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Bob Farrell
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The idea of giving pickles away comes from a letter I received from a disappointed customer who was visiting the first store we opened.

Dear Mr. Farrell,

I’ve been coming to your restaurant for over three years. I always order a #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I always ask for an extra pickle and I always get one. Mind you, this has been going on once or twice a week for three years.

I came into your restaurant the other day and I ordered my usual #2 hamburger and a chocolate shake. I asked the young waitress for an extra pickle. I believe she was new because I hadn’t seen her before. She said, “Sir, I will sell you a side of pickles for $1.25.” I told her, “No, I just want one extra slice of pickle. I always ask for it and they always give it to me. Go ask your manager.”

She went away and came back after speaking to the manager. The waitress looked me in the eye and said, “I’ll sell you a pickle for a nickel.” Mr Farrell, I told her what to do with her pickle, hamburger and milkshake. I’m not coming back to your restaurant if that’s the way you’re going to run it.

theCustomer

He signed his name and, fortunately for me, included his address. I wrote him a letter and enclosed a card for a free hot fudge sundae. I assured him we don’t run our business that way, apologized, and asked him to please come back. I had a chance meeting with him years later and I thanked him in person for his letter because it became the “war cry” of our young company, “Give ’em the Pickle.” When something happens with a customer and you’re not sure what to do? “Give ’em the Pickle!” Do what it takes to make things right!

The pickle philosophy has evolved from there as it’s been put into practice at various businesses. It may be about going the extra mile to make customers happy or putting your own personal stamp on customer service that sets you apart from your competition. At my favorite tire store they literally run to greet me when I step out of my car in the parking lot. I’ve met garbage collectors who stop to start lawn mowers and coffee baristas who add a heart or other designs in the latte foam. Those are all pickles. What are yours?

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