The other day I took my car into a Discount Tire store for what appeared to be a slow leak in my back tire. I was prepared to have to buy a new tire, but asked that they try to fix it first. They said it would be ready in an hour, so I went to a nearby coffee shop to get work done while waiting. In 30 minutes, I got a text, “Your vehicle is ready for pick-up”. I got back to the store and the rep told me there was a nail in the tire about 3 inches long. He said they removed it and sealed the tire, then checked all the tires, rebalanced, buffed them and reset the calibration on the Tesla (I live in California where it’s the state car). I then asked, “How Much”. He said, “nothing…we just want you to be safe”. I was dumbfounded. I’ve purchased tires from them before, but the tires on this car were the originals. The whole experience from their professionalism, exceeding expectations and then not charging me caused me to think, wow, I’m never going anywhere else ever to buy tires. And I’m telling everyone now about my experience. I’m a raving fan.
This caused me to think about my positive experiences in purchasing products over the years which led me to a conclusion I’ll share at the end. Some time ago, when I was in high school, my first real job was at Nordstrom. I sold ladies shoes…yup, I was a shoe dog! We’ve all heard the stories about when someone brought a tire back to Nordstrom for a refund and they gave it to him. And Nordstrom doesn’t even sell tires! The culture of the company to give top customer service permeated all the way down to me as a 16-year-old shoe salesman. To this day, I seldom shop anywhere but at Nordstrom because of it.
Then my first job out of college was with Frito Lay starting in the plant where they made Frito’s, Doritos, Lays and Ruffles. The quality control there was insane. The floors were always sparkling clean. If the batch had the slightest amount of too much/little oil, salt or the color of the chip was off, they would throw out the entire batch. Like Nordstrom, it is because of this experience that I will never buy a brand other than Frito Lay.
Then I entered the financial services business with AXA-Equitable. Equitable launched the first variable life insurance product back in the day and prided itself for always having one of the best performing Variable Universal Life products in the business. I bought a VUL in the mid-80’s and over the years have increased the death benefit several times and max funded it. To this day, while I’m fortunate to own several assets, my Incentive Life VUL is one of the most cherished assets I’ve ever owned. Having the ability to participate in market appreciation but growing tax free, being able to take money out with no taxes while having a death benefit in case I didn’t make it to retirement is like the best features of several financial products all wrapped into one. All for a net cost of less than 2bps that was more than made up by the tax savings (after tax equivalent for a high earner in California for 12% equals about 24%!)
I’ve had similar experiences with Lion Street which strives to affiliate with the best in the business and now with Assurance creating cutting edge technology for the financial services industry. The common thread among all my work experiences is that I had a true belief in the products I was building and/or selling. And, I ate my own cooking! (literally so in the case of Frito-Lay). The power you gain by owning or buying the products you sell is beyond description. Like I did above with Discount Tire, I’ve shared my belief in Nordstrom-Frito-Lay-AXA Equitable products with many people over the years. And owning/buying those products have made my convictions even stronger. Or put another way, I’ve had “skin in the game”.
If you don’t buy products from the firm you are with, ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t believe in the products? Or maybe you don’t believe it the products because you haven’t committed to buying them? Whatever the case, the advice I would give you is to eat your own cooking!
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see-Henry David Thoreau