It is a well-known apple orchid in a rural area of the mountains. The orchid sells its crop via a large roadside stand. People drive for miles to get the sweet red apples grown in the orchid nearby. The mom-and-pop operation has been around for years. But mom and pop both got COVID at the peak of apple season. They elected to trust their customers.

Every afternoon after work the couple’s son and daughter-in-law picked enough apples for a day’s supply at the roadside stand. Every morning before going to work their son placed the apples in the stand. Their sign read, “We are open, but we need you to serve yourself. We both have COVID. Leave your money in the box. If you need change, please send us a text with your address and we’ll mail it to you. Thanks, June and Ned.” Near the baskets of apples on long tables was a large money box with a slot cut in the top.

Want to know how it fared? No one took the money box. No one took apples without paying from them. No one texted the couple requesting change. And here is the best part.  Most days there was more money in the money box than there should have been given the number of apples missing at the end of the day. It meant people often left a tip by buying, for example, eight dollars’ worth of apples and leaving a ten-dollar bill. 

When we take risks on behalf of our customers, most will reward our risk-taking by exhibiting their very best self. Sure, there will be that rare customer who takes advantage for our generosity and trust. Don’t build your business around the infrequent “bad apple” (pun intended). Trust your customers and they will trust you back.