Is Your Service Provider Consistent?

goofyBy William Rusteberg

Do you remember that kid  Dennis in sixth grade who nobody believed? “Hey guys, my parents took me to Disney World over the weekend! See my new lunch pail…….it’s got Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on the front and Goofy on the back!”

Mixing truth (the lunch pail was real) with variance of the truth (lying) is an effective way to sway, impress, convince, mollify, and control those who one intends to “take to the cleaners.” At least that may be true in the short term when sales are made and consequences are of little concern.

How many of you have run into Dennis in the business world? Ok, that’s what I thought. Yes, it appears that Dennis survived elementary school, even progressing through high school and, believe it or not, college.

He is now your service provider and you like his stories, all of them. You like them so much you have built up an unusually  high level of trust. You rely on his expertise to guide you in business decisions. After all, you know how to run your business, you are an expert at manufacturing widgets. But, for example,  you don’t know much about insurance. Dennis seems to know his stuff. He is the expert! He has become an invaluable resource for you.

Thus, Dennis has achieved his goal of control through skills honed in elementary school.

Over time you notice subtle nuances in things Dennis is telling you. “My company must charge you in this manner because if we both are sued by XYZ Company  we have to demonstrate there is no conflict of interest. We can’t charge you any other way as it would put you and I at risk.”

A year later, upon renewal of Dennis’s contract, he says “We are changing the contract and will be charging you on a new basis (the lunch pail is real) …… here is the contract to be signed (the lie).

How does one defend against the Dennis’s of the world? Hiring a class of sixth graders to ferret out the truth could work………………….