Whatever You Do … Don’t Do A ‘Barry’

The latest addition to my team here at HQ, a fine
bunch whom I fondly refer to (with, may I add, my tongue very firmly in
my cheek) as my ‘minions’ … is a chap who spent his formative years learning
his trade in a joiners’ workshop, and one of his more repeatable tales was
about his former bosses’ rather sudden fall from grace … as a result of doing
something that seems to happen a lot in business, but is very foolish and also
very harmful to your relationship with your customers…

Well, this chap in charge of the joiners’ workshop … we’ll call him …
‘Barry’ (don’t worry … I’ve changed the name to protect the half-witted…)
;-), and, as well as being responsible for deliveries and collections he also
had the all-important task of liaising with the firm’s many clients (who would
typically be fitting out or re-fitting large well know supermarkets and high
street shops…)

Now, the incident occurred when one of these clients rang ‘Barry’ and asked if
the special bespoke large wooden ‘widget’ they had ordered was ready to be
delivered … and ‘Barry’, knowing that this ‘widget’ was supposed to have been
completed a week ago – but was actually still sat in pieces in the workshop …
decided to try and avoid the inevitable ‘ear bashing’ that would accompany him
delivering bad news … and instead tried to pull a ‘fast one’ by telling this
client that their widget was in fact ready, but unfortunately the delivery
truck was out on site and would be unavailable for a couple of days… (hoping
this ‘ruse’ would give Barry the extra couple of extra days he needed to
complete the job)

I suppose you could argue it ‘sort of’ sounded plausible … (you may have even
heard something similar yourself…) and some may ask what is wrong with a
slight bending of the truth…?

Well, in this case, quite a lot … you see, what never occurred to ‘Barry’ was
that his client would decide to send their own truck to collect the ‘widget’ –
after all … this client had men stood around doing nothing, and they
desperately needed to get the item fitted and finish the job off and in turn
keep their own client happy…

So when a truck unexpectedly pulled up outside the workshop, ready to collect
the widget,  ‘Barry’ had a lot of explaining to do… not only the client
he had lied to … but also his own boss  – the workshop owner – who now
had egg all over his face, having been made to look a complete fool in front of
a major client…

All of this … just because ‘Barry’ wanted to avoid the temporary discomfort
of a few minutes of awkward conversation with the client … but had he been
honest and truthful ‘up front’ he would have avoided what would amount to
considerable embarrassment and grief… not only for himself but for the
workshop owner, who as a result of this subterfuge relieved him of his position
of workshop manager and relegated him to ‘odd job man’…

As short as this tale is, the moral should be obvious … it is always best to
be open, up front and be honest with your customers … because regardless of
how well thought out your plan, how meticulous your preparation … things will
from time to time will go wrong, and it is at this point communication with
your client or customers will be both at its most difficult and its most

It may involve an uncomfortable few minutes on the phone, (as well as a certain
amount of humble pie being eaten), but by simply being honest about the
situation you not only gain the respect of your customers (who are usually
perfectly willing to accept your explanation anyway) … you are also
demonstrating to your customer you are more than capable of identifying and
resolving any problems … and of course you will avoid any of the inevitable
unpleasantness and embarrassment that would almost certainly occur if you had
chosen to ‘do a Barry’…

Until Next Time,


Tim Lowe

Publisher, Tim’s Business
Lowe Down

Tim Lowe