm
  14. I left the industry shortly after writing this article. I was actually fired for making an insurance adjuster cry. The irony is is that the guy they replaced me with had zero bodyshop experience, and before hiring on to replace me he was a pizza resturant manager. I am a now a stand-up comedian. I hope to come back to the industry to do motovational speaking with a lighter side.

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