Keep your eye on the ball!

21 8c

(My Dad’s garage and petrol pumps in the 1960’s)

My Dad had a saying “Keep your eye on the ball.” It probably comes from his days teaching young lads to play hurling, encouraging them to  look at the ball while they raise the hurley to hit it. He used it with us kids to tell us to stay focused on what we were supposed to be doing. Like the customer service competition….

21 8b

(Hoare Abbey near the Rock of Cashel)

My Dad had a garage and petrol pumps and sometime in the 1960’s or early 1970’s there was a competition between all the Esso garages to find the one with the best customer service. This was a time when there were pump attendants and the customer never needed to even step out on the forecourt to have the tank filled. My brother and I were working on the pumps in the summer time so we were included in the training for the competition. We were trained to give the customer a nice experience. I’m sure Esso had a vision of creating great service in all their garages… my Dad’s vision was to win the competition.


(Our playground as kids)

This week in Ireland petrol prices will top €1.70 per litre, you’ll have to fill your own tank and no one will offer to clean your windscreen. Back then you could fill your tank with £10, pump attendants were the norm and they were friendly by nature. But this competition focussed that natural friendliness. By the end of the training my brother and I had a clear goal – happy customers. It started as soon as we saw a car approach. We guided them to the front-most pump (so that the second pump would be clear for another great customer experience). We smiled and greeted warmly. We talked about the weather, the traffic (only heavy on a GAA match day) we inquired whether they needed help with the route to their destination. But most important we asked if they wanted their oil and water checked or maybe their windscreen washed. Usually they said no thank you but it was clear they were happy to be asked. Happy customer.

For that summer we kids kept our eye on the ball and we won every time we created a happy customer. Our Dad kept his eye on the prize… and he won the competition! In fact I think he won it at least twice!

Keep your attention on what you want, Mairead.

Ps and if you don’t know what you want, keep you attention on discovering what you want…