Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2000   by Andrew Ross, Editor


Once upon a time, there were three little piggies. Each was the master of his own house.

The first little piggy built his house of sticks called cigarettes. One day a wolf came to his door and said he’d huff and he’d puff and he’d blow his house down if he didn’t show up and answer some questions from himself and the other elected wolves. So, this first little piggy showed up with six other little piggies who had also built their houses out of smokes. The wolves asked them all whether they knew that cigarettes were bad for piggies and for wolves. The seven little tobacco piggies all replied that they didn’t know of any data that said that it caused cancer and all chimed, “I do not believe that nicotine is addictive.”

None of the wolves believed that they really believed this–after all, it was an unbelievable position–and eventually one of these piggies told the truth. After that, all the wolves agreed the piggies should pay to build new houses for the people who had built theirs from cigarettes. And the tobacco piggies have not lived happily ever after.

The second little piggy built his house using money he earned selling gasoline. One day the wolves came to his door and said that this little piggy’s gas contained more sulfur than the other fuels, a lot more, and that this was bad for the other piggies who lived in the town. But the little piggy in that house–let’s call him the Imperial Piggy–said that his fuel was still within the limits set by the elected wolves, and besides, there were “too many theories chasing not enough facts to support the theory of global climate change.” He further defended his house, saying that he’s not the only one who believes this and that meeting the international agreements “effectively limits the size of the Canadian economy.” He then allowed as how his profits had risen ninefold for the quarter. The wolves reminded him that it would only cost a penny a liter, but he was unswayed and unrepentant, and removing the sulfur wouldn’t affect the environment anyway, piped a vice-piggy.

It’s too early to tell what the effect of their attitude will be, but this little piggy won’t be buying their gas after 10 years as a loyal customer. Now onto our last little piggy.

The third little piggy built his house of bricks and mortar and on the strength of all the piggies who worked for him, fixing cars for people all over the island nation of Great Pigland. Let’s call him Quick Repair Piggy. He too was visited by some wolves. “Mind if we look around some of your service facilities?” they said. “Sure,” said Quick Repair Piggy, “we’ve got nothing to hide.”

Months later, while skiing, he received a phone call from one of his vice-piggies. “Better come home, we’ve got trouble.” It seems that the wolves had visited 100 of his outlets and that a dozen of the piggies who worked for him had given the wrong advice and it was all over the newspapers. Even Quick Repair Piggy knew this was a very grim fairy tale in the making. So he called up the wolves, and found that what they were saying was true. So, instead of denying it or sweeping it under the hay, he bought big ads in the newspapers and told everyone in Great Pigland, “Yes, it’s true, 12 of our piggies gave the wrong advice, but this is because we employ piggies, who have good days and bad, and are subject to all the stresses of daily life. Yes, these 12 gave wrong advice, but it is also our fault for not making sure that we provided enough backup so that this wouldn’t happen.

“While we can promise to work on the problem, we can’t promise we will never make mistakes, because our piggies are, after all, only human.” Then an astonishing thing happened. Not only did the wolves go away, but also all the little piggies in the company felt good about the way they were valued because Quick Repair Piggy didn’t abandon them. And the population of Great Pigland also responded, giving the company the best month of business ever, and the one after that was even better still. And this piggy eventually sold his business for a Billion Pounds Sterling.

The moral of this story is that you should never treat your customers like stupid little pigs. When the wolves are at the door, it’s time to be honest, forthright and trust in the ability of all little piggies to understand that imperfection is part of life and completely understandable. Honesty is the best policy, even if the truth hurts. Maybe especially when it hurts.


In the August issue of Jobber News, we’ll provide Top Tips For Profit In The Light Truck Service Parts Market. The issue will also look at the Changing Fuel, Oil And Water Pump markets.

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