The Punter’s Ton

February 3, 2013 at 7:20 am | Posted in Business | 2 Comments
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A VERY successful sale.

The most enjoyable retail experience I ever had was buying firewood years ago. I’m still amazed at how the attendant transformed a bog-ordinary transaction into a fun adventure.

As browbeaten accountants will wearily confirm, no field is boring if it’s your passion. And passion for your business is a sure-fire path to success.

I drove up in my hatchback and ordered 100 kg of wood. Tim* asked if I wanted a pre-weighed stack or … the Punter’s Ton. Of course I inquired what the Punter’s Ton was.

Leaning towards me, eyes darting to the office, Tim told me in a lowered voice.

The yard tractor had a front bucket. After years of dealing firewood, Tim knew exactly what volume comprised 100 kg. While management insisted that he stack blocks on a set of scales then re-stack them for sale, Tim knew he could thrust the bucket into the main pile, tip out a few blocks, drive to a customer’s vehicle and transfer the wood directly.

In so doing, he saved time and effort, gave the customer a strong sense of his expertise, and had fun (while thumbing his nose at authority, in the great Australian tradition).

And by adding that his margin of error could (or could not) mean a few free blocks, he sealed the deal.

Entranced, I asked for a Punter’s Ton.

Tim displayed his enthusiasm and mastery while relating the tale of how he briefly startled one young lady by feigning intent to dump a Punter’s Ton on the back seat of her new, BMW convertible.

In five minutes flat, he made me feel like a colleague, a connoisseur, a co-conspirator and a risk taker – all at the same time.

And all for $32.95.

This enchanting episode reminded me of FISH! – a phenomenally popular book about a workplace management system with four concepts:

  1. Play.
  2. Make their (the customer’s) day.
  3. Be present.
  4. Choose your attitude.

I don’t know if Tim had read FISH! or was consciously applying its concepts. Clearly his masters were not fans.

I do know, however, that Tim combined these elements for a memorable experience that had me coming back until the day he left and all I could buy were sterile, statistically sound, stacks.

If Tim owned that yard, I’d never stop telling people to go there.

And if Tim could achieve that effect with mere red gum,

imagine the magic you could add to your business!


PS. I wasn’t the only one who liked this story. Seth Godin liked it so much, he put it in Purple Cow!

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

* When I asked permission to write about him, ‘Tim’ requested anonymity, as management did not like his methods. At all.


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  1. Indeed, a story worthy of une vache toute de couleurs! There should be more Punter’s Tons in this sterile world. Great read!

    • Merci, Bon Ami! I very much look forward to encountering the next one. Kind regards, P. 🙂

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