Under promise and Over deliver.

I learned a lot about the jewelry business, and business in general, from a man named Harold Hampton. One of the most valuable lessons that he fairly drilled into my head was the mantra, “Under promise and over deliver.” If he said those words once, he told them to us 487 times. (He also knew the value of repetition!)
The phrase stuck and I find myself using it around the store a lot. The concept is simple as applied to something like a jewelry repair. If you think you can have the item done by next Tuesday, then tell the customer it will be done by next Friday. That way if the job is finished by Tuesday or anytime before Friday, then you will have it done early in the customer’s mind. One the other hand if you promise Tuesday and something comes up to delay the job, then the customer will come in Tuesday and be disappointed. So the secret is to under promise on your due date and thereby increase you chances of over delivering to your customer.
My purpose is passing along this concept is not because I think any of you might jump into the jewelry business. I do believe that getting into the habit of under promising and over delivering can do all of us a lot of good in our personal and professional lives. My real motivation in spreading Harold’s UPOD gospel is the hope that the message might somehow make it to the men and women running for public office; from township clerk to the oval office.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful relief if the promises on the campaign trail would be understated and the performance once in office would far exceed our expectations? What a drastic turnaround from the all too often used practice of promising the moon and delivering the same old, moldy cheese. Hey politicos – how about toning the rhetoric way down and cranking up the performance?
Now that my pump is primed there are all kinds of areas in which UPOD could play a very important role in our over-hyped society. How about previews of movies, music, or books. Can you imagine the UPOD trailers: “Coming this fall from Intergalactic Studios – a pretty good movie.” The advertising messages we are bombarded with could take a turn toward the truthful. “The new sandwich from McKing doesn’t taste nearly as good as something you make yourselves and it doesn’t look nearly as good in person as it does in this highly modified photo, but all in all it isn’t a bad thing to have for lunch.”
UPOD can also apply in our personal lives. I am thinking specifically of teenagers and their many promises. “I’ll clean my room first thing in the morning, mom” could easily become “I’ll get to my pig sty of a bedroom sometime before the new year, mom.” That way when October roles around and said bedroom has actually been cleaned there will be cause aplenty for celebrating a job done months before it was promised.
I have observed that the English culture generally tends to gravitate to the understated, so I imagine my fascination with UPOD can be credited to the highly diluted English heritage contained in my Heinz 57 genes. Now to practice what I preach: Just wait for my next column, it won’t be half bad.
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