A few weeks ago, in need of a some topsoil for my front yard, I called a local businessman who deals in excavating. When he stopped by the house to find out what I needed, I showed him the small area that I wanted to cover and I asked him if he thought a half or a third of a load would be enough. He assured me that I would need a full load. Not knowing the size of his truck, I trusted him and went with the full load.

It was complete up-sell.

When he returned to dump the dirt, he didn’t even knock on the door to let me know he was dropping it. If he had, believe me, I would have stopped him when he started dumping. His truck was large enough that I only needed a fraction of what he had to offer. I didn’t need a full load, a half load, or a third of a load. I needed about a fifth of a load…and the rest was up-sell.

I spread that very small amount of dirt that I needed, spread some more to try to use it up, and then called friends who might need dirt for their yards. I still have dirt left to rid myself of.

The experience was less than satisfactory.

The second businessman.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working on remodeling a house that I bought late last year. With that adventure has come many trips to the local hardware shops. In our small town, we have two hardware stores. One that has been family owned in our small town for over 100 years, Jones and Berry Lumber Co., and one that is relatively new and owned by a local chain, Hank’s Hardware.

Whenever I walk into Jones and Berry, I’m always greeted by name by either Dan, the owner, or his employees who’ve been working for him for years. A few days ago, I was in there looking for some paint to make the cabinet in the bathroom coordinate with the cabinets in the kitchen. I left the store with the paint, some screws, and they did some cuts for me on a door in the mill, all without paying.

“Don’t worry about it, Nick,” Dave, one of the long-time employees, explained, “We’re just glad to have you back in town.”

It’s probably not difficult to figure out why Jones and Berry is now my only source of local home improvement happiness.

Flesh it out

Look at the two stories above. What lessons do you see? Have you ever experienced a business relationship or been the customer somewhere that made you feel similar to how I may have felt in the stories above? Explain.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.


  • Leif G.S. says:

    Nothing like a poor example of a business transaction to make you remember the ones that did their job right. Great examples here, gives me something to think about as I keep trying to expand. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Bleach vostf says:

    What experience do you have lived!!! I think they want to inflate the bill that’s why he do that, thank you for sharing

  • ah hong says:

    Seriouly I would be furious if I am the customer in the first story 🙂 Upselling may let you gain short term profit but it will destroy your own credibility.

    I would prefer to be the businessman in the second story. Engage your customer by being trustworthy and they will always come back to you for your service 🙂

    • I was pretty upset about it. It was very annoying to have spent far more than I needed to spend and have to do far more work as a result. I marked it up as a loss on just about every count.

  • Muhito says:

    Your story teaches one the importance of experience. You made the mistake by not authorizing the truck guy to notify you before dumping the dirt. That’s life though.
    “Moving on and learning from mistakes is life”

    • I suppose in some way, ultimately, it was my fault for not being more aware of that particular business man. I’m so used to the folks down and Jones and Berry and others in the area, that I just get used to folks being honest and conducting good business.

  • Short term gain always buries your business! (pun intended!)

    And it’s amazing how remembering a name, combined with a smile–just those simple, easy things–can make such a huge difference in our society. Sadly, because it seems to be so rare.

    • Well said.

      It’s refreshing to be back in a small town. I just moved back here from the Washington DC area. It’s not nearly as rare here as I feel it was there.

      And yes, it really does go a very long way toward making a lasting impression. It sure went a long way with me.

  • In Australia large chain stores have dominated for about 15 years.
    Larger purchasing power and ruthless business practices meant the little guys were pushed out.

    However, with the onset of retail moving online the chain stores now don’t compete on price like they used to. Their service is woeful at best and all of a sudden little micro-niche stores are reopening.

    Old fashioned service like your friends at the hardware store are beginning to gain traction.

    I just wrote an article on it last week on my blog.

  • Noel Addison says:

    The first story really sounds annoying.

Leave a Reply