In October, I was in Louisville for our Financial Officers Meeting , so I decided to start my road trip from there. The first stop was easy, as I just had to drive over the bridge into Indiana, and one of the first exits took me right to Century Leasing LLC, a NationaLease Member. Wade Bryant and Ken Baker showed me around the facility, including all the additions and updates they have made in the last couple of years. They sell new and used trucks through Freightliner and Isuzu, offer parts and service, including a body shop and a CNG repair shop, and provide full service lease, contract maintenance, and rental vehicles. It was amazing to see how their business has grown! After spending the afternoon with them, I drove back across the bridge into Kentucky, and on to Lexington.
The drive from Louisville to Lexington is a surprisingly beautiful one, especially if you get off the main highway and take some of the secondary roads. Horse farms with their ubiquitous white fences, wrought iron gates, and spectacular stables, line both sides of the road nearly the entire distance between the two cities. I arrived in Lexington just about dinnertime so, after checking into my hotel, I found a nearby sushi place that looked quite charming from the outside. Although I typically don’t associate Lexington with great Japanese restaurants, Tachibana was no less charming on the inside, decorated in perfect Japanese style, complete with bonsai trees and a private room with tatami mats and Japanese screens. I opted for a seat at the sushi bar and enjoyed a meal of miso, sushi, and green tea. The next morning, I met with Bobby Calvert at Worldwide Equipment Leasing, Inc., a NationaLease Member. We had a great talk, as I got Bobby up to speed on the many benefits NationaLease members enjoy, including the variety of suppliers available through our Supply Management program, and the sales efforts on behalf of our members by our National Account team.
From Lexington, I headed north to Cincinnati and arrived at Truckway NationaLease just in time for lunch. Ron Horstman and Shawn Watson took me to the local favorite, Montgomery Inn. Despite the guilt instigated by Shawn’s ordering a salad, I followed Ron’s lead and ordered the ribs that Montgomery Inn is famous for. My guilt quickly subsided once I tasted those ribs, and since I don’t make it to Cincinnati often, I decided to top it off with a scoop of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream. Ron actually managed to make it through lunch with his crisp, white shirt still pristine! We went back to their office and joined Bob Jones and Steve Beatty to talk about the new NationaLease Fleet 20/20TM and Centralized Billing capabilities that are now available for NationaLease National Account customers. This platform was initially developed to allow National Account customers better access to reporting and data on their fleet. It has accomplished that goal, but is additionally providing opportunities for customers, members, and National Account staff to focus together on the most critical KPIs, using available data to review real-time performance.
I continued on my journey north to Sidney, OH. As I checked into my hotel, I saw a sign for a nightly Zumba class right in the hotel. I enjoy taking Zumba classes at my local gym, but don’t get to attend as often as I would like due to my travel schedule. The opportunity to get some exercise (other than riding a stationary bike in a lonely hotel fitness room) was a welcome surprise. I changed into my workout gear and came down at the appointed time to find the instructor, but no other students, so I took advantage of the private class! The next morning, I went over to Kirk and met with Jeff Phlipot, Randy Johnston, and Mike Trabue. We reviewed the Supply Management programs and discussed the Reciprocal Service system that allows all NationaLease customers to take advantage of our over 700 locations throughout the US and Canada to handle any service issues they may have. As lunchtime approached, they took me to a wonderful local restaurant, The Bridge, which is named after the most recognizable landmark in Sidney, the Big Four Bridge. After a delicious lunch, I drove on to the Dayton airport to fly back home.
As I thought about my trip, I realized that many of the most memorable experiences I have on the road are the result of exceeded expectations. I think that is the same for all of us. Often, the small incidents in our day that are truly unexpected are the things we talk about with our families when we go home at night. For me, it was a rapidly growing business, a delightful landscape, a Japanese restaurant, a scoop of ice cream, and a Zumba class; and for you, it might be the unusually quick service at your morning coffee stop, a compliment from a stranger, or a tasty treat in the breakroom. There are countless studies about how exceeding expectations as a business leads to customer loyalty, and I have no doubt that it’s true. I will go back time and time again to the hardware store, the coffee shop, and the car dealer who have repeatedly provided me with more than I expected to receive. This is the culture of NationaLease. It’s no surprise that our customers stay with us for years, and even generations, because they all have stories of exceeded expectations. From the driver who was picked up on the side of the road in the middle of the night by none other than the owner of the company, to the customer who had their damaged trailer unloaded and reloaded by NationaLease mechanics, they are loyal to us because we continue to give them more than they expect to receive. Thank you to all the NationaLease employees who make a habit of exceeding expectations, and make many people’s day in the process.