Sunday, August 27, 2006

business decency

My remote garage door opener wasn't working, so I called Advanced Garage Door Service, as their number was posted inside my garage. I left a message explaining my problem. Later I received a call from Troy from AGDS. After Troy gathered the info that he needed, he offered to give me a garage door opener that he thought might work. Perhaps he had no use for the obsolete opener that he gave me, as they are over 25 years old and they are no longer made. Perhaps so, but Troy could have just as easily recommended a service call, and I would certainly have accepted his recommendation. So Troy bypassed an opportunity to make money, instead offering something free to a complete stranger. Is Troy a decent idiot?

No. While it certainly seems as if Troy is a nice guy, I suspect that he is also a smart businessman. A smart business person understands that if they meet the needs of their customers, they will earn a good reputation, and in the long run, they will be rewarded with customer loyalty. Yes, there can be short term losses, and some people may take advantage of your decency, but in the long run, treating your customers well is the key to success in business.

I offer this story for two reasons. First, I wanted to reward Troy. If you need your garage door serviced, it sure seems as though Troy will treat you fairly. But more importantly, this minor, nearly insignificant interaction between Troy and myself can help dispel an all too common misperception about business and what it takes to succeed in business. Many people seemingly believe that success in business is only possible if you sacrifice your decency. I don't believe that that is true. Certainly some skilled shysters can become rich. But a far better strategy is to develop a level of trust with your customers. Treat them well and they will reward you. A business person need not make a choice between decency and success. Thanks again Troy!

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