I love passing on good customer service stories in my blog posts? Why? Because I want business decision makers to know that putting a little extra effort into customer service makes a difference and the free publicity is a nice way to reward good customer service. Writing this post was especially fun for me because it involves a passion of mine – fly fishing.

Last year, I was looking for a good “backup” fly fishing rod and stumbled into a small company called Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel out of Loveland Colorado. The Elkhorn name kept coming up in on-line fly fishing community sites so I decided to take a look at what they had to offer. Elkhorn isn’t a well-know brand like Sage or G Loomis but I decided take a chance on one of their Nomad rods and T Series reels because they looked like a good value and I like to support small local businesses when I can.

My rod and reel arrived without delay and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of both – considering the relatively low cost of the rod and reel combo. My “backup” rod looked almost as good as my $600 G Loomis rod. I also appreciated the high-quality rod holder that Elkhorn included with the rod. At this point I was already a happy customer. This isn’t a fly fishing blog so I’ll try to stay focused on the customer service story and skip the rod and reel review.

A couple days after I received my order it occurred to me that I should have a cover my my shinny new reel. Covers are often included with reels so I decided to call Elkhorn to make sure I didn’t somehow miss out on a reel cover that should have been included with my order. So I called Elkhorn. To my surprise Brian Chavet, the owner of Elkhorn picked up the phone. I had read that he often did but it kind of caught me off guard. I asked him about the reel cover for my reel and he explained a very friendly way that a cover isn’t included with the reel I ordered. I was fine with this answer considering the cost of the reel. Brian offered to send me a cover for the reel. At first, I hesitated, because I thought he was going charge me for the cover + shipping which I could easily get locally for less. I was completely blown away when Brian offered to send me the cover completely free of charge and shipped at his expense. At this point, Brian’s approach to customer service had already turned me into a lifetime customer and an evangelist for his products. But this isn’t the end of the story.


My reel cover arrived quickly – Brian didn’t try to save a few dollars by sending the cover the least expensive way. It was a great quality cover that fit the reel perfectly. Included in the package was a “Courtesy Card” (pictured above) with Brian’s name and phone number on it and 8 fly fishing flies appropriate for the waters I fish – again, I was blown away. A fly fishing fly costs about $2 in a local fly fishing shop so you could easily call this a $15 value. The reel cover and the complimentary flies made a real impression on me – enough to form a story that was worth passing on.

Brian’s commitment to exceptional customer service turned me into a lifetime Elkhorn customer. I’ll buy another rod or reel from Brian in the future. Better yet, it created a story powerful enough that I’m motivated to pass it on. A story like this sells product. Brian can compete against rod manufacturers like Sage and G Loomis by leveraging the small size of his organization to provide a personal touch – the kind of customer service larger companies have a hard time providing. Hopefully, Brian and Elkhorn can keep it up as the business grows.

Great customer service makes a difference. Thanks Brian!

Cale Bruckner

Cale BrucknerCale Bruckner

Cale has developed a strong insight for what works and what doesn't work when it comes to business plans and marketing plans. He has business degrees in marketing and management from the Charles H. Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon and a solid background in business management and product marketing.