Honesty and integrity matter.
Ethical behavior matters.
Funny times, phantom invoices, buried deductibles are wrong. Doing “anything it takes” to get the business is wrong.
If you want to stop reading here, it’s OK. I am the mother of two teenagers, so I’m used to being ignored. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. However, I do ask that you please refrain from rolling your eyes and saying “Oh brother” under your breath.
There is little debate that ethical business standards will improve the collision repair industry. Yet, if everyone agrees, why are we still talking about it? Why haven’t things improved?
Well, according to many of the shop owners I’ve talked to, the problem is everybody else:
- “We can’t maintain our ethical standards when no one else is and still stay in business.”
- “Ethics have to be a two-way street to be fair.”
- “If one side continues to play unfairly, then the other side has to play the same way just to compete.”
The weakness of these arguments is that ethical behavior isn’t a team sport. It isn’t a case of all or nothing, where everyone must play ethically or no one can play ethically.
Ethics are a very personal matter. They cannot be determined by – nor should they be affected by – someone else’s actions.
Unfortunately, the world is full of unscrupulous people. Holding to your principles when dealing with the unethical practices of others is difficult. But dishonest practices don’t become honest practices by sheer quantity.
Even when outnumbered, you must run your business only according to your values and ethical standards.
Let me take a moment here to share some statistics. I am the only mother in the United States of America who expects her kids to use good table manners even when we are eating at home and we have no company. I am also the only mother on the planet who expects her kids to use proper grammar even when they are not in school, so how they speak shouldn’t matter. (Editor’s note: The above market research is courtesy of my 13-year-old son, not the BodyShop Business Research Department, but he insists his data is absolutely accurate.)
Sometimes we have to go it alone. Then again, maybe we are not really alone – we just feel like we are. After all those times of being told we are “the only ones who,” we start to believe it.
The fact is the rules haven’t changed. All those years ago while we sat rolling our eyes and muttering under our breath, our parents explained the importance of honesty and integrity. They stressed that we must hold on to our principles and values regardless of the behavior of others. We were told that how we conducted ourselves, even when we didn’t have company and no one was around to “catch us,” mattered.
It mattered then. It matters now.