by Roger Pynn
We had just finished a presentation to a potential client with massive land holdings that wrap around numerous rural communities … towns as simple as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s Mayberry in many ways, but we assured them as complex and sophisticated as any urban center.
We’d talked about the importance of due diligence … the process of knowing … before ever thinking about seeking to do anything with their land that may be perceived to change those communities’ way of life or need their approval for such new use.
On the way home we stopped for lunch at an interstate truck stop café (by the way, always the place to stop for real food) and saw first hand a reminder of how the due diligence process works. It was a deja vu moment reminiscent of the many days over the years that we’ve sat in small town diners and learned what really matters to townsfolk.
If you want to know where this economy is headed, who is really being affected by what’s happening on Wall Street, you won’t find it on Main Street as fast as you’ll find it at The Country Café off Interstate 75 at Wildwood in Florida.
The young truck driver who sat down in the booth behind us, after scanning the menu, gestured to the manager and quietly said, “You know me and you know I spend a lot of money here but I’m tapped out.”
“Just go to the buffet,” said the manager. It made you want to give the manager the 2008 Award for Customer Service and Compassion. There were no other words. It was that simple.
The grateful driver – a gregarious and friendly guy – quickly engaged us and wanted to know what we do and whether business was good in public relations. “Tougher than usual but good,” was the reply. But his response was a story of truckers losing jobs every day because goods aren’t selling and producers aren’t shipping because there’s no place for inventory. “Guys who own rigs are losing them. Doesn’t matter if gas has been cut nearly in half. They’re going out of business.”
So how and when will the bailout help this guy? What will it cost for him to be out of work? He doesn’t even want one of those homes with inflated prices and a mortgage no one should ever have given him. “All I want is three acres, a double wide and big high-wheel pickup.”
You don’t necessarily need to conduct statistically accurate sampling to find out how people feel. Often you just need to listen.