While out at dinner one evening this week I happened to be following a large SUV with an advertisement for a local insurance agent painted on it. I’d seen the SUV around town and had thought about calling to get a quote since my insurance was coming up for renewal…looks like their marketing strategy might be paying off.

As luck would have it, this SUV was going to the same restaurant that we were and pulled in ahead of us. The parking lot was very full so and it took us a while to find a parking place in the far corner of the lot. As we came around the corner of the restaurant we saw the Insurance agents SUV parked in a handicapped parking spot.

At first, I didn’t think anything of it and assumed that the person was handicapped and had the requisite plates and/or placard. As I got closer to the SUV, I realized that they didn’t have either and that the neither of the two people getting out appeared handicapped in any way. I recognized the driver of the vehicle as the insurance agent painted onto the side of the SUV and decided to test him a bit.

I introduced myself to him…he was a pleasant man and we made small talk while we waited to be seated. I pointed out his SUV and we talked about the ‘cool’ painted ad on the vehicle. I then mentioned to him in a surprised voice that he forgot to put his handicapped placard.

His response was a laugh as he said that he wasn’t handicapped and didn’t know anyone who was. He laughed again while describing their search for a parking spot close to the front door, and since they couldn’t find one, they took the handicapped spot that nobody ever uses.

I smiled and said that we had parked in the far corner of the parking lot and felt like we had walked a mile. I then asked if he thought about what would happen if someone did need to use the spot and he just laughed it off and said ‘they can park somewhere else’.

I decided that he had failed my little test and told him so. I told him that prior to seeing his disrespect for the handicapped that I wouldn’t be calling to get a quote for my insurance and that he should be ashamed of himself.

His response to that was : “That’s ok…I wouldn’t want your business anyway. I can’t get by just fine without 1 or 2 car insurance policies.” I smiled at him and mentioned that I had been thinking about calling for quotes on 2 car policies, 1 home policy, 1 business policy, life insurance, and some investments that I had been wanting to move to a new agent.

Needless to say, I never called him after that.

Moral of the story:

Consider how the smallest action (like parking your car while eating out) can effect your image. The small things to you may be a big thing to someone else. And for goodness sake…if you have your picture painted on your vehicle, try not to act like a fool while driving…you will probably turn off some of your clients.

[tags] Selling, Business Development [/tags]