Honesty Is the Best Business Practice

 

Some people choose to make a quick buck the shady way, and some choose to build a reputation and a loyal customer base. I’ve had two good experiences in the past week, and have an appointment with another trusted business tomorrow. Perhaps they will strike a chord with your experiences, good or bad.

Last week, I drove 30 minutes to my dentist, who has been my dentist since 2006. I have no intention of changing dentists, regardless of dental plan, so long as I live within an hour’s drive. This is because bad dentists leverage their expertise to sell unnecessary procedures. Honest dentists tell, and show you, what you must have done to avoid emergencies, then offer additional services you might want if you can afford them.

Today, I took my car to a tire shop, part of a national chain. My right rear tire had gone flat over several days. Checking this morning, after refilling the tire last night, confirmed I had a slow leak. The helpful young man at the counter did not try to sell me a new set of tires. He did not even suggest that I would necessarily need two new tires if one was bad.

We walked out to the car. He checked the year and make of the tires and checked tread depth all around. He pointed out that there was a dark band on the sidewall where the rim had run on the flat tire. His concern was to check for internal wear matching the external mark. Again, no sales hype.

I got some lunch, and talked with regulars in a nearby cigar lounge. It turns out this tire shop has been there for 25 years. They always do a steady business. They also have a long reputation for honesty, for even doing minor repairs for free.

I got my car back with the tire fixed and no charge. I asked twice. No charge. I’ll be back the next time I need new tires.

Tomorrow, I’ll visit a general practitioner with whom I have had positive experiences over several years. Nothing major, I hope, but I want an honest, competent, trusted opinion. I can reasonably expect “my” doctor to get it right and give me good advice and treatment as needed.

Honest business makes good dollars and sense, don’t you think? Have you seen sharp operators do well, in the long run? Is there someone you choose to do business with, even though they are not the cheapest “sticker price” in town?

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  1. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    While it’s not car repair, I’ve had my hair cut by the same person for almost 28 years. He is great, why change?

    We have a good plumber we know.  Reasonably priced, but honest above all else.

    I’ll pay a bit more per unit for honesty, because I know I’ll get better value and only what I need in the long run.

    • #1
  2. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Our dentist is also about 30 minutes away. Sixteen years ago, he was only 15 minutes away, but we moved and kept him.

    Last night he fitted my son in at 5 pm (my son has to get back to college this weekend and had been delaying his dental care). He always does the cleanings himself, and we usually go as a whole family (all 8 of us). 

    His office is pleasant and clean, and it is just him and his assistant. I love it.

    I’ve recommended him to people with dental phobia and always hear such nice feedback. Very peaceful and well worth whatever we pay.

    I travel about fifteen minutes to a good grocery store in another town to avoid the two I don’t like in my town.

    (And the reason I don’t have a good grocery store in my town is because of my state. It’s a long story, but the good grocery chain bought one of the bad chains in my town, but the state wouldn’t let them operate it because they were too good so they had to sell that store to an even worse chain. So now we have a bad and a very bad grocery store. Thanks New York!)

    • #2
  3. Ralphie Inactive
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    As someone who has a mechanic mechanic in the family (son,self employed), there is a strong public perception that most mechanics are ripoff artists, esp. to women. I don’t know that that is true as much as many of them just aren’t that good.  They are called parts hangers, that is, they throw parts on hoping the problem will be fixed. I assume there are a lot of workers in other professions that operate that way. I also know that if you do not have a thirst for knowledge to understand what you are doing, you may never get very good. Good enough is generally not a high standard.

    My son went to a seminar years ago when he first started provided by one of the parts stores.  They said people feel better having a new part rather than having a repair on an old part. And there is some truth to that today because so many parts are not really fixable.  And the cost to repair a part is near what it is to put a new part on. Yet, I have overheard my son find a loose wire and put it on for free or a few dollars.   I think he has a good reputation, he is pretty swamped with work.   A good sign is when your customers bring you gifts or give you discounts where they work.  He put air in an elderly woman’s car for free one summer, and she started crying.  

    Bottom line is people buy from people and want them to care about them. You have to make money too, but it isn’t all about money.  

    • #3
  4. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Our mechanic is only about 4 minutes away, but we would travel far to come to him.

    He is honest, fair, kind, and helpful.

    We have 4 cars on the road, with five drivers in the house.

    • #4
  5. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    I heard something recently, and I wrote it down in a notepad file I keep called “Things to always remember.”  It’s reserved for nuggets of wisdom I want to make a point to hold onto.

    Anyways, what I wrote down was this: Integrity lowers the price of capital.  

    You know, I’ve worked for honest businessmen and I’ve worked for sleazy ones.  The honest ones don’t seem to have trouble paying their bills.  The sleazy ones … do.

     

    • #5
  6. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    There is company in the area that started out as a siding company back in the late ‘60’s. Since then, they have expanded to roofs, windows, doors and some other outside projects. They are not the cheapest deal in town, but reliable, do an excellent job, and stand by their work. It’s worth the price. When they put the screened in deck on, the project manager noticed the shutters on the garage (put up by someone else) were faded. He suggested replacing them. I reminded him the shutters weren’t there’s. He said it didn’t matter. They replaced them, free of charge. Great people to work with. I wish all the time they did interiors. My bathrooms would had turned out much better. 

    • #6
  7. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I try to hard to be the honest businessman in my high-technology niche.  It has been essential for the 15 years I’ve been in business.  Clients are always nervous shopping in this niche, as there are many opportunities for technology vendors to puff up problems and hide crappy work.  I go to great lengths to write proposals that clearly explain the scope so a non-technical manager understands (along with any future lawyers).  I’ve been told a number of times, after winning a bid, that my five- or ten-page proposal was a slam dunk against the competition’s single paragraph on a single page.  The competition’s fear of overcommitting in their proposal kills their chances against me — I’m delighted to be held to my proposals.  (-:

    • #7
  8. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    The reason I waited 9 months to get our new roofs after Irma was because I wanted my roofer to do the job.  He’s probably done almost half of the homes in our 1500 home community.  He does a careful job, his workers are polite and helpful, and he periodically drives through the neighborhood checking his past jobs to see how they are holding up. 

    You may get a chuckle out of what happened on his repair of our roof.  After a job is complete, he personally walks the site to make sure that all the debris and nails have been cleaned up.  He found 2 dead raccoons under a bush behind our hangar.  Apparently they had fought each other to the death.  Instead of just letting us know, he bagged them up, sprayed the area with some kind of deodorizing product, and then hauled them off.  Service above and beyond.

    • #8
  9. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    Blondie (View Comment):

    There is company in the area that started out as a siding company back in the late ‘60’s. Since then, they have expanded to roofs, windows, doors and some other outside projects. They are not the cheapest deal in town, but reliable, do an excellent job, and stand by their work. 

    I was about to post something very similar, and since we’re both in North Carolina, it’s possible I’m even thinking of the same company.

    Some years ago we had them install vinyl siding and new windows on our house, based on a recommendation from a friend. I was impressed by their professionalism, from start to finish. They explained everything they were going to do, showed up when they said they would, and cleaned up after they finished.

    When it came time to replace our roof last year, I didn’t even bother getting estimates from anyone else. I am sure we paid more than we might have with another company, but I am completely OK with that.

    • #9
  10. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    I am sure we paid more than we might have with another company, but I am completely OK with that.

    The cost is almost never only in dollars.

    You probably didn’t pay more in that analysis.

    • #10
  11. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    My dentist is in Costa Rica. I have made four trips since  2000. He does great work and between MrsCheese and I we have saved somewhere inthe neighborhood of $60,000.00 and also had nice vacations. He is US educated and his equipment is more modern than most here. He owns a lab that ships crowns and such world wide using 3D printing in some cases. He is 1/3 of prices here in the Low Country.

    • #11
  12. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Year ago we had just bought a house. It was old, and had all kinds of problems, massive termite infestations among them.

    One expert who had advised on some rot runs an extermination company. He knew I did not want to pay for his services, and he happily and freely told me how to handle the termites myself, and future-proof in all new work I did.  So I did it, paying him nothing beyond services already agreed. I was poorer then.

    Time moves on. Last year, mosquito and tick spraying came to town. The exterminators come out every few weeks, spray, and voila! no mosquitos at all. I called the exterminator company and hired them – and for this year as well. I did not even price check: I owe them a solid, and they have my business going forward.

    • #12
  13. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Anyways, what I wrote down was this: Integrity lowers the price of capital.

    Wonderfully put.  Something indeed to be remembered.

    • #13
  14. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Anyways, what I wrote down was this: Integrity lowers the price of capital.

    Wonderfully put. Something indeed to be remembered.

    That’s why I wrote it down when I heard it.

    Idk if it’s original to him.  But I heard it from Jonah Goldberg on his podcast.

    • #14
  15. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    iWe (View Comment):
    I owe them a solid, and they have my business going forward

    These are the best kinds of business relationships.

    In our small town, Papa Toad has a number of reliable people he likes to work with. And then the rest…

    Maynard Life Outdoors and Hidden History of Maynard: Wild ...

    (turkeys…)

    • #15
  16. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    Blondie (View Comment):

    There is company in the area that started out as a siding company back in the late ‘60’s. Since then, they have expanded to roofs, windows, doors and some other outside projects. They are not the cheapest deal in town, but reliable, do an excellent job, and stand by their work.

    I was about to post something very similar, and since we’re both in North Carolina, it’s possible I’m even thinking of the same company.

    Now comes the test for the company. The head guy just retired and handed over the reigns to another company guy. His job is to keep the same level of quality. 

    • #16
  17. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    Blondie (View Comment):

    Now comes the test for the company. The head guy just retired and handed over the reigns to another company guy. His job is to keep the same level of quality.

    As I suspected, we are talking about the same company. I’m not surprised.

    I thought it was interesting that they sent out a letter to all of their customers just to announce a change of CEO. How many companies would do that? I couldn’t even name the CEOs of most of the companies I deal with, but this one I did know, because he personally stands behind everything the company does and makes sure you know it.

    You’re right that this will be a test. If the outgoing CEO did his job right, he’s put in place a system and a corporate culture that will maintain his values even without him at the helm.

    • #17
  18. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Our mechanic is only about 4 minutes away, but we would travel far to come to him.

    He is honest, fair, kind, and helpful.

    We have 4 cars on the road, with five drivers in the house.

    We have had one car mechanic for twenty years. Is there anyone more important to parents than the mechanic who checks the brakes on the car their children drive? 

    • #18
  19. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    I heard something recently, and I wrote it down in a notepad file I keep called “Things to always remember.” It’s reserved for nuggets of wisdom I want to make a point to hold onto.

    Anyways, what I wrote down was this: Integrity lowers the price of capital.

    You know, I’ve worked for honest businessmen and I’ve worked for sleazy ones. The honest ones don’t seem to have trouble paying their bills. The sleazy ones … do.

     

    How much does Ricochet owe you?

    • #19
  20. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    I heard something recently, and I wrote it down in a notepad file I keep called “Things to always remember.” It’s reserved for nuggets of wisdom I want to make a point to hold onto.

    Anyways, what I wrote down was this: Integrity lowers the price of capital.

    You know, I’ve worked for honest businessmen and I’ve worked for sleazy ones. The honest ones don’t seem to have trouble paying their bills. The sleazy ones … do.

     

    How much does Ricochet owe you?

    Ricochet falls into the honest category. 

    • #20
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    […]

    You know, I’ve worked for honest businessmen and I’ve worked for sleazy ones. The honest ones don’t seem to have trouble paying their bills. The sleazy ones … do.

    I’ve watched a couple small businesses get used as ATMs by owners, eventually resulting in late bills, leading to loss of suppliers and stock, leading to loss of cash available, leading to eventual rent and utility issues. These were almost recession proof businesses, but could not withstand the man-made disaster of sleaze.

    • #21
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    I appreciate the way comments have moved from just the customer perspective, to the business-serving-business case, and possibly employee experiences.

    • #22
  23. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    I have rarely seen this side of companies I worked with.  Every place I worked was incredibly dysfunctional, trying to screw over anyone they could – especially their employees.  If it was a choice between someone getting maimed for life or spending a few bucks, money always came first.  Even if you have no soul and literally no concern beside money, every worker lost is more time and money spent on training.  And someone with pride in their work and a sense that they will be rewarded for excellence without being expected to be perfect is worth many people just punching the clock.

    Being a reasonable boss is extremely motivating to workers – my current boss always has your back and is very understanding  – but a bad boss will poison the workplace.  

    I’ve always made a point to patronize people who take good care of me as a customer.  I have been going to and recommending this one hardware store for over a decade.  Owner is a hardware store owner out of central casting.

    • #23
  24. John Hendrix Thatcher
    John Hendrix
    @JohnHendrix

    A local auto shop. 

    They aren’t the cheapest folks on the block. That said, they are very careful not to recommend replacing a particular part unless their diagnostics has tracked down the symptoms to said part.  

     

    • #24

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