Mal Halperin Owner Of Great Bear Automotive Displays What’s Wrong With Business Today

I have never used this blog to attack anyone personally, that is… until now.

You see, yesterday, I had a unique experience that I want to share with you. I think it illustrates perfectly a key mistake that many business owners (both online and offline) make.

Here’s the background…

The car I drive is a Porsche 911 C4 Cabriolet.  It’s a great car and a great ride and it puts a smile on my face whenever I get in and take it for a ride.  On Friday, I got in my car, ready to drive to work, only to notice I had a flat tire (bummer).  My wife, Debi, was getting ready to go for her morning walk, and since I wasn’t going anywhere fast, I decided to join her.  On our walk together, we took an alternate route so I could stop at the tire store that has replaced my tires three times before.

That’s one of the unadvertised costs of owning a 911: The low profile, soft rubber tires only last about 10-12,000 miles. So you end up replacing tires much more frequently than normal cars.  You’d think this purchase frequency would make me a VIP customer when buying tires but apparently you’d be mistaken.

Great_Bear.jpgI walked into the tire center and was greeted by the owner, Mal Halperin. I explained it was time for me to get a new set of tires for my car and that he could look me up to pull my previous order and just get me the same tires as before.

He pulled up my customer history on his computer, reviewed my previous orders and figured out which tires I needed. He said he could replace them today (since he wasn’t that busy) and I was excited to have it taken care of.

Then Mal asked me for a credit card to secure my order.  I explained that since I was out walking I didn’t have a credit card with me, but I would return to the tire center within 2 hours to get the job done.  Mal informed me that he wouldn’t order the tires for me until I gave him a deposit.

I tried to reason with him, that I had been a loyal customer for the past three years and that my order history should vouch for my credibility as someone who wasn’t going to magically disappear once he ordered my tires for me. In addition he already had my home address, my home phone number, my cell phone number, my work phone number, and that it should be enough to calm any concerns he might have.

Well, Mal still disagreed and said he would only order the tires after he had been given a deposit.  Realizing that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with him, and knowing that my wife was waiting to complete the remainder of our walk – I said, “OK,” and that I would return once my wife and I were finished with our walk.

Approximately 3 hours later (putting on the spare was a real pain in the you know what), I returned to Great Bear to finalize my purchase.  At first Mal didn’t even remember me. I guess they turn away business like mine all the time, so I didn’t even stand out in his mind.  Mal then informed me it was too late to get my tires changed – because the place where he ordered the tires from wouldn’t deliver them until Monday.

I was disappointed, but not devastated. And I thought that would be the end of it.  I had bitten my tongue regarding what I perceived to be a major mistake in dealing with customers, and IMals_Xray.jpg don’t generally give advice when I know it won’t be well received.

But then Mal put the bait out there…

He said “If you ever owned a business you would surely understand that you can’t take your customer’s word.”

That was it… Let the fireworks begin!

Well, I explained to Mal in words even he would understand that I have in fact owned several businesses, that all of them have grown to the 8 figure mark and that currently I advise small and big companies on how to grow their businesses. I told him he was making a very big mistake if he treated all of his customers the way he was treating me.

That’s when Mal threw me out of his store. Yep, that’s right – he no longer wanted my business.

I explained to Mal the mistake was his and simply went around the block to another tire center only too happy to service a new customer — especially one who owns a Porsche and who has many friends and neighbors who also need tires for their high-end vehicles.

The crime that Mal committed was to forget that it literally cost six times as much to sell a new customer as it does a repeat customer.  But unfortunately Mal is not alone in his idiocy. Approximately six months ago I was a guest at my mentor Michael Masterson’s exclusive $10,000-per-person business building seminar. During the seminar a question was posed to the group about their autoresponders.

The question: “Do you market differently to your customer list than you do your prospect list?”

Surprisingly, even in this group of successful business owners, not one of them had different sequences for customers. The same offers and broadcasts that went out to prospects were going out to customers, and neither one was optimized for their current status.

And that my friends, is a lesson in what NOT TO DO when running your online business.

Obviously Mal is a moron. And my hope in writing this post is that not only does he lose me as a customer (which he already has), but that others who might have been mistreated by him in the past choose to no longer do business with him in the future.

But my bigger objective is to get you to analyze whether or not you are currently doing enough for your current customers. If so, are you offering them more opportunities to spend more money with you?

For the longevity of your business I certainly hope so.

So, tell me what you think? And more importantly tell me and your fellow readers the ways you’ve discovered to offer your clients more and at the same time increase their value to your business.


52 thoughts on “Mal Halperin Owner Of Great Bear Automotive Displays What’s Wrong With Business Today”

  1. What a nimrod!!

    And it’s a great point Rich. Actually just this week I started a different autoresponder for my customers. Already, the increased sales has proven it was the proper move.

    Now, I am going through all of my older sites and doing the same. I anticipate increasing our revenues by approximately $15,000 a week just by taking the time to treat our customers differently.

    Good advice Rich! Hopefully Mal will stumble upon your post and see the light.

  2. wow. what a story! I can’t believe someone can do this to his own customers. What a mean guy he is!

    But let me tell you Richard, it’s to his loss. You got your tires repaired, didn’t you? But, he lost a great deal and (I assume) a preferred customer!

    I’m a little too kind with my customers. I like to pamper them and treat them special at all times.

    I offer them exclusive offers that only them get it.

    I offer them exclusive services, like buy now pay later (so if you Richard are my preferred customer, you don’t have to worry about paying right away, not even giving me credit card # for security:-)), payment plans, senior rates..etc

    My preferred customers like me and appreciate me and what I do to make them happy. They like my services and let me tell you some of my off line customers they call me from time to time to say hi and make sure I’m in good health and they bring me gifts in christmas. They tell me They like my creativity and what I can do for them and they adore my smile and kindness. No one ever left the door not happy. I leave my customers satisfied at all times. And when I told them I moved online now, they got upset that they won’t see me anymore. But they still call.

    Online too. Last weekend an online “suspect” (she’s wasn’t a customer yet), she contacted me for help and advice, and she expressed her positive feelings about the product and my advices and she was so sweet to give me her phone #s and ask me to call her if I need anything or if there is any thing she could do for me back for the hope I brought to her for her skin situation. I found that so sweet.

    I always like to make my preferred customers feel special. They spend their time and money in my store, so they need to have that friendly warm and helpful atmosphere they deserve. It’s a life time relationship I build with my customers so it has to be full of excitement, exclusiveness, preferred treatment; and they trust me with all their private information, Can’t I trust them to buy now and pay later?


  3. And I thought the human skull was familiar,
    Too many times people get on their high horse, and don`t think a
    situation thru.
    It doesn`t matter whether you spent alot or a little, you were a returning customer and a good business owner should know
    and respect that.
    He obviously doesn`t want to stay in business much longer…….

    Well he is the loser

  4. Not only the “little guys” like this moron, but the big guys like “the New” AT&T can open the doors for those of us who do treat all customers and prospects with respect and dignity. Ever try to talk to the CSR’s at the phone company to correct a problem. Enough said!
    Consider customer non-service your gift to do differently and learn from their mistaken business sense.

  5. Wow, unbelievable! I had a similar incident with a storage unit company! I went to one close to where I was moving and expecting that they would be really glad to have a new customer, (they had just finished construction and couldn’t possibly have all their units full) preceded to ask them how much there units were. The guy didn’t even look up from the front desk. I had two ask twice, finally getting a response. He told me the price of his units and I responded that their competitors had units going for X amount. After still having no interest in helping me, and giving me a better price, I made the decision to go to the COMPETITOR. As I walked out the door, the man cussed me out. Does he not know that as I share my experience with others by Word of Mouth, he will not only have lost my business but others as well? Sheesh!

    Thanks, Rich for all your advice.

  6. It’s scary how ignorant business owners can be. I’ve always gone out of my way to do whatever I can for loyal and new customers and it usually pays off. People don’t understand the powerful tool that is “Word of Mouth” and how one bad incident can cause a big cut in profits. I can’t fathom how owners don’t appreciate and aren’t excited that customers are coming back to utilize their services on a continual basis.

  7. By the way if you google Great Bear Automotive Boca Raton, your entry appears first on Google’s rankings. Again, his horrendous customer service has cost him potentially a lot of business.

  8. Rich,

    I couldn’t agree with you more and definitely feel that all good business dealings start with some level of trust at the beginning (people are innocent until proven guilty) which should only grow as each party makes good on their part of the deal.

    I have gotten a lot of good advice from this blog. The fact that I always start off believing what someone else says and that you are usually quite reliable, means I view you as someone the Tire Store Owner should have had faith in.

    But, given that we are talking about why someone should have had confidence that you would do as you said, I’m still puzzled over a question that’s been asked many times on this blog and I haven’t ever seen an answer.

    Your blog entry of almost a year ago, on October 23, 2006 titled, Win A Trip To Meet Rich And Agora, the URL is:

    talked about that Porsche and giving the contest winner a ride in it. I don’t really have a problem if that contest wasn’t carried out for some reason. What I’ve always had a problem with is the fact that what happened to the contest has never been explained on the forum. If you have explained it and I’ve missed it, could you please repeat again. A couple hundred people entered the contest and some like myself, probably still read the blog from time to time and they may also be wondering what ever happened.

    To be frank, publicly blogging about the contest and then not delivering or explaining is, well…… a bit like someone who would order an expensive set of tires and then not come in to pick them up.

  9. I am reminded from my own mentor that unsolicited advice is never received well. Its real easy to beat him up behind his back, especially when the reality is that Mel was intending to loose a good sale and an excellent customer.
    Mel had already proven himself a small thinker, and for his part, he probably got burnt in ordering tires or parts a considerable amount of times that he’s content in saying no to everybody who didnt show up with their wallet.
    If Mel was going to change, then he would change because it was his idea. Thats a skill,,,, putting the concept in a stuborn persons mind so that they think its their idea . Carnegie gave a few examples of that in his book.

  10. It’s amazing that Mel has any business left at all… it looks like at this rate, not for long. Little did he know what he was getting into at the time…

    I live in Boca and I need a new set of tires for my Acura… now I know where I’m NOT going to get them!

    If I were Mel (and I’m glad I’m not), I’d get on this blog, apologize profusely, and offer you coupon for 50% off your next set of tires. Rich, would you take it?

  11. I hope everybody reminds themself that Rich asked an audience full of entrepreneus if they did things differently and the overwhelming response was “no”.
    Thats you and me. So lets be kind to Mal.

  12. Good story and a lesson that shouldn’t ever be forgotten in my view. The point of customer retention and service is too easy to forget apparently because they come to appear to be a “given.”

    Many years back (1978-1986) I had a pizza shop that did fairly well for the reason I believe was that besides having good product I really took customer service to heart. I knew most of my 500+ customers by name and the top 200 or so I knew a bit about their personal lives which was always a point of conversation when they came in.

    In short I gave the shop to my mother after my father was killed in a car accident in 1985 so she would have an income (she had helped with the business over the years so she was at least familiar with the basics) and within a year the business had dropped to about 1/2 half of what it had been. My sister then tried to run it and in 4 more years it dropped into bankruptcy.

    I wasn’t party to the actual details so it could have been many things but I tend to believe they simply didn’t take the time to silently say “thank you – you matter” to the customer each time they came in.

    Some lessons in business come hard.


  13. Rich,

    I think you wrote a great post about customer service.

    It totally reflects what my wife (Debi, too!) talk about on a number of occasions … great customer service is demonstrated by FEW companies. We believe two great examples are Nordstrom’s and QVC. They are examples of companies that “get it.”

    Today, I heard Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and James Sniechowski, Ph.D. speak and they correctly point out that “customer care” is even more important than customer service…even with online businesses.

    What amazed me is that one of the people who commented here said, “there’s always two sides to the story.” He couldn’t believe, I guess, that there are a lot of businesses and business owners that don’t “get it.” Hope that is not the case for him!

    Again, great post!

    Scott Hove, Speaker and Author

  14. Great Post! My guess he has formed a “mindset” that customers are prone to ripping him off! not good to put all customers in the same department..

  15. I agree that was a pretty dumb thing Mal did and definitely doesn’t deserve your business, but at the same time using your blog to publicly bash him and call him a moron (as well as insulting your readers who didn’t know you should market differently to prospects than customers [when you said “Mal is not alone in his idiocy”]) has definitely made me lose the respect for you that I once had.

    I just don’t think that was a very mature thing to do. Pointing out a huge mistake someone made is one thing, but calling them names and putting up pictures of them as homer simpson is very vengeful and childlike.

    Again, I am not saying he didn’t screw up BIG time – I just think the post sounds like it was written more for revenge purposes than to educate people, and I was disappointed by it.

  16. many business owners and professionals I found mix between personal and professional. If it didn’t click between the two (poor chemistry) they start taking this personal matter to a professional level and conflicts happen.

    The way to be is for a business owner to separate between the two. So, if a customer walks in, regardless of whether I as a business owner like that customer or not, I should still treat him/her in a professional way and serve him/her the best way possible.

    This is called emotional intelligence and it is concerned about how successful business owners controls their emotions and concentrate on the business aspect of it and not the customer.

    Regardless of whether Rich was right or wrong, and regardless of whether the owner of the tires dealer liked Rich or not, he, in my opinion, should have controlled his emotions better and focused on how he could help the situation the best he could. If he was able to do so, the conflict would not have happened at least and the situation would have been resolved without having to take it to a personal level. It would have finished right there.

    Why I blame it on business owner, because it is a well known fact that customers are always right. Also because the owner has control over the situation, at the end it’s his store and his services.


  17. sorry I’m writing too much, but I find this post interesting.

    I just wanted to add that there are many many professional ways to reslve this simple situation than bringing it to a conflict

    Like couldn’t it be much easier and more professional to offer Richard a ride to his place to get his credit card? this simple offer would make Richard feel valued customer and wouldn’t take minutes from the dealer (Richard lives nearby as I understood).

    I have a solara convertible (not a porch!!!) and when I go to the dealer, they always offer me a ride either to home or to work if I like to. And sometimes, if it’s taking long, I take the ride. If I have a flat tire and I’m in rush I have to go, they squeeze me in their schedule and make sure I get it in least time possible.

    Another solution is that they could have offered to order the tires right away and toe the car to the dealer to put the new tires when they arrive.

    Anyways even if they went ahead with the order without any of the above solutions and without Richard’s credit card, the worse that can happen is what? richard doesn’t show up to pick them up? So what? the dealer doesn’t have other customers to sell those tires to in the future? they can stay in the store and be sold to another customer, what’s the big deal?

    You see, simple solutions but consider the big impact on a valuable customer. Richard as a customer, would feel the preferred treatment and that his problem got solved, not got more complicated. He would feel that his reliability to dealing with this store for 3 years paid off when in need.

    Don’t you agree?




    Frankly, you sound like a spoiled brat who thinks the fact that you owns a Porsche entitles you to special treatiment. You practically say that in your post. I know this shop, off the Turnpike, and he is busy as hell, so those less spoiled than you, who must understand that this wont lay out $800 for a Jogger (LOL) passing by his shop? I bet you are exaggerating as to your pervious business with him to make your claim. If you were really a good customer, and he knew you, he wouldnt have been so cautious about laying out the money.

    And you have no idea how often he has been burned by customers, so just chill out and stop being so worked up over something so minor. You dont say he yelled at you, or even raised his voice, so he was simply making a business decision and you feel all emotional about it, like it is a comment on you credibility or “importance” as a Porsche owner and this motivated you to have an internet hissy fit, under the guise of buiness advice. Go have a drink and leave the guy alone.

    Sorry Pal I agree with Tipples,you call yourself a business advisor or motivation speaker.You should be totally embarrased and pray that any clients you might have never read that story. Any idiot can see through what you wrote . As Tipples stated you must be one of those boca morons that just wants to flaunt that he drives a Porsche which is obviously true because otherwise you would’nt have mentioned in your infantile tirade.Fact proven that you had to mention the model number of the car as if it had anything to do with the story.Grow up and try to put yourself in his situation since you are such a business genius.If a biz owner takes a custom order from everyone on the street that comes in previous Customer or not and orders something for them and 10 percent change their mind for whatever reason he would lose a fortune, He absolutely has the correct policy .I think you were just annoyed that you had to go home and get a credit card.Relax you must have gone to him in the first place because of something you liked about the shop.


    Henry with all due respect you say that Rich has a clientele of many entrepreneurs:
    May I quote one of them Amal who said ” Toe the car”
    another claims his sister bankrupted a business for not saying a silent Thank you! Dude the pizza probably sucked
    And yes a guy who is capable of not coming through with the prize of a ride in a porsche( which I might add mind you is one of the stupidest prizes for a contest I have ever heard is certaainly capable of reneging on tires. In fact whoevers enter for a prize like a ride in a car should be embarrasseed. And to the genius that reccommends he just put $800 tires in stock and wait for the next idiot Porsche driver to walk in,well keep paying for business advice.

  21. Dennnis,

    I am honored to be Richard’s client. And I don’t see your logic of using me as your example here.

    Yes, if I were the dealer and someone passes by my shop and I am cautious about ordering the tire without the client credit card, I would offer the customer that I go ahead with the order but his car needs be toed to the shop to fix the tire after the order is received. If the client accepts, great, if he refuses at least I offered a solution rather than kick a client out of the store which is totally unprofessional. At least, if the customer leaves the store, he will leave knowing that I tried my best to collaborate and help him but at the same time protect me and it was his choice to turn down the help. So he’ll walk out maybe sad but not offended. He will have nothing to blame me for.

    Note, I didn’t say I as the dealer would pay for toeing the car.

    And believe me it happened to me once, I had a flat tire on the highway and I didn’t have a spare so I got the car toed to the car store to change the tire.

    If I am a dealer I would be embarrassed to kick a client out of the door for just being a jogger passing by my store than offer to toe the car as a way of collaboration!

    Sometimes your best clients are the ones passing by the store. You should never judge or assume from the way your clients lad to your store. That alone indicates that this dealer is not really…a great one. He might own a store but may not grow higher than that for this fixed type of mentality. And that’s just my opinion.

    Great dealers like the one I deal with, they never ask me to pay or secure the money deposit even not for a tire but last summer I had to change major things like the tables, the breaks,..etc and it cost me $3,000 to maintain the car but I didn’t pay a penny before they ordered the parts (some they had to order the next day, as far as I remember the tables each costing $800).

    My dear, I’m talking about professional successful dealers who are thriving to grow fast and they are expanding big time, not an ordinary one who has a small store and will never grow higher than that because he just gives ordinary treatments to clients.

    Mind you this dealer I go to and who ordered the parts missing without a penny out of my pocket is far from going bankrubcy. He’s growing more and more and now they have stores in different areas of montreal and they are well known…



    Amal ,Thank you for the response that probably took you twenty minutes to write! I was only pointing out that as a student of Rich you should know that it is spelled “Towed” Have a great day

  23. Hi Gentlemen,
    I am not going to drag this out into a long drawn war as I am a respected businessman in Boca Raton for over twenty years. I am dignifying this simply because a nice 80 year old customer of mine, Abe who has known me since I opened my shop stumbled upon this allegation yesterday. Let me just tell you all that Mr. Schfren claims are NOT the truth. At great Bear we pride ourselves on customer service including lifts to and from anywhere our customers need to go upon request, Mr Schefren was out for exercise and didnt want a ride. All that I asked of him was that he Simply phone me when he got hom with his card number and I would have processed his order as we always do. The tire business is one that works on very tight margins,when I say tight I mean I work on a very small markup that is why we served our 1000000 th customer this past month. It is a fine combination of low prices and great service that keep our loyal clientele coming back day in and day out ,no matter whether they drive a 69 Foird fairlane or Porsche . He was in a bad mood I guess like we all get from time to time and expected special treatment in fact he did not return to the shop for over 5 hours just to scream at me when all he simply had to do was phone me with the credit card. I just cannot afford to put things back in inventory if a customer changes their mind for some reason. If a good person appreciates this what is so terrible about a deposit, he has to pay the whole price anyway. This man was screaming at me at my place of business in front of many witnesses.At Great Bear our prices are very competitive and we take care of our customers PERIOD .I won’t say anything else in dealing with an article that hopefully now you all see as just someone looking for revenge.
    Best Regards

  24. well seems like mal needed a little business advice in a non-confrontational way in order to understand the ramifications of one unsatisfied customer. There are two lessons to learn from this narrative- thanks to the internet one unsatisfied customer can cause irreparable damage to an otherwise satisfactory business relationship.mal’s track record was satisfactory for three years, and one misstep ruined the relationship. lesson two is that (no disrespect) passed up a chance to develop a client. It’s obvious from the story that mal was stretching himself to thin and could have used a copy of rich’s manifesto. opportunities present themselves in mysterious ways and as business developers, it’s our job(life goal) to exploit these opportunities.

  25. Guys,

    How about Mal and Richard shake hands and forget about what happened and start a new page?

    We all deserve a second chance and like jimmy said it’s sad that what was build in 3 years gets ruined in one “bad” day.

    I respect that Mal took the time to clarify his side of the story here. This shows his good intentions and that he cares about Richard as a valuable customer.

    So CHEERS to Mal and Richard.


  26. At first glance I was disgusted by Mal’s actions as conveyed by Rich, but I foolishly neglected to remember that there are two sides to every story and Mal has explained himself and his actions quite well. I’m sure that Rich and Mal both exaggerated (although only slightly) their sides of what happened in order for them to look like an innocent victim.

    The more I read this and the more publicity I see this post getting the more I realize it is unfair to Mal. He might have made a mistake (I say “might have” as he might have or might have not), but the ends do not justify the means and I feel that he and his business are getting an unfair bad rep right now. I know I’m going to sound contradictory to my last comment because I was siding with Rich, but he should have kept the business anonymous. I understand Rich was proving a point in order to further help us fellow business owners in terms of customer service, but he could have done that without the name-dropping of the business. This seems to have been posted more for the vengeful factor than the informative factor and to me that is the opposite of what this blog is supposed to be about.

  27. Well, I am glad this stimulated the conversation that it did. mal knows I didn’t scream at him… and anyone who knows me would be hard pressed to tell you a single time they’ve ever heard me scream or yell – it’s simply something I don’t do.

    I also have no problem with mal defending himself – look at the entire blog and you can tell I am not someone who has ever pointed fingers at anybody on this blog and I don’t delete negative comments about myself either (unless totally inappropriate). I think that shows the kind of person I am.

    how someone could have a problem with me calling mal out and then say negative things about me on my blog is sort of funny… isn’t that the same thing?

    There are two sides to the story – if I was as angry as mal claims… I don’t know why I would then go back to his store. I have a great family and a growing business – I prefer to spend my time split between the two, and not ride around looking for people to yell at. But enough has been said. I’ll let future readers decide for themselves.


    I mentioned the Porsche, and you can read the post again to confirm, is that the tires need to be changed much more frequently
    Than other cars… which makes me a customer with a higher lifetime value – if that wasn’t clear in my post I apologize.


    As to the request for the name of the person who won the contest… of course we awarded it… just like we did the contest before that, and just like we did the one after. but in that particular case the winner was in a new niche (with a product that was selling extremely well) that he/she didn’t want any attention drawn to and we respected their wishes – if you don’t want to believe me, that’s your right – I’ll leave it at that.

    Also, just for the record – the prize wasn’t to be driven around by me – the winner was flown to florida, picked up at the airport by me, taken to my office where my entire team worked on improving the marketing for the winner’s website. Then i took the winner to lunch, and then after lunch i took the winner to agora publishing/etr to have their team work on the winners marketing. at the end of the day i drove the winner back to the airport.

    So there you have it…

    here’s the recap: I am not someone who flies off the handle and all you need to do is see how many posts I’ve made and how many were negative (hint – zero).

    Here’s the takeaway: we live in a wired world where everyone is an influencer. If you don’t understand what I am talking about do a few searches like “dell hell” or “kryptonite lock” – those two will get you started in understanding what I mean.

    Treat prospects great but treat customers even better…


    ps – we should congratulate mal on his 1,000,000 customers (referenced in his comment) – it’s a very impressive feat – if it took a 1/2 hour to service each one it would take 60 years (working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year) to service that many customers. I know he has multiple bays – but considering that he isn’t open 24/7, and that he isn’t open 7 days a week it’s a more impressive accomplishment than climbing mount everest.

  28. Sorry, but one more thing…


    And A few people have multiple personalities because they are coming from the same computer….
    (i have removed the first two numbers of each IP address, only to protect the computers of these phonies)

    Mal | | IP: XX.12.117.78
    dennis | | IP: XX.12.117.78
    dennis | | IP: XX.12.117.78
    Ed Landis | | IP: XX5.188.117.78
    Tipples | | IP: XX5.188.117.78
    Tipples | | IP: XX5.188.117.78

    mal and dennis are writing from the same ip address
    and ed and tipples are also writing from the same ip address

    that’s all i’ll say – for now – although i might actually add this little fact to the post for future readers – so they can know the punch line right from the get go.

  29. Rich,

    I am an avid reader of your blog and utilize a lot of the advice discussed in your posts. I do think some of the negative commenters went overboard and could have displayed their frustration in a more mature fashion. I also do know that you have never before publically bashed someone on your blog and this is a first.

    That being said, I still feel this post was in poor taste. Yes, this is your blog and you absolutely can post about whatever the hell you want, but as somebody who reads your blog on a continual basis I think it is important for me to point this out (I’m sure I’m not the only repeat reader who feels this way). This post conveyed a good message on customer service, but the business itself should not have been mentioned. You know how popular your blog is and how spewing vengeful verbage towards somebody can really hurt their business (I mentioned this in a previous comment, but if you google his business your blog is posted first).

    I’m not trying to start an argument or a debate, but even though your blog did have some good advice it is pretty obvious it was posted just to take revenge on somebody (“And my hope in writing this post is that not only does he lose me as a customer (which he already has), but that others who might have been mistreated by him in the past choose to no longer do business with him in the future.”)

    Again, it is your blog and you obviously can write about whatever you want, but your readers are reading this to help grow their business and themselves as business owners…not to read about people who pissed you off.

    I look forward to future posts that will provide some great advice to grow my business.

  30. There’s been some bashing regarding Rich bringing up that he drives a Porche. The point didn’t necessarily have so much bragging connotation to it. In my opinion, the point spelled out available spendable income & repeat business to the Tire Business. If those 2 points are correct, then the rest of the point follows that not every customer is the same. Rich then goes to illustrate that businessman that should know better, dont.

  31. well, it was nice meeting you Dennis, oh I mean Mal:-)

    I was trying to help resolve the conflict but you didn’t help yourself my dear Mal. You made it worse for yourself.

    I don’t know Mal and Richard is my coach but I am not someone close to him or someone deals with him frequently to be able to tell their temper details. That’s why I didn’t stop at the story details.

    But it was clear from Mal’s post that he did refuse to order the tires before Richard pays the money. But when I read his post at first, I felt that he was explaining his reasons for insisting to get the payment ; and I felt that he new he made a mistake so he was trying to justify his actions.

    That’s why I thought we all make mistakes so why not forgive and start all over again.

    But now I don’t like to be part of this peace anymore because it’s not appropriate to sneak around and try to fool people by writing (inappropriate, full of insults posts replies) under different names.
    That’s not acceptable to me as a reader.

    What’s wrong with people theses days? Is it becoming hard to communicate? It would have been much better to call Richard up and resolve it with him.
    And what is the problem with someone driving a porch or driving a Lamborghini? Does he has to be treated less because he has more? I see now (from the sneaky posts) that all the focus was on Richard being spoiled, thinking that if he has a porch, he should be treated special. So all Mal or Dennis saw is that. They didn’t see that Richard always has the porch, and always pays right away, and only this time it happened that he doesn’t have his credit cards on him.
    Why complicate things when they’re simple? or are they just jealous of the porch? 🙂

  32. You make a very good point. It is only by supporting your client base you will get repeat business. It is without doubt the easiest way to get business so someone like you found should be sidelined.

  33. Rich, I am glad you responded to some of the specific questions and comments above. I had two thoughts reading the series of posts.

    It did also occur to me that you could have called in your credit card when you returned home, that you didn’t need to actually go back to the tire store physically to secure your purchase with a credit card.

    Secondly the request for the winner of your contest which was run on the blog last October — I don’t think it’s the individual’s name that is important, but what their entry said. You asked people to answer a question and I would have been interested in what you chose as the winning answer and why.

    Your blog last fall had a couple odd omissions. There was the contest (second half of October) and then a few weeks later (November 1) you launched something and there was a post or else an email that went out to all subscribers a day or two later saying that we would never believe what had happened on the launch. That you were shocked and we should sit and wait to hear the whole story and then….. I never heard anything.

    I bring this stuff up because if you are going to bash and call out another business owner’s shortcomings then please explain yours. You’ve explained that you did choose a contest entry winner and chose at the winner’s request to keep any mention of him/her or what they wrote private (frankly I’ve never seen a contest run with zero information released about the winning entry, but okay). So what happened on your November 1 2006 launch? There is only a vague reference in your November 11 post about the launch “not being what you expected.” I know i didn’t imagine reading something that you wrote (though it is no longer on your site) about it being an unbelievable 36 or 48 hours and how you would explain it shortly. Please explain, because above all a business owner must carry out what he talks about carrying out, ESPECIALLY someone who got mad because he felt his word should be good enough.

    Yes, I want these tires, yes I’ll be back for them this afternoon is not really THAT different than “you’ll never believe what happened to me, I’ll tell you all about it next time I write.” and then….

  34. maybe mal was having a bad day (week). i get quotes for people all the time. five years ago, when they said yes and i got the work done, 50% of them then argue that their item wasn’t worth the cost of repair. then why did they approve my quote? now i get half down, sometimes we don’t get the deposit – a mistake-and then they say again, the item wasn’t worth it and demand a discount. to get rid of them i take 20% off. but how should i handle such mistakes?

  35. I think it’s a useful anecdote – business owner disregards needs of customer – we’ve all had similar experiences and it obviously isn’t good to ignore the proven value of good, or even exceptional customer service. However, Mal should have been set up as an anonymous “Straw Man”. What you did, by naming him and his business Rich, was gain a plus point for alerting everyone to Mal’s common mistake, but you then proceeded to take away at least another point, possibly more by personalising the issue in an insulting way (images & name calling). Professionalism is something that is really hard to put one’s finger on, but dead easy to spot by it’s absence.

  36. I was previously a business coaching client of Rich and I was more than pleased with all of the information I received in my time with Strategic Profits and I think that fraudulent “ghost” posts are disgusting, but… this has to be the worst blog “advice” I’ve ever seen on any site from the gurus that I regularly follow. Really, Rich – you needed to include not only the name of the guy and his business but also an overhead map of his location?!?! I think the guy behaved like a turd and his entire approach was short sighted, to say the least, but is this “business building” blog post of yours supposed to help us (better handle our clients) or you (to feel better about switching tire dealerships)? The biggest issue that I see here is that sometimes when you have a high level of traffic and a large subscriber base you need to be a little bit more conservative with how you present your personal problems. Maybe the guy was a mindless “business as usual – don’t care that you have a Porsche” shop owner, maybe you were upset – who cares! Do we really need to know his current GPS coordinates and blood type?

    I think I’ve received invaluable business advice from Rich throughout the last year or so and I’ve basically hung on his every word but now this all changes that. Is it just me or has he taken a good recommendation – don’t be a mindless drone to your customers (again, Mr. Tires behaved like a moron) – and just flat out turned it into a vengeance post?

    PS – I live in Chicago and, unless I’ve lost both my I.P. address and my mind, I’m in no way affiliated with Great Bear Automotive. I think Rich has a great point and Mal-function handled things in the worst possible way, but to say that Rich might have crossed the line here is like saying that Lindberg might have crossed the Atlantic.

  37. As any attorney, my business also relies on WOM and reputation, and client relationships, so I side with Rich on this one.
    However, Mal was missing an important aspect of Rich’s request: shifting the risk of loss. Even if he didn’t recognise Rich by sight as on on long-time customer, his records should have so indicated. So Mal could have had shifted his risk of loss by having Rich sign an IOU (or similar document) for the ordered tires, and simply sued Rich if he failed to pay for the tires.
    Or, alternatively, Mal could have simply stored the tires and have them on-hand for the next such customer, to be able to provide them immediately for mounting.

    As I think about that sentence, I am reminded of Monty Python’s “Cheese Shop” skit:
    Clerk: “It’s a very clean shop.”
    Customer: “Yes, it’ certainly not cluttered by cheese.”
    Mal’s shop must be similarly clutter-free.

    Treating existing and long-time customers special IS the reason they are existing and long-time customers. Even on the Internet, a customer is a person, not just an email address.

    Rick Carter
    “Don’t Just Build A List – Build A COMMUNITY”

  38. Something is wrong there was a post, a very eloquent post that made points poking holes in the logic of Rich’s original post that occurred between October 29th and November 9th. What happened to it? I think it was by a woman business owner. I’m assuming this is a blog glitch and that someone will look into it and retrieve it.

  39. Being in the car business, let me say a couple of things from the customer/customer service point of view…

    My company probably orders about $25K a year in tires from the same place. I would say we were *very* good customers. . .even after 10 years of doing business with this company, tires will not get ordered in without immediate payment. I have been in a position where, while trying to multitask and utilize dead drive time, I’ve called to order and didn’t have the credit card with me – even though they have it on file!! – and had to call back to physically read the number to them over the phone once back in the office. Yes, it’s a pain. What did I learn? **Memorize the American Express number** This is the nature of the parts business and sometimes it’s just easier to go with the flow.

    I have also been in the position enough times where we have prepped a car for delivery to “someone we knew” (and taken no deposit because we “knew” them) and added things like tinted windows, XM radio, etc. because that’s what they wanted only to have them blow us off and buy a car from someplace else. We’ve made a policy that no aftermarket anything takes place until customer pays for it up front – predelivery. And we absolutely will not hold a car without a deposit. Perhaps we have a better way to explain this to customers than how Mal did, but we’ve had our share of ticked off folks who don’t like the policy. Quite honestly, I don’t want to do business with them if they have a problem with it. In their mind, if they’ve made no “commitment” to the transaction it’s no skin off their back if they walk.

    Does that mean we are shirking our customer service duties? No, not at all. It means we have established acceptable boundries in what we will and will not do if it *could* negatively influence our bottom line – but we explain it sweetly 🙂 Sometimes business decisions like this are made not because of the honest people who *do* show up later to pay for the service/product but because of the selfish slackers out there who could care less.

    Mal (or any other tire store) could have ordered those tires in – and they’re specialty tires vs. a set of common Michelins for a Ford Exploder – Rich (or any other customer) could have gone home and found them on the Internet $10 cheaper and ordered online instead. Store owner is stuck with additional delivery costs, disposition and restocking charges. . .and lost money. Customer sits at home patting himself on the back that he saved $10 thinking ‘that darn store isn’t gonna get $10 over on ME!’

    So, I guess what I am trying to say is that there are two sides to everything. Oh, and Rich…nice car 😉 Doesn’t it make you feel ten years younger when you put the top down?

  40. Yes, I didn’t imagine the missing comments. I just went to my email (I had requested to be notified of appends to this dialog) and here is the missing post. Since, I’m SURE it was a mistake that it got deleted from the blog (Rich said above he allowed comments that criticized him), I’ll cut and paste it here.
    Author: Anette
    Rich, please BE SURE to write down my IP address. I want to make DARN SURE you realize I am an outside, independent 3rd party that just came across this post. I don’t live in your part of the country, (nor do I care to visit it anymore now, either), I “just” read your blog.

    To be honest with you, you come across as a spoiled 5-year-old with a greatly over-inflated sense of self-importance. Maybe you don’t intend to sound that way, but you DO. I have found, through retail experience (running my own businesses) that people running around in pricey cars are some of the FIRST to back out on an expensive special-order. I have been stiffed in the tens of thousands of $$ for home decor items that were later just “not liked” anymore… by multiple VERY well-off clients… well News Flash, Rich! — wholesalers and suppliers DO NOT ACCEPT RETURNS, or if they do they carry a 15% restocking fee, which for many businesses (like the tire business) is in excess of what we were going to make in the first place.

    Why should the business owner be the one taking the risk? Since when did he become the punching bag? Since when is he expendible? Quite frankly Rich, if you had lipped off the same way in any of my stores, I’d have booted your ass out the door too. *gasp* YES, REALLY. Like most independent retailers, I am very close to my businesses… people quickly forget they are GUESTS in my home. As your name is NOT on the mortgage nor the business license, you do NOT have the right to treat the owner (or his staff) with disrespect.

    And that is the key: you were *DISRESPECTFUL*. It was entirely unnecessary, especially considering that this tire shop does nothing ANY DIFFERENTLY than any tire shop or auto mechanic literally from coast to coast. His request was not over the line, over the top, or even remotely unusual. The request was perfectly reasonable.

    Hell, some of us actually carry ID and a CC when we work out. You never know when you might pull a muscle and need a cab. 😛 I call it “common sense,” but whatever………

    And by the way Rich, just because one IP made two posts, doesn’t make BOTH posts “fraudulent.” Any halfwit could have figured out two posts in a row with the exact same grammar, spelling and structure was probably posted by the same person, regardless of what the name was. Their opinion is still very much valid. The only thing that can be accurately said about them is YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY. Well, that’s too bad. Not everybody sees things the way you do.

  41. wowsers. I’m not sure what else to say. Actually, I am
    We all get pissed off with bad customer service, and we all do tend to spread it by word of mouth.
    Well, that’s what Rich has done. Its his blog guys, he can do what he likes!
    frankly, that’s life, people. Someones unhappy and just letting everyone know about it…
    I don’t live in the U.S, so this doesn’t affect me one way or the other, but ( not Butt- I did notice some other spelling mistakes that made ME giggle, didn’t know one could DRIVE a “porch” no offence), if I were to have a bad experience in customer relations, whether I were in the right or simply misinformed, I would be telling others of it too…

  42. Hi Rich, I am a big fan of your teachings, but I am not sure I got this one. I understand your frustration, but the guy was acting according to his business procedures. (Which evidently serve him well enough to run his store.) You were talking about the importance of business procedures, and it made a lot of sense to me. Emotions aside, does it do us any good in general, to bend our business rules when a customer demands so?

  43. Very interesting Anette, the way your post is writen you are either the owner of the store rich is talking about or you have no idea what is important in business, I.e., Customer support. You should be looking and the habits of great companies like Cisco, Apple, etc. Investing in your customers or simply “the cost of sales” is just that. You can jump up and down all you want but no one can dispute the results and history of the great companies that invest in thier customers. It’s that kind of business that makes me come back over and over and make sure everyone knows about it.

  44. still, the point is what do business owners do for their repeat customers? Are we somehow missing the point because the driving a Porshe might infer the man is spoiled?
    Personally, I wonder what some businesses think of me? I represent a Condo Complex which contracts services for Trash, Grass & Pool management. If there’s a question in how the services have been or will be performed, then I’ll call to make the question. And it amazes me the amount of times I have to ask the question twice or three times before I get an answer. Its almost to say “we dont appreciate the dollars that you send us every year”. Its almost to say, the agreements that I have with these service contractors are a nuisance to them,,, Im really sorry to bother. And then it comes as a big surprise if/when they dont receive the next years contract. At that point, its as if Im the guilty party for not trying harder.

    Maybe all Rich is saying is to Acknowledge our customers better, not take them for granted so much and they wont feel the need to go somewhere else.

  45. Wow! I am really surprised at the activity.

    For my critics, you seem to have a double standard. If Mal can throw me out of his store (his place of business), I can write about him on my blog (my place of business). On top of that – If I behaved like Mal I would simply delete the comments I didn’t agree with and even more importantly block the IP Addresses from ever commenting on my blog again.

    I have never been thrown out of anywhere. What irked Mal was me telling him I had in fact owned businesses, even coached them, and that he was wrong (to his statement about my naiveté about how business worked).

    For my critics – let me ask you this… Have you ever been thrown out of a store?
    If you have, then I question the type of person you are (since the owner was probably right just like you infer Mal was) and if you haven’t been thrown out of a store, I wonder what your reaction would be – I’m guessing you would most likely tell your friends, which is what I did.

    And Anne (over at Aboon Books), I know you’ve been reading my blog and commenting with your squidoo links for a while, but I am rather surprised at you. I DID delete the post you labeled and reposted as an “eloquent post that made points poking holes in the logic of Rich’s original post” because it did come from a ghost ip address, left a phony email address, and her entrance page was this one (connect the dots – this page ranks high for only 2 keyword phrases ). Doesn’t it seem a little obvious to you that Anette was rather a little too emotional in her comment?

    Since I didn’t like what you did Anne – Should I now behave like Mal? Delete all of your past comments on all of my posts, remove you from my email lists, and block your ip from ever commenting on the blog? I would never dare – but Mal did that to me and I had spent thousands of dollars with him in the past.

    Anyway – I am done here. I am turning off comments on this post because I have never had to police my blog looking for phony posts before, and I am simply tired of it. In my entire blogging history I have never had to do that.

    Thank you to all of you who commented.

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