A while ago I posted about how much I love Amazon.com’s customer service and I frequently tweet about great service I receive when out and about. Great customer service should be the norm, but sadly that does not seem to be the case. So when I encounter Shockingly Great Customer Service I want to scream from the mountain tops.
BendPak, a manufacturer and distributor of automotive shop equipment such as car lifts, wheel balancers, and presses, is the type of company that primarily deals with professionals and usually indirectly. They don’t normally focus on DIY auto-enthusiasts. But my experience shows they completely understand how important it is to treat EVERY customer as though they are the most important customer they will ever have.
They provided little ‘ole me, with Shockingly Great Customer Service.
A little back-story:
I’m a car nut. I love working on my cars. I’m fortunate to have a large garage/workshop for it too. I recently came across a killer deal on a used four-post auto lift. I’ve always wanted a lift to make working on cars easier (and because they are cool), so I jumped on the opportunity.
It turns out that four-post lifts have certain advantages and disadvantages compared to other lift types (2-post and scissor being the most common). In particular, while a 4-post lift is great for lifting a car off the ground and providing access to the underside as well as enabling the parking of a car underneath, they don’t make it any easier to do work that requires removing the wheels.
Here’s a photo of my “new” Backyard Buddy lift. As you can see the Toyota FJ40 is off the ground, but the tires are still resting on the runways. Performing brake service or working on the hubs requires some other means to raise the car off the runways.
The solution to this is a type of jack called a rolling (or sliding) bridge jack. These jacks go between the runways on a 4-post lift and use hydraulics to raise and lower the vehicle off the runways. Here’s my BendPak RJ-45 jack holding the front of my 911 up:
Ok, so now you know what I’m talking about.
For various reasons, including the fact that I was NOT impressed with Backyard Buddy’s customer service, I decided I did not want the bridge jack that Backyard Buddy sells. Instead I wanted the BendPak RJ-45. However, it was not clear that the RJ-45 would work well with the Backyard Buddy lift.
Through the great documentation and specs posted on the very good BendPak website and a few phone calls with product engineers at BendPak (who were surprisingly easy to get ahold of) I determined that the RJ-45 would work. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would work fine.
So I contacted a company that sells them (Garage Equipment Supply) and ordered the jack. FWIW, I was also quite impressed with Garage Equipment Supply. Their communication with me was excellent and while there was a delay in getting my jack shipped, I always felt like they were working hard to take care of me.
When the jack arrived I immediately set it up. As predicted it worked, but I wasn’t completely happy with how well it worked. The BendPak lifts that the RJ-45 is really designed for have a style of rail that’s like a railroad track. The wheels on the outriggers of the jack ride on top of these rails.
The Backyard Buddy lifts have flat rails and these notched wheels don’t ride correctly. In addition, the support plate of the RJ-45 leaves the jack sitting about 1” higher than necessary meaning that I would have to put a piece of wood under the tires of my Porsche for it to fit over the jack. Here’s a picture of the standard outrigger/wheel setup:
Looking at the jack I decided it would not be difficult for me to find a welder who could modify the outriggers to fit the Backyard Buddy lift perfectly. I would replace the notched rollers with flat wheels, and change the angled support bar to allow the jack to sit lower. I posted my thoughts on a the GarageJournal.com forums (a great & fun forum for people who love to dink around in their garages).
Almost immediately I got a message from Jeff Kritzer, the VP of Marketing for BendPak who participates in the GarageJournal.com forums himself. He offered to build a custom set of outriggers based on my specifications FOR FREE.
Yesterday these custom/prototype outriggers showed up and they work perfectly. Here’s what they look like:
And here’s what they look like in place:
Jeff did not need to take care of me like this. Now that I have a lift & jack it’s unlikely I’ll be buying another BendPak product myself. But he and his company recognize the value in taking care of “the little guy”. They know that one nasty online review can kill your business, but hundreds of positive stories, all created one at a time, can help build your reputation. Of course, BendPak now has the ability to sell more RJ-45 jacks to owners of Backyard Buddy lifts, but that’s the type of win-win situation that happens when you focus on the customer.
So, if you are into cars and need garage equipment, know that if you buy a BendPak product it’s highly likely that you’ll be taken care of.