The Baker Who Swallowed His Pride

We often talk about the importance of commitment in franchising. But talk is cheap. Commitment is about action and often it means swallowing our fear, or our pride, and doing something that goes beyond short term self-interest. Here's a story of someone who really understood the meaning of the word.

While I was studying to be a psychologist I worked early mornings in several bakeries. I had two sets of mentors - my academic teachers and my life mentors, including a skilled and kindly baker called Ron. Ron was one of the most consistent and kindly people you could meet. Not only was his bread consistently good, I never saw him flustered or angry, despite my frequent mishaps. Whenever I trudged into his bakery in the early hours feeling sorry for myself, Ron would always be there smiling and whistling. Ron really enjoyed his work and I really enjoyed working with him.

A Currant Affair

One day as we were hand molding the last of the dough, a shop assistant came out the back with her eyes bulging. "Ron, I think you'd better come and talk to this customer." Ron looked up. "What's the matter?"
"I think you'd better come, this could be tricky" she whispered, waving him toward her. Ron wiped his hands on his apron and followed her out to the shop front. I was intrigued and also followed.

A stern looking lady was holding a white sliced loaf of bread. "So you're the baker?"
"Indeed I am" said Ron smiling. "How can I help you?"
"What you can do is tell me what these mouse droppings are doing in this loaf of bread I bought here yesterday." She held a slice of the bread towards Ron and sure enough there were three small dark balls of something nestled in it.

Ron bent forward and carefully picked out the section containing the offending material. He held it up, examined it and suddenly popped it into his mouth, swallowed, and said with a smile "Nothing to worry about, just currants."

I couldn't believe my eyes. It had definitely looked like mouse droppings to me. I glanced at the shop girl who had her hand over her mouth. The lady stammered "But, but, what have you done?"
"Just some currants from the fruit buns" he said cheerfully. "They sometimes find their way into the bread." He wandered over to the display racks, picked her out a free loaf, wished her a happy day and nodded to me to follow him back out to the bakery.

"Did you just do what I think you did?" I asked incredulously.
"Come on, let's get back to work" he chuckled with a twinkle in his eye.
I persisted. "Ron, did you just eat mouse droppings?"
"Of course not" he said with a mischievous look. "Now get me a cup of coffee and let's get this dough finished."

Now that my friends is what I call commitment!

Speaking of commitment I wanted to acknowledge the commitment of the FRI team this year for their enthusiasm and dedication in serving our clients. And also to you for taking a few minutes to read these Tips and being part of a community of people who appreciate the importance of healthy relationships in franchising and life. Finally a friendly plug - you can now buy a compilation of the best of these Tips for your management team. It's called The Franchise Relationships Book of Tips.

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