Do You Do What You Say You Do?

By Jeff Beals

The melting snow and winter road salt made my car so dirty I could hardly see through the windows.

But I did manage to see a gas station sign that said “Carwash.”  I pulled in and filled the tank but the pump computer never gave me the option to purchase a carwash, so I went inside and approached the clerk standing at the cash register.

“The pump outside didn’t let me purchase a carwash,” I said.

The clerk responded.  “Sorry, the carwash is broke.”

I certainly didn’t want to hear that.  “Geez,” I responded, “The carwash is really the only reason I came here.”

The clerk didn’t have much sympathy for my plight.

“That carwash hasn’t worked for two years,” he said with a tone of voice that implied I was an idiot for somehow not knowing that.

I was incredulous as I pointed to the tall sign in front of the building.  “You mean to tell me that the car wash has been broken for two whole years and you still have a big sign along the street advertising a carwash?” I asked with emphasis on my words.  “Isn’t that kind of misleading?!!?”

“Sorry, I don’t know what to tell you, man.”

Defeated and irritated, I left that gas station and found a different place to wash the car.

This little experience got me thinking about my own work – is there anything I’m doing in my work that unintentionally misleads clients?  Am I promoting something I can’t deliver?  Is my sales communication as clear and unambiguous as it should be?

I imagine the workers at that gas station were so accustomed to seeing the sign that it never occurred to them to remove it.  Or maybe they just never got around to it.  Either way, there is a moral to my two-year-deceased carwash story:  It’s a good idea to assess your communication.  We should all make sure we are saying what we really intend to say.  We need to make sure we don’t mislead customers, stakeholders or colleagues.  We can get so comfortable with the message and so used to the words, that we don’t really see or hear them anymore.

Be careful, because some unsuspecting guy driving a dirty car might take your message at face value and actually think you’re offering a working carwash.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker, sales consultant and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or email at or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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