Do you dig the little things?

At the entrance to the service bay of Toyota of Des Moines is a small, plastic, a-frame sign that says simply


and then, toward the bottom,



Last week, I drove in to have something checked out.  It had snowed a bunch, and because this sign was in between the two main entrance doors, there was some snow piled in front of it.  “SERVICE ENTRANCE” was still totally visible, but the “Welcome” was concealed by the snow.  So what, right?  Right.  “Welcome” is nice, but not essential.

As I drove around, I saw a young man, an employee, likely in his 20s, probably an hourly worker (the generational differences excuse still rings in my ears from a couple posts back).  He looked at the sign.

He looked at it, looked away, kept walking, then stopped, looked again.  Walked over to it.  Started stomping the snow in front of the sign until “Welcome” was plainly visible once again.  Then he noticed me watching him, so he smiled, waved, and stepped aside.


Dig the little things.  The best leaders, businesses, organizations, churches, workers realize this.

My dentist has a cool aquarium in the waiting room, with fish that he periodically rotates from his collection.  I only stay at the Savery Hotel once per year, but Ross in sales knows what room I like.  I bet you have examples, too.

I’m reading The Absolutely Critical Non-Essentials by Dr. Paddi Lund right now.  The book dissects the reasons that this stuff is a good idea and has ideas, too.  The shorter (and cheaper) The Fred Factor drives this home, too, and points out that going the extra mile is beneficial to the person providing the service, too; this service can bring joy.

Do you dig the little things?  Others do, too.  Enjoy!

P.S.  When starting this blog, I realized that I wasn’t positive that I remembered the sign wording correctly (was it more than just “service entrance” or what?).  So, I called Toyota service.  Chelsea took my bizarre question, put me on hold, got up from her comfy chair, and went outside (in 10-degree cold) to confirm the wording.  That’s how they do things around there, I guess!

3 Responses

  1. Wade
    | Reply

    Going the extra mile with students always pays dividends. Could you share some examples of how “going the extra mile” was used in your teaching?

    • alanfeirer
      | Reply

      Thanks for asking, Wade: There are lots of “little touches” that could be added for a teacher, especially a music teacher, but not always enough time in the day!
      Here are some actual examples that took very little time or expense, but made an impact:
      Caught wind of a student who was going to watch a performance of Carmina Burana: I loaned him my score to take along because I know he’d find it interesting.
      Became aware of a student who was battling insomnia and was reading 2-3 books per night; loaned her some books that I thought she’d like, but wouldn’t really have thought of on her own.

      Group ideas to liven things up, and make things a little more special or unique:

      Have a creative student develop a student-run wall or bulletin board with only one guideline; it ought to make people feel special.

      Sponsor a coloring contest for the group members.

      After a great day, pass out stickers to everyone on their way out the door while thanking them. Seriously, everyone loves stickers.

      Have Jolly Ranchers (or other non-messy, never-get-stale candy) on hand, and give one out to anyone who comes and visits you for any reason not at classtime.

      Serve coffee. Actually, don’t. You could get in trouble. But I went through a phase of bringing a giant thermos of coffee to school and served it up to visitors.

      Does anyone else have any other ideas that you’ve tried as a teacher?

  2. Wade
    | Reply

    Great ideas Alan. We have a randomly used Starburst celebration for significant acts of accomplishment or leadership. I am impressed you own a score to Carmina Burana.

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