Monday, December 18, 2017

"The Practice of Best Practices"

Amos 8.5-6 NCV 

“When will the New Moon festival be over so we can sell grain? When will the Sabbath be over so we can bring out wheat to sell? We can charge them more and give them less,...[1]

...and we can change the scales to cheat the people. We will buy poor people for silver, and needy people for the price of a pair of sandals. We will even sell the wheat that was swept up from the floor.”

Business hasn’t changed much through the centuries. There were, are, and always will be cheats who give less and take more. It’s the business strategy of choice for unethical vendors. Increase profits by adding hidden fees and reducing actual goods or services on every transaction. The Hebrew prophet, Amos, condemned the wheat brokers of his day for their philosophy of business: “We can charge them more and give them less.” Their practice was never disclosed. Buyers are still swindled in a multitude of ways so small they are detected only occasionally by the most vigilant consumers. 

A business person is only as good as his or her word. Best ethical business practice is simple. Tell the client what you will do for them, then do it. Don’t puff it up or exaggerate. Make sure the consumer understands what you will offer and make promises you intend to keep. Set up deadlines for performance and publish them for the buyer. Give a list of real, past clients and encourage the buyer to call your references. Make yourself accountable to the customer. Let them know in writing what you will do and when you will do it. Hold yourself to a higher standard than even your client does. Surprise the customer with a level of service that exceeds expectations. Strive to obtain a fair wage for an honest day’s work. When necessary, err on the side of giving more and taking less. Insist on customer satisfaction. Obey the words of Jesus. It was good business then, and it’s good business now:

“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down,
shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by
your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
Jesus, Luke 6:38 NASB

The practice of best practices is simple, but not easy. The concept is not hard to grasp but the execution takes effort. It’s called work. But, of course, that’s what you get paid for and, in the end, you will get no more, or less, than you deserve.

[1] A more literally accurate translation of the words of verse 5 (“We can charge them more and give them less”) is rendered by the English Standard Version (“…that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great”). According to the New English Bible footnotes on Amos 8.5, “The ‘ephah’ was a unit of dry measure used to determine the quantity purchased, while the ‘shekel’ was a standard weight used to determine the purchase price. By using a smaller than standard ephah and a heavier than standard shekel, these merchants were able to increase their profit (‘sell less for a higher price’) by cheating the buyer.”


CharlieTD said...

What I find amazing is that as I grow older, I want to trust others. In the past I would really check out any business relationship. Even for little things like something as trivial as purchasing some new high tech gizmo. I would research everything about it and the company involved. I didn’t trust anyone.

Today, when I take my car in to have it worked on I want to believe the mechanics will do it right and not cheat me. I buy new gizmos with minimal research. I don’t check out business relationships like I used to. And yes, I have been cheated recently but I still want to believe in and trust others. I wonder why that is?

Regarding work and relationships, check out my latest blog entry on that very subject (click on my avatar).

Dave's Bible Blog said...

I guess we all mellow a little with age. My dad did. And I in that process now.


Nitewrit said...


I always believed (and still do) if I had a busines, say auto repair, that I ran honestly, did good work, charged a fair price, I'd end up one of the richest men around. Certainly inside, but also financially because people would flock to such a business.

As to what CharlieTD said, I tend to trust people. What I look for is am I satisfied when the result. If the business provides what I wanted, then that is enough for me. If they charged more than necessary, well, so be it as long as the service was good. If I feel ripped off in what was provided I won't do business with them and I will tell people of my experience. Of course, one has to be honest themslves to get honest in return. A lot of times when one gets burned it's because their looking for "a deal" where they think they are burning the other guy.