I’ll just be clear from the beginning: Lakeside Appliance in Clearlake is the only store I’ll ever buy an appliance from again. I’ve got my reasons, including my own Lake County Christmas miracle that involves them.
Even without my happy Christmas story, it’s rare to run into a business that runs with such a dedication to customer service, particularly in the appliance sales and repair industry. In fact, Lakeside Appliance often gets confused with other businesses. “We get calls, one or two a week, with people complaining,” Ryan James, the owner told me. “’Where’s my part? It’s been three weeks?’ Or ‘Where’s the service guy?’ I look them up in the book, trying to figure out what I missed, and it turns out they were trying to reach the other place.”
If you ever encounter poor customer service or someone who doesn’t seem to care, check the number you dialed. You will never run into that at Lakeside Appliance. “We look after our customers,” Ryan states as a principle. “You’ve gotta be helpful.” That’s the word to describe this business: helpful. If you buy something from them, they’ll take care of you. If you run into a problem, they’ll be there to help. It’s a powerful model that makes Lakeside such a successful appliance shop. For example, after the Valley Fire, the power didn’t come on for couple weeks in some places. That means that all the food in the refrigerators throughout southern Lake County went bad. Insurance companies all agreed that it truly is impossible to get the smell of rotten meat out of a refrigerator, and ordered new ones for their clients. However, insurance claims take some time to work out. So Ryan decided to loan out fridges to his customers until their new one came. “We were able to loan out twenty-four refrigerators. We took a loss, but it’s what we could do to help.” How could that not create a loyal customer?
I’ve bought a refrigerator, washer, and dryer from Lakeside. We’ve had them all delivered, and for good reason. We live on the side of a mountain, about fifty feet above the road. It’s steep, to the point where people regularly fall walking up our driveway. After the black diamond ski run driveway, you’ll still have to climb thirty-seven steps to get to the level of our front door. I tell everyone about the trek required to get to our home. “Oh, we’ve delivered to places on hills,” they say confidently. But when they look up at those steps after lugging a heavy object up our thirty-degree gravel driveway, I always see despair in their eyes. Some even whine and complain.
Not so with Raymond, who delivers for Lakeside Appliance. I first saw him as he hopped out of the truck, slipped on the hillside a bit, then began to unload. He could barely walk in the back of the truck, it sat slanted so steeply on the driveway. I watched his mind go click, click, click, then rise to the challenge. That’s the kind of person he is. After lugging the fridge up the driveway and steps, he couldn’t fit it in the front door. I saw his eyes light up. Another challenge! He appeared to be saying. Like lightning, he pounded out the door’s hinge pins and slid the fridge into our home without a scratch on it, then happily went on his way, another successful delivery under his belt.
Usually, customer service like this comes at a price. But Ryan knows his clients and markets accordingly. “People buy here because they need to, not because they want to,” he told me. “It’s a necessity based purchase. They aren’t coming in because they want a new color. So I check the prices at Home Depot and Sears and make sure that we can always either match or beat them.” Seriously, why would you want to go to a chain store and talk to someone who doesn’t know the difference between a top and front load washing machine when you could just call Lakeside Appliance? They service the entire county, so that’s no excuse. If you are ever in the market for a washer, dryer, refrigerator or range, I can recommend them unreservedly.
Lakeside Appliance is located at:
14350 Lakeshore Dr, Clearlake, CA 95422