Our story begins with the doorbell ringing about 10 a.m. on a warm summer morning. We opened the door to find a neighbor returning a platter from a recent backyard barbecue and telling us the brake lights on our 1997 Honda Accord are on.
We’ve all left our headlights on, but our brake lights are supposed to turn off when you take your foot off the brake. My 16-year-old son, who drove the automobile to an early morning high school cross country practice, was stumped. He drove the car around the block and stepped on the brake pedal with various pressure and frequency in an attempt to solve the problem. When that didn’t work, we searched the Internet for, “brake lights staying on Honda Accord.”
One of the results was a three-minute YouTube video entitled, “Honda accord / civic brake light switch quick fix,” posted by a person, soon to become our hero, with the user name, “ckotula.” In the video (embedded at bottom of post), you can see his reflection in the car windows as he records his Honda with his smartphone. You can sense his frustration with the same problem we’re experiencing.
His first attempt to fix the problem was to remove a fuse from underneath the hood so the lights would not stay on.
“The lights won’t drain the battery, but you won’t have brake lights,’’ he explained. “So if someone hits you in the ass, it’s kinda your fault.”
Then, one minute and 17 seconds into the video, “ckotula” solves the puzzle. The video is shaky as he walks from the front of the car to the driver’s entrance. He picks up what looks like the sharpened tip of a crayon off the car’s floor mat.
“Hey, I picked up that same part off my floor mat this morning,” the 16-year-old declared.
“Ckotula” gets on his knees and leans underneath the steering wheel, still recording with his smartphone. He shows where the “crayon tip” was located and how it kept the brake lights off.
“I took two pennies and duct taped them on there to depress” the light mechanism, he explains. “It’s just a quick fix. Maybe it will help some people out. You can buy the switch. It’s like $35… But if you’re somewhere out on the road and you don’t have somewhere to go to fix it right away, two pennies and some duct tape.
“And if you can duct it, f**k it!”
“Ckotula” saved a tremendous amount of time, energy and stress for us and hundreds of others. As of Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, the video had 79,850 views and 96 comments in the 23 months since it was posted. Here’s a sample of comments:
- “MacGuyver move. You are the man. Thanks a lot. Tell YouTube to give you a raise.”
- “Yo, thank you for this!!! Saved my freakin’ weekend.”
- “This trick saved me at 10 at night when the auto part stores were all closed.”
Why This Matters To Your Business, Organization
Your organization or business can grow by helping people. It takes critical thinking to analyze the needs of your customers, donors, volunteers or other stakeholders. But if you help them, they will be loyal and give your organization the most powerful assistance—a word-of-mouth recommendation and much more.
In his book, “Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype,” author Jay Baer professes the future of marketing will be assisting others: “If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.”
If “ckotula” sold goods or services, we’d be a customer. But the challenge for businesses and organizations is how to get to this level of helpfulness. Here’s a few suggestions:
Don’t be a perfectionist. The mission was accomplished using a smartphone to make a video about a problem and providing a narration of the solution. The video was shaky and there was some colorful language in the narration, but the finished product helped hundreds of people.
Help others. The old saying is true, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” If a client or customer needs assistance, they’re often vulnerable, hopeless and helpless. Honda didn’t help us; “ckotula” did.
Build loyalty. Strengthen customer relationships with helpfulness, responsible behavior and kindness.
Help others help themselves. When you help others be successful in solving their problems or meeting their needs, businesses and organizations figuratively pat people on the back and affirm the customer’s self-worth and independence.
Be genuine. It’s challenging to change an organization’s culture so it can be highly aware and intentional regarding helpfulness. But providing immediate answers to questions or solutions to problems will be proof of transparency and authenticity.