Not all promises are explicit. Sure, if a small business says they’ll provide a service for $100 and either doesn’t provide the service or charges more, trust takes a hit.
But there are implied promises every business makes every day. At Silver Beacon, we promise each client that we are going to stay on top of online marketing trends, notify them when their business could be impacted and maximize the return on their advertising dollar. If I visit a client tomorrow who asks about Bing and I think he’s talking about, we would have broken our implied promise.
Implied promises are getting a workout here in Washington where the city’s beloved Redskins claim to have a season ticket waiting list that stretches tens of thousands of names to along with decades of sold out games, including in what is now the NFL’s largest stadium. Great reporting by The Washington Post‘s James Grimaldi, a reporter with a passel of awards including a shared Pultizer Prize, uncovered a broken implied promise.
The Redskins — who are still the number one topic of sports conversation in this town when they’re not playing — sold tickets to ticket broker StubHub instead of whittling down the list of fans willing to shell out thousands for tickets and endure hours of snarled traffic. The Redskins made no promises. But they’ve broken an implied promise. Just like we vow to keep the best interests of our clients in the forefront, the Redskins’ implied promise was to take care of its most ardent fans who were willing to prove their loyalty with money.
Unpopular owner Daniel M. Snyder now faces a public relations crisis as his team takes the field tonight in its final preseason game. The blowback on larger than life figures like sports team owners is huge. Snyder needed no fake scarcity to drive his team’s popularity. The Redskins were locked and loaded for decades of financial growth.
And once **a promise like this is broken, everyone can opine, even in a small business blog.
For his part, Grimaldi’s followup was a knockout PR blow in today’s paper where he reports that during the recession, the same business that broke implied promises to its fans have filed 137 lawsuits against multiyear ticket holders who could no longer make payments. Sure, there was a promise to pay and people get sued when they don’t honor those promises. The Post’s reporting has uncovered that those seats were then sold to ticket brokers as well.
Today, not tomorrow, but today: take 15 minutes while you gobble your lunch at your desk like the hectic small businessperson you are and start scribbling on a notepad. You’re answering this question:
What implied promises have I made to my customers, my employees and to my equity holders? Include yourself as an equity holder because like any small business leader, you’ve been making promises to yourself for a long time.
Then come back here and post your findings. You don’t have to share what you’ve learned only how well the exercise worked for you and any changes you’ll be making.