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Transparent Crisis Management: My Car Was Stolen Last Night

· Transparency,client success,trust,Crisis Management

My car was stolen last night...

If you got to the end of my book, The Transparency Sale, and read the “Afterword”, you know the story of our lost family dog. Back in 2015, we went on vacation to Disneyland, entrusting a local boarding facility to watch our dogs. They lost one of them.

But, what was 1000x worse about that story? They lied about what happened - from the first words out of their mouth.

Not transparent.

As a result, it turned into what locals still refer to as the craziest lost dog search they’ve ever seen. It ended in a courtroom...and we still don’t have our dog.


Last night, another thing happened...that seems like it could only happen to me.

I had purchased a car back in June of 2019 - a Ford Explorer. Ever since I got the car, it’s had minor electronics issues, which became more substantial last week.

So, yesterday I took the car back to the dealership to fix the remaining issues. They were missing a part, so needed to keep the car overnight.

I was expecting a call this morning to tell me the problem had been resolved, and I could come pick up the car.

Well, I did receive a call this morning around 10:10am from the dealership, but it wasn’t to tell me the car was ready. Oh, no...quite the opposite.

“Mr. Caponi, how quickly can you get to the dealership?”

“Well, I’m about to teach a class. Why? What’s up? Is the car ready?”

“No, and I’d really prefer to tell you what happened in person.”

“What happened? That sounds ominous. Any chance you can tell me right now, so I’m not thinking about it for the next few hours until I can get over there?”

He then told me the news…

At around 1:15am, four masked individuals used a stolen car as a battering ram to enter the dealership’s parking lot. Once into the parking lot, they used that same car to knock down another fence leading to the service garage entrance.

They then broke a window on the garage, climbed in and opened the garage. From there, they each took a car - leaving the car they used as a battering ram as a souvenir.

They proceeded to take a Mercedes, a dealership shuttle van, and two Ford Explorers...mine being one of them.

No way!

And no way I was going to be able to teach - so I postponed the class and headed over to the dealership.

Upon arrival, the Service Director was there waiting for me.

He was totally distraught. He had been up and at the dealership since 1:30 am.

He proceeded to 100% OWN IT. 

He apologized profusely.

He then offered to show me the surveillance video.

I watched. I watched the video of these thieves busting into the garage, and eventually driving off in my car. It was surreal.

I asked, “How did they get the keys?”

He replied, “They were in the car.”

No hesitation. No excuses. No further explanation needed.



The result? Trust.

I’ve had three calls with the police so far today, four with insurance, and one long-wait-time call with the Illinois Tollway Authority reporting my toll transponder as stolen.

But I’m not mad at the dealership. Not even a little.

Imagine that. I entrusted them to keep and fix my car, and instead it’s gone...likely forever (given the conversations I’ve had with the police today).

Transparency - creating customers who buy faster, stay longer, buy more and are more likely to advocate on your behalf...

Why? Because transparency builds trust. I feel clinical levels of empathy for this service director. I sent him an email tonight in appreciation for how he's handled the situation so far - with the caveat that it's only day one.

You will screw up. Things will go wrong. Sometimes, horribly wrong.

I may get my car back - but I’m guessing I probably won’t. But if I do, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it back to this dealership.

Crisis Management 101: Make sure your first instinct is transparency.

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