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High-octane fight against Renewable Fuel Standard

Kudos to the National Marine Manufacturers Association and BoatUS as they fight fire with fire by supporting the American Petroleum Institute’s launch of ads urging Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard and its disastrous ethanol mandate.

Plans call for ads to run in the Washington, D.C., market using local broadcast TV, cable outlets as well as online. The API-funded campaign will also include some print ads.

One TV ad features a family wearing life vests and carrying a paddle as they burst into the House chamber to tell members of Congress their boat engine died because of too much ethanol mandated by the fuel standard. “Repeal this renewable fuel mandate now or you’ll be up a creek without a paddle!” the father tells the lawmakers. Uploaded to YouTube just a week ago, it has already garnered nearly 50,000 views.

In this ongoing ethanol war, the other side isn’t raising any white flags yet. Instead, Fuel America, for example, has a video that urges viewers to “protect the RFS” but conveniently fails to point out there are huge problems, like millions of damaged car, boat and small engines, increased family food costs and AAA’s warning that ethanol could void engine warranties.

Under the banner of “Fuel for Thought,” API has produced other videos that bring to light the facts that the fuel standard is broken public policy. The information found at: www.filluponfacts.com is worth taking a few minutes to review.

Complaints: While we can complain about the fuel standard, we’re more in control of turning customer complaints into sales. There isn’t a dealer on Earth that doesn’t get a customer complaint at some point. So here are five steps to turn that situation around:

1. Always target the problem, not the customer’s anger. Avoid becoming defensive or angry. Demonstrate to the customer your commitment to helping by offering something like: “I’m sorry you have a problem. I want to see what I can do to correct it.”

2. Listen before speaking. Jumping to any early conclusions can mean a lost customer. Listen carefully to everything said before ever suggesting possible solutions.

3. Determine if your customer can show you’re the problem. In many cases, your single glance at a misprinted information page or a look at a piece of faulty equipment could help you resolve the situation quickly.

4. Ask for the customer’s help. If the answer still isn’t clear, don’t be afraid to ask: “We want this to be right. What do you think would be a fair solution?”

5. Keep the promise. Don’t promise or allude to doing more than you have authority to do. If you do not have the power to solve the problem, tell the customer the truth — you’ll have to go higher up to make things right. And say you’ll get back to him as promptly as possible — preferably identifying a specific time. If handled correctly, most complaining customers will be accepting because the first thing they want is for someone to be honestly willing to find an answer.

Done right, handling a customer complaint can literally turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one.

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