Going Above The Call of Duty: Trader Joe's


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Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune Rory Violette, the "captain", manager of the new Trader Joe's rallies the employees
Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune

Great businesses are loved by their Employees, Customers, Suppliers and Communities.

Why? Great leaders see business like a chain. As Kochuseph Chittilappilly, founder of V-Guard & Wonderla, described:

“Everyone in the link should be happy. That is something I always insist on. The dealer should be happy. The customer should be happy. The staff should be happy. The raw material supplier should be happy. Only then will there be sustainable long-term growth in business. If any of the links become unhappy, then it will be broken, jeopardizing the whole chain.”

The concept sounds simple. Go above and beyond what people expect.

It is not easy.

How do businesses get people to love them?

Trader Joe’s provides a great real-life example.

8 years ago an 89-year-old man was stuck in his house during a snowstorm. His daughter was worried he wouldn’t have enough food to survive. She called surrounding grocery stores asking if they would deliver. None said they would.

The daughter eventually called the Trader Joe’s in Wayne, PA. Trader Joe’s doesn’t normally deliver. They said they would make an exception. The daughter ordered a number of items. Within 30 minutes Trader Joe’s delivered the entire order. When the daughter asked how she should pay the Trader Joe’s employee simply said, “Merry Christmas!”

The simple act of kindness and generosity went viral. The Reddit forum where this was posted received 3,100 upvotes. And a number of other Trader Joe’s customers shared similar experiences being delighted.

Trader Joe’s then officially responded with the following:

This story stands out because few companies go above the call of duty. When you do as everyone else does, don’t be surprised with what you get.

Over deliver and people will love you.

As Paul Graham said: “It’s better to have 100 people that love you, than a million customers that just sort of like you.”


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Intelligent Fanatics November 2018 Digest