Last week in Maui we planned to go snorkling in the perfect Hawaiian waters and not having any snorkle shops in mind, happened upon Snorkel Bob’s in a nondescript strip mall in Kihei. Nothing fancy whatsoever. Sue, wrapping up with another customer, warmly greeted us and immediately started fitting us for gear. It was clear the other customer was a regular who’s known Sue for years. And that she knew her stuff.
She then started asking how long we needed the gear and where we planned to go. When we said just today and Makena Bay, she immediately warned us of the brewing South swell, how rough the waters were – and how easily we could get thrown against the unforgiving lava rock. She was particularly concerned for the safety of my 8 year old daughter. And genuinely interested in making sure we would be safe and have fun.
She then proceeded to tell us how West Maui where we’re staying is the best place during the summer for snorkeling and how we could rent gear from one of their other stores closer by. In addition, she gave my daughter a card showing the tropical fish we could expect to see and talked about which are endangered – and how we could help – (i.e. by not supporting the salt-water tank industry) which buys Yellow Tangs from locals for $0.75 and sells them for $100 at retail. All while depleting the local populations. Moreover, many die enroute.
In a very short time, we learned about the quality of their snorkel gear – including the great fitting masks (that don’t leak) and Snorkel Bob’s focus on protecting the environment and raising awareness of the issues facing Hawaiian waters.
Based on her advice, we left instead for a drive around South Maui and plans to snorkle another day on the west side. She didn’t make a sale.from us that day. She could have simply rented us gear, sign the waivers and sent us on our way with a warning that the water’s were rough. We would have discovered ourselves that it wasn’t the best snorkeling weather. But in that short time, we gained an invaluable education and she created raving fans in all of us. Sue took the long view – earned our trust and respect.
We rented from another store a couple days later and received similarly great service – snorkling in a very calm Honolua Bay. The lesson here is this is such a rare experience. And so refreshing. Sue’s generosity of spirit and knowledge will make us go out of our way to rent from Snorkel Bobs. It’s great gear – there’s a difference – as a contact lens wearer, it’s not fun to get salt water in the eyes – and this gear rocked as much as the customer service.
What’s remarkable is that kick ass service like this doesn’t cost any more, takes very little time. In this case just 10 minutes! Yet most often, you get people who don’t care. About you or their store. So you don’t either. Perhaps because of crappy pay at retail. Poor training. Or management that doesn’t care either. Or simply a focus on the numbers only. So you go where you get it super fast and super cheap. I’m willing to pay a bit more at a place like Snorkel Bob’s (and they’re quite reasonable anyway) because of who they are. And how they treat me and from what I can tell, all of their customers.
When you’re in Maui, I encourage you to visit Snorkel Bob. Especially Sue’s store in South Kihei. It’s nothing short of amazing.