Something For Nothing


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I had 2 very interesting experiences while out shopping for materials to make some repairs around the house.

The first was to repair a step on our deck. I was looking for a 2 short pieces (less than 3 feet) of cedar which were both different widths (6 & 8 inches). The problem was that every lumber store I went to would only sell me 8 foot lengths — at a cost of approx $20.00 each. So for my little step I needed to spend $40.00.

Being the frugal fellow that I am, I decided to drop by one of the local deck companies (Forest Deck in York Region) to see if they would sell me a couple shorter pieces they might have left over.

I spoke to the owner, who took me back to his yard and personally helped me select 2 good pieces that were the correct size. When I offered to pay, he declined with the comment “what goes around comes around”.

A second trip was to Brofasco to purchase some washers. I found the perfect washer and ordered 30. In this case, the clerk explained they had a minimum purchase threshold of $10.00, so I was welcome to them with their compliments. The interesting thing is, the clerk was not the owner, but he sure acted like one. He understood that the financial loss of 30 washers (probably around $2.00) against the goodwill he created on behalf of his employer was worth the investment.

WOW — both of these Moments of Truth teach us a lesson.

  1. Thinking like an owner gives you a different view on the policies. It makes you think longer term that just following rules like a robot. It also gives employees a sense of worth and importance within the organization.
  2. Small investments can made a big impression. Customers remember small things because of the emotional value. In both cases, the cost was very little — but they demonstrated the type of company that I was dealing with. Since that time (aside from this blog) I have already told a number of people about my experiences.

My Perspective:  Make sure your employees understand how they can affect the overall business picture. Expect them to think like an owner, and act like an owner. Give them an opportunity to use good judgement — you will be surprised by how well they do.


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