Familiarity Breeds Contempt



I was wondering where this common phrase came from the other day right after I used it in a meeting with my managers—don’t ask me why, I just do things like that. I have used the phrase often as an example of how, the better we come to know someone, the less respect we tend to give them. My first thought was to look it up in the Bible. That phrase sounds like it ought to be in Proverbs—nope, not there. Then I did what modern man does—I “Googled it”. The phrase actually comes from Aesop’s fable about the Fox and the Lion. It is not one of the more popular fables of this ancient writer, but it makes a good point.
 
“WHEN first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another, the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony. Familiarity Breeds Contempt”
 
We can learn so much reading children’s fables. As this one applies to business in general, and the car business in particular, I am not so sure that familiarity breeds “contempt” as much as it does “indifference”. This “indifference” manifests itself in a lot of ways. Long term and repeat customers are the most valuable asset of any car dealership. One sure way to lose a long-term customer is to start taking them for granted. One of my early teachers in this business (my Dad) claimed that it cost ten times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an old one. Car dealers nationally spend millions on advertising every month to get a prospect to call in, submit a question on the internet or show up on the lot. However, they will lose a customer over something simple, like a failure to return a phone call, follow-up on a simple request or to effectively assist an angry or confused customer with a minor service issue or question.
 
I went to a school sponsored by “Pal’s” (yes, the hot-dog, drive-thru chain). The name of the school was “The Lean, Mean Profit Machine”, and it was held at their training center (yes, they have a training center) in Kingsport. One of the concepts they teach is for every associate that works the drive-thru to envision a “$30,000” stamp on the forehead of every customer. That $30,000 represents how much that customer will spend on fast food in their lifetime (no wonder I can’t beat this stubborn belly fat!). It’s all about “perspective”. When they see that $30,000 number stamped on the forehead of everyone who comes through the drive-thru, they will be more inclined to apologize when they mess up your “big-pal burger” or your “plain tea” and hurriedly manufacturer another one that is just right. They also smile a lot, look nice in their clean, blue uniform shirt and actual behave like they appreciate the fact that you are there instead of at one of the other 20 fast food choices in town. In this case—familiarity breeds…..appreciation.
 
To all of our Gateway customers, MyCarGuru members and our long time friends and neighbors in all over East Tennessee, I want you to know how much we appreciate you and how hard we will continue to work to show it in this new year and in the years to come.
 

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