#157-A Great Business Reason To Pay It Forward
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host today and every day. So I’m going to give you a little business idea, something I came up with myself now. Actually, it’s not something I saw. And I’m stealing and sharing with all of you because the best ideas are usually the ones that you steal, you share with other people. So here is the situation.
John: So I finally got an opportunity to do a live workshop presentation for a client company. And I’m thrilled about it because, for the last year-plus, it’s all been virtual stuff. So this was like one of the first I think it was the first live one I’m trying to think was the first live one in like a year. Unbelievable. Coming out of the pandemic here. So an event. So I was driving to this place. Now, if you’re watching at some future time, we just had the cyber attack on the oil lines that ultimately caused the whole gas fiasco down in North Carolina.
John: And 68%, I think of gas stations were out of gas because everybody flooded the gas stations, whether they needed gas or not. They decided they needed to wait in line for two or three hours to fill up their tank of gas even though they weren’t going anywhere. So thankfully, I had a trip that was going up to Jersey. I was going up there for a couple of days.
John: And so I fortunately had a lot of gas in my car before I left. And I got up to Fredericksburg, Virginia, at about 11:00 at night. So the next day was the presentation in the afternoon. So I got up there at about 11:00 at night after going to maybe seven or eight gas stations, I finally found one and filled up. So I was very, very relieved. So that’s not the story. I just felt like telling that because I was proud of the fact that I finally found gas. But I stayed overnight at a hotel, woke up early in the morning to begin my second leg of the trip, which I think I had another three hours to go or whatever, and I went into a coffee shop, which is a really cool coffee shop.
John: And I’m going to say what the name of it was because it’s a coffee shop in Fredericksburg, Virginia, called the Italian Station, Italian Station Pastry Cafe. And I give some props to the general manager, Anita Crossfield. So Anita Crossfield, general manager of Italian Station, if somebody knows her out there, let it pass this on to her. Maybe I should reach out to her and just say, you know, I mentioned you on my podcast anyway. So I went into this place and it was a really cool Italian cafe and I ordered my coffee. Actually, I’ll tell you, I ordered two coffees because I drink that much coffee. I ordered a cold brew and a latte.
John: So like I remember during the latte first and I’ll drink the cold brew and that’ll set me up for my three-hour jaunt. And the barista, who made my drinks, handed to me and said, the customer before you has paid for your drinks and we have a pay it forward policy. Our
program, I don’t even know what they called it, but pay it forward something to the customer before. So you’re not on the hook. You don’t have to pay anything if you like to contribute, you certainly can. If you want to pay for the person ahead of you. Certainly can. I really like it. I’m like I can literally just take these and leave. It’s like, yeah, absolutely. And I’m like, well, of course, I’d like to buy for the next person in front of me.
John: She said, OK, well what would you like to buy? I said, well what would this have been? And whatever was like $8, I’m like, OK, well here’s, you know, $10. Great to buy the thing for the next people. And she said, OK, great. So sure enough, you know, I’m sure the next people came out, but I’m like, wow, what a really cool concept they said. And then I had to ask her questions. I’m like, So what would have happened had I just walked out and said, OK, no, that’s fine. And I’m not I’m not going to pay it forward, so to speak. Would that have been a problem?
John: She said, no, you could have done that. I said, do most people do that? She said it’s extremely rare that somebody walks out without paying it forward. And I said, what do they normally pay? And she said, at least the price of their drinks, if not more so. And I’m like, So how does this work for you? She said, well, we actually make significantly more than we would have made had we just charged normally for nobody’s on the hook.
John: People literally now get this. People can walk out of the coffee shop with their coffee and not pay a dime, but they don’t. The people before them have paid for their coffee, and that person feels a little bit like, OK, well, why wouldn’t I pay for the next person? That’s a really nice gesture. Now, what it did was a couple of things. What’s really fascinating, it made me feel really great. I felt like this unknown person ahead of me paid for my drink. That was really cool.
John: Now, the people behind me were there, so I don’t think they heard me actually pay for their drink. But they would have been like, oh, wow, the tall dude that just walked out paid for a drink. That’s kind of cool. So it was just this spreading of goodwill and everybody feeling good. And then the other part of it was really cool. The business was making more money because of it. Not only were they making people feel great, but they were actually making and I truly don’t think that was their intent. I guarantee that was not what they were thinking. I think she said something like they were trying it for a period of time just to do it for I don’t even know what the reason was. And maybe I got a call from Anita Crossfield and asked her. But yeah, they had tested this out or done this and then it just kept going.
John: And now they do this pay it forward thing. And I’m like, that is brilliant. And the business makes more money than it would have otherwise made. So what if you did that with your business? And I don’t know what your business is, but I’m just thinking about what could a pizza shop do that? OK, hey, you know, your pizza is paid by the person before, you know, you can choose to pay it forward again to another person or walk out with a pizza. I think most businesses, most people would do the same that I did. I’m not going to just walk out with a pizza and the baby, what she said, nobody does. Nobody walks out with the coffee. They pay it forward.
John: And at least what they would have paid for the coffee that they just bought. I think probably most people give the amount that they would have, but a few people give a little bit more because it’s a cool program and it’s like, wow, this is really, really neat. So anyway, I thought it was a great concept, an interesting social experiment. Right. It says that people are motivated when they feel good to give that feeling to other people. When other people do nice things, they feel like doing more nice things for other people. And it truly does spread that pay it forward concept.
John: But here’s an example where a business actually benefits as well by setting up that environment where people can pay it forward. So anyways, brilliant concept. I thought it was really neat. I want to pass it on to you. Maybe food for thought. I’d love to get your thoughts on what other businesses could you do this with and have it work. Maybe you test it out with your business for a brief period of time. Maybe you have one day where you do that. I’m thinking about, you know, all kinds of businesses from foods, you know, from restaurants to gas stations. I mean, I don’t know if a gas station did that. I do the same thing. I would do the same thing. If somebody else paid for my gas, I would pay for their gas. Now, yeah, I get different sized cars and all that kind of stuff.
John: But same thing with the coffee shop. Everybody’s ordering different drinks and two drinks, one drink, I don’t know whatever, but what a cool concept. Now here’s an interesting thought with the coffee place I gave $10. What if the person next to me just now only had $5? But I guess I could work the other way too. I mean, if they only had a $5 drink, but he could work the other way, you know, maybe they paid for a $5 drink and here I was ordering $10 a drink. So I guess it evens out over time. But again, with this coffee shop, they made more money than they would have normally. So pretty, pretty cool thing and great social experiment. And now I’ve got my landscapers outside. So you’re going to hear a whole bunch of lawnmowers.
John: So that’s my cue to wrap this up. And I hope everybody is doing great. We have light at the end of the tunnel. We’re starting to come out of this. I’m really, really hoping everybody is healthy and happy and enjoying life and enjoying this. So, again, as always, like subscribe, share, give me your thoughts and ideas on future topics or guests and go down below. Give a five-star review and stay tuned. I’ve got my book coming out, Tomorrow’s Leader, very soon I will keep you updated as well as my TED talk. My TED talk will be distributed shortly. If I can get it from the people I’m trying hard. They just still have to send it to me and when they do, I will get it out to everybody. So thank you. Have a good one to talk to you soon. Bye.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!