Friday, August 06, 2010


Today's Guest post: Wally Bock's Three Star Leadership Letter:  


It's "Tomato Man" pronounced country-style. "Mater Man." That's what's written on his feed cap, in needlepoint done by his wife. He sells tomatoes and other produce at the farmer's market where we love to shop. And, as you might guess, he grows tomatoes. 

They're big and red and lovely and spectacularly delicious. We buy a case whenever we shop at the market. Mater Man also sells other produce, some of which he grows. There's butterbeans and squash and okra. There's watermelon and there's cantaloupe. Well, that is, there are all those things if they're good. If the butterbeans aren't good there are no butterbeans at Mater Man's stand. The prices aren't the lowest at the market, but they're fair. And you know what you buy from Mater Man will be top quality.  

Mater Man Rule #1: People will keep coming back if you have high standards and stick to them. Mater Man's produce is so good and his standards are so high, that you can use him as a gauge of what's coming into season or going out. And he's such an honest cuss that he'll tell you if someone else in the market has something better than his.  

Mater Man Rule #2: The best thing you can do is whatever's best for your customers. They remember. There are plenty of reasons to shop at Mater Man's stand, but we have a special one. It goes back to when we had just moved to Charlotte. Where we lived before, there was an ATM at the farmer's market. If you ran out of cash, you could just get more. Not in Charlotte. My wife found herself wanting more produce than she had cash. She asked Mater Man if he'd take a check, even though it had an out-of-town address. He said, "Sure. Do you need any cash to keep shopping?" Mater Man cashed my wife's out-of-town check for more than the amount of purchase. He never asked for ID. He just trusted us. Which is a big reason why we always shop at his stall.  

Mater Man Rule #3: Trust pays dividends. 

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©2010 Wally Bock. Permission granted to reprint.
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