Dear Mr. Farrell,
I’ve been coming to your restaurants for over three years to order a #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I always asked for an extra pickle and I always got one. Mind you, this has been going on once or twice a week for three years.
I came into your restaurant the other day and I ordered my usual #2 hamburger and chocolate shake. I asked the young waitress for the extra pickle. I believe she was new because I hadn’t seen her before.
She said, “Sir, I will sell you a side of pickles for $1.25.”
I told her “No, I just want one extra slice of pickle, I always ask for it and they always give it to me. Go ask your manager.”
She went away and came back after speaking with the manager. The waitress looked me in the eye and said, “I’ll sell you a pickle for a nickel.”
Mr. Farrell, I told her what to do with her pickle, hamburger and the milkshake. I’m not coming back to your restaurant if that’s the way you’re going to run it.”
– The Customer
He signed his name, and fortunately for me, included his address. I wrote him a letter and enclosed a card for a free hot-fudge sundae. I assured him we didn’t run our business that way, apologized, and asked him to please come back. I signed the letter and didn’t expect to hear from him again.
A year later my wife was flying to Norway and I accompanied her to the airport wearing my Farrell’s jacket. As I checked her baggage the young man behind the counter asked me. “Do you work for Farrell’s?”
I told him I did.
He smiled and said “I go there all the time. They’re so good. In fact,” he continued, “I wrote Mr. Farrell a letter once.”
“No kidding?’ I said. “Well, that’s me.”
He looked at my wife’s ticket and said “By golly, you are Mr. Farrell.” He then reached out and shook my hand.
“What was the letter about?’ I asked.
“Oh no, you wouldn’t remember it,” he said.
“Tell my about it so I can try.”
I looked at him in utter surprise. “The pickle! I never forgot the pickle story. I’ve told thousands of people about that pickle.”
Curious, I asked him what he did for the airline.
“I’m in charge of customer service at the front counter,” he said. “It’s my job to make sure everyone flying overseas on our airline has all they need to assure them of a good time.”
“No wonder you were angry about the pickle,” I said. “You’re obsessed with service, and when you didn’t get it you got upset.”
“Yes, I’m afraid I did,” he said.
I thanked him for writing and assured him his letter has had a far bigger impact then he ever imagined.
Story #2 – The Parking Ticket
Know your pickles…If there’s any one message to communicate, it’s the importance of giving away pickles.
The secret of running a good business is a willingness to “Give ’em the pickle.”
Of course, that means -you have to know what a pickle is in your business.
Several years ago the Wall Street Journal reported on an incident which occurred in Spokane, Washington.
A man dressed in dirty coveralls entered a bank and asked a teller to validate his 35 cent parking ticket.
She looked at the man’s unshaven face and tattered clothes and asked, “Did you do business in the bank today?”
“No, I didn’t” he replied. “I had to run into the drug store next door, and they don’t validate parking. I didn’t bring any cash with me and hoped you’d validate my parking ticket since I have an account here.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the woman replied, “but if you didn’t do business in the bank today, I can’t validate your parking ticket.”
“Well, let’s do some business then.” The man said.
“Fine, what would you have me to do?” the teller asked.
“I want you to close out my account!”
Startled by his request the teller told him that wouldn’t be necessary.
“No, I want my ticket validated,” he insisted. “You said I had to do business in the bank to get it validated, and this is the business I want to do.”
“Very well,” the teller said.
She took the man’s name and went to a computer to find out how much money he had in the bank. When the number appeared on the screen her face turned ashen white. She called the manager over and explained what had happened. He then approached the customer and assured him the bank would gladly validate his 35 cent parking ticket without him closing out his account.
“Close the account!” the man insisted.
A short time later he walked out of the bank with over $1,260,000.00 and a validated parking ticket.
He immediately walked across the street and opened an account in another bank.
Foolish teller…had a chance to give a customer a 35 cent pickle and didn’t. You can never tell who a customer is by how they dress. Since that’s the case – give them all a pickle!
It takes years to develop good clients. Keep your relationship strong. Let them know you care.