When I travel through the Charlotte, NC (USA) airport, I frequently get my shoes shined at Executive Shine. I always get a great shine and the people working there are friendly and courteous—even when things are a bit harried. Until this week, I never knew much about the people behind the operation at the Charlotte airport.
A story in The Charlotte Observer on January 3, 2016, (see link below) describes the life of the Executive Shine manager, Getnet (Getu) Marsha. A native of Ethiopia, Getu fled his native country many years ago due to war. At 14, he walked over 500 miles to get to freedom. Getu arrived in the US as a refugee and eventually became a citizen.
Aside from an inspiring life story, Getu also shares his customer service philosophy and expertise. Here are a few of the insights I gathered from the article.
- Create employee loyalty: Jill Wright, the owner of the concession put Getu in charge of the thirty-three employees at the Charlotte airport. According to Ms. Wright, his staff described Getu as generous and patient, “He loves on them, and they’re really, really loyal to him.”
- Be customer aware: One thing I noticed when getting a shine is they always asked me how much time I had before my flight. On one flight I only had about 15 minutes, and the shoe shiner said, “The shine takes about 10 minutes so can I catch you when you return?” I said yes, and that is exactly what I did!
- Brand really matters—even at a shoe shine stand: Getu’s business philosophy is quite simple: the shine on your shoes is a reflection of your personal brand and your business. His job is helping others improve their personal brand. Getu has strong loyalty with his customers. For example, one customer left 49 pairs of shoes with Getu to be picked up upon his return. Another talks about giving a $100 tip because his old shoes looked so much better and he decided not to buy a new pair.
Besides being a story about customer service, it is also one about the personal fortitude of Getu. Please read it. I can say that if time allows when traveling, I always get a shine at Executive Shine. Getu and his team have made me a loyal customer too!