I've received amazing response to my Old Rules of Business series. So far I've posted five rules and I have several more to go (PLUS all those great suggestions all of you have sent in!). Several of the Old Rules have been reprinted in trade and industry publications and websites, so clearly I've struck a nerve. That's a good thing, because I firmly believe these Old Rules matter.

That said, I received the following comment from one of my Two Hat BFFs, Sandi Bjorkman, about Old Rule #5: Under-Promise & Over-Deliver:"

"Steve, If you under promise and over deliver often, doesn't it then become an expectation? One of the manufacturing susidiaries that I work with doesn't ship early because early delivery becomes the expectation and that one time when we deliver "on time" but not early sets us up for issues with our customers. So over delivering sometimes becomes an issue as well."

I would love to hear your comments about this! Here"s my response:


I hate to sound harsh, but I would love to compete with your subsidiary! 🙂

It appears to me their relationship with customers is transactional-based, not transformational. They don't want to set up any type of expectations because their relationships sound to be based more on price than on trust. 

When you say they don't ship early because that becomes the expectation tells me they don't have a relationship with customers. Good relationships are based on honest, open communication and mutually understood, agreed-to expectations. Through open communication I can let customers know that "Hey, guess what, this time we're able to ship EARLY! Isn't that great?" That's over-delivering honestly and openly without setting up future unrealistic expectations. Open and honest communication also allows us to be able to tell them, "Hey, I'm really sorry, but we're going to be late with our shipment this time." The customer may not like it, but they appreciate the heads-up …they appreciate the honesty …and their trust in you is reinforced.

IMNSHO, deliberately maintaining low expectations opens the door for a competitor who shows a willingness to go the extra mile and build a trusting relationship based on honesty and openness.

Okay, lay it on me, BFFs! Am I being too hard on Sandi? Am I on the right path or am I out-of-line? What would YOU say to her?

(PS: In case you didn't notice the new form on the right side of this page, I've written a brief whitepaper title, "The Ten Questions Every Businessperson & Marketer Should Ask Themselves." It's free and you can get it simply by filling out your name and email in the form.)