Chalk Creek (Issue 804)

In which we are reminded that our brand as sales people depends on getting both the obvious and hidden details right.

Chalk Creek’s icy water drops out of the Collegiate Range mountains in central Colorado, winding its way down Chalk Creek Canyon through a  rock-strewn bed, at one point bending in a relaxed U-curve behind the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs  Resort, our “spot” for a couple of days.  From behind the hotel, the view west, up the canyon, is spectacular, the white chalk hips of Mount Princeton dazzling in the September morning sun.


Turning away from the Canyon view, down a flight of wooden steps, we meandered along the near bank of Chalk Creek, enjoying the resort’s well-kept, colorful flower beds and the sound of water splashing against rocks as the Creek bent around the back of the  resort property.

“Look, there’s a car there!”

My daughter pointed to the far side of the creek. Sure enough, a car – maybe a 1948 Plymouth, a greenish color that blended with the surrounding vegetation – nose into the embankment, tipped up a little on its side, like someone had just driven it up the creek ‘till they could go no further…. And then filled the car with enormous boulders before making their escape.

“Well, that’s odd,” I replied. “Wonder why it’s there?”  We developed elaborate theories to explain the car’s presence and position. Kinda odd, ‘though; who would abandon a car there?

“Look!  Another one!”  Now that we’d seen the first, who could miss the second, a little downstream?   An earlier vintage, pre-1945, also filled with rocks.

We wandered down the creek a bit further, finding three additional cars in similar attitudes. We came to the conclusion that this was no random act of Mountain Gods; we guessed the cars were placed for erosion control.   We just couldn’t figure out why a resort hotel like the Mount Princeton would either place or tolerate abandoned “parts is parts” behind their hotel. As in, if erosion control were the main objective, perhaps a more elegant solution consistent with the excellent fit, finish, and service levels  throughout the rest of the property.

So, we asked at the front desk and, sure enough, the cars were placed there for erosion control.

OK, I get that. When spring snow melt or flash flood waters come pounding down the canyon, that “relaxed U” takes a beating and, without a protective barrier, the steep embankment on the far side of the creek would collapse into the creek, creating all kinds of mischief.

Preventing serious land erosion – a good objective. But… with a small fleet of boulder-filled old cars?  That may have seemed like a good idea at the time and, in our view, they’re creating significant brand erosion.

Like showing up for a sales call, all fancy like, then handing out a presentation with errors. Or  delivering sloppy follow–through after a sale. While the front of the house looks mighty fine, buyers’ experiences at the back can undermine their confidence and our value.

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