Service with a Snarl

A short primer on doing it right in business

I always figured that, if I ever opened my own business, I’d want a motto that expressed a certain insouciance, a certain playful attitude. I came up with “Service with a Snarl.”

I was recently involved in two business transactions that were as different as different can be. One made me want to avoid that business—and tell others about the slight—and the other made me want to shout accolades to the hillsides.

The first was a smoothie at the Juice Shack. I had a coupon for 50 cents off. Not a huge deal on a $5 smoothie, but the coupon served as an introduction to the product as well as the nudge to come back again. But when I presented the coupon, the young lady behind the counter informed me that it had just expired.

What would you have done, had you been running that business? I believe that a good businessperson would have honored the coupon. By doing so, you encourage return business, the very foundation of any successful business.

Now let me tell you about Great States in Indiana. They make the Garden Shredder, a modest backyard wood chipper. The one I bought worked great for just over two years. Then, all of a sudden, it wouldn’t start. A loose wire in the starter switch? Unfixable.

So I phoned Great States, and spoke with one of their representatives. “You’re two weeks past our two-year warranty,” she informed me. “Unlucky for me,” I replied forlornly. “Well,” she mused, drawing her musing out with a purpose, “if you’ll send me your dated receipt, I think we can replace it anyway.”

The replacement shredder arrived on my doorstep a week later. It’s not the same model as the one I bought. It’s twice as powerful and sounds like a professional model.

You tell me: Which of these two businesses am I going to pledge my undying fealty to? Which one of these businesses has the right attitude? Which one of could get away with—in a positive light—a motto like “Service with a Snarl”? I think you know.

The author of nine books, Rich Hinkle posts a twice-weekly ‘Philosophy of Life’ blog at He lives in Santa Rosa

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