Don’t Siphon Off Cents

I sat in a car dealership lobby a few years ago and overheard every service advisor recommend “additional work” to every customer. Most of the customers accepted the recommendations without raising questions.

So, I waited for my turn. The service advisor came out and did not disappoint. He made his pitch, even throwing in, “your car will not pass inspection with this problem.”  

What he didn’t know is that I am notoriously frugal, and I grew up around mechanics. I rejected his pitch and followed up with a certified mechanic to confirm his bogus recommendations. Sure enough, they were all upselling for company profits, not customer-needed repairs. 

A couple of days later, they sent me a survey asking about my visit. I replied truthfully. The service manager called and assured me this was not “the culture they were trying to create.” I assured him “that it was the culture they were, in fact, creating.”

It’s been over ten years, and I have yet to return to the dealer for repairs or a new car. And I won’t. 

What has this attempt to get an extra 100 dollars from me cost the company over the past decade?

I wrote this down to remind myself of the worth of a long-term relationship with valued customers. 

When we lose sight of this, we try to siphon off cents at the expense of decades of dollars, which is a losing proposition for our business and our customers. 

This is critically important to remember right now. 

Every day we hear news stories about poor economic conditions, raising our anxiety. 

Anxiety has a narrowing impact on our minds. It focuses on scarcity. 

So we must swim against that impulse to siphon off cents. We must focus on delivering value and solving problems for our customers. 

And believe that treating people right will always pay off in the long run.  


Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford is Director of Content and Product Strategy for Leadercast. Brian has been telling stories professionally for twenty-five years. Stories that inspire people to see themselves and the world differently. Stories that challenge people to take meaningful action in the world.

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