June 24, 2019

After the Flood.

One year ago in May, severe rain in Charlottesville, Va. caused the banks of rivers and streams to flood; so much so that people lost their lives. I recently sat with Diana and Scott outside their home in White Hall to talk with them about the flood and how it changed their perspective on service.

“The rain was pounding.”

Diana and Scott described the rain. They could hear it pelting as they sat inside and watched the swale—located about 75 yards from the house—fill up! “We didn’t think much about it,” Scott told me as he, Diana, and I looked out over the swale; now a picturesque grassy dip centered between two Dogwoods. “The swale hadn’t caused a problem in 23 years.”

“Everything was floating.”

The next morning, as Scott was getting ready for work, Diana went into the basement and was caught entirely off-guard by eight inches of standing water. “It was surreal. It was catastrophic.” Books, files, photographs, scrapbooks; the flooring was even floating. Diana had to step in it before she could believe it was water. Diana didn’t know what had caused the flooding in the basement. Scott strongly suspected the French drain had failed: The swale backed up, and all of the water pushed back through the drain and into the basement.

“Should we call someone else?”

Not sure whom to call, Diana told me that she was in a panic while on the phone with Jennifer, who was working the W.E. Brown call center on the morning of May 31st. Diana asked Jennifer, “I know you do plumbing, but this may not have anything to do with plumbing.” I asked Jennifer if she still had the phone conversation from May 31st on record. I wanted to hear for myself how Jennifer handled Diana’s stress and confusion. Evident in the recording; pure panic in Diana’s voice. She didn’t know whom to call or what to do. What was critical; Jennifer’s confident voice confirming, “Yes, we will come and help you.”

“We needed that.”

Diana and Scott told me: “Jennifer was calm.” From the moment Jennifer picked up, to the technician, Kenny, showing up, it was W.E. Brown’s sense of calm confidence and quick response that put Diana and Scott at ease.

When Kenny arrived, Diana and Scott told me: “He was empathetic;” his empathy stuck with Diana and Scott that morning—and still does to this day.

“A superhero.”

Diana questioned Kenny when he arrived. “Can you help us? I’m not sure our flood has anything to do with plumbing.” Kenny replied: “Absolutely we will help you. And I like this part even more; Kenny expanded, “We wouldn’t leave you like this.” Kenny got to work immediately, pumping the water out of the basement. “All of us were pushing water out with brooms while the pump was pumping water out. And that was good,” Scott told me. Kenny also suggested calling Restoration One knowing that other people might be waking up to similar flood situations that morning. Scott was informed he should have the basement dried professionally to avoid mold and other flood-related damages and health risks.

W.E. Brown didn’t just clean up the mess.

Kenny wanted to help solve the problem for Diana and Scott so the flooding wouldn’t happen again. Kenny and Scott brainstormed ideas on how to fix or supplement their failed French drain. “Right out here in the yard,” Scott told me. “We walked and discussed digging a ditch to break into the perimeter drain.” Diana and Scott were impressed that Kenny understood how to solve the failed French drain: His expertise was broad and went beyond plumbing. Kenny was not only an expert in what he was doing, but his confidence kept him open to Scott’s suggestions as a homeowner; this was important to Scott. They found a solution for the failed French drain together. “It was collaborative,” Scott added.

Deep concern.

The calm response from Jennifer on the phone, to empathetic Kenny—who felt Diana and Scott’s concern so profoundly that he involved himself not only in the rescue but also the process of making sure they were never going to face this type of situation again—demonstrate service with empathy.

Moreover, Diana and Scott were out of town the week following the flood leaving Diana’s dad to house sit. Kenny left the pump at the house, as well as his cell phone number so that Diana’s father would have someone to call just in case. And at a later date, Kenny came back out with a tractor and was superbly skilled at excavation, concerned to put the yard back together (shrubs, and gravel driveway) precisely the way it was before the construction of the drainage solution he and Scott brainstormed together.

Priorities.

As Jay, president of W.E. Brown, always says: “We’re not showing up to service a piece of equipment. We’re here to help homeowners find comfort.” Despite Diana’s emphatic concern that their’s might not be a plumbing issue; for Jennifer and Kenny, that detail wasn’t the focus. The priority was to make sure Diana and Scott were taken care of that morning.

You can watch the video on your youtube channel https://youtu.be/O3WRKNvGowc

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