I can’t believe it. I bought an extended warranty and it paid off. Apparently, a couple of parts on my car are at the beginning stages of failure–nothing critical, I’ve been assured–and with 11,000 miles left on my extended warranty, my service guy tells me that now is the time to fix them. Not only will I save almost $1500 (before netting out the cost of the exwarr itself), but I’ll also get a rental car to drive while my car is being repaired. Suh-weet! And to think I almost passed on the exwarr when I bought the car.

The real story here isn’t about my own foresight or perspicacity (that one’s for you, Johnny C). It’s actually a tale of customer service and building loyalty. Then newly single and neither knowing nor caring anything about the maintenance of automobiles, I became a serviceperson’s dream when I bought my car five years ago. I faithfully schedule oil changes and tire rotations at prescribed intervals. I cheerfully agree to any and all maintenance recommendations. I let the people in the service area of my dealership do whatever the manufacturer advises at specified mileage benchmarks. In short, I do whatever they tell me to do.

There’s a sucker born every minute, right? Not this time. My decision to trust Evans Toyota with the care and feeding of my vehicle has paid off–for both of us. Certainly, I’ve incurred some mostly minor unplanned expenses as we’ve flushed systems and replaced filters, belts, and tires, but many, many times I’ve walked away from oil changes and service checks without paying a penny. Everything looks good and You don’t need anything right now are phrases I hear more often than the alternative. And with 109,000 miles, my car has never let me down, and I won’t go anywhere else.

The really telling part is that last Saturday when I was at the dealership for the requisite oil change and tire rotation, my service guy brought the failing parts to my attention. Before I could even open my mouth to ask, How much? he continued talking, telling me that he had looked up my file, that he had noticed that I had an extended warranty, and that we should do this now while the repairs are still covered. In an economy where everyone is struggling to capture every possible revenue opportunity, I felt as if I were on some other planet.

Okay, okay, I realize the dealership is still going to get paid for the repair (albeit by the warranty company), but Dave went out of his way to 1) determine whether I had a warranty, 2) make sure I scheduled these necessary-but-not-yet-dire repairs within the warranty period and did not put them off, and 3) nail down the details and call me as promised with a plan. In fact, Dave even made sure to arrange a rental car (within the warranty plan) so that I wouldn’t be without wheels. All I have to do is drop off my car one day and pick it up the next; I don’t even have to bring my checkbook.

Maybe this is the way the world is supposed to work, but the plain truth is that it doesn’t. I don’t often see people doing anything more than the job at hand; they don’t look ahead to anticipate the next transaction or to set themselves up for it. It’s head down, check the box, move on. When people go out of their way to do something today that makes me want to come back tomorrow, I notice. That’s called good customer service, and it builds business. We could all learn a lesson from it.