You never know when life will teach you a lesson when you least expected it.
I was at the local Farmer’s Market in Homewood, Illinois, last Saturday. I was hoping to buy the last good peaches of the year. I surveyed the sellers’ wares, and nothing looked spectacular. I finally found a batch that appeared okay. I asked the farmer, a young woman from South Haven, Michigan, how the peaches were. “They’re good, last ones of the season,” she said. So I bought them.
I took them home, left them out overnight and tried one the next morning. Awful. Mushy garbage. I threw them all out. I made a quiet vow never to buy another ounce of fruit from her again. It was not just that they were bad. It was that she had to have known they were bad, yet sold them to me with a straight face. I am a bit of a fruit fanatic.
The next day I went to my favorite farmers’ market to buy apples for the winter’s applesauce. I went to my favorite fruit vendor, Mr. Hardin of Hardin’s Orchard, west of Kalamazoo. I bought a bushel and a half of apples from him and then asked if he had any good peaches. I’ve been buying from him for 10 years, and he always tells me the truth about fruit. If he’s selling blueberries and too much rain made them look plump and delicious he’ll tell me to wait a couple of weeks when the good ones will be ripe. Hardin knows his apples, and I rely on him. He told me his peaches were sweet and delicious, and they were. Every single one. He earned my business for another year.
By the way, Hardin is the busiest vendor at the market every Sunday. It was a business lesson relearned on peaches. If you want long-term customers always be straight with them, especially the less-experienced ones who may not know what they don’t know. Don’t promise more than you can deliver.
Mistakes will always be made. When Graff-Pinkert resells used machinery we do not get any guarantees from the people who sold us their no-longer-needed machine tools. Sometimes they answer us honestly if we ask the right questions. Actually, most people are straight if you know what to ask them and ask it in the right way. But at an auction rarely do the sellers volunteer information, particularly if it is negative. But if you are in the business of trying to develop long-term relationships you have to tell people when the peaches are mushy when you know they are.
Question: What stories do you have about being duped?