How Dietrich McNasty Cost His Company a Half Million Dollars

What’s the value of a happy customer? What’s the cost of a very unhappy customer? In this case of surly service, the answer is big dollars.

Confessions of a Pool Owner

There are just a few purchase decisions I’ve come to greatly regret over the years.  Buying a timeshare is one of them.  Another is having a pool installed.

1989 was a HOT summer.  We moved into a neighborhood that had a swim club about four blocks from our house. It was a popular family spot, so we joined.  My wife and I figured it cost us more than $1,000 a year, and we had to fight the crowds on the hot days.  But our two kids loved the water and the summers here are HOT!

Hot weather arrived early in 1990.  When I came home from work one evening I discovered my wife hard at work in the back yard digging a hole a couple of feet deep.  She had purchased a 12-foot round kid’s wader pool from Walmart and was following the DIY instructions.  We had a very energetic discussion after which I agreed to get some pool quotes at the end of the season.  My eight and six year-old lobbied daily for the next two months.  “Daddy, we’ll do all the cleaning and filter stuff, just puh-leeeeze get it,” they promised.  My wife added, “I’ll maintain it until they are old enough to take care of it!” Long story short, our new in-ground pool was installed at the end of the season. 

Any pool owner will tell you that a pool is a wet hole in the ground into which you empty money.  Costs run over $1,500 a year in chemicals, equipment replacement, and service alone.  Add the costs of water, energy, bug nets, pool tools and toys and it’s well over $2,000 a year. 

My kids used the pool until they moved away to college and career. Today we rarely use it, and it continues to be a wet hole in the ground into which we empty money.  Oh…and guess who gets to do all the maintenance and cleaning?

I’m not good with mechanical things, so enter the pool guy…

Meet Dietrich McNice

After a series of pool companies and good technicians moving on, fast forward to 2012.  After checking Angie’s List, I met Dietrich McNice of USA PoolMasters, a young local entrepreneur getting established with his own pool service business.  Great guy! Great service! Nothing too hard for him to do and do with a smile on his face.  So I contracted him yearly to open, close, and handle problems. 

For the first two seasons he was terrific, so I referred him to neighbors and friends, who also contracted his services.

McNice Becomes McNasty

Dietrich’s customer base grew and with it so did his prices.  What didn’t keep pace was his demeanor.  His cheerful attitude became less and less enthusiastic.  I chalked it up to the pressure of growing a business.


Within a few years success made Dietrich an arrogant and prideful business owner.  Cheerful became snarky.  Snarky became rude.  And rude became belligerent.  And belligerent finally became, “I need another pool guy.” 

Over five years I spent $6,300 with Dietrich, of which three quarters or more was labor.

Dietrich McNasty Loses a Half Million Dollars

I’m just one guy with a pool.  But at $1,250 a year, for 20 years or so is $25,000.  Add the four others like me I referred to him over five years and now we’re talking $125,000.  Now, instead of referring anyone to him, I go out of my way to tell people how nasty McNasty can be. I did a review on Angie’s List telling of my experience.  Any way you add it up, that’s an easy $375,000 in lost business over the next ten years.  You read all about it here on my blog, so you, too, know not to do business with McNasty…

Just imagine what will happen to Dietrich McNasty if he succeeds in upsetting several dozen customers with his arrogance, rudeness, and surly attitude.  He’ll lose millions!

Seven Customer Service Lessons to be Learned (and Mastered)

  1. Today people have a choice of who to do business with, and social media has made it easy to see who not to do business with.
  2. Service providers incur ZERO COSTS to be nice, considerate, and respectful. In fact, people will pay a little extra to have a pleasant experience.
  3. Arrogant, rude, and surly people almost guarantee themselves no repeat business, especially if there are other choices available.
  4. Arrogant, rude, and surly people will wonder why it is so hard to get new customers, so they’ll spend dollars advertising their services and cut their prices to have enough work to pay the bills.
  5. Smart service providers ask customers, humbly, “How am I doing? What could I do better?” They act on what is learned and let customers know how much their feedback is appreciated.
  6. Look for proactive ways to let customers know you value them. Little gestures often mean a great deal when given with sincerity and a thankful heart.
  7. Doing the small things well often creates a small army of customer evangelists who will market and sell services for you, generating lots of referral business.

Bottom Line

As automation and artificial intelligence increasingly take over the marketplace, the value of exceptional customer service rises to capture customer loyalty.  With more choices than ever before because of the global marketplace, smart business leaders will seize the opportunity to purge the Dietrich McNasties from their organizations, in favor of the Dietrich McNices.

This article is based on BMG’s best-selling training programs, Delighting Our Customers for B2B, B2C, and retail sales channels, and the Customer Service Essentials™ Assessment, which measures what someone knows and understands about the current and emerging best practices of exceptional customer service.

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I help leaders and aspiring leaders improve their performance and acumen, and sales and marketing professionals to become more productive and effective. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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