Why are we afraid to make money?

Just the other day, while standing in line at the counter of our local supply house. I found myself standing next to another plumber that owned his company, he was about 50 years old, and wore glasses that just seemed to hang on the tip of his nose. He had grey, mussed-up hair, and wore an old Budweiser T-shirt. He also sported a dirty pair of blue jeans, that were covered in yellow glue, and probably should have been thrown away years ago. He stood in line behind me, and after several minutes we found ourselves exchanging pleasantries. We talked about our companies. We talked about pricing, and what services we offered. We found ourselves on the subject of add ons for water heaters. I explained all the various items we add to the water heater to extend the life of the unit, and we add several safety features etc. etc. etc…..He looked right at me with a look of disdain and a tad bit of disgust, shook his head and said “I never sell what the customer doesn’t need. That’s just ripping them off.”

I found myself laughing, which I could tell from the look on his face that I was now annoying him, by laughing. I found myself thinking how can this guy compare the two of us or even compare our companies. I was dressed in a nice polo with the name of our company embroidered on it. I wore clean khaki pants, my hair was trimmed neatly and I was clean-shaven. I knew we were from two different worlds and had two different sets of customers, but this guy wanted to lump us together. “Alright,” I said, “Let me ask you four simple questions so that I can be sure not to rip off my customers in the future.” He knew I had something up my sleeve but he nodded in agreement anyway. So I fired away.

Are you the person buying the repair or replacement?

Because if you are the one paying, then you have all the rights in the world to the level and cost of the repair.

Are you the customer’s mother or their accountant?

Well of course Mom will look out for you.

Are you the one that decides how that homeowner will spend their paycheck?

I’m guessing in most cases the answer to this is a resounding “NO”. That also means it is none of your business on how a customer spends that money.

Are YOU the one that decides what a customer wants and needs?

You may have the right to decide what you are willing to fix and what you think should be fixed, BUT you don’t have the right to tell the customer what they want or need.

He looked at me, for what seemed like 10 minutes (in reality it was only 30 seconds) as he processed the four questions I just asked. He seemed trying to figure out a counter-argument, and say that we should not be giving the customer what they want. Out of a lack of knowing what to say he just grunted, shook his head, and stomped away mad, saying nothing.

Well, you can’t win them all.