2004 Spring/Summer Volume No. 3
Do The Right Thing…
PolyJohn Enterprises Corporation
Decisions are like crossroads, they can take you in one direction or another. Once you start down a new road, it can be difficult to ever get back to the road you were on before. It’s especially difficult if the road you choose is the slippery slope of unethical behavior.
In our business, that could mean overcharging or under-delivering, bad-mouthing competitors or telling lies about them, or simply cutting corners.
It’s a funny thing about unethical decisions—there always seems to be something good waiting for you when you make one. Overcharge someone and it puts money in your pocket right away, tell a convincing lie about a competitor and you win a new customer, skip a stop on a pumping route and you get extra time for lunch …whatever it may be, the reward is real and immediate.
It’s that reward that makes bad decisions so easy to make.
On the other hand, do the right thing and you may have to work a little harder, think a little harder, and make a little less money in the short run…So why do it?
For one thing, it’s good for business!
Your reputation is your number one sales tool. Do the right thing consistently and word gets around that you’re a good person to do business with. Even today, most business deals start with a handshake and a promise. The less people trust you, the harder it becomes to make a deal.
For another thing, it’s good
for the industry.
If everyone provided great service, a great product, and outstanding value; if they all charged a fair price, rather than low-balling to win an account and overcharging others to recoup; and if they all stopped undercutting each other—then everyone would make more money. It would be a lot harder for start-ups to get into a territory, because customers would stay with established businesses that treat them well.
While those may be good reasons to do the right thing, a good person doesn’t need a good reason. They do it because, well, it’s the right thing to do. If you see yourself as one of the good guys, you do the right thing because that’s who you are. You want to live according to the values you hold dear. You want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror, you want your kids to be proud of you, and you enjoy sleeping well at night.
In business and in life, decisions aren’t always clear-cut. We don’t always know what the right thing is. Here are a few questions I ask myself when I need to make a decision:
•Does it follow the “golden rule?”
In other words, would I want others to do the same to me?
•Do I have a gut feeling about it, right or wrong? What does the little voice tell me to do?
•Would I feel ashamed if I made the decision?
•Is it fair to everyone involved?
•Have I ever been told that it’s wrong?
•Would anyone be hurt by my decision?
•Do I feel the need to justify my decision with thoughts like “it doesn’t matter, because nobody will find out,” “If I don’t do it, someone else will,” or “I know it’s wrong, but it’s someone else’s fault—they deserve what’s coming”?
By reflecting on questions like these before you make a decision, you can make the right choice more often than not.
People who are in this business for the long haul need to weigh their decisions carefully.
Portable sanitation is a fairly simple business. Offer a good product with good service at a competitive price and you can make a good living for a long time to come. While I believe that doing the right thing will make you a better person, I also believe that old saying: “what goes around comes around.”
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