39. Be In The Gray Zone.

Not everything in life and work is black and white. Though we have policies and procedures, you often need to be in the gray zone, where guidelines and guiding principles are more important than following a rule. While making sure everything you do is ethical and legal, use your judgment and common sense when making decisions. If you’re unsure how to handle something, talk about it with a coworker or manager and collaborate to determine the best course of action.

John's Message:


Have you ever been to a store trying to return an item and the Sales Associate rattles off their return policy? I am guessing you wouldn’t have been at that store if you thought your request to return the item wasn’t fair to the store or manufacturer.

I remember trying to return a gasoline powered trimmer that I received as a Christmas gift from one of those big box stores (no names). The person that waited on me informed me that any gasoline powered equipment must be sent back to the factory for repair after 30 days, so I couldn’t get a replacement trimmer. I guess I should have used the trimmer in the snow in January!! Well policy is policy, and they sent it back, and a month later, I was able to use that brand new trimmer.

I was at a convention with other distributors, and the speaker stated what he thought was the biggest difference between retail and wholesale distribution. He stated that most wholesalers set guidelines, and most retailers set policy.

An associate who comes to mind when I think of this fundamental is our branch manager in Cleveland, Sherri Foster. Sherri always wants to do what is right and fair for the customer, and for Famous. She also helps guide others to help them feel empowered to make good decisions in the gray zone.

Every circumstance isn’t the same. Look at each circumstance, and do what is fair for both parties. As we “Do the Right Thing Always”, “Take Ownership” and Be In the Gray Zone” … we will build relationships, loyalty and our business (profitably) over the long term.