- August 9, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Business, Leadership
I’ve always tried to treat people fairly, even going above and beyond what’s expected of me. I’ve been in more than a few situations that I didn’t need to do this. I wouldn’t have done anything wrong, and I could have received a small benefit to myself in the end. But by treating the other person a little more than fairly, I made a strong friend and ally in the end.
Several years ago, the utility companies in Texas were offering their customers big credits and rebates for retrofitting their lighting to a more efficient lighting system as a way to reduce their electrical demands. This was more for larger users of power, and as a manufacturing facility with 140 people and automated machinery, we were definitely a large user of power.
One of our distributors also specialized in industrial lighting. They did a lighting audit and gave us a proposal that if we changed out all our lighting to a more efficient system, we would get a very substantial rebate check.
The ROI looked good, and I asked them to go ahead and do the change out. But when we got the rebate check, it was much greater than our distributor had originally calculated. We had received more than what the distributor originally expected.
So I did what seemed to be the honorable thing. I took the difference between what they calculated and what we received, and I split it in half. I invited the owner of the distributorship to my office and I presented him with a check for half of the excess rebate.
He told me this was the only time in his business career that a customer had ever done that for him. This was a guy who started his own business 50 odd years ago, and is very successful, but never had a customer ever done that for him. He still tells that story today.
To be sure, the money would have been nice. It’s always nice to have found money, but the extra money came to us because of the work that our distributor did for us. And even if he underestimated the size of the rebate, the nicer thing, the more honorable response, was to share the excess with him. It was a nice thank you, and it didn’t actually cost me anything to do it. It was a surprise bonus, and I believe in sharing good fortune, so I was more than happy to do it.
As an added benefit, he’s never beaten me up on price either. He names a price that’s fair to us and fair to him, and he is still one of the most profitable customers Robroy has. Because my little gift has also definitely strengthened the dynamics of that relationship.
I have certain rules I’ve always lived by. If you’re going to give your word, keep it. If you’re going to do something, do it very well or don’t do it at all. And treat people fairly at all times, even when it may not be to your immediate benefit. If you’re consistent in those three things, you can develop a reputation such that people want to participate with you and your program, instead of reluctantly participating out of a sense of duty.
How do you share your good fortunes with other? How do you treat people fairly? What is your concept of “fair play?” Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.