My Two Cents: It Pays to Have Integrity

February 23, 2009
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Butch Welsch

I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago that speaks to the issue of integrity. As I thought about it, there are a number of ways integrity is important to us in our business. As such, I think the experience definitely relates to all of us and the way we operate our businesses.

I was doing some grocery shopping at our neighborhood grocery and was returning to my car to unload the groceries. As I opened the trunk to transfer the bags, a lady stepped from the vehicle next to me. Now her vehicle was large. I mean she almost needed a stepladder to get in and out of it. She had a piece of paper in her hand and as she approached me I could tell that she was apologetic.

She indicated when she went to turn as she backed out, she didn’t see my car, and turned too soon, leaving a dent between the driver’s door and the wheel well. She had gone back to write a note with her name and several phone numbers for her and her husband and planned to leave it under my windshield wiper, not knowing when I would be returning.

After looking at what appeared to be a small dent, I thanked her for her honesty and said I would do as she requested and get a price to repair and contact her husband. She had indicated he handled all matters like this and probably would want to handle it directly rather than getting the insurance company involved. Well, the small dent turned into a $900 repair, for which her husband agreed to reimburse me.


As I was thinking about this incident, it occurred to me that this lady could just as easily have pulled out of the parking lot and left without saying a word to anyone. The dent was of a nature that I might not have even noticed for a few days, after which time I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue as to when it happened. After the $900 bill was paid, I thought what a really nice and proper thing she had done.

How many of us would have done the same thing? I once heard a statement, and I can’t name the author and may not have the statement exactly correct, but it went something like: “INTEGRITY - doing the right thing even when no one else knows or would have known what you did.” That applied in this case as the lady surely showed integrity by letting me know what had happened when only she would have known if she hadn’t.

How does this apply in our businesses? Actually, I believe it applies a lot more than we may really imagine. For example, when we are quoting an installation, our integrity shows when we always quote the proper items for the customer. This means the right size, the right efficiency, etc. that will properly fulfill their needs and desires. Naturally, this is regardless of what we have in our inventory or what will be the easiest for us to install.

The same thing applies in our service department. There it is important to make sure your technicians recommend repairing when that’s the thing to do or replacing when that’s in the best interests of the customer. Also in service, it means only selling the parts and services that the customer really needs. That means not selling additional unneeded parts just to increase the size of the repair bill.


In new construction or remodeling, having integrity may mean some additional things. It means installing the proper gauges, sizes, hangers, etc. even though walls or ceilings may hide that work. Sure, you may be able to fool an inspector or the customer by putting in inferior, or less than specified components, but you won’t be fooling yourself.

You know that’s not the right thing to do.

The bottom line is that it pays to have integrity, even if it means only you know you have it. There is one more component to the experience I had. It turns out the husband of the lady who hit my car is in the marketing and advertising business. I’m going to talk to him about doing some business for us because I know for sure if he has nothing else, he has integrity.

Publication Date: 02/23/2009

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