Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Pickle Opportunity

Mugs habitually appeared and disappeared in my house. They would come from friends, Sunday school teachers, gift exchanges; and they would disappear as those things mysteriously do. There was always a varied assortment crammed into the top cubby of the cupboard. One day Rebekah, looking for a mug for her coffee, pulled out one we’d never seen before. It was white and had a bright green pickle surrounded with wiggle lines indicating that the pickle was moving. Next to it was written, “Give ‘Em the Pickle!”

It made us giggle. Which is likely why the slogan has been so successful all these years. However, it meant nothing to us at the time. Rebekah carried it to my dad’s office and asked what it meant. He told us the story about the ice cream shop that served sandwiches with pickles on the side. One day a customer came in and asked for a second pickle. The waitress told him there would be a charge. Disappointed, the customer wrote the owner of the ice cream shop. The owner, Mr. Farrell, gave the company a new mantra: give ‘em the pickle! Because he knew that customer service was more important that the value of the pickle.

It is a solid business technique and the whimsy of the pickle makes it memorable. It has stuck with me. It was not the only lesson in good work ethics my dad ever gave me. But it is a concise summary, a catch-phrase or slogan to help me remember the selflessness and thoughtfulness my parents tried to instill in me. The same attributes my dad exhibited in sitting down to explain that funny little mug to us.

Now my office is offering a customer service training seminar. We are showing a video of Mr. Farrell telling his pickle story and outlining his principles. I’ve been asked to organize it and lead the discussion afterwards. I am qualified for this because I am not shy about expressing my opinions in front of others. But as I was cutting out “pickle bucks” (yes, those are real) this morning, I had to smile to myself. Because while Mr. Farrell’s video is both entertaining and informative, nothing gives those principles more emphasis than being backed by a person you’ve seen exhibiting them all their lives.

1 comment:

  1. I love it! Have to confess, I've heard of "being in a pickle," but was unfamiliar with "give 'em the pickle." And I'm sure you will.


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