Meeting with clients on their turf presents a great opportunity to put your best foot forward and impress with your professionalism, demeanor and general know-how. Of course it does require thoughtful preparation and no detail should be left to chance. Then “Life Happens”.
On my last trip, in order to get a good airfare, my flight would be wheels up at 8:00 AM sharp departing from the ATL. This means that I would have to get up before I went to bed and out the door by 4:30 AM. You see, it’s a 2-hour trip to the airport and with all the security lines on a Monday, I didn’t want to risk any delay. Mission accomplished. I gave myself a quick pat on the back for being so prepared.
Now that I was on my plane, I could relax. This trip took me through Salt Lake City to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Interestingly, east of the Cascade Mountains the landscape is very desert-like – stunning no less. As I arrive, I gather my things and make my way to the car rental area for the first leg of my week-long trip. I handed the attendant my license and he looks at it curiously, turns it over, looks at the back, then over again, and plainly states: “Sir, I can’t rent you a car.” WHAT? “Sir – Your license is expired.” Uh oh. This was just the beginning of my travel and I still had to get to Northern California, which meant another car rental experience, not to mention the potential of a major-league hassle that could be in store the next time I tried to get through airport security. “Let me speak to your manager, please” (I always say please, but honestly, it probably had more of a demanding tone). “Sorry, that’s the rule, and the manager is not in”.
I call my loving wife who drops what she is doing back home and goes online to the Department of Driver Services and opens an account. She fills out all of the information, pays the $15.00 for the renewal, goes into my email account to retrieve the confirmation, prints it and faxes it to the car rental desk at the airport- all in the space of 20 minutes (that seemed like an eternity). I ask the attendant to retrieve it, which he does. He looks it over and states: “Sir, we need the original, this will not do.”
The only thing I could do at this point was to call my customer and let them know of my predicament. His response was really no surprise and very much appreciated: “Well, we can come pick you up – be there in 20 minutes”. Of course, this is not the impression I wanted to make, and potentially an inconvenience for them. Then I had an epiphany. There are other car rental companies not five feet from where I’m standing. If Team Green Car Rental Company (not National) with whom we have a national account will not rent me a car, then maybe Team Orange Car Rental Company (owned by Team Red) would.
There were three agents at the desk, one of whom turned out to be the franchise owner. I let him know my situation and he not only rented me a car at their best rate, he set me up as a preferred customer AND placed a reservation for me in San Fransisco. Now that is extra-mile service for a weary traveler.
In the end, my trip turned out very productive, as I was able to strengthen relationships, make new friends and even get through airport security with my license renewed for 5 more years. I think I will add a reminder for February 2017 to my calendar right now.
Have you had any “uh oh” moments when traveling? Share them in the comments below.