This is really embarrassing for me to admit, but I have always been insecure with my looks and specifically, my weight. Since puberty, I have always had a “pooch” and shortly after getting married, I learned that my gut was the result of a metabolic disorder. If I truly wanted to be at my ideal weight, I would have to be on a very restrictive and let’s be honest, a soul-crushing diet. Plus, I would have to workout daily for about an hour a day. Even though I am insecure about my gut, I have other priorities that needed investment of time and I just haven’t been able to commit to working out on a daily basis.
That being said, this summer, I decided I should make my overall health a priority. I’m not talking about looking good in bathing suit, but to focus on my long-term health. For me, going to a gym is a boring and doesn’t motivate me, I figured an easier way to focus on my health was to incorporate activity into my daily life. For instance, our home has a pool, and even though I am not a swimmer, I was going to make a habit of regularly going into our pool (so far, I’ve only gone into our pool twice). Since we have two dogs, I planned on taking the dogs on more walks. AND, to make sure I followed through with walking, we planted grass in our backyard, which meant the dogs couldn’t just “go out” when they needed to relieve themselves. And finally, whenever possible, l would ride a bike rather than drive. The thing is, I didn’t have a bike (mainly because I could barely ride a bike), but I found this gorgeous purple bike online. Minus the bright purple, the bike looked like a bike that Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote would ride around her seaside Maine town. I could just picture myself riding it around town, as if I was the South Bend’s version of Jessica Fletcher. I even planned on going to our local farmer’s market where I can buy flowers and bread for my basket (and I’m allergic to wheat). Simply put, I could not wait to get on the bike and go for a ride!
In early May, I purchased my bike online from Dick’s Sporting Goods and my local Mishawaka store would assemble it. I was both excited and anxious to ride my bike around town. As I mentioned earlier, I am not a strong cyclist; seriously, I could barely ride a bike, and I really didn’t want to make a fool of myself riding around town. When I got the bike, I practiced riding on my driveway and then on the sidewalk around my block. My balance wasn’t great, but happily I didn’t fall. Soooooo, I got a little cocky and decided I would ride my bike to see my friend, whose office is on the exact same street as me. Now, the thing is, my husband was out of town and by out of town, I mean he was in California while we live in Indiana. My kids were at school, and I decided that I would go on a maiden bike ride when no family was around (probably not the smartest idea). I justified venturing out on this ride because I wasn’t going to go far and I was going to ride on the sidewalk and only go on the street to cross intersections. I made it to Amy’s office just fine (even though my bottom was a bit sore) and we had a nice visit. Unfortunately, it was on my return trip home that I unexpectedly ran into a major problem. Actually, it would be more appropriate to say that the problem RAN INTO ME.
I was crossing the one major intersection on our road between my house and Amy’s office when a man ran a red light and hit me. I had the right of way, and the guy made an illegal right turn on red into me. I yelled “ARG” and gently fell, first impact on my right knee, then my arms, and finally my left cheek. I tried to get up, but I physically couldn’t push myself off the pavement. The punk of a guy, opens his car door (he doesn’t even get out of the car) and says, “You goin get up?” Can you believe that?! Luckily, the accident happened near a school when kids were outside with their teachers and a teacher ran and helped me up from under the car while telling the guy to get out of his car. At this point, I was an emotional mess and was crying, and let me tell you, I. DON’T. CRY.
You guys, physically, I was really fine; considering what had happened, I really good. But man, emotionally I was a wreck and for the rest of that day and going into the weekend, every time I closed my eyes, I kept reliving the accident. My excitement to be more active and to be carefree riding around town, died. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to get on a bike again and then a magical thing happened. My local Dick’s (where I had just picked up once my beautiful purple Jessica Fletcher bike), contacted me. They had heard about my accident (the wonders of social media) and told me not to give up on cycling. Take the necessary time to heal, and when I was ready they were going to replace my bike for free. I was shell shocked; words truly escaped me, and even though I was still traumatized, I started to think that just maybe I would be able to get back on a bike someday and for that I was truly grateful.
This past Wednesday marked exactly two months since my accident and I was ready to get back on the bike (figuratively and literally). So, I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods in Mishawaka and true to their word, they gave me a completely new bike. There are several things that we should all keep in mind. First, I did not contact them and tell them about my accident. They found out about the accident from one of their team members. Second, they took it upon themselves to replace my bike, knowing they weren’t going to get anything out of it. Because this national company treated me, one small and insignificant customer, like a loved one during a traumatic time, it now makes me think of Dick’s as a part of my inner network. They were one of the first “people” to reach out to me and make sure I was okay. They encouraged me to rest and recuperate and they will be responsible for taking care of damaged bike. They took something off my plate that anyone of my loved ones knew would have been a pain point for me. It is because of this thoughtfulness that has endeared my to the company and has made me a loyal customer for life. And let me tell you, I have not been quiet about my love and loyalty to Dick’s. For the past 2 months I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, about how this big box store stepped up at a time when no one asked or expected them to do so and how they helped me get back on the path of getting back on a bike. Every single person who hears the story are shocked and amazed of Dick’s kindness, and now that they’ve heard my story first hand, has motivated them to be a customer of theirs.
My story is a great example of the power of “word of mouth” marketing. Each time I tell my story, I reignite my love of the story and reaffirm my loyalty to Dick’s, plus, it is planting the seed to other individuals that this store is the right store for them. In the not-for-profit world, we can use Dick’s example of unsolicited kindness for how we treat our stakeholders. Yes, our organizations are changing the world and we are making a positive impact, but sometimes we forget to treat our stakeholders as individual people. We are so caught up in our work that we aren’t being thoughtful and thinking about the needs and feelings of our stakeholders. We need to make sure that every touch point that a stakeholder has with our organization is as positive as possible. We do this because they are individual people who are a part of our world, but the added benefit of treating everyone with such kindness is that these individuals are going to go out into the greater community and talk to their networks about the positive interactions that they have had with us. The more positive interactions that they have had, the more likely they will support our mission and that is how we will continue to have a positive impact in the world.