WOW -- Recognizing Exceptional Customer Service


Mike George - John's Tire & Auto Inc.

On the Canada Day Weekend, we had left our home in Dorchester Ontario on our way to visit family in Kanata Ontario for the weekend. We hadn't travelled far on the 401 when I noticed a distinct problem with what seemed to be the tires. I had just installed and balanced (properly I thought) 4 new tires in London the day before the trip.


I began to become more concerned when the problem didn't correct itself as we continued toward Cambridge/Kitchener exits, and we knew that we still had 6 hours or so of travel to our destination. After pulling off the 401 and enquiring at a gas station and a gentleman who was filling his car there,  I was directed to John's Tire.This was approximately 10 a.m. in the morning when I entered the business of Mike George the owner, and explained my situation and I did notice that he had a "full" schedule of customers for the day and wanted to look after them before the start of the long weekend and was a little hesitant to add any more "work" for the day.


 Anyway, he agreed to have a quick look and see if they could diagnose a problem. He pulled our car in and checked the tires, rims etc. and the balance of all the tires. 3 of the 4 had to be redone! His staff member was extremely thorough, friendly, even though his current job had been interrupted, and Mike himself checked frequently as to the progress. About an hour later, we were back on the road -tires rebalanced,  -bill paid (at a very reasonable and competitive market price where other less reputable persons could have seen an opportunity if u know what I mean) -a sincere thank you for our business - and a warm hand shake and smiles.! WOW is right!


 I made a point of asking Mike for his business card and tried to check out your website to report such a fine business and its employees, had trouble to find a link by the way, then called and spoke with someone in your chamber- thus this nomination! Your city is lucky to have such fine business people and I know that they often go unnoticed or unmentioned. This company in my opinion should have a "pat on the back"!!


Jenni Chandler – Ridgehill Ford

Citizen Commended for Helping Cambridge Fire Department (CFD)

The Cambridge Fire Department team presented an award of appreciation to Jenni Chandler, Service Advisor, at Ridgehill Ford for her work in aiding an emergency situation.

On February 5th, a call came into CFD to respond to a situation at a coin car wash involving a locked vehicle. The concerned caregiver of a person with a disability had inadvertently locked the car with the key in it and the heater running, and was concerned about the wellbeing of his passenger.

The Platoon Chief Brad Grimwood quickly contacted the automotive dealers in the area – Ridgehill Ford in Cambridge and Pitman Ford in Gueph to effectively coordinate a replacement key to avoid damaging the vehicle. Thanks to the great work of Ms. Chandler and her teammate in the parts department, Steve Shrubsall, the key was made quickly and access to the vehicle prevented any potential medical issues. “In all emergency situations, every second counts,” says Deputy Chief Neil Main. “The fast action of the dealership team and our responding unit helped avert a potential medical situation. The fact that things came together so quickly was a testament to our community cooperation. The solution also saved hundreds of dollars for the driver in distress because we didn’t need to break a window to gain access.”

Kipling Campbell– Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

Kipling went above and beyond in helping a visitor who was overcome by the humidity and fainted in the conservatory. He brought him water, asked pertinent questions, took him out to fresh air, gave him something to eat.

The man Bob had driven from Brampton. Turned out had not slept night before and not eaten breakfast. Kipling stayed with him, gave him food, walked with him in fresh air and took chair outside for him to sit on. Then walked him to his car, told him to sleep and he would check on him shortly which he did.

At all times Kipling was friendly and courteous, asked if he could phone anyone. The man improved and after an hour of care was back to normal self and able to drive home.  I stayed although I had only just met the man, but was very impressed with Kipling, one of the/staff on duty.

Luiza Rocha-Baker – UNIGLOBE Donaldson Travel

Luiza's exemplary customer service and in-depth knowledge are keys to her great success.  She never treats anyone as just a number, Luiza ensures that every client receives the service they deserve.  She is in such demand that there would be line ups at her we created a waiting area specifically for her clientele. Luiza is a pleasure to work with and the list of positive feedback from happy customers is endless.  She is very genuine and unknowingly creates a family atmosphere which keeps clients coming back.

Josh Richardson – Montys Tapas Wine Bar
I would like to nominate our new Head Chef, Josh Richardson. Last month we had our previous chef have a breakdown and walk out on us 2 hours before our busiest Saturday night. Instead of panicking or following the chef out the door, Josh stepped up and took control of the kitchen and got us thru an extremely crazy night. Since then, Josh, has worked tirelessly to update the menu, streamline how the kitchen executes and raise our overall quality as a restaurant. It is due to Josh's commitment, work ethic and general optimistic outlook that has us excited about the direction the restaurant is headed.

Cathy Beke - Argus Residence for Young People
Cathy Beke has worked for Argus Residence for Young People for 10 years. Cathy started with the organization as relief staff and now works at the Program Coordinator for Argus Residence for Young Men. The emergency shelter program at Argus Residence for Young Men maintains a staff/participant ratio of 1:10, 24 hours per day. This means that during Cathy’s shift, she is responsible for working with up to 10 youth and is responsible for intake, discharge, goal planning, statistics, dinner preparations, facility management, crisis intervention, meeting with community partners and families, etc. She is one busy lady.

In addition to her full time employment at Argus, Cathy also volunteers for the organization. She is a Watchful Guardian mentor for many youth who require additional support outside our emergency shelter program. Cathy drives these youth to doctor’s appointments, helps them with job searches and provides the mentoring support they so desperately need. Many homeless youth served at Argus do not have family who maintain regular contact with them which makes this familial approach to support so important.

If this wasn’t enough, each year Cathy leaves her full time position for a couple of months to assist with A Day of Wine and Roses. She takes on the massive responsibility of securing hundreds of auction items for our A Day of Wine and Roses event. This year the event raised $41,015.00. The success of the event is in large part is thanks to Cathy.

Cathy Beke is a multi-talented individual who consistently goes above and beyond. She arrives for work 30 minutes before her shift because she loves what she does.

Wade Oliver – Meineke Car Care Centre
I understand the WOW Award is given to someone who goes above and beyond in the interest of Customer service. I have been having my car serviced for several years at Meineke for several years and always found Wade at the front counter to be fantastic.He never suggests things you don't need and has your interest in mind. recently during the cold snap I found myself locked out of my car with frozen locks. Wade directed me and quickly got me back on the road with suggestions and ideas. I have never hesitated to go to Meineke and continue to talk up the great service by Wade and all the staff there!!


Aaron Leckie – Kal Tire Cambridge
I brought my car to Kal Tire as it was making an unfamiliar noise. I figured it would be something small, or they would tell me as a female driver that I was just over-reacting. It turns out that my car needed immediate work and I was not able to drive my car out of the shop that day. The initial quote I was given was well above my budget. Aaron worked very hard to locate less expensive parts to help with the final cost. He also went out of his way to help me find a way to not only get home that night, but also back and forth to work for the next two days. When I did finally got my car back, something still didn't feel quite right, and instead of telling me that I was wrong and the work was done and complete, Aaron actually sent over a mechanic to my work take another look at my car. Aaron and this shop went out of their way to provide me with outstanding customer service. The genuine concern and professionalism was unbelievable.

Shannon Cousineau, Cambridge Mill Restaurant
Most brides can't claim that their wedding was stress free, I am no exception to that statement.  However, I know that my family was spared their own bridezilla nightmare thanks to an amazing Special Events Consultant, Shannon Cousineau.

I wanted to nominate and strongly recommend recognition for Shannon because of the amazing service my husband, family and I received while planning to celebrating our wedding on June 30th at the Cambridge Mill.  Her attention to detail, constant reassurance and genuine excitement for us was astounding.  We looked at other venues but easily decided on the Cambridge Mill.  First, for the amazing view but we quickly realized there was more to this venue than the aesthetics. 

Shannon led a team of amazing coordinators, staff and chefs to ensure that every detail of our day was executed perfectly.  Not only was she was incredibly accommodating of an infamy of last minute changes but Shannon would respond "of course, Sarah, we will make that work".   I constantly assaulted her inbox with clarifications, questions and requests - all of which Shannon made sure she politely responded to in record time.

I'm pretty sure there was even a point in our planning that Shannon was the only person who would still listen to my militant detailing of the day's events.  Her enthusiasm and passion for her job are so evident.

Rarely do you find such shining examples of customer service excellence.

Shannon is a true gem.  I must have hugged her a dozen times in the few moments she dropped into our celebration for.  We were stunned when we opened our gifts to find a congratulatory card and gift from Shannon and the Cambridge Mill; true class.

Jay Vreeland - Grand River Inflatable
I wish to nominate Jay Vreeland of Grand River Inflatables and Games for a WOW Cambridge award.

Jay Vreeland is our operations supervisor and is always focused on providing the highest quality of customer service even in the most difficult situations. Jay will go above and beyond to engage children and customers in providing a “JUMPING GOOD TIME” at their event, while also ensuring a safe event. I often receive kudos for Jay and his staff for example “Your staff were helpful and efficient and your Mr. Vreeland (whose first name escapes me!) did a great job of supervising and making sure things ran smoothly”. Not only does Jay work with Grand River Inflatables and Games, he is also active in the community through coaching multiple sports. He is also busy caring for his three children, three foster children and he and his lovely wife provide before and after school day care.

Grand River Inflatables and Games number one priority is safety and second is customer service. Jay continually meets both those priorities. I know Jay will always take care of my customers.

Irma Arba – Homewood Suites by Hilton Cambridge/Waterloo
I submit this nomination in recognition of Irma Arba, one of our amazing F&B attendants.  Irma joined our team on Nov 10th 2010 and has had considerable impact on our F&B operations, associate relations and our overall guest satisfaction ever since.  Irma is a proud mother of two and grandmother of 4.  When she is not at the Homewood she is consistently working on behalf of her family offering child care to all of her grandchildren and is a constant presence in her husband and children lives.  In her 60’s Irma is still looking to maintain an income and came to use with a work ethic that I wish we could clone and build into the DNA of generations to come!  She takes pride in role here and understands the impact that her actions have on our guests and each other.  She is extremely kind hearted and proud and I sometimes question if she has the word NO in her vocabulary.  As recently as this week our Operations Manager had to order her to take time off to recover from a bacterial lung infection, not because she is desperate for the money but because she does not want to place the burden of her absence on her colleagues.   During Irma’s time with us I have received countless commendations about her from both her coworkers and our guests.  Just in the first 3 months of this year here are some examples of the consistent feedback I receive about Irma; (1)Eli Susman a guest with us was blown away as Irma noticed she turned her nose at the style of eggs being served and brought her some cooked to order (2)Barbara Prinzi said “ At dinner last night Irma could not have been more pleasant and accommodating You are fortunate she is on your team” (3)On February 16th  when Mr. Sharma checked in  Irma noticed right away that this guest was a vegetarian and she ensured that he had a full vegetarian dinner, this guest was extremely thankful as he was hungry after his long journey to get here and unfamiliar with the area.  In addition she perceptiveness set the rest his stay up for success; he is still in house right now with a full belly each morning and evening! (4)On February 21st Irma worked an unexpectedly busy dinner (it was a holiday here in Ontario) on her own, she did it with a smile and such graciousness that our guests never noticed that she really could have used another hand (as noted by Samantha Waterfall, FD Supervisor) (5) as well on February 21st a family arrived following a flood in their home.  We had chili on our menu that night and the family had two small children that did not want chili.  Irma quickly transitioned that chili dinner into spaghetti satisfying both the need for hunger and comfort after such a traumatic event (6)On March 8th the Brasil family arrived at our hotel also following a flood.  Though they had called the hotel prior to arrival and ensured the team that they would not require dinner and knowing they would be arriving after 7pm.  When they arrived they were tired and hungry.  Irma was just about to head out for the night the kitchen being closed and cleaned but she did not hesitate to cook them dinner well after the fact once she noticed them checking out our pantry area and learning that they really could do with a solid meal! Examples as such truly are a constant for me.  Guests tell me all the time how wonderful she is and what an asset she is to our team.  Associates tell me all the time how helpful she is.  Additionally as our associates (and guests) get to know her they are shocked by the stories of hardship she has faced during her lifetime and they’re inspired by her warm, caring and humorous disposition despite the road she has taken to get here. Each and every day that Irma is here and out in our community she sets the example of “being hospitable” she is the perfect fit for a small team offering HUGE service to guests and each other.  For all that she does I would like to recognize Irma with the honor of the spirit award for Q1 2012.

Irma’s impact on our team has been tremendous!  She has helped to build guest loyalty amongst new sets of travelers that have never experiences us before.  For those that are repeat visitors her actions have helped retain these guests as our competition aggressively tries to shift these accounts. All this has translated to huge impact on our ranking within our comp set.  YTD according to STAR for the month of Feb we have experienced a 17.1% growth in occupancy for an overall RevPar of $17.9 % change YOY at the expense of our comp set.   The trend is holding as our latest March STAR tells us we have grown occupancy by 22% for the rolling 28 days. Our leisure travel base has been one of our biggest supporters of growth in both occupancy and rate.  This is largely to do with the value offered at our hotel!  Dinner and weekend breakfasts are Irma’s typical shift, which holds a high “take” rate amongst these travelers.  Irma’s attention to detail and her savvy guest service has aided in the growth in this market segment.  Additionally this segment will pay more than our typical corporate traveler and out of their own pocket none the less!  With Irma’s assistance and actions we have been able to grow the ADR in this segment from $136.05 in Q1 2010 to $138.60 in Q1 2011 to a whopping $157.78 in Q1 2012!   There is a price to be paid and it is worth it, these guests get it and continue to share our story via such outlets as Trip Advisor.  In the hotel world we try as we might to make everything perfect for each and every guest.  And in the examples noted above from guests of ours there was cases were things just did not meet their expectations through no fault of our own.  Dinner being closed on time and a guest arriving late, or a preference over food or a meat dish offered to a vegetarian could easily be dismissed as this is just what it is!  Irma’s quick and considerate actions helped turn that problem into a memorable and fantastic stay.  We can also see this translating on our SALT where we have grown substantially in exceeding the problem resolution rate of our guests.  So far in 2012 we are ahead of the Homewood Benchmark at 18.4% although we are slightly higher than the Homewood Bench Mark with guests that have experienced a problem at .9%.  Irma’s ability to make it right has a powerful impact on our sustainability; stuff happens but it is how you handle the stuff that makes a difference.  When our guests tell us that they love our hotel, the staff is amazing and helpful and get excited about the thought of returning I know this is from having such wonderful team members as Irma that walk the talk, leads by example and takes ownership of the needs of those around her!

Cheryl Vandervalk-Cambridge Memorial Hospital.
Cheryl Vandervalk is the quiet drive heading the Administrative Assistant Team at the Cambridge Memorial Hospital.  Cheryl works in the position of Executive Assistant to the President and CEO Mr. Patrick Gaskin. On any given day Cheryl can be seen directing and helping patients, staff and the public.  It does not matter what’s happening in the office she always greets you with a warm friendly smile.  She welcomes and treats every person with genuine concern and can either solve the problem or knows where to direct you. 

Here is one example of how Cheryl goes out of her way.  One day a gentleman came in to discuss the problem of smoking outside the hospital.  He was not happy; Cheryl took the time to speak with him and take all the details and got to know him over the next few months.  Every time he visited the Hospital he would walk by the office he would stop by and say hello.  One day he was admitted to the hospital. That day, Cheryl was out on her lunch and was driving by Dairy Queen and remembered that he told her that he loved Dairy Queen.  She bought him an ice-cream cone and delivered it to him.  He was so appreciative as no one had ever done anything like this for him before.  The next day came a dozen beautiful roses.  He told her she was the first person to one up him.  On a daily basis Cheryl goes above and beyond helping all who cross the door into Administration with grace, dignity and always a friendly smile.  She is always cheerful and the hospital is lucky to have such a treasure!

Dave Howell - Canada Day Committee
The Cambridge Celebrates Canada Day Committee would like to nominate the new Parade Chairperson Dave Howell as a candidate for the Cambridge Chamber monthly WOW Award for excellent customer service. Dave a retired teacher has been anything but "retired" and continuous to give back to the City of Cambridge. Dave is also chair of Cambridge Riverfest is involved in the Cambridge Highland Games as well as the Region's Multicultural Festival just to name a few. Specifically around Canada Day he just completed his first Canada Day Parade and was a tremendous success. Dave took over the Parade this year following in the foot steps of a long time organizer and we know that when this occurs it is very difficult as the predecessor has many things that become second nature to them making start up for a new person difficult. From the get go Dave handled all situations, cut expenses, built partnerships and a strong base for this long time parade to move forward for many years to come.

We feel that Dave is a very worthy WOW candidate for this award. Dave makes Cambridge a better place!!!

Trudy Vervoort - PLAYFIT Kids Club
After reading your latest email from the Chamber, I would like to nominate one of my employees for excellent customer service. Trudy Vervoort - she is my Club Manager and has continually focused on providing high quality customer service even in the most trying situations. She started part time with me, then moved to full time, promoted to Party Manager and now promoted to Club Manager due to her dedication, reliability and wonderful customer service skills.

Naomi Ferguson - Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre - Cambridge
Naomi is a long standing Case Manager with CCAC, who works out of our Cambridge office.

Her reputation as a caring health care professional is well known within CCAC. 

Most recently she has been the voluntary lead in a 6 month program of mentoring a newly graduated nurse, supporting her to become an effective case manager.  It is for this role we wish to recognize Naomi.

Tanya Morrell- Integrated Health Solutions by Tanya Morrell
I once was very insecure with myself due to my weight issue. I still sometimes find myself looking negatively at myself but that is something I am still working on. Coming to Tanya I wasn't sure how things were going to work out because I have been with other trainers in the past and it didn't work out. My mom went to her years ago saying she was the real deal, and now i know why. She is Tanya has helped me in more ways then one, she is awesome and going to her I have noticed changes in my body. I feel stronger, look better and feel better! I have become more confident and this has helped me with my sports, thanks to Tanya my fitness has improved so much I have many scholarship offers. Just because I do feel some changes now, doesn't mean i have reached my goal we are still working together today and i wouldn't want it any other way! I am glad she pushes me and we have fun! I tell myself everyday you have to push yourself to the point of break to know what you are truly capable of

Michele Arnal – Symposium Café Cambridge
Honesty is its own reward.

Every once in a while something happens in your life you wish to share. This happened last week when my friend took me to lunch at a new restaurant in town called Symposium.

The minute we entered the restaurant, we were approached by the assistant manager, Michele, waving an envelope. When my friend had dined there three weeks before, she had dropped a $100.00 bill under her table. Shortly after she left, Michele was straightening around the table and found the money. She didn’t know my friends name, but was sure she would be back soon. She put her find in an envelope with the hope she would see her again.

I was so impressed with Michele’s honesty. In these times of doom and gloom, it is so nice to have something like this happen. This has certainly reaffirmed my faith in mankind.

Although, due of company policy, Michele would not accept a reward. She said her reward was just to see my friend again and return the money to her.

Rich Van Hemert - Canadian Tire (Pinebush)
I was wandering around Canadian Tire looking for the fire places and could not find them. I walked past several associates but didn't want to bother them as they looked busy. Rich noticed that I was looking for something so he went out of his way to come over and ask if he could help me find anything. He then took me to the fire places (he didn't just point in the direction) and helped me get the exact one that I was looking for. He then carried it to the checkout line and waited with me. I told him he could leave it and I would ask for a carry out as the lineup had a few people ahead of me, but he insisted on waiting and taking it out to my truck, which he did.

He went above and beyond my expectations and because of his outgoing personality and genuine helpfulness, I will return and recommend Canadian Tire Pinebush to all my friends.

Rich is the epitome of what customer service should be.

Matthew Luke - Kal Tires
While driving, I recently had a puncture on one of thetireson my new car and I happened to be near a localautoservice establishment so I went in and they said the tire could not be salvaged because of where the puncture had occured so I had them put on my spare and went back to the car dealer to see ifthe damaged tirewas covered on warrantee.Sadly, it was not covered and they, too, said the damaged tire could not be repaired. The costof a new tire was $175 before tax. I was in a hurry so I left without making a decision.Later, a friendlooked at it and said he'd had a similar puncture andsomeone recommended hego to Kal Tire wherethey were able to repair his tire.

I went there without an appointmentand even thoughthis is their busy season with wintertire installations,Matthew took the wheel out of my trunk andsaid to give him 10 minutes. He returnedafter ashort time with the tire fully repaired and back on the rim. He then instructed me to bring the carto one of their bayswhere he removed the spare, and reintalled the original. While he was doing this, I went backto the front counterto pay and was told there was no charge. WOW!!!

There are many tire dealers in this region but Kal Tire on Eagle St has earned my future business.

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