Fantastic Customer Service!
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In the best sent of customer service. Smile I’ve been complaining about Noah’s Properties. Well their customer service is and remains horrible. Actually I have been complaining a lot about customer service in the past 8 years I have had my blogs running.

So in the best sense I am going to applaud an organization with exceptional customer service. Yesterday I had to take my car to the shop for a side mirror replacement. The mirror and the garage had an argument and the garage won.

Anyway, I said to the service representative that in fact I had to get the car by 11 am if that was possible. I then said I will call at 11 am. They dealership is right across the street from where I work so I said I will walk back over or call at 11. Three different people at the dealership offered me a ride as I walked out.

I got stuck in a meeting and couldn’t call at 11 because I forgot. But the dealership didn’t. They called me to let me know they could be done at 11, but that in fact there were other things the car needed and they would need to keep it about 5 more hours. I got a ride to the lunch meeting I had and said that was fine.

Around 1 they notified me that in fact they couldn’t finish the car today at all, but they had a loaner ready to go for me. I hit the dealership after lunch was in and out in less than 10 minutes with my loaner mini. As we were walking out the service representative said “sorry its not an S” if you are a mini fan you know what that means – still fun to drive but you lose zippy.

So in the world of customer service Mini of Montgomery Country Maryland rocks. (I suspect Dryer and Reinbold of Indianapolis where we bought our first mini would have rocked as well in both cases the sales experience was simply exceptional).

Just to be fair. That and I have to say it restored my faith a little in customer service. Because Noah’s is the worst, no communication horrible service and in the end, over priced. Mini of Montgomery is the opposite, and by the way in their lounge they have fantastic coffee.


IASA Fellow

What do you use that you don’t notice…
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I’ve finished another serial story (yesterday). I have gotten lots of interesting comments including my favorite (Please post when the story is done so I can download the whole thing and read it).

Yesterday while heading to Virginia I realized just how critical the right passenger rear view mirror is on a car (we lost ours due to the garage not being flexible). I have to say you don’t realize how much you use that mirror until it isn’t there.

Which got me thinking – what else is out there that we use but don’t recognize or pay attention to as much as we should?

Like radio and TV? If you think about it from the perspective of just watching the news, that device is incredible. They beam the latest and greatest news into your home whenever you need it.

  • light bulbs?
  • gas or electric cooking tops
  • Ovens
  • cars

The reality around us is simply amazing.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

They aren’t broken anymore…
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What if, the line from the movie this was as good as it gets. He paced more. He had dreamed of being an artist but that had been taken from him. Or that was the story he had told himself but what if in fact he never was to be an artist.

“I am broken” he thought. “Non-Functional and broken.” He hung his head and sobbed.

What then? What if what you predicate your life on is in effect a lie you’ve told yourself so many times you believe it.

He went to the balcony. The glory of another sunrise failed to remind him of the glory that was the world around him. It simply pointed out that he had paced all night. He stared at the orange globe that was rising above the horizon. The warmth of sunlight touched his cheek.

Is this as good as it gets. He wondered.

The streets below were beginning to come to life. People buzzing to and fro, he wondered if any were speaking of the Michael Angelo exhibit at the Met. Then it hit him.

He had the next day called a realtor and put his brand new penthouse on the market. 60 days after closing. He wasn’t worried. He turned in his notice at work. The time had come. He had heard the sound of the bell tolling and this time he knew it was for him. The time to change was upon him.

He began walking.

34 blocks from his now former penthouse he came across an old building with an art gallery. He bought the building. He bought the gallery. Now he could help people.

There was a knock on the door.

He walked to the front of the gallery. It was Daniel. Daniel looked nervous.

“Did he do ok” Daniel asked.

“He did fine.” He answered.

Daniel looked relieved. “I was worried. Your one of my best customers but you have let them fly sometimes.”

“Yes you do.” He answered. “You are always welcome to let them fly here. We have a huge open space.” He said with a smile.

“Yes you do.” Daniel answered.

They walked to where the food and beverage stations were setup and shaking hands they both realized they weren’t broken anymore.

The End


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Is the goose still at the butcher?
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In the end he realized it only mattered the bully that lay before you. He smiled for a second. You don’t ask who is hitting you, you ask them to stop.

The catering assistant, not Daniel stopped by his desk as he was leaving the gallery.

“Daniel says he wills top by before the show to make sure everything was ok.”

“That would be great. thanks for all your hard work.” He said. The catering assistant let himself out the door.

He wondered for a second if like Daniel there was as much a past here as there was anything else. That this young man like Daniel had a horrible past and that was why he acted professionally and distant without the usually social nature of the process. He hoped so. He hoped Daniel was paying it forward.

He took on struggling artists, gave them floor space and took far less than the usual percentage of the sold goods. Why? To pay it forward.

It wasn’t a Dickensian moment that changed him. Standing in a room watching his corpse burn and his processions scatter to the wind. Running to the window and saying “boy what day is it? What a miracle the ghosts their work in one night. Is the goose still in the butcher’s window?”

His fall unlike Scrooge came at the moment the judge announced his divorce was final. In fact it actually wasn’t that moment. It was roughly two months later if he were honest with himself. His little sister had come to town. Laughing she had agreed to stay at his new penthouse apartment. He wouldn’t hear of her staying at a hotel. But upon entering the apartment she had dropped a bomb that changed everything.

“Its so sterile. What a gorgeous view but it’s a view from the hospital window of a man dying of cancer. Wasted away to nothing looking out the window because that is all that is left.”

They had gone to dinner but the comments stayed long after his sister returned home. He paced the apartment wondering if in fact what of him that had been alive was now dead.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Which was worse?
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He had an event about a week later and called Daniel to cater it.

“Hello,” Daniel had said.

“Hi this is Harvest Galleries calling we have an event in three days and would love to have you guys cater it.”

“OK” Daniel had said in a flat voice.

He had asked him. Daniel said he didn’t tell many customers his story. But when he did they were usually not customers anymore. The ones that were did so out of Christian Charity. That kind of charity made Daniel uncomfortable.

“Why does Christian Charity make you uncomfortable?” He had asked Daniel.

“Because in all cases it came after. After I was clean. After I was out of the gangs. After I stopped wearing shirts that showed my tattoos. Christina, the ex-teacher who started the restaurant was the only one who saw me as a person before. So no, I don’t like Christian Charity. Is that why you hired me?” Daniel replied.

“No, I hired you because I was just as broken as you were. I am still broken and I am trying to move forward. I hired you because frankly you have the best food in the city. Your past is a mist we can both see. But my past is right there with you.” He answered.

Daniel had smiled. “Crab puffs this time. Found a great new recipe that is to die for.” He smiled and headed towards the truck.

Daniel had terrorized people in his youth. His gang colors and tattoos made people uncomfortable. From the 24th street station to the 26th street bus line his gang was the scariest thing. He broke free of that to do something else but lots didn’t.

On the other hand his demon was far greater. He caused families to lose their homes. He made money on the fall of the market. Millions of dollars betting on other people to lose. Not openly terrorizing or bullying them. He worked in the shadows manipulating markets and making people lose everything they had ever had.

In the end he wondered, which was worse? The bully you saw or the bully you didn’t even know was there?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Its not the people you meet
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The young man Daniel had sent was quite efficient.  He also didn’t talk at all so he was done very quickly. He thought about the many conversations he’d had with Daniel.

Daniel was a child of the city streets. He had told him that one day when he had seen the tattoos. Normally Daniel wore a long sleeve shirt that covered his arms. But that day had been hot and he had called ahead to say the air conditioning was down.

“They are gang marks” Daniel said. He hadn’t asked but in the end he must have been staring.

“oh.” he answered. How do you respond to a statement like that.

“It’s a time I regret.” Daniel said.

“Its part of who you are.” he had responded. “Part of the inner Daniel.”

“Interesting way to look at it. I grew up in a bad place. Not simply the gang but the very essence of the place where I grew up. Violence was the only way to get out. Then you would only get out for a year or two, back for more violence. I started selling drugs when I was 9 years old. I got busted three different times for dealing. Then everything changed…”

“really?” he had asked “how?”

“I was in Juvy and my aunt came to visit me. She told me my grandma died. Mom had left was I was 4. Dad had left when I was 6. Grandma had been everything. She and my aunt raised me. They didn’t like who I had become. My aunt told me my grandma’s final words were “the boy has a future of bars and visiting hours.” It crushed me. There was a program you could sign up for there in Juvy. Learn the restaurant business. An ex-teacher had founded a restaurant and she only hired people like me, losers.”

“I don’t think of you as a loser Daniel.” He had said.

“That means a lot to me, thanks. But I was then. I started out as a dishwasher earning 7 bucks an hour and living in a half-way house. Half-way between the world I knew and this new, much harder world. Within 6 months I was a prep-cook. I found out pretty quickly that I loved to cook. Amy, the ex-teacher who started the restaurant decided she wanted to start a catering business. She offered me a chance to earn 1/2 ownership with sweat equity. I have been working hard ever since. Clean, straight and grandma, the only bars and visiting hours in my life are when I caterer events at the state prison. Once a month we take them real food, and try to help as much as we can.”

“You are an amazing person Daniel. I liked you before. But your honesty and your story make me respect you. Its not the people you meet in your life, it’s the difference you make in theirs.” he said.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

It occurred to him…
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The phone rang. When you know what the final score is, it’s a lot easier to play the game he thought. Picking up the phone he said “hello?”

The realtors voice on the other end sounded harried “I have good news and bad news,” she started with.

“Let’s hear the bad news first,” he answered.

“The new owner will not extend your lease.” she answered. She had two paths she could take, she took the honorable one.

“That is too bad,” he said.

“Yes, sorry I reached out this morning and was told they intend to renovate the building. The good news however is that the gallery owners have accepted your offer for 2 million cash. All assets and materials including the lease until January are yours if your offer is still open.” the realtor said.

“yes it is” he said. He was accustomed to winning.

“I’ll have the final contracts sent to your office this afternoon by courier. Once you sign those we will send over the keys.”

“Thank you.” It occurred to him as he hung up the phone that he had pegged her wrong. That didn’t happen very often. He had pegged her as the wanting the sale more than anything kind of realtor. In the end she had been a decent person first.

The bell ring jerking him back to the present. The vignettes he had lived through but a series of linked memories brought on by the sadness of memories. He stood up and headed towards the front door of the gallery. The caterer would be here to set up. He wiped his face on his handkerchief and opened the door.

“Good afternoon,” he said.

“Hi. Daniel said to say he couldn’t make it this afternoon for setup.” The man with the clipboard said.

“No problem” he responded. “I can show you were to setup.”

“Very good.” The man with the clipboard was official and focused. Not at all like the shop owner Daniel who was unfocused but was very friendly, Daniel was without a doubt the best caterer in the city. He used Daniel for every event. He could put up with having his ear talked off for the best food in the city.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Waiting for the call…
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The bank called around 10 the next morning as he expected. It was someone he had worked with in the past. They were terrified of him.

“sir,” the banker on the phone had said.

“Yes Bill?” he had answered.

“on that building you bought last week, there is a tenant that would like to extend their lease two years. Their current lease expires in Jan. Apparently the realtor said she has a buyer willing to offer full asking if they can get the extended lease in place prior to the transfer.”

He thought to himself for a second. I didn’t agree to a full purchase price – he noted that he should knock off a quarter of a million as much to teach the realtor a lesson. Then he realized there was an easier way.

“I am going to let all the leases in the building expire,” which in effect was true. He was planning on buying the gallery and the office space on the third floor was already vacant. He was going to convert that into an apartment and live there.

“Ok, I will let the realtor know” the banker said as he hung up the phone.

Let the dance begin he thought. The great Chinese general Sun Tzu said “know your enemy.” Later battles would prove know the field of combat better than your opponent. The Maginot line in France was not a deterrent to tanks that simply drove around.

He waited.

The realtor would call. He knew that. You could tell a lot about a person based on that phone call.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The wall came tumbling down…
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“I will submit your offer to the owners tonight. Now, what if I reach out to the building owner and see if they will offer a new lease?” She asked.

“and?” he asked.

“you will sweeten your offer?” the realtor asked.

He paused for a moment. This was playing out as expected. It wasn’t a fair game he was playing. He had stacked the deck and owned the table. But perhaps there could be a lesson taught, perhaps a habit broken.

“Certainly I would consider sweetening the offer if you can get a two year lease beyond January from the building owner." He had almost slipped and said new building owner. When playing high stakes poker with someone who believes they have stacked the deck its never good to let them know you in fact have replaced the deck they doctored with another doctored deck.

“Very good then,” she said and ushered him out of the gallery.

That evening he had wandered the streets of the city relaxing. He had given his personal email and his cellular phone as the primary contacts. He expected however, that the realtor would drag her feet and not submit his offer tonight. She would wait until after she contacted the building owner and secured a new lease. Her commission was at stake and she was going to get the most she could get.

He remembered that night mostly because the city seemed alive again for the first time in years. He had walked the streets a million times but felt no pulse. Perhaps it was his own creation. This world that rolled around him as though he wasn’t there. “You’ve created a wall around you so thick no one could ever hope to get through,” his ex-wife had said. Not in anger but in sadness he realized now. She had been sad when she said that. That was why, years later he remembered that night. He had sent her a letter of apology the next day. Starting it with I finally see the wall you spoke of when you left. I am sorry.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The realtor wasn’t prepared
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“Why do you say that?” he asked the realtor.

“Oh when they finally had him committed he was wandering around the gallery calling the paintings his babies. His daughter came and found him living in the gallery, nothing had been sold for months. The electric had been shut off. She put him in a home.” The realtor answered.

It was an old technique, releasing enough to make the buyer want to pay full price. But he had made money on the other side of this game.

Sure walking by this place and deciding he wanted it had been spontaneous. He knew he had the money to buy the place rather it was the reality of what was to happen. He knew the foreclosure sign positioned by the realtor next to the for sale sign was different. The company that owned the building was a real estate firm and at various times it was prudent for them to enter bankruptcy to prevent assets of value from being lost. They could in bankruptcy shed properties, like this one that required considerable repairs to get back to code to slide off their portfolio. He had bought the building two days ago, but knowing realtors in the commercial market had asked the bank to leave the foreclosure sign up. He knew the tricks.

“That’s horrible” he responded. Years of practice making his voice sound concerned “will the family be ok?” he asked.

“They are betting on the sale of this property to take care of their current problems,” the realtor motioned towards the two signs in the front window, for sale and foreclosure.

“That just like a terrible position to be in.” He said.

“Yes it is, I feel sorry for the family.” The realtor answered. “But life goes on, are you interested in the property? It comes as is, the family will pay the back taxes on the property. All art and furniture are property of the new owner.”

“Yes I am. I am prepared to offer 2 million cash today. The offer lasts until 7 pm edt.” He answered.

For a second the realtor blinked. Then she looked at him probably for the first time. Instead of an unprepared spur of the moment shopper this was a buyer.

“That is a lot less than the asking price,” the realtor said.

“based on market, location and value of the art its actually a fair offer. The only piece of significant value here is the Pollock that is worth between 800 and a million. The rest of art and furniture is worth less than 1.5 million. I heard there was a new owner of the building and the lease for the gallery ends in January. The assets are what you are buying at that point as the lease may end in 5 months.”

The realtor was shocked. There are two kinds of buyers. Those who do their homework and those who are willing to accept whatever. This was a homework buyer and the realtor hadn’t been prepared.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.