Put Out the Fire and Protect the Customer.


Most people watch fires on the news. The people who don’t are the firefighters and the people whose house is on fire.

Glenn Usdin is the founder and President of Northeast Fire Apparatus, Inc., an affiliate of Freightliner LLC, located in Lancaster PA. His company has over 40 employees: the vehicle sales division buys and sells more than 100 pre-owned fire apparatus a year, they also equip municipal and industrial FDs, and Usdin runs an award winning Command School which conducts real-world training conferences across the US.

Glenn Usdin is a one-of-a-kind entrepreneur that makes things happen, and puts out fires, literally. You see, he also serves as the Fire Chief of the Lancaster Township, Pennsylvania Fire Department since the formation of the department in 1991. The all volunteer fire department protects the 15,000 residents of Lancaster Township, and runs 550 fire calls per year. The Lancaster Township FD has developed an extensive Customer Service Procedure modeled after the Phoenix FD standard. The department has a simple fire suppression benchmark that has never been broken. No fire shall extend one single inch past the point that it has already burnt, after the LTFD arrives on scene. (www.lanctwpfd.org)

As if that weren’t enough, Usdin also teaches progressive media relations, incident management for suburban FDs, fireground photography, and planning for successful strategic outcomes.

One minor problem – Glenn Usdin’s customers are on fire.

In an interview with Glenn, I resisted the sales questions about his company, and instead asked him about customer service as a firefighter. A pretty delicate situation considering when he and his men arrive on the scene, a house is on fire, people are injured, in panic mode, hysterical and or burned.

His responses were eye-opening and can be adapted to your everyday business situations – (see the italics after each point):

  1. No Choice. Choice. Our customers don’t have a choice who they call for emergency assistance, but firefighters have a choice in how they treat the customers. Unlike private sector customers who can (sometimes) choose who they bestow their business, firefighters own the franchise in their service area. That doesn’t mean they can’t decide how they are going to treat the customers. (Everyone chooses how they treat customers.)
  2. Bad Day. This is the worst day of the customer’s lives. Firefighters see bad situations every single day as part of their job. It’s the first time the customer has been involved in something so serious. Use your experience and compassion to soothe and comfort scared customers. If you don’t have any compassion…then get another career. (Show compassion in all dealings.)
  3. Your Family. Every customer has a family and is a family member. Treat them like they were a member of your own family. What would you do if it was your grandmother in the car accident? (Treat customers as if they were the family members you like.)
  4. Phone Home. Can I call someone for you? Just about every person in an emergency situation was going to be somewhere or has someone that needs to know about the problem. Use your cell phone and call their family or friends and let them know a familiar face is on the way to visit them. (Small efforts and actions of comfort and compassion will win praise, thanks, and loyalty.)
  5. Bad News. Bad News. Never lie to your customers. If you have bad news for them, give it to them straight. We deal with death and dying, and severely injured people know they are hurt bad. Don’t tell them its gonna be great when they know its not. You lose credibility in their eyes. (The truth is ALWAYS the best and most appreciated response.)
  6. Set Tone. Your positive attitude will go far in making a bad situation a little better. You set the tone for how the recovery process for the customer goes. Make the best of bad/serious situations. (Recovery is 90% attitude – your attitude.)
  7. Maintain Poise. Everyone deserves respectful care. Some of our customers vomit on us, curse at us, scream at us, wish they never saw us, and don’t understand what we are doing to help them. Respect them as human beings in trouble, not victims. (Your self discipline, self confidence and poise lead the way to your respect of others.)
  8. False Alarm. Forgive Others. Repeat customers still need to be treated nice. It’s sometimes hard to be nice when the little old lady calls you out three times in one night for the same imaginary problem. It may be non-existent to you, but to her, it’s a real situation. She gets the same care as anyone else. (Don’t blame others even when it’s their fault.)
  9. Create Solutions. If it means driving someone back from the hospital, or taking the melting groceries home or to the fire station refrigerator, or picking up the customer’s kids from school, do things a little out of the box to provide your customers with WOW! Customer Service. They’ll remember you they next time your FD needs additional funding! (Customers want, need, appreciate, and respect solutions.)
  10. We exist to serve them! The basis that the community funds our fire department is to help them in time of need. Don’t ever forget or lose sightof the fact that the customer owns the fire stations, the apparatus, pays us, and gives us the franchise to operate in their area. Its for them, not us. (Your customer is your paycheck.)

My interview with Usdin was a classic. Pardon my pun, but he’s a man on fire. I could almost feel the pain and suffering experienced by his customers. Your business situation could never be as bad – please don’t make your customers suffer.

Remember, only YOU can prevent poor customer service.

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7 Motivations – to Consign that Vehicle

7 Motivations – to Consign that Vehicle…
That Vehicle… The one you have been meaning to get out, clean it up and get it GOING. Do you drive it? – Well, not as much as I used to. So, when I do want to drive it, the battery is dead, a tire is flat, or the gas has gone bad and it runs

1.) Space – What could you put there instead? Or it will be the Catalyst to get the rest of the space organized and looking good.
2.) Depreciation – “The vehicle is worth – what it is worth today”. Rust/Time takes a negative effect on the value of most metal things.
3.) Repair – Not driving it – does not matter. The vehicle will continue to need parts repaired/replaced. Hoses, Gas Tanks, Belts, Tires, Seals, and Fluids. All will continue to go bad.
4.) Insurance – Even if you are not driving it – It gets dinged – it will need fixed and that deductible kicks in.
5.) Money/Cash – Ready for the next project, Home Improvements, College, Vacation, and Retirement.
6.) Moving In/Out – Logistics for getting that vehicle from one place to another. Or what to do with that vehicle once you are moved.
7.) The “One of these days Trap” – We all do it. One of these days, It will be on the road again.

Simplify the Process – Today there are a number of ways to sell your vehicle. Facebook, Craigslist, Instagram, local newspaper, asking a dealership to buy it, regional classifieds, and specialty magazines – all with their emails, phone calls, friend requests, text messages, – surprise visits -, from low ballers, data diggers, scam artists, drama specialists, and nosy neighbors. Don’t forget the Banks and Title paperwork (very important).

Or Consign Your Vehicle

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Emotion -#1 Worst Enemy

Buying a vehicle is by far one of the Most Emotional episodes you will go through next to buying your first home.
And – it is the one of those times where you need to be thinking as clearly as possible to make sure that all goes well.
How do you think clearly – by getting all the emotion out of the Car Deal.
Shinny, pretty, buttons, WiFi, Leather, heated/cooled seats. O and Its on SALE.
I want it all…..
What are you to do?

  1. Trust your feelings – This gets tuff.
  2. Trust your dealership – They want you to be emotional.
  3. Trust the person that can step in and remove all emotion.

Number 3 – Is a non traditional thing to do. But it will save you Time, Money, and Piece of MIND..  Just give it a little thought w/out the emotion.

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Ask most people which car fictional British secret agent James Bond prefers, and the answer is usually Aston Martin. Now, if the person you’re asking read the novels on which the films are based, they’d know that Ian Fleming’s spy preferred supercharged Pre-war Bentleys.

We all know that Bond films took liberty with this fact, and 007 found himself piloting a variety of vehicles, from a 1967 Toyota 2000 GT to a 1974 AMC Hornet. Despite this, each decade found him piloting at least one car that reflected the decade in some way.

1963 Aston Martin DB5
Starred in: “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball”
About the car: Derived from the DB4, which was introduced in 1958, the DB5 arrived in ‘63 employing Superleggera (Carrozzeria Touring’s “super-light”) aluminum construction and a 325-horsepower 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Although product placement in films is much sought after today, Aston Martin flatly refused to lend a car; their financial position was too precarious to spare any. So the film’s producers had to twist the automaker’s arm just to loan them a car. Once the film appeared and demand exploded, that was no longer the case.
Why it matters: Sensual, sophisticated and free-spirited, like the ’60s.

1976 Lotus Espirit
Starred in: “The Spy Who Loved Me”
About the car: In an era of wedge-shaped supercars, this wedge-shaped coupe, penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, was the first of a slew of similarly shaped sports cars. Unlike its competitors, the Espirit’s fiberglass body was impregnated with paint. However, since the 2.0-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine was mounted behind the seats and ahead of the rear axle, it proved problematic for the film’s stunt drivers, who were unaccustomed to a mid-engine car. So Lotus drivers were tapped to help out.
Why it matters: Strangely sexy, but odd, just like the 1970s.

1985 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante
Starred in: “The Living Daylights”
About the car: After three decades and a string of owners, Aston Martin was on the financial brink by the 1980s. But having previously learned their lesson, the automaker loaned the production a 1985 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante. Despite being far from modern, the car looked good, and the 370-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 packed a punch. More importantly, the Aston badge connected Timothy Dalton, the newest Bond, with previous 007s. Aston Martin welcomed the attention.
Why it matters: Just like the 80s, it was something old in a new package.

1999 BMW Z8
Starred in: “The World is Not Enough”
About the car: Based on the Z07 concept car, an homage to BMW’s 507, which caused a sensation at the Tokyo Auto Show where it debuted. It was conceived as a production car and Tokyo confirmed that BMW was right – well-heeled customers wanted a 400 hp two-seater from Munich. It also carried a retractable hardtop (now a staple on BMW convertibles) so drivers and their passengers could cruise comfortably all year long. Additionally, BMW marketed the car as an instant classic and promised a 50-year parts cache.
Why it matters: The Z8’s screen time, and production run, was all too brief, just like the dotcom boom.

2002 Aston Martin Vanquish
Starred in: “Die Another Day”
About the car: At the dawn of a new century, the V12-powered Vanquish marked the end of an era for Bond films, as Pierce Brosnan became the last in a series of pseudo-Sean Connery/Roger Moore Bond wannabes. So it’s suitable that the Aston Martin was thoroughly modern, with extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber, and a V12 producing 460 horsepower through a six-speed manual gearbox. Still, it was the end of an area, as this was the last model built at Aston Martin’s famous Newport Pagnell factory.
Why it matters: Just like 9/11: the end of one era, the beginning of another.

2016 Aston Martin DB10
Starred in: “Spectre”
About the car: As the films stray farther from the novels that inspired them, some touchstones have to remain, and so it is with James Bond and Aston Martin. In an effort to tap the essence of the 1963 DB5 without repeating its look, Aston Martin distilled its design language into a new rendition of a classic archetype. Underneath lie the mechanicals of a V8 Vantage, with a 420-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 reaches 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed of 190 mph, which is handy when outrunning villains.
Why it matters: A classic new Aston for the newest of Bonds.

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New Begining

It has been said, as a kid growing up the 1940s Scottish Highlands, they didn’t really celebrate Christmas. New Year’s was the big holiday for them.

Children got stockings on Christmas morning, but that was about it. People still went to work on December 25th. Then TV and consumer culture came along and changed everything etc.

So what is it about New Year’s that resonates? I mean, it’s just a number, right? So why the big deal?

Well, for one thing, it’s not just a number. New Year’s coincides with the winter solstice, when the nights stop getting longer and start getting lighter. When winter stops waxing and the waning begins. A faint promise of an eventual Spring, rebirth etc.

Sure, this would have special meaning to anyone in an agricultural society (e.g. the Scottish Highlands), but it also taps into a deeper psychological need we all have.

i.e. The need to begin again. The need to reinvent ourselves, the need to find new possibilities, both inside and outside of ourselves.

It’s what gives life meaning. It’s why we breathe.

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NO – new years resolutions

What?  Everybody always makes New Year’s Resolutions!  You know the ones:  you plan to lose twenty pounds!  You are going to work less and spend more time with family!  You are going to start an investment account or buy real estate.  The New Year comes and goes and within weeks, you are off your diet, working late, and wondering where all the money goes!  Welcome to the world of good intentions with no plan of attack!  If you want to make a New Year’s Resolution work, then stop making them!  No, that does not mean ignoring change or not setting goals.  It means begin with a reasonable plan that is attainable on a daily and weekly basis.

Start with the thing you want to accomplish.  Let’s say it is losing ten pounds within a certain time frame.  Write your goal on a 3×5 card in “results terms.”  An example would be, “On March 31, 2016, I weighed 145 pounds, which is ten pounds less than on January 1, 2016.  Why future terms?  Subconsciously, the brain interprets positive future statements as if they had already happened.

Your second step is to list all the positive benefits of losing ten pounds such as looking better, feeling better, or being healthier for those you love.  We have to see positive benefits to everything we want to accomplish.  We cannot expect to lose ten pounds if there is not a positive result that can be clearly stated.  Every human being works from the focus of positive motivation.  Once again, we have to repeat the positive benefits often.

The third step is to make a list of actions that you are capable of performing on a regular basis that will lead to your positive results.  If you list going to the gym and you know you are likely to run out of time to make this commitment, do not list it.  In fact, start your commitments in very small, workable time frames.  If you know you like to walk, then make one of your actions walking, but start with only ten minutes.  As you get in the habit of walking you can extend your time.  As far as eating, begin to eliminate small portions from your meals or slowly change your eating habits.  The reason people fail at dieting is they make such a dramatic shift in their eating habits and cannot sustain the change.

One of the most important steps is to find a coach or accountability partner that will agree to review your goals with you on a weekly basis and help you stay on course.  It is amazing what we will do when we know someone is watching.  Coaching tip: Do not make your coach your spouse or significant other!  I think you know why!

Last but not least: reward yourself for your efforts as well as results and stay away from negative influences! That includes negative people who are well-meaning but end up bringing you down.  No one can rain on your parade if you do not let them!

This is not a complicated formula, but it does work!  You can apply it to business, personal, family, investments, health, and your mental well-being!  Start today, you will not be sorry!

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Photo-Documenting A Restoration Is The Key To Doing It Right

By: Carl Heideman

Poor Project organization is probably one of the largest causes of stalled and abandoned restorations. Keeping track of where things are, where they go, and how they fit together is a big part of staying organized.

In the old days, restoration organization consisted of a few photographs, many sketches and plastic bags with notes written on them. The process worked but was tedious.

Today, organization centers on a digital camera and a common-sense filing approach. It can all be backed up, and it will continue to be useful after the restoration is finished. And remember, there is no such thing as too many photos.

Getting pictures before things come apart — both in a macro and micro view — greatly aids in getting things back together correctly. Once the car has been thoroughly cleaned, take a few hundred photos of every section of the car: inside, outside and underneath. Then, as disassembly proceeds, take detailed photos of every subassembly from several angles. “Exploded view” photos of parts laid out in order of reassembly replace the sketches of yesterday. Additionally, resolutions available today make it possible to zoom into a detail like an individual fastener to look at its head markings.

Before boxing or bagging any parts, lay them out and photograph them so you’ll know exactly what’s going in. Do the same before sending parts off to the sandblaster, powdercoater or chrome plater, and make a quick copy on your printer. When you pick up the parts, check off each item from the print.

Photos uphold the provenance of the car. Pre-restoration photos provide the link to the car’s history. Progress photos show the quality of the work, assuring future caretakers that the car was in good hands during previous ownership. Photos showing proper damage repair, especially bodywork, are essential to showing that a car was restored skillfully.

Organizing these photos may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. More compulsive people will name every photo and maybe even create an index. Another effective method is to make sure the time stamp is correct on the camera, then keep all the photos in one directory or folder.

Backup is important, too, so use a jump drive or a cloud-based storage solution to ensure you can retrieve photos if your computer is damaged.

Finally, when the restoration is done, select the best photos — 20 or 200 — and publish a book via one of the many services available from local and online retailers. Keep a copy of the book with the car and another copy or two back home. Digital photography has really changed restoration. Embrace it, use it, and enjoy the results.

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