Establishing Business Policy: What’s Your Honor Code?

by carla on November 1, 2011 · 2 comments

in Operations

Establishing (and sticking to) a professional honor code is a smart business decision.

If you wear glasses as I often do while working, then you know how great it is to walk into any eyewear shop and get a free adjustment when you need it. Until about a year ago, I’d offer money for the service, and the answer was always, “No charge.”

One day, after passing by such a shop reminded me that my glasses were a bit off-center, I went inside. Curious about the no-charge response, I asked the clerk and he replied, “It’s an unwritten code in our industry that we make adjustments for free. We do that as a courtesy, and hope that you’ll think of us the next time you need new frames.”

Such a simple policy, and while many people who take advantage of it may never return to that particular optician, it’s far more valuable to get the occasional taker for a new pair of frames or an eye exam than it is to charge $5 for every adjustment. This big-picture thinking can help build your customer base, slowly but surely, and a loyal one at that. But don’t be discouraged if you currently lack a professional code or company policy; it’s never too late to establish one and build trust with your customers or clients.

This got me thinking, What’s my honor code for my clients? My immediate answer has to do with quality control: When I come across a glaring typo online (usually in a headline or subhead), I will always speak up (and tactfully so), regardless of whether that website belongs to a client of mine. That’s because I not only have a deep respect for the written word, but also for anyone trying to put his or her best foot forward, and I want that person’s marketing materials to be presented as professionally as possible.

I can't say enough about the service at Raymond Opticians in New Rochelle. I've been a loyal customer since the day they upheld the unwritten "Opticians' Code" by giving me a free adjustment.

Yes, there is always the risk that my pointing out a typo could result in a defensive or adverse reaction, but this hasn’t been the case so far; most people are grateful that the typo was caught. And if I’m lucky, that caught typo will make a person think of me the next time he or she needs copywriting or copyediting services.

Do you have an honor code for your business? Please share it by adding a comment below. I’d love to hear it!



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allen Mogol November 14, 2011 at 20:17

The honor code at the deli counter: a slice of meat to sample while yours is being sliced and weighed. At the barber shop: a lollipop for the child after he’s been sheared. At the ice cream counter: free samples! At the dentist: free toothbrush and floss to use after all that free ice cream. It must be tougher these days to give your product or service away because I sense there are more people who would take unfair advantage.


2 carla November 14, 2011 at 20:34

So true, Allen! There definitely is a fine line, as you said. I think it’s worth it for a business to try different approaches and discover where exactly that line is drawn.

And can I just say that I am a big fan of those free toothbrushes and floss? Makes the pain in that chair almost worth it. ;p

Thanks for weighing in!



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