Honesty ... Still the Best Policy
By Dr. Julia Rahn, Ph.D.
Imagine coming to work and already have collected fees, most of which is
pure profit, while your business is closed. This is exactly what happens
almost every day at a small golf academy in Southwestern Michigan, after the
owner, in order to save on staffing costs, initiated an honesty box on the
driving range. Golfers wanting to use the range when the pro shop is closed
can just grab a bucket of balls, left out the night before, swing away and
then drop the designated fee in the honesty box. Reportedly, a 90% success
rate on amounts collected is had as compared to when staff collects payment.
Furthermore, the honesty policy states that if a golfer does not have cash
in hand, he or she can drop it off at another time. On many occasion, fellow
golfers come into the pro-shop later in the day to pay for time spent on the
Extra cash in hand, minimal setup, no extra staffing costs are the icing on
the cake as far as benefits of such an honesty program can bring. In
addition, an honesty program generates positive feelings about one's
business, promotes two-way respect, and fosters business and brand loyalty.
Furthermore, these benefits are not one time gains, as their effects will
multiply and often integrate themselves deep into the soul of a business.
· Generates Positive Emotions. Pairing positive emotions with products and
services is a win-win situation, as folks will more likely remember the
experience and want to return. Anytime someone takes action while knowing
they are "doing good" or the "right thing", positive feelings always ensues.
Not only have customers "followed the rules" when nobody is watching but
they have also stepped up to a higher morality level, living out positive
personal and/or community values.
· Promotes Two-Way Respect. The act of setting out an honesty collection
box inherently means you trust and respect your customers and are showing
this in a very public way. Opening an honesty box and finding cash or later
collecting fees for services already rendered, can only produce additional
respect between business owner and customer. Customers will not only sense
this respect but also know that this respect was earned, creating yet
another feel good situation.
· Fosters Customer Loyalty. Creating customer and brand loyalty is one of
the keys to success for any business. Inherently, an honesty program
clearly conveys the message that the business is dependent on customers
doing their part to keep the business afloat. Customers knowing they are a
part of a business' success will keep people coming back.
In addition, to generating all of these benefits between a business and its
customer base, honesty programs can be developed to also include employees.
This expansion to include employees when developing an honesty program,
truly multiplies the possible benefits exponentially. Not only will your
business' environment be filled with more positive emotions, employees will
take more ownership in the success of a business, and likely to direct more
positive feelings towards their boss or manager. Staff morale is likely to
increase and be maintained as your honesty program is developed gets into
full working order.
With the benefits clearly laid out, it is now time to create an honesty
program. The different types of honesty programs are endless and just
require a bit of brainstorming to find the perfect match between your
business and your new honesty program. Not all honesty programs are income
generating but all produce the listed benefits. Here are a few honesty
programs currently in use and some never tried to get you thinking about
what might work for your business:
1. Honesty box to collect fees for beverages (hot tea, bottled water, etc.)
2. Extra penny dish for when customers are in need of one more cent or have
an extra cent to give.
3. Free personal supplies to be used as needed in public or employee
4. Roadside fruit and vegetable stands with signage asking for cash in
exchange for produce.
5. Unstaffed holiday gift wrapping table with collection box for after a
present has been wrapped by the shopper.
6. Stock employee refrigerator with healthy prepackaged meals. Once eaten
employees leave money covering the cost of food and labor to have this
7. Costly samples (tile, carpet, fabric, etc.) often go home with customers,
trusting loaned-out materials will be returned in a timely manner.
While most, if not all businesses, can be run solely on an honesty box,
certainly most businesses can incorporate some type of honesty program to
generate positive feelings, promote two-way respect, foster customer
loyalty, and improve staff morale. Furthermore, with all of these benefits
and ease in execution, you have to ask yourself honestly, why didn't I think
Dr. Julia M. Rahn is a clinical psychologist and founder of Flourish
Studios® - a multi-faceted learning center. In addition to running Flourish
Studios® and working individually as a therapist with her clients, she is a
speaker and consultant. To find out more about Dr. Julia and Flourish
Studios®, please visit http://www.icanflourish.com or call 773-281-8130.