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Newsletter #810: The “People are Naturally Good” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Annoying return policies, grouchy rules, and unfriendliness are the result of designing your business around the few liars, cheaters, and crabby customers out there — and it hurts all the good ones too. Instead, focus on the good customers and great things will happen.

A few ways they’ll help:

1> They’ll pay what they can
2> They’ll help clean up
3> They’ll donate their leftovers
4> Check it out: Newspaper Blackout

1> They’ll pay what they can

When given the chance, the vast majority of your customers will be honest when it comes to the prices they can afford — and Panera’s “pay what you can” experiment is proving it. In their St. Louis pilot restaurant, 65% of customers pay the suggested price, while about 15% pay more and the rest pay less. When we first shared the story, it sounded like an intriguing way to pay the bill, but it’s becoming much more than that — so much so that Panera is opening two more locations just like it.

The lesson: If your pricing is designed in defense of the cheapskates and freeloaders, you’re probably annoying the 80% of customers who are happy to pay a fair price for something great.

Learn more: STL Today

2> They’ll help clean up

When politely asked and encouraged, people will clean up after themselves. Music festivals are notorious for the trash attendees usually leave behind, but the Austin City Limits festival is remarkably clean — and it’s mostly thanks to their “Rock and Recycle” program. Through it, festival goers can pick up a garbage bag and, once filled, return it for a T-shirt. It might not seem like much of an incentive, but at any time during the event you’ll see dozens of people walking around cleaning up — and other festival attendees seeking them out to help them fill their bags.

The lesson: Little things can be big motivators to bring out the good in your customers.

Learn more: ACL

3> They’ll donate their leftovers

Nobody likes seeing their stuff go to waste when they know their leftovers could help someone else. Lots of restaurants have leftover food, but it’s hard to get that food to those in need. But thanks to things like the Atlanta Table program — where food trucks go to restaurants and make donating their leftovers easy — hungry folks are getting food that would have otherwise been thrown away.

The lesson: Sometimes all it takes to bring out the best in people is to make it really easy for them to be generous.

Learn more: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

4> Newspaper Blackout

Newspaper Blackout showcases the amazing poetry that creative individuals are finding in our everyday newspapers — using only a black marker to block out all the extra words.

Check it out: Newspaper Blackout

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