How a $350 Sale Was Lost Over A Bag of Ice

It’s WhateverItTakesTuesday here at the office and I have a surpise for you today!

I have been trying to get this guest poster on the LiveFree Blog for a while now, so it is an understatement to say I am excited to share some of his Business Wisdom with you today. When you read this incredible story really try and put yourself inside the story and think about similar encounters in your own life. Everyone has a similar instance they can relate to.

I know you enjoy this story from Ryan!

Below is a story about how Gomer’s Fine Wine and Spirits lost a $350 sale over one bag of ice. The purpose of the story is to explain why it is important to empower your team to make sure your customers have the best experience in your store or with your company.

I recently finished the book called, “Lunchmeat & Life Lesson” by Mary Lucas. In her book she talks about a theory called the ‘comeback sauce’. She says to, “Always remember to put the ‘comeback sauce’ on every person you came in contact with. If they ask for a pound of lunchmeat, you give them a few more slices and smile and tell them you gave them a little bit more – whatever it takes to connect to people. Whenever they walk out the door, ask yourself if you think that they left happy. Always, remember the comeback sauce and feel free to do whatever you need to do to make sure they leave with the feeling that they want to come back again soon.” I really loved this concept and I was thinking about ways to incorporate it into our business.

As the book was fresh on my mind, I helped a friend shop for alcohol and wine for his company’s Christmas party. We walked in and were immediately helped by an employee that was very knowledgeable and he spent around 45 minutes helping us find exactly what we needed for the party. We had a great experience and promptly paid at the register and started to carry the alcohol to the car in a way where the boxes were completely stacked on top of each other and the point of tipping over. We were able to load the car and as we were getting ready to back our car out of the parking lot, my friend (Keith) realized that he forgot to get a bag of ice before we checked out at Gomers. He got out of the car and ran in really quickly without realizing he left his wallet on the dash of the car. He grabs the bag of ice and head to the register. After the cashier rings up the bag of ice, she says, “That will be $1.23.” Keith reaches for his wallet and realizes that his wallet is in the dash of the car and he doesn’t have the $1.23 on him. As we are in a hurry, Keith asks if it’s okay if he can have this bag of ice since he is in a rush, forgot his wallet in the car, and just spent over $350 and 45 minutes in the store shopping for the alcohol he just purchased. She promptly says, “No, you need to pay for the bag. We don’t do business that way.”

Keith comes back empty handed and explained the whole story to me as we drive away. A few blocks down the road, the phrase, “We don’t do business that way,” kept nagging at me especially since I just finished a book about using the ‘comeback sauce’ on every customer. Keith and I both run companies and both help establish and oversee the culture at our respective companies. As we drove away I said, “You know what, we don’t do business that way either.” I explained the story of the ‘comeback sauce’ to Keith and I knew we both knew what we had to do. We promptly turned around and returned every bottle of alcohol and wine that we spent 45 minutes purchasing. Keith explained nicely that we actually don’t do business that way and since there are other options to purchase alcohol in Kansas City, we will take our business to another company who understands the value of a customer and empowers their employees to make the right decision for the customer every time.

This decision to return the alcohol wasn’t solving world hunger and even making a difference in the world; however, we felt great afterwards and we knew it was the right thing to do. We returned $350+ of alcohol (which has an average markup of 25%) over a $1.23 bag of ice. The employee either wasn’t empowered to make the right decision or didn’t have the ‘want’ to help a customer who was in a rush and just spent 45 minutes in the store. Because of this decision they lost 45 minutes of a knowledgeable employee’s time helping us pick out alcohol and they lost out on $87+ of profit because the employee didn’t realize the concept of the ‘comeback sauce’ or wasn’t empowered to give away a $1.23 bag of ice to save a $350 sale and create a customer for life.

No matter the level you are with your company, you can always be a leader in your job and make the right decision for the customer. Empower your team to make decisions that always help the customer. Remember the idea of the ‘comeback sauce’ and how a little bag of ice could create a unique experience for a customer and create a customer for life.

Be better everyday, so you can lead people to be better everyday.

Thanks For Sharing Ryan!



Ryan Bennett is one of the founding team members of Idle Smart, which was named the 2014 KC Startup Brand of the year. He is also one of the Kansas City startup community leaders as president of KC Roundtable. Ryan can be reached online at:


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