Hand out business cards of competitors?

A good friend of mine, Dan, is a business owner living in Austin once told me the following story.

It gets quite warn in Austin, so he decided put in a really good swimming pool. He researched pool installers and several friends had mentioned that there was this one guy who was by far and away the best installer around. Dan, wanting high quality workmanship, called and setup an appointment.

The pool installer arrived at Dan’s house and they discussed what Dan wanted. He listened Dan’s requests, spent some time measuring and thinking and put together a price.

Dan looked at the price and, being a business man himself, started to negotiate a better deal. Without missing a beat, the installer reached into his pocket and pulled out several business cards for competitors. He handed them to Dan and said “You can call any of these pool installers who will install a pool for less. They will not be as good as my pool, but they will get the job done at a lower price.”

Dan looked at him and said… “You’re hired!”.

After hearing this story, I believe this is what everyone (be it design, art, trades etc.) should aspire to. Being so good at what you do that you’re willing to hand out business cards of competitors when someone doesn’t see the value in what you offer.